Monday, September 16, 2019

A Doozy of a Day & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  I forgot to mention last week that friends that visited brought us large bags of tart dried cherries and dried cranberries.  They were put in jars to store in the pantry.  I cut up one of our peppers, and sauteed corn with it and a clove of garlic. Speaking of garlic, ours has been languishing on a table on the porch since harvest.  I'd been cleaning a few heads at a time as I needed them.  I finally got around to cutting the roots and cleaning the majority of them, before a blister caused me to stop. Seed was harvested from carrot plants.  I enjoyed an outdoor shower.  Though the days are remaining quite hot, the nights are cooling off enough to open up and let the cool air in.  Some nights, the temperature in the house only drops 1 degree, but having fresh air and not having to use the a/c is a definite plus.

I decided to try something new with the corn and pepper leftovers, leftover roasted potatoes and herbs, and a zucchini orzo dish.  I mixed them all together with an egg, some flour, cheddar cheese and garlic powder, and made fritters.  We had J's son for dinner, and we all agreed they were quite tasty.  I'll have to remember that when we have dribs and drabs of leftovers.  I had a frugal fail on Monday, when after hours of chopping the night before, and a few hours of simmering, I scorched a batch of pear preserves.  Bummer.  On Tuesday, I made pear sauce.  I'm used to eating unsweetened apple sauce, but this batch was pretty bland.  The next day, I added vanilla and lemon juice to another batch for more flavor.  For about half of the pears, I was able to use my apple peeler/corer, but the rest had spots that needed cutting out.  I'd read of people who steam them, and decided to try that, to take care of the problem of scorching.  It worked great.  The first day, I used the blender to turn them into sauce, which worked fine, though I did it in small batches, and poured them directly into the jars without tasting.  The next day, I sauced the whole batch in the pot with the immersion blender, then seasoned it before putting it in jars.  I'll do that again.  I've tackled all the pears, except for a handful, which we'll eat fresh.  Yay!

A book I requested from the library came in.  When I requested it, I was 9 in the queue, so had no idea when it would be available.  I won't be in town until next week, where the main library is, so asked them to send it to the local library.  They run couriers between the libraries daily, and it saved me a trip to town.  I save all our corks for the local orchid grower, and dropped them off while passing by on an errand.  Pasta Norma was made with our herbs and veggies.  I chopped and froze some of our sweet peppers.  I harvested cucumbers, pawpaws, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, green beans, squash, figs, lettuce and lima beans.  Tomatoes were canned.  Our lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes were used in a salad, and homemade dressing made from pantry items.  I learned that our phone company began giving all customers free caller ID this month, so called and set that up.  We've gotten into the habit of often letting the phone ring, as so much of it is robocalls, so this will help.

 The requested book was picked up.  For a dinner, I made a tomato rice loaf and squash dish, using our vegetables and herbs.  A friend visited, and gifted me several books, a sweater, shawl and scarf.  I worked in the garden, cutting back dead leaves and vines of cucumbers, squash and tomatoes.  The heat and drought have taken their toll, as well as it being time for things to begin dwindling.  I hope the pruning will help things produce a bit longer.  I gathered more basil than needed for a recipe, so the extra chopped basil went into an ice cube tray, was covered with water, and frozen.  I made a batch of yogurt.  Eggs were boiled for us and the pups.  After working on firewood, J & I enjoyed a night out, meeting friends for dinner and a concert.  J worked on the refrigerator again, and so far, it looks like this time fixed it.  There was one day that was a real doozy, but we made it through intact.  Life is always interesting, that's for sure.  Wishing you good things in the week ahead.   

Monday, September 9, 2019

Early September & Frugal Accomplishments

loofah blossom
Hello friends.  Last week, I listed several things on ebay, a few of my friend's antiques and several pairs of my shoes.  On Labor Day, we worked on the solar hot water system.  There were some less fun portions of the job finished, such as spending time in the crawlspace to hook things up, and covering a tank with insulation batting, but we were able to start the system.  There are still some things to do, but it's far enough along that water is being heated, though not yet to the 150 degrees needed to move to our hot water tank.  J cut down some trees, and needs to cut some more which are shading it. One good thing that came from that is a good amount of usnea, which was on a dying tree.  I gathered enough to finish out one jar of tincture, and filled another 1/2 pint jar.  The trees will be used for firewood.

After a soap delivery, I went by a favorite thrift store, and found a canister, which I'll turn into a compost crock for my shop.  I also found a lovely floral painting for $10, which will be added to a gallery of floral paintings on the tall wall behind the couch.  I shelled all of last years hazelnuts, and for my birthday, we made my Mom's recipe for hazelnut gelato.  A beautiful birthday bouquet was sent by my daughter in spirit.  We attended an appreciation night for a group we support.  There was live music, local beverages, and delicious food by a kitchen that has just opened up there.  They use lots of local foods, and all of it is vegetarian.  On a recent night when J had been working on that site, he brought home a couple of their offerings for dinner.  Both were savory items in pastry.  Yum!

A batch of yogurt was made.  On Saturday morning, while J was working on our orders, I canned tomatoes and shelled beans.  When he was done with his part, I cleaned and painted them.  During a lull, I fertilized several things with fish emulsion, including all the house plants.  Holes were drilled in the canister lid, to turn it into a compost crock.  After some research, I was able to figure out how to watch This Is Us on our TV.  The sad part is NBC only gives you 3 show credits, and I used one to find out I had already seen that episode.  It's been 6 months or so, and I couldn't remember exactly where I was at.  Oh well.  I suppose after the credits are used up, they'll want payment.  Hopefully, I can find another way to view them.  I tried a new recipe, with tromboncino squash and orzo.  It was pretty good, though a little bland for our tastes.

Our orders were packed up on Sunday.  After friends visited, and pawpaws were shared, we headed to town to ship the orders and run a few errands.  When we picked up items to do an oil change on my car, we got a deal that gave us a free oil filter.  When we got back, I prepped 4 1/2 qts. of pear preserves, which will be canned on Monday.  I packed up an ebay sale.  In the garden last week, I harvested tromboncino squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, a pepper, the last of the hazelnuts, pawpaws, a few leaves of lettuce, a butternut squash, basil, oregano and thyme.  I was happy to find  two monarch caterpillars on the milkweed.  I'm enjoying these late summer days, and wish you a lovely week ahead. 

Monday, September 2, 2019

Happy Pollinators & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I took advantage of a free 8 x 10 offered by Walgreens.  It happened that my cousin had just sent a scan of our grandparents wedding photo.  I'll be so happy to add it to our family photo gallery.  I pulled off the pillow covers and mattress pad, and washed them with the other linens.  All laundry was hung on the line.  One of the commenters on The Prudent Homemaker gave me the idea to freeze zucchini tots, so I made a quadruple batch, and froze 3 meals worth.  I plan to do it again, as a way to use up some of the squash.  All of our little apples in the crisper, along with one of our pears and several of the free asian pears, were used in an apple tart.  It was a real labor of love, as almost all had pecked or bad spots, but I feel good that they've been made use of.  The pups were given peelings a few nights with their dinner.  Update:  I made the tart using honey for sweetener, and have to go back to the drawing board, as the taste was too strong for our liking.

The pollinators have been happy on the mountain mint and Joe Pye weed.  I recently read of goldenrod helping achy muscles.  I gathered some, and followed the recipe to make salve.  If it works, that will be a helpful thing to have on hand.  The chicken coop was cleaned, and mint and lemon balm gathered to freshen it up a bit.  The pups were bathed with homemade soap in the outdoor shower.  I used homemade sweet potato treats to entice them.  After their bath, I made up a half & half vinegar/water solution, and cleaned their ears.  Lemon balm was harvested, and a jar of tincture started.  Basil was harvested, chopped and frozen in cubes with water for winter use. Pasta sauce was made with our tromboncino squash, tomatoes, basil, rosemary and garlic.  I requested a book from the library, and redeemed swagbucks for a $25 amazon GC.

I tried making another round of almond milk, this time a half recipe, as the majority of the first batch went bad, even with dividing and freezing half.  I like to mix things up for meals, so something that only lasts 2 days is a bit problematic.  On my Dr's recommendation, I also removed the skins this time.  I'm hoping that makes a difference in it's perishibility too.  A double batch of hummingbird food was made.  A pair of slippers were repaired.  One of the things I fall short in is fertilizing plants.  Somehow, I don't often get to it.  But this week, I did manage to fertilize a number of plants, some edible, but many flowering.  The heat and humidity drove me back inside, but I hope to get to another round of plants soon.  A neighbor came by while I was harvesting.  I had found the two largest pawpaws we've ever grown, and he loves them, so they went home with him.  The next day, I sent a bag home with him. 

Though my birthday isn't until next week, the celebrating has begun.  I enjoyed a dinner out with family on Saturday, and was gifted a painting and wildflower bouquet from a very sweet little boy (my great nephew).  With a hurricane possibly heading this way in a few days, we harvested all the pears we could reach with a picker.  They filled two 5 gallon buckets.  Now, what to do with all those pears?  I decided to make pear preserves on Sunday, which I plan to give as gifts.    That put a dent in it, but there are lots more.  After canning, I headed to a friend's lake house for the evening.  It's always a treat to relax and look out at the water.  I brought a tromboncino squash and eggs to share.  In just a couple more days, the Pumpkin Chai soap can begin being wrapped.  For all those in the path of Hurricane Dorian, I wish you safety.  Be well, friends.

Monday, August 26, 2019

New Recipes & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I foraged some lovely chanterelles.  We've been getting some nice rain, which is helping the mushrooms come out.  After work on Tuesday, I picked up a few groceries, including .99 avocados and bags of dog food on sale for $4 less than usual.  I also stopped to get a few lettuce and parsley plants.  I was focused, and didn't even check out the mark down section :o).  The goji berries finally began blooming last week.  Hopefully, there is time to get some fruit before first frost.  I canned squash, and made Pasta Norma, which used our eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano and chives.  A double batch of hummer food was made twice.  The hummingbird numbers have increased dramatically, so I'm thinking they must be close to migrating.  They're going through lots of food.  J noticed storm clouds gathering, so grabbed the laundry on the line.  Three pairs of his work pants were still slightly damp.  I threw them over chairs instead of using the dryer.

morning pond
A batch of tomatoes was canned.  One of my nieces came for a visit.  She went on the morning hike with the pups.  I fixed breakfast when we returned, and introduced her to pawpaw, which she liked. I gathered seeds of carrot and kale, and found that kale had reseeded in our old cold frame.   A neighbor gifted us a large bag of corn.  Six ears were boiled, and the remainder were used in a corn zucchini chowder, which was delicious.  The chowder also used a tromboncino squash, as well as our potatoes, garlic and thyme.  It was as pretty as it was yummy.  Several figs were harvested, and enjoyed fresh.  The loofahs have begun blooming.  I'm pretty sure it's too late to get any viable loofahs, but the pollinators seem to be enjoying the flowers.  Another new recipe was tried, Lentil Salad with Cucumbers and Olives.  It's a keeper too.  I'm so enjoying the cooler temperatures, and having the windows open again.

On Saturday, we planted a good part of our fall garden... collards, cabbage, broccoli, kale and lettuce plants.  There are also collards that have come up from seed, though they're small yet.  I also planted the moonflowers.  In planting the mystery yellow flowers, I found that there are indeed spirea in with them.  So, I got two for one in those pots.  After making and painting 5 orders on Sunday, J & I worked on our solar hot water system.  Conduit was laid in a trench, and the lines fished.  A few things were hooked up, but I can't remember the names at the moment.  Last week, he was given a heat exchanger that was no longer in use from a job he was working at.  It will work perfectly in our system.  Lemon balm and lemon verbena were harvested and dried for tea.  I know I'm forgetting some things, but it's been a bit of a whirlwind lately.  Wishing you a lovely week ahead.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Old Man of the Woods & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  After an appointment last week, I went by Trader Joe's and a local natural foods market.  On Tuesday, I met a friend for dinner and free live music to celebrate her birthday.  I'd seen one of the musicians earlier this summer, and thought she'd like him too.  Two of her gifts were made or altered by me.  There were daily walks with the pups.  While harvesting parsley one day, I noticed several swallowtail caterpillars feeding on it.  I recently saw a friend had put a large laundry bag over her plants with caterpillars to protect them.   I only had small bags, so I covered them them the best I could for one day, then found some large ones at Dollar Tree, and changed them out.  These are busy days in the garden, with cucumbers, green beans, yellow squash, zucchini, tromboncino, tomatoes, peppers and hazelnuts being harvested.  There were even a few of the peach runner beans, which I cooked up in a recipe with tomatoes, onion and garlic.  We enjoyed them, though the hot, dry days have made all the beans a little tough. Good fiber!

One day, I got a call from J, asking if I'd be willing to bring the guys their suitcase welder, as the large portable one had broke down.  They were working at the place where he and his business partner had first worked together as employees.  The plant has gone through numerous changes since then.  At one time, a good bit of food was planted there.  These days much of it goes to waste.  I gathered 10 asian pears, and around 3 dozen figs while there.  A few figs were eaten fresh, and the rest were dehydrated.  I'm thinking of making a tart with the pears, but haven't decided. I also gathered a few flower heads of zinnias and dianthus.  Free organic food and seeds was a nice bonus for doing a good deed.  J worked there again the next day, and brought home another 12 asian pears.  I stopped by a nearby feed & seed for chick food on the way home, and saw their plants were all 75% off.  I came home with a lemongrass, 2 moonflower vines, and 2 plants labeled as spirea tomentosa, but learned they are something else entirely, with yellow flowers.  Oh well, it will be a surprise, unless you can enlighten me.  The plants were all $1 or $1.25 each.

mystery plants (see long, narrow leaves below lemongrass leaf)
I had intended to can squash, and had just put the canning rings in a pot to boil when J called about the welder.  So, plans changed, and I canned squash the next day.  While keeping an eye on the canner, I shelled the dry lima beans.  When I was done canning, I blanched and froze fresh limas, and made a batch of yogurt.  For my upcoming birthday, I'd been thinking of asking for headphones, which I sometimes use to listen to things on the computer, or watch a movie J isn't interested in.  The right side of the headphones hasn't worked right for some time, and takes a lot of fiddling to get it to work.  It occurred to me that I may be able to fix it by replacing the jack, so ordered one for less than $5, which J will solder for me.  I've had them for years, and replaced the ear foam within the past year.  The headphones are good quality, so if the jack works, they should last a good while longer.

While canning, I kept enough yellow squash out to make this dish.  For another meal, I pulled sloppy joe sauce from the freezer, and J pulled a chicken from the freezer another day.  The ice maker broke a few weeks ago.  It took several tries, and a bit of sleuthing, but J managed to fix it for not much OOP.  Another day, I canned tomatoes, then dehydrated the skins for bird suet.  I'd been wanting to try a plant version of mozzarella, and did when I made a caprese salad.  It was surprisingly good. Even J said he would eat it.  This will help me better keep to my Dr's recommendations during tomato season.  I'm not perfect, but I'm trying.  It's been a few weeks since there were any figs to harvest.  I checked on them, and found 4 big, perfectly ripe figs to harvest.  They were so good.  J bought a new TV, which came with Roku.  I think that means I'll be able to watch more of the This is Us show for free, which makes me happy.

On Sunday morning's walk, I harvested a couple of chanterelles and an old man of the woods, which were both taught during the mushroom class.  Old man of the woods is a new edible for me, so I cooked up a small piece with the chantrelles, eggs, tomatoes and garlic to try.  The instructor said the taste benefited from drying and rehydrating, so I dried the remainder.  It's always a good idea to eat a small amount when trying a new mushroom, to make sure it agrees with you.  We traveled several hours east on Saturday, for a family reunion.  I brought cucumber couscous salad to share, and brought a large bowl of lima beans to shell on the drive.  After we got home, a friend and her husband delivered several bottles of their honey, brought wine and crackers to share, and a few rose of sharon seedlings.  It's so hot and dry again, I'm going to keep all the plants watered for now, and plant them when they have a better chance.  I hope your week has been a good one.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Mushrooms, Computer Woes & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I saw a lovely living luna moth on a branch, while on my walk.  I thought it was pretty special, as I usually only find a wing or two now and then.  I learned that this one is a male, due to it's feathery antennae, and the adults only live a few days to a week.  I harvested elderberries, and started a batch of tincture.  I plan to leave the remaining elderberries for the birds.  I recently found a bag of dates I had purchased a while back fermenting.  The bag looked like it was about to explode.  I've never seen this before, but returned it to the store where I purchased it, and received store credit.  They had a best buy date some time in 2021, so it was somewhat surprising.  I gathered shiso, and have a pan of it drying.  I typically use this when the pups eat something that will upset their stomach, per my herbalist friends recommendation.  I cleaned and did some decluttering in my sewing area, and mended a rug.  All laundry was hung on the line.

morning light
I got some back to school sales, notebooks and glue sticks for .50/package, and significantly discounted packing tape.  Thankfully, my PC was able to be repaired.  It required a new hard drive, but my files were all saved.  My laptop appeared to have died while the other was in the shop.  J got it up and working again, but it was tired, with multiple issues, so we decided to take advantage of back to school sales, and purchase a new one.  I used $8 in rewards toward the cost, which was already discounted $150.  It will be so nice to have one where the keys all work, and hopefully is faster.  I requested books from the library, and picked them up.  An ebay order did not arrive when "guaranteed".  I reported it, and received a $5 voucher.  It arrived four days later.  I foraged chanterelle mushrooms several times, and blanched and froze 4 more meals of lima beans.

The horticulture crew at our zoo does a fantastic job.  I couldn't help but notice this beautiful plant in the aviary.  Doesn't it look painted?  My husband had an evening out, enjoying a concert with cousins, so I had a rare evening to myself.  I enjoyed it by painting my toe nails, and reading library books.  I had thought I may cook some things he doesn't eat, but decided not to cook at all, and enjoyed a homegrown tomato sandwich instead.  Earlier in the day, I took a class on edible mushrooms.  Though the class and book I bought were not frugal, I hope it will allow me to forage more varieties of mushrooms. A pan of eggshells was crushed, and added to the compost bin.  A pan of bread ends was turned into bread crumbs and frozen.

Homemade almond milk has been on my to do list for a while.  I finally determined to do it over the weekend.  The hardest part will be remembering to soak the almonds the day before.  I probably need to change how I'm straining it too, as it's really slow through cheesecloth.  Next time, I'll try one of my jelly straining bags, and see if that doesn't pick up the pace.  I'm used to the unsweetened, so for this first batch, I added only a pinch of salt.  Now I have pure almond milk, without all the questionable ingredients, and am saving money too.  Orders continue coming in to our little shop.  J finished up three this weekend, I powder coated them, and we worked together to get them packed to ship.  After that, there was a little time to relax.  I hope you had some too!  Have a wonderful week!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Mushrooms, NC Zoo & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I spotted the first cinnabar chanterelles along our creek bank.  They're pretty small, so I'm going to leave them alone.  I've signed up for a mushroom class in a couple of weeks, and hope to learn a few more to harvest safely.   I got the toaster oven out, and have used it several times in place of the oven, to cut down on heat in the house.  J went to help a neighbor with a piece of farm equipment, and came home with freshly dug red potatoes, and 13 ears of corn.  I used 6 ears for dinner, and froze the other 7 as whole kernels.  I blanched the gallon bag of lima beans, and froze them.

It's something I often forget, but I remembered to log in my walks and weight for balance rewards at Walgreens, which increased my rewards by $2.  Waldorf salad was made with our apples.  The last of the sweet potatoes were boiled.  Leftover corn and lima beans, with cucumbers and tomatoes, made this meal homegrown and local (corn) except for a few minor things.  I harvested thyme, and am drying it for winter use.   The lima bean shells for dye experiment was a fail.  They imparted almost no color to the water, after boiling an hour or more.  They'll make fine compost though.  Pasta sauce was made with our tomatoes and tromboncino, rosemary and basil, and cucumbers and tomatoes went in a salad.

So, I've now tried cleaning the dishwasher both with lemon kool aid, and without.  I can see no benefit to using the kool aid.  It looks exactly the same after it's been run through, and wipes down just the same without it.  I expect results may vary based on your water.  A dinner of our eggplant, green beans, leftover sweet potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers was enjoyed.  Elderberries were harvested, and a quart of tincture started.  I had a slow day shop sitting at a pottery shop, and was able to wrap three batches of soap, and do a little reading.  Our fall greens were doing well, until flea beetles started attacking them.  They were started in a large metal container on concrete blocks, a long way from the ground, so we were rather surprised to have flea beetles there.  Go figure.

kale seedlings, before the flea beetle attack
After work on Friday, we picked up our GD, Miss S.  We stopped at one restaurant, and after 20 minutes without any acknowledgement, we left.  At another restaurant, after a long wait, we had dinner.  I thought I might take her to hear live music, with possibly another stop or two on Saturday, but she was adamant that she wanted to stay home and sew.  Who could argue with that?  She made her Mom a heart stuffy from scratch while I mended some items.  She wanted to fix her own breakfast of eggs and cheese, and made a batch of hummus with minimal help. We did a garden harvest, picked a bouquet, and visited the chickens a couple of times.  She enjoyed strewing the cherry tomatoes to them, seeing the young chicks, and collecting eggs.  She helped cut cucumbers for asian cucumbers, and fed the pups.  J worked some more on our solar hot water, and she and I took turns assisting him.

Miss S and I joined another grandmother and GD at the zoo.  She has a membership, which allowed us entry for free.  While the girls had fun in the kid zone, my friend and I were able to catch up a bit while keeping an eye on them.  We all enjoyed a picnic with foods brought from home after visiting a couple of animal exhibits and a carousel ride.  Harvests from the garden include cucumbers, tomatoes, tromboncino squash, green beans, lima beans, a few apples and hazelnuts, a pear, and herbs.  My PC crashed and burned Sunday morning without warning.  I'm looking at refurbished ones to replace it with.  J thinks running the videos on swagbucks probably contributed, so I'm thinking I will stop doing those.  The hardest thing about a new computer will probably be redoing my soap labels.  I did save the earlier ones on a disc, but all the new ones will have to be redone.  Ah well, it could be worse.  Wishing you a beautiful and bountiful week!

Monday, July 29, 2019

Beans, A Hike & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  On Monday, I gathered purslane and basil, and made a triple batch of purslane pistachio pesto.  We enjoyed it with pasta two nights.  I made a double batch of granola.  This time, I had pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and added those too.  After working in town, I stopped at the discount grocery and got organic beans, canned corn (for the chickens), & cans of olives for .50 ea, and organic juice $1 ea.  I got a 6 pack of LED votive candles for $5, and saw a used pack of this brand for $16.50 on ebay.  I dropped off a box of books at the Friends of the Library store.  There were several antique books, including one from 1886.  I hope they'll be able to make some decent money from them.  At Aldi's, I picked up cherries @ $1.89/#, avocados .69 ea., and mangoes .49 ea., and bought a pack of their meatless crumbles to try for $3.49.  Not inexpensive, but we like to have sloppy joes occasionally for a quick meal.  I had hoped to pick up some things at the Farmer's Market; some tomatoes, and maybe corn and peaches, but a deluge sent them all packing before I could get there.

female summer tanager
I was gifted 4# each of pinto beans and brown rice, and 6# of navy beans.  I transferred them all to glass jars.  I shared a bag of garden produce and eggs in kind.  Almost all the remaining sweet potatoes from last year's garden were prepped and put in the dehydrator for pup treats.  I'll cook up the last few for us.  We were blessed to get an inch of rain and cooler temps.  The house was opened up for the first time in weeks.  We should be able to open up each night for several days, before it heats up again.  A can of corn was frozen into cubes for the chickens, for the next heat wave.  I made "zucchini" tots with our first tromboncino squash, which also used our eggs and herbs.  I'll be making them again.  I sliced the last of the gifted tomatoes to enjoy with it, a Cherokee Purple, and heated leftover grilled corn.  So yummy!  A load of laundry was hung on the line.  I used homegrown mint in making a batch of soap.

Homemade salad dressing was made, and garden cucumbers and tomatoes were enjoyed in a salad.  Cabbage and noodles was made with some more of the gifted cabbage, but there's more left.  The gift that keeps on giving :o).  Now that we have lots of cherry tomatoes, I was reminded of a favorite breakfast my Sicilian grandmother and my Mom used to make.  Saute some garlic, throw in chopped tomatoes, then add eggs.  The bread was local sourdough.  All else but the oil and salt were homegrown.  I've started noticing hazelnuts dropping, and have begun gathering them.  I tried a new recipe, for Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad.  It just so happened I found a bag of Bob's Red Mill tricolor couscous at the discount store for $2  the last visit.  The recipe was excellent, and leftovers were just as good.  It's a Budget Bytes recipe.  Most of Saturday morning was spent picking lima beans.  That night, J & I shelled them while we talked.  We ended up with a gallon of beans.  The shells almost filled a 5 gallon bucket. I decided to cover them with water, for a future dyeing experiment.

Hopi Dye sunflower
Elderberries were harvested, and a second batch of tincture was started.  I recently found out about a local hiking group, created to promote health in the community.  They hike in various areas throughout the Uwharrie National Forest, which I've been wanting to learn more about.  I've known there are various trails, but have never known where the trail heads are, so was happy to learn about this group.  I asked a niece if she'd like to join me on Sunday.  We walked on private land along the Uwharrie River.  There were interesting wild plants, one of which I didn't know, and need to research.  After we returned, I dropped off orders at Fedex, then headed to Big Lots with a $5 off $15 coupon.  I found my favorite egg noodles marked down to 1/2 price (not sure why, as the same noodles with a closer best by date were on the regular shelf full price??).  Also found was organic juice for $1.75, which is $3.99 in the grocery stores.  The last stop was Aldi's, where I picked up 3 things, including organic strawberries for $2.79/#.  The day was a lovely end to a good week.  Wishing everyone a good week ahead!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Plenty of Cucumbers & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, laundry was dried on the line.  Plenty of cucumbers were harvested, and some were shared.  Also, green beans, yellow squash, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, blueberries, cherry tomatoes, basil, parsley and oregano were harvested.  The loofahs have begin climbing up the twine.  I did some weeding around the melons, but the heat drove me back in the house.  Half of the gifted cabbage was made into asian slaw.  Eggs were boiled, and the water used to water plants.  I went through swagbucks for 6% and used a 15% off code for an online order.  A bill was received from a test done 16 months ago, which I thought had already been covered by the healthshare.  Thankfully, when I called them, they said I didn't need to pay it, and they would reprocess it for payment.  Hooray for that.  I took pics of, and listed my new Bright Morning soap in the shop.

One evening, I noticed the bronze fennel had been munched on.  I started looking around, and saw a swallowtail caterpillar nearby.  I planted the fennel for just that reason, and was delighted to see it.  I reused bubble wrap and other packing materials for an ebay order.  I went through swagbucks for 4% off to purchase a bathing suit for our GD at 50% off.  She'll need this in a few weeks, on a zoo day, as the children's section has several water features.  I recently tried the food saver sheets that are paper embedded with a spice blend, and was really disappointed.  Though they got great reviews, they didn't work well for me.  The main reason I wanted to try them was to keep nectarines from going from unripe to moldy within days.  Of the first 6 nectarines I tried, 3 went from hard/unripe to moldy in 3 days, and all did the same within 6 days.  I considered that it might be the nectarines, and wanted to give it a fair trial, so tried a second round.  The first 2 went from unripe to moldy within 2 days, and the 3rd was moldy on day 4.  I really wanted it to be a great natural solution to food waste, but that wasn't my experience.

The elderberries have begun ripening.  I harvested the first quart, and began a batch of tincture with them.  One of J's clients gifted us a bag of produce.  There were tomatoes (yay!), a couple of white peaches, yellow squash, and an eight ball zucchini, which was a new one for us.  I researched recipes, and made Eight Ball Zucchini Parmesan with it, also with a mix of our yellow and zucchini squash.  I took the suggestion to double the spinach, garlic and basil, increased the cheese slightly, used lambs quarter for the spinach, and used provolone instead of parmesan, because that's what was on hand.  We thought it was very good.  Along with that, I prepared chard I harvested that day with our garlic and broth.  I was commiserating with a friend recently that cooking this time of year often seems like damage control... what needs to be used most today? After dinner, I harvested purslane, and the next day, made a triple batch of purslane pistachio pesto.

The tromboncino squash are almost ready to begin harvesting.  Another box of donations was taken to the thrift store, while in town to deliver a soap order.  While there, I picked up oilskin reproofing cream for one of J's coats.  I paid $2 for 2 jars, and it lists for $12.24 ea. on amazon.  At the library, I found out that in addition to e-books, we also have access to audio books and magazines online.  I had another lovely moment on an evening walk.  There are rolling hay fields that meet our property in the back, and this is where I walk to in the evenings.  They had just rolled the hay into large round bales, which always look pretty scattered across the field.  The evening light was hitting a multitude of small flying bugs, which looked rather like sparkles, and many dragonflies darted here and there.  It was lovely, and just one of the many reasons I feel blessed to live here.

Over the past week, the birds have gotten wise to the blueberries.  At first, they were focused on two bushes, and I was still able to pick from two.  Now they're picking all of them clean before I can get to them. Oh well, we've gotten to eat them fresh, and I've frozen 2 quart bags.  On another note, the new bird feeder pole seems to be working.  The squirrels are mostly eating the seeds on the ground, with occasional tries for the hanging feeders, which makes me happy.  I've got plenty of jam from last year, so decided to make mixed berry syrup.  I use these when making berry vinaigrette's.  I pulled bags of mulberries & raspberries, cranberries and elderberries from the freezer, freeing up room there, and adding more syrup jars to the shelf.  I used the mehu-liisa steamer, which makes it really easy to move the already fairly dried remaining fruit to the dehydrator, to use in future bird suet.

Making granola has been on my to do list.  I ground wheat into flour, which is the first step.  J picked our first large tomato.  It had a bad spot in the center, which hastened ripening, but he said it was good despite it.  I picked up birthday cards at Dollar General for $1 each, instead of several times that at the drugstore.  The boots I wear on my morning walks were getting tough to zip up, so I rubbed beeswax on the zippers, which helped.  I made swagbucks goal several days, and sent a message about points I didn't receive after shopping, which I then promptly received.  Like a lot of the country, the heat index has been 100 or more most days, so the a/c has been running 24/7.  There are cooler temps in the forecast next week, which I'm greatly looking forward to.  Though we recently had a half dozen peaches still ripening on the trees, I saw there was only one left on Saturday. I asked J to harvest it (it was high up), and we found that Japanese beetles had already been munching on it.  Man, it's hard to provide much fruit for ourselves here.

The Prudent Homemaker's Spanish Rice was made, to go with bean burritos.  Neighbors stopped by, and were given a bag of cucumbers.  Some of the wheat flour, along with our blueberries and an egg, were used in pancakes on Sunday.  With our tomatoes, eggplant, garlic, oregano, and a few other ingredients, I made a triple batch of my Mom's caponata.  I froze several containers, and kept one for us to enjoy this week.  I shared cucumbers and eggs with my sister and BIL.  On these hot days, I've been adding ice to the chicken waterers, and bringing them frozen corn treats in the afternoon, to help cool them down.  Pups are given grated cucumber, and various other vegetables with their dinner.  While grating the pups cucumber, it occurred to me that the chickens would probably enjoy cold grated cucumber too, and indeed they did.  I guess you can tell from the cucumber theme, it is our biggest garden harvest at the moment.  Laundry was dried on the line.  There was still a gallon bag of eggplant slices I baked and froze last year.  As J was grilling, I filled a baking sheet with them, and added our garlic and oregano.  He covered them with another baking sheet, and cooked them on the grill.  They were quite tasty.  Wishing you a most lovely week!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Mid July & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  With the summer garden gearing up, it seems the days are getting busier.  After working in town, I met a friend to share sweet potato slips and an eggplant. We happened to meet in the parking lot where the Farmer's Market is held, so I took advantage, and got 3 tomatoes.  I wish I'd have thought to check out the corn while there.  I shared cucumbers with a couple of women at work.  At Food Lion, I bought cherries for $1.99/lb., and 10 ears of corn at 5/$1, the best price I've run across.  They also had 4# sugar 2/$4 and get 1 free.  I don't use white sugar for us, but the price is right for hummingbird food.  At Aldi's, I got a seedless watermelon for $2.69, mangoes .49, avocados .95, plus a handful of other things.  I picked up the chick feed we needed at Tractor Supply, and noticed some chicken related items on clearance.  Though not a need, I did buy a water additive that has essential oils in it, and carbon based "coop control" for odors, which as an added benefit is an excellent amendment to add to the compost for healthy soil.  I'm thinking in the future, I may try making the water additive, as I have the ingredients on hand.  I'll research it before I do.

On Wednesday, I was able to cross several things off my to do list.  The chicken coop was cleaned, and the walking path mowed.  Though most of the purslane has been mowed, I was able to harvest enough, along with our basil and garlic, for a double batch of purslane pistachio pesto.  I blanched and froze 6 meals worth of corn, and froze the pesto.  The freezers are very full.  I need to make more of an effort to use things from there, and pulled out a bag of homegrown lima beans and foraged maitake mushrooms.  It's a start.  I vacuumed my car with a shop vac at home.  I listed a number of items on ebay, and have one bid so far.  I received an email informing me of a bag sale at a thrift store.  On the way home from an appointment, I realized I could be there just when it started (it only lasted 2 hrs).  Though I didn't fill the bag, I got 2 shirts and a pair of sneakers for my GD, a pair of shorts for J, and a pair of boots and a vest for myself for $5.

The walk on Saturday morning was especially lovely.  The early morning light sent sunbeams through the trees, which was beautiful. There were also many spider webs, which were lit up in the light. The creek burbled as we walked by.  It all felt a bit magical, and made me grateful for eyes to see, and such a peaceful place to walk.  That evening, I tried a new recipe for squash casserole, which was good, though higher in fat than I'd like to eat on a regular basis (think heavy cream and cheese).  I also made a roasted eggplant dish.  With cucumbers coming in from the garden, asian cucumbers are on regular rotation. I've shared cucumbers with several people, and some eggplant as well.  A neighbor shared a large cabbage with us.  The days have mostly been very hot and humid, so outdoor chores are done early and late as much as possible.  There are always plenty of things to be done indoors, as well as outdoors.

The squirrels figured out a way around the squirrel proof feeder recently.  They would hang on the pole, so as not to trip the weight lever, and grab a seed at a time.  The problem is they did it over and over and over.  So, I enlisted J's help. He created a new pole with longer arms out of rebar for me, which seems to be doing the trick.  While out on errand, we stopped by Big Lots for their 20% off sale.  We got a few food items, but the main thing I wanted to look for were large plant pots.  We found one large ceramic pot among the plastic ones, and purchased it.  We'll repot the avocado or one of the lemons in it.  We had lunch guests on Sunday.  I made a quiche, which used our eggs, garlic, pepper and parsley. She brought homemade peach vanilla ice cream to share, which was a treat. That morning, I gathered a bouquet for the table.  I didn't sleep too well Saturday night, and am too tired to get this post ready as I usually do on Sunday night.  I'll finish it up Monday morning, and send it out then.  I hope the coming week brings you many good things!

Monday, July 8, 2019

The Summer Garden & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  After working in town, I went by the discount grocery.  Some favorite finds were  cans of organic beans for .50 ea., organic juice for $1, a 14# bag of natural lamb dogfood (good until Oct.) for 1/3 normal price, 5# natural peanut butter for $5, and 6 bags of dried wild blueberries @ .50 ea., a savings of  $44.24 if bought on amazon.  At Food Lion, I bought cherries for $1.99/#.  Last weekend, during a date night, we had the most delicious salads with fresh blueberries.  Eggs were boiled twice, for us and the pups.  Blueberries, cucumbers, the first yellow squash, green beans,figs and the first few cherry tomatoes were harvested.  Asian cucumbers were prepared.  It's beginning to feel like summer.

The feather was found on one of my walks.  It looks somewhat like a chuckwill widow's feather, but I'm not positive.  If you're good at ID'ing feathers, please share.  My sister had a family BBQ on the 4th of July.  I brought a 7 layer salad, hummus and vegi's, and a bottle of peach Bellini from Aldi's. There was lots of food, and not much of anything I brought was eaten.  In the future, I'll plan to make 1/2 recipe of the salad, which is still a lot.  A pan of egg shells was crushed, and added to the compost bin.  The first of our green beans, along with the ones given by our friend, were cooked in the wok with balsamic vinegar and sesame seeds.  I really enjoyed watching Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Ensemble, free on Amazon Prime.

We received much needed rain on Friday.  J & I ran strings for the tromboncino squash and loofahs.  For years, I've been making hummingbird food at a 4:1 ratio.  I recently read this, and have since changed to a 3:1 ratio.  J fertilized all the vegetables with Neptune's Harvest, except for the melons and my dye sunflowers, which need weeding badly.  We don't want to feed the weeds as well as the desired plants, so are holding off until they're weeded.   I figured out how to download the new camera pics on my own, which is the same way I used to, before my old camera started acting wonky, so that was easy.  My BIL & SIL came for lunch and a visit.  Not much is coming in from the garden yet, but I made salad with our lettuce and cucumbers, and shared a dozen eggs with them.  Have a great week!

Monday, July 1, 2019

Bugs, a Buggy & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Though the guys specialize in alternative, renewable & sustainable energy in their shop, this is the first horse buggy they've repaired, for one of the local farmers.  Isn't it pretty?  I made pasta salad with our basil,  sauteed mushrooms with our oregano, and chard for a dinner.  After work on Tuesday, I dropped off three boxes of donations, and found shorts and pajamas there for our GD.  The shorts were on special for $1 ea.  I took advantage of some specials at Walgreens, including 3 boxes of freezer bags for .99 ea., normally $2.99.  At Aldi's, they had cantaloupes on sale for $1.29.  I picked a nice large one, and a few other things.

The chicks are growing, and doing well. A couple of mornings last week, while on my walk, I saw wild turkeys.  When I first lived here, I would hear them in the woods near the house, but they've moved farther back into the woods these days.  I'm happy to know they're still around.  Two loads of laundry were dried on the line.  A few months ago, a neighbor brought a 7 layer salad to dinner, which we'd never had, and we loved it. She hasn't shared her recipe as of yet, so I found one I think is similar, and made it.  We enjoyed it, though J less than me.  He'd like it on a rare occasion, while I think it'd be good on a regular rotation during hot summer days.

There are tiny cucumbers and tomatoes.  We're hoping to be eating cucumbers next week.  We'll have to be a bit more patient for the tomatoes.  A friend brought beautiful tromboncinos, a zucchini and green beans to us.  We're grateful to have it all, long before ours will be ready.  She also gave me 4 cases of pint jars, also appreciated.  The squirrels have gotten most of our peaches, yet again.  We have just a few left.  One was at least starting to change color, so J picked that one, which we'll let ripen in the house.  It may be the only one we get.  Here's hoping it's a good one.

This is what we're dealing with, with Japanese beetles.  I'm so glad the chickens will eat them. Guinness got into something stinky, as he's prone to do.  I bathed him in the outdoor shower, and as I was fairly covered with dog hair, took one myself.  A biting fly did harass me for a minute, but the bird song made up for it.  I mistakenly ordered one size up for a supplement Guinness takes for joint issues, and set it on bimonthly auto-ship.  I called customer service to change it to the correct weight size, and was able to return the incorrect one for credit.  The largest tromboncino squash was used in pasta sauce, along with our tomatoes, eggplant and herbs.

Just about every day, we're enjoying a salad.  I planted a mix of lettuces on the shadier side of the chard and basil in the raised beds, and they're doing very well there.  There are little beans, one yellow squash, and quite a few small eggplant.   I suppose it will be several weeks before we're enjoying our first cherry tomatoes.  I was delighted to see that even with the dry, hot weather, some of the loofahs have germinated.

On Friday, I tackled cleaning up the kitchen island.  It always holds my to do list, and usually my phone, but it also collects papers of all sorts, cookbooks, receipts, seeds, etc.  It's where canning jars cool, and await my washing them off.  There are still a few cookbooks and miscellaneous papers, but it's as clear as it ever gets, which feels good.  I played with the new camera in the afternoon, and need to figure out how to put the pics on the computer.  Hopefully, it will be a simple process, and I'll be up and running with it.  All the photos in this post are with the old camera, which thankfully is only losing a few pics at this point.

I began using a mini shampoo bottle from one of my travels.  J worked several more hours on our solar hot water, adding fittings and hooking up several more things.  It sounds very complicated when he explains all the functions.  For example, not only does the hot water need to circulate and warm the water in our hot water tank when it gets to temperature, if it gets too hot, another pump will circulate it through a heat exchanger, then send it to a radiator with a fan to cool down.  Makes my head spin trying to figure out all the details.  I'm sure glad he knows what he's doing.

I cleaned out a portion of the pantry.  This is the area where I keep "working" tinctures and such.  I strained and bottled usnea tincture, reishi tincture, and dandelion in olive oil.  I'm deciding if I'd like to make salve or lotion bars with the dandelion oil.  I'm leaning towards the lotion bars, as I've never made any before, it seems they'd be useful, and if they turn out well, could be used as gifts.  A few drops of peppermint essential oil were put on the sponge I cleaned the pantry with, to deter future mice.  I used a $5 GC when placing an amazon order.  I made falafel using a mix, and made homemade tzatziki sauce and a salad to go along.  The cantaloupe was cut up, and chickens given the rind and seeds.  I froze another can of corn in cubes for chicken treats during these hot days.  We sure can use some rain here.  If you've got some to spare, please head it this way.  Wishing you a good week!