Monday, September 25, 2017

More Natural Dyeing & Frugal Accomplishments

sunflower hulls with alum
Hello, friends.  Though the garden is slowing down, I used all the small tomatoes I had along with some larger ones that needed using to make tomato relish, which I canned.  This recipe goes along with one for vegi fritters, which sounded like something good to try.  For dinner that night, I tried a new recipe for potato pie, which we enjoyed, and it used our chives and parsley.  We had leftover broccoli cheddar quinoa and asian cucumbers with it.  Several nights later, I made the vegi fritters, served with tomato relish.  Next time, I'd go with a small zucchini/tromboncino, or add another egg and possibly some more cheese to help them hold together better.  The recipe didn't specify, and I used a good amount of grated squash, because you know, there's always an abundance of squash.  I harvested kale, and tried a new salad recipe, which used one of our pears.

After working in town, I ran errands.  I tried a frugal idea, which didn't work out.  The last time I was at my bank, and requested deposit slips, I was charged $1 for a sheet of four.  My bank was bought out a few months ago, and this is the first time I've been charged.  It bothered me that I have to pay .25 every time I want to put my money in the bank.  J suggested I copy the deposit sheet at home, which I thought was a great idea.  Unfortunately, when I brought a slip to the bank today, I found out the slips use special ink, so I cannot use my home copied ones.  I inquired about ones they've said they can order to be sent to me, but found out they're even more expensive.  Crazy!

My parsley has reseeded and provided a multitude of volunteers in late summer the last few years, but it was so dry this summer, no volunteers germinated and the original plants are dried up.  While in town, I bought a parsley plant to tide me over.  I looked at the plant mark down racks, and bought two purple mums for .75 ea.  I picked two that had many buds, so they should flower well for some time.  J planted them at the head of our walkway.  Over Labor Day weekend, I noticed a pretty, vintage handmade rag runner for a great price.  As it was 10 1/2' long, I had to ponder if I had a good spot for it.  I decided it would work well in my studio, so that was the last stop on my way home.  They still had it, and I bought it for under $40.  I made vegi BLT's for dinner, using one of our large tomatoes.

eucalyptus dyed fabrics
The dye pot with the eucalyptus fabrics turned out a pretty peachy tan color.  I used dried silver dollar eucalyptus leaves that were in a bouquet given to me a year ago.  I believe fresh leaves would give a bright, vibrant orange.  In the class I took in July, the instructor used some freshly picked sunflower heads for one of our dye baths.  We removed the seeds and used them.  Thinking frugally, I thought I'd try the hulls at home from already spent seeds under our bird feeders.  They've been collecting there for quite some time.  I rinsed them and simmered them for an hour, then added fabric, but they had not imparted any color after a week's time.

plain sunflower hulls on the left three, with alum on the right
I added alum to a small amount of the same dye bath, and did get a light beige from that.  Traditionally, a Hopi black sunflower was used for dyeing.  Though I buy black oil sunflower seeds for the birds, I very much doubt they are this variety.  It was worth a try.

I tried folding some of the fabrics and wrapping them with string, in a shibori type experiment for this round.  I left the chenille fabric as is, but folded and tied the others.  You can see the results with the fabric from the sunflower with alum dye bath, and two from the eucalyptus dye bath. I took a quick look at a shibori photo online , then just did my own thing.  It will be fun to experiment more with the technique.  I'll report back on a short road trip next week.  Be well, friends.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Adventures in Natural Dyeing with Plants

Good morning, friends.  I wanted to share my natural dyeing experiments with you.  From the class I took in July, there are the above two pieces dyed with sunflower seeds.  If you look close, you can see where the weed whacker chewed up the shirt on the left side.  I'm thinking I'll patch it with some other pieces of naturally dyed fabric.

And (L to R) coreopsis x 2, North Carolina red clay, and a dog fennel experiment.

The above are pieces I dyed with onion skins we grew.  They were a yellow type onion, with deep rust skins.  There was still so much color left in the skins, I dried them to use again.   All of the photos in this post are of cotton fabrics.  In the links below, there are also silk and wool fabrics, in more vibrant colors.

I continue to gather dye stuffs as I come across them... oak galls, lichen, juniper berries, hickory husks.  Here's a link to one of my earliest experiments, using goldenrod and poke berries, from 2011.  Here's another link with my experiment with marigolds that same year.  As you can see, I've not done a great deal, but what I've ended up with has got me excited to do more experimenting.  Be well, friends.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Creating & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  On Monday, the rain from tropical storm Irma arrived.  It stayed in the low 60's all day, so I decided to can.  First canned was tromboncino squash.  While it was in the canner, I started the eggplant, which is salted and covered with water before being boiled and canned.  These helped warm the house up, then I added a few ingredients and baked leftover pasta for dinner, which warmed the house a bit more.  I froze bags of okra, and finished filling a gallon bag of vegi scraps with squash and eggplant ends, which will be turned into broth.  I submitted codes to receive points on Purina pet perks.  We've been able to mostly keep our a/c off, running it one cycle in the evening most days, to decrease the humidity as much as the heat, then opening up the house before bedtime.

After helping J place firewood pieces in the bucket of the tractor for him to move, I picked up lots of juniper with berries, which I'm gathering for a dyeing experiment.  Unfortunately, one of the trees we cut down came down along one side of the juniper, so it lost several limbs.  The tree cut down was one leaning towards the house, and when we cut it, found it had a weak root on the side opposite the house, which meant that it would have fallen in the direction of the house.  So, I suppose a few limbs on the juniper tree is worth having that risk taken care of.  We put aside the smaller limbs to chip in the future.  With Irma turning more westerly, we only received an inch of rain, and no major wind.  So thankful for the rain we got.

The first kale of the season was gathered, and a kale salad was enjoyed.  After working in town, I borrowed books from the library, and stopped by Staples for some great back to school prices... packs of erasers for .75, composition books for $1, packs of glue sticks for $1, and 2 packing tapes with dispensers for $4.  I was first charged $12.99 for the tape, but looked at the receipt and when I questioned it, got $9 and change back.  It's a good idea to make sure there are no mistakes on charges, but I don't always think to check.  I did not buy any groceries, as we bought groceries while in Greensboro on Sunday.  I brought my stainless water bottle and a snack.  For dinner, I used one of our pears in a pear blue cheese salad, and used our eggs in deviled eggs.

After spotting this Eastern Painted Turtle on my way back from the chicken pen, I gathered my laundry basket and headed to the clothesline, where I saw a Great Blue Heron at the pond.  The dogs took off running towards it at the same time, so I didn't have time to snap a photo.  I found we still had quite a few cabbage and broccoli plants that had been overrun in the pond garden.  I weeded around them, so we'll see how they do.  The sweet potatoes are also in that garden, and a weedy mess, though J has trimmed the weeds with the weed eater several times.  Maybe I'll get to that in the coming week.  Laundry was done with homemade soap, and hung on the line.  I made a new Provencal tomato recipe, which was just OK.  I continue to see hummingbirds at the feeders, which seems later than usual?  Perhaps I've stopped filling the feeders too soon in past years, or maybe I've forgotten.  I had in my head it was closer to Labor Day when I stopped seeing them.

On Thursday, I focused on my bodycare business. I made a batch of Lavender soap, then did photo shoots for shaving mugs, shaving brushes and my newest soap,  At The Forest's Edge.  Photos can always be better, but they're fine for today.   I got the long handled tool my Mom bought me some years ago, and harvested all the pears I could reach.  Though none of the chard seeds have germinated in the garden so far, I noticed one self-seeded chard, which I'll transplant into a bed  No, I won't, as J mowed it :o(.  Another day, I noticed a lettuce plant in the walkway, and transplanted it into a bed.  So, there's that at least!  For dinner, we had ravioli using our garlic, and a salad using our tomatoes and cucumber.

While, picking lima beans, I ran into a saddleback moth caterpillar.  Ouch!  They're quite interesting looking, but pack a bit of a sting.  On Friday, J went to the coast to do some deep sea fishing with his brother.  I had dinner with my sister, picked up a few things at the co-op, and gave myself a facial scrub and mask when I got home.  On Saturday, I started two dye pots, one with eucalyptus leaves and another with sunflower seed hulls.  The eucalyptus pot appears to be imparting a light peach color, and light gray on one of the pieces in the sunflower pot.  I'll check them again tomorrow.  I realized I've not shared my previous dye experiments, so I took some photos and will put up another post with them in the coming week.  An embroidered piece I created some time ago finally got placed in a hoop and listed in my shop.  The transition of seasons has got me feeling creative.  Have you had any creative moments lately?

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Royal Treatment & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  I hope you and your loved ones have remained safe through these very challenging times.  If recent events or other reasons have you looking for ways to make the most of what you have, you may want to check out The Prudent Homemaker's site.  There is great information there, as well as many helpful comments from readers.  Last week, I cut a bouquet to enjoy in the house.  After working in town, I ran errands and filled up my car for 8 cents less per gallon than the station closer to home. At Walgreens, I got almonds and cashews on sale, and $2 off 2 Hallmark cards.  From the garden, I harvested tomatoes, eggplant, okra, pawpaws, cucumbers, the last plums, pears, butter peas, and lima beans.  For dinner one night, I sauteed one of our onions in olive oil and cooked fresh lima beans, served with basmati rice and asian cucumbers.  I made a new recipe for pawpaw pineapple bread, which used our eggs.  The recipe called for self-rising flour, which I don't keep, so I made my own (for each cup of flour, add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder & 1/4 tsp salt).  I sent some cake home with J's son.

I shared okra with one of our neighbors, as well as pawpaws, which he was excited about.  He's going to try growing some from the seeds.  I froze celery that needed using.   One of J's clients gifted us two pumpkins that have a lot of character.  They'll be perfect for fall decorating, and then will be eaten.  My co-op recently had organic graham crackers on sale, and I enjoyed some as I did when I was a kid, with a bit of butter and homemade jam on them.  I'm sure others have eaten them this way, but I've never known of anyone.  It was just something my Mom and I liked.  I had a frugal fail, and forgot about the milk while while making yogurt, and it boiled a while.  There was a carton of shelf stable milk that needed using, so I used that for the second round, and kept a closer eye on it that time.  It is runnier than the usual, but the pups eat most of it, and don't seem to mind a bit.

On my walks, I pick up wild grapes I find on the ground.  I've also started picking up the fruits from sourgum trees.  Both are given to the chickens to supplement their diet.  Lima beans were frozen in meal sized bags.  I continued ignoring the repeated requests to renew my Country Living magazine subscription, which is good until Oct. 2018.  Twice in the past, without researching it enough, I renewed far too early.  They begin hounding me 18 months before my subscription expires.  Do they do that to everyone?  I have been a subscriber since the 1980's, and love the magazine, but it amazes me how wasteful they've become, sending out numerous letters, in addition to multiple emails.  I refuse to renew magazines online, as I want to decide if and when to renew, rather than give them the power to do it automatically from here to eternity.  I'm a bit odd, in that I really dislike the phone as a general rule, and I find nowhere to email them, to ask them to stop wasting their money.  So, their letters will continue to go in the trash.

It's looking like we'll have some impact from Hurricane Irma, so we're looking at our preparations.  J checked  the generator and found an issue with the charger.  I'm glad that was found and fixed well in advance.  Though our cistern was filled half way with the last rain, we're holding onto that water until after the storm, as it's easier to pump water from the cistern than our 500 ft. well.  So, in the meantime, we're dealing with the stinky and staining well water.  But, in light of what others are going through, I'm grateful to have it.  A good part of a day was spent sewing, which added a few therapy pillows to the shop.  They are filled with rice and lavender flowers, and can be heated or chilled to bring comfort to those spots that need soothing.  I'm grateful for some sales in my soap shop.

J & I were spoiled royally this weekend.  Though I told my family we didn't need a thing for our wedding, they thought of something very special to do for us, and gave us a getaway night at a very posh hotel in Greensboro.  When we heard the National Folk Festival was going to be there this weekend, we decided that was the perfect time to be in Greensboro.  After checking in on Saturday, we met my brother and his wife at the festival.  There were several stages going at once, with all sorts of world music and dance.  We heard Tibetan throat singing, Chicago blues, Ethiopian jazz, and bluegrass before heading back to the hotel for dinner in the courtyard.  The original plan was to return to the festival on Sunday, but with Hurricane Irma heading in this direction, we decided to return home and take care of some preparations, including taking some trees that were leaning or dying down that were close to the house.  But we thoroughly enjoyed our royal treatment, including champagne and other delectables sent to the room, and a scrumptious breakfast buffet.  Thinking frugally, we brought home all the delectables we hadn't eaten, including two beautiful ribbons they were tied with, and a large sprig of rosemary.  We enjoyed the last of the champagne before checking out, and brought home the complementary magazine and book of short stories.  It's something we'd likely never do for ourselves, but it was a delightful treat.  Wherever you are, friends, I wish you a week of safety, comfort and many blessings.

Monday, September 4, 2017

September Blooms & Frugal Accomplishments

abuzz with pollinators
Hello friends.  My heart has been with all the people affected by Hurricane Harvey.  May they find comfort and hope in the coming days.   For last week's frugal accomplishments, my Mom's zucchini soup was made with our squash, tomatoes, basil, onions and garlic.  I made vegi sloppy joe's (some from the discount grocery .50) one night,  with our okra as a side, and a salad which used used our tomato and cucumber.  Another night, I made a very frugal dinner of Polish  cabbage, shared by Jane.  She decided to stop blogging, but I keep hoping she'll begin again.  I crushed a large pan of egg shells, and added them to the compost bin.  Laundry was done with homemade soap, and hung on the line.  I redeemed a $15 amazon gift card with swagbucks points.

I've decided to try going gray again.  I was mostly gray from my mid 30's to mid 40's, though I expect it's about 100% now.  J says he doesn't care, so I colored with a lighter brown this week.  It's a little odd looking. and may be even odder when I try blonde next go round.  I thought it might work as the ends fade some, but I may have to cut a bit off before all is said and done.  Fun adventures with hair!  The days and nights have been cooling off, so a/c has been turned off more often, and windows open as much as possible.  I continue to pick okra, and freeze several meals worth weekly.  Chard, lettuce, and arugula seeds were replanted for the fall garden.  Swagbucks had not credited me for a gift purchase I made through them in July.  After going back and forth with them, I received the credit.  I made my initial swagbucks goal daily, and my secondary goal several days.

We have another broody hen.  I was thinking it was getting a little late, but J wanted to try again, so I put her in the broody area on 10 eggs.  I learned something this week.  I'd always thought once an egg got cool, it was no longer viable to hatch.  Well, come to find out you can keep eggs a couple of weeks before trying to incubate them.  Who knew?!  So, I saved up eggs for 3 days until I had 10.   Maybe the third time will be the charm in this case.  I'd been waiting for cooler temps and rain, and getting it, finally trimmed the lemon and avocado trees I started from seed.  They'll be easier to fit in the house over winter, and I hope they'll put out some side branches.  I don't expect to ever get avocados, but lemons would be lovely some day.

For dinner, a batch of Pasta Norma was made with our herbs and vegi's.  I planted more seeds for beets, hollyhocks, bachelor buttons, rumex, and black eyed susan.  Another 6 pints of tomato juice were canned.  When inspecting the jars for canning, I found one with a chip on the rim, so I tied a piece of twine on it to alert me to use it for dry goods, a vase, etc., anything besides canning.  I got an order for soap from one of the B&B's.  J's business partner offered to drop it off for me, as he lives 10 minutes from the B&B.  Though he said he wouldn't take anything, I put one of the new bars of soap in with the others for him.  This will save me an hour and a half round trip driving, and I usually "thrift my way home", so that money in addition to gas money will be saved.  Now that the new soap is ready, I've got to decide on a name, so I can get them wrapped and offered  in the shop.

This weekend, as part of my birthday celebration, J took me wherever I wanted to go on Saturday.  We went to a local shop I'd been wanting to check out, a farmer's market, botanical garden, bakery (for a small snack in lieu of lunch), thrift shops and a crepe place for late lunch/dinner.  Other than the gas, it was a pretty inexpensive day.  I found very little I needed, though I did buy a couple of chive plants for $1 ea (mine succumbed to the drought), and 2 black-eyed susans and a homestead verbena, each at 40% off.  I found two white shirts for dyeing and a ravioli maker at the thrift shops.  J, however, found two nice wool suit jackets, a couple pairs of cargo shorts, and six pairs of work pants, including a pair that are fireproof (helpful with welding, plasma cutting & such) and two pairs with tags still on.  We had a most enjoyable day together. On Sunday, my siblings and I met for dinner, which is always a fun time.

Wonderful rain arrived, almost 3/4".  Enough was collected that we'll be able to switch from the well water back to rain water, and hopefully, it will last us until the next rain.  Two very lovely bags of organic, shade grown coffee beans arrived from our new friend at the Smithsonian, as thanks for the pawpaws we shared with him.    We're very much enjoying the Ethiopian beans currently.  Wishing a lovely Labor Day holiday to my friends in the U.S.!