Sunday, January 14, 2018

Accustomed To The Quiet & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Though there are many wonderful things about wood heat, there's no denying it's a messy business.  From moving the wood itself from outdoors to in-- J has taken to bringing it inside with a wheelbarrow, moving it from copper boiler to stove, and then there's the ash that puffs out and settles on everything.  However, I can't forget a period of time when I was newly separated, and had only the barest of means of keeping warm.  I'm thankful it was brief, and mighty thankful for the wood stove, and a husband who works hard to keep us warm.  On the rare occasions when the electric heat comes on... maybe the wood got wedged in the stove and it cooled off enough for the heat to switch on in the early morning... I'm reminded how thankful I am too that wood heat is quiet, with just the occasional pops and hisses of burning wood.  J & I realized we don't sleep very well when the blower of the electric heat cycles off and on, having grown accustomed to the quiet.

We continue to get orders in our online metal home goods shop, and I'm thankful for that.  Once J fabricates them, I paint the orders, do the final details, and ready them for shipping.  I paid bills online, saving the cost of stamps.  Though I never felt very sick, I believe I ended up with a bout of bronchitis last week.  I'm so thankful I had a bronchial remedy from my herbalist friend, as it saved the day, and quickly.  Hooray for plant medicine, and those who study and share it with the world!  I suppose hygge is a bit passe this year, but I got the idea online to create a hygge box, sort of a care package for a family member who gets the winter doldrums.  Think candles, good cocoa, a pretty magazine, snacks, nail polish, and warm fuzzy socks.  I'm looking forward to gifting it.  Some of what I purchased was marked down at Marshall's, and I picked up the perfect Harry & David wood box for $1 at a thrift store.  I also bought a fitted sheet for .50, a canister I plan to turn into a compost crock for $1, and a Fire King loaf pan for $2 at the thrift store, while supporting the local SPCA.

our frozen pond
There was a reprieve from the cold.  I took advantage of a day in the 40's, did two loads of laundry, and hung them on the line.  It's briefly turning cold again, with nights in the teens, and a possibility of snow midweek.  By next weekend, it will be warming up again.  J & I went to the movies for the first time in years.  I knew this movie would be best enjoyed on the big screen, and it was marvelous.  I gave the correct amount for our tickets, but got change in return.  I guess we got the senior rate, though neither of us is their posted age to get it.  No complaints, though.  We're building our egg supply again, so they've been back on the menu.  Some are boiled for the pups, and some are enjoyed for breakfast.  There will likely be quiche for dinner this coming week.  Some long and short walks were enjoyed with the pups this week.  It felt good to be outside again, and move a bit more.  J's business partner found a sweet bird nest heading to the pond one day, and gifted it to me.  I had not moved the Christmas boxes up to the attic, so it was added to one of the boxes for next year's tree.  A sweet and simple pleasure from this week.  If you've had any sweet and simple pleasures recently, I'd love if you'd share them.  Be well, friends!

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Little Snow & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  We enjoyed a quiet New Years Eve at home, enjoying some Prosecco, and working on our jigsaw puzzle.  Wild and crazy, huh?  We've since finished the puzzle, and I've boxed it up to pass along.  J surprised me with a new puzzle, this one a map of the U.S.  On New Years, I fixed black eyed peas, collards and rice, and peach cobbler.  J heated up some ham to go with his dinner.  After having the collards and rice a second night, I froze the remainder.  I've been fighting a cold, so made a pot of Garden Garlic soup, which lasted three nights.  I made a kale salad to go with it one night, and warmed some bread.  I've been taking my own elderberry tincture, along with natural store bought items for my cold, and trying to drink plenty of fluids, including rosehip tea and blueberry tea with raw honey.  I also made up some lemon balm & nettle tea with my dried herbs, which wasn't as tasty, but I drank it anyway :o). 

With such cold temps, warm comfort food seemed in order, so another night I made a butternut squash crumble (with vegi bacon & broth), and cabbage and noodles.  There was quite a bit of prep work with this meal, but we did enjoy it.  Butternut squash peelings, herb stems and onion ends went into the broth bag in the freezer.  The cabbage core was saved to chop up for the pups, and ugly outer leaves composted.  For lunches, I made hummus using pantry items and our garlic.  It was enjoyed with cut up carrots & celery (me) & chips (him).  I made yogurt and kefir.  Warm up water was saved and added to the wood stove humidifier, the chicken water pot, and used for flushing.  I found a book on hygge at my library, and requested it.  In the meantime, I'm enjoying some fiction I bought discounted 50% on amazon in December.

In going through Christmas stuff this year as I was putting it away, I organized things and gathered a bag for donation.  I also made a note for next Christmas, letting myself know the only thing I'll need is cards.  I always think I'll remember from one year to the next, but I don't, so I added it to the December calendar.  I did laundry with homemade soap, but used the dryer, as it stayed below freezing.  We ended up getting an inch and a half of snow, which is nothing compared to most parts of the country, but it hung around for days with the cold temps.  I took short walks with the pups, but will wait for the snow to melt to take a long one.  Stopping by Dollar General for an item, I saw their Christmas things were 70% off, and bought 3 packs of holiday tissue paper for .30 ea.  I had gone in to buy a couple of clear shower liners, to staple up outside the chicken's small enclosed yard, which they tend to stay in when there's snow on the ground.  They'll allow light in, but keep them somewhat protected from the wind. We also used a heat lamp on the coldest nights.

Other than milk, and a rare few items, I'd not done much grocery shopping in several weeks.  Though we've got lots of canned and frozen produce, I wanted some fresh.  At Aldi's, I got mandarins, pomegranates, lemons, avocados and bananas.  I also picked up organic bread, tortilla chips and apple juice while there.  The wood stove is being used to heat various pots.  A large pot of water stays on the stove to give to the chickens.  It's poured over their frozen automatic waterer.  I've been taking them a warm mix of grains, old cream, eggnog or milk, nettles and a pinch of kelp each day.  This pot warms on the wood stove while I put my many layers on.  I boiled a pot of small sweet potatoes for the pups on the stove another day.  On sunny days, as it reached the south side of the house, I opened blinds and doors to take advantage of the warmth.

Mandarin peels are being added to a jar of vinegar for cleaning.  Swagbucks goals were made several days.  I wanted to gift a loved one a wedding photo of J & I.  Going through ebates saved 4%; using a coupon code saved another 40%.  The photo ended up being .23 including tax, and I'll use a pretty gold frame I picked up for .25.  So, a .47 cent gift after ebates.  The biggest cost will be shipping it.  I put bulk sesame seeds in pint jars, and J & I vacuum sealed them for the pantry.  I hadn't done anything with the green striped cushaw squashes we grew, and mentioned to J that I wasn't sure what to do with them.  Happily, he said his Mom made a pie from them that he loved, so I got the recipe, and we enjoyed some Sunday night.  The squash, and the lentil soup I made for dinner cooked on the wood stove.  Vegi peelings and bits went into the broth bag.  Our drinking water line (rainwater) froze during the first night of single digits.  J worked on it Sunday, and got it flowing again just before dark.  There appears to be a warming trend on the horizon.  I only managed a long walk (3+ miles) once last week.  I'm ready to get back to them this week.  Stay warm, eat healthy and get some fresh air and exercise.  Those are some of my goals for January.  How about you?

Monday, January 1, 2018

A New Year & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  On Christmas Eve, I harvested broccoli and lettuce.  I made salad to bring to a dinner we were attending at friend's.  Knowing I'd want to be able to relax on Christmas, I vacuumed and mopped the house, and cleaned the chicken coop.  Crossing those things off my list felt good.  On Christmas morning, J made omelets.  For dinner, I made baked ziti, with our tomatoes, garlic and herbs in the sauce.  We also enjoyed bread given to us on Christmas Eve.  As the ziti was baking, we began working on our jigsaw puzzle.  It's been fun entertainment several nights.  I received a few books as gifts, always welcome, but especially during these short days of winter.   Bluebird houses were gifted to me by M, and I'm pretty excited about them.  We need all the pest help we can get.  He made these with predator guards, which is most excellent, as squirrels have chewed the holes bigger, and snakes have made their way into the ones we have already.

With many nights in the teens forecast early last week, I harvested lots of kale, collards, lettuce, broccoli, four beets and swiss chard.  I steamed the swiss chard and beet greens to go with quinoa and yellow squash.  It's the first time I tried this dish with canned squash, and it was fine.  With the squash being much softer than fresh, you barely notice it at all.  I may double up on the squash next time, to use up more of the canned squash.   The collards were frozen, and some of the lettuce shared.  For a little over an hour on Friday, we were without power.  Though it's quiet here as a rule, without the hum of the computer, ceiling fan, and intermittent clicking on and off of the refrigerator and freezer, there was total quiet.  I pulled a chair up to the wood stove, and enjoyed a bit of reading while it lasted.

There haven't been a lot of frugal happenings going on.  I've stayed at home as much as possible, and have been working on paperwork in various forms... some bookkeeping for the guys, the pile at my computer, a stack of magazines sorted through and ready for passing on.  I did purchase 1/2 off gift wrap on the 26th.  At the grocery store, I bought only a gallon of milk.  At the discount grocery, I bought only a .50 pack of  those party squawkers that unroll when you blow them, just in case we're actually awake for the New Year.  I sent out a few cards that Lesley created for New Years.  I'm especially fond of the back side of these.

Like much of the country, it's especially cold here, with very low double digits forecast most nights this week.  As we're often a few degrees colder than forecast, I expect we may see single digits at least one night.  J & I hauled more leaves to the chicken coop, giving them a deeper layer on the floor for warmth.  The bird feeders are being kept full, and water added to the bird baths.  I bought a very soft and fuzzy bed for our farm cat a few weeks ago at Big Lots.  When I step into the shed, I often find her enjoying it.   I'm happy to be joining in with the Frugal Accomplishments community at The Prudent Homemaker today.  May the coming year bring good things for us all.  Happy New Year!