Saturday, March 31, 2018

Hillbilly Hummus & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  J requested pasta with pesto, which I was able to take out of the freezer (the pesto, from last summer's garden), and made a salad to go along.  We used olive oil and vinegar for dressing, the vinegar being a yummy one a friend had gifted us, and made with Italian herbs. While in the hardware store buying paint for our online shop, I picked up a dozen broccoli plants, a six pack each of the two varieties they had, which were planted when I got home.  For a purchase I made online, by going through ebates and using a coupon code, I saved 11%.  As each batch of violets dries, I've gathered more to dry.  I'm not sure how I'll use them yet, whether in an herbal tincture or in bodycare products, maybe both.

I cut two bouquets for the house, using daffodils, grape hyacinth and regular white hyacinths.  Free tea I was given with a purchase in Knoxville was enjoyed.  Three of our small butternut squash were used in a crumble, my favorite way to use them, which also used our parsley and thyme.  Vegetable and herb bits went into the broth bag in the freezer.  Several hours were spent weeding, concentrating on the mock strawberry that wants to take over.  On a night J was out of town, I took leftover vegi calzone from the freezer, and heated it for dinner.  The limes I bought on sale last week were juiced and frozen.  I tried a new hummus recipe, "Hillbilly Hummus", from the Bean by Bean cookbook.  The flavor was good, but even better a day or two later.

There have been some interesting goings on with magazines lately.  I've been a subscriber to Country Living magazine for decades.  I'd noticed that I would begin getting renewal notices not long after I had renewed for a year.  My subscription was noted to expire on both my magazine labels and their website as Oct. 2018.  I began getting renewal notices last spring, which I thought was mighty early, and they quit sending magazines last fall.  I politely wrote them a letter, with a form they'd sent, showing Oct. 2018 as my expiration date.  Their response, after several weeks, was to send me a renewal form, having changed the expiration date to this month.  No note of any sort, just a renewal form.  Never mind the fact I did not receive the magazines between October and March, that's just wrong.  As much as I love the magazine, I refuse to renew with that kind of customer service.  Onward to the second magazine, which had a nicer outcome.  My sister and her husband bought J a homesteading magazine for Christmas.  After no magazines or correspondence arrived January or February, I wrote them in early March.  Thankfully, there's a way to reach them online.  The email said they'd make it right, and sure enough, a magazine arrived this week.  The cover story this month, Build Your Debt-Free Dream Life, fits right in with a frugal lifestyle.

I made suet for the birds and yogurt, and harvested several more spears of asparagus.  We'll soon have enough for a nice "mess".  Egg shells were crushed.  I finally got around to freezing almost three full bags of cranberries.  Previous years, I ended up having to compost them, so I'm considering it a win.  There were soft ones that went to the chickens, but most were saved.  Having followed the deep litter method in the chicken coop this winter, basically piling clean litter on top of the old, which is supposed to keep things warmer, it was quite a task to clean out the coop.  Three wheel barrow fulls went to the compost pile, and the nest boxes and floor got fresh hay, plus some sprigs of spearmint for fragrance.  All of the wintersown containers have begun germinating, which is pretty exciting.  J's birthday falls on Easter this year, so we're off on an adventure, meeting friends for lunch at a winery, then staying at a lovely B&B nearby.  Our friend M is taking care of the homestead.  Wishing you a Happy Easter, a Happy Passover, and a lovely week. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Using Up Winter Squash & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  It's time to be using up the squash we stored over winter.  I baked the last two spaghetti squash, froze half, and enjoyed the rest sauteed with lambs quarter from the freezer.  At the same time, I baked a cushaw squash, and tried a new brownie recipe that was shared by Diary of a Locavore.  I substituted the cushaw for butternut squash, used bittersweet chips, and used 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour I had ground.  Otherwise, I kept to the recipe, and they were dense and delicious.  Joseph tried them first, and said you'd never know there was squash in them. I agree there's no trace of squash, just a moist and yummy brownie.  If you still have winter squash to use up, you may want to give them a try.  I baked the squash a morning that it snowed several hours.  It was very pretty coming down, but thankfully the ground was too warm for it to stick.  Now that it's spring, I'm ready for winter weather to give way to more springlike weather.

All but one of my winter sown seeds has begun germinating.  The first two asparagus up were nipped by a freeze, but I've harvested a couple more stalks since.  Laundry was done with homemade soap and soap gel, and hung on the line.  Each time I get orders painted, packed and shipped out, more come in.  I'm happy about that, even though it does keep me quite busy.  More soap is being wrapped this week.  Several years ago, I made clay pumice stones, to sell along with my soaps.  They took a while to sell, but I'm down to the last two, and received such a wonderful review of the last one I sold, I decided to make more.  My good friends at Whynot Pottery keep me on track with making them, and fire them in their kiln.  They've been using some new glazes I'm excited to try on the stones.  I picked up books I had requested at the library.

I went through swagbucks for a 3% rebate on supplements, and through ebates for 3% back on a business card purchase.  A $25 amazon gift card was redeemed with swagbucks points.  I brought leftovers for lunch and my water bottle on days I worked at the pottery. My brother and his wife gifted us 3 nut trees (pecan, chestnut and hazelnut) for Christmas, which arrived this week.  We plan to plant them tomorrow. I found a penny on one of my walks.  Eggs were boiled and yogurt was made for the pups.   When I went to a local grocery for mushrooms, they had limes marked down 8/.75, so I bought a pack, and will freeze the juice.  I shopped at a co-op I've belonged to for many years during their anniversary week, and received an extra 20% off produce... organic carrots, celery, potatoes, grape tomatoes & bananas.

Vegi scraps were either composted or added to the broth bag in the freezer.  Paper and thin cardboard were shredded.  Egg shells were added to a pan in the oven, which when full, will be crushed and added to the compost.  Ziploc bags were washed for reuse.  I took advantage of  a Fedex delivery to send an order out, saving me a trip to town.  We found out we'll be getting a nice refund on our taxes, and will be picking them up in the morning.  The refund will go towards a large and unexpected expense.  Other than that, I look forward to a day to do some catching up at home.  I hope your week is a good one, friends, whether you're spending your days at home or elsewhere.  I'm happy to be joining with Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Almost Spring & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Though my trip to Knoxville was not what you'd call a frugal one overall, it did have its moments.  Our hotel included delicious breakfasts, baked goods in the evenings, and bowls of apples available for the taking.  Most shopping done was at thrift stores and discount groceries.  I did buy a small gift for J at a retail shop, and bought myself a shirt marked down 60% at another store.  My friend drove her Prius, which got upper 50's mpg for the trip.  My favorite finds at the discount grocery were a #10 can of sliced black olives for $1.98, which I plan to recan in 1/2 pint jars, and a 5# jar of queen olives for $3.

Leftovers from the trip were enjoyed for another two meals.  I made pasta sauce with our tomatoes, summer squash and herbs.  Having an abundance of eggs, I shared a dozen with a niece, and made a custard pie to bring for dinner.  Joseph and I had our first date on St. Patrick's Day, so we usually do something to celebrate.  This year, for a couple of reasons, we decided to stay home.  I pulled the last of the cabbages in the garden, and made colcannon, and made a loaf of Irish soda bread to go with it, using our egg, and homemade yogurt to make the "buttermilk".  I recently saw a chart of hummingbird arrival in various locations.  The coming week is when they officially arrive here, so I made a batch of food and hung the feeder.  I usually equate their arrival with Easter, but know I've seen them sooner some years.

The peas in the garden are finally germinating, but there are no sign of the potatoes or garlic yet.  I took advantage of a mostly sunny day to harvest violets.  I've eaten an occasional flower in the past, but recently learned how wonderfully medicinal the flowers and leaves are, so harvested some of both.  Then I weeded the mostly mock strawberry from around the plants, to encourage the violets to spread.  I made yogurt, boiled eggs for the pups, and enjoyed an egg sandwich one morning.  Laundry was done with homemade soap, and hung on the line.  After going through various paperwork,  much of it was shredded.

My wintersown phacelia seeds are the first ones up.  I transplanted the lettuce and kale seedlings into the garden, in an area I can cover if needed.  They're spindly, but perhaps they'll grow stronger outside.  We enjoyed hummus made from pantry items for lunch on Sunday.  It's a blessing that orders continue to come in to our little home goods shop.  If not quite there, we've got to be close to having enough to pay for our beach trip this summer.  I set aside our earnings especially for our vacation fund, and plan to crunch the numbers this week.  I noticed two lizards out and about on my wanderings today, and the first mockingbird song of the year, which made me smile.  Wishing you a week that brings you smiles.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

A Little Winter Sowing & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I made a potato leek soup.  Our leeks are still pretty small, so it took about 10 to have enough.  I had a frugal fail... forgetting to use my 10% coupon at Tractor Supply when buying animal food, which would have been $5 and change :o(.  I picked up mailbox ribbon for 50% off at Hobby Lobby and a St. Patrick's decoration for 30% off.  Homemade soap was used for laundry and in the bathroom.  Two loads of laundry were hung on the line.  Warm up water was used in the wood stove humidifier and for watering plants.  I made a pie with our cushaw squash, and used our eggs and homemade vanilla.  Between cold and rain, walks with the pups have been less, but most days, at least one walk was taken.  I'm joining in with Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker.

I shared cuttings of persimmon and elderberry with a friend, and starts of leeks and walking onions, and was gifted two springform pans, two spatulas, a Pampered Chef stoneware loaf pan, and a book to read.  After visiting and having lunch here, we went to an antique/pottery shop and consignment shop nearby.  I attempted to buy a small whisk at the antique store for $1, but the owner refused to let me pay, saying it was the least she could do for bringing someone to her shop.  At the consignment store, I found a gift a friend recently mentioned she needed.  It was a very good price, and then I found it was 25% off at checkout.  That was nice.  I've worked on our latest jigsaw puzzle several times, and enjoyed my free Pandora stations while working around the house.

I made cabbage and noodles with the last of our stored cabbages, and deviled eggs to help use up some of the bounty.  A batch of suet was made for the birds, with dehydrated elderberry leavings and seeds saved from bags of seeded bread.  The soles of my wool slippers were reglued.  One of my ebay listings actually sold for a decent price.  Yippee!  I finally planted a round of wintersown seeds.  I used all the potting soil we had, and planted phacelia, wild mignonette-weld, hollyhocks gifted by a friend, red carthamus, and Hopi amaranth.  I had the thought to try putting the kale and lettuce seedlings under a set of halogen lights under the cabinets.  At first, they seemed to be doing better, but one by one the kale seedlings are toppling over.  I think I may try direct seeding them both in the garden soon.

I used most of the potatoes we cut eyes from for planting in a potato soup, which also used our parsley.  I made a salad with homemade dressing using berry syrup I canned.  While J holds down the homestead, I'm taking a road trip with a dear friend to see these ladies.  This is another favorite.  We always have the best of adventures, and I suppose because we've been friends so long (since 9th grade!), it's always a very laid back time.  Seeing I wouldn't use all the vegis before leaving town, I blanched and froze 3 bags of broccoli for future meals.  A couple of artichokes were steamed and enjoyed.  Wishing you joy and things that make your heart happy!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Early March Blooms & Frugal Accomplishments

There are still quite a few winter squash in the root cellar, and it's time to be eating them up.  I made a butternut squash crumble, which is my favorite winter squash recipe.  While it was baking, I put two of the cushaw squash in the oven to bake for pies.  The mushrooms that didn't go into the crumble were sauteed in butter, and some were added to a pizza the next night.   Lots of good pantry items went into the pizza... home ground wheat, roasted eggplant and sweet pepper from the garden, black olives I'd canned from a #10 can (using these instructions), as well as green olives and artichoke hearts.   Our oregano went into the sauce, along with onion and garlic.  Half of the sauce, a second pizza crust and 1/2 of the mushrooms were frozen for a future meal.

I've been making lots of soap, to build my stock back up.  The woodstove is going again, and has been used to melt the oils, saving on propane.  While in town to deliver soap and ship an order, I ran by the discount grocery store.  I find very little there these days, but did find codling moth traps for the orchard, for $3.  The regular price on amazon is $15.99, but it's on sale for $8.39. I'd say I still got a pretty good deal, and am hoping it makes for nicer fruit this year.  We placed the two traps on Sunday.  I gathered branches of forsythia to enjoy in the house.  J worked up areas for planting potatoes and garlic.  Our kale seedlings are up, and one of the lettuces too.  We don't have a grow light set up, and it's been way too windy to put them outdoors, so they're already getting leggy.

While preparing potatoes for dinner one night, I cut off the eyes and set them aside to plant.  For one breakfast, I made an omelet.  I remembered having a crepe with kalamata paste in it, and how good it was, so decided to try it with a jar that was already open, along with grape tomatoes and artichoke hearts.  It was yummy!  I've been giving away eggs, but there is still an abundance.  One night, I made a frittata, which used another 4 eggs.  I made asian slaw with some of our cabbage that needed using.  Recently, I picked up several dessert pedestals I made some years back, and had at a gallery.  I asked J if there was some way to separate the plates and candlesticks, as I really liked the plates.  He suggested I put them in a cold oven, and bring it up to 225 degrees.  That worked well for two of them, but a third required 240 and quite a bit longer, and eventually separated, so I can add three more plates to our rotation.

I've been working away at my taxes, little by little.  I can only stand 2 to 2 1/2 hours at a time, before my brain hurts :o).  I finally finished readying everything on Saturday, so we can make an appointment to have them done soon.  I've been meaning to share the cedar boxes M made for me.  They hold large and small paper clips, which I had out while doing taxes, and remembered to take a photo to share.  He's also made several shaving brush handles for my shop, and is getting pretty handy with his lathe.  I've been plugging away at my to do list as I'm able.  I've been enjoying having indoor home days, which helps me to stay focused on tasks.  My mending has patiently been waiting for me.  Last week, I mended a winter coat, a throw pillow, and the binding on a hooked rug.  I've been working on a second rug, which is in much worse shape, and finished it Sunday evening.  It may not be worth it, as it won't last long even so, but it's a vintage one I'm fond of.

peach blossoms
On Sunday, J planted the garlic, and we planted the potatoes.  This year, we're trying King Harry potatoes, in addition to a few eyes from different varieties we saved from last year and some store bought ones.  The garlic is California White, a softneck variety.  Here's hoping both do better than in recent years.  The chickens have not been terribly cooperative, as far as scratching up the garden.  Though they have a large area to work up, they insist on going through the 4" holes of the fence to go outside the garden.  I chased groups of them back into the garden four times on Sunday, before giving up, and putting them back in their regular yard.  Some areas are in fairly good shape now, but they could have done a great deal more, if they'd just stayed in the garden.  Sheesh.  I made roasted potatoes with our rosemary Sunday night, and am thinking potato leek soup will soon be on the menu.  Wishing you blooms to cheer you , and good things to eat!