Monday, October 26, 2015

Frugal Accomplishments and a Hayride

The weather warmed up again this week, and we've been having beautiful days.  I'm happy to be joining in with Frugal Accomplishments today.  I harvested chard, parsley, & oregano.  Gathered eggs.  Trimmed my hair.  Added vegetable trimmings- chard stems, carrot ends, bean pods to broth bag in the freezer.  Gave the pups chopped chard & parsley, grated carrot, small tender bean pods & a boiled egg with their dinners.  Gave the chickens a bag of squash I found in the freezer that was from a couple of years ago.  Frugal fail, but they loved it.  I enjoyed a library book, Our Souls At Night.  I made an online purchase through Swagbucks, to get points towards a gift card.  It was from a local store, but it saves time to just pick up my order, and then I get the points too.

We redirected the path to our house last week, and along the edge, I planted two peonies, 20 mediterranean bells, and 35 snowbell bulbs.  I planted phlox I started from cuttings there Sunday evening.  The new path has more curve to it, and comes from the area where I park, rather than coming from the driveway across from J's shop.  It was his suggestion, and I like it for several reasons, one of which is my preference for curves in a landscape.  Our original plan was to use 6" cedar logs for the path.  We thought it would hold up for at least 10 years, but before we were able to finish it, some pieces began to crack and fall apart at the edges.  I'm still trying to figure out what material to use for Plan B.  It needs to be easily swept, as it comes through a wooded area.  Suggestions welcomed.

My siblings and their families came out for a hayride over the weekend.  The weather was lovely, with sunny blue skies.  If you look close, you can see a tree loaded with persimmons behind everyone.  A few learned the difference between an underripe and a perfectly ripe persimmon.  It's been something like 10 years since there has been a hayride here, and it was a most enjoyable day.  I prepared Brandy's Tuscan Tomato Bread soup, baked potatoes with fixings, warm spiced apple juice and rounded it out with cheese & crackers and olives.  I also fixed this apple cake.  It was good, but both J & I agreed it was a bit too sweet for our tastes.  I almost never make frosting, so will probably try it again without it.  I decorated with our pumpkins and gourds, and created signs using cardboard from a cereal box, attached to 2 scarecrows, directing family around our new path and current construction project,  My SIL left a bag of shredded cheddar and a container of sour cream.  I've been eyeing some fall desserts with sour cream, so that was a nice bonus. I did some overdue cleaning to get ready.  If only I could keep the house looking like this all the time.

Cooked a new chard recipe, and quiche with our eggs, pepper, garlic, & tomatoes.  Sliced tomatoes a couple of nights with dinner, enjoying them while we can.  Ate some pear sauce from my pantry.  Made yogurt, kombucha and kefir.  I have a goal to take down all the hummingbird feeders this week, and make the first batch of suet.  I dug the remaining potatoes.  Not a huge amount, but enough to enjoy a few meals.  Collected some zinnia heads for seed.  Washed plastic bags for reuse.

I did laundry with homemade soap, and hung it on the line.  Used homemade soap in the shower and at the bathroom sink.  Worked in the kale bed, removing leaves with holes and cabbage worms, and gave it all to the chickens.  Assisted J with electrical work on our project.  Walked with the pups for sunshine and exercise.  What did you do last week?

Monday, October 19, 2015

First Frost & Frugal Accomplishments

We had our first light frost Saturday night, and a freeze predicted Sunday night.  That always means a bit of scrambling to make sure all indoor plants are in, tender plants in the garden are harvested, & water lines are ready.  I'm happy to be joining in with Frugal Accomplishments.  Last week, I made my first ever batch of Fire Cider, using my garlic, rosemary & rosella calyces.  The recipes allow for variation.  I bought a pomegranate at Aldi's recently for .99, and added the seeds.  I bought 4/$5 artichokes, and put the stem bottoms and trimmings into my vegetable broth bag when I steamed them.  I love artichokes, & used to be able to find them on sale for .99, but no more.  I saw some this week at Harris Teeter for 3.49 each!  Made yogurt and kefir.  Frugal fail- had to compost a zucchini I had forgotten about.  The tea camellia is blooming, always nice to see during the cooler months.

The sumacs and dogwood are so pretty, with their turning leaves.  I made some progress on my quilt.  Picked basil and rosemary.  Pulled a few carrots; shredded them in the pups dinner and saved the greens and ends in the freezer bag for broth.  Made pasta with our tomatoes, squash and herbs for sauce, & put squash & onion ends in broth bag. Did laundry with homemade soap and hung it on the line.  I had picked up a loaf of organic bread while at the grocery store, then found a loaf of the same bread on the markdown bakery rack, so put the full price one back where I got it.  Got organic avocados 4/$3 at Aldi's.

My sister & I had a day together, enjoying some thrift stores & a trip to TJ Maxx.  Found a 100% alpaca scarf for 2.99,  a like new Pendleton wool scarf for 1.50, Burts Bees Baby organic cotton baby clothes for my niece's upcoming shower at TJ Maxx (total outfit $11).  I made an online purchase at Lowe's through Swagbucks, and paid with my Lowe's card, which gave me an 8% discount overall.  I paid off last month's bill in full, to avoid any interest. We were offered solid wood flooring that was left over from a project for .50/ft.  Bought a bushel of NC mountain York apples at the local feed & seed for $24.  I'm not sure how that works out per lb., as I don't know how many pounds, but I enjoy having them to use through the winter.

When our first frost was threatening, I harvested all the tomatoes of any size, quite a few eggplant, one pepper, a couple of squash, chard, basil, lemon verbena & pulled all the cranberry bean plants up.  I had spent most of the day on the roof with J, working on a homestead project, so didn't have time to pick each bean by hand.  On Sunday, I picked the beans off the plants, & got about 1/2 shelled.  I also cut all the zinnias for a bouquet in the house, so I can enjoy them as long as possible.  It's always sad when the flowers are done for the year.  I finished washing all the windows, and got the last of the plants indoors.  Pups got the holier chard leaves chopped up in their dinner.

J & I harvested all our sweet potatoes before the frost.  We had a good harvest, which was unexpected, due to weeds, drought, then lots of rain.  Voles had eaten portions of some of them, and with those, I will cut away the good parts and dehydrate for pup treats.  They're good for them, they love them, and they're free except for time and a little electricity.  I also dug one hill of potatoes, and was happily surprised.  I ran out of time to do more, so will plan to dig the rest early this week.  I added Home Fires to my Netflix queue, after Brandy's mention of it.  Wishing you a wonderful week!

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Habit and Frugal Accomplishments

The zinnias I started in July are blooming.  I planted them hoping for late summer & early fall blooms, and they've come through nicely.  I'll enjoy them while I can.  I'm joining in with Frugal Accomplishments today.  Last week, I strained, sweetened & bottled the jars of elderberry tincture.  Made yogurt and kefir.  Took cuttings of rosella and plumbago for rooting, which I can hopefully plant out in the spring.  Began washing windows.  I think most tend to do that chore in the spring, and I do if I have the time, but I always feel it's most important to do in the fall.  In the warm months, we're outdoors much more and there's so much light.  In the colder months, the house plants and I appreciate all the light we can get, for health and good cheer.  All the inside and 1/2 of the outside south facing windows are washed, which is where the majority of house plants will go.  I cleaned up 20 plants and their saucers, plus the tiles that most sit on to protect the furniture, and got them in the house.  Just a few more to go!  It's a stretch to call that a frugal accomplishment, but there is an avocado and some lemons I started from seed, which may someday provide food, and a couple of aloe for medicinal use.

J & I were treated to a performance of Nunsense, a musical that my brother took part in.  He and the other musicians could be seen during this performance, and all had to dress in a habit :o).  The show was great fun.  I sure love my brother, who almost always makes me laugh.  I made open faced cheese sandwiches with our tomatoes and oregano.  Harvested extra oregano to dry.  Grated a carrot for the pups dinner.  Broke up stale pretzels for the chickens.  Harvested tomatoes and gathered eggs.  I froze the remaining yogurt I bought for a starter in an ice cube tray, so will have starter for quite a while in the future.  Made pasta with our tomatoes, garlic and herbs, and made Brandy's chard soup with our chard and garlic.  Also made from scratch brownies.  What did you do to save money or resources recently?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Few Days at the Coast and Frugal Accomplishments

A trip to the coast was not terribly frugal, but I am nonetheless happy to be joining in with the Frugal Accomplishments community.  We ate out much more than usual, but brought food & ate all breakfasts, all but one lunch, & one dinner in our room (with kitchenette).  I asked for a to go box for 2 dinners; also brought home our pizza crusts & a breadstick for the pups, and leftover bread for the chickens . There was a large selection of free DVD's to borrow, and we chose 3.  The first two were bad enough that we stopped them just a short while into them, but we enjoyed the third one, Chef.   I purchased a small Turk's Cap plant at The Beaufort Historic Center for .50!  This was a new plant to me, but there was one along the picket fence of the Historic Center which caught my eye.  It has unusual red flowers which bloom from May to frost, and has edible flowers and fruit from which you can make teas and jams.  Even the raw fruit sounds good, with a description of being similar to watermelon or apple.  It supposedly propagates easily from seeds or cuttings.  I'm excited about this one.  I also bought 2 burlap bags of snowbell bulbs at the historic center for $1.50 ea (35 bulbs!).  I thought their prices were very inexpensive, so I put a little in their donation box to help support the society and bought a little gift for one of our friends who are minding the homestead.  I made Swagbucks goals several days.

We visited some thrift stores, where Joseph found several pairs of work pants, and I found some basic quilting books (for .50) and a few pieces of clothing.  I also found a large Farberware kitchen tool which I'm not sure was intended for, but will be perfect for moving blanched tomatoes from stove to cold water bath during canning  (photo further down the page).  Also got a small metal cup for my 72 hr. kit.  Due to some Frugal Accomplishments comments, we picked up 2 pieces of dress-up clothing among the Halloween things for J's son's little girl.  One is a beautiful purple velvet princess gown.  These will be part of her Christmas.  There were walks on the beach, quite a bit of reading, and time just hanging out on the balcony watching and listening to the sea.  We had a great view of the eclipse, and watched it from beginning to full eclipse on our balcony, while enjoying wine I had gotten on my sister trip.  With Hurricane Joaquin looming, we headed for home.  Last year, we found a discount grocery store on the way, where I stocked up on organic peanut butter among other things on the way home. We intended to shop there this year, but when we went by, they were closed for restocking :o(.

Once we got home and I had unpacked most everything, I headed to the garden.  I harvested tomatoes, okra, an eggplant, a pepper, swiss chard and trombincino squash.  I hadn't gotten to pick okra for a few days before we left, so the majority were huge, inedible things.  I like okra to be small and tender, but I save a few larger ones in the freezer, to cut up in soups.  The rest generally go to the chickens, where I open them up and pick out the immature seeds.  They really seem to like those.  There was also kale and mixed winter greens that could use picking, but as they don't last too long in the fridge, I will wait until we eat the chard to pick them.  A few weeks ago, I received some Fresh rewards coupons from Lowes.  Two out of 5 were for meat products, so I wrote and asked if it was possible to add info to my profile saying I'm a vegetarian. I never received a response, but then received a $20 Lowes gift card in the mail.

The pups got grated winter squash, chopped tomato, okra and chard with their dinners.  I cut up the chard stems, and added them to the broth bag in the freezer.  After all the vacation food, I was feeling the need for more vegi's and lower calories, so I made my Mom's squash soup with our tromboncino, basil, tomatoes and garlic.  I mixed up the last of the homemade bisquick and made biscuits to go with the soup; added some ww flour and ground some flax seed into it, which made it just a little healthier.  Used our tomatoes and garlic in a rice loaf, chard in a gratin dish, and our canned crowder peas one night for dinner. The rice loaf and chard dishes also used some of my homemade bread crumbs.  Received a gift card from Staples in the mail, which was a rebate.  Canned the last tomatoes of the year.  We've still got some on the vines, but there won't be enough to can at any one time.

Due to Hurricane Joaquin, the Fall Festival was cancelled, the first time that's happened in 43 years.  It was the right decision, though, and I'm thankful they made it, so I wouldn't feel guilty about not participating in all the rain & wind.  Our forecast is to get 5-12 inches by Sunday.  (Update: our 5" rain gauge was overflowing Sat. AM, & we believe we got at least 6" total since Thurs.PM.)  I made a frugal breakfast of oatmeal with apples I dehydrated last year.  Made kefir and yogurt.  The pet sitter used up the last of my yogurt, so I had to buy some for a starter. Will have to educate the pet sitter about homemade yogurt, and the need to keep some for the next batch.  Got the movie about JK Rowling from Netflix, which I'm pretty sure I learned about from a commenter on The Prudent Homemaker.  We both enjoyed it.  Borrowed Season 4 of Call the Midwife from the library.  I'm really enjoying the series.

A few days before we left on vacation, I went to the dentist for a cleaning.  I asked about an area that hadn't felt quite right, and was diagnosed with an abscess.  Though I haven't taken antibiotics in 15 years or more, I thought it was prudent in this case.  Instead of buying OTC probiotics as he recommended, I relied on my yogurt and kombucha to counter the antibiotics, and did well.  I'm learning quite a bit.  He told me the abscess was a byproduct of previous dental work, and the damage done to the root.  He suggested a root canal, but I am researching other options.  I've been to holistic MD's, but have never had a holistic dentist nearby.  Thankfully, there has not been pain.  I've ordered some products from here to support a healthy mouth.  What I'm learning about root canals makes me want to make another choice.  I know that pulling the tooth is an option.  I'd welcome other suggestions that anyone has to share.