Monday, November 29, 2021

November Days



Hello, friends.  Last week, I went by a nearby Hallmark after an appointment, got a free card, redeemed a $7 reward, and got a 20% senior discount on the remainder.  I then stopped at Harris Teeter, and found organic diced tomatoes 10/$10, so got 6.  Lettuce was harvested, then covered before a night in the low 20's.  Kale was also harvested.  I enjoyed watching the PBS series Manor House, which came from the library.  I've watched many similar series, and was happy to find this one.  While checking out at the library, there was a screen of their home page scrolling across from me, when I noticed something about videos on demand.  I had asked about this a few months ago, so was surprised to see we now have access.  I haven't had a chance to check it out, but it sounds like mostly HBO documentaries and PBS shows, which works for me.  I look forward to enjoying some of the free shows during these long nights.  The guy who picks up our trash let J know the bags from the fire came to just under a ton of refuse, and we settled up with him.  




A book I enjoyed last week was The Giver of Stars.  It's the second book I've read about the Packhorse librarians in rural Kentucky during the Depression.  I listened to an On Being podcast with Bryan Stevenson, who wrote Just Mercy, while wrapping soap, and that evening watched the movie from the library.  It hadn't been planned, and was just a happy coincidence.  The movie had been in my Amazon queue, but wasn't free, so I was happy to find it at the library.  When we bought the sweet potatoes, I also got some pears and plums.  The pears were lovely, but the plums were picked too early, and never ripened nicely.  To use them up, I made a GF vegan plum tart, which turned out better than expected.  I tried another recipe that used some of the riced cauliflower bought at the discount store, and we both liked it.  It was pretty simple, using our parsley and garlic, and lemon juice.  J drove to Charlotte, and picked up solar panels, so the solar project has begun.  He's been researching inverters and batteries.  We enjoyed two Thanksgivings, first with my family, and then with his on Saturday.  It was the first time we've all been together in a couple of years, and it was wonderful.  Wishing you a week of seasonal pleasures.  


Thursday, November 25, 2021

Grateful

 

This morning's walk.


Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving, filled with good food and surrounded by loved ones.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Wood Working & Frugal Accomplishments



Hello, friends.  During the week, J worked on cutting the burnt trees.  Our elderly neighbor likes to use smaller pieces in his woodstove, so we set those aside for him as they were cut.  He came by one day on his tractor, and we all loaded it into his trailer.  He brought us three bags of dried cranberries that had '21 on them, and said the store was going to throw out.  I'm guessing they were last year's, and expired earlier this year.  We were happy to get them.  They were put into mason jars, and will be sealed when we next do that.  He also brought us a few sweet potatoes.  J & I finished getting a large pile of split wood stacked under the woodshed.  All the pines cut down went to another neighbor who plans to use them for lumber.  There's been a delay in our solar plans, as we learned that there can be high tariffs from solar items imported from China.  J is sorting that out, and researching US sellers.  




I recently saw a post one of the local potteries put up, with lots of photos of their offerings.  There were so many lovely handmade things, in addition to pottery, it inspired me to visit and shop there.  I bought a gift for all the ladies, and finished shopping for a nephew, a niece, and my daughter in spirit.  I consider it a most successful outing.  I heard from M, letting me know he had Covid, despite being vaccinated.  No surprise there, considering his lifestyle choices.  During a quick perusal of the jam section in our pantry, I found a jar of peach preserves from years ago, and enjoyed it on several morning's oatmeal to use it up.  The last round of tiny squash and eggplant were used in a pasta sauce, with our tomatoes, garlic, onions and herbs.  


pretty tromboncino


I'm harvesting lettuce a couple of times a week, and especially enjoying it in salads with pomegranate arils, red grapes and toasted pecans right now.  Before meeting my sister in town, I ran several errands.  I'd heard that sunflower seed for the birds would be going up.  Sure enough, at Lowe's, a 20# bag was $24.99.  I decided to check next door, at Tractor Supply, and was able to purchase a 40# bag for $21.99, a great savings.  I wish I had room to buy a few, but I only have room for one at a time, besides the bag I'm finishing.  I dropped off three boxes of donations, and found a wicker laundry basket, canister, and lidded jar.  The last two items will be used in my shop.  I found another local, handmade present for our GD at another stop, as well as a gift for my niece, and picked up another handmade gift my sister had been looking for.  A book was returned, and two more plus a movie were picked up at the library.  I'm not sure how good a price it is, but FL had cranberries on sale 2/$3, so I bought some.  I pulled 6 gallon bags of vegi bits from the freezer, throughout the week, made broth on the woodstove, and canned it all on Saturday.



Despite cold temps, there have still been a few blooms around the homestead.  Lettuce, collards, rosemary and a few hickory nuts have been gathered.  I made mushroom gravy to go with our potatoes, a comforting dish I love this time of year.  A jar of our butter beans and a salad rounded out the meal.  Changing up the layout of the garden, J emptied out several containers in late summer.  There was a parsley in one of them that grew enough so that I found it last week.  It was transplanted in a container along with the beets growing in it.  With the hens molting, it's been around a month since we've gotten an egg.  I was happily surprised with one egg this weekend.  Hopefully, there'll soon be more to follow.  Slower delivery dates were chosen on amazon, for digital credits.  Wishing you a most happy Thanksgiving.


Monday, November 15, 2021

Rainbows and Silver Linings




Thank you for all your kind comments.  We're doing OK.  Ten days out, we faced the fact that no help would be forthcoming in clean up, so we did it ourselves, with J shoveling, while I held and closed up the trash bags, 19 of the large construction type bags.   A man in our neighborhood was offered the chassis, which he gladly came and picked up, and plans were made for pick up of the bags.  Knowing that often the kindest thing one can do is to let people face the choices they make, and find their own way, that is what we chose to do.  After 8 years, we're more than ready to move onto the next chapter, where we have our peaceful homestead back, with just the two of us and the critters.  I'd been sad about the toxic patch of earth that remains, with all the electronics, plastics, bug spray, etc. that burned there, but J came up with an idea that makes my heart sing.  A year or two ago, we explored the possibility of solar, but were told we didn't have enough open space for panels (don't want to put holes in our roof).  With numerous trees burned badly and in need of taking down, we believe we may now have just the spot for a solar array, in a very accessible spot.  Though it's not definite, there's a real possibility we can turn a sad event into something wonderful.



Last week, I hung several loads of laundry on the line.  J and I did some needed roof repairs on a beautiful day.  While up there, we found another thing that needed attention, and took care of that too, all but the piece of rubber sealer that we're waiting on.  With lumber leftover from that project, J made us a new front porch.  It's a small porch, just protecting our front door, and all the wood decking was replaced.  I enjoyed reading library books, and listening to free podcasts while packing orders and wrapping soap.  The usual composting, shredding paper and cardboard, adding vegi bits to the broth bag, and washing plastic bags for reuse happened.  I froze one last ice cube tray of basil, and made the rest into pesto.  Enough was kept out to enjoy for dinner one night.  Another night, I pulled black bean burgers I'd frozen for an easy dinner.  Salads using our lettuce have been served with a lunch and dinner several days.  I managed to keep one of the Christmas cactus cuttings a friend gave me last year alive, and was rewarded with a bloom.




I went to town and picked up some groceries, getting avocados for .79 and pomegranates for .99.  I also found quarts of maple syrup at Aldi's for $13.95, and picked up three for the pantry.  Dandelion leaves and roots, and plantain leaves were harvested for food and medicine.  I used our summer squash and garlic in a side dish, with our chard, garlic and homemade broth to go with it and sweet potatoes.  Warm up water was saved and used for flushing, and filling the woodstove humidifier.  Water glasses were also emptied there, and water from washing lettuce.  I pulled a leftover potato dish from the freezer to have for lunch one day.  I managed to gather one persimmon this year, which we split for dessert one evening.  With the woodstove going again, I melted oils for soap making on it, cutting down on the use of propane, which I've heard is really going to increase in price.  I also took two gals. of vegi bits from the freezer, and put them in a pot on the woodstove to start the broth making process.  J found this lions mane close to the clothesline, but I wasn't home at the time, and he forgot to tell me for a few days.  It's a bit beyond fresh now, but I have hopes it will fruit again next year.



From the garden, I harvested chard, basil, lettuce, winter squash, and tiny eggplant and tromboncino before a frost, this one hard enough to damage the tender plants, a month or so later than our average.  Before it, I gathered a bouquet of the few flowers still blooming.  An item I had put in my cart for a Christmas present dropped $3 by the time I was ready to purchase it, a welcome surprise.  The last fig was enjoyed on my oatmeal.  Like so much of 2020 that made it an odd year, we had a hen who never regrew feathers after she molted.  Her back remained featherless through the winter, spring and summer, regardless of how much extra protein and goodies I gave her, and then when the hens began molting and regrowing feathers this fall, she joined right in, as though a whole year had never passed.  She never had any signs of mites, but for whatever reason, her feather growing skipped a year.  She looks great now, and I'm happy she'll go through the coming winter with feathers.  May your week provide all manner of things warm and cozy.


Monday, November 8, 2021

Gratitude




Hello, friends.  Last week, I swapped out the warm weather and cold weather clothes in my dresser.  A number of bananas that were getting past prime were frozen.  I redeemed Swagbucks for a $25 Amazon credit.  Christmas cards were bought with a B1G1 1/2 price offer.  I started a jar of stevia glycerite, and put the dried oregano and sage in containers.  Some years back, I was given a large trunk.  In need of storage space for supplies in the workshop, I moved it in there.  I'd love a cabinet of some sort, but this will work well enough for now.  We had expected a hard freeze one night, but only got a frost, and not enough of one to harm the basil.  I did harvest all the yellow and tromboncino squash, eggplant, peppers, a large bouquet, and a large amount of basil before the expected freeze.


My dapper husband before the parade

A couple of months ago, J was invited to sit on the reviewing stand of his home town's Veterans parade.  We headed there early Saturday.  Though it was a blustery day in the 40's, it was an honor to participate.  This is going to be a shorter than usual post, as I just don't have more in me.  M's trailer burnt to the ground last week, and though he made it out unscathed, we realize how close we came to losing everything... our home and both of our means of livelihood.  J has always been my hero, but I truly believe his actions saved our homestead.  Though it seemed forever before the fire department arrived, it couldn't have been more than 10 minutes.  It was already fully engulfed when I called, as I'd been blissfully unaware, gathering ingredients for a pear pie.  Before they arrived, J put out fires on the carport fence multiple times, kept M's derelict vehicle and his propane tank hosed down, and kept my workshop just a few feet away safe.  It sizzled every time he sprayed it down, it was so hot.  If the workshop had caught, it's only a few feet away from two large fuel tanks, and if they had caught, our house likely would have.  I'm feeling so very blessed and grateful, and feel our angels were working overtime that day.


Monday, November 1, 2021

Late October Days



Hello, friends.   It's now been 2 1/2 weeks since we've gotten an egg from our girls, and J has resorted to buying them.  Most every day, I've given them gifted dry soldier fly larvae, to up their protein, which will hopefully get them out of molt sooner.  I harvested eggplant, a pepper, yellow squash, lettuce, black haw fruit, hickory nuts, swiss chard, and roselle hibiscus for tea.  I spent time weeding and working on a bed with carrots and beets.  There should have been lettuce, but it doesn't appear any germinated.  A full shredder bin was added to the compost bin.  I read about making stevia glycerite.  I've been drying stevia, so will give this a try soon.  Two pears were cut up and cooked with the black haw fruit, then put through the food mill to make sauce.  We had it for dinner, with potatoes and rutabagas, sauteed cabbage and black beans.  I finished it up in oatmeal two mornings, which was very good.  


some of our fall garden, with broccoli, cabbage and collards


 On Tuesday evening, we went and picked up 2 boxes of sweet potatoes, 2# ea. of plums and Bartlett pears, and a pint of molasses.  I charged my phone in the car, during the trip.  My sister sent her family's Christmas lists last week, and I quickly finished shopping for two people and a portion of another's.  My amazon credit, which came through Swagbucks earnings, covered it all.  Vitacost had a 13% off food sale, so I stocked up on our favorite GF pastas, and got a few treats for my husband's stocking.  I made pesto a little different this time.  In addition to gathering basil, I gathered purslane, chickweed, and some leaves of volunteer winter greens.  It turned out good.  It's been really wonderful to be able to harvest basil this late in the season.  We've also really been enjoying our tender lettuce in salads, which I also tried making slightly differently, using dried sour cherries, fresh figs and pumpkin seeds.  It was yummy.  




I was inspired by others online to pull out the fall themed dishes for my husband and I.  I originally collected and used them for our annual hayride family gathering, but we haven't had one since Covid, and I decided we could still be enjoying them.  I did some research into Buy Nothing groups near me.  There are none in my community, and when I tried to join a a nearby community's one, I was told I had to live in that community.  She suggested I start one here, but I definitely don't need to add another thing to my plate.  I ended up composting two jars of snacks that hadn't been eaten in a long time, due to being on a GF and lowfat diet.  J grew some hot peppers this year, which hadn't been eaten.  I decided to can some cowboy candy for gifts.   I collected milkweed pods and dandelion seed heads, and deposited them various places where I'd like to encourage them around the homestead.



After dropping soap off at a gallery, I stopped at a favorite thrift store, and got two pretty wine glasses with amber glass for $1 ea., plus an orchid pot, floral wrapping paper, and a folder to hold sewing instruction notes, all for $1 total.  I recently saw mention of  Sandhills Community Garden online.  I mixed up my usual routine on the way home, which had me going right past the gardens, so I decided to stop and check it out.  I'm so glad I did.  I believe I'll try to share it in a separate post this coming week.   A recent dinner was a dish of our yellow squash and onions, mushrooms and tomatoes, and our chard, and peas.  It's so nice to still be harvesting meals from the garden.  I got all my cold weather clothes down from the attic, and should be able to swap them out this coming week.  A free Amazon Prime movie was enjoyed, and several videos on youtube.  




On Friday, I ran errands in town, and picked up a few things at Big Lots with a 20% coupon, including coconut sugar for $2.80/# vs $4.15, cans of organic chicken soup for .80,  and also stopped at Marshall's, where purchases included jars of raw honey, pink salt, and a just under 5# bag of ww gnocchi marked down to $5 from $7.99.  I had first looked at their regularly priced smaller packs, and they had undesired ingredients, besides being more money.  Small bags of candy and shortbread were bought for little Christmas gifts.  J has been sick for a couple of weeks.  Thankfully, he tested negative for Covid, flu and strep, and was told it was just a virus.  On Saturday, I realized I ended up picking it up, though so far, mine is a lighter version.  We both had a slow weekend, and lots of soup, trying to take care of ourselves.  Hopefully, I'll knock it out quickly.  Many wishes for a healthy and happy week.


Monday, October 25, 2021

The Slow Turning of the Leaves & Bonus Flowers



Hello, friends.  Last week, I redeemed rewards at Food Lion for $9 towards my purchase.  For one dinner, I tried a new recipe for peppers stuffed with seasoned mashed potatoes, which used our peppers, potatoes and herbs.  Two library books were enjoyed.  While on the website to purchase lye for soapmaking, I saw they were having a sale on their lifetime membership for $100, down from the usual $500.  With membership, you receive 20% off all purchases.  Not only did they give me 20% off my purchase, but they also gave me 20% off the membership price.  I've already recovered a significant portion of the $80 membership, and though I'd never considered getting the $500 membership, this was definitely worth doing.  




J planted garlic, and seeds of mixed winter greens, kale & turnips, carrots and chard.  I planted more lettuce and beet seeds.  The forecast can always change, but at the moment, it appears we'll make it into November before our first frost.  He has been cutting some of the free firewood, making room for some more someone else wants to give him.  He has lots to split, but has cleared the area where he first puts the large pieces.  It's crazy how much free firewood we've been offered the past couple of years.  We're so thankful for it.  J dumped the old soil from the houseplants in a bed that's never had much done to it, and I planted seeds of evening primrose that neighbors gifted me.  More of the seeds were planted in the beds around the workshop. 



With our library now fully open, I brought in magazines I'd been saving to put in their free basket when I returned a book.  I also had a fun jigsaw puzzle with a books theme, and asked if they might be able to do something with it.  One of the branches in the county does have jigsaw puzzles, and she was very happy to get it for them.  I used some of our eggplant, canned tomatoes and herbs to make Pasta Norma, with our figs and lettuce in a salad.  With our sad butternut squash harvest this year, I've been researching store prices.  Two stores had them at .99/#, but they were .79/# at Aldi's, so I got one there.  I'll see if I can find them any cheaper.



While out thrifting with a friend, we visited a new to me discount grocery.  They had a lot of frozen foods, which I wasn't interested in, but I found kalamata olives for $1.99 and a 5# bag of grits to make bird suet with for $2.99.  While thrifting, I found a lovely enamel pan to save egg shells in before composting for $3.  My old one had rusted enough that it had holes in it.  The Habitat store we visited had a nice bird section in it, with seed and bird houses, among other things.  I found the bird alert decals I use on the kitchen windows and door for less than half price.  Harvested last week, were eggplant, yellow squash, peppers, hickory nuts, black haw and hawthorne fruits, and figs.  With no frosts in our forecast through the 7th, we're enjoying all the bonus flowers.  Wishing you a week of seasonal pleasures.