Monday, December 26, 2016

The First Days of Winter

Last week, we had our ladies homestead Christmas gathering, with a cookie exchange, present exchange and potluck.  All our presents were homemade. I received lotion and healing salve, and brought chocolate mint extract, shower tabs, and lemon dill butter.  Afterwards, I shopped at Lowe's, and got artichokes for $1.50 ea., brussels sprouts on sale, a favorite wine at less than 1/2 price, and collected stamps towards kitchen knives.  I also picked up some cans of local gourmet peanuts that were on sale, to use as gifts for some of the menfolk.  J bought postage online to send a package, which ended up being almost $43!  I told him to void it, and bought it through Paypal for $13 and change.  I'm not sure what program he's using, but I sure like mine better!  I walked with the pups, & some days J, for exercise, and made vegetable soup, which used our tomatoes, corn, potatoes, okra, squash, & frozen beans.

window feeder
On one of the warmer days (upper 40's & sunny), I washed 2 loads of laundry with homemade laundry soap and soap gel, then hung them on the line.  I gathered greens to give to the chickens when I collected eggs, which seems a fair trade.   While gathering the greens, I noticed 3 of our broccoli plants were forming heads.  I'm happy about that.  I prepared our chard for dinner, along with beans from the pantry, and cornbread which used corn I ground, our egg, kefir plus pantry items.  I redeemed swagbucks for an amazon gift card, and got a photo print through Walgreens for 25% off.  Wrapped some items that were in my generic gift box for a nephew's girlfriend for Christmas.  I'm joining in with Frugal Accomplishments today.

Someone gifted this build a snowman to J a few years ago, and we've been having fun changing it around for each other.  J put air in my tires, using the air compressor in his shop.  I wandered the woods one day, and gathered a few more natural bits and pieces for the door wreath, mostly privet and cat brier berries.  Part of my occasional job's duties include some housekeeping.  While emptying trash cans from some of the office cubicles, I noticed some pretty gift ribbons on top, so put those aside and used them in my wrapping.  I received a gift card for Lowes hardware from my supervisor.  We were invited to a birthday lunch at a restaurant, and found out when it was over that our meals were covered.  The night before, we were taken to dinner by a friend, and both of us brought home enough leftovers for another meal.

I often drop magazines off at the local library, as they have a basket to pass them on to anyone who comes in.  The last time I was there, I noticed an Italian phrase book and dictionary.  I've been practicing Italian on duolingo for several months, so was happy to find this in the basket.  We invited a neighbor who recently separated from his wife for dinner on Christmas Eve.  J cooked pork ribs and chicken, and we had our sweet potatoes and our canned green beans in a dish which also used our garlic and thyme.  Though it wasn't as leisurely as some years, we had a Christmas walk with the pups.  After the family gathering, we drove to see lights that a friend had told us about, which was free and fun.  I feel very blessed this holiday season, and hope you've had good people to spend time with, good things to eat, and activities that bring you joy!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Traditions Old and New & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  I hope you've enjoyed a bit of holiday cheer in some manner this past week.  I made a new lentil soup recipe that was in a book borrowed from the library, which was not very much different but even better than my usual recipe.  I tried making shower tabs, the ones that open up nose and lungs.  The recipe still needs tweaking, as even with menthol crystals and several different essential oils in them, they are not strong enough for my liking.  A trip to Aldi's provided mandarins, grapefruit and organic oranges.

After touching on some of my struggles in the last post, I read this from Ben Hewitt, which made me fall in love with his writing all over again:

"Life is uncertain. It is fraught and messy and beautiful and hard and I suppose the best thing we can do through it all is try to remain  compassionate and curious. We’re are going to fail at this, over and over and over. With our kids, with our partners, with our friends. With ourselves.

But failure too is good and important because it is also an inescapable truth. You can try all you want to avoid it, and indeed, this is what we are taught to do. So yeah, go ahead and try to avoid. But know this: You’re going to fail."     If you'd like to read the rest of his post, follow this link. 

There have been shop orders sent out across the country.  It makes me happy to know my offerings will have a small part in celebrations.  We picked out our tree over the weekend, and decorated it.  The last couple of years, we bought a tree from the big hardware store, once they marked them 50% off.  J reminded me how dry last year's tree was, as those trees are not kept in water.  He opted to buy one elsewhere from folks who set up from the NC mountains.  I bought their trees several years, but then lost track of them when they moved to a spot outside the mall.  I had to smile, realizing how long it's been since I've shopped at the mall, never knowing they were there until someone mentioned it this year.  Though the tree itself wasn't frugal, it was cut 2 days earlier, so fragrant and in water, and now that I'm back on their mailing list, I will get a card for a free wreath next year.  

The hospice where I work regularly has silent auctions for various causes.  Last week, I saw an antique ironstone bowl and plate that I bid ($2) on and won.  I thought the bowl would be perfect for forcing bulbs, and put hyacinth bulbs in it.  It's there in the first photo if you look close.  Two types of cookies were baked last week, one old favorite, and another new one that I ended up overcooking as they seemed very wet.  The good thing is I love a crispy cookie, and think they're just fine.  They're probably not ones to be shared, but cookies don't last too long around here.  I requested a couple of children's Christmas books from the library, and bought another for very little on ebay.  Another blogger shared her love of the book and it's illustrations this time of year.  

There are several ornaments that always bring sweet memories.  In addition to those, one of my favorite parts of decorating the tree is tucking in all the little nests I've found on this land through the years.  As I find almost all of them on the ground in the off season, I consider them little gifts from nature.  I hope traditions new and old bring you a smile.  Wishing you sweet memories and moments this coming week!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Adventures of Lady Mary ~ A Giveaway

The purple finches have arrived, their color welcome at the feeders.  In these days of shortening light, I suppose it is natural to become introspective.  But boy, it's been exhausting this year!   I believe we sign on for particular lessons to master in life, and one of mine is surely communication.  There have been things I wished I hadn't said, things I wished I had said sooner, much second guessing and ruminating.  Though I've worked to make things right, it was a bit of a rough road for a few days.

I believe things are beginning to shift, and I am looking forward to the lengthening days.  On that note, I'd like to offer a giveaway to honor the Winter solstice, and the returning of the light.  A friend and purveyor of fine teas has just released her book The Adventures of Lady Mary, an action-packed, swashbuckling adventure.

There is magical fantasy, cleverness and wit, bravery, geography, some smart tea information, and many lovely illustrations.  The book is geared towards children, but is written to be enjoyable for adults as well.  To enter, just leave a comment.  If you're a tea drinker, & would like to share your favorite, even better, but any comment will qualify.  I'll close the giveaway at midnight on Dec. 20, and a winner will randomly be picked and announced on the 21st.

** Giveaway Update- J picked the name from a bowl, & Angie is the winner!  Happy Solstice, friends!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Holiday Cheer, A Quilt & Frugal Accomplishments

osage orange & berry decoration at Shaw House
Hello, friends.  Last week, I made a vegetarian version of my grandmother's stuffing, which included our egg and parsley, and prepared our fresh lima beans I had frozen in the summer, along with roasted brussels sprouts.  I do love brussels sprouts, as well as my grandmother's stuffing.  I guess technically it should be called dressing, as I didn't stuff anything with it.  I did laundry with homemade laundry soap & soap gel.  Before the first hard frost, I had cut stems of okra left to grow large for decorating.  I added some of those to the door wreath, after noticing at the historic Bryant House, they used okra and cotton in their holiday decorating.  I've always wanted to try growing cotton.  Maybe 2017 will be the year.  I treated the chickens to some leftover Chinese food J hadn't quite finished, and the grapefruit halves that I had for breakfast.  They don't care for oranges, but pick the grapefruit innards clean.

antique pots at Shaw House, including Jugtown pottery
While in town after work, I shopped at Walgreens, & got several good deals.  It was their 20% off senior day (savings over $7), I used a promo code for 1/2 off a photo print,  replaced a set of twinkly lights which had died this past week with a BOGO free offer, and received $5 to use towards a future purchase. At the grocery store, I found baby bella mushrooms on sale, a bottle of a favorite wine on sale for less than 1/2 price, & used a $4 coupon for dogfood.  I've been working again on my quilt, sewing in the loose threads, & began writing my holiday cards.  I'm joining in with Frugal Accomplishments today.

downy woodpecker
Due to illness, I got some more hours at my occasional job this week, then ran a few more errands.  I borrowed books from the library, picked up stocking items & presents for the pups at Big Lots & Marshalls,  chicken treats (mealworms with oregano) at Southern States, 4 tank tops that I'll wear as camisoles for .49 ea. at the Salvation Army, a white top I will add to the things I plan to dye & another top for $1.99 ea.  Our tomatoes, garlic and herbs went in to a pasta sauce.  Yogurt & kefir were made.  With the coldest temps so far coming, I harvested lettuce, collards, kale & swiss chard, then covered up what I could.  Sweet potatoes were baked, & collards and rice served along side, which also uses homemade broth.

Both J & I woke up feeling badly one night.  Feeling some better by morning, but still a bit under the weather, I took the day at a slower pace.  I didn't feel up to vacuuming the house, but instead swept the floors.  I read a bit of A Traveller in Time, which was shared by this kindred spirit, & managed to finally finish my quilt, good timing to keep us warm these cold nights.  I ventured out to gather eggs, walk to the mailbox, & bring the chickens some of their mealworm treat. The treat was intended to be a Christmas present, but as it had gotten down to 19 with possibly colder temps coming, I decided they could use a few extra calories.  As I dole them out a handful or two at a time, there should still be some left for Christmas.  Ha... do any of you get your chickens a Christmas present?  A small pumpkin bought for decoration for the hayride was given to the chickens another day.

A current favorite salad is our lettuce with pomegranate seeds, feta cheese & toasted pecans, dressed with a vinaigrette made using our berry syrup.  With this, I cooked artichokes bought on sale, & had one along with our boiled potatoes.  J prepared our turnips, & also had those.  One night, J & I took turns reading aloud a Christmas story shared here.  We've had intentions of passing long winter nights doing this for several winters, but as our choice of reading material doesn't often converge, this is the first time we've done it.  I opened a bottle of port, which we'd both found out we liked on Thanksgiving.  Sitting near the woodstove, reading & enjoying a little port made for an enjoyable time.  Holiday baking has begun.  So far, I've made sesame & peanut butter cookies.  I colored my hair at home, & used homemade soap.  Water tumblers were emptied into the humidifier on the woodstove.  

J & I enjoyed some local Christmas events with our granddaughter.  First, we visited 3 historic house-museums (all on the same site) that were decorated for the holidays.  There was cider & cookies, a woman playing dulcimer, one spinning wool, & another doing silhouettes.  I wasn't quite sure if a 6 yr. old would enjoy these things, but she readily sat for a silhouette, enjoyed the refreshments, & told me (unprompted) that she really enjoyed seeing "those old houses".  The houses are open free of charge, with boxes for donations.  We hedged our bets and planned something afterwards that we were pretty sure would please, a carriage ride with Santa, & as you can see, it was a hit.  The day wasn't especially frugal, but hopefully it created memories, which is worth much more than a toy that will soon be forgotten.  Wishing you a week of good cheer!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Seasonal Pleasures & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  The unusual seed pods in the arrangement gifted to me last month opened to reveal fluff similar to milkweeds.  This helped me identify it as gomphocarpus physocarpa.  I saved the seed, and will try growing it.  I believe the monarchs can use all the help we can give them.  There were also zinnias in the bouquet, & what I believe are dahlias, which I've not grown before.  I saved the seeds of those too.  I didn't know until this blogger posted about it a few years ago that you could save seed from zinnia flowers in bouquets.  Until then, I'd only saved seed from flowers that had dried on the plant.  How wonderful to get a local bouquet with lots of seed to save too.  A gift that keeps on giving :o).

Last week, I started two amaryllis bulbs, which should bring cheer during the short, dark days of winter.  I gathered cedar and pine greenery, winterberry and pinecones for seasonal decorating.  If I search a bit more, I should be able to find some holly with berries that the birds haven't eaten yet.  The door wreath is transitioning from an autumn to a winter one.  I've tucked in a few pine cones and cedar greenery, & will add other treasures as I see them.  J & I watched our first free Amazon Prime movie, The Christmas Candle.  We enjoyed a salad with our lettuce and a boiled egg along with soup one night.  Another night, I served a tomato rice loaf, which used our tomatoes, garlic & homemade bread crumbs, & made our swiss chard and okra to go with it.  I worked a day at one of my occasional jobs, which will be the last until some days right around Christmas.  My check from another occasional job was ready, which I picked up this week.  I'm joining in with Frugal Accomplishments.

Bryant House
The Handmade Holiday show happened yesterday, and was a most enjoyable day.  Many friendly faces came by, lots of soap and a few more creations found new homes.  I was gifted a pottery mug & dried lemongrass, and purchased several beautiful, handmade presents for those on my list.  Today J & I visited a couple of historic houses dressed up for the holidays with friends, then returned here for a simple meal.  Our friends brought homemade soup and bread, and our lettuce went into a salad, and eggs into apple squares.  It's been a lovely weekend all around.  We're getting a lovely rain, which will help to refill our rainwater stores.  I look forward to a slower paced week ahead, writing holiday cards, and maybe doing a bit of wrapping.  Wishing you a week of seasonal pleasures!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Handmade Holiday & Frugal Accomplishments

I hope all my U.S. friends had a most lovely Thanksgiving.  I'm joining in with Frugal Accomplishments today.  Though we've had some hard frosts already, the clematis surprised us with this lovely bloom.  Last week, I received my annual capital credit check from the electric co-op, always welcome this time of year.  I've been to customer service at the grocery store twice in the last 10 days, due to being overcharged several dollars each time, & received my money back.   Instead of going to the stores on Black Friday, I went to the discount grocery when I finished work, which is about a mile away.  One good deal was a 3# bag of nyjer seed for $2.  My old feeder was torn, so I watched a youtube video on how to make one from a piece of stocking, a lid & a stick.  I also found half price Christmas ribbon (.99-1.22),  a roll of sterile absorbent cotton (.50) for our emergency supplies( $4.29 at Walgreens!), & 2 sweet porcelain Cordon Bleu mini loaf pans for less than half online sale price @ $2 ea.  I'm thinking they would make a lovely little gift with some homemade jam and bread.

After Thanksgiving with family, I requested the turkey carcass, which still had lots of meat on it.  Though I've been a vegetarian many years, I have a really hard time seeing it thrown away, so I bring it home for the pups.  I brought a large pot to put it in, than added water when I got home and put it on the woodstove to simmer overnight.  I added some of the older spring carrots from the garden, oregano, & some celery.  I gave the happy pups some on their kibble for a few meals, & pressure canned the remainder, 14 pints of broth and meat.  While cleaning up the kitchen from canning, I pondered why I choose to do this.  Because I have a great deal of respect for all life, it makes perfect sense that I would want to make the most out of the life this being gave up.  So, I guess it's not so crazy after all.

Last week, I finished embroidering a Christmas gift for my niece.  I dry canned dried milk in jars, harvested collards from the garden, & emptied water bottles and glasses into the humidifier on the woodstove.  I made tapioca using our egg and homemade vanilla one night, & used the same to make a ricotta pie another night.  Organic celery is pricy, and I never seem to use it up in time, so I blanched and froze most of it.  I planted the celery bottoms in the garden a few weeks ago, & they're sending up new growth.  Long on our to do list, Joseph & I planted our wheat field with heritage Red Fife.  This is our first planting and was done without the use of machinery.  We broadcast it by hand, then J raked it in.  It's been extremely dry here, but we have a good chance of rain in a few days that we hope comes to pass.  The wheat will be ready next summer, and harvest will be fairly labor intensive if all goes well.  I'll keep you posted.

This coming Saturday is the annual Lark Artists Handmade Holiday show.  I asked J to cut a slice of wood for me,  bought metal clothesline & J made little shepherds hooks to hold my recycled wool dusters for display.  Some of the cedar slab cracked off, but I think it will work fine anyway.  By the way, the little woodstove is an electric one I use for supplemental heat when needed in my studio.  J began gluing areas of laminate on the wardrobe that are buckling.  I hope to have that done soon, and be able to begin painting it.  This afternoon, I glued a second round.  On chilly days, I've been putting apple juice on the woodstove, adding a cinnamon stick and cloves, and enjoying hot cider through the day.  A simple seasonal pleasure.

This was the first year I'd planted caladiums.  It was a bit late, but I dug up the bulbs I could find, to overwinter in the house.  My moringa is growing, but seems to droop before the other plants do, so I transplanted it to a larger pot, & hope the greater amount of soil will stay damp longer and it will be happier.  Maybe it's my caretaking, but it seems a bit more finicky than most other plants, either drooping or branches turning yellow on a fairly regular basis.  I really hope to figure out how to have a thriving moringa, as it seems to be a good plant to have around.  I've enjoyed our lettuce on sandwiches this week, and made Brandy's Tuscan Tomato Bread soup tonight, using our tomatoes, garlic & herbs.  This week will be filled with soap wrapping and other preparations for the show.  I hope your week is an enjoyable one!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Firsts and Lasts & Frugal Accomplishments

Last week, I cut up one of the watermelons & gave it to the chickens.  Though it was pink, it hadn't ripened enough to have much flavor.  They loved it though.  I picked chickweed & greens and gave them those other days.  Laundry was done with homemade laundry soap and hung on the line.  The pups were given some of our dehydrated sweet potatoes for treats.  I decided to try picking one more round of lima beans, even though we've had frost.  There were a couple of cups once I was done shelling them, and I cooked them up for our dinner as I didn't think they'd keep well.  With them, I cooked our okra in the wok, & made cornbread.  Though we didn't grow the corn or wheat, I ground them both, and used our eggs.  A mostly homegrown meal is always good, and it was delicious.

The first pumpkin pie of the season was made.  A dear friend gifted me the felted pumpkin when we met for lunch recently.  I went by Aldi's last week, & they did seem to have more groceries, though the organic produce section was pretty disappointing.  I recently read where the company is moving to carry more natural and organic items, but they only had tomatoes, bananas, Gala apples & avocados.  I'm hoping it will expand.  I did pick up .99 pomegranates while there.  After working in town, I knew I'd be passing by one of the shoebox drop off sites, so took advantage and dropped mine off.  I requested books from the library, & picked them up while there.  I tasted the fermented cranberry relish started last week.  Though I expect it does have some good probiotics, I doubt I'll be making that again.  The fresh version is much nicer to my palate.

I had just the right amount from the final picking of eggplant to make Pasta Norma, which also used several of our tomatoes and herbs.  Our lettuce and tomatoes went into a salad to go along with it.  I made yogurt, kefir & kombucha.  The grocery store was out of gallons of our whole milk this week, so I got 1/2 gal. of the store brand.  There wasn't enough left to make yogurt, so I made a batch with dried milk.  The pups don't seem to mind a bit.  The chickens were given some cut up scoby.  I worked the local pottery festival 2 days, & brought food and water.  There was hot water available for workers, and I brought tea and a mug.  I enjoyed a free cup of beer from a local microbrewery at the Gala on Friday.  When I got home on Saturday, I was ready for a warm, comforting meal, and made colcannon with our potatoes, and beans from our pantry.  

Here's a peek at a recent project the guys have been working on.  Once it's done, I'll tell you more about it.  We're headed out today. First, to a gathering & closing ceremony for my massage alma mater, then to dinner & a concert in Raleigh.  It's going to be a cold one.  Stay warm, friends!  I'm joining with Frugal Accomplishments.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Monster Greens, Zombies & Frugal Accomplishments


Hello, friends.  Since I was here last, I picked the last of the summer garden when a frost was threatening, harvesting eggplant, okra, swiss chard, tomatoes, basil and lots of lima beans from the main garden.  J got home before dark & helped me pick the last tomatoes in the pond garden.  I covered lettuce and chard with a protective cover, and froze the basil with olive oil in an ice cube tray for future meals.  The following night, we shelled all the limas, and I froze enough beans for 6 meals.  After delivering soap one day, I shopped at a nearby thrift store, & found a nice area rug for $5, then went to Harris Teeter, stocking up on some things I don't have locally, as well as sale items.  I used a $10 off $50 coupon and $20 in gift cards that HT sent me, saving $30 on the total.  I'm happy to be joining in with Frugal Accomplishments today.

I don't know if you can get a sense of the true size from this photo, but these mustard greens are an impressive 2 ft. long.  I cut 6 leaves to make a "mess" for J.  We've not had any that grew to this size before.  They're not my favorite green, but he always enjoys them.  I redeemed Swagbucks points for an amazon gift card, and made tomato rice loaf using our tomatoes, garlic, onion and homemade bread crumbs, and steamed our chard to go along with it.  We've been enjoying the herb butter my friend gifted me on bread many nights.  It's so good, I'm thinking about making some myself.  I went through ebates to buy a Christmas present.  Our first fall kale salad was made for dinner one night, &  I cooked some of our red potatoes with a rutabaga to go along with it.

The first killing frost was in the forecast, so J & I picked the last of the dill, covered the lettuce, & dug the last of the potatoes, which were volunteers from ones we missed this summer.  I will miss the flowers, but really do enjoy the change of seasons too.  Our chicken coop has hardware cloth rather than glass over the window.  We stapled a feed bag on the outside, which we'll lift up on all but the coldest days for cross ventilation, then secure it each night.  Our Aldi's will have it's grand reopening next week, but had a soft opening this week.  It looked as though there were no more groceries, just wider aisles.  I hope they're still getting stocked up, & that will change.  After another errand, we stopped at the local microbrewery.  They were giving a $10 voucher to veterans for the pizzeria next door. J used the voucher for a dinner of calzones, which we enjoyed along with good beer & some good conversation.  While there, I purchased some beer to make soap with, something I've been intending to do since they opened.  I chose their Potter's Clay brew, added in a bit of local Seagrove clay for exfoliation, and some homegrown hops.  We enjoyed leftover calzone another couple of nights.  

I tried a new fresh cranberry recipe.  It's fermented, using whey that I strained from my homemade yogurt, which should provide some good probiotics.  I hope it's as good as it is pretty.  We'll know in a few days.  We didn't have as much garlic planted as usual, and planted some more that arrived this week.  It's a Sicilian variety, which we've not tried before.  I used our potatoes and parsley in a potato soup.  A pan of bread ends I'd been drying were made into bread crumbs and frozen.  The bumblebees have been sluggish from the cold.  I've taken the opportunity to pet a few while I can :o).  I made my first ever herb butter, & froze it for gift giving.

This is a tea infuser that my stepdaughter gifted me a while back.  How can you not be cheered by a mug with a yellow submarine floating in it :o)?  The chai tea came from this local shop.  Last week, I colored my hair at home.  Paid bills online, saving stamps.  I gathered mature red noodle beans, and shelled them for seed.  The upcoming week will be a busy one, as I'll be working at two of my occasional jobs; one of them will have me working off & on until the end of the year.  It's been a tough week for many folks.  My friend M shared this song, which provided some levity & seemed appropriate for this week.  Did you know yesterday was World Kindness Day?  Each of us has enormous power to make a difference.  Be well, friends.  Let's all work together to create the kinder world we envision.

Monday, November 7, 2016

November Visitors & Frugal Accomplishments

While going through my posts looking for something recently, I realized the first post on this blog was Nov. 4, 2008, the day President Obama was elected.  Here we are back at election week.  I voted early, and am curious about what the future will bring.  Last week, I made a batch of Fire Cider which used our garlic, onion & peppers.  The first batch I made was last fall, & I really didn't know if I'd like it, but I do.  It seems to knock out the beginnings of a cold when I take it before bed.  Good stuff.  This batch is slightly different than last year's, as I use what I have on hand.  I gave both pups a bath with homemade dog soap & cut nails.  McNibs let me cut 5 nails.  I was attempting to cut the 6th when he pulled his nail away.  Afraid I could hurt him, I decided to be happy with that for the day.  Lots of praises and treats were given.  Then, figuring it was the last day of the year in the 80's, I decided it was the perfect day to pick green lima beans and sit on the porch while shelling them.  Enjoying it while I can.

I harvested tomatoes, eggplant, hot peppers,okra, basil, oregano, dried lima beans and butter peas from the garden.  Made lentil soup from pantry items and our onions, and open face tomato cheese sandwiches with our tomatoes and oregano.  I ran all errands while in town for work.  At the grocery store, I used $1 coupon for cat food, got 3 jars of olives at closeout price & organic garbanzo beans for .60 on the markdown shelf.   Bought 3 items for my shoebox with a Walgreens 20% discount, shopped at the discount grocery store and found organic raisins for $2/15 oz., a box of natural candy canes for .75, dried blueberries $1/3.5 oz ($12.99 on Amazon!), large rolls of wrapping paper for $1, a canister for $4 (which I'll turn into a compost crock for my shop), & natural peanut butter & tahini @ $2/jar.  I did some online Christmas shopping, going through ebates for cash back, & used a coupon code combined with a sale to order some more garlic to plant, as we ended up having less than usual this year to plant.

Our garlic was used in a stir fry.  We've lost quite a bit of our garlic already, as the area we're keeping it in has too high humidity for it.  We didn't realize it at first, and have remedied that by running the dehumidifier.  It's a challenge, as the potatoes like higher humidity.  Some people have different zones to keep their produce, but we haven't figured out how to manage that just yet.  I harvested the first of the collards and made my favorite collards and rice dish, & baked our sweet potatoes to go along with it.  A dear friend visited after going to the farmer's market, and gifted me lots of apples... 4 different types, a spaghetti squash, herb butter and a beautiful bouquet. The bouquet has tuberose in it, which has the house smelling amazing.  I ground several cups of Red Fife wheat for baking, and tried a new roasted eggplant recipe.  The consensus was it's a keeper.  I'm joining in with Frugal Accomplishments today.  Have a great week, friends!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Late Bloomers & Frugal Accomplishments

As we are heating with wood some days, while making batches of soap this week, I melted the oils on the top of the woodstove rather than use the gas stove.  Another batch of tiller chewed sweet potatoes were boiled for the pups, which added heat and humidity one cool morning.  While going through my summer clothes, three homesteading shirts were added to the rag bag, and another three shirts were put in a giveaway box which will go to the thrift shop when full.  If clothes aren't comfortable or I'm just not wearing them, I'm better about passing them along these days.  Wouldn't it be lovely to have only things that you love to wear?  I'm thinking that's a worthy goal.  I spoke about the moringa tree that was tossed off the porch during the winds from hurricane Matthew.  This week, I was delighted to see a new stem growing.

On a recent night, J spontaneously took us on a date night.  The meal was not frugal, but my leftovers were brought home and enjoyed for lunch one day.  Our Lowes grocery store has started a green stamp program, with the rewards being kitchen knives, shears, sharpener & cutting board.  The promotion goes through mid-February.  Buying only what was on my list, I'm already half way to one of the knives.  In reordering a supplement, I went through ebates & used a promo code to get 14% off.  I made a pasta sauce with our fresh tomatoes, herbs, onions & garlic.   I decided to cut some more parsley and add it to some I already have frozen.  It's growing nicely in this weather.  It's reasonably hardy, but won't grow once it gets very cold.   Some Christmas presents were bought online, going through ebates first for cash back.

When I was getting ready to eat a lunch of leftovers on one of these lovely plates, I remembered I hadn't shared them here.  They were a gift given recently in thanks for wood shared with a local potter for their kiln.  Aren't they perfect homestead plates?  For a dinner with friends last week, I made a dish using our tomatoes, basil & garlic, one with our green beans, garlic, thyme & onions, and another with our greens & garlic.  Though I hadn't planned it that way, there was no shortage of garlic in the meal!  We should all be protected from colds for a few days :o).  I ground wheat and used some in popovers.  Oregano was harvested for drying, and eggs were gathered.  I cut open 2 watermelons, & gave most to the chickens.  We met friends for music at a winery, & brought our own food (cheese, crackers, fruit, & roasted almonds) instead of buying food there.  I made whole wheat chocolate chip cookies for our dessert.  With the forecast of days in the 70's and 80's this week, and lows in the 50's, I expect to be enjoying all the late blooming flowers just a bit longer.  Enjoy the week, friends!  Happy Halloween!


Heated with wood on days needing heat, & used the woodstove to melt oils for soapmaking

Asked for restaurant leftovers (& remembered to take and eat them :o)

Made yogurt & kefir

Gave the birds homemade suet

Repurposed old clothes into rags

Harvested from the garden: okra, tomatoes, basil, oregano, parsley, dried limas

Used homemade laundry soap & dried on the clothesline; used homemade soap and deodorant

Composted vegi scraps, shredded paper and cardboard, washed plastic bags for reuse

Ground wheat for flour

Used our vegetables & herbs for a dinner with friends

Reused the back side of papers for scratch paper

Made Swagbucks goal each day & did free Duolingo lessons daily

Electric bill lowered by $60 this month since we stopped using A/C.  Yay!

Went through ebates to purchase Christmas gifts; requested & received combined shipping from an ebay seller, saving $7.

Made chocolate chip cookies using home ground wheat, our eggs and homemade vanilla.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Fall Harvests & Frugal Accomplishments

Early last week, we had a bit of Indian Summer, with days in the mid 80's.  There are many plants blooming that aren't usually at this time.  The okra loved it, and put on lots of new blooms.  Since the September rains, I noticed my toad lily putting on growth.  Today I noticed several blooms.   It must be happy where it's at, which is lovely, as I have not had the best of luck with them in the past.  I'm still harvesting small tomatoes, so on one of the warm days, I used some in a pasta salad & another day, I made a tomato cheese pie along with our okra and a salad from our first fall gathering of lettuce.  I also harvested dried lima beans, eggplant, okra, basil, oregano & garlic chives.  I walked with the pups for exercise, with Joseph joining us a few times.  I'm joining in with the Frugal Accomplishments community today.

toad lily

The hand washing and laundry were done with homemade laundry soap and hung on the line.  At our ladies homestead gathering last week, I shared how I make laundry soap, deodorant and wool dryer balls. It was a fun night, and everyone got to take home some laundry soap and a jar of deodorant.  I dug up an elderberry to share with a women who requested one.  I received a $5 off $15 coupon for Big Lots.  I had already planned on going there to pick up something, so J & I picked up a few more things and used the coupon.  Our local library has a basket for donated magazines that anyone may take, so I dropped off a pile that had been collecting in my car.  There were also 2 toner cartridges in my car that were dropped off at Staples for recycling and a credit.  When dropping off soaps at the local hardware store, I got black oil sunflower seeds for the birds, and it ended up being an even barter, so no money out of pocket.


With nights in the low 40's and 30's in the forecast, I brought in all the houseplants.  J & I harvested our sweet potatoes.  A few had rotted, some had been chewed on, but all in all it was a good harvest.  On the other hand, we also harvested our first crop of peanuts.  We knew it would be skimpy due to the drought and weeds, but they had also been eaten by something, and quite a few were resprouting, so we'll be lucky if we end up with a quart or so once shelled, though there were 6 long rows.  Our main goal was to add the plants back into the soil to enrich the garden, so getting to eat some will be a bonus.  I gave the chickens cherry tomatoes, dandelion leaves and holey swiss chard.

shop heater
We picked the last of the crowder peas and watermelons.  One melon that had already started turning brown on one end went straight to the chickens.  They may all end up as chicken feed, but we'll give them all a look & possibly a taste before deciding.  J tilled that garden when we were through, readying it for our first ever planting of heirloom wheat.  I'm excited about that!  I harvested more eggplant, and canned another 6 pints.  While watching the canner, I shelled all the dried crowder peas.  J shelled all the green ones, except for the smallest ones which he snapped.  We had the beans with basmati rice, and some of last year's sweet potatoes.

When J tilled up where the sweet potatoes had been, he found quite a few more potatoes.  Some had been chewed up by the tiller, so I cooked up the first of those for the pups tonight.  Sweet potatoes need to cure a month or more before their starches change to make them sweeter, so this seems the best use of the ones that won't last that long, but aren't yet good eating for us.  J got our winter clothes and sheets from the attic, and the first flannel sheets of the season are in use.  A gallon jar of green olives was given to J last week.  I need to read up on recanning them into smaller jars.  I expect it's similar to when I recanned the #10 cans of black olives, but want to be sure I'm following the recommended procedure.  I hope the coming week is a good one for you, friends!