Monday, December 28, 2015

December Blooms and Frugal Accomplishments

Today I'm joining in with Frugal Accomplishments.  Last week, I mended the carrying case for my massage chair.  Received a rebate for paint.  Strained, added honey and bottled my first batch of Fire Cider.  It's surprisingly tasty!  I enjoyed holiday music on Pandora.  I made a pumpkin pie with our pumpkin and eggs, cooked our potatoes with rutabagas, harvested and prepared chard, boiled eggs which we and the pups shared.  Chopped the chard stems and leaves with holes for the pups, and put some chopped stems in the vegi broth bag.  Harvested greens for the chickens.  Did laundry with homemade soap, and hung one load on the line.  Rain was expected in a few hours, so I dried the remainder in the dryer.  Used scrap paper for lists.

Shopped at the discount grocery store, and found kalamata olives for $2, 3L olive oil for $8, pack of 12 toothbrushes for $1, natural cane sugar for $1/lb.  Got 5/$5 evaporated milk at the grocery store.  Made broccoli fried rice with our broccoli, carrots, garlic, onions and eggs.  Added the carrot tops to the broth bag, and gave some grated carrots to the pups, along with a couple of chopped collard leaves with holes, and grated apples. Made Swagbucks daily goal several days.

I made french toast with our eggs, and baked ziti on Christmas Day, with our tomatoes, garlic and herbs.  Made potato salad with our potatoes and parsley, boiled our eggs and gave the pups some, deviled some for our dinner.  Added the parsley stems to the broth bag.  I fertilized all the house plants, as well as cabbage, collard and broccoli plants with homemade nettle tea.  Picked chickweed and dandelion greens for the chickens.  Had a nice long walk with the pups on Christmas, very much needed to counteract all the holiday goodies.  Used homemade deodorant and soap.  There are a number of plants blooming, due to the unusually warm weather.  I expect it won't be long before the cold will be here, so I'll enjoy these blooms while I can.

Friday, December 25, 2015

A Christmas Walk

It's been my tradition to take a walk with the pups on Christmas.  On a typical day, we pretty much keep to the path.  But on Christmas, we enjoy wandering the woods of this piece of land.

There are no ticks or mosquitoes to bother us, and it's easier to wander with the leaves off the trees.

Like much of the country, it was an unusually warm Christmas here, with temperatures in the mid-70's.

an interesting tree "skeleton"

Thanks for coming along on our walk.  I hope you had a most enjoyable day, however you spent it.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Holiday Baking and Frugal Accomplishments

I'm happy to be joining in with Frugal Accomplishments today.  I've been enjoying some holiday traditions, baking cookies, writing cards and wrapping presents. Our ladies homestead group had a cookie swap and potluck this week.  I brought gluten-free peanut butter cookies, sesame cookies, crispy oat cookies with orange zest, and apple beet salad.  From the homestead were beets and the eggs for the sesame cookies.  We also had a gift exchange, and I brought a bar of Kitchen Thyme soap and a wool duster.  It was lots of fun to see what the ladies made for the exchange.  I was gifted a mason jar of cookie mix with recipe.  I spent a morning with my sister in law, helping my niece's third grade class make Christmas crafts, which was great fun.

When I went by the discount grocery store, they were in the middle of a major overhaul, so there was very little on the shelves.  The owner had passed away a few weeks ago, and they now had permission to set the store up as they felt was the best use of the space.  It was certainly cleaner than I'd ever seen it, and I'm looking forward to seeing it when fully set up.  I ordered Real Simple magazine, free through using my points on Recyclebank.  I wonder if anyone has experience with AARP Rewards for Good?  I haven't spent a lot of time on there, but it seems as though the rewards are for things like jewelry, restaurant cards, electronics and such, things I don't really need.  I know many are not of the age to be using AARP, but if any of you knows of simpler rewards on offer, I'd love to hear about them.

I made yogurt and kefir, lentil soup with our carrots, and collards and rice with home canned broth.  Gave the pups chopped greens, grated carrots,  cut the brown spots from an apple and grated the remainder for them.  When I cut my round bars of shaving soaps, there are always smaller end pieces left over.  I had sold all of the bars in stock, so I cleaned up two end pieces and packaged them together, so I could sell one last shaving set for the holidays.  Borrowed several books from the library.  Prepared roasted brussels sprouts with our garlic.  Used a Lowes gift card I got from Swagbucks points for a gift.  Using wood for heat, there invariably are sticks that get brought into the house.  The pups have a good time making just a bit more mess for "Mom".

J found a great deal on some especially dense wood, perfect for our new porch floor.  The catch was we had to drive to Asheville to get it.  While there, we also found all the door and window casing we need, for significantly less than I had seen online (a bit over $3 for a 7' length vs around $12).  This  place had all sorts of interesting things, and I found tins of olive oil at 3L for $8, so I got all 5 on the shelf for soap making.  We stopped for lunch on the way home, and had an especially nice meal for a reasonable price.  I trimmed my hair several inches.  Our tree is finally up, the lights bringing cheer and ornaments bringing sweet memories.  Wishing you and yours a very merry holiday!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Warm December Days and Frugal Accomplishments

Last week, I used a $3 off $30 coupon at Lowe's Foods.  Bought 3 bubble wrap rolls at Staples with a buy 2, get 1 free sale, using a gift card I received as a rebate.  The card paid for the bubble wrap, with a couple dollars to spare.  Gathered a few rose hips from the wild roses.  Made yogurt and kefir.  Reading a borrowed book from a little library box at Small B&B.  I tried a sweet potato smoothie with one of our homegrown leftovers, adding homemade yogurt, cinnamon, vanilla and leftover apple juice I had spiced to drink warm.  I took it with me as I ran out the door, & though it was good, it was a bit too thick for my taste.  Next time I will add more liquid.

I took my car in for a repair that was a recall.  The repair was free, but while there, I was told my front brake pads were getting thin.  J said if I bought the pads, he'd replace them.  I purchased them through ebates, and used a 20% off coupon code, saving me 27%.  Prepared a winter salad with our greens and garlic, served with crowder peas I had canned.  I baked chestnuts (not a frugal accomplishment, but a seasonal pleasure & one that brings back sweet memories of my Mom), & while the oven was hot, I baked 2 of our spaghetti squash and froze the "spaghetti".  We do have two chestnuts planted, but they are still little saplings.  Some day...  Gave the dogs chopped greens stems with their dinner, & gave the chickens the last of the smoothie, along with chickweed, dandelion greens & creasy greens I picked on the way to see them.

I received a $5 rewards from Staples, I believe from bringing ink cartridges to recycle on my last visit.  I took Guinness to the vet for his annual visit, and got a prescription for his heartworm med, as I can find it much cheaper online.  A local gardening friend recently spoke of a tomato that did wonderfully in their garden, from Seeds from Italy.  During a 20% off sale last week, I purchased the tomato seeds, plus a few others I'm excited to try.  I've heard about beeswax fabric wraps, and just read about a tutorial to make your own here.

I spent Friday evening and Saturday with Stephen Jenkinson of Orphan Wisdom.  A friend and I barely found a seat for the film screening about him, Griefwalker, on Friday.  Saturday was story telling and wisdom shared of his many years of work with the dying. It was obvious with the packed house for both events, I'm not alone in thinking his teachings are so needed in these times.  I made pasta using our tomatoes, oregano, parsley, basil and garlic.  Began baking cookies to share for the holidays.  Washed laundry with homemade soap and hung it on the line.  The days have been warm and beautiful for December.  I still have lots to do to get ready for the holidays.  How about you?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Late Fall Color & Frugal Accomplishments

Even in the waning days of fall, there is color to see when I am mindful to notice.  I'm happy to be joining in with Frugal Accomplishments today.  I made vegetable soup with our garlic, carrots, tomatoes, and squash, along with some store bought vegi's.  Would have added a few slices of okra, if I had remembered.  I added carrot, garlic, onion and celery ends to the broth bag.  Removed three gallon bags for vegi broth from the freezer, simmered, strained and canned it.  I made one of my favorite juices for lunch, with our carrots, plus apples, pineapple, and ginger.  Gave the pups a few of the last cherry tomatoes and bone broth with their dinner, and a boiled egg with several meals.

male downy woodpecker
I bought some needed items for our project from Lowe's through ebates, with my Lowe's credit card, saving me 7%.  Bought a live Frazier Fir tree at Lowe's during their 25% off sale, making the tree less than $20.  Is there anything better than the scent of Frazier Firs!  I made the first batch of suet this season, and it didn't take long for the birds to find it.  Did laundry with homemade soap, and hung it on the line.  Gathered chickweed and dandelion greens for the chickens, on the way to collect eggs.  It seemed a fair trade :o).

a few of the wool dusters
I filtered and decanted several canning jars of orange, lemon and lime cleaning vinegars.  I'll take a few of these to a holiday show on Saturday. I also finished my new product, recycled wool dusters.  I made them by cutting up sweaters (some were mine that had seen better days & some were thrifted and found at excellent prices), then felted the wool.  I cut hardwood handles from the homestead, dried then peeled them, cut a groove with a bandsaw to attach twine handles. I had fun making these, and am looking forward to sharing them at the show.  I purchased a large basket for $12 on clearance. I'm thinking of using it in the pantry, but may use it elsewhere. There's plenty to organize around here.  The largest part of my focus this week has been getting ready for the show.

I was surprised to find this bloom in December

After reading several comments on The Prudent Homemaker, I decided to purchase an upright freezer.  The small chest freezer we have is rather a black hole, with no easy way to tell what's in there.  Having a freezer with bins and shelves, as well as more room will be delightful.  Our local Lowe's was having a 25% off sale.  Combining that with 5% off for using their credit card & 2% through ebates saved me 32% on the freezer.  I believe having it will help me to better see what we have and what needs to be eaten, as well as to better be able to take advantage of sales.
a glimpse of the show and a portion of my booth 
I sold out of my two seasonal soaps at the show, Pumpkin Chai & St. Clements (Citrus Spice).  The show was lots of fun, and I came home with some presents.  On Sunday, I got all the show stuff put away by noon, and hoped I might be able to relax a bit.  I had in mind reading on the couch, which is a rare treat.  After packing up several online orders, gathering greens and carrots & collecting eggs, spending some time trying to make a decision on a piece of our ongoing project, walking with the pups and making dinner, the afternoon was gone.  But after supper,  I did indeed get caught up on a weeks worth of newspapers, and finished a library book.  I made a pasta dish with some of our fresh parsley for dinner, and put the stems into the broth bag in the freezer.  I'm looking forward to working on some holiday things this week... writing cards, wrapping, perhaps a little baking.