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!

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Hayride & Frugal Accomplishments

Last week, I harvested okra, tomatoes, basil, oregano, hazelnuts, the last two cucumbers, & gathered eggs.  I made pasta sauce with our canned tomatoes, garlic, onion and herbs.  Laundry was done with homemade laundry soap and hung on the line.  In the midst of fall cleaning, I made egg salad sandwiches one night for dinner, and used up a half cabbage to prepare asian slaw to go with it.

The dogs had made some lovely nose art creations on the doors, so I did a quick cleaning of those with my scrubber and squeegee set.   They'll soon make some more art, no doubt.  We had our annual hayride with family over the weekend.  Getting ready for that is the reason this will be a short update.  It's still quite warm, and the weather was beautiful if not what I think of as hayride weather.  Instead of hot apple cider, I chilled the apple juice.  I made soup using our canned tomatoes, herbs and garlic, as well as roasted broccoli.  For dessert, I made pumpkin pie cupcakes with our eggs and pumpkin, and homemade pumpkin pie spice.  Our guests brought sourdough & whole wheat bread, potato casserole, minestrone, cornbread, apple pie and wine to share.  A few of us sat on the porch and made music afterwards, with all sorts of percussion instruments.  It was a lot of fun.

Sage kitty accompanies the pups and I on our evening walks on a rare occasion.  She decided to come along this week.  I hope the week ahead is a good one for you!  I'm joining in with Frugal Accomplishments.

Monday, October 10, 2016

There's Always Next Year & Frugal Accomplishments

The late September rain did wonders for our asian eggplant.  I picked a dozen one day, and used all but two in a dinner of Pasta Norma, using our garlic, onions and herbs.  The eggplant tops went into the broth bag.  I picked a basket of winter greens (a mix of turnips, mustards, etc), and made winter salad, chopped some greens for the pups dinner, & fed leaves with holes to the chickens.  Redeemed swagbucks points for a $25 Amazon gift card.  I began working with J on gluing the antique wardrobe back together.  We did one area first thing in the morning, another area in the evening, and will keep working on it until everything is properly back together.  I checked the Walgreens sales paper, & made a list of things needed.  I shopped there for the sale items, & found a few things on clearance, including a couple of items for my shoebox.  The remaining items were cards needed for upcoming special days.  All along, I thought I'd been getting 20% off their cards on senior day, but found out greeting cards are not included, so that's a frugal fail.  In the future, I'll try to get most cards at Dollar General.

Our Aldi's has closed for remodeling, and I'll miss it these next few weeks.  I took an online class needed for license renewal, which was a freebie given with a class I took in August.  Though smaller than they were during peak season, I continue to pick tomatoes.  Wanting to beat the rain from hurricane Matthew, I picked another basket of crowder peas, 2 watermelons and a cantaloupe.  I've spread the peas on a blanket on the floor to finish drying.  I harvested okra, and a few carrots, some of which were grated for the pups dinner.  There were only 2 eggs in the fridge when we returned from the coast, but as they've built back up, I've started giving one to the pups for breakfast.  J has seen a hawk flying low near the chicken pen a few times, which we assume is the one that got our chicken last week.  He shot nearby to discourage it from hanging around here.  On the way back from taking care of some business in town, I stopped by a local orchard looking for small pumpkins or gourds to decorate with.  I found a pretty gourd, but it was going to cost nearly $6 once they weighed it, so I left it there, and found out they had given away all their small gourds and pumpkins to customers a couple of weeks ago.  I'm sorry I missed that, but will try to remember to look for their announcement next year, as it seems they do that each year.  I did purchase a few apples, which are delicious.

interesting caterpillar
Before the rains arrived from hurricane Matthew, I did three loads of laundry and hung them on the line.  I'd been wanting to wash the pillow covers, bed pad and covers, and did that.  I harvested another dozen eggplant, which were canned, and all the beets that were of good size, which were roasted over the weekend.  J wants to pickle some hot peppers, so I harvested a basket of those as well.  There was another basket of red noodle beans picked, which take up lots of room in the fridge, so I canned another 6 quarts.  I realized the season was soon ending, so made a sharp cheddar sandwich with some of our tomatoes and basil for lunch one day. A few years back, someone introduced me to using basil instead of lettuce in cheese sandwiches, and I love it.  The basil is on its last legs, so better enjoy it while I can.  On that note, I also made a caprese salad for a dinner, along with our okra, and beans & rice from the pantry.  There were some too large noodle beans, so I shelled the beans out of those.  I froze enough okra for 6 meals.

Bags of frozen vegetable trimmings were threatening to take over my freezer.  When I pulled them out, I had 7 1/2 gallon bags saved up, so I put them on to simmer in between working on the eggplant.  I also did something a bit different this time.  Having a couple stalks of celery that needed using, a couple recently pulled carrots, & one of our onions, I made a mirepoix and added that in.  Two stock pots were needed for simmering this time, as I'd been saving vegi scraps since early spring, waiting for cooler days to make broth.  I'll be happy to have more jars of broth on the pantry shelf.  This was the first time I tried a double layer of pint jars. I read about it a while back, checked my canner manual, then ordered another rack so that I could do it.  It worked just fine.  One out of 13 jars did not seal, which sometimes happens.  I made zucchini soup yesterday, and used it then.  I found artichokes 5/$5 at the grocery store last week, and prepared them to have along with the soup, along with homemade bread I had frozen.  I did some online holiday shopping over the weekend, going through ebates or swagbucks for cash back, and researching best prices.  I finished shopping for one family member, finished most of it for two others, and bought supplies to make a handmade gift for another.

the wardrobe being glued and clamped
Here's a peek of the wardrobe I'm working on.  The recent days of rain from the hurricane slowed progress, but I hope to be back at it soon.  Our rain gauge had over 4" of rain in it yesterday morning.  My thoughts are on so many who are in flooded and damaged areas, those who still need safe haven and those who are working to clear roads, restore power and provide rescue from flooded areas.  Our forecast has the first nights in the 40's, so yesterday I brought in all the orchids, lemons, avocado and moringa.  The poor moringa was flung off the porch during the winds, both the pot and main stem broken.  It's been repotted and given lots of tlc, but I won't be surprised if it doesn't recover.  Oh well, the gardener in me says there's always next year.  I'm joining in with Frugal Accomplishments.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Circle of Life & Frugal Accomplishments

Before vacation, I requested books from the library, and harvested butternut squash, okra & tomatoes.  I decided to make my first egg in a hole for breakfast, after reading about them & thought it was good.  After we got some rain, J & I planted cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli & collard seedlings that he bought.  Some of the lettuce, kale, turnip & either beet or chard seeds are up.  I pulled a peanut plant, and we both enjoyed them after they dried a day.  Even green, they were sweet and good.  Hopefully, the rain will help more of the peanuts to mature.  I made pasta salad twice using our cucumbers, tomatoes, basil & oregano.  I'm joining in with Frugal Accomplishments today.

J & I planted a row of the collard seedlings I started.  We're trying to make sure we have lots of good, healthy plants going into fall.  I baked 2 loaves of apple, carrot, zucchini bread, which used our eggs, zucchini, & homemade vanilla, as well as 2 apples and an orange that needed using.    Once cooled, I put one loaf in the freezer.  I colored my hair at home.  After some much needed rain, I moved around some of the lettuce that had sprouted.  Several plants were together in clumps, so I spread them out a bit, and seeded another small area as well as another 6 swiss chard.  We had been regularly watering the gardens with both well and pond water the past few weeks, so now we can take a break for a time.

I harvested eggplant, tomatoes, okra, lima beans, tromboncino squash & gathered eggs.  Shelled a bowl of crowder peas.  I picked swiss chard leaves with holes & fed them to the chickens.  At Aldi's, I bought organic beans (pinto & garbanzo) for .79/can, avocados for .69, organic bananas .69/lb, red onions on sale .79/2 lbs, 3 bags of 25 mixed fall bulbs 2.49 ea., & organic red grapes 1.29/lb.  At Lowes, I found a can of organic refried beans on the mark down shelf for .79.  I made yogurt & kefir, and composted vegi scraps.  It's finally cooled enough to be able to go without A/C during the daytime most days and every night.  I dehydrated most of the red onions, and canned summer squash and eggplant.  I planted the remainder of collards I had grown from seed, and gave the seedlings that were left to a neighbor, then planted one of the bags of fall bulbs with red flowers in a couple of beds near the road.  I watered plants with the canning water.

During our trip to the coast, I noticed two people cleaning windows, and they both used squeegees.  The housekeeper at our motel used a spray bottle of window cleaner instead of a scrubber and water solution, but a man working on shop windows used a scrubber and squeegee.  Interesting the things you can notice when your focus changes.  On the way home, we stopped at a discount grocery store.  Prices weren't as good as they were a couple of years ago... this time, a 3L tin of olive oil was $18.99!.  I'm used to paying $8 to $12 at the discount stores.  But there was organic juice for less than 1/2 price, a 28 oz can of organic crushed tomatoes for .79, a box of No. 2 coffee filters for .99, and a couple bags of natural cats treats I'll save for Christmas.  When we got home, J started a couple loads of laundry & we hung them on the line.  I headed to the garden and picked a basket of okra.  The ones that are too big were cut open for the chickens, so they could eat the seeds.  I found a cucumber, a pear and grabbed a couple lima beans in passing, then headed to the pond garden, where I found 3 tomatoes and 3 butternut squash.  Some sort of worm really did a number on the swiss chard while we were gone.

The rain gauge had 4 3/4" of rain in it, which we had emptied before we left.  We knew there were several powerful storms that came through, which knocked out our phone and internet.  Thankfully, our provider sent someone out quickly, and we were soon up and running again.  Noodle beans were picked over the weekend, and crowder peas and cantaloupes were checked in the road garden.  Something beat us to one of the cantaloupes, and it was too damp to harvest crowder peas.  We visited our favorite thrift stores at the coast.  Finds were a cashmere sweater, embroidered handkerchief, 2 baskets, pair of suede Skechers, new nightgown, long sweater top to wear with leggings, new Aigner wallet & rust colored napkins for our upcoming hayride dinner, all for $25.

With the weather cooling, I'd been wanting to make scones.  I had in mind lemon blueberry with our frozen berries, but when I read the recipe, it called for dried blueberries.  I used craisins instead, and they turned out lovely.  I painted two porch tables with chalk paint.  Now that they're done, I'm looking at the wardrobe that was given to me some time ago.  It needed work then, and needs even more now.  I started by pulling all the drawers out, dusted it all, and pulled the laminate off the lowest drawer, as it was hanging loose in multiple pieces.  Much of the piece needs to be glued back together, but most of the joints are dovetailed and I believe all the pieces are there.  It's a beautiful piece.  I hope I can do it justice.

Last night, I woke to the sound of coyotes howling off in the distance.  Living on a homestead, you can't help but remain aware of the circle of life.  Yesterday, Joseph was heading up the driveway, on his way to buy some Bt to remedy the worms eating our swiss chard, when he noticed something amiss in the chicken yard.  A hawk had gotten one of our youngest chickens, and was feasting on it.  I knew hawks would grab a small chick and take it, but I didn't realize with bigger chickens, they would kill it and eat it in place.  This 16 week old chicken was a rooster, which explains why the big rooster did not protect it.  They will do their best to protect the hens in their flock, but usually not another rooster.  Of the 6 chicks born here this year, there are 3 left.  One had a deformity & didn't make it, another died during a heat wave, & now this one.  The other 16 week old chicken is the only hen out of the bunch.  I sure hope she makes it.