Monday, August 31, 2015

Frankenpup and Frugal Accomplishments

I'm loving my new muck boots.  I usually come from the garden with wet sneakers from morning dew, so these are a definite improvement.  I'm happy to be joining in with Frugal Accomplishments today. I harvested tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, winter squash, okra, pawpaws, basil, chives & corn.  Canned tomatoes.  Bought packs of marked down carrot, beet and lettuce seeds at Walgreens, as well as mechanical pencils with a coupon, which I'll save for my nephew.  Froze pawpaw pulp.  Harvested two pears.  I found a cluster of elderberries that had broken off and dried, and added them to the jar of dried berry pulp for bird suet.

This tiny frog kept me company while I picked cucumbers.  I went through swagbucks for a purchase I needed to make from Lowe's.  Decanted some of the first jar of elderberry tincture, to help me get over a lingering cold.  To keep from making a special trip to town, I got creative with the pup's meals for a couple of days.  I cooked eggs and brown rice, gave them a small amount of bread, yogurt, kefir and cheese, some beans, and a larger than usual amount of grated raw vegetables (though still not the 70% their last vet recommended).  There was always a bit of kibble mixed in, though I definitely stretched it.  They absolutely loved the variety.

Cleaned the chicken coop, & added it to the compost pile.  I harvested more hazelnuts, roasted & ground them and added them to a homemade gelato.  Also made tomato cheese pies, asian cucumbers (I know you're not surprised :o), and roasted green beans for a dinner with friends.  Our guests brought homemade sourdough rye, dark chocolate brownies, pimento cheese & crackers, & a kombucha fruit drink.  It was a happy coincidence that our friend, who is from Estonia, grew up spending days gathering hazelnuts with her grandfather, which they would eat through the year.  The hazelnut gelato with her dark chocolate brownies was heaven.

I canned tomato juice with the pulp, and it is delicious.  I can imagine what it will be like to drink a glass in the cold months.  Quite like summer in a jar.  I gathered a bouquet of beauty berry, poke berries, autumn clematis, obedient plant, soapwort and a canna lily for the house.  Made kefir, kombucha and yogurt.  I washed all laundry with homemade soap and hung it on the line.

Guinness was keeping me company while I was picking tomatoes.  When I looked over, I saw he had gotten into a writing spider's web.  Looks rather like Frankenpup, don't you think?  My silly pups make me laugh almost every day.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Hazelnuts and Frugal Accomplishments

I'm happy to be joining in with Frugal Accomplishments.  I harvested corn, removed the kernels and froze 2 bags.  Harvested our onions, which were very skimpy, a bit over one lb.  Some had rotted in the garden, and about half had rotten spots, so I cut the good pieces of those to dehydrate.  I canned salsa using our tomatoes, volunteer ground cherries, cow horn and sweet red peppers we had grown in past years, garlic, parsley and oregano, plus onions and spices that were bought.   I made a squash dish, which also used our tomatoes, corn and onions.

I prepared a homegrown meal, which J cooked on the grill.  There was okra, corn on the cob, beets with rosemary, and a zucchini, tomato, onion, garlic, & thyme combo which also had storebought romano and a portobella in it.  It was a delightful summertime meal.  I made a caprese salad with our tomatoes and basil.  Made yogurt and kefir.  Dehydrated squash., and beet skins for dyeing fabric.  Canned tomatoes.  I've had a lingering cold since last weekend that left, and then came back.  I made a cough syrup by cutting up 1/2 lemon, covering it with 1/2 cup raw honey in a pint jar.  I brought a cup of water to a boil, turned it off, added a handful of thyme leaves, and quickly covered it to keep in the essential oils. Once it had mostly cooled, I added the strained thyme tea to the honey and stirred.  I've taken a tbs of it as needed.  It should last a month or so in the fridge.

J & I harvested squash from several vines that had died- spaghetti squash, hopi grey, butternut and others I've forgotten the name of.  I started several cherry & grape tomatoes this year, including some Sweet Millions that were my Mom's seeds.  I throw some of these tomatoes in with the larger ones when I'm canning, and we eat them fresh, but there were lots coming in, so J came up with the idea to try juicing them with the new juicer.  I added in some of the smaller paste tomatoes, and did that.  This time, I just steamed them, and it is a thin juice, not like store bought tomato juice.  I'm thinking it would be best added to soups, or possibly vegetable dishes.  For a thicker juice, you can blend the remaining pulp and add it into the juice.  I think I'll try that next time.

We had some nice rain this week, so I replanted some of the fall vegetables that didn't come up with the first planting... more kale, spinach, 2 types of collards (one that J's grandfather grew, and Morris Heading), and a patch of mixed winter greens.  It's too late to plant more rutabagas.  Hopefully, I will get a handful of them this year from what did germinate.  That vegetable has been a real challenge for me.  I still want to replant beets and carrots, and get some cabbage and broccoli plants.  In the winter I had filled TP tubes with dryer lint and a bit of candle wax.  As I had a good amount of these, I've been tearing up TP tubes and tissue boxes and adding it to the compost bucket.  A good portion of the year, it's mostly kitchen scraps that go into the compost bin, so more browns are always welcome.  I cut a bouquet for the house, using zinnias, forsythia limbs that needed cutting back as filler, autumn clematis, and beauty berry.

okra, squash, pawpaws & hazelnuts!
This is a portion of Sunday's harvest.  The bowl, in front and center, is what I'm most excited about... hazelnuts!  This is our first good harvest.  Well, you really could say it's our first harvest, unless you've been reading here long enough to remember this post.  I gathered carrot and orlaya seeds.  A few kale seeds and lots of my mixed winter greens have sprouted in the garden.  At our ladies homesteading group this week, I was gifted several yarrow seedlings, and some sunflower seeds that have yellow and rust flowers.  I planted the yarrow, and fertilized them with nettle tea.

Once I removed the husks, there was just a bit over one cup of hazelnuts in the shells.  There are more on the shrub, not a lot, but some. These are what were on the ground, or shaken off.  My Mom made the best gelato using hazelnuts.  I think I may have just enough to make it.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A New Steamer and Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  I am joining in with The Prudent Homemaker's Frugal Accomplishments today.  When going to a nearby town to run a couple of errands, I used my gas rewards, making it $2.03/gal with a fill up.  A thrift store there was having a 50% off sale on just about everything.  I got quite a few pieces of clothing for $1 each.  I wear some pretty rough looking clothes around the homestead, with lots of wear, stained, etc.  due to our water staining so many things, and the belief to use it up and wear it out, This past year, J's business has gotten busier, and they've been doing more work in their shop here, which has meant their clients may drive up while I'm working outdoors.  Quite a few of the pieces of clothing are to help me "clean up my act" here on the homestead.  There were also some nice pairs of pants, a skirt, and even a cashmere cardigan.  I do love cashmere!  I also found a nice piece of flannel fabric for 50 cents.

I harvested cucumbers, tomatoes, elderberries, concord grapes, zucchini and tromboncino squash, corn and okra.  I continue dehydrating squash.  I canned tomatoes.   Made egg salads with our eggs, a salad of our tomatoes & cucumbers with some olives, and corn on the cob for dinner.  Used our onion in an asian slaw.  Made kefir.  Did laundry using homemade laundry soap and soap gel, and hung it on the line.  We have native ground cherries that have volunteered.  I have been harvesting them, and plan to use them to make salsa.  Only one of the tomatillos I started from seed made it long enough to be planted into the garden, and though it is covered in blooms, there have been no fruits thus far.  So, I will use the ground cherries in their place.

concord grapes
I purchased a Mehu Liisa steamer/juicer last week, making the decision to purchase one after I'd spent 2 hours removing elderberries from stems, knowing there were many more elderberries to come, and the concord grapes were just about ready.  Several bloggers I follow have had wonderful things to say about the steamer, which is how I knew of it.  It has already saved me several hours of work, as there is no need to remove stems from fruits before steaming.  I now have canned jars of both juices, ready for jelly making when I have more time.  The steamer is definitely not inexpensive, but well made and comes with a 10 year warranty.  Another blessing I realized today is the grapes won't make my hands red & itchy for days after I stem lots of them.  I believe it's the malic acid that causes that.  When I remember, wearing gloves helps a lot, but not stemming them helps the most.  Yay!

We have been opening up the windows most nights, and were able to keep them open through one full day, with some lovely cooler temperatures.  I listed several things on ebay.  Used homemade soap and deodorant.  Brought water and a banana for my morning to work in town.  Noticed the organic salad beans at Aldi's had been marked down to .59/can.  I pondered it, and went back to get some for us & M, and also got more of a red wine I had tried last time and we liked.  Got discounts for bringing my own bags to another grocery store.  Brought water and lunch for us both on Saturday, when I helped J with a job.  I canned beets, and grated and froze 2 more bags of zucchini for bread.  I saved canning water, and watered plants with it.  What have you done to save money or resources recently?

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Bountiful Garden and Frugal Accomplishments

White's Mill
I thought I'd share some photos today from our recent trip to Abingdon, VA, along with joining in with Frugal Accomplishments.  Last week, I harvested and canned tomatoes, and dehydrated zucchini and tromboncino squash. Made kefir and yogurt.  Harvested beets, sliced and canned them.  Gave the pups grated zucchini and cucumber with their dinner most nights.  I trimmed one of the basil plants, where it is encroaching on an eggplant, and scattered the trimmings in the chicken coop.  I was recently reminded of the natural antibacterial properties of most herbs, which seems a good way to bolster the chickens immune systems against avian flu and other illness.  It has the added benefit of smelling nicer in the coop.

Borrowed and read A Nickels Worth of Skim Milk, a Depression era book.  I made a purchase on Amazon, and remembered to go through Brandy's link at The Prudent Homemaker, so she will benefit a little from my purchase.   Did laundry using homemade laundry soap and soap gel, and hung all loads on the line to dry.  I took advantage of 35% off homesteading books at Chelsea Green, and bought J a present for the holidays.

one of the lovely quilts seen at a quilt show
I recently broke the bubble remover stick that came with my canning tools years ago.  I searched online, but didn't find anything less than $7.99, which irked me for a simple plastic stick.  I asked for suggestions on The Prudent Homemaker, and a butter knife and chopstick were suggested.  I had thought of a butter knife, but am pretty sure I've read that wasn't recommended, as it could scratch the jars and compromise their integrity.  However, a chopstick is right up my alley, and I already had several to choose from.  A great idea, and a plastic tool replaced by a wooden one makes me happy.

the view from our B&B room
One evening on a walk with the pups, I heard the sound of a couple of birds shrieking in our woods.  It was quite an odd sound.  My research makes me think they were juvenile great horned owls.  I harvested basil, oregano and parsley.  The pups got the imperfect parsley with their dinner, and I made pasta sauce with the herbs, tomatoes and garlic from the garden.  I trimmed back more of the basil and oregano to encourage growth, leaving plenty for the bees, who were busy as I trimmed.  The trimmings went on the chicken coop floor.

 I canned 2 qts of blueberries.  They are fading, with fewer and smaller berries, so I will leave the rest for the birds.  I dug the remainder of the potatoes.  There were slightly more than 12#.  Less than we'd hoped for, but I'm grateful for what we did get.  I separated out the smallest of these, and canned them.  I've never eaten canned potatoes, but with all the little ones, it seemed like a good idea.  I've kept the dehydrator going all week with summer squash. The big bat of a zucchini I found when we got home from vacation has been grated and frozen.

Quilt in the restaurant at Heartwood
Cut a bouquet of zinnias and tansy for the house.  I brought a bowl of cherry tomatoes, asian cucumbers and tomato pie to a family gathering, and shared our bounty of cucumbers, squash and eggs with family members.  I found several good deals at Big Lots, including qts. of apple cider vinegar for $1 (I had not found anything less than $7/gal. until these), organic sugar $4 for 3#, very tasty olives for $2/ jar, and natural whole grain oat cereal which J likes for $1.  I harvested a large amount of elderberries, and started a jar of tincture with them.  I think we should be set for tincture for a while, so I will make jam and possibly syrup with any upcoming elderberry harvests.  We harvested our first corn, and had it for dinner.  It was delicious!  Have an enjoyable week, friends!

Monday, August 3, 2015

A Little Vacation and Frugal Accomplishments

chocolate mint

I'm joining in with The Prudent Homemaker's Frugal Accomplishments today.  As we were getting ready to go away for a few days, I knew I needed to have a bit of a "preserving marathon", so as to lose as little as possible from the garden.  On Day 1, I harvested cucumbers, tomatoes, tromboncino and zucchini squash, and elderberries.  M harvested blueberries, and I'm thankful for that.  My preferred method for preserving summer squash is freezing, but I just didn't have freezer space.  In the cooler months, I usually use it in pasta dishes or soup, and an occasional casserole, so I'm hoping that canning it will do just as well for those things.  Same with the blueberries... no room, so I canned those as well.  I had already canned jam and syrup, so these will be used for cobblers and possibly pancakes or muffins.  I began another jar of elderberry tincture.

removing elderberries from stems
Day 2 was my day to work at Hospice and run errands.  When I got home, I harvested almost all the Corot noir grapes, which the June bugs had already started munching on.  That's OK, I got most of them.  I juiced the grapes, getting just under 1/2 gallon, and froze the juice.  These are wine grapes, and the best harvest to date.  J had said if we got a gallon, he'd try making wine, but I'm not sure what we'll do with this smaller amount yet.

Corot noir grapes
On Day 3, I harvested cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini and dill.  The squash bugs have arrived, and I spent some time dealing with them and their eggs.  I canned kosher dill pickles, and then canned tomatoes.  Bless J's heart, he offered to pick up Chinese for dinner.  I saved a few tomatoes to make caprese salad, but was still working on canning tomatoes as it got closer to dinner time. Occasionally, a mix of homegrown and take out is the best you can do.

Of the seeds I planted recently, many of the zinnias and nasturtiums are up,  and I'm hoping some spilanthes (toothache plant).  It's been a while since I've had any luck in starting them, and I forget what they look like as seedlings.  Hopefully, they're not weeds.  All the squash ends from canning went into the broth bag in the freezer.  The chickens got some soft fruit and vegetables, and the leftover tomato bits from canning.  I shared cucumbers, squash and tomatoes with friends.

Laundry was done with homemade laundry soap and soap gel, and hung on the line to dry.  I made kefir and yogurt.  I checked on the pineapple vinegar I started a few weeks ago, but it's not tart enough yet, so I'll leave it for a while longer.  I colored my hair at home.  With all that accomplished, I'm ready for a road trip!

We had a wonderful time, and got back Sunday evening to many cucumbers, tomatoes, squash and elderberries needing to be picked and preserved.  A few days to relax and unwind makes it all worth it.  I hope your weekend was a good one.