Monday, February 19, 2018

A Bit of Yellow Cheer & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I made suet, kefir, and yogurt.  I added the tbs. or two of seeds in the bottom on my bread bag to a jar I save for bird suet.  The usual washing of ziploc bags, saving warm up water, composting and shredding happened.  Chickweed and various other greens were gathered and given to the chickens. Two loads of laundry were done with homemade soap and hung on the line.  There have continued to be lovely sales in both my online shops, and there was even a neighbor that had bought soap from me a year ago to drive up and buy 5 more.  Ebay is another story entirely, but I'll take the others as a good thing.

I suggested to J that we have a simple Valentine's Day this year, instead of going to an expensive restaurant as usual.  J made a simple dinner of cheese ravioli, a salad, and bread we warmed from the freezer.  I made a German cherry cake, which included our eggs and vanilla, and home ground cornmeal.  We were thankful we didn't have plans to go out, because one of our pups kept us up most of Tuesday night, and J began coming down with the flu Wednesday evening.  We ate our dinner by candlelight, and worked on our latest jigsaw puzzle for a little while.  I used frozen sweet cherries for the dessert, and froze six cubes of cherry juice for smoothies.  We're both taking homemade elderberry syrup, Emergen-C, and I'm dosing up on homemade fire cider to ward it off (J is allergic to ginger & turmeric, so can't take it).  The next day, I made another batch of immune support soup using one of our littlest pumpkins and a multitude of homestead vegetables and broth.

A friend read of my struggle with sewing the scrub pants, and offered to help with the top.  She came over and gave me lots of tips, lovely quilting needles and helped me a good long while, then gave instructions so that I could finish.  I finished it on Friday.  It's a little wonky, but I'm quite happy with it.  My massage clients have their head in a face cradle, so maybe they won't notice :o).  I'm a little nervous about throwing it in the wash, but hopefully it will play nice.  One tiny butternut squash was getting soft, so I cut it up and gave it to the chickens.  I used the remainder of cushaw squash in two loaves of "pumpkin" walnut bread, and froze one.  I went through swagbucks, to get 3% cash back on a small purchase.

Darn it, by Friday evening it was obvious I was getting sick with the flu too.  It's the longest the both of us have sat or laid around since we've known each other.  Lots of liquids, naps, reading and natural remedies will hopefully soon have us good as new.  Windows were opened for fresh air.  The scotch broom and daffodils have begun blooming.  J brought me a daffodil on Saturday, the only time he was outside all day. Can spring be too far behind, with this bit of yellow cheer?  There is always hope of good things to come.  Be well, friends.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Simple Pleasures, Some Sewing & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  For years, I thought there were yellow finches at the feeder in the winter.  It turns out they are pine warblers.  Once it was pointed out that they have different beaks,  I can readily see the difference.  Watching the feeders from the kitchen window is a simple pleasure.  I made Pasta Norma with our eggplant, tomatoes and herbs.  After working in town on Tuesday, I ran errands.  Walgreens was having their 20% off day, so I picked up a few items there, and at the grocery store, I found several cans of natural dog food marked down 50%.  I don't have a lot of stored animal food, so it makes me feel better to add these to the shelf.   I requested and picked up two books at the library.  Wednesday was a rainy day, but it got into the low 60's, so I opened up several windows for fresh air.  I cut up another of our cabbages, and made cabbage and noodles for dinner.  The Aldi's bouquet was looking tired after a week, so I cut away the sad flowers and recut the stems on the good ones, to have flowers at the table a bit longer.

I was gifted a beautiful little pottery bowl, and have found it useful several times in the kitchen already.   Ebates sent me a rebate of $13.32.  I continue looking for usnea on my walks, and add any found bits to the tincture bottle.  Some vegetable bits were added to the broth bag, some composted, and other bits chopped for the pups.  Warm up water was used to water plants and added to the humidifier.  Scrap paper was saved for lists, and other paper shredded.   A celery end was planted in the garden, and covered with a glass cloche.  The chickens were given the leftover rutabaga soup, after we ate it two nights, and some sad outer cabbage leaves.  They're still giving us plenty of eggs.  I boiled some for us and the pups, and used one in my Grandmother's dressing recipe.  Laundry was washed with homemade soap and rainwater, and hung on the line.

To make the best use of the oven, while baking an apple pie and dressing, I baked a cushaw squash. While in town shipping orders, I ran a few errands.  At the thrift store, I found several .10 cards, a spatula for .25, and jigsaw puzzles for .50 & .75.  I stopped at Tractor Supply for layer pellets, and saw large dog beds for $22, so picked 2 up.  The pups are enjoying them.  The beds replaced two couch cushions they've been using since we moved into the house, which did great for a long time, but they were getting shabby.  In addition to pecans, an Aldi's run consisted of produce... lemons, clementines, grapefruit, organic onions and grape tomatoes, and garlic.  For a breakfast, I added apple butter to yogurt, then topped it with some granola, all homemade items.  On Sunday, I used some of the cushaw squash, and baked a pie.  I pondered what I might do to make it healthier, and added 1/2 tsp maca.

On my to do list since last summer was sewing a pair of scrubs for massage work, the first clothing I've ever attempted.  I was determined to at least begin it over the weekend. First, I watched a video I had bookmarked, but found out it wasn't what I was looking for, as it was a tutorial in making a scrub top by using a T shirt as a pattern. I already had a pattern, so I began studying it.  Rather intimidated, I asked J for help, my dear husband of so many skills.  I chose to make it with batik fabric, which even though bought on sale, was not inexpensive.  I didn't want to mess up.  He helped me until I felt ready to pin and cut the fabric for the pants.  I did have to rip two seams out, but by the time we had to get ready to meet friends that evening, I had a pair of pants that needed hemming and the waist finished up.  On Sunday, the waistband was sewn, and a drawstring sewn and put in.  When I tried it on, the legs were really large, so I took in 3" per side, then hemmed them.  I left them rather long, because I don't like short pants and was concerned they might shrink with washing.  Not the best photo, but here they are.  Looking back, I really wish I'd been able to spend time learning from my tailor grandfather as a kid.  My grandmother did teach me a little hand sewing.  Perhaps they felt the machine was dangerous for a child.

I can't seem to go on walks, without coming home with pockets full of stuff :o).  Today, I emptied parmotrema lichens, an oak gall, and dried mushrooms from my pockets.  These will all eventually be used as dye stuffs.  I cooked up some of our frozen limas, and used some of our parsley in potato salad.  It was quite warm for a February day, in the upper 60's, and potato salad made us both happy.  Open windows for fresh air was lovely too.  Wishing you much love this Valentine's week. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Scones, Suet & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Around an inch and 1/4 of rain fell early in the week, and just about filled up our cisterns.  I'm thankful for that.  The hens continue to lay well.  Deviled eggs were on the menu this week.  I paid registration fees for my car and a trailer for the shop online, to save making a trip to the license plate office.  Two loads of laundry were done with homemade soap on a rainy day, so they went into the dryer.  Lint was saved in TP rolls to use as fire starters, and a few were used to encourage low fires during the week.  I gathered all the materials to make a batch of soap, and found out my scale had stopped working.  I took it apart, and there were several broken plastic pieces.  I've been using the same scale for many years, so I'm not too disappointed.  I found a stainless one with great reviews for about $15 less than if I had replaced it with the same plastic model.   I'm thankful it happened while soapmaking, rather than when I was attempting to ship one of our home goods orders.

New shaving mugs were picked up from my potter friends, shaving sets photographed, and listed in the shop just in time for Valentine's Day.   I redeemed swagbucks for a $25 amazon gift card. For dinner one night I made a tomato rice loaf using our tomatoes and homemade bread crumbs, okra from the freezer, and corn.  Not sure if it's a good idea, but since we enjoyed the two jigsaw puzzles this winter, I purchased two more at a thrift store @ $1 ea. after delivering soap to a B&B.  I also purchased an Apples to Apples game that looked like it had never been used for $2.  Many of the cards were still in their plastic packages.  I'm not much of a game person, but have fond memories of playing this with family on my Mom's deck.  I brought water in my stainless bottle for the drive.  Eggs were shared with friends, as well as soap "seconds".

 Noticing a change in consistency with the recent Hairprint kits, I wrote and kindly asked about it.  With it being an entirely new product, they're needing to tweak a few things as they learn more.  They sent me three kits to replace the perfectly usable, but imperfect kits, a savings of $110!  With so many companies only concerned about their bottom dollar, it's awfully nice to deal with one with integrity.  Though there is a real commitment for the time factor, and a definite messy factor, I highly recommend this product if you're looking for a nontoxic way to restore your hair color.  When I went to their website to create the above link, I saw a new offer where I can refer someone, and they'll receive 15% off.  If you're interested, just use this link

I recently saw a couple of recipes for Bulletproof Chai, which is perfect, as I'm trying to stay away from coffee right now.  It's pretty tasty, though I'd like it more flavorful, so I'm going to try doubling the chai next time.  We were invited to a birthday party for one of our neighbor's sons.  I made hummus to bring, with cut up celery, carrots and a bag of organic tortilla chips bought on sale for $2 earlier in the week.  The colder temps returned, making me long for soup.  I asked J to harvest rutabagas, and tried a simple soup recipe from a blogger friend, which wasn't much more than rice and broth.  The rutabagas still taste a bit too much like turnips for my liking, though better after the frigid temps, but the soup was filling and OK.  I popped some gifted popcorn in the wok to have with the soup.

Two loads of laundry were done, and hung on the line, but brought in and finished in the dryer due to the expected precip.  I noticed a rough patch on one of my molars, which felt like something had chipped.  I made a visit to the dentist, worrying he might suggest a crown, but he said he'd just smooth it, a much less expensive option.  I relisted a couple of items on ebay, and also listed one new one.  The elderberry leavings after straining the tincture were dried, and will be used in making suet.  For one dinner, I made vegi chik patties with homegrown pickles, our pear sauce, and beans from the pantry.  Sunday morning was rainy, and I decided lemon blueberry scones were for breakfast.  I used home ground wheat for half the flour.  I hope you're enjoying some cozy days!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Late January & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  As I was gathering soaps to restock one of the galleries, I decided to try using some of the paper I recently thrifted to gussy up my Rose soap.  With these, the Lavender soaps in a pretty blue paper and the Garden soap in floral fabric, I think it will make for a cheerful Valentine's display.  On Sunday, J hung the three new bluebird houses M made.  We noticed one of the older houses had some recent damage to the entrance hole, so M made a guard for that one too.  I'm hoping several bluebird families enjoy their new digs this year.  I made a broccoli cheddar quinoa bake, using our broccoli and eggs.  We finished some leftovers with it.  We've enjoyed two salads with the last of our lettuce.  Though it was under cover, the single digit temps pretty much did in the lettuce.  I'll soon be starting some again.  Our patch of winter salad greens didn't do much this year, but I gathered all I could, then mixed them with what was left of a bag of kale I had harvested, and prepared a winter salad another night.  I'm joining in with Brandy's Frugal Accomplishments today. 

I learned of the show Victoria, and found the first year was free to Prime members.  I've been enjoying the series a great deal so far.  I ended up staying home on Tuesday, instead of working in town.  Besides painting an order, I had two to pack and ship.  I knew I would be getting a delivery of soap supplies, and sent the packages on their way when I got my delivery.  An hour's driving saved is a lovely thing.  I was determined to tackle the pile of ironing, and finished it after working a few hours a couple of days.  I rarely listen to podcasts, but save links to interesting sounding ones for days I'm doing mindless tasks, such as soap wrapping and ironing.  Last week, I listened to this.   I found it interesting, and it gave me some things to think about.  If you enjoy any amusing or uplifting podcasts, please share.  I made suet, yogurt and kefir, washed plastic bags for reuse, composted, shredded paper and used warm up water for house plants and the humidifier.

My sweet sister has a birthday coming up, and mentioned she could use a draft dodger for her closet door.  She has a dachshund and loves all things dachshund, so I attempted one for her draft dodger.  My thinking was "how hard could it be to sew a tube?"  With my rudimentary sewing skills, it was a little bit of a challenge.  But I persevered, and came up with something I hope will be useful and cheerful.  I noticed the loose threads on his chinny chin chin after I took the photos, so looked him over and did a few hand stitches here and there before packing him up.  After bringing her presents to our lunch date, I headed towards home to run several errands.  I found a canister at the SPCA thrift shop that will be turned into a compost crock.  They have the nicest people working there, and the best prices.  They're only open on Fridays and Saturdays, so I try to stop by there if I happen to be in town those days.  I redeemed a 15% off coupon for a 40# bag of  sunflower seed at Tractor Supply.

Aldi's was also on my list of stops.  Avocados were .49 and garlic was 3/.79, so both were picked up.  I splurged and got a bouquet for $3.99.  I lean towards wilder bouquets, and found a pretty one with a sprig of goldenrod in it.  J & I went through all our seeds over the weekend, and we only need a few things.  I put several hours into cleaning, researching, photographing and listing some items on ebay.  After 7 days, only one item sold, and my profit will be $1.12.  Sheesh.  I did use recycled items to ship it.  I had a girlfriend day on Saturday, meeting one for lunch then heading to meet another at a vintage emporium.  It was our first time there, and it was rather underwhelming, which of course saved us both money.  Two different aspects of our rainwater system had broken recently.  Some breaks from the freeze emptied out the tanks that supply our household water.  J fixed both over the weekend, and we are collecting rain again.  By the time I got home on Saturday, my respiratory junk was returning.  I decided to make an immune boosting soup on Sunday, which consisted of vegis in every color of the rainbow,  crowder peas, & herbs, most of which were grown here, and a jar of vegi broth which included reishi.  Wishing you a healthy and happy week!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Feels Like Winter & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Sunday evening, I made two loaves of bread with the leftover cushaw squash, and pizza using a homemade crust and sauce I had frozen, with our garlic and pantry items.  With it, I made a salad using our lettuce and tomatoes, and hemp seed.  We're delighted to still be eating tomatoes mid-January.  Most are tiny, but there are three of medium size which I think I'll use in vegi BLT's.  It was the first time I used an extra pizza crust I'd frozen, and I should have prepped the pan with some flour first, as it stuck badly.  I usually use a pizza stone, but already had the squash bread cooking, and was scared to put the stone in a hot oven.  After I had the pizza in the oven, I saw that some people bake the crust a bit before adding toppings.  If you can share any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.  I did enjoy the convenience of having a homemade crust and sauce ready to go once I added toppings.  I'm glad to be joining in with the Frugal Accomplishments community today. 

For a dinner, I made my grandmother's dressing (vegi version), using pantry items and our egg and parsley.  With it, I cooked our frozen lima beans.  I added shredded paper to the chicken's nest boxes.  J & I finally got our Christmas boxes stored in the attic.  Some sad lettuce was given to the chickens, which they loved.  I went to town, even though my massage schedule was cancelled due to illness.  An order needed to be shipped, and we needed milk and a few other groceries.  I stopped at Aldi's for a handful of things, got cranberries for .49/bag and organic frozen corn that was $1.99/bag.  That's not inexpensive, but better than other places I shop.  While in town, I picked up this book I had requested at the library.

bluebirds before the snow
For one dinner, I made Polish cabbage and noodles.  With the leftovers the next night, I made butternut crumble squash with cranberry pomegranate sauce.  Though I did attempt to find some mint to use in the recipe, it was buried under 7" of snow.  We thought it was yummy without it.  My appointment to apply Hairprint at a local salon was cancelled due to the snow, so I did it at home.  I listed a new batch of shaving soap I began wrapping, and they're flying out the door.  I sold 8 bars to three repeat customers who swear it's the best they've ever used, and then a shaving set to a new customer.  That sure makes me happy.

To go with leftover butternut squash and cranberry sauce, I prepared pinto beans and a lambs quarter/spaghetti squash dish.  I saw custard pie mentioned here, began making one, then remembered I really love coconut custard, so changed it midstream.  I should have either added more sugar, or used sweetened coconut, but it will be eaten with sweetened homemade whipped cream.  Not too much of a sacrifice, except to my waistline :o).  Thankfully, the snow is starting to melt, so I should soon be back to my regular walking schedule.  Laundry was done, and hung on the line.  I set up a wooden clothes drying rack next to the wood stove, to dry wet garments on snow days.

The bird feeders were like Grand Central station for a few days.  I made a fresh batch of suet.  As the snow was a wet and heavy one, I found a number of limbs down on a walk.  On one limb, I found a sweet bird nest.  A batch of hummus was made for lunches, using pantry items.  Several jars of elderberry tincture from last summer's garden were strained, sweetened with raw honey, and bottled.  It's great immune support, and so good for colds and flu.  I'm happy to know these bottles will be on the pantry shelf.  Expecting a significantly higher electric bill due to heat lamps and space heaters and such that are not usually in use, when it arrived and was $63 higher, I wasn't surprised.  With no single digits in the upcoming forecast, I hope this next one will be back in the normal range.  We enjoyed a night out with friends, and listened to a fun local band.  There was no cover charge, but we enjoyed a few beers and put a donation in the tip jar.  Wishing you a good week ahead.  Be well, friends!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Accustomed To The Quiet & Frugal Accomplishments

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

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

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

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Little Snow & Frugal Accomplishments

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

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

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

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

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