Monday, November 28, 2022

Thankful



Hello, friends.  On Monday, I canned vegetable broth, adding another 14 pints to the pantry.  When the canner water cooled, I added it to the woodstove humidifier.  I enjoyed warm cups of tea, using homegrown herbs.  Chickweed was gathered, and added to a smoothie.  Kale, collards, and mixed greens were shared.  Laundry was dried on the line.  I've been shopping sales for gifts, and using coupon codes when available for purchases, which have further lowered prices as much as an additional 20%.  While prepping for Thanksgiving, pumpkin seeds were thrown in to roast, along with the cookies I was baking.  Fresh cranberry blueberry sauce, GF pecan sandies cookies, maple roasted brussels sprouts, and our lima beans, which J requested, were brought to share for Thanksgiving.  



I tried a recipe for lentil sloppy joes, which we both liked, though I'll decrease the heat factor next time.  We were blessed with 1 1/3" of rain Thursday night, so needed, as our tanks were getting very low again.  Once we sent the new video to the solar company, they said the board they sent was not good, and they'll send another.  Our confidence in this company is rapidly diminishing, and J is looking into getting another inverter from a US company.  It was a huge investment, to only last 8 months, and it's not looking terribly good that it will last for the long term.  It stinks, but that's reality.  J picked the company partly because of the great reviews, but he thinks many people may be using the inverter for a small backup system, not to power a home full time as we are.  Which could explain why it lasted no time before failing.



I did a little online Black Friday shopping.  A family member sent ideas for her family that day, and two of the items were 40+% off for Black Friday, so they were purchased.   I also placed a supplement order, for 23% off.  Spaghetti squash and lambs quarter were pulled from the freezer for a side dish.  Oils for soapmaking were melted on the woodstove.  I tried a new recipe for vegan sweet potato pie, using our potatoes, which was delicious.  Winter greens were harvested for a salad, and a jar of crowder peas was opened for dinner.  A bottle of nettle glycerite was strained and bottled.  We had an interesting issue happen last week, in that things that were supposed to suck were not doing so.  The motor on the house vacuum went out, quickly followed by the shop vac motor.  And the lawn vac motor went out too.  J made repairs, and got a new house vacuum (it was used when bought, and a new motor had been put in it once already), and in the process, used some of the good parts to repair others.  Thanks to a very handy guy, all is up and running again.  So many things to be thankful for every day.  Take care of yourself, friends.  


Monday, November 21, 2022

November Days


veggie scraps being turned into broth


Hello, friends.  I headed to the coast on Monday for a funeral, and listened to an audio book that I was able to change from an ebook on Kindle for free.  It was a gorgeous day, perfect for a long drive.  With the woodstove going again, another three gallon bags of veggie scraps were taken from the freezer, and simmered for broth.  I cut up and grated another two large cucuzza squash for the critters.  A toothpaste tube was cut, and it's already lasted close to a week more, with more to go.  I strained the first batch of broth, put it in the fridge, and started another pot of scraps on the woodstove.  Last week, I harvested parsley, rosemary, and collards.  I went through Rakuten for gift purchases for 2% and 2.5% back.


this Mickey mouse shadow caught my eye one day


We did get another 1/2" of rain early in the week.  The first real cold arrived, with lows in the low 20's.  We closed up all the chicken coop windows, except for leaving a small opening at the top of one for air flow.  I was able to purchase a label at home for a package heading to family in Italy, saving me a trip to the P.O..   I've been reading Lilac Girls from the library, which is a hard read at times, as it goes into details about experiments done in concentration camps.  I've known there were horrific experiments that went on, but would rather not know the details.  Before the coldest night, J and I gathered up everything we could find, and covered up all the plants in the fall garden, plus the olives and pomegranates.  There was kale that had a stalk too tall to fit under the cover, so J cut it off, and I tried a new recipe for wilted kale salad with apples and pecans.  The pups also got some chopped leaves in their dinner. 


this is apparently what made the shadow above


I turned some of our potatoes into fries, made black bean burgers, and harvested winter greens for a salad.  J and I watched the new Downton Abbey movie, free on Prime.  I would have loved to have seen it on the big screen, as we did the first movie, but we were too busy when it was playing locally.  We did enjoy watching it.  When I went by Harris Teeter after an appointment, the produce section was looking rather skimpy in what was offered.  I decided to head to Food Lion on Saturday, to get the things HT didn't have, or were too expensive.  I stopped at the Aldi across the street first, and was happy to get .99 cranberries, pomegranates for $1.89, which is the cheapest I've seen this year, and brussels sprouts for $2.29.  Food Lion had bags of mandarins for $2.99.  I went to a second Food Lion, because I wanted enough celery to not have to shop again before Thanksgiving.  They had enough celery, and I was delighted to see 3 bags of organic Pink Lady apples, which I had a $1.50 store coupon for, and haven't been in the first store in at least a month.  I also found $1 off raw honey on the clearance rack.

  

tomato rice loaf ingredients before combining

For a dinner, I made colcannon with our potatoes and cabbage.  It's one of my favorite comfort meals.  J is still going back and forth with the solar company in China.  It sounded as though they were trying to blow him off last week, and honestly, what could one do about a company in China?  But he persevered, letting them know how unhappy he was, and they asked us to take another video to send them.  Please send good thoughts for a positive outcome.  I've seen a few people using LED candles lately.  With being back on grid power, I decided to buy some I saw at Aldi, and so far, have been using one in the bathroom in the early mornings and evenings.  J spent Saturday blowing a large portion of our leaves into piles, which he'll pick up with the lawn vac.  For Sunday dinner, I made tomato rice loaf, using our onions, garlic, last grape tomatoes, and three small tomatoes.  Peas and pear sauce were sides.  While the oven was going, I baked lots of small sweet potatoes, some of which I plan to turn into pie.  We'll be enjoying the day with my sister and family for Thanksgiving.  I hope yours is peaceful, if you celebrate, with good food and company.  Take care, friends.



Monday, November 14, 2022

Going With the Flow & Sustainability Challenges on the Homestead


Hello, friends.  Last week, I earned $20 off with a promotion Food Lion is doing, and redeemed it the next visit.  I was excited to find that my library offers some streaming movies, and want to explore it further.  While checking for eggs one day, I found a snake in one of the nest boxes eating eggs.  I called J, who was on his way home.  When he got here, he bagged it up, and we relocated it, hopefully never to return.  I weeded and mulched several beds, which contain lots of lettuce, beets and chard.  We covered all the beds with lettuce and chard with row cover that is supposed to protect them several degrees.  J was able to barter with someone nearby.  She's finishing our sheetrock, and he's going to hang hers.  He found a good deal on lumber for the siding of the new sewing room, cheaper than we paid for the studio addition several years ago, and finished siding it.



I enjoyed herb tea with homegrown lemon balm, lemon verbena, spearmint and red clover.  Our frozen broccoli was used in a pad thai dish.  I emptied several pantry staples into canning jars to store.  All laundry was dried on the line.  Warm up water and water from washing greens was used for flushing or added to the humidifier on the woodstove.   When I saw a friend recently, she gave me several birthday presents, including 2 gorgeous thrifted cotton pillowcases and a floral sheet.  Seeing them while hanging them on the line, and taking them off gave me a smile.  I do love linens, especially older ones, which are often so soft.  



The soles of my my husband's work boots were in bad shape.  He bought a new pair, and when they arrived, he mailed his old pair to the company to be resoled.  He's been wanting a sweet potato pie, so I made one using the last frozen whole wheat crust just for him.  Even if it had been a GF crust, the recipe (Betty Crocker) has eggs and evaporated milk too, so I just need to find a good vegan pie recipe.  I finally got to cleaning the fridge, which has been on my to do list a very long time.  During the summer, I'd clean a shelf or two as I could, but never finished the entire thing at once.  That feels good to have done.  Boy, it was sticky!



While researching a trip to Charlotte with a friend, I found a restaurant chain called Flower Child, who have many vegan and gluten free choices.  We had lunch there, and it was delicious.  We had intended to visit a garden and bird sanctuary, but got rained out, so we ended up visiting several thrift stores.  I ended up with a cotton, still in package fitted sheet for $5  (priced $22), medium glass refrigerator dish with lid for $9, like new waffle iron for $15, shirts for J, and a large and super soft cashmere scarf for $3.50.  It was a fun day, and I look forward to visiting Wing Haven another day.



It was a bit of a challenging week, as far as sustainability goes on the homestead.  The big tanks that supply our household water ran out mid-week due to the drought.  Thankfully, J keeps a small backup tank for times such as this, which covered us the 36 or so hours before the rain started.   To make sure we'd be able to store as much rain as possible, I got up on the roof with J's electric leaf blower, and cleaned off a large amount of leaves, acorns and sticks, then did the gutters.  We were very thankful to get 1 3/4" of rain from Nicole, which filled our tanks halfway.  There's more rain in the forecast this week.  With any luck, our tanks will be filled further.  Then, the two solar boards arrived from China for the inverter.  J replaced them, and the power lasted about 10 minutes before crashing.  He tried it several more times with no success, making it obvious this isn't going to fix the problem.  He contacted the company again, to let them know.  We're back on grid power, hoping for a positive outcome and a quick return to solar.



At the grocery store, I was able to get frozen wild blueberries for $1 off, an avocado for .89, and organic red grapes for $2.49/#.  From the garden, I harvested winter greens, oregano, collards, rosemary, lettuce and chickweed.  On the most likely last day in the 70's, I cleaned the chicken coop.  Sunday was chilly, so I made a vegetable soup by sauteing  homegrown onions, garlic, carrots and cabbage, and adding jars of tomatoes, tomato sauce, summer squash and potatoes.  A store bought can of beans and stalk of celery were added, with a container of a small amount of leftovers from the freezer.  Some winter salad was included, and it made a tasty meal.  The week ahead had looked to be a calm one at home.  But now, an appointment has been moved to this week, and there's an out of town funeral to attend another day.  Ah well, it's good to breathe, and go with the flow.  Wishing you a good week!



Monday, November 7, 2022

Time To Play


Hello, friends.  Each morning, I've noticed bumblebees hanging out on the stevia flowers, where I assume they'd spent the night.  Last week, our weather continued to be dry, and laundry was dried on the line.  I cooked small sweet potatoes for the pups and chickens, and baked a few larger ones for us, to have with a winter salad and pinto beans.  We're eating the tomatoes and peppers as they ripen indoors.  My husband needed assistance at a job this week, this time at a home.  We were working under some large trees, and I noticed several small tufts of usnea, which I brought home, and added to the glycerite jar.  A batch of alfalfa sprouts was made.



The sweet peppers that aren't being eaten are being chopped and frozen.  My sister and I met one afternoon, a few towns away.  I made several stops on the way, and picked up three books at a library branch I'd not been to before.  I noticed gas @ 3.05, instead of the 3.29 near us, so stopped and filled up.  The same station was 3.09 when I went by on the way home.  My sister and I stopped at a Goodwill, and I found a canister to turn into a compost crock.  I made my "fast food" sauteed peppers, potatoes, garlic and onions for dinner, with asparagus and salad when I got home.  I was able to catch up on several small things on my to do list last week, which feels really nice.  Kale, lettuce, chickweed, rosemary, thyme, garlic chives and spearmint were harvested, along with several leaves from the potted sweet potato.

 


Still using up the last of the eggplant, I made a pasta sauce using most of them, along with our tomato juice, onions, garlic & herbs.  I found a package of blue cheese in the freezer, which neither of us can eat now, so I've been doling it out to the pups, who are in heaven.  We were able to open up the house several days, due to temps in the mid to upper 70's.  I rearranged the closet, so my winter clothes would be easier to reach.  I pulled several things to donate, including the majority of my scrubs, as I'm letting my massage license expire this year.  A local brewery sent an invite to all of the original backers, to view a production of Every Brilliant Thing for free Sunday night, so J & I had a date night, and enjoyed a beer while viewing the play.  We were glad we went.  A fun day is planned with a friend this coming week.  It's lovely to have a bit more time to relax and play again.  I hope you're finding some time to do the same.  


Monday, October 31, 2022

Fall Days



Hello, friends.  Last week, I received a payment from sold books, for $24.75.  I shelled what I thought was the remainder of the butter beans, but continue to find more of them, now that the leaves have died. I went to Big Lots to use a 25% off coupon, but found very little on my list, besides Christmas cards.  I forgot to mention before I planted my lettuce seedlings, I dug soil from the chicken yard that's been empty for a while, to amend the beds.  The lettuce was watered with comfrey tea.  I made a coconut cauliflower curry, which was in a book my SIL brought when she visited.  It will make it into our rotation, as we both enjoyed it, and it's another way to use our sweet potatoes.  The remaining coconut milk was frozen in an ice cube tray.  I was happy to hear that my SIL made her first pot of veggie broth, after seeing mine on the woodstove while here, and was pleased in how much richer her soup tasted.  My husband washed my car, after washing his, and I cleaned the interior, something I don't often prioritize on my to do list.  He also added air to the tires, after a low pressure light came on, with the compressor in their shop.




At Food Lion, our dogfood was on sale for $6 off, and the wild blueberries I need for my morning smoothies were $1 off.  I also earned a $5 reward towards the next purchase.  For some reason, our Naked Bear variety of pumpkins are not keeping well.  I regularly check on them, when I'm gathering ingredients for meals, and often find one or more going moldy.  I cut away all the bad spots, keep the good seeds to roast, and cook the flesh.  Winter greens were harvested for a salad, Burden soup was made with tromboncino, and pears were made into a pie.  Now that figs and tomatoes won't be included in the chicken mash, I've decided to use up some of the older jams on the shelf.  Though all are good, we typically reach for the berry jams, and odd ones like passion-lemon curd with vanilla from 2012 have not been getting eaten, so this seems a good way to cycle through the older ones, and still give the chickens a little of the fruit they love.  I'm also giving them a little of the older dried milk in storage, high in protein, which is helpful while they're molting.



Another three bags of veggie scraps were pulled from the freezer, and placed on the woodstove for broth.  That makes 10 gallon bags of scraps so far, with several more to go.  A small amount of kale was harvested, for juicing, and more that was frozen in pucks.  A tray of sweet peppers was frozen.  My current favorite homestead "fast food" is our canned potatoes with peppers and onions, so I'm happy to be putting some peppers up.  I rarely buy them, as they're usually so pricy.   Stopping for groceries after an appointment, I was able to get sales of frozen organic fruits and veggies for .49 off per bag, a 4 pack of beans for .50 off, and walnuts for $3.50 off.  I also stopped in to a Dollar Tree I passed, as I heard of three things of interest that someone online bought, but this one sadly had none of them.  An update on our solar system is the company is sending us a new board.  I'm sure we'll be on grid power a while longer, but am thankful they honored their warranty.



In the midst of all the beautiful fall colors, I was surprised to see this clematis blooming.   A batch of alfalfa sprouts were started.  Laundry was dried on the line.  I never think to mention it, but we always use cloth napkins for our meals.  A gift was purchased with part of a Swagbucks gift card, so nothing OOP.  On Sunday, I processed another canner full of veggie broth, to add to the pantry shelf.  I met a dear friend for dinner and a concert in the evening.  As this was in a college town, I was able to find a restaurant with a number of vegan and gluten free items, which was lovely.  Wishing a Happy Halloween to all who celebrate!



Monday, October 24, 2022

Garden Bounty


Hello, friends.  With lows in the 30's, our woodstove is back in action.  I pulled four bags of veggie scraps from the freezer, and placed them on the woodstove in a large pot to simmer.  I collected scraps all late spring and summer, so there are many more, but this is a start.  I'm back in my cold weather wardrobe, which usually consists of a camisole and cashmere sweater, with a flannel shirt or fleece vest, or both if needed, wool or alpaca socks.  Pants vary, but are often velour if I'm staying home.  Some years back, I inherited some clothes from an aunt, and there were two pairs of these pants, and I realized how comfortable they were.  They don't feel as sloppy as sweat pants to me, and I began looking for them in thrift stores, and usually find them with the activewear.  These outfits keep me warm indoors and out (plus coat and hat), and the layers are easy to take on and off.  


I strained and bottled cat's claw glycerite.  While watching videos one night, J & I shelled butter beans.  I did not make any purchases during Amazon Prime days.  Most of my family has not given me lists yet, and I've already gotten gifts for the two that have.  I swapped outdoor banners with Fall themed ones I already had.  Before our first frosts last week, I harvested green beans, tomatoes, eggplant, sweet peppers, a tiny cucumber, and a wheelbarrow full of mature cucuzza and tromboncino squash.  I gathered the last floral bouquet of the year, to enjoy in the house.  We're having inverter challenges with our solar system, so we are back on grid for now.  J has been conversing with the makers in China, as it's still under warranty, though it's a slow go, with us being day when they're night.  While doing what they asked, he found a burned out transistor on the power board.  We hope they'll be sending a board he can swap out, rather than asking us to ship the unit back to them.  Time will tell.  I blanched and froze three meals worth of butter beans, and grated a mature cucuzza squash for the chickens and pups, along with the cucumber I'd saved for seeds.  



The first batch of broth was strained, and I emptied the next three gallons of veggie scraps into a pot on the woodstove.  I refrigerated the first batch, and will can it all when the second is done.  Seeds that had been drying were packaged up... honeydew, cantaloupe, yellow watermelon and mizuna, and green bean seeds were placed in a pan to dry.  I cut the large cucumber we had saved for seed, and followed these directions.  We have lots of eggplant and tromboncino to do something with.  One dinner, I made an eggplant spread, and sauteed tromboncino using a recipe that's meant to be grilled.  It wasn't as good as when it's grilled, but I accomplished my mission of using some up.  I picked up requested books at the library.  While sitting at a long light, I noticed Food Lion had sent me a $10 off $50 coupon, which happened to be where I was headed.  When I got parked, the coupon was added to my account, and was received with my purchase.


For some reason, the red onions are sprouting in storage this year, though they were our best storing onion last year.  To make my way through them more quickly, I'm dehydrating the sprouting portion, and using the good parts of the onion in cooking.  While they were in the dehydrator, I added some celery and sweet potatoes for the pups.  There are lots of small and damaged sweet potatoes to use up.  I used some of the damaged ones for pup treats, and boiled small ones for chicken mash and the pup's dinner.  GF pecan sandies were baked, for my SIL's visit, and I shared cucuzza & tromboncino squash, and peppers with her.  I made us a lunch of potatoes, peppers and onions, and a salad, which mostly came from our garden.  She gifted me a plant based cookbook I look forward to exploring.  




I meant to dig up coleus before the first frost, but forgot.  They were a little worse for the wear, but still hanging on, so I dug a few up to hopefully overwinter in the house.  This last round of lettuce seedlings did not get eaten by bugs, like the last few.  They were still tiny, but I went ahead and put them in the ground the day before the first frost, and covered them up.  Most of them seem to be doing OK so far.  I canned up the veggie broth, and put one of the rings on wonky, so that jar didn't seal, but I was able to add 13 pints to the pantry shelves.  While we were having a long stretch of dry days, I filled up a barrel with hay, to have for the chickens over the winter.  Our sheds have a dogtrot between them, in which all manner of things gravitate.  M had his lathe and workshop in half of the dogtrot, and J got around to cleaning up some of that area over the weekend.  He also got the plywood sheeting and vapor barrier on my new sewing room.


Working towards using more of the produce, a pasta sauce was made with eggplant, our tomato sauce, onions, garlic and herbs.  Another night, Disappearing Zucchini Orzo was made, to use a couple pounds of tromboncino squash.  Mixed winter greens were harvested for salads, and some lettuce as well.  The grocery store has been out of my favorite Pink Lady apples, so I've been cutting up our small apples for snacks.  If there are any left, I plan to make applesauce.  I started another round of veggie broth on the woodstove, to be canned this week.  A pot of tiny sweet potatoes was put on the woodstove, for this week's chicken mash and the pup's dinners.  We're still having the most beautiful Fall days, of which I'm so grateful.  Wishing you a lovely week, friends.  


Monday, October 17, 2022

Bittersweet Days



Hello, friends.  The beautiful Fall days have continued, and I'm drinking them in.  Though the garden harvest is dwindling, I harvested carrots, eggplant, tomatoes, green beans, the last two pawpaws and butter beans.   I gathered basil and rosemary, and made herb salts for gifts.  We enjoyed Easy Skillet Ratatouille for a dinner, to use up some of the eggplant, squash, tomatoes and peppers, and it used our onions, garlic, thyme and basil as well.  Laundry was hung on the line.  I harvested the first mixed winter greens for a hearty winter salad, and tried a recipe for vegan feta cheese to use in the salad.  Though it didn't really taste like feta, it was tasty.  I froze about 2/3 of it for future use.  Sweet potatoes were fried to go with it.  One of the pawpaws was used in a smoothie with bananas and pineapple, and was yummy.



Another night, I made black bean burgers with fried potatoes, peppers and onions.  I've been enjoying watching Tudor Monastery Farm via Amazon Prime.  I planted milkweed, several amaryllis, northern sea oats, lantana, and globe amaranth.  I'd read the globe amaranth is a tender annual, but figured it couldn't hurt to try planting them in a protected spot.  I also placed the seedheads on the ground, to hopefully reseed.  I made my Mom's zucchini soup with our tromboncino, homemade broth, onions, garlic, tomatoes, basil and parsley, totally from the homestead, except for salt and olive oil.  I wanted to give a follow up on our kiwis.  Sadly, they never got any bigger than grape sized, and went from hard to soft and brown, so we never got to enjoy any.  It's possible the drought had something to do with it.



Two Christmas gifts were purchased with a gift card from Swagbucks rewards, so nothing out of pocket.  With the weather warmed up most of the week, we were able to go without any heat.  I redeemed Swagbucks points for another $25 GC.  Four books were sold through Sell My Books, for almost $25.  It's nice when decluttering makes a little money.  Several other books were brought to a little free library.  After making mushroom gravy to go with mashed potatoes, there were still mushrooms left that needed using, so I dehydrated them, along with some celery tops, onions and carrots.  They are starting another jar, to be used for soups.  We tried baking the first white sweet potatoes, which had very little flavor, just a hint of sweetness.  Hopefully, they'll get better with time.  



Dear Joseph had ironed clothes, shined his shoes, gotten a  haircut, and shaved, in preparation for a funeral of a classmate Saturday morning.  At bedtime Friday night, we started noticing the water pump running every few minutes, which generally only runs when we're using it.  When your house is plumbed with rainwater, every drop is precious, so he got up to check, and found a  leak under the house.  He turned off the water, and though I assured him I'd be OK on Saturday, he changed plans.  He grew up about 3 hours away, and classmates were gathering for a meal after the service, so he would have been gone a full day.  Never knowing what you'll find, he didn't want to wait until Sunday to begin the repair, knowing he may not be able to get what he needed on a Sunday.  He rarely makes plans away from the homestead, and I was sad he missed this.  Thankfully, it was a quick and easy fix.


Sweet potatoes

The sweet potatoes I planted in a pot have sprouted, and are looking good.  I hope I can keep them happy over the winter, to use as a greens source.  Purslane and chickweed were harvested, along with most of the basil.  A triple batch of pesto was made and frozen.  The chickweed went into a smoothie, along with sweet potato leaves from resprouted plants in the garden.  Guinness loves him some stinky, and got into something funky.  Thankfully, it was in the mid 70's on Saturday, and I was able to bathe him in the outdoor shower.  He is much more pleasant to be around.  I requested books from the library, and picked up the one that was ready.  There is frost in our forecast this coming week, and I'm enjoying all the flowers while they last.  It always feels a little bittersweet.  I hope you're able to enjoy these days, whatever season you're in.