Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving and Frugal Accomplishments

I'm joining in with this week's Frugal Accomplishments on The Prudent Homemaker.  I had a great time helping out at the big annual local pottery show, Celebration of Seagrove Potters, Friday, Saturday & Sunday. I brought snacks and lunch, and my own mug and tea.  They provide hot water and coffee for the help.  I'm pretty picky about my coffee, so I brought some herb tea along, and kept filling my mug up with hot water throughout the day.  It's in an old, unheated cannery and gets mighty chilly, so I dress in as many warm layers as I dare, and sip hot drinks to ward off the cold.

I canned the last of our pears, and got another 3 half pints of pear vanilla sauce to put on the shelf.  I let the water in the canner cool down on the stove, adding some heat and moisture to the house, then used the water to wash up the dishes and to wash off sweet potatoes before baking.  I froze the last batch of lambs quarter, which I picked before the hard freeze.  Homemade laundry soap was used, and laundry hung on the line.  Homemade soap and deodorant were used, and I colored my hair at home.  Though J takes care of the majority of keeping the woodstove stoked, I added logs as needed. I chopped up the best bits of pear skins for the pups to have with their dinner, as part of their raw portion, and put the other bits in the compost. It amazes me how quickly the compost crock fills up, and needs to be emptied. I guess that's a good sign that you're eating lots of healthy, from scratch meals.  I cooked okra I had frozen this summer.  Made a simple air freshener by putting tangerine peels and a few cloves in a mason jar, then filling it with water and putting it on a clay tile on the woodstove.  It will release moisture and scent, both good things to add to dry air in a mostly closed up house. When I made a batch of soap, I finished up a bottle of rosemary essential oil.  I turned it over to catch the last few drops while I was cleaning up the soap pot and utensils, then added the rosemary oil to the mason jar to add a bit more scent.  Made yogurt and kefir.  Sunday was a cool, rainy day, and all afternoon I thought about soup, so when I got home, I put on a pot of vegetable soup, using lima beans, garlic, okra, onions and carrots grown here, with some discount store bought organic corn and crushed tomatoes, and a bit of leftover vegi sloppy joe.  Some warm bread would have been lovely with the soup, but I popped up a batch of organic popcorn in the wok.  That was pretty tasty too.

The photo is of our root cellar, with pumpkins, winter squash, sweet potatoes and apples stored there.  It's a good feeling to see all that food lined up, rather like canning jars on the shelf.  I wish you a bountiful Thanksgiving, with good food to share and good people to enjoy it with.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sheet Mulching, a Hoop House, Autumn Meals and Frugal Accomplishments

I'm joining up with Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker, with the weeks' Frugal Accomplishments. I harvested broccoli, carrots, chickweed.  Filled the 2nd gallon bag for vegi broth, simmered and canned it up, getting 6 1/2 pints to put on the shelf.  I ground up all my bread ends for bread crumbs, and froze them.

I tried the sheet mulching (aka lasagna gardening) method on a bed next to the house, with lime, newspaper, compost, cardboard, cow manure and leaves.  In the past, I've thrown fall leaves on this bed, and we've tried cardboard in the garden. Neither worked well by themselves, but I'm hoping the combination will encourage it all to break down into lovely soil.  I couldn't make it any thicker, as J said it needed to be lower than the wood siding, or we would be inviting termites. In time, I hope to add more ingredients, as it breaks down. I used this as a guide.

I worked in my compost- sifted one bin and put it on the bed above.  Made yogurt, and this pumpkin walnut raisin bread with our smallest cheese wheel pumpkin.  Yummy!  Also made a butternut squash recipe from here, using squash and garlic we grew.  I had to add a bit of water towards the end, to get it to soften up nicely, but that worked like a charm.  Also good.

At the discount grocery, I got- organic, fair trade sugar for 1.75/lb, jasmine rice for .60/lb., 7 oz. jars of kalamata olives for 1.75 ea., 26# bag of Wellness Core grain-free dogfood for 17.50 (reg. price 52.00!), organic agave nectar @ 2.00 a bottle, plus others I've forgotten.

I forgot to mention I joined Swagbucks in the last post.  I am still working on my first gift card.  I will say I was disappointed that the surveys so far all seem to want to gather as much information as possible about our household, rather than get my opinion, but I will give some of the other ways of getting points a try. If anyone has suggestions, I'd love to hear.

I made this recipe with kale that some friends gifted me with.  We liked it a lot. I left out the currants, and swapped out the pine nuts for walnuts.  I also made this quinoa recipe, using some of our last grape tomatoes, onion, garlic, fresh oregano, and frozen basil grown here.  We liked this one a lot too, though it has a lot of cheese.  I'll be trying some healthier quinoa dishes for more regular use, but will make this one again too.

Here is a hoophouse we built over the coldframe recently.  We drove rebar into the ground and used PVC pipe for the structure.  We covered it with 6 ml plastic, and held down the edges with bricks and rocks.  It's not perfect, but we hope it will work better in rain and snow.  I'll get a picture of the inside and post that another time.  Like much of the country, we've gotten cold weather the past few days, with nights in the low 20's.  In a few days, that low is supposed to drop into the teens.  Stay warm and cozy, friends.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The View

the view from the window
I'm joining in with Frugal Accomplishments on The Prudent Homemaker.  Made potato soup with our potatoes & parsley; made pumpkin soup with our pumpkin.  Picked all the tomatoes, basil, some spearmint and chickweed before frost, froze some basil in olive oil and spearmint in water- both in ice cube trays.  Made pesto with our basil and garlic, juiced our passionfruit and froze the juice, until I decide what I want to do with it.

Bought some sale items, new reading glasses and Thanksgiving cards at a 20% off day at Walgreens.  At the discount store, bought organic garbanzo beans for .40/can, organic agave nectar for $2/ bottle, organic whole tomatoes .60 for 28 oz. (even though we grow our own tomatoes, after not having enough to can in 2013, I buy them whenever I find especially good sales), a bottle of Nature's Way elderberry syrup for 1.50 (I also grow these, & make my own syrup, but thought this was an excellent buy, and you never know what next year will bring)

The usual drying laundry on the line, washing out plastic bags, bringing my own bags to the grocery store (saves .05 per bag, though I'd do it anyway), composting, harvesting rainwater, running all my errands while I'm in town.

Bought 4 apple trees locally, all cedar rust and fire blight resistant, which is a huge problem here.  I hope we have better results with these trees.   I also bought a fig I'd never heard of, an Italian Golden Honey Fig.  All seem to be settling in nicely.

I took down the hummingbird feeders, and made my first batch of suet for the season.  I've not always been able to afford the black oil sunflower seeds, but I've always managed to make suet for the birds.  The recipe is forgiving, and you'll see some of my variations in the link.

A friend of my Mom's sent me this quote after her passing.  I came across it again recently, after losing my Dad, and it gave me comfort.

Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!                        -Henry Scott Holland

Monday, November 3, 2014

Local Flora and Frugal Accomplishments

As I write this on Sunday evening, there is a freeze warning for tonight.  I expect the bouquet to be the last of the year cut from the garden, which includes butterfly bush, orlaya, black & blue salvia, soapwort, zinnias and hyssop.  I've not done a very good job keeping up with my frugal accomplishments recently, and am combining the weeks since the last time I joined in with The Prudent Homemaker. 

Though it wasn't frugal, I bought pansies and violas to cheer me, and planted them next to the walkway from the drive to the house.
Borrowed books and movies from the library.  I enjoyed reading The Orchard and Farm City. While we were at the beach in September, I made one purchase from a thrift shop that supported animal rescues, the book it happened on the way to war: a Marine's Path to Peace...good story.
Gathered eggs, persimmons, basil, purslane, carrots, lima beans, lambs quarter.  Added carrot tops, lima pods, tomato & onion bits, lambs quarter and parsley stems to the freezer bag for vegi broth.  Weeded chard, dehydrated cayenne peppers.

The usual harvesting rainwater, washing plastic bags for reuse, composting, hanging laundry on the line.

Made Black bean burgers using Brandy's recipe; we ate them for 2 meals and froze the rest for a third. Made waldorf salad using celery from the cold frame.  Prepared a spaghetti squash and spinach dish, using vegis in the freezer.  Need to be eating from the freezer, as there is no more room.  Used tromboncino squash from the freezer in a pasta dish, with basil, rosemary & tomato from the garden. Baked sweet potatoes from the garden.

Searched for and found a coupon code giving me 18% off of some needed Massage Therapy continuing ed classes.  I took water, snacks and lunch to the hospital/hospice almost every day, during the week my dad was there.

Saved seed from a Cheese Wheel pumpkin.  Juiced a bag of limes I got a few weeks ago for 1.00 on the marked down rack, and began a batch of lime cleaning vinegar with the skins.

The past week, I've harvested carrots, lambs quarter, chickweed, purslane, tomatoes, swiss chard & parsley.  Saved seeds from basil, shiso and garlic chives.
Cooked with onion, tomatoes, garlic, parsley and potatoes grown here

There is a nice patch of swiss chard in the garden, but it will die back with cold weather, and begin growing again in the spring.  We also got our garlic planted.  The planting, harvested in June, usually supplies us for the year.
I've gotten better about using the dregs from the yogurt jar, cans of beans, etc, mixing in a little water if needed, and pouring over the pups meals.  They're enjoying a little extra zip from what are healthy foods, mostly organic, and nothing is wasted.