Monday, February 26, 2018

Back In The Groove & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  At better times, while the flu waxed and waned early in the week, I tried to do easy tasks, such as mending the sleeve on my favorite homestead sweater and going through a pile of magazines.  By Tuesday, my fever was gone, and it was the first day I felt like doing much of anything.  A load of laundry was done, and put in the dryer to minimize the physical labor needed, and some other simple things given attention  On Wednesday, I felt up to washing the bed linens and hanging them out to sanitize in the sun.  I did another round of house sanitizing, and found this list helpful.  I've mentioned both here before, but it seems a good time to say my favorite botanical disinfecting spray is here, and hand sanitizer is this one.   They're just as effective as the chemical ones, and an added benefit is they both smell amazing.

I noticed a few red rose hips still hanging onto the wild roses, and gathered them to use for tea.  A 20% off code was used for supplements, with an additional 12% code for one product.  Our library is working with the state Wildlife Commission and the Smithsonian to loan web cams for tracking wildlife.  I've signed up and taken the survey, and started some online training, requirements before you can get a camera.  Joseph & I are moving slower than usual, but managed to mix up a seed starting mixture, fill and plant one tray of seeds of kale and lettuces.  Interestingly, when we weeded the fall lettuce bed in the garden, we found quite a few new lettuce seedlings that must have found current conditions better for sprouting than last fall.  The two celery ends seem happy too.

I made it to town on Friday, and had a long list of errands to run.  I went by Tractor Supply and picked up a free candy bar while getting dog food.  At Big Lots, I found packs of bulbs to plant now, one a burgundy colored drumstick allium, and another one new to me, Triteleia Queen Fabiola.  I planted both on Saturday.  At the grocery store, I found a box of one of my favorite cookies, Carr's Whole Wheat Crackers, on the mark down shelf for $2.  One of the ends of the box had come unglued, but they looked fine in their plastic sleeve and it was two months out from expiration, so I got them.  I took all the donation boxes I'd filled to Goodwill, making some room in the shed.  I planted peas in the garden, after J readied the spot for me.  He planted walking onion sets we saved from the fall in another spot. J had the great idea to cut a hole in the garden fence, and make a walkway with tomato cages leading the few yards from the chicken yard to the garden.  He protected the few things that are growing, and the chickens are helping us clean up the weeds and bugs before planting. 

The week has been unseasonably warm, and it's been days since we needed heat.  Windows have been opened each day for fresh air.  I requested and picked up two books from the library.  I made pasta sauce using our tomatoes and herbs one night, cooked our sweet potatoes and collards another night, and made colcannon with our cabbage and a mix of ours and store bought potatoes.  Our appetites are still not back to normal. The good news is I lost a few pounds, and was back to my honeymoon weight.  I made yogurt and kefir.  I'm considering letting the kefir go.  I don't ever use it anymore, and just give a bit to the dogs daily.  I do sometimes use the yogurt myself, and the pups like it just as well, so it would be one less task to keep up with.   Three of the nest boxes were cleaned before it began raining.  I waited a little while to do the other three, but the hens were sitting and not ready to leave their boxes.  They'll have to wait for another day.  The pups and I did get a good walk in before the rain arrived.  Little by little, I'm getting back in the groove. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Bit of Yellow Cheer & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I made suet, kefir, and yogurt.  I added the tbs. or two of seeds in the bottom on my bread bag to a jar I save for bird suet.  The usual washing of ziploc bags, saving warm up water, composting and shredding happened.  Chickweed and various other greens were gathered and given to the chickens. Two loads of laundry were done with homemade soap and hung on the line.  There have continued to be lovely sales in both my online shops, and there was even a neighbor that had bought soap from me a year ago to drive up and buy 5 more.  Ebay is another story entirely, but I'll take the others as a good thing.

I suggested to J that we have a simple Valentine's Day this year, instead of going to an expensive restaurant as usual.  J made a simple dinner of cheese ravioli, a salad, and bread we warmed from the freezer.  I made a German cherry cake, which included our eggs and vanilla, and home ground cornmeal.  We were thankful we didn't have plans to go out, because one of our pups kept us up most of Tuesday night, and J began coming down with the flu Wednesday evening.  We ate our dinner by candlelight, and worked on our latest jigsaw puzzle for a little while.  I used frozen sweet cherries for the dessert, and froze six cubes of cherry juice for smoothies.  We're both taking homemade elderberry syrup, Emergen-C, and I'm dosing up on homemade fire cider to ward it off (J is allergic to ginger & turmeric, so can't take it).  The next day, I made another batch of immune support soup using one of our littlest pumpkins and a multitude of homestead vegetables and broth.

A friend read of my struggle with sewing the scrub pants, and offered to help with the top.  She came over and gave me lots of tips, lovely quilting needles and helped me a good long while, then gave instructions so that I could finish.  I finished it on Friday.  It's a little wonky, but I'm quite happy with it.  My massage clients have their head in a face cradle, so maybe they won't notice :o).  I'm a little nervous about throwing it in the wash, but hopefully it will play nice.  One tiny butternut squash was getting soft, so I cut it up and gave it to the chickens.  I used the remainder of cushaw squash in two loaves of "pumpkin" walnut bread, and froze one.  I went through swagbucks, to get 3% cash back on a small purchase.

Darn it, by Friday evening it was obvious I was getting sick with the flu too.  It's the longest the both of us have sat or laid around since we've known each other.  Lots of liquids, naps, reading and natural remedies will hopefully soon have us good as new.  Windows were opened for fresh air.  The scotch broom and daffodils have begun blooming.  J brought me a daffodil on Saturday, the only time he was outside all day. Can spring be too far behind, with this bit of yellow cheer?  There is always hope of good things to come.  Be well, friends.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Simple Pleasures, Some Sewing & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  For years, I thought there were yellow finches at the feeder in the winter.  It turns out they are pine warblers.  Once it was pointed out that they have different beaks,  I can readily see the difference.  Watching the feeders from the kitchen window is a simple pleasure.  I made Pasta Norma with our eggplant, tomatoes and herbs.  After working in town on Tuesday, I ran errands.  Walgreens was having their 20% off day, so I picked up a few items there, and at the grocery store, I found several cans of natural dog food marked down 50%.  I don't have a lot of stored animal food, so it makes me feel better to add these to the shelf.   I requested and picked up two books at the library.  Wednesday was a rainy day, but it got into the low 60's, so I opened up several windows for fresh air.  I cut up another of our cabbages, and made cabbage and noodles for dinner.  The Aldi's bouquet was looking tired after a week, so I cut away the sad flowers and recut the stems on the good ones, to have flowers at the table a bit longer.

I was gifted a beautiful little pottery bowl, and have found it useful several times in the kitchen already.   Ebates sent me a rebate of $13.32.  I continue looking for usnea on my walks, and add any found bits to the tincture bottle.  Some vegetable bits were added to the broth bag, some composted, and other bits chopped for the pups.  Warm up water was used to water plants and added to the humidifier.  Scrap paper was saved for lists, and other paper shredded.   A celery end was planted in the garden, and covered with a glass cloche.  The chickens were given the leftover rutabaga soup, after we ate it two nights, and some sad outer cabbage leaves.  They're still giving us plenty of eggs.  I boiled some for us and the pups, and used one in my Grandmother's dressing recipe.  Laundry was washed with homemade soap and rainwater, and hung on the line.

To make the best use of the oven, while baking an apple pie and dressing, I baked a cushaw squash. While in town shipping orders, I ran a few errands.  At the thrift store, I found several .10 cards, a spatula for .25, and jigsaw puzzles for .50 & .75.  I stopped at Tractor Supply for layer pellets, and saw large dog beds for $22, so picked 2 up.  The pups are enjoying them.  The beds replaced two couch cushions they've been using since we moved into the house, which did great for a long time, but they were getting shabby.  In addition to pecans, an Aldi's run consisted of produce... lemons, clementines, grapefruit, organic onions and grape tomatoes, and garlic.  For a breakfast, I added apple butter to yogurt, then topped it with some granola, all homemade items.  On Sunday, I used some of the cushaw squash, and baked a pie.  I pondered what I might do to make it healthier, and added 1/2 tsp maca.

On my to do list since last summer was sewing a pair of scrubs for massage work, the first clothing I've ever attempted.  I was determined to at least begin it over the weekend. First, I watched a video I had bookmarked, but found out it wasn't what I was looking for, as it was a tutorial in making a scrub top by using a T shirt as a pattern. I already had a pattern, so I began studying it.  Rather intimidated, I asked J for help, my dear husband of so many skills.  I chose to make it with batik fabric, which even though bought on sale, was not inexpensive.  I didn't want to mess up.  He helped me until I felt ready to pin and cut the fabric for the pants.  I did have to rip two seams out, but by the time we had to get ready to meet friends that evening, I had a pair of pants that needed hemming and the waist finished up.  On Sunday, the waistband was sewn, and a drawstring sewn and put in.  When I tried it on, the legs were really large, so I took in 3" per side, then hemmed them.  I left them rather long, because I don't like short pants and was concerned they might shrink with washing.  Not the best photo, but here they are.  Looking back, I really wish I'd been able to spend time learning from my tailor grandfather as a kid.  My grandmother did teach me a little hand sewing.  Perhaps they felt the machine was dangerous for a child.

I can't seem to go on walks, without coming home with pockets full of stuff :o).  Today, I emptied parmotrema lichens, an oak gall, and dried mushrooms from my pockets.  These will all eventually be used as dye stuffs.  I cooked up some of our frozen limas, and used some of our parsley in potato salad.  It was quite warm for a February day, in the upper 60's, and potato salad made us both happy.  Open windows for fresh air was lovely too.  Wishing you much love this Valentine's week. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Scones, Suet & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Around an inch and 1/4 of rain fell early in the week, and just about filled up our cisterns.  I'm thankful for that.  The hens continue to lay well.  Deviled eggs were on the menu this week.  I paid registration fees for my car and a trailer for the shop online, to save making a trip to the license plate office.  Two loads of laundry were done with homemade soap on a rainy day, so they went into the dryer.  Lint was saved in TP rolls to use as fire starters, and a few were used to encourage low fires during the week.  I gathered all the materials to make a batch of soap, and found out my scale had stopped working.  I took it apart, and there were several broken plastic pieces.  I've been using the same scale for many years, so I'm not too disappointed.  I found a stainless one with great reviews for about $15 less than if I had replaced it with the same plastic model.   I'm thankful it happened while soapmaking, rather than when I was attempting to ship one of our home goods orders.

New shaving mugs were picked up from my potter friends, shaving sets photographed, and listed in the shop just in time for Valentine's Day.   I redeemed swagbucks for a $25 amazon gift card. For dinner one night I made a tomato rice loaf using our tomatoes and homemade bread crumbs, okra from the freezer, and corn.  Not sure if it's a good idea, but since we enjoyed the two jigsaw puzzles this winter, I purchased two more at a thrift store @ $1 ea. after delivering soap to a B&B.  I also purchased an Apples to Apples game that looked like it had never been used for $2.  Many of the cards were still in their plastic packages.  I'm not much of a game person, but have fond memories of playing this with family on my Mom's deck.  I brought water in my stainless bottle for the drive.  Eggs were shared with friends, as well as soap "seconds".

 Noticing a change in consistency with the recent Hairprint kits, I wrote and kindly asked about it.  With it being an entirely new product, they're needing to tweak a few things as they learn more.  They sent me three kits to replace the perfectly usable, but imperfect kits, a savings of $110!  With so many companies only concerned about their bottom dollar, it's awfully nice to deal with one with integrity.  Though there is a real commitment for the time factor, and a definite messy factor, I highly recommend this product if you're looking for a nontoxic way to restore your hair color.  When I went to their website to create the above link, I saw a new offer where I can refer someone, and they'll receive 15% off.  If you're interested, just use this link

I recently saw a couple of recipes for Bulletproof Chai, which is perfect, as I'm trying to stay away from coffee right now.  It's pretty tasty, though I'd like it more flavorful, so I'm going to try doubling the chai next time.  We were invited to a birthday party for one of our neighbor's sons.  I made hummus to bring, with cut up celery, carrots and a bag of organic tortilla chips bought on sale for $2 earlier in the week.  The colder temps returned, making me long for soup.  I asked J to harvest rutabagas, and tried a simple soup recipe from a blogger friend, which wasn't much more than rice and broth.  The rutabagas still taste a bit too much like turnips for my liking, though better after the frigid temps, but the soup was filling and OK.  I popped some gifted popcorn in the wok to have with the soup.

Two loads of laundry were done, and hung on the line, but brought in and finished in the dryer due to the expected precip.  I noticed a rough patch on one of my molars, which felt like something had chipped.  I made a visit to the dentist, worrying he might suggest a crown, but he said he'd just smooth it, a much less expensive option.  I relisted a couple of items on ebay, and also listed one new one.  The elderberry leavings after straining the tincture were dried, and will be used in making suet.  For one dinner, I made vegi chik patties with homegrown pickles, our pear sauce, and beans from the pantry.  Sunday morning was rainy, and I decided lemon blueberry scones were for breakfast.  I used home ground wheat for half the flour.  I hope you're enjoying some cozy days!