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!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Early Spring on the Homestead & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I purchased some needed things through ebates, for cash back.  I made my Swagbucks goal most days.  Our little online shop continues to have good sales, which is lovely.  More spears of asparagus were harvested, with the ends added to the broth bag.  We've not used the wood stove much, and on a cool morning, I decided to bake the last two spaghetti squash, and some sweet potatoes.  I pulled a couple bags of lambs quarter from the freezer, and made a dish with it and some of the spaghetti squash.  The rest of the squash was frozen, and the skins and bits were added to the broth bag.  Laundry was done with homemade soap and soap gel.  Rain was threatening, so it was dried in the dryer, and the lint added to a TP roll for a fire starter.

The guys had a large biodiesel plant leave last week, and I took photos for their fb page and website.  I weeded around some of the perennial plants.  Picked up organic apples and oranges, and non-organic grapefruit at Aldi's, as well as bread, wine, and almonds.  Eggs were collected, and boiled for us and the pups several times.  Chickweed was gathered for the chickens.  I got some free Kindle books on amazon, prepared a quinoa and broccoli entree using our eggs, and downloaded a free weight loss app to my phone to keep track of calories and exercise.  I'm surely hungry at times, but it's keeping me accountable, and the weight is coming off.  Hooray for that!  Windows were opened for fresh air most days, and wood heat only needed  a couple of nights.

I forgot to mention I bought several needed clothing items on good sales last week (25%-40% off).  Just about each morning and evening, I've been walking 2 miles with the pups.  Sometimes J joins us in the evenings.  One morning, I set out, and it started to rain, so I headed back home.  Oh well, you do what you can, right?  One of the local potters has a friend with a diner who keeps her in lots and lots of 1 foot square egg trays.  She shares them with anyone who wants them.  They're perfect for shipping breakable items.  I went by and picked up several dozen, bought a couple of small items in her shop and let her pick one of my soaps as a thank you.  Shipping supplies can really add up, so I appreciated her sharing.

Sunday was mostly spent outdoors.   I cleaned up a couple of metal items for shop orders, then painted them.  J was working in the garden, dismantling some beds that didn't work well for us, and burning a pile of limbs.  Earlier, he had cut down a dead birch tree, and most of the limbs were from that.  While gathering them up for the burn pile, we found lots of usnea!  I'd say we doubled the amount that was "working" in the tincture jar already.  I felt like we hit the jackpot.  We transplanted several things J dug up in the garden... asparagus, strawberries, and milkweed.  Plants from the homestead meeting are in the ground... a mum, baby hellebores and a lemon ball sedum that we divided and planted in the new area near our porch.  Though I haven't totally given up on the moringa from last year, I decided to get another, which came as a huge root from a seller in the NC mountains.  There were also 2 small roots.  All of them got potted up and watered.  I'm hoping they'll do well.

I've harvested more asparagus, and we will soon have enough for a meal.  The transplanted bed of asparagus has sent up quite a few shoots, and our hopes are that the leaf mulch will assist them in being happier.  We're leaving almost all of them to grow and put energy back into the crowns for next year.  Several clumps of wild lettuce were pulled up and fed to the chickens.  I prepared a pasta dish, which used our canned tomatoes and summer squash, frozen basil and fresh rosemary.  J had a birthday, and I made him German chocolate brownies, which I've made once before.  They're yummy, and much easier than a layer cake.  I used our eggs and homemade vanilla in the recipe.  That sums up the week pretty well.  I'm happy to be joining Frugal Accomplishments.  Wishing you a lovely week!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Eating From The Garden, Pantry and Freezer & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  Joseph helped me by holding the hen while I got the chicken apron on, and so far so good.  She's so traumatized by the two young roosters that she is still not venturing out of the nest often.  When she does, those dang roosters chase her, and run her right back to the nest.  I guess she's the low hen in the pecking order, and I'm not sure what can be done about that.  Update:  the apron stayed on for 3 days, but she got it off this evening.  She was getting braver, coming out for greens, but several of them were pecking her terribly today, so we separated her from the flock.  She has a wound in her side where she'd been pecked, which  I packed full of neosporin, and added chicken electrolytes to her water.  I think we need less roosters...   Isn't that a sweet nest above?  I found it in one of the nandina's.  I was surprised to see they'd incorporated plastic into it.

Our ladies homestead gathering this month was on seed starting.  Members who had plants to share brought those too.  I brought home some baby hellebores, a large clump of Lemon Ball sedum, and a pink mum seedling.  In my flat, seeds were planted for medicinal yarrow, zinnias, cutting celery, money plant, rosella and lovage.  In my wintersown seeds, the only ones that have germinated are still one of the milkweeds.  My moringa has still not resprouted, though one of the women at the meeting told me hers resprouted after six months!  I won't give up just yet then.  Laundry was washed with homemade soap and dried on the line.  A large pan of egg shells were crushed and added to the compost, along with kitchen scraps.

A dinner of vegetable soup, crescent rolls and a pear blue cheese salad was enjoyed one night.  The soup included our tomatoes, okra, lima beans, carrots, squash and garlic.  Home ground wheat was used as part of the flour in the rolls, and our lettuce and homemade vinaigrette were in the salad.  Besides taking the lima beans out of the freezer, I took out grated zucchini to make bread.  That leaves just a little more room in the freezer.  Our lettuce was used in a green salad another night, along with store bought items.  A frozen pack of our okra was cooked another night, and eggs boiled for egg salad and the pups meals.  Yogurt and kefir were made.

J's business partner gifted us some kale, so with that and our own, I made a kale salad.  On a cold day, I baked sweet potatoes, boiled small ones for the pups, and baked 2 loaves of zucchini, carrot, apple bread.  I took one of the loaves when I visited my SIL.  Something is doing a number on our chard.  Whatever it is is eating the roots, so I go out and find plants all wilted, and I can pull them up without the least bit of resistance.  There are holes dug around them too.  One day, I found 7 chard eaten!  Other days, one or two.  I went ahead and harvested any leaves of good size, to get them while the getting was good.  By the way, that's the $2.50 basket I scored at the thrift store last week.  It's hard to tell, but the basket is 17" long, a great size for harvesting vegi's.

When the refurbished computer tower arrived, the optical drive did not work.  It took 10 days to get it sorted out, and a new one to arrive.  Yesterday, I deleted any unnecessary documents and photos.  Today, J transferred everything I wanted to keep from the old hard drive to the new.   We're still moving things and figuring out some of the details, but I think it's going to work fine.  Sorry for the less than stellar pics of the chicken apron.  She did not want to come out of the nest box, and we still have a heat lamp for a light in the coop.  If I get a better pic at some point, I'll be sure to share it.

There are some big plans in the works, which I'll be sharing in the upcoming weeks.  I have still not managed to get any vegetable seeds started in the house, so we may have to purchase a lot of our plants this year.  I'm telling myself one can only do what they can do, and not beating myself up.  We do, however, have spinach seeds up in the garden.  We've got rain in the forecast, and hopefully that will help them all to germinate.  Be well, friends.  Have you planted anything yet this year? I'm happy to be joining in with Frugal Accomplishments.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Trials of a Chicken Apron & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  Last week, I had some sleepless nights.  Not entire nights, but several hours a night.  I decided to sew a chicken apron one night for one of our hens, to protect her from the abusing roosters, repurposing some heavy flannel.  Here's one tutorial.  I made one a few years ago, but was not sure where those notes were, so I used another online tutorial which used velcro and elastic.  It didn't stay on her, so I found some larger elastic and sewed it on with more velcro the next night.  That hasn't worked either, so I put it on her and watched to see how it's coming off.  It seemed that the velcro just wasn't holding, and that makes sense, because the last one I made did not use velcro, and I never had a problem with it coming off.  I tried the velcro because I knew it would be easier to put it on.  So I then sewed over the velcro, and couldn't get it on her :o(.  I'll see if J will help me, but it may be I need to start over with that part.  I hope once the wardrobe is refinished, and I have a place for all my sewing stuff, that I'll better know where things are, and can keep up with my notes.

Ben Hewitt, whose writing I love, shared this blogger, who is now also on my blogroll.  It'd be worth your time to check both of these men out when you have a few moments.  Will doesn't write often or much, but what is there is lovely.  We needed some large, rather odd shaped boxes to ship some shop orders, and I'd used up the ones I'd gathered free.  I found some used ones online, saving about a dollar a box.  Bubble wrap was reused from some I'd saved from items shipped here, and free cardboard egg trays from one of the potters were used.  Eggs were boiled for the pups.  Various greens were picked for the chickens each day.  I saved the buttons from the flannel shirt used for the chicken apron.

After delivering soap to a B&B that's a 45 minute drive, I thrifted my way back home.  I found several treasures, including a sweet rabbit .25, festive birthday ribbon .25, pillow for the porch which matches one I had 1.00, lovely Irish linen shirt for me & a merino wool sweater for J for 1.00 each.  I also purchased some sort of frame that I'm still trying to figure out.  I was hoping it was for rug hooking, but it may be for needlework.  It's the type that you can roll as you are working the cloth.  I may take it to a woman at a local shop, who I believe would know.  I found a very well made garden basket for $2.50, a large canister that I will turn into a compost crock for my shop , and a lovely piece of cloth that matches the paint in my studio, which I'll probably use for pillows.  I pulled a couple of less sturdy baskets from my collection, and put them in the box for donations.

I had a last minute request to work one of my occasional jobs, which put me close to the thrift shop that supports the SPCA on a day they're open.  I found a pair of Dickey's work pants in J's size for $1.50, three shirts for me from .25 to .75 ea, a couple of candles that look like corn .25 (I'll save these for decoration for our fall hayride), 3 packs of ribbon .10 ea., and my biggest purchase, a large flower frog for $5.  It's an old rectangular one, maybe an antique.  I've wanted a frog for some time, but they're usually quite a bit more than I want to spend.  They had a round one too that I considered, but I restrained myself.

J & I celebrated 10 years together over the weekend.  We enjoyed dinner, music and friends, and we both brought home leftovers.  The music was free at a local microbrewery.  I took my taxes in to be done by the same person that has been doing J's, and our discussion before dropping them off has me convinced I did the right thing.  She asked me many questions which my last tax preparer never did.  She really seems to know her stuff, which of course is why you pay someone to do them in the first place.  Even better, she charges almost half less than the previous preparer.  A double win!  Wishing you a lovely first week of spring!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Hello friends!  From our house to yours, Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Snowy Sunday & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  I wanted to say many years ago, I was given permission by the owners to be on the hay fields and access road I wrote about in the last post, a privilege I don't take lightly, and treat with the highest respect.  That said, it's onward to frugal doings.  On our thrift store foray in Asheville, I bought a fleece vest for $3.99, and vintage linen dresser scarf/table runner with lace edging for .41.  The runner was at a Goodwill clearance center, one of those places where you pay by weight, and is in excellent shape.  I've slowly been gathering white linens, looking forward to when I experiment more with dyeing with plants and other natural materials.  Pet Perks points were redeemed for a free bag of natural cat food.  I enjoyed two movies at home; Sully via Netflix, and The Dressmaker via Amazon Prime.  I knew Sully would be intense, and sure enough, it was a couple of hours before my adrenaline rush faded so that I could sleep.    The Dressmaker had several dark moments I could have done without.  I'm aware of the dark side of human nature, but don't choose to dwell on it for entertainment.  Overall, it was a decent movie.

gourd chicken
At the discount grocery store, I purchased organic peanut butter @$3/jar ( the co-op I belong to has it on sale for $5.69), organic castile soap 1 gal/$12 ($54 online), organic sugar $2/2# (best online price I found is $2.41), a can of organic jackfruit to try $1.50 ($3.42 on amazon).  Jackfruit is supposed to be the latest, greatest meat alternative. I'll probably try making sloppy joes with it, and will report back.   Harris Teeter had organic butter BOGO, which ended up $3.15/lb.  I stocked up, buying 8, and froze them.  They also had their brand of roasted almonds on sale 2/$8, and I tried one, but they're not as good as Blue Diamond brand, so I'm glad I didn't get the second one.  I also got 5/$4 organic canned beans.  J & I planted the potatoes, and spinach.  I'm especially excited about a new to us potato, Purple Viking.  It's won all sorts of taste tests, is drought resistant, a good yielder, and is good for all uses.  I harvested parsley, boiled the Purple Vikings after J cut off the eyes to plant, and made potato salad.  Delicious!  We also planted German Butterball potatoes, which are also supposed to be high yielding.  I'll be making a potato soup with them.   A few more of the wintersown milkweed seeds have sprouted, but so far, that's all.  I took advantage of a 50% off sale at West Paw, to buy a couple of Hurley toys for McNibs, which I'll put back until needed.  One end of the one I gave him for Christmas is beginning to dwindle, but these are the best toys I've found yet for him.

just a bit out of sync :o)
I washed laundry with homemade soap and dried it on the clothesline.  Several items were needed on amazon, and I took advantage of their $15 off $100 code.  I harvested a large amount of lettuce, some arugula and chickweed, and we enjoyed them in salads.  I boiled eggs, made yogurt and kefir.  Homemade deodorant and herbal hair vinegar were used.  I first bought a hair vinegar product on a markdown rack.  It helps preserve hair color longer, and now I just make my own, using homegrown lavender, rosemary and apple cider vinegar.  I worked a few more hours on my taxes, and have them ready to be prepared.  Phew!  That's always a big weight off my shoulders.  I made more notes for next year.  This was the easiest year yet, and I expect the notes will help make it that much better next year.  Don't get me wrong, with multiple small streams of income and accompanying expenses, it's still rather complicated, but anything that helps me gather the information more smoothly and quickly has got to be a good thing.  I've been making a coconut oil and essential oil blend for J's TMJ, and made another batch.  The recipe I use is 4 drops each of peppermint, lavender and frankincense EO's to 1 tsp coconut oil.  It seems to help.

I  made my Swagbucks goal several days, and redeemed points for a $25 amazon gift card.  I've been harvesting two or three asparagus spears at a time, and finally had enough to serve for dinner one night.  I'm not sure if it was all the walking in Asheville that reset my metabolism, but I'm finally beginning to lose weight.  Hooray!  A large amount of chard was harvested, which I steamed for dinner one night.   We enjoyed the leftovers another night.  I noticed a bluebird looking in one of the birdhouses, and hope they'll decide to nest there.  When J went to buy spinach seeds at a local small business, he was offered last year's seed packs at .25 each, and bought several.  I planted it more heavily than recommended, in case the germination rate is lower.  We often use seeds more than one year, so I'm not too worried, and saw that Margaret compiled a list, which showed a great deal of variation among the experts.  I boiled small sweet potatoes for the pups, and am using those and chopped chard stems to supplement their dinner kibble, along with kefir.

peas in the snow
We got a dusting of snow, enough to make things pretty.  In a couple of hours, the sun came out, and it quickly melted.  Last week, I read something about community that got me thinking.  I'm an introvert and fairly solitary by nature.  Though I enjoy people, I'm also quite content with my own company.  I suppose it may be the easy way out, as life and people, myself most definitely included, are messy and wounded, making relationships hard work.  J's nature is pretty much the same, so that works.  I can be hard on myself,  and I've been pondering these thoughts:

“We struggle from the absence of our village and then we blame our symptoms on what we believe is our own lack…thereby ensuring the village we need can never appear.” (Tad Hargrave)   

The individualism that manifests as self-blame — that feeling of not being enough, for ourselves or anyone, better off alone, beating ourselves up along the way.

“We internalize our problems and feel like we’re failing for not being the whole village for ourselves and others. But, what if we looked at all of our troubles – and the troubles of others – as yet one more chance for the village to reconstitute itself again? What if each of our lonely struggles wasn’t in the way of redemption, but the doorway towards it?
What if the key was our willingness to admit that it’s all been too much for us alone?"
If these thoughts intrigue you too, here's the rest of the article. Though I knew neither well, I met both of the young men mentioned, one at a talk given by Stephen Jenkinson.  I believe this group and Stephen are doing some powerful and much needed work, helping us to remember a healthier way of being and being together.  

I'm happy to be joining in with Brandy's Frugal Accomplishments.  Be well, friends.  I hope you have an enjoyable week!