Saturday, December 23, 2017

Super Foods & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  Last week, I redeemed swagbucks points for a $25 amazon gift card.  I did some holiday baking with pantry items.  One was a new recipe, which used some of the coconut flour I bought a few months ago, but hadn't figured out how to use.  The recipe also called for almond flour, which I didn't have, so I blanched and peeled raw almonds before grinding into flour.  I will say I used to make a banana almond breakfast drink, where I soaked the almonds overnight.  They would slip right out of the skins.  This time, I followed a tutorial on making almond flour, and it ended up being quite a time consuming task.  If I do it again, I'll go with the overnight soaking.  It was my first attempt at a from scratch gluten free recipe, and though they tasted good, they ended up flat rather than a ball shape.  I'll try less oil next time.  I ground wheat for my favorite chocolate chip cookies, and made them.  Salad was made using our lettuce, with homemade salad dressing. I checked the marked down plants at Lowe's, and got two six packs of pansies for $1 ea.

My niece suggested playdoh as a gift for my great nephew.  I'd seen some diy recipes on Pinterest, and used this one.  I used various brands for coloring.  I first tried a beet based natural color I'd originally bought for some body care items, but I'd had it too long, and the color had degraded.  I had already open containers of McCormick and Kroger food color, so started with them.  If I wasn't totally happy with the result, I added some Watkins food color, which I learned about and bought this year.  I'm pretty happy with the colors I got.  I bought several cookie cutters to include with the playdough.  Another niece asked for a squirrel buster bird feeder.  I bought that, and J made a lovely shepherd's hook pole for it.

close up
I took advantage of an amazon offer of $5 off $15 on books. I've enjoyed listening to holiday Pandora stations while working at home on holiday things.  I have several holiday stations, so I just switch to another when I tire of one.  A pot of vegetable soup was made using leftovers, our home canned and frozen vegetables, and pantry items.  Homemade bread that was given by a friend and frozen was warmed to go with it.  We enjoyed the soup two nights.  I was very happy to find a pomegranate at the little local grocery store.  It was quite a bit more than the ones I bought at Aldi's before Thanksgiving, but it will be nice for salads I plan to take to dinners this weekend.  While I do enjoy the special foods and sweets this time of year, I crave some healthy food too.  Bringing a festive green salad to the dinners will satisfy that.  Other than the pomegranate, I picked up milk and a bottle of wine I plan to take to one of the dinners.  So far, the only groceries bought this week.

On the Winter Solstice, I gathered greenery and made bouquets for the house.  On walks, I did more meandering off the path, and was rewarded with a few more clumps of usnea, which were added to the tincture jar.  I pulled four gallon bags of vegi scraps from the freezer, and put them in two large pots on the woodstove to thaw and simmer overnight.  This time and the last, I also added pieces of dried reishi mushroom, for its powerful medicine.  I'm not sure why I chose right before Christmas to do this, with everything else on my plate, other than we really needed the room in the freezer and I tend to think I can do more than I can in a day.  Besides reishi, I try to incorporate other super/ healthier foods in my diet as I can.  Sometimes I make maca hot chocolate (this one, though I use local whole milk & sometimes maple syrup instead of dates), other times this bulletproof coffee.  If you can use a nutritional boost too, in this season of sweets and excess, consider giving one or both a try.

I colored my hair at home, with J's help.  This is my third time using Hairprints, and I got the best results so far.  It is quite a time consuming endeavor, taking just about 3 hours, and requiring 6 different applications.  Ah, the price of vanity!  I potted an amaryllis bulb purchased a few weeks ago, for cheer in the dark days of winter, and happened to notice on a walk that a critter had dug up several nice pieces of moss, so I brought them home and placed them around the bulb.  Before my family's Christmas dinner this evening, I canned up the vegetable broth.  I got 17 pints in the canner, with an extra put in the fridge.  After leaving my brother's house tonight, we drove to a neighborhood known for hanging balls of holiday lights from the trees.  It is spread over many blocks, and was a fun and festive addition to the day.  I'm joining in with Brandy's Frugal Accomplishments today.  Wishing you fun and festivities in the days ahead!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Just Goes To Show & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, a friend gifted me a lovely clump of running cedar.  We planted it against the north side of the house.  It may need more dappled light, but we'll see how it fares there.  I prepared a quiche using our eggs, red pepper, garlic and parsley.  We harvested lettuce for a salad to go along.  As we didn't really need anything, I skipped the grocery store after working in town.  There are a few things on my list, but nothing that couldn't wait.  I figure staying out of the store is the best plan if nothing is really necessary now.  I went through swagbucks to make a purchase and used my store credit card, for 3% and 5% savings respectively.  Warm up water was used to water plants and in the humidifier.  J harvested rutabagas.  Now that they've had several good freezes, they taste sweeter and a bit closer to rutabagas than turnips.  I may be able to enjoy eating them now.  He prepared them with bacon drippings for himself, and I fixed a pack of our frozen limas to go with them.

Once we finish dinner, we often sit at our computers.  All the regular lights are turned off, and twinkly lights provide a soft glow in the room.  We weren't expecting a Fedex delivery one day, but some paperwork was delivered by Fedex, so I ran out and sent an order with them, saving me a 30 minute drive each way.  I had 2 orders needing to go by USPS (I always send by the cheapest way, which varies).  A nearby town, Star, has a special Christmas cancellation, so I took my Christmas cards to that P.O., along with my orders.  Just up the road is an incubator for several artistic endeavors, and a gallery housing the work, including glass, pottery and fiber arts.  I'd seen a gift perfect for a family member offered there, so stopped in to purchase it while there.

For a dinner, I prepared bean burritos using our tomatoes, and Brandy's Spanish rice, using items on hand.  Laundry was done with homemade soap and soap gel, and hung on the line.  Swagbucks daily goals were met.  After writing holiday cards, I realized I needed to order address labels.  I found a 15% promo code before placing my order.  In searching for something, I realized how junky some of the drawers in my home had gotten.  I pulled some things out as I went, and added them to a donation box, but definitely need to do some more decluttering.  We've been doing a good job eating all our leftovers.  I'm always open to winter activities that J & I can do during the times of long nights.  I suggested reading before, but we tend to have different tastes there, so never got very far with that suggestion.  This year, I suggested a jigsaw puzzle, and J surprised me with one.  There's a table in my studio that will be perfect for it, after I've done my Christmas wrapping.  I'm thinking it will be fun while drinking hot cocoa or cider, on winter evenings.

We've done the usual composting, recycling and collecting rainwater.  I borrowed season 6 of Call The Midwife from the library, and have really been enjoying watching it in the evenings.  Batches of yogurt and kefir were made.  Needing a few things, I shopped at Walgreens during their 20% friends and family sale.  I bought greeting cards for the next several birthdays, and nuts on sale, and with a coupon and bonus points, was credited with the equivalent of $9 cash back.  I had a $5 off $15 coupon from Big Lots, and picked up a few needed things, taking advantage of it.  On my walks, I typically stay on the path and service road.  In the warmer months, there are ticks, chiggers and poison ivy to contend with.  With those not being much of an issue in December, I decided to wander off the road down at the creek.  Just a few feet from the road, I found some beautiful usnea on one side of the creek one day, and another lovely clump on the other side a different day.  Just goes to show the rewards of veering off the usual path.  I hope you have a week of fun and festivity.  Cookie baking, tree decorating and gift wrapping are at the top of my list.  The mailbox needs the fall bow changed to a winter one, with the start of winter beginning Thursday.  Here's to lengthening days! 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sweetness & Seasonal Pleasures

Hello, friends.  Last week, I went by the natural co-op I'm a member of while in that town for an appointment.  No earth shattering deals there, though I did buy some organic beans on sale.  I did see a half gallon of heavy cream marked down to $5.99, about half price, due to expiring that date or the next, but I wasn't sure what I'd do with it, so left it.  Part of one of our cabbages went into a cabbage and noodle dish, when I got in from work one night.  In the chapel where I do massage work, I found three full taper candles in the trash, which I took home.

It's been another whirlwind of a week.  There was a bit of snow and sleet Friday and Saturday. We spent a large part of the last two days driving, taking care of some business, attending a Christmas family dinner several hours east, and spending time with our granddaughter.  She had her first sleepover with us, which went well.  She and I baked cookies, wrapped a present for her great grandmother, read books, collected eggs, did her first bit of hand sewing, and we all visited a Christmas village, which included a train ride.  We wish we had more influence in her life.  I hope the time she spends with us will instill good values, memories and a few helpful skills.

A few steps into my walk Sunday morning, I found this bit of sweetness on the ground.  A bird nest made primarily of lichens, a couple of my favorite things.  The elements have taken their toll on it, but it felt like a gift even so.  Asian slaw made from our cabbage was brought to the family dinner.  Sunday breakfast of our scrambled eggs, tomatoes and garlic was enjoyed with toast.  We're still eating up some small tomatoes picked green from the garden, a real pleasure in December.  I hope you are well, and enjoying whatever seasonal pleasures bring you happiness.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Supporting Handmade & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I went through swagbucks and used a $25 off $75 coupon for a Staples purchase.  I'd been holding off buying toner cartridges for the printer, and was happy to find this deal to defray a large chunk of the cost of a 2 pack.  I went through ebates to buy a present.  After working in town, I picked up a bucket of grounds from the coffee shop.  I learned that Walgreens is now a drop off point for Fedex packages, which was great timing, as I had an order to ship.  While there, I took advantage of a buy 3, get $3 Hallmark offer, and received $5 in rewards at checkout.  I'd read the lemonade Kool Aid can clean a dishwasher, and picked up 2 packets while getting a few groceries.  Our dishwasher is horribly stained from our crazy well water, so I really hope it works.  It's worth a try.

I got all the boxes of summer clothes and sheets put up in the attic.  Our first Ameraucana hen has begun laying, earlier than I expected.  Hooray for upping the egg count!    I made broccoli fried rice with our eggs, garlic, and a little of our broccoli mixed in with store bought.  I went through ebates to purchase a gift on etsy.  I love how easy it is to support artists and makers around the world on etsy, this time in Serbia.  For my honeymoon clothing, I made two purchases on Novica, which does the same.  One purchase supported artists in Thailand, the other India.  I did make smart choices, and there was a sale or coupon involved, but what's more important to me is supporting handmade, and knowing my purchase makes a difference in people's lives.  I believe we have a lot of power, in the purchases we make.  This is the world I choose to put my energy into bringing about, rather than just valuing cheap, and helping another Walmart to be built. 

A few weeks ago, I bought a couple of organic pizzas at Aldi's for a crazy low price, something like $2.79 ea.  On a busy day of soap wrapping, a soap delivery and more, I pulled one of them out of the freezer, and made a pear blue cheese salad with our lettuce and homemade dressing.  I had a small frugal fail, and forgot to use a swag up to buy a gift card in time, so lost the equivalent of .50.  Their site was having problems the last day I could have used it, so I gave up and forgot about it.  Now that more eggs are coming in, I boiled some for breakfasts and the pups.  Though it's December, I'm still enjoying the last few weeks of fall.  Around mid-December, we will buy our tree and begin decorating.  Holiday cards and wrapping presents will begin soon, with hopefully some cookie baking too.

show treasures- felted, alpaca, pottery, pysanky, stained glass
lovely nature cards
It was a wonderful show on Saturday.  I've been attending the Handmade Holiday show for 7 years now, and it's such a pleasure to see so many of the same sweet faces, as well as some new ones.  I'd had a request at the show last year for natural deodorant.  I brought some this year, and sold several; also sold out of three soaps, and sold several of my wool dusters.  Happy dance!  There were so many lovely handmade offerings.  I purchased and bartered for several presents and some things I will likely keep for myself.  If you see something above you'd like to know about, just let me know, and I'll be happy to provide info on the talented artist.  Having been involved in show set up and such the past few evenings, when I visited the chickens this morning, they had 8 eggs for me!  I think the younger hens may be encouraging the older ones to get back on board.  At least two of the young hens are laying now.  It's a lovely thing.

detail of the pysanky egg
Orders keep rolling in to our little online shops, so I worked on painting two Berkey stands on Sunday, before heading out for two holiday events.  One was an open house at a small historic home, but sadly, it was closed and dark when we arrived, 25 minutes before they were to have closed.  The other event was one I've wanted to attend for many years, a Christmas service with carols, cider and cookies at a historic church in the neighborhood.  Friends met us there, and it was a sweet evening.  We all ended up back at our house, and had an impromptu dinner, sort of a picnic of egg salad sandwiches, olives, cheese and crackers, and a bottle of local wine.  Definitely not fancy, but a fun time.  Wishing you a wonderful week, friends!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Late November & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, water continued to be collected from the tub leak and warm up water, and used for the wood stove humidifier, laundry, the pups water and watering plants.  It's been months since we've had a significant rain, so we changed the house back to well water late in the week.  There doesn't appear to be a good chance of rain in the forecast, but I hope it won't be very long before the cisterns will be topped back up.  Collards and lettuce were harvested.  Collards and rice were made for a dinner, along with beans from the pantry.  I went through ebates to purchase some Christmas presents.  A gift card paid for half the purchase.  I took M to an appointment an hour and a half away.  On the way home, I stopped at the Trader Joe's we passed by and bought some vegi sausage, stocking presents for J, and a few other things.  I've been enjoying books borrowed from the library, some light fiction for a change.

I wanted to share the soap dispenser I told you about last week.  I think it's a perfect match for the counter.  The sweet house tile above it is from this potter.  While in town after working, I dropped off buckets for grounds at the coffee shop.  I was down to one compost crock in my online shop, so I stopped by a consignment store, and found a neutral canister for a good price.  When I got in from work and errands on Friday, I turned it into a compost crock, took photos and listed it.  The only Black Friday shopping I did was chicken feed at Tractor Supply, and at the discount grocery, where I only found 3 things.  The best deal was a can of car refrigerant to add when the a/c gets low.  We've used these in my car before, at $12 a pop, and this one was $2.  I picked up a bucket of grounds at the coffee shop, where I met a friend.  She gifted me a large bag of kale, and I shared collards and lettuce. 

After being gone from home for at least part of the previous 10 days, what I really wanted was to stay at home on Thanksgiving.  J felt the same, so he baked a chicken (no turkey breast was found at the store he went to), and I made a fresh cranberry salad, roasted brussels sprouts, my grandmother's stuffing (vegi version), and a pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream.  M came to join us, and it was enough.  I'm sure we'll be with family again in the future, but a peaceful, quiet, home day was just what was needed this year.  There was a patch of lambs ear underneath the roses.  I dug up 5 clumps, and transplanted them to the bed next to the porch.  I continue to collect things for the dye pot as I see them... lichens, dry mushrooms and such.  A friend gifted me several oak galls she had collected.

A couple more breakfasts of oatmeal with pumpkin butter, and that was finished up.  J pointed out a couple of very interesting looking moths.  Thanks to a friend on facebook, who saw me post them, I now know they are buck moths, in the giant silkworm family.   We harvested a couple of cabbages.  The first one was prepared as Colcannon with our potatoes, which is comfort food to me and yummy.  Earlier in the week, after work, I went by Lowe's to pick up items needed for some recent orders.  While there, I checked out the marked down plants, and bought 2 pots of pansies for $3 ea.  I planted them near the door, to cheer us as we come and go.  In previous years, the local rabbits have chewed them up when planted in the yard and in a bed by the road, so up near the house should make them safer too.

All laundry was done with homemade soap, and hung on the clothesline to dry.  After enjoying Wartime Farm, Edwardian Farm & others several years ago, I was happy to find another historical series.  This one is Further Back in Time for Dinner, a BBC show you can watch free on youtube, which focuses mostly on what a family would have eaten, though there are other things that are touched upon.  So far, I've viewed from 1900 through the 1920's, and am enjoying the clothes, and seeing how things were done.  The meals in the early part of the century were incredibly meat and offal heavy, as in that was almost all they ate.  I'm glad to be living now :o).  This week, I'll be getting ready for a show on Saturday, wrapping a soap order for a B&B, sharing meals with old friends, giving massages, and enjoying fall.  I hope your week is a good one. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Celebration & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  Several days working at an occasional job, as well as working at the annual Celebration of Seagrove Potters through the weekend made for a busy week.  I managed to prepare Pasta Norma one night and several salads with our veggies and herbs.  Homemade soap washed our laundry, which was dried on the line.  We've needed very little in the way of groceries, so a minimal amount of things were bought.  I dropped off 2 buckets at the coffee shop early in the week, and picked them up filled with grounds several days later, which will make nice compost.  A batch of vanilla was recently bottled, so I picked up some brandy while in town, and started a new batch.

I'm still surprised by the dearth of eggs from the hens.  A very good day is 2 eggs, and more often, there are none or one.  There are a lot of feathers in the coop, so I know some are molting, but sheesh, it's been a long time since we've had a decent amount of eggs.  They do have layer pellets always available, get a small amount of grains in the morning, as well as fresh greens most days.  In the 20 years I've had chickens, I've not had such a non-laying bunch.  Our young hens could start laying in December, but I'm betting with it being the darkest time of the year, they'll wait until the days lengthen some.  Maybe the group is taking advantage of my vegetarian nature :o).  I enjoyed a boiled egg with toast one morning for breakfast.

The Celebration was great fun to be involved in over the weekend.  I sold some soap at the pottery shop on Saturday, and had two online sales that day too.  There was one purchase made over the weekend, which showed great restraint on my part, and the purchase was one I needed.  The kitchen soap dispenser broke recently.  I had just changed the broken pump for a new one, and replaced the cork stopper with a rubber one.  I don't know if it wasn't working properly and let the pressure build up, but one day while Joseph was pumping it, a hunk on the side just popped out.  I found one at the show that matches perfectly.   I already had a sponge holder made by the same potter, and I think the siblings are happy together :o).  A yummy lunch was provided on Saturday, and pieces of banana bread and pound cake were sent home with me.  So good with tea!

Friends came by the Celebration on Sunday, and gifted me several Christmas cactus and aloe plants.  They had the cacti in every color, so it will be a surprise to see what color(s) I end up with.  I used our cabbage to make cabbage and noodles for dinner one night, and cut up a few of the last ripening tomatoes to go with it.   Now that the leaves are falling,  I'm enjoying finding the bird nests in our orchard.   One of these is made with pine straw, the other with twigs.  I brought home a large bag of shredded paper last week, and used some of it to line nest boxes for the chickens.  Mint was gathered, and added to the nest boxes as well.  Wishing a lovely Thanksgiving to all who celebrate.

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Profusion of Purple & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  The picking of the tender vegetables inspired some meals.  I cooked the last of the okra, along with some of our home canned crowder peas and sauteed collards.  Being we hadn't had a frost yet,  J suggested I put the collards in the freezer for a half hour or so, and we do think they sweetened up a bit.  Disappointed with the rutabagas we're growing, I bought one in the local grocery store, and cooked it up with some of our potatoes.  In the mood for something sweet, I baked a batch of brownies, which used our eggs, homemade vanilla and pantry items.  Late in the week, we did have our first freeze.  Before it, I picked a bouquet, and took photos of all the blooms I saw, in case I might need to look at them before there are blooms again.  I hope you enjoy them.

Warm and cold weather clothes and sheets were switched out.  This is crunch time for holiday soap making, so I've been making batches of soap.  They'll have just enough curing time to be ready for an annual show I do the first weekend in December.  On a gray, drizzly day, I made a pot of vegetable soup.  The majority of the veggies were grown here, with a little bit of store bought thrown in.  Some leftover okra, collards, crowder peas, potatoes & rutabagas went into the pot, along with canned and fresh homegrown vegi's.  For one breakfast, I scrambled our eggs with a few small tomatoes.  I've been trying to use up the pumpkin butter I made for the hayride.   I've added it to my oatmeal, and enjoyed it on toast.  Another day, I added a bit of vanilla and coconut palm sugar to my homemade yogurt, spooned on some pumpkin butter, added pecans and homemade granola.  This was good!  I used a promo code to get 10% off a Christmas gift.

Laundry was done with homemade soap, on a drizzly day, because hampers were full, so two loads went into the dryer with a large wool dryer ball, instead of hanging them outdoors.  I'm thankful to have a dryer to use when needed.  Water collected from the bathtub leak and warm up water was used in the washer, as well as being used other times to top off the humidifier on the woodstove and the pups water bowl.  I visited a friend, and we went to Aldi's & a new Lidl store (similar to Aldi's).  Aldi's price on produce was better,  I got pomegranates for .69 and cranberries for .69.  They also had walnuts for 4.49/lb, which I thought was a good price.  Lidl had organic butter for 4.89, which is the cheapest I've seen this year, so I got two to add to the freezer.  My friend gifted me with a dozen eggs, two types of homemade bread, and a tart pan.  We'd been talking about a particular German dessert my husband was wanting, and I can use the pan for this.  My husband was stationed in Germany in the military, and he gave me a wish list when I went to Lidl's.  I found a few of the bakery items he requested, which pleased him, and which we both enjoyed.  I brought collards, rutabaga & lettuce to share.

can you find the bumblebee?
After the rain, I was able to hang a load of laundry on the line.  With a hard freeze predicted, I spent a good part of Friday in the garden, harvesting any remaining tender produce.  There was more than I thought.  I picked almost 5 gals of lima beans, plus a small amount of butter peas.  There were also several small eggplant, peppers and a tromboncino squash.  I harvested a basket of swiss chard, some dill, oregano, 4 goji berries, and a small amount of potatoes.  I transplanted the celery (grown from a grocery store end) in with the lettuce, and covered it all for the cold temps.  The chickens got ugly chard leaves, and a few tiny tomatoes.  Eggplant cubes were roasted and frozen, to enjoy on pizzas and such.

On Saturday, I met a friend at a local pottery.  They were having an event that included hearth cooking, dyeing with plants, blacksmithing & weaving on a loom.  I found it very interesting.  They were doing a lot of cooking, but we didn't stay long enough to sample anything.  The woman who was dyeing spoke with us for a bit, and I learned a little more about dyeing with lichens.  I purchased a hook from the blacksmith, as well as a glass garden cloche made in Williamsburg.  I love living in this area, where the old time crafts are still practiced.  Though the blacksmith did discount the hook $2 for some reason, the purchases were not especially frugal.  I know if these artisans are to make a living here, they need people to support their work.  Investing in this community and handmade products are things that are very worthwhile to me.  I shared some lima beans. 

On Sunday, I blanched and froze several meals worth of lima beans, and also blanched and froze strips of sweet red peppers.  J pickled a quart jar of green peppers, and he and I vacuum sealed the walnuts into pint jars.  A purchase of supplements was bought through ebates and with a 15% off promo code.  This coming weekend will be the annual Seagrove Celebration.  I'll be working Fri-Sun at a couple of venues helping with this.  I also agreed to work 7 mornings at one of my occasional jobs, basically every day I wasn't taking someone to an appointment or was otherwise committed between now and the end of the month.  Now where did I leave my roller skates?  I think I may need them.  Be well, friends.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Elder in Training & Frugal Accomplishments

With temperatures right at freezing for the morning walk on Monday, I grabbed some fingerless gloves, a scarf and ear warmers.  It was very comfortable with all the accessories.  With colder weather approaching, winter preparations need to be finished on the homestead.  J closed all the crawl space vents.  He's been working on our firewood for some time, there's enough for the winter, and all is split and stacked.  On our to do list is building a simple woodshed, which will eventually get done.  Outdoor spigots need to be covered, and hoses put up.  After harvesting all the tender produce from the garden, we spent Sunday evening shelling out all the lima beans.  J put all the hot peppers in the dehydrator, and I placed all the basil in ice cube trays, and covered the cubes with water for freezing.  This may be the latest ever, but summer and winter clothes and sheets need to be changed out.  I don't believe I've ever harvested basil this late.  It's been an unusual year.  Vegi BLT's were requested, which used a couple of our tomatoes and lettuce.

I redeemed a $25 Amazon gift card from Swagbucks.  One morning, before guests arrived, I made pumpkin bread using a King Arthur Flour recipe.  Our pumpkin, eggs, homemade vanilla and some home ground wheat went into them.  It ended up my guests didn't have any, but J & I have been enjoying one loaf, and I froze the other.  It's the first time I made this recipe, and it's delicious, so I'll be making it again.  Sweet peppers were shared with my guests.  It turns out we did not have a frost Sunday night.  Looking at the 15 day forecast, which will change I'm sure, there is not a frost during that time.  I found several more tiny goji berries on one of the bushes, which makes for high hopes of a decent harvest next year.

For an event I attended, a teaching on Elderhood, it was requested to bring travel cups for tea, which was provided.  I often bring a local pottery mug when I'm attending classes, but this event was being held outdoors.  Thinking that keeping the heat in a cup of tea might be important to keep warm, I made a cup cozy out of a felted sweater for a mug with lid I had thrifted.  It took longer than expected to make the cozy, zigzagging the edges and getting the taper right, but I have something that will work.  A lovely lunch was provided, vegetables all from the farm where the event was held.  J harvested the first cabbage, and I made Polish cabbage and noodles after I got in on Saturday, true comfort food.

The time change this weekend brings shorter days.  The twinkly lights are on early and late, if not all  day, and beeswax candles flicker on the dinner table at night. We've enjoyed hot buttered rum on a couple of cool nights.  This is the recipe we use.  Using our lettuce and tomatoes, I've enjoyed eggs on everything bagels for breakfast a couple of mornings.  I pulled all the winter clothes and sheets boxes from the attic, and will work on switching them out today.  There is soap that needs wrapping.  After a week of many things that took me away from home, I will take a day to relish being at home.  Wishing you a most lovely week!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Our Family Hayride & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  It's beginning to feel like fall here.  Living with a metal roof in the woods brings the crack of acorns as they hit this time of year.  The shop is also clad in metal, so whether indoors or outdoors, there is nature's music to accompany our days.  The orchids, which I began care taking after my Mom passed, were brought inside a few weeks ago, when nights in the 40's were forecast.  When visiting the discount store recently, I purchased coconut fiber blocks $6/10.  I moistened the first block, more than half of which is left for the future.  While topping off the pots, I noticed several of the orchids had buds!  I haven't had great success in getting them to rebloom, and I'm pretty excited.  I fed them with orchid fertilizer, and will wait to see if they actually bloom.  In the past, when they were in the great room with the woodstove, the buds often dropped off.  Now that they're in my studio, a cooler and moister environment, I'm hoping for happy, beautiful blooms.

I harvested tomatoes, eggplant and lima beans.  Holey collard, chard and kale leaves were picked and given to the chickens, along with sour gum fruits.  I was happily surprised several weeks ago to learn that I had been nominated in the running for best massage therapist in the county.  In the 22 years I have been doing bodywork, my practice has shifted many times.  As I've mentioned here, almost all the work I do these days is with Hospice employees, so there are not that many people that I see now.  Imagine my surprise, when on Sunday evening, a friend let me know that, amazingly, I had won!  I have always felt honored to do this work, and having this confirmation, which lets me know I have made a difference here, is a lovely thing.

A new recipe, Shipwreck Casserole, was tried, which uses items one would most likely have on hand in the pantry.  We thought it was tasty.  Last Sunday, my sister applied the Hairprint mixtures to my hair, which was quite a messy and time-consuming process.  We knew that going in, though.  It gave pretty good coverage, enough for me to want to continue with it.   They instruct you not to use products with quaternium, which is in the majority of hair products.  I found less expensive, "non-quat"  alternatives to their shampoo and conditioner, for 1/4 to 1/3 of the price.  I continue saving drip water from the bathtub, and use it to water plants, water for the pups, for the humidifier on the woodstove, and flushing the toilet.

My sister and I had a thrift day last week.  I found out Goodwill offers a 10% discount to 55 and older on Mondays.  We didn't go on a Monday, but good to know.  I found a cute set of flannel sheets for $4.99, summer shirts for .50 & $1.99, and 3 shirts for J to layer under his work clothes in the cold weather @ $2.99 and 3.99.  One night, I made pasta for dinner, with our tomatoes, herbs and garlic.  I used a Tractor Supply 10% off coupon to buy dog and cat food.  We are blessed to have regular orders in our metal goods shop.  We ship some of the items by Fedex, as they are less than half the cost of USPS for our items.  I was delighted to see the Fedex truck arrive for a delivery for J's shop, which saved me an hours drive to drop my order off.

There have been two frugal fails recently at Harris Teeter.  The first time, the cashier didn't know the code for the organic pear we bought, and another cashier gave her a code for it.  When we got home, we realized we'd been charged for the wrong type of pear, so did not get the sale price.  This week, I bought 2 pomegranates, because of a sale sign that said 10/$10.  When I got home, I realized I'd been charged $3.49 a piece, a $5 difference!  Both stores are a good hour away, and not in areas we go often, so I guess the lesson, which I've forgotten, is to always check receipts before I drive away.  I really like the variety offered, but the mistakes, not so much.

We had our family hayride on Saturday, which was a lovely, enjoyable day.  I made pumpkin mashed potatoes, lentils with maple syrup, cornbread and pumpkin butter, and pumpkin pie cupcakes, using our potatoes, pumpkin, eggs, thyme, and home ground corn and wheat.  For munchies before the hayride, J made maple popcorn, we had cold and hot apple cider, and a cheese and fruit plate.  Guests brought green bean casserole, wild rice and pumpkin pie.  We were offered the leftover green bean casserole, and had a good amount of our leftovers, which will feed us for two or more days.  Eggplant was shared with family members, as well as a bar of my fall soap, some hair products I no longer need, and Thanksgiving decorations I won't use.  I cut bouquets from flowers and fall leaves in the yard. 

I had hoped Sunday would be an easy going day, but it was not to be.  The first hard frost is forecast, so J & I scrambled to pick all the tender vegetables in the garden.  We picked all the okra and tomatoes, and J pulled up all the plants.  Also picked were hot and sweet peppers, eggplant, lima beans, basil and lettuce.  I covered the remaining lettuce with row cover.  I gathered and prepared some of our rutabagas.  I was very disappointed to find they had white flesh and tasted more like turnips, which I don't care for.  I grew bloody dock from seed in the late summer, because it did fantastic last winter along the path to our house.  On Sunday, I planted all the seedlings in the ground, and covered them with pine straw I gathered.  This week promises to be a busy one, with commitments every day this week that will take me from home for part of the day.  I'm excited about an event I'm attending Saturday, on Elderhood. Many wishes for a week that brings you good things, and maybe some excitement of the good kind too.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Late Bloomers & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I worked several mornings at one of my occasional jobs.  While in town one day, I dropped off three boxes of donations at Goodwill.  I harvested lettuce from the garden, for salad two nights.  Celery was cut, to go in a waldorf salad, which included one of our apples.  Brussels sprouts were roasted with our garlic, and our potatoes were enjoyed with them.  I made a batch of homemade lemonade for us & my stepson to enjoy in between working on projects.  At the discount grocery, I purchased two boxes of organic K cups to give to my sister as a thank you.  They were $4 a box ($7.25 on amazon).  I  got 2 bottles of organic apple juice @ $2 for our upcoming hayride.  Also found was Weleda's sea buckthorn hand cream @ $3.75 ($8.99 on amazon).  I'll save this for late winter when my hands typically get very dry.

It's cooled off enough that we've not needed the a/c, and have heated with wood several nights.  Then it warmed again, so we could go without any heat for the last several days.  Windows were opened for fresh air when it was comfortable to do so.  Laundry was done with homemade soap, and hung on the line.  In the bathroom, homemade soap and deodorant were used.  I made swagbucks goals most days.  On the way home from an out of town class on Friday, I picked up almost 2 full 5 gal buckets of coffee grounds from the coffee shop, which we'll add to the compost.  Over the weekend, J offered to grill. I prepped a tromboncino squash, trying a new recipe, which was my favorite grilled squash recipe so far.  I also prepped asian eggplant.  They were good, but not quite done enough.  When I roasted the leftovers, they were better.

I read about a product called Hairprint, which I'm going to give a try.  It's not a dye, but somehow restores your natural color in a nontoxic way.  It's not especially frugal, and quite complicated to use, especially if you've got conventionally colored hair growing out.  I asked my sister, who used to do hair, if she'd help me this first time.  I'm bringing an apple cake and the above mentioned K cups, as well as some garden produce as a thank you.  I hope it's worth the effort.  There has not been a hard frost yet, so things are still blooming here, which is always cheering to me.  When I walk by the asters, there's a noticeable buzz, from all the pollinators.

Though I'd been told the posts had been fully stripped last weekend, they sadly had not been.  J & I both worked on them a couple more hours, and then got them set in place  J got all the cedar shingles on the fascia. The posts and shingles match our porch on the side of the house. We still need to apply linseed oil to the posts and paint the ceiling of our little porch.  The house plants were all brought in last week, with some night time temps in the upper 30's.  The rain has begun this morning, most welcome here.  There's a chance of severe weather later today, even tornadoes.  If you could use some frugal encouragement,  The Prudent Homemaker is chock full of it, from the information Brandy shares, to the numerous comments on her posts.  Be safe, friends, and have a great week!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Cockleburs, Gossamer Webs & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  I hope yours has been a good week.  Last week, our collards and homemade broth were used in collards and rice, and tomatoes, sweet red pepper, the last cucumber, and oregano were used in pasta salad.  Tomatoes and basil were used in caprese salad.  J & I picked several baskets of lima beans that had dried, and more fresh green limas that were shelled.  Though we have all the okra we need, I continue to harvest it, and shared some at Hospice.  When I left Hospice, I headed to the discount grocery, where I found Seventh Generation dishwasher tabs 45/$4.50, 1/2 gal. organic juices $2, organic tomato sauce .50/15 oz, organic apple butter $1/pint, farro $2/lb, Typhoo tea $2, black olives .50 & organic quinoa .50/lb.  I brought my bags to use, and received a discount using my bags at the Lowe's grocery store.

A batch of my holiday soap was made, scented with orange, lemon and spice, which will be ready to wrap on Nov. 1st.  Sometime in the 80's, I painted up these little houses with NOEL on them.  They had chimneys, and one of them had gone missing.  J had recently cut a cedar tree, and I found the perfect little remnant for a chimney.  It just happened to already have the same slope as the roof, so all I had to do was hot glue it on, and it was even a reddish color like the other chimneys.  With the recent four egg days upping our egg numbers, I decided to make egg salad one night.  Eggs were enjoyed for breakfast several other mornings.  A pawpaw cake was pulled from the freezer for J's breakfast and snacks.   There is often a drip from the shower head when we're on rain water, which I've been collecting and using to water plants and refill the pups water bowl.

Enough fresh lima beans were kept to try a new soup recipe, and a small bag of beans was frozen for a future meal.  Except for a rare larger one, I'm harvesting cherry and golf ball size tomatoes, and not many of them.  I decided to try freezing them, being there wasn't enough to bother with canning.  If nothing else, I figure I can throw them in soups.  I harvested swiss chard, and made a side dish using our garlic and homemade broth.  Some stems were chopped for the pups dinner, and the rest were added to the vegi broth bag in the freezer.  I picked the lone goji berry, which I halved, so J & I could taste it.  It wasn't wonderful, but it wasn't bad either.  I found another teeny tiny berry on the bush.

In addition to the tomatoes, I harvested okra and a sweet red pepper, with the okra gifted to a friend.   Several basil leaves were left after I made a caprese salad.  I froze them with a little water.  I took advantage of a $30 off $100 code on Vitacost, and purchased needed supplements, hair care and pantry items, going through swagbucks for an additional 3% cash back.  Bills were paid online, saving stamps.  A new lima bean recipe was tried with our fresh beans and garlic.  Thanks to a can I picked up at the discount store, I had the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  I had no idea how I'd use them, and am glad I tried this recipe with just one of the peppers, as that was plenty of heat for us.  I suspect that may mostly be the adobo sauce?  We liked the recipe.  Most of the broth was eaten at that meal, so I served the leftovers over jasmine rice.  Our last pear went into a pear blue cheese salad, along with homemade vinaigrette, to go along with the soup.

Over the weekend, I made a double batch of pizza dough, and froze the second crust, thanks to inspiration on The Prudent Homemaker.  I made the pizza with homemade sauce using our garlic, oregano and onion, and topped it with red pepper and roasted eggplant from the garden, black olives I opened recently, mushrooms I had canned, and mozzarella.  I harvested kale and made a salad to go along with the pizza.  I had been wanting an old copper boiler to use for firewood in our home.  There was one on craigslist several weeks ago for a decent price.  It was still there this weekend, so I asked if he would take less, and he dropped the price $10 (to $45), so we went to get it.  Holey chard was given to the chickens, and I continue to gather sour gum fruits for them.

gossamer webs on cedar
The pups and I walked daily, usually a 3+ mile walk in the mornings, and a shorter one in the evening.  This week, the lovely spicy scent of autumn was in the air.  A couple of needed items at Lowes were purchased online with my credit card for 5% discount, and I went through swagbucks for 1% cash back.  One of the things I purchased was Citristrip to strip two posts for the little front porch.  This has been on my list for some time.  My stepson came to help his Dad do some things on Sunday, and he stripped the posts too!  I'm delighted to be able to cross that off my list.  The other  purchase was Rustoleum spray paint.   I painted the garden gate while the posts were being stripped, and helped J with the wood chipper in between coats.   There was a large patch of cockleburs in between the wine grapes, as well as several edges and areas between plants that had been missed being mowed for some time.  I push mowed all these spots, and it all looks so much nicer.   Then I noticed some very tall grass around the pond, so I suppose that will be next.  Many wishes for a peaceful week with some things that bring you joy.