Monday, March 27, 2023

A Few Little Projects

Hello, friends.  I hope your week has been a good one.  Last week, I put a pot of sweet potatoes to simmer on the woodstove, for the dogs and chickens.  Some months ago, I requested that J begin saving bones from his meals in a bag in the freezer.  There were a good amount, and while we still have the woodstove going some days, I wanted to put them on it to simmer as well.  Afterwards, any meat was pulled from the bones.  The meat and broth filled just over two 32 oz. yogurt containers. I froze one, and the other is being doled out to the pups, which they're loving.  This week, he began freezing another bag of bones. 

I made Winter's Delight Jam, which helped me clean all the cranberries from the fridge and freezer.  The jam is quite lovely.  I ended up with 8c of cranberries, and adjusted the recipe to match.  I did substitute some blueberries, as I didn't have quite enough strawberries.  All the cranberries were picked through, and the chickens got the ones that had seen better days, which made for a happy flock.  I feel good about already having a head start on gifts for this year's holidays.  If you're wondering, I always use new canning lids for any jars that are to be gifts.  For ourselves, though, I often use at least some reused lids.  Asparagus, lettuce and oregano were harvested from the garden.  

J and I worked on a fence extension around the garden, for the deer.  Our 4 foot fence wasn't tall enough to keep them out, so he added extensions to the posts, and we're stapling up 4 foot fencing above the original fence.  After delivering soap in a nearby town, I did some shopping.  I got a 4 pack of swiss chard seedlings at the home & garden shop, and got them in the ground before it started sprinkling.  At the thrift store, I picked up a wool/cashmere sweater, camisole, and spool of winter ribbon for $7.  I stopped at the Dollar Tree, but there was nothing on my list, so I left without buying anything.   As I can, I continue to work on my cross stitch project.  We're trying a new experiment in potato planting.  We filled twenty 15 gal. grow bags with soil, and placed them across the bottom of the solar panels.  They'll get lots of sun, and the rain runoff.  Hopefully, the bags will keep the wireworms and fire ants out.  

I brought up the containers of tomatoes prepped in the fall, via Stacy, and began watering them.  This is a new to me technique, and time will tell how well it works.  I'll keep you posted.  There are now 24 tomato seedlings up, of the ones I started recently, but no peppers yet.  I picked up a few groceries while J & I were in town, and got a lb. bag of almond coconut flour on clearance to try for $1.45 (normally $5.79).  I use both flours in my baking, but haven't tried them combined before.  I figure it'll be easy to make GF cookies with, and they also recommend using it for pancakes, waffles and muffins.   I made a batch of cashew parmesan using homegrown herbs, and made pasta with our herbs and veggies, to enjoy with it.   That's about it for the week.  


Monday, March 20, 2023

Late Winter Days & A Gathering

Hello, friends.  I hope these late winter days have been good ones for you.  One morning, I saw this sweet one resting on the cat bowl on the porch.  Last week, I canned garbanzo beans and vegetable broth.  The majority of canning lids were reused, including some that were on their third round, and all sealed.  I'm not encouraging anyone to do this; only sharing my experience with it.  I made golden paste for the pups and suet for the birds.  For a dinner, I made our roasted green beans with baked potatoes and sauteed garlicky spinach.  Another night, I roasted our first asparagus with roasted brussels sprouts and sweet potato fries.  The first of our tomato seeds are starting to sprout, with 11 up, as of Sunday morning.  I harvested lettuce and broccoli, some of which was used in a peanut noodle dish, and  J harvested a cabbage.

I stopped at Hallmark after a nearby appointment, and picked up a few cards, along with my free card.  At the grocery store, grape tomatoes were .50 off, oranges were $1 off a bag, coconut milk was 2/$4, brussels sprouts were $1.99 off, and I received the 5% senior discount on my total order.  I was then able to pick up evaporated milk at Dollar Tree, and the cat treats our kitty especially likes.  Laundry was dried on the clothesline.  J had requested beets from the grocery store.  I'll roast them another night, but first cut the greens and sauteed them with lambs quarter I had frozen, to have with black bean burgers and home fries.  Another grocery stop, I got avocados for .79 ea.  Several books were requested from the library.  Some of our frozen figs were added to oatmeal.

All that recent deep cleaning was inspired by a family gathering, which was held here on Saturday.  It's always an encouragement to clean, when I know there are a lot of people who'll be visiting, lol.  There were 16 of us, a mix of mine and Joseph's families.  Though it was chilly, the sun was shining, the little ones were excited by the chickens and gathering eggs, we gave tours of the various goings on here to whomever asked, and we ate well.  I sent the littles home with a dozen eggs, and leftovers home with a couple of others.  I cut a few redbud branches for my sister to try and root.  It was a lovely day.  St. Patrick's Day marked 16 years since J and I's first date.  It was nice to have a gathering of our loved ones to celebrate.  I plan to take a well-deserved rest Sunday evening, and will get this post up Monday.  Wishing you a Happy Spring, friends!

Monday, March 13, 2023

Groovy Boots

Hello, friends.  Last week, I went through more of the pantry, and found things that were long past sell by dates, and other things I can no longer eat.  Some very old granola bars were composted, a couple of things were given to the pups, an apple/berry sauce cup was added to the chickens mash, a few sodas J said he'd use, and a few were thrown away.  Lots of wintersown plants are coming up, with the marigolds and zinnias being especially robust.  I started tomatoes and peppers, with six varieties of tomatoes and five of peppers.  Instead of using a heating mat, I tucked them under the woodstove for germination.  In all the spots that hadn't come up in the garden, peas were replanted.  I'm getting to more of the things that didn't get done during deep cleaning.  The range hood and filters were scrubbed, and the stove and oven were cleaned.  Some cabinets were wiped out.  I picked up sticks in the yard, and began cleaning flower beds.  

We had friends over for dinner again, taking advantage of our cleaner than usual home.  I decided to make a pasta sauce we'd enjoyed last summer, using our canned tomatoes, onions and roasted eggplant I'd frozen.  The sauce was together 15 minutes before they were to arrive, and when I tasted it, I realized the frozen eggplant was entirely different from the recipe when I used fresh eggplant.  It was not good... at all.  So, a quick plan B, with J grabbing a couple quarts of our tomatoes and snipping some oregano for me, pulling our last onions from storage, and frozen basil cubes, and we pulled off a simple tomato sauce.  Seconds were asked for.  I was glad there was a happy ending to our meal.  I made up a spice cake and GF cookies for dessert.

As I've been able, I worked on the cross stitch piece that will be a gift.  Never much at one time, but I'm making progress.  Laundry was dried on the line.  Though we didn't see it fall, we'd had some frozen precipitation when I went out to open up the chickens Sunday morning.  Early in the week, our temperatures were a bit of a roller coaster, which meant the woodstove did not stay consistently hot. I ended up dumping the pot of veggie scraps that I'd had on the stove to simmer, as I wasn't sure it would be safe, even after canning.  When temperatures got consistently colder, over the weekend, I put a fresh pot of scraps on the woodstove.  Two bills were paid online, saving stamps.

For Christmas, my sister bought me these very cool muck boots.  The sole to my old ones came apart over the weekend, and I got the new ones out.  They definitely brighten my day.  With Sunday being so raw and rainy, I wanted to make soup for dinner.  J suggested potato leek.  He harvested the leeks for me, and I made the recipe from one of my first and favorite cookbooks, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest.  During the week, broccoli, lettuce, oregano and asparagus were harvested.  We've now got enough asparagus for a side dish, so that will be on the menu this week.  Library books were picked up, and are being read.  There will be several nights below freezing this week.  Hopefully, the fruit trees will fare well, and produce this summer.  Wishing you a groovy week, friends!

Monday, March 6, 2023

Small Steps & Little Things

Hello, friends.  We had some lovely days, mixed in with rainy ones last week.  Many plants are beginning to bloom.  I harvested thyme and oregano.  A few sprigs of thyme were steeped as tea, and the remaining herbs were dried.  A batch of hummus was made for lunches.  I got tired of my long hair, which reached my waist, so I've been cutting it bit by bit, and it's now about a foot shorter.  I'm enjoying it much more.  Four books were requested from the library.  The bedroom deep cleaning is finished.  J and I worked together, moving furniture and such.  I've been enjoying my homegrown tea blend of lemon balm, lemon verbena, nettles, and spearmint. 

This is a new little corner, created by the addition of the sewing room.  I think it'll be a nice spot to enjoy some meals on lovely days.  I used two of our butternut squash in soup, along with our onions and garlic.  On a day reaching into the 60's, I winter sowed 28 pots, using a combination of old potting soil mixed with new.  On Sunday, I could see the parsley starting to sprout up.  I redeemed Swagbucks points on a gift card, in time to get the equivalent of a $3 bonus.  When library books were picked up in town, I stopped for groceries.  The blueberries for my smoothies were $1 off/bag, and avocados were .89.  Nothing earth shattering, but every little bit helps.  Our holistic vet made his annual visit for the pups.  The only thing found was a small, reddened area on Guinness's gum, which may be some infection.  One of his suggestions was berberine, which we had in our supplies, so I'm giving it twice a day mixed in something good, and there's already a noticeable improvement.  


 When heading out the driveway on the day I went to town, I noticed asparagus up, in what is always our earliest patch.  It's in a sunny spot where it volunteered, probably with the help of some birds.  The next day, I harvested the first asparagus, as well as stinging nettles.  The nettles is drying, to be used for tea.  All laundry was dried on the line.  For a business purchase, I used a 20% coupon code, and went through Swagbucks for an additional 4%.  J prepped the garden area, and planted the onions.  He also did some weeding in the garlic bed and an asparagus bed.  I pruned some of the smaller fruit bushes and trees, and he got the larger trees.  We probably have another third to prune, but it feels good to be making progress.  I've begun going through tomato seeds, which I hope to start the coming week.  Is it time in your area to be planting seeds yet?

Monday, February 27, 2023

A Short Post

This is going to be a shorter than usual post.  Somehow, after working on it off and on for several days, it was deleted Sunday evening, and I don't have the heart to redo it.  I can tell you that there was another broccoli harvest, part of which was used in pad thai.  The rest of the broccoli was frozen.  A pot of sweet potatoes was put on the woodstove for the pups and chickens.  I went through Swagbucks for 4% off an order, and used coupon codes for another 12% off the entire order, plus a few items that received 15% off.  The deep house cleaning is done, except for the bedroom, which will happen this week.  

We've owed two couples in the neighborhood an invite, and had them all for dinner over the weekend.  I harvested lettuce to mix with store bought for our salads, and pasta sauce was made with our canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and summer squash, garlic, onions, and fresh rosemary.  Brownies and GF cookies were made with items we had in the pantry.  It was a nice night.  We learned a few more things about the neighborhood, including one of our claims to fame, Rufus Hussey, known as bean shooter man.  Here he is on Johnny Carson.  Have a wonderful week, friends!

Monday, February 20, 2023

Mid-February Days

Hello, friends.  Lots of progress was made on deep cleaning the house last week.  On Saturday, J helped out, taking down many of the light shades, washing them, and putting them back up.  He also repaired the string on a blind that had broken.  I went through a large pile of magazines.  Some will be given to an acquaintance who expressed interest in homesteading-type magazines.  The remainder will go to the sharing basket at the local library.  A thrift store had their clothes at 50% off.  I needed groceries, and it happened to be close by, so I stopped and found J two shirts, and myself two tank tops and a skirt for $1.50 ea.  A partial box of cream cheese was pulled from the freezer, and is being doled out for the pup's breakfasts, as we're dairy free now.  I've also been sprinkling a little homemade granola on it, being it's not GF, and they seem to be enjoying both.  

Early in the week, I canned vegetable broth, adding more pints to the shelf.  I grocery shopped after a soap delivery.  Surprisingly, many of the things on my list were on sale.  None of it much, but I saved $12.99 total on sale prices, and another $5.99 discount for shopping on senior day.  I then went by the Dollar Tree, where I found the lentils last month, and they had more, so I picked up 6 lbs.  My plan is to can them.  I had stopped into two other Dollar Trees recently, and neither had them, so I was very happy to find these.  I was also happy to find a 100% cotton tank top there.  The thrift store prices have gotten really high for such a simple thing.  I wear these daily as an underlayer in the cooler months, and several are wearing out.  In the same town, I stopped by Hallmark, found some 90% off Christmas cards, got my free greeting card, and used a $2 coupon.

This was the easiest cleanse I've done so far, and I'm also happy it's done.  J took care of his dinner through the cleanse, though I did make a very simple dinner and brownies for him on Valentine's Day.  When I went to get the vacuum bags for the old system to list on ebay, I found the other bag we'd thought we had for the new one.  Sheesh.  The recently bought ones were finally delivered mid-week, which meant the Christmas tree was finally taken down.  That was a definite record!  When I went to the basement one day, I noticed a smell I couldn't identify, until I looked at the pawpaw wine, and saw that the airlock had gotten clogged, and it spewed.  I hope that's the first and last time that happens, as it was rather a mess.  All has been well since, so fingers crossed.  I finally got around to pulverizing all the tomato bits I'd dehydrated into powder, which will be useful to have on the shelf for cooking.  That's all I can think of, so take care friends, and let's make the week a good one.

Monday, February 13, 2023

A Small Harvest and Making Wine

Hello, friends.  Last week, I planted peas, after cleaning last year's bean vines off the trellis, prepping soil and adding aged chicken manure/bedding.  I tried a sweet potato hummus to help use up some of the sweet potatoes.  It was basically the regular version, with sweet potatoes added, and was decent.  A 20% coupon code was used for a business purchase, going through Rakuten for another 7% back.  I went through Swagbucks for 1% back on another business purchase.  More cleaning has been done.  The hoosier cabinet was cleaned, and another round of cleaning most of the refrigerator, including the crisper bins, before I went to the grocery store.  I'm not sure how the shelves end up so sticky, but I suspect the bags of sweet potatoes made for the critters leak some.  At least it's clean for the moment.  

At the grocery store, asparagus were $1.49, avocados 2/$1, our dogfood was $6 off, and organic lettuce & kale were $1 off.  I decided to do another 9 day cleanse to move my healing along, and will be eating lots of leafy greens.  A $5 reward went towards my purchase.  Soapmaking oils were melted on the woodstove.  As I write this on Sunday, it's been two weeks since we ordered vacuum bags, and I've been sweeping in the meantime.  They're supposed to be here in the  next few days.  We're usually so much better about having supplies on hand.  In fact, we have seven bags for our now defunct vacuum, so it really irks me.  Somehow, the bags slipped through the cracks, which I guess happens from time to time.  Laundry was dried on the line.  Not long ago, I heard about a food pantry in our little community.  On Saturday, I dropped off a box of tomato products and pasta there.

A friend has a set of glasses just like my recently thrifted one, and told me it's a Murano glass from Italy.  I already loved it, but how cool is that.  While picking up something for J at Lowes, I bought a bag of potting soil for winter sowing.  I had a partial bag, but doubt it will be enough, with the pile of seed packets I put aside for this.  Maybe next week I'll be motivated to work on it.  I recently used up the last of the homemade curry powder, and didn't remember which recipe I used.  So, a double batch of this one was made, with all the ingredients on hand.  Some of the spices were older, and I used her tip to lightly toast them to refresh them.  A large pot of veggie scraps was placed on the woodstove to simmer, to be canned as broth this coming week.  A nice cutting of broccoli was harvested from the garden.  A few could have been cut sooner, as evidenced by the flowers, but we'll eat it just the same.

 The English muffins were used up in the chicken mash, so this week's carb cleanout was a small bit of couscous left in the pantry, and some ramen noodles.  Months ago, I mentioned freezing pawpaw, so we could try making wine with it.  We finally started it!  This is just before the airlock went on.  After I had the idea to try it, I got on several forums to see what had been said about it, and most people said they'd make it again.  Some describe it with tropical undertones, some describe it as off-dry (some German wines are described this way), with most prominently peach flavor, and some pear and banana. It's said to be "pretty darn good".  In any case, we have them in abundance here, and don't do a lot with them, so it'll be great if this turns out well.  We'll have to be rather patient, as it was said that it's disappointing at one year, very pleasing at two years, and fabulous at five.   Wishing you all a lovely Valentine's Day.