Monday, June 25, 2018

A Beach Trip & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Like housekeeping, mending seems to be a task one has to do again and again.  Last week, I mended two pairs of shorts and a dress.  The Japanese beetles have arrived in force, and many were hand picked, dropped in water, and fed to the chickens.  Woolly aphids were discouraged with insecticidal soap, though it didn't seem to deter them much, as they seem to be back the next day.  Cucumbers are beginning to come in now, as well as a few blackberries and the first of the blueberries.  I made asian slaw, and chopped up the cabbage core for the pups dinner. I harvested some purslane and lambs quarter while in the garden, and chopped them up to enjoy in eggs one morning.

We took a beach trip with our granddaughter, S.  My sister & her family were renting a house.  Her eldest was not able to come for the first 4 days, so my sister asked if we'd like to.  It was a separate little guest house, and was perfect for us for 3 days.  She would not take any money, saying it would just have been sitting empty.  I took our tomatoes, basil and rosemary, plus a gifted zucchini, and made a pasta meal to share with everyone, and ingredients for a new drink she wanted to try, peach bellinis, which all of us adults tried and thought was a yummy summer beverage.   From home, I brought snacks and water bottles for the beach.  One afternoon, we went to see a lighthouse (free), and went for ice cream, a pretty inexpensive treat.  We also went to two thrift stores. J got a box fan for about 1/4 of what he had seen them online, and it's much quieter than the new one he bought not long ago.  I found 2 thick flannel pillowcases for .25 ea., and a colorful fleece blanket that S chose for $4.  I walked each morning on the beach, and we all spent time on the beach each day.  After getting home, I caught up on laundry, and made yogurt.

I tried a new recipe, for barbequed chickpeas, which included making the barbeque sauce.  I thought it was pretty good, but J didn't love it.  He agreed to try it with another bean, so I'll try it again doing that.  I enjoyed blackberries, blueberries and pawpaw (frozen last year) in smoothies, as well as the last of the fresh grapes I'd bought for the beach.   I'd frozen most of them, and will use them in smoothies as well.  M gifted me a warm winter hat that he'd crocheted.  I requested one that covers my ears, and it's purple, a favorite color.  It feels like it will be very toasty on the coldest days of winter.  Broccoli and lettuce were harvested.  They're both bolting, so I'm harvesting them while I can.  The second patch of lettuce never germinated, perhaps because the ground was already too warm.  We had several rain showers early on, so I'm pretty sure that wasn't the reason.

I'd been needing to finish painting a door for some time, and got that done over the weekend.  I painted it with chalk paint, green on the outer side and white on the inner.  As it's the main door we use, I also waxed it to help with durability.  I also got the lamp shades with peeling paint cleaned up with acetone.  I bought etching cream a few weeks ago, decided what design I wanted to use for the shades, and purchased stencils on amazon.  After checking that there was no cash back in the categories I wanted, I bought the stencils and a couple of other small items through Brandy's link, so she will get a few cents from the purchase.  I placed two more online orders, taking advantage of 10% off of each, as well as free shipping.  For Sunday dinner, I made asian cucumbers, and pizza using a frozen homemade crust, our peppers and eggplant, oregano and recanned olives, along with other vegi's.  The pizza was baked in the toaster oven, to minimize heat on a day in the upper 90's.  Wishing you a week of seasonal pleasures!

Monday, June 18, 2018

The First Blackberries & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, a basket of nettles was harvested, and a batch of tincture begun with them.  J & I planted the last of the tomatoes, eggplant & pepper seedlings in the garden before a rain.  I redeemed swagbucks for a $25 amazon gift card, bought supplements with a 20% off code, and went through ebates for an additional 3% cash back.  I took advantage of a 20% off sale to stock up on lye for my soaps.  It ended up I needed 2 more tires, a full set now, as one tire sprung a leak last week in a spot that was not fixable, on the sidewall. I bought the supplies, and J changed my oil, then I cleaned and vacuumed my car at home.  At least there were some savings there, and got my car road trip ready.

On an unseasonably cool day, when I got in from work and errands, it had still not made it out of the 60's.  Deciding to take advantage of it, I got the last 6 of the Seminole pumpkins and the one remaining cushaw squash in storage, and cleaned and baked them.  With the oven going, I decided to make tomato rice loaf, and roasted green beans (using our canned beans) for dinner.  I baked brownies using some of the Seminole squash, then froze the remainder of the squash in recipe sized amounts.  The first blackberries were harvested, as well as lettuce.  I enjoyed eating the few blackberries fresh and in smoothies.

On Wednesday, I packed up orders to ship; some Father's Day items from my soap shop, two tables and  a Berkey stand.  Then I worked on painting three more Berkey stands.  Our online businesses have been keeping us busy, for which we are most appreciative. A salad was made using our lettuce and first cucumber, and home canned pickled beets.  Many flowers are blooming on the homestead.  I cut a bouquet for us to enjoy in the house.  The heat and rain has caused many mushrooms to sprout as well.

The Japanese beetles have been increasing in number.  I've been gathering them every chance I get, and feeding them to the chickens, some small consolation..  The last two borage seedlings were planted in the ground, so finally, all the seedlings are planted.  There are tiny cucumbers and squash, and one little tomato in the garden, hope of good things to come.  J found fire ants in our potato patch.  They've eaten our potatoes in the past, which is mighty discouraging.  He has treated them several times already with the highest power organic treatment we have,  but it only seems to slow them down.  He's been pondering a new method of growing to try next year. The trials and tribulations of growing a garden.  Wishing you a most magical solstice week, friends.

Monday, June 11, 2018

A Tart, Bug Duty & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, a friend and I shared a bucket of strawberries from the farmer's market.  When we walked by the first time, they were priced $13.  When we walked by again, they were priced $10, but what sold me was the fact that they used no herbicides or pesticides. They were beautiful and very fragrant berries, which also didn't hurt.  J and I ate them fresh, and I used them in smoothies a few days.  A friend with German heritage had given me a pan for fruit tarts, and I decided to use it for the first time to make a strawberry tart (this one).  I tweaked the recipe, using homemade vanilla pudding and didn't use glaze,which J said they never used in the area he lived in Germany anyway.  I did a silly thing, and filled it before moving it off the wire rack.  It was delicious anyway.  I haven't quite figured out why we don't get strawberries from our plants.  We  must have at least 3 dozen plants scattered around.  I often see what appear to be starts of little fruits, but none develop.  There are so many pollinators here, I really don't think that's it.  I'll try feeding them.

The dahlia was one J got me at the grocery store a few weeks ago. It seems happy in the ground.  When I pulled in to park at the hair salon last week, I noticed a mullein plant at the edge of the grass.  When the owner pulled up, I began telling her the medicinal benefits of the plant.  She had been looking at it just a day or two before with a friend, wondering what it was, and was excited to hear about it.  While waiting during my coloring, we researched several more benefits than I'd known of, and she was planning on making an oil from it, and possibly more by the time I left.  This was new territory for her, and I was happy to share my love of the many benefits of plants.

I was thankful I managed to talk J into going with me to get my tires rotated last week, as cars are an area in which I don't have much knowledge.  Well, the plan was to rotate them, but it turns out I needed two new tires and front brakes.  One of the tires was so bad it had a broken belt.  The mechanic showed J what he saw, and J agreed with him.  Thankfully, he took care of both while we waited.  An unplanned expense, but we've got an upcoming road trip, and I'm thankful we'll be safer on the road.  After letting it lapse several months, I renewed my AAA at a discounted rate, with the road trip in mind.   I've really been enjoying the Victoria series through Netflix, and watched my favorite episode so far this week, one in which they are lost in Scotland.  I enjoyed listening to free Pandora and podcasts.

One dinner, I made Brandy's Spanish rice recipe, and made bean burritos to go with it.  I froze half of the spanish rice, and used our lettuce and tomatoes, recanned black olives and dehydrated onion in the meal.  I've stopped harvesting asparagus, and will let the remainder put energy into next year's growth.  I'm very happy that our asparagus bed is regenerating after we relocated it.  Various seedlings were watered with the water I had used to wash lettuce.  I fed other plants with fish emulsion.  Our gardenia was cold hurt this winter, but it's reviving.  I enjoyed the single bloom while it lasted.  The peanuts I planted are coming up very nicely.  Now, if the deer will just stay away.  The amaranth is coming up, though a bit spotty.  Suet, yogurt and hummingbird food were made.  On nights that were cool enough, we turned off A/C and opened windows.  I requested several books from the library, and made a purchase through swagbucks, saving 5%.

I harvested our first cucumber, as well as broccoli, lettuce and mulberries. Laundry was done with homemade soap, and hung on the line.  A batch of soap gel was made using soap scraps and water.  Our bathroom redo and outdoor shower are coming along, thanks to J's hard work.  When we checked online, it said our hardware store had 4' sections of privacy fence in stock.  It turns out they didn't, but they gave us half off two 6' sections that had damage at the bottom, which worked perfectly for what we needed, and was less than the 4' sections would have been.  By Saturday evening, J had our outdoor shower up and running.  We'll have to try it out soon!  Every year there are branches that reach for the light, and need trimming along the walking path.  I put the large pruners on the mower, and mowed and pruned as I went, saving me from carrying it's weight about a half a mile.  These days the guys usually do the mowing, but there is a lot of scullcap growing right now along the path, which I make into medicine every few years, and I wanted to make sure it was able to regenerate.   

Since my favorite vet moved out of state, I took Guinness to a new holistic vet, who is an hour away.  I found out our local Tractor Supply does vet clinics every Saturday morning, so J & I took him there for his rabies update.  This saved driving time, money, and we were given coupons for a free 5 lb. bag of dogfood, and 10% off treats, a bag of which was already in my cart.  There was a bit of a wait, but the benefits outweighed the minor inconvenience.  We picked up needed chicken supplies while there too.  We have so many pests around here. I recently thought it was scale on the raspberries, but it's actually woolly aphids.  I also found them on the roses and bee balm.  I've made a couple of rounds with insecticidal soap to deter them.  Japanese beetles have arrived, though so far there are not too many.  For those, I carry a container of water with a drop or two of soap, and collect them off the plants.  Bug duty :o).  For more encouragement of a frugal nature, visit Brandy and her virtual frugal community.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Wildlife on the Homestead & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  This is the handmade bed cover I bought at  a Hospice auction recently.  It's just one thickness, and seems to have a sheet as a base.  I plan to sew another sheet to the back, once I figure out how to best attach it.  We still have Seminole pumpkins in storage from last year's harvest.  I cut up and boiled two pumpkins, made a batch of brownie's with some, and froze the rest.  It doesn't sound like they'd be good, but they're amazingly moist, and wonderfully tasty without any hint of squash.  I stopped by a thrift store, hoping to find some clothing items for my granddaughter.  I found several things for her, as well as a vintage cotton sheet and cotton pajama pants for me, and they were having a 50% off sale on everything!

Getting only a few green pea pods a day, I'd been saving them. When I finally shelled them, I had just over a cup of peas, and tried a recipe for creamed peas.  Wanting to try something new with the lambs quarter, I found a recipe for a frittata, which also used our eggs.  Another recipe I want to try called for 1 1/2 lbs of lambs quarter, so I'll save that one for the future.  When J had a business meeting several towns away, he picked up a few groceries, including organic corn on the cob.  It was expensive, but I never see it locally, so I'm very happy he got some.  It rounded out the meal nicely.  This photo is the best I could do to show my new hummingbird feeder in action.

We're still getting plenty of rain, and I'm still planting.  I transplanted several sunflowers that volunteered around the bird feeders, planted butterfly weed seeds in several spots, a few nasturtium seeds, and replanted a geranium I bought recently into a pottery pot. The dutchman's pipe, along with 4 artichoke plants were planted, but sadly the dutchman's pipe may not make it.  I'm not sure if it's the above average rain we've been getting, or another cause.  Purslane was gathered, and used with lambs quarter and recanned black olives in eggs for a breakfast.  I typically turn our compost crock upside down against a rock outdoors, to allow it to dry after washings.  When I picked it up one day this week, there was a toad underneath, enjoying the cool.  I have a barrel full of broken pottery, which I'd been saving to eventually turn into mosaics.  I grabbed some of the larger shards, set two on the ground for toads, and put another two in birdbaths for bees and butterflies to rest on.

One night, as we were heading for a pond sit, J noticed a turtle laying eggs near the pond.  I think it's very neat that she felt it was a good and safe place to do that.  Homemade lemonade was enjoyed on a hot day, after outdoor chores.  Laundry was done with homemade soap and hung on the line.  A couple of lavender flowers were gathered.  We enjoyed the last of the kale in a salad, letting the remainder go to seed.  Two bags of our okra were pulled from the freezer and cooked in the wok.  I made what I call a hearty salad with our lettuce, peas and boiled egg, plus some grocery items (feta cheese, pecans, avocado, carrots, cucumber).

Thinking about what will serve us best as we age, we decided to do a bit of a bathroom renovation.  J got started on it this weekend.  It will take a while to finish, but a good start is a wonderful thing.  The elderberries are in bloom.  On our way to the chicken pen, J noticed a birds nest in a clump of elderberry.  I snapped a a photo while mama was away.  Though it was hard to be certain, it looked like it may have been one of the larger thrushes I've been noticing around the garden sitting on the nest when we returned.  Between the webcam set up near the pond, the turtle laying eggs and this nest, the focus seems to be wildlife around here recently.  It's a blessing to live around the wild things... well, most of the time.

Heading to the chicken pen to give them a treat of oats and clabbered milk, we also were wanting to see if we could determine which of the chicks were pullets and cockerels.  We both agreed that it appears two of the chicks will be roosters, which gives us four more hens.  The ratio could be worse. I made blueberry scones for breakfast Sunday morning.  We picked up beets on Saturday, and grilled most on Sunday, along with our asparagus.  That will likely be the last batch of asparagus for the year; so good while it lasted.  Onward to cucumbers, tomatoes, squash and more.