Monday, May 30, 2016

Late May Blooms & Frugal Accomplishments

There have been many things blooming here this week.  I'm joining in with Brandy's Frugal Accomplishments.  Last week, I spread some cardboard in the garden paths.  Moved a plant that wasn't thriving to a sunnier spot.  Planted the borage and cosmos seedlings I started 5 weeks ago.  Moved all the house plants outside to their summer location.  Prepared tomato rice loaf with our tomatoes and celery, along with our okra from the freezer.  Baked more sweet potatoes, as it looked to be the coolest day & night in the forecast, reaching only the mid 60's, which was lovely.  I worked on stripping the paint off the last porch post.  Washed laundry with homemade laundry soap & soap gel, & used homemade soap in the bathroom and kitchen.

I planted Long Keeper tomato seeds, a variety we'd recently read about and wanted to try.  Also planted calendula seeds.  Weeded a bit in the onion and dill beds.  I baked 3 more large sweet potatoes, and again made a pie with some of the leftovers.  Our Meyer lemon appears to have 3 little lemons!  I contacted my newspaper, as I did not receive the Sunday paper, as well as a Sunday paper several weeks ago.  I will get a credit for both, as well as last Sundays paper delivered.  Watered the recently planted seedlings with rainwater.  J got the ceiling of our porch primed and painted, & the fixtures hung.  He worked on sheetrock in a few areas in the room, and I helped sand a small area.  Reused a box to ship an online order.   I found this box turtle near our shed.

Did a light cleaning of the chicken coop, and pulled an armful of spearmint, which I spread in the coop.  J recently bought a paper shredder, after reading about others who use shredded paper in their nest boxes.  He's been wanting to get away from having to buy or barter for hay, so we will soon try the paper.  We've read pros and cons, and decided it was worth a try.  We've had another couple of hens go broody.  After the first had been broody a couple of days, we tried sitting her on eggs in the private nesting area. She was having none of that, however, & promptly went outside.  The second hen had been sitting 2 or 3 days, so I moved her to the private nest, & she sat right on those eggs, 6 of them. She was still there at dusk, so we're hoping there will be another round of chicks in a few weeks.  I hope so, because J seems to think the 2 current chicks are starting to look an awful lot like roosters.

A friend I hadn't seen in over 30 years came for a visit.  I cut flowers for the house, and shared sweet potatoes, kale, an aloe seedling & a bit of chard for her to try.  I prepared a quiche & kale salad for lunch, with sweet potato pie for dessert.  She helped J & I shell peanuts.  We are trying to grow Red Valencia peanuts for the first time this year. J ordered a lb. of seed, and we planted 500 hills! More than we had planned on, but they supposedly last a good long time in the shell, so if they do well, maybe it's something we can plant every few years.  We've got beans, cucumbers and squash coming up.  The hen has been doing a splendid job sitting the past several days.  I've been taking the other silly broody hen, who never has an egg under her, outdoors to the side of the chicken yard we're not using at present, so she can't get back into the nest.  Once I've made sure she's gotten some food and exercise, I let her back in with the others.  She just makes a beeline back to her empty nest, silly girl.

I pulled an onion to use in broccoli salad.  Pulled weeds for the chickens.  Went by the discount grocery, but only got 4 items.  I was sad to see some very high prices, and almost no organic products.  I hope it will get better, but it's possible that the heirs to the store have different ideas than the original owner, which would be a shame.  Harvested red clover blossoms, some mint & red raspberry leaves, & made an infusion with these & dried nettles.  This made a tasty drink.  Harvested kale, chard, spinach & arugula.  Made pasta sauce with our tomatoes and herbs. Made Brandy's Spanish rice with onions I had dehydrated & bean burritos using olives I had recanned.  J & I planted a dwarf pomegranate and several turks cap starts.  We also created cages using fence wire, & I placed them in the garden around tomatoes, peppers, basil, tomatillos and an eggplant.  I applied rock dust to the tomatoes, eggplant, blueberries, plum trees, cherry trees, rhubarb (I hope to be harvesting some next year!) & a few other assorted plants.  Wishing you a Memorial Day spent doing whatever makes you happy.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Kombucha Restart & Frugal Accomplishments

I'm joining in with The Prudent Homemaker's Frugal Accomplishments, who had a little one last week, and didn't even miss a post.  Last week, I pulled weeds for the chickens.  Made chard gratin with our fresh and frozen chard & homemade bread crumbs.  There was about 1/2 cup of leftover lambs quarter & spaghetti squash, which I added to the chard dish.  Harvested several spilanthes flowers, which I'm drying for tincture.  Planted several types of sunflowers in a new garden area that is along the road; hoping it will look cheerful to those who drive past.  Made my Swagbucks goal, and cashed in points for an Amazon gift card.  Bought a couple of items needed for my massage and soap businesses; went through ebates for 3% off & used a $20 off coupon on my order.

During my trip to CO, I read my first Kindle book, one I had bought on composting.  One of the ideas it gave was to place pulled weeds directly around fruit trees, allowing them to break down in place, rather than going through the compost bin first.  I've started trying this.  Anything that saves a step sounds good, & it will also save room in my compost bin, which is nearly full now.  I won't do this with anything that has gone to seed, as I want the weeds to enrich the soil but not proliferate.  I made soup with our canned summer squash and tomatoes, & celery and basil I had frozen.  I've been mindful to work on clearing out the freezer for the upcoming summer harvest.  I found some muffins while in the freezer, so took those out too. We'll have those for breakfast and snacks.

My experiment to use dried berry seeds & pulp left over from last years canning is one of my better successes.  I've been using it in each batch of bird suet I make, and have been pondering other ways to use it, as it won't be long before berries will be here again.  I mixed it into the chicks food, and plan on adding it to the pups food.  Such good antioxidants for everyone, and no need to waste any of it.  I reglued a pair of slippers and sneakers.  Worked on revitalizing my kombucha, which sat on the shelf ignored all winter.  It still smelled & looked good, so I thought it was worth trying.  There was lots of scoby after so many months.  Part of it was cut up & given to the chickens; the rest was chopped up and added to the compost bin.  The extra kombucha liquid was added to the chicken waterer with just a bit added to the little chicks waterer.

 soup & avocado toast while minding the shop
I baked golden scallop squash from the freezer, made The Prudent Homemaker's black bean burgers using our eggs & homemade bread crumbs, & roasted our canned green beans and thyme.  I often finish at Hospice too late to make it to the farmer's market, but lucked out this week, & was able to buy pesticide-free lettuce and strawberries.  Also bought asparagus from friends, & shared a dozen eggs with them.  Made a bean soup in the crock pot.  The soup had been given to me as a canning jar gift.  It's rainy and likely the coolest day until the fall (high of 60).  Baked a pie with left over sweet potatoes, our eggs & homemade vanilla.  J got all the cabinet knobs put up in the new room and pantry.  I made yogurt & kefir. Gave the chickens the top bits of strawberries and some mock strawberries.  Saved all the little trimmings of soap as I cleaned the bars up for wrapping.  They'll be turned into soap gel when I have enough.

first layer of wrap on an order of small soaps
 Worked on sewing my quilt binding, getting two more sides finished. Now I just need to finish the side where I started.  Cut flowers for the house.  Gave the pups eggs and homemade kefir with their dinners.  I brought leftovers for lunch 2 days while working away from home, shop sitting for a pottery.  I used my time well while there.  After I finish doing what needs done, & in between customers, I work on things I often don't get to at home.  This week, I wrapped lots of soap, sewed the quilt binding, & worked on wool dryer balls.  This posts photos were all taken on a shop sitting day.  Weeded several areas in the garden, & put them in the paths to discourage more weeds.  Transplanted several plants growing wild on this land to the area along the new walk, including yellow stargrass, ferns, and small's ragwort.  Roasted our potatoes and herbs. Have you done anything lately to save time or resources?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Local Wildlife & Frugal Accomplishments

 Recently, on my way up the driveway to take care of some soap business. I saw a rabbit to the left, a squirrel to the right, and a cardinal in a forsythia bush.  For a moment, it felt like Disney :o).  On a walk with the pups, I saw an eastern red spotted newt.   I finally spotted the female summer tanager around the bird feeders.  My little soap business has been keeping me busy lately, for which I am very grateful. Our Meyer lemon has begun blooming, and smells delightful.  I gathered kale and chard, & made a kale salad, chopping stems and a few leaves for the pups.  Sold one item on ebay.  Received cash back from ebates.  Made my swagbucks goal several days.  Shared eggs, sweet potatoes and soap with a visitor.  Shared soap with our postman as a thank you.  I'm joining in with Frugal Accomplishments.

I gathered all my soap scraps and made soap gel.  You can easily use recyled jars for this purpose.  One of the jars above is a repurposed pickled beet jar, & another is a mayonnaise jar.  Washed laundry with homemade soap & soap gel.  I finished stripping the 3rd porch post; just one more to go.  Made pasta using our tomatoes, summer squash and herbs.  Made yogurt, kefir & hummingbird food. I've been enjoying reading two library books.  Added bread ends to a pan to dry for bread crumbs, composted vegi scraps and added egg shells to a pan to crush and add to compost.  We had a healthy crop of lambs quarter in the garden.  I harvested them before J tilled the area, and ended up with almost 14 cups of blanched greens for the freezer.  Weeded a few additional areas.  I gave a bucket of lambs quarter trimmings to the chickens, then applied the rest of the weeds around the base of fruit trees and medicinal plants.  There are a multitude of tiny toads, no bigger than 1/4" jumping around the homestead.  We'd noticed thousands of tadpoles in the pond earlier this spring.  They're grown and exploring land now.  It's pretty wild.

tiny toad
Our vacation was not particularly frugal, though J did get a great deal on our tickets.  We ate out most meals while in CO, and I was surprised how many healthy choices there were.  Even in the airport, I was able to get an organic kale salad that contained a small amount of freekeh, which I'd heard of but had never tried.  Our last full day in CO, we made the rounds of a few thrift stores.  I left the first one empty handed, but got a pair of pants, a nice wallet, a pretty white shirt I intend to dye & 2 fleece vests.  I was really hoping to find some vests, as my favorite one's zipper bit the dust a few weeks ago, and I pretty much wear them all winter to keep my core warm.  My favorite was a thrifted one purchased several years ago, so I didn't mind replacing it.  The store was having their senior discount day as well, for 25% off.  All of the thrift stores here consider seniors 65, so I was delighted to see them giving discounts for 55 and above.  I froze milk before our trip, which we're now using, and we're eating from the pantry and freezer until my usual day in town.  The chicks are doing well.  They're pretty much on the move if they're awake, but here are a few photos.

I made a quiche using our eggs, red pepper & parsley.  Made a spaghetti squash & lambs quarter dish using our vegi's, & this Leeks Parmesan recipe with our leeks, which was yummy.  After a night in the mid 40's, I baked several of our sweet potatoes to warm the house a bit, & boiled eggs for the pups.  J said he had seen fireflies shortly before our trip to CO.  I paid attention while driving home from the airport in Raleigh, and never saw any, until we arrived at the end of the road which faces our land.  There we were greeted by many fireflies all along the front of our property.  Perhaps they were happy to see us, or as I like to think, this land is just a little bit magical.  Have a great week, friends!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

An Excellent Adventure ~ Colorado

I'm back home, after spending time in Colorado with family.  We ate really well, did a good amount of walking, and visited some lovely places.

I especially enjoyed seeing all the different flora and fauna.

We enjoyed a wonderful visit and a lovely Indian meal prepared by an old friend who had spent some time in India.

We saw large banks of snow while driving in Estes Park, and hail in another spot, a bit different from the 80's we were having back home.

I didn't think to take my camera when we explored Red Rocks.  J's daughter & SIL were our wonderful hosts for an excellent adventure.  I'm always thankful to return to our little piece of paradise.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Plants, Seeds & Frugal Accomplishments

Last week, I made a frittata which used our eggs and leftover asparagus.  Made hummingbird food.  I forgot to mention last week, but I purchased our siding at a local sawmill, and J & I picked it up ourselves, saving the cost of delivery as well as only having to handle it the one time it's moving from the trailer onto the house, instead of moving it off the sawyers trailer too.  Made a cauliflower salad, and grated the core and leaves for the pups.  Shopped at Aldi's, & bought a few produce items... avocados @ .49, pineapple @ 1.19, organic carrots @ .79.  When I looked to remind myself how much the organic bananas were, I saw that I hadn't been charged, so 2# free bananas.  I used to fret about these things, until I realized I'm as often overcharged as undercharged.  Just a few weeks ago, I bought four packs of organic applesauce at Harris Teeter because they were on sale.  When I got home, I realized they had not given me the sale price.  So, these days I take the less stressful route, and just feel like it all works out in the end.

large vintage peanut butter jar holding dried nettles
I made a new quinoa dish, using my broth and pantry items.  Used a $3 coupon for dogfood.  Made my swagbucks goal most days.  Did laundry with homemade laundry soap and dried it on the line.  Worked on the porch posts.  Made yogurt and kefir.  Mended a bedspread.  Hopefully, it will last until I finish my quilt.  I got the summer sheets from storage, and put a set on the bed.  Nights have been in the 50's & 60's, and I'm ready for crisp sheets.  Shopped at the discount grocery, & got just a few things... pasta @ .75 ea, natural peanut butter @ $2, hair color @ $4.  I had bought a hair color there that was missing one of the tubes and could not be used.  I remembered to bring it in, so they gave me a box in exchange.  J & I planted all our tomato, pepper, eggplant, tomatillo & basil seedlings in the garden.  We also planted our sweet potato slips.

Though we valiantly tried covering all our peach trees two recent freezing nights, it appears we still lost all the peaches this year :o(.  On a happier note, the tiny horseradish I thought was a goner is putting up new growth, and it appears we may have our first cherries.  Even if there is only a handful, I know we will enjoy them.  The humidity has steadily been rising.  We finally broke down and turned on the AC, on a night we were sitting down to dinner and it was 81 degrees indoors.  We just used it as needed a couple of evenings, then opened up the house overnight to cool.   Put 3 branches of thornless blackberries given to me in moist soil in pots after putting rootone on the ends.  Cut the curly willow given to me in 6" pieces & have them rooting in water in the shade.  There is already quite a bit of root and bud growth on them.

allium mediterranean bells
I bought 3 foxglove and 8 dusty miller for the shade garden along the walk, and planted them.  Also bought a rosemary, as my oldest one has been doing poorly with our wet early spring, and planted it.   None of the local feed and seed stores have had lettuce seedlings when we've checked, so we may do without this year, as the ones I planted (twice) didn't germinate.  There are quite a few seeds coming up that I planted during our homestead meeting... borage, sweet marjoram, aster & cosmos so far.    Donated several handmade items to a fundraiser for a local woman with serious health problems.  Divided a hosta in 3, and planted them in the new shade garden.  Transplanted blue plumbago & baptisia, both of which had been overrun by iris.

I organized all our seeds.  I had read of the idea to use photo albums with plastic sleeves to hold the seeds, & found 2 of them at the thrift store.  I used one for vegetables & the other for herb and flower seeds.  As sometimes happens with ideas I read about, it didn't work as well as I hoped.  The thickness of the seed packs is so much thicker than photos,  the album splays out making it unable to close.  Still, it's better than all of them stuck in tins.  Only corn, beans & squash seeds remain in the tins, as they're too bulky to fit anywhere else.  The seeds are easier to see in the albums, so there's that.

I planted seeds in the ground, including several types of zinnias, marigolds, phlox, nasturtiums, lovage and forget me nots.  I planted black eyed susan vine & rosella seeds in pots.  Harvested 3 spears of asparagus, & used one with our eggs in an omelet. Started a batch of stinging nettle fertilizer, adding some weeds to the mix.  Did a small amount of weeding in the flower beds and garden.  Made pasta with our tomatoes & herbs.  Added herb stems to the broth bag.  Harvested some arugula to add to our salad.

I'm happy to be joining in with Frugal Accomplishments, & would love to hear what you've been up to.  

A few things I enjoyed this week:

This song, while wrapping soap
This post, which I expect is going to make me add reading the Newbery winners to my bucket list
I can't wait to see this
Turning barren land into a sanctuary.  Do watch the 8 minute documentary if you can
A friend shared this artist, the daughter of Chris Whitley