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. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Hope of More to Come & Frugal Accomplishments

Now that it's cooled a little bit, the oregano is growing nicely again.  I use it fresh most of the year, but for a brief time in the winter, I need to use dried.  I harvested extra when gathering some for eggplant parmesan, and dried it.  Tromboncino squash was used in a dish with tomatoes, corn & onions.  Okra and eggplant were shared with a friend.  The egg count this week started out with one a day, but ended the week with two 4 egg days, which felt like a bonus.  Two days were spent in class, giving me CEU's towards my massage license.  The class was held at my alma mater, so I received an alumni discount. 

pomegranate- still waiting for our first fruit
With our homestead being so dry, we've been keeping a close eye on the weather.  There was a good chance of rain yesterday, but we got less than 1/8".  Another shower today brought it up to 1/4".  We were invited to friends for dinner this weekend, and they got some lovely rain while we were there.  We ate on their covered porch, so were able to enjoy it vicariously.  I harvested kale and made a kale salad to bring, and shared okra and collards from the garden.  I also brought a cheese tray made with one of the slate trays and Ashe County cheeses I got in the mountains last week, some fig jam I made, and a couple of other cheeses.  Besides enjoying a fabulous dinner, we were sent home with two chocolate bars and some Speculoos cookies, one of my favorites.  A button popped loose from one of my sleeves just as we were about to go out the door, so I grabbed a needle and thread, and mended it on the way there.

goji berry
After my walk with the pups this morning, I wandered around the homestead a bit, to see how things were faring.  I found a delightful surprise; our first ever goji berry!  It's been blooming well this summer, and I've been keeping an eye on the sprawling bush.  Like our lone filbert, the berry is an only child so far, but it's always rewarding to get even one of a newly planted item.  It gives much hope of more to come.  I've read that the fresh berries aren't wonderful, and it will be just a little taste for each of us, but it's a start.  Now I'll have to figure out when it's ready to pick.  While in the garden harvesting okra this week, this tree frog kept me company.

I enjoy trying new recipes.  There are so many good flavors out there, why get bored?  Of course, I do have a group of old favorites too.  I explored a new recipe for spaghetti squash this week, which sounded better than it was.  Oh well, that's the way it rolls sometimes.  Continuing on with fall cleaning, more windows were washed, and cabinets, chairs, baseboards and doors wiped down.  I roasted another batch of cubed eggplant, which is being frozen for future pizzas.  I cut another batch of oregano, and have it drying for the winter, when fresh isn't available.  I'm looking forward to the week ahead, and hope that yours is all that you wish for. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

A Road Trip & Frugal Accomplishments

Native public garden in Boone
Hello friends.  Well, we had another disappointment with the chickens.  No chicks hatched with this latest round of eggs either.  The two young roosters are still segregated from the flock, so I suppose it means our older rooster is not "taking care of" the girls.  He does have especially large spurs, and may not physically be able to, so we have been working on gradually shortening his spurs.  Oh well, at least we have the four bought Americauna chicks.  Most days, I'm getting 2 eggs from 9 hens, so we really do need some younger hens, to up the egg count.  I did laundry with homemade laundry soap, and hung it on the clothesline.  I do love the smell of sun dried sheets.  I spotted this caterpillar while at the clothesline.  Isn't it an interesting one?  I don't know what it is. Update: it is the about to pupate caterpillar of the White Blotched Heterocampa moth.

Though the temps were hot, 90 degrees, I managed to get the sweet potatoes weeded, and helped J gather firewood offered from a nearby site that had recently been timbered.  I did pull up a couple of plants while weeding, so have the first of the sweet potatoes curing.  J cleaned up the garden, and took down the remaining, sad cucumbers, as well as the tomatoes that were done.  He also harvested most of the Seminole pumpkins.  Okra and eggplant are still coming on strong, and a few tomatoes.  It looks like the squash are done.  Kale is doing great, lettuce is filling in, the cabbage and collards are doing well.  Soon, cooler temps are arriving.  Thank goodness for that.  I made kefir, yogurt and a batch of granola.  For a dinner, I made potato salad, asian cucumbers (the last of the season... sigh), and okra, using all homegrown vegi's and herbs.  Several bags of okra were frozen for future meals.

my sweetheart at the gardens
We had plans to be at the coast this week, but Maria strengthened back into a hurricane aimed at the NC coast, so we canceled.  We instead headed towards the mountains, and enjoyed a couple of nights in Boone.  The temps were delightfully cooler.  The B&B was a lovely, relaxing spot with a hot tub, which we enjoyed. We visited a free public garden, several thrift shops, an antique mall where I found a large vintage glass refrigerator dish (for less than any I found online when you include shipping), and a cheese plant and shop.  We missed the cheese making, but bought some lovely cheeses.  Instead of going out to dinner that night, we picked up a baguette, olives, fruit and a few other odds and ends to enjoy with the cheese, and had dinner on the large porch of the B&B.  Before our road trip, J changed my oil, checked all the belts and topped off the windshield wiper fluid.

I began doing some fall cleaning, and so far have washed windows on two sides of the house and the two storm doors.  I've had paint for our main entrance door for a few months, and last week put three coats of chalk paint on it, in Boxwood green.  There are a few small spots that I must have missed getting the base coat on, as it's not adhering well there.  I sanded those spots, and will repaint them.  The propane bill was paid within 10 days, which gives me a discount.  Photos were ordered with a 40% coupon.  I've been wanting to create a wall of family photos, and these will finish up the photos needed.  I went through ebates for the purchase, so that will give another 4% off.  J planted a mix of fall greens, what a local seed store called Grandpa's salad mix. Sadly, the seed store closed last year, but he went to another one while working in that town, and had them mix up a close approximation, a mix of mustards, kales, turnips, rape/canola seeds and a purple collard.  We love to eat the greens raw in a salad.  I made eggplant parmesan with our eggplant, tomatoes, garlic and herbs, and an apple cake with our apples.  It's lovely that fall is here!