Monday, November 27, 2017

Late November & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, water continued to be collected from the tub leak and warm up water, and used for the wood stove humidifier, laundry, the pups water and watering plants.  It's been months since we've had a significant rain, so we changed the house back to well water late in the week.  There doesn't appear to be a good chance of rain in the forecast, but I hope it won't be very long before the cisterns will be topped back up.  Collards and lettuce were harvested.  Collards and rice were made for a dinner, along with beans from the pantry.  I went through ebates to purchase some Christmas presents.  A gift card paid for half the purchase.  I took M to an appointment an hour and a half away.  On the way home, I stopped at the Trader Joe's we passed by and bought some vegi sausage, stocking presents for J, and a few other things.  I've been enjoying books borrowed from the library, some light fiction for a change.

I wanted to share the soap dispenser I told you about last week.  I think it's a perfect match for the counter.  The sweet house tile above it is from this potter.  While in town after working, I dropped off buckets for grounds at the coffee shop.  I was down to one compost crock in my online shop, so I stopped by a consignment store, and found a neutral canister for a good price.  When I got in from work and errands on Friday, I turned it into a compost crock, took photos and listed it.  The only Black Friday shopping I did was chicken feed at Tractor Supply, and at the discount grocery, where I only found 3 things.  The best deal was a can of car refrigerant to add when the a/c gets low.  We've used these in my car before, at $12 a pop, and this one was $2.  I picked up a bucket of grounds at the coffee shop, where I met a friend.  She gifted me a large bag of kale, and I shared collards and lettuce. 

After being gone from home for at least part of the previous 10 days, what I really wanted was to stay at home on Thanksgiving.  J felt the same, so he baked a chicken (no turkey breast was found at the store he went to), and I made a fresh cranberry salad, roasted brussels sprouts, my grandmother's stuffing (vegi version), and a pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream.  M came to join us, and it was enough.  I'm sure we'll be with family again in the future, but a peaceful, quiet, home day was just what was needed this year.  There was a patch of lambs ear underneath the roses.  I dug up 5 clumps, and transplanted them to the bed next to the porch.  I continue to collect things for the dye pot as I see them... lichens, dry mushrooms and such.  A friend gifted me several oak galls she had collected.

A couple more breakfasts of oatmeal with pumpkin butter, and that was finished up.  J pointed out a couple of very interesting looking moths.  Thanks to a friend on facebook, who saw me post them, I now know they are buck moths, in the giant silkworm family.   We harvested a couple of cabbages.  The first one was prepared as Colcannon with our potatoes, which is comfort food to me and yummy.  Earlier in the week, after work, I went by Lowe's to pick up items needed for some recent orders.  While there, I checked out the marked down plants, and bought 2 pots of pansies for $3 ea.  I planted them near the door, to cheer us as we come and go.  In previous years, the local rabbits have chewed them up when planted in the yard and in a bed by the road, so up near the house should make them safer too.

All laundry was done with homemade soap, and hung on the clothesline to dry.  After enjoying Wartime Farm, Edwardian Farm & others several years ago, I was happy to find another historical series.  This one is Further Back in Time for Dinner, a BBC show you can watch free on youtube, which focuses mostly on what a family would have eaten, though there are other things that are touched upon.  So far, I've viewed from 1900 through the 1920's, and am enjoying the clothes, and seeing how things were done.  The meals in the early part of the century were incredibly meat and offal heavy, as in that was almost all they ate.  I'm glad to be living now :o).  This week, I'll be getting ready for a show on Saturday, wrapping a soap order for a B&B, sharing meals with old friends, giving massages, and enjoying fall.  I hope your week is a good one. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Celebration & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  Several days working at an occasional job, as well as working at the annual Celebration of Seagrove Potters through the weekend made for a busy week.  I managed to prepare Pasta Norma one night and several salads with our veggies and herbs.  Homemade soap washed our laundry, which was dried on the line.  We've needed very little in the way of groceries, so a minimal amount of things were bought.  I dropped off 2 buckets at the coffee shop early in the week, and picked them up filled with grounds several days later, which will make nice compost.  A batch of vanilla was recently bottled, so I picked up some brandy while in town, and started a new batch.

I'm still surprised by the dearth of eggs from the hens.  A very good day is 2 eggs, and more often, there are none or one.  There are a lot of feathers in the coop, so I know some are molting, but sheesh, it's been a long time since we've had a decent amount of eggs.  They do have layer pellets always available, get a small amount of grains in the morning, as well as fresh greens most days.  In the 20 years I've had chickens, I've not had such a non-laying bunch.  Our young hens could start laying in December, but I'm betting with it being the darkest time of the year, they'll wait until the days lengthen some.  Maybe the group is taking advantage of my vegetarian nature :o).  I enjoyed a boiled egg with toast one morning for breakfast.

The Celebration was great fun to be involved in over the weekend.  I sold some soap at the pottery shop on Saturday, and had two online sales that day too.  There was one purchase made over the weekend, which showed great restraint on my part, and the purchase was one I needed.  The kitchen soap dispenser broke recently.  I had just changed the broken pump for a new one, and replaced the cork stopper with a rubber one.  I don't know if it wasn't working properly and let the pressure build up, but one day while Joseph was pumping it, a hunk on the side just popped out.  I found one at the show that matches perfectly.   I already had a sponge holder made by the same potter, and I think the siblings are happy together :o).  A yummy lunch was provided on Saturday, and pieces of banana bread and pound cake were sent home with me.  So good with tea!

Friends came by the Celebration on Sunday, and gifted me several Christmas cactus and aloe plants.  They had the cacti in every color, so it will be a surprise to see what color(s) I end up with.  I used our cabbage to make cabbage and noodles for dinner one night, and cut up a few of the last ripening tomatoes to go with it.   Now that the leaves are falling,  I'm enjoying finding the bird nests in our orchard.   One of these is made with pine straw, the other with twigs.  I brought home a large bag of shredded paper last week, and used some of it to line nest boxes for the chickens.  Mint was gathered, and added to the nest boxes as well.  Wishing a lovely Thanksgiving to all who celebrate.

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Profusion of Purple & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  The picking of the tender vegetables inspired some meals.  I cooked the last of the okra, along with some of our home canned crowder peas and sauteed collards.  Being we hadn't had a frost yet,  J suggested I put the collards in the freezer for a half hour or so, and we do think they sweetened up a bit.  Disappointed with the rutabagas we're growing, I bought one in the local grocery store, and cooked it up with some of our potatoes.  In the mood for something sweet, I baked a batch of brownies, which used our eggs, homemade vanilla and pantry items.  Late in the week, we did have our first freeze.  Before it, I picked a bouquet, and took photos of all the blooms I saw, in case I might need to look at them before there are blooms again.  I hope you enjoy them.

Warm and cold weather clothes and sheets were switched out.  This is crunch time for holiday soap making, so I've been making batches of soap.  They'll have just enough curing time to be ready for an annual show I do the first weekend in December.  On a gray, drizzly day, I made a pot of vegetable soup.  The majority of the veggies were grown here, with a little bit of store bought thrown in.  Some leftover okra, collards, crowder peas, potatoes & rutabagas went into the pot, along with canned and fresh homegrown vegi's.  For one breakfast, I scrambled our eggs with a few small tomatoes.  I've been trying to use up the pumpkin butter I made for the hayride.   I've added it to my oatmeal, and enjoyed it on toast.  Another day, I added a bit of vanilla and coconut palm sugar to my homemade yogurt, spooned on some pumpkin butter, added pecans and homemade granola.  This was good!  I used a promo code to get 10% off a Christmas gift.

Laundry was done with homemade soap, on a drizzly day, because hampers were full, so two loads went into the dryer with a large wool dryer ball, instead of hanging them outdoors.  I'm thankful to have a dryer to use when needed.  Water collected from the bathtub leak and warm up water was used in the washer, as well as being used other times to top off the humidifier on the woodstove and the pups water bowl.  I visited a friend, and we went to Aldi's & a new Lidl store (similar to Aldi's).  Aldi's price on produce was better,  I got pomegranates for .69 and cranberries for .69.  They also had walnuts for 4.49/lb, which I thought was a good price.  Lidl had organic butter for 4.89, which is the cheapest I've seen this year, so I got two to add to the freezer.  My friend gifted me with a dozen eggs, two types of homemade bread, and a tart pan.  We'd been talking about a particular German dessert my husband was wanting, and I can use the pan for this.  My husband was stationed in Germany in the military, and he gave me a wish list when I went to Lidl's.  I found a few of the bakery items he requested, which pleased him, and which we both enjoyed.  I brought collards, rutabaga & lettuce to share.

can you find the bumblebee?
After the rain, I was able to hang a load of laundry on the line.  With a hard freeze predicted, I spent a good part of Friday in the garden, harvesting any remaining tender produce.  There was more than I thought.  I picked almost 5 gals of lima beans, plus a small amount of butter peas.  There were also several small eggplant, peppers and a tromboncino squash.  I harvested a basket of swiss chard, some dill, oregano, 4 goji berries, and a small amount of potatoes.  I transplanted the celery (grown from a grocery store end) in with the lettuce, and covered it all for the cold temps.  The chickens got ugly chard leaves, and a few tiny tomatoes.  Eggplant cubes were roasted and frozen, to enjoy on pizzas and such.

On Saturday, I met a friend at a local pottery.  They were having an event that included hearth cooking, dyeing with plants, blacksmithing & weaving on a loom.  I found it very interesting.  They were doing a lot of cooking, but we didn't stay long enough to sample anything.  The woman who was dyeing spoke with us for a bit, and I learned a little more about dyeing with lichens.  I purchased a hook from the blacksmith, as well as a glass garden cloche made in Williamsburg.  I love living in this area, where the old time crafts are still practiced.  Though the blacksmith did discount the hook $2 for some reason, the purchases were not especially frugal.  I know if these artisans are to make a living here, they need people to support their work.  Investing in this community and handmade products are things that are very worthwhile to me.  I shared some lima beans. 

On Sunday, I blanched and froze several meals worth of lima beans, and also blanched and froze strips of sweet red peppers.  J pickled a quart jar of green peppers, and he and I vacuum sealed the walnuts into pint jars.  A purchase of supplements was bought through ebates and with a 15% off promo code.  This coming weekend will be the annual Seagrove Celebration.  I'll be working Fri-Sun at a couple of venues helping with this.  I also agreed to work 7 mornings at one of my occasional jobs, basically every day I wasn't taking someone to an appointment or was otherwise committed between now and the end of the month.  Now where did I leave my roller skates?  I think I may need them.  Be well, friends.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Elder in Training & Frugal Accomplishments

With temperatures right at freezing for the morning walk on Monday, I grabbed some fingerless gloves, a scarf and ear warmers.  It was very comfortable with all the accessories.  With colder weather approaching, winter preparations need to be finished on the homestead.  J closed all the crawl space vents.  He's been working on our firewood for some time, there's enough for the winter, and all is split and stacked.  On our to do list is building a simple woodshed, which will eventually get done.  Outdoor spigots need to be covered, and hoses put up.  After harvesting all the tender produce from the garden, we spent Sunday evening shelling out all the lima beans.  J put all the hot peppers in the dehydrator, and I placed all the basil in ice cube trays, and covered the cubes with water for freezing.  This may be the latest ever, but summer and winter clothes and sheets need to be changed out.  I don't believe I've ever harvested basil this late.  It's been an unusual year.  Vegi BLT's were requested, which used a couple of our tomatoes and lettuce.

I redeemed a $25 Amazon gift card from Swagbucks.  One morning, before guests arrived, I made pumpkin bread using a King Arthur Flour recipe.  Our pumpkin, eggs, homemade vanilla and some home ground wheat went into them.  It ended up my guests didn't have any, but J & I have been enjoying one loaf, and I froze the other.  It's the first time I made this recipe, and it's delicious, so I'll be making it again.  Sweet peppers were shared with my guests.  It turns out we did not have a frost Sunday night.  Looking at the 15 day forecast, which will change I'm sure, there is not a frost during that time.  I found several more tiny goji berries on one of the bushes, which makes for high hopes of a decent harvest next year.

For an event I attended, a teaching on Elderhood, it was requested to bring travel cups for tea, which was provided.  I often bring a local pottery mug when I'm attending classes, but this event was being held outdoors.  Thinking that keeping the heat in a cup of tea might be important to keep warm, I made a cup cozy out of a felted sweater for a mug with lid I had thrifted.  It took longer than expected to make the cozy, zigzagging the edges and getting the taper right, but I have something that will work.  A lovely lunch was provided, vegetables all from the farm where the event was held.  J harvested the first cabbage, and I made Polish cabbage and noodles after I got in on Saturday, true comfort food.

The time change this weekend brings shorter days.  The twinkly lights are on early and late, if not all  day, and beeswax candles flicker on the dinner table at night. We've enjoyed hot buttered rum on a couple of cool nights.  This is the recipe we use.  Using our lettuce and tomatoes, I've enjoyed eggs on everything bagels for breakfast a couple of mornings.  I pulled all the winter clothes and sheets boxes from the attic, and will work on switching them out today.  There is soap that needs wrapping.  After a week of many things that took me away from home, I will take a day to relish being at home.  Wishing you a most lovely week!