Monday, February 29, 2016

Signs of Spring and Frugal Accomplishments

I'm happy to be joining in with Frugal Accomplishments today.  Last week, I boiled eggs for the pups.  Ran errands while I was in town.  A friend gifted me quite a few bags of old grains and lentils for the chickens.  I'll try sprouting the lentils, millet, farro and wheat berries for chicken fodder, and give them the others as is.  The first chicken fodder experiment, using whole oats, is not sprouting as quickly as I read they should.  I have them pretty thin because I was scared of mold, but they may be drying out too quickly and would benefit from a thicker layer.  Some have sprouted, but not all.  The chickens loved them.  The lettuce has not yet sprouted, and I noticed hints of mold, so I lightly sprinkled all with cinnamon.  Made yogurt and kefir.

I picked up a few things at Aldi's, including generic Cheerios at $1.19 a box for J.  On a day I needed to pick up a part for J, I stopped at 2 thrift stores in that town. At one, I got several tops for .50 (their special that day).  At the other, they had all clothes 2 for 1, and I got 2 jackets, a vest and a skirt, all 100% wool, for $1 each.  I made a dish using spaghetti squash and spinach I had frozen.  I ground almost 4 cups of wheat, which ended up being about 5 1/2c flour.  I did use an old step stool this time, and fed it so the grinder did not jamb.  This step stool has a very poor design, and will smash your fingers in a heartbeat, which is why I intend to get another one.  Made a smoothie using homemade yogurt, & bananas, our peaches, pawpaw and raspberries I had frozen, with a little organic pear juice bought at the discount grocery.  Yum!

J & I weeded the asparagus bed, and planted more asparagus.  The original asparagus bed got overrun with bermuda grass, so we moved it early last year, and got only a handful of asparagus.  We found many of those crowns dead today, so I doubt there will be much this year.  We'd read that asparagus don't take kindly to transplanting, but  we finally gave up on the original bed, as we just couldn't keep on top of the bermuda grass, and the harvest was dwindling.  Maybe the new ones will be happier.  I also saw our main strawberry bed has been overrun with mock strawberry.  I spent quite a few hours last spring weeding them out, but at this point, all I can think to do is move the strawberries.  Though perennials can be a wonderful thing, there are also challenges in not being able to till those areas.  I'm hoping to learn more about permaculture, and find natural ways of dealing with these invasive plants.

I scrubbed sweet potatoes in a large bowl, then watered house plants with the water.  Baked sweet potatoes, and dried a batch as treats for the pups.  Made deviled eggs.  Used our green onion tops in an asian slaw.  Made whole wheat chocolate chip cookies with home ground flour.  Added the sweet potato ends and onion bottoms to the broth bag.  Crushed a pan of egg shells and added them to the compost bin.  Began sprouting a batch of lentils for the chickens.  Have been enjoying Victorian Bakers via Netflix youtube.  Made an ebay purchase through Swagbucks.  Made a Lowe's purchase with their credit card, saving 5% ( I will pay it off when due, so no interest).  Made an Amazon purchase, & during checkout was offered $5.99 pantry credit if I let them ship it slower, so I chose that.  Hung 2 loads of laundry on the line on a very windy day, which was an adventure, but it all dried quickly.

lavender and parsley
I'm used to ordinary brown lentils, and after soaking my friend's red ones, I realized they were split, so they would not be able to sprout.  The chickens enjoyed them any way.  I made french toast with our eggs, and sweet potato pie with our sweet potatoes, eggs, and homemade vanilla.  After I spread 1/2 bale of hay in the chicken coop 2 or 3 weeks ago, a few of the girls took it upon themselves to spread the remainder of the bale, which was so deep it interfered with their waterer.  J raked all the hay from their inner yard into one side of their outer yard, then he & I spread oats and soybeans, which our neighbor gave us. In a few weeks, we hope they'll be growing nicely.  We'll then let the chickens into that side, and sow their other yard.

one of the few kale that's survived
I'm determined to have better fruit on this homestead.  We should be enjoying much more and better quality fruit than we have been, with all that is planted.  On Sunday, I tried my hand at spraying the fruit and nut trees with a backpack sprayer.  The recipe was one from The Holistic Orchard, which uses horticultural oil, neem oil, molasses and fish fertilizer.  I'd been struggling with the sprayer for a half hour, ready to cry and about to give up, when the hose flew loose from the sprayer.  I realized if the pressure was that built up, there was obviously a clog somewhere.  J came to the rescue & blew it clean in the shop.  It wasn't easy after that. It still kicked my butt, carrying two gallons of liquid and pumping almost constantly, but it was easier.  The bad news is the book says we need to do it 4 more times this spring :o(.  I sure hope the results are worth it.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Chicken Fodder & Frugal Accomplishments

squirrels hang around the bird feeders, which vexes the pups
I'm thankful to be joining in with the Frugal Accomplishments community.  Last week, I baked sweet potatoes.  I used the first of the summer squash I canned last year in a casserole, with our garlic, herbs, eggs and homemade bread crumbs, in addition to store bought items..  It was very good.  I chopped parsley stems and imperfect leaves for the pups dinner.  Cooked some beans that I had frozen.  Boiled eggs for the pups.  Trimmed my hair.  Made yogurt and kefir.  Cleaned, photographed, researched and listed some antique items on ebay.  I've mentioned before I am helping to sell these for friends.  Whew, it always surprises me how many hours it takes to get them listed, as much of it is antique glassware that I have to research to list properly.  Hopefully, these will sell quickly, unlike most of what I have listed in recent months.

hellebore buds
The weather warmed a bit, and I wandered a little outdoors.  I found the rhubarb and horseradish had a small amount of growth above ground.  It looked like the various lavenders have survived, and I saw lots of little parsley volunteers, which made me happy.  Our women's homestead group had a fiber class, with a demonstration of all the steps from sheared fiber to the final fiber product, as well as a bit on plant fibers.  I thought it was very interesting, & was surprised how much work it takes from start to finish.  Stopped at the discount grocery store for sunflower seeds for the birds, which I found, and also got organic coconut oil, a tin of olive oil and a handful of other items.  Picked up a few things at the grocery store, and got a .15 discount for using my own bags.

Last week, I mentioned the Valentines Day dinner/ dance we were attending.  We did have a lovely time at the dinner/dance, but ended up having a bit more adventure than we bargained for. On the way home, a young woman merged as the right line ended, then proceeded to run off the road, over correct, and cross just in front of us to hit the concrete median.  Her car was totaled, and because of all the smoke coming from her car & the very cold temperatures, J helped her into our heated car until help arrived, which thankfully did not take very long.  Thanks to her airbag, they believe she "only" broke her ankle and dislocated her shoulder.   It does make one count their blessings.  I planted 3 types of lettuce.

hoping for lettuce here soon
I tried making an au gratin dish with a quart of the potatoes I canned last year.  I was rather disappointed.  J said he used to make them that way, but used more cheese.  Perhaps I'll try it again.  If you have any favorite canned potato recipes, I hope you'll share.  I made broccoli, and used the juice from one of the lemons I had zested for the zucchini bread last week.  It's a favorite American Heart Association recipe I've made since I worked in cardiac rehab in the 80's.  With lots of eggs, and plenty of milk on hand, I decided to make egg custard, aka comfort food in a bowl.  Also made colcannon with our potatoes.  Over the weekend, I made a baked pumpkin pancake with pumpkin syrup dish, which used our canned pumpkin, eggs, & homemade vanilla.  Pulled carrots for the pups.

soaked oats for chicken fodder
I've been wanting to experiment with chicken fodder, and have begun with whole oats, which a farmer neighbor grows.  If you're interested in this subject, here's a post and a discussion I found.  I also found my sprouting screen, and have started some broccoli sprouts in a canning jar for us.  I sprouted a lot years ago, but gave up after I moved here, because they always seemed to rot, a problem I hadn't had before.  I always figured it was our crazy well water, and I'm hoping they'll thrive with filtered rainwater.  Made salad with homemade dressing, and a pasta dish using our homemade bread crumbs and parsley.  Watched Home Fires via Netflix.  J painted the trim in the new room.  I did little things like putting down and pulling up painters tape and such.  I'm really happy with the way it's turning out.  I worked on my quilt.  So, now what's left to do is hand sewing the binding on (1/8" apart stitches... eek!), and taking care of the hundreds (thousands?) of loose threads.  I looked back, and saw that I started on the quilt last May.  I expect it will be close to that before it's finished.  I'd love to hear what you've been up to!

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Few Happy Places & Frugal Accomplishments

Merry Monday!  I'm delighted to be joining in with Frugal Accomplishments.  Last week, I made a lemon zucchini bread with our zucchini and eggs.  While searching for zucchini in the freezer, I found a bag from 2012.  Oops!  I decided to let the chickens make eggs from that bag, and used one from last summer's garden for the bread.  Made yogurt and kefir.  Put the pasta water on the wood stove to preheat.  Made pasta sauce with our tomatoes, garlic and herbs.  Went through ebates for an online purchase, and used a coupon code, saving 13% on the total.  Received my first Real Simple magazine, free through Recyclebank.

I washed throw rugs with homemade laundry soap, and hung them on the line to dry.  Enjoyed a library book.  Found red and white quinoa on sale for $2.99/lb. at Aldi's and got a lb., though I wished I had gotten more once back home.  Was able to fill my car up for $1.55/gal while I was in town.  Ran errands while I was in town.  Cooked up a pot of small sweet potatoes for the pups.  Gathered chickweed & gave it to the chickens, along with one of the squash/gourd crosses from last summer.  J & I watched all the Super bowl commercials online one night, & we both felt it was a major waste of time.  It's quite sad if that's the best today's creative minds have to offer.

I made tomato rice loaf with our tomatoes, garlic, homemade bread crumbs and kefir.  Warmed up an assortment of leftovers to go with it, so they wouldn't go to waste.  Had an overabundance of milk, so made some dark chocolate pudding from scratch.  Cleaned up my soap scraps, adding them to a mason jar to make into soap gel.  Dehydrated a batch of sweet potatoes for pup treats.  The last bit of the gallon of milk went sour, so I warmed it up, put in a handful of dried nettles, and gave it to the chickens.  The last Netflix disc arrived of this season's Downton Abbey.  I'm so glad the show ended on a happy note.  I'll miss many of the characters and their stories.

I heated water on the woodstove, for coffee and for the chickens.  The temperature is getting colder, so I warmed a little half & half on the woodstove, crumbled up a handful of nettles and a slice of bread, mixed some kefir in, and gave it to the chickens, along with throwing them cracked corn.  We used a heat lamp in the coop last night.  It's kept up near the ceiling, far away from the straw and where the chickens could bump it, but adds a little warmth to their coop.  Gathered carrots from the garden, and grated some for the pups dinner.  As usual, ends went in the broth bag.  The grinder is set up in my new pantry, & I ground wheat.  I realized I need a step stool, as it is taller than me in this new location, and it's important to see how much grain is in the hopper at first, so it does not jam.  Ask me how I know :o).  I saw some beautiful handmade step stools, very reasonably priced, at the local senior center's gift shop some months ago, so plan on stopping by there soon.

I baked 2 of our winter squash, and made soup with them, using some of our rosemary and home canned broth.  The chickens got the seeds and innards, and I put the skins in the veggie broth bag.  I ran back to Aldi's, & bought 5 more lbs. of quinoa, onions 3#/.98, and an orchid for $9.99.  While in town, I borrowed books from the library, then dropped off 3 boxes of items and a huge bag of clothes at Goodwill.  Colored my hair at home.   Made a yummy balsamic herb vinaigrette with pantry ingredients.  Dry canned the quinoa.  J bought us tickets for a Valentine's dinner dance, complete with rumba lessons, which should be interesting.  We're always up for a good adventure!  Be well, friends!

I'll leave you with a few of my recent happy places:

This blog of Sophie Isobel Asher- beauty on many levels
Dyeing Inspiration- making art from life-  Being There with India Flint.
Cori Lee Marvin's art, especially this piece
More lovely art by Lucy Campbell

Monday, February 8, 2016

Mid Winter & Frugal Accomplishments

Once again, I'm joining in with Frugal Accomplishments.  Last week, I used our parsley in potato salad.  Added the parsley stems to the veggie broth bag.  Enjoyed some of our dill pickles.  Made yogurt and kefir.  Prepared home canned green beans with our garlic & thyme, & home canned beets.  Picked up a utility lighter at Walgreens, and after the senior discount and $3 in rewards, it cost a dollar and change.  Got a hemp & organic cotton skirt and a cashmere sweater at Goodwill for $8 and change.  Chopped up rutabaga peelings (unwaxed) for the pups dinner.  Picked chickweed for the chickens.  J bought us dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, and I had the leftovers for lunch one day.  I bought lemons at Aldi's.  I looked for a few things at both Walgreens and Aldi's, but ended up with just one item at each.  Opened windows for fresh air several days.  Heated with wood.

I recently purchased a beautiful pottery mug at one of the galleries that carries my soaps.  The gallery has supported me for several years, and when I can, I like to give something back.  I loved the tapered shape of the mug, which would keep hot beverages warm for longer, but unfortunately it leaked like a sieve.  There was a crack in the bottom, which wasn't noticeable until filled with liquid.  I returned it to the gallery & there were no others, so I picked out two items... a beautiful pair of fingerless gloves and a locally made bar of Escazu dark chocolate which together was one dollar more than the mug, but the dear manager refused to take any money, saying the paperwork to make it right would not be worth it.

I spotted several daffodils blooming next to our drive!  There have been geese flying by, and we've been hearing spring peepers... all signs that spring will be here before we know it.  I stained and varnished the counter top in my pantry.  Boiled the littlest sweet potatoes for the pups, and baked several larger ones for us. Had sweet potatoes as a side dish, and made a pie with 2c of the leftovers, our eggs and homemade vanilla.  Grated our carrots for the pups.  Made Brandy's black bean burgers with our eggs and garlic.  Added carrot and onion ends, & sweet potato skins to the veggie broth bag.  Worked on my quilt with my stepmom; brought leftovers for lunch.  Not having to go out to lunch enabled me to make good progress.  Not too many more days, and I'll be finished!

potatoes just after gathering; one large one wouldn't fit in basket
I did laundry with my laundry soap and soap gel, and hung it on the line, except for cashmere sweaters, which I hung near the woodstove.  I picked 3 of the blooming daffodils, to bring their cheer indoors.  Emptied water glasses and bottle into wood stove humidifier.  Printed shipping label for an online sale at home, saving a trip to the P.O.  Received an ebates check.  Used homemade soap and deodorant.  I gathered 5# of our potatoes, and used 2# of them in colcannon.  I've shared how we store our potatoes here.  Even after several nights in the mid teens, they are faring well.  I believe the ground helps moderate the temperature.  Quite a few were sprouting, and a very few had small insect holes, but they stay moist and plump, and last longer than any other way we've tried.

I boiled eggs for us and the pups.  I'm replacing an equal amount of dogfood for eggs per the vets instruction.  I generally give them one or two with dinner, and an occasional one for breakfast.  I chopped a bit of cabbage core and added it to the pups dinner.  Made french toast using our eggs and homemade vanilla.  Pruned many of the apples, elderberries, blueberries, figs, plums, butterfly bushes and our hazelnut.  Prepared dinner of Hopi Grey cinnamon spiced squash, roasted brussels sprouts, and a vegi version of my grandmother's stuffing.  Only the squash, garlic, parsley & an egg were grown here, but it was the perfect mid-winter dinner.  I made suet for the birds.  Though I don't watch the Super Bowl, I look forward to viewing the commercials online this coming week.  Did you have any favorites?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Late January & Frugal Accomplishments

evening kitchen
I'm happy to be joining in with Brandy's Frugal Accomplishments.  This week, I did laundry with homemade soap and hung it on the line.  I made yogurt and kefir.  Baked sweet potatoes, and made a pie with some of it and our eggs; had the rest as a side dish.  Also cut and dehydrated sweet potatoes for pup treats.  So easy, and they love them.  Ends and baked skins went into the broth bag.  I boiled eggs for us and the pups.  Dry canned pecans and cashews.  It's the first time I've tried cashews, so I'll see how they do.  Had some sales in my online shop and one on ebay.  Walked with the pups in the evenings.

sweaters drying, doggy sunning, stove needs blacking
I made a quiche with our eggs, sweet red pepper, and garlic. I worked on my quilt with my stepmom, and brought leftover asian slaw, quiche and sweet potato pie for our lunch, so we wouldn't have to go out to eat.  Brought my reusable water bottle whenever I left the house this week.  Used leftover pasta sauce to make (vegi) chicken parmigiana.  Made tapioca from scratch with our eggs and homemade vanilla.  That's definitely one of my comfort foods... so good.  BTW, I mentioned animal tracks in the snow in the last post.  They were quite large, and different from anything I was seeing online.  Though they didn't look like it, I decided the next day that they must be McNibs' tracks, either sliding or one on top of the other, because I saw a similar fresh one on our walk back to the house the following day, where the pups had been walking.  Guess it's not the chupacabra after all :o).

I ran errands after working in town, including picking up a few things at Big Lots during their 20% off sale.  Ran by the discount grocery, and picked up a bag of Iams cat food and a tube of Jason's natural toothpaste, both for less than 1/2 price, along with a handful of other things.  Dry canned jasmine rice.  Washed plastic bags to reuse.  Composted fruit & vegi trimmings, tea bags and coffee grounds.  Tore up TP tubes and added to the compost.  Used my Lowe's credit card for a purchase, saving me 5%.  Fertilized the hellebores with nettle tea.  I helped Joseph plant two pear trees.  These are fire blight resistant, which is a major problem here.  The varieties are Potomac and Blake's Pride.  We hope these will do better than our original pear trees.  The season's first Downton Abbey disc arrived via Netflix, and I thoroughly enjoyed the episodes.  I'm really going to miss that show.