Monday, September 24, 2018

Welcome Fall & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  After working in town last week, I ran errands... the bank, groceries, and a soap delivery.  At the grocery store, I found 1 lb. pasta 5/$5 and bought 2.  I also bought a bouquet, which was marked down to $2.49.  Though I do have a few flowers left, they're looking quite straggly after the storm, and I kind of like leaving the ones I have in the landscape to cheer me for a few weeks longer.  I picked up books I had requested at the library.  When I was putting groceries away, I noticed some dishes I had frozen previously, and it seemed a perfect time to use them.  Along with leftover vegi loaf, we had spanakopita and eggplant crumble from the freezer.  More freezer room is always a good thing.

Another of our stored watermelons was cut, and not surprisingly, the middle was soft.  McNibs and I shared some good bits, then I brought it out to the chickens for a treat.  Our tomatoes were used in vegi BLT's.  My summer slippers needed a wash, but are too fragile for the machine, so I used some homemade soap gel, scrubbed them with a brush, and hung them on the line. I'm thankful that there are still jars of tomatoes on the pantry shelf from the past couple of years.  This will be one of those years that there were just not enough tomatoes to can.  The majority of the tomatoes are dying from all the recent rains, as well as one of the basil plants, both of the sweet peppers, and our green bean posts fell over with all the wet.  I'll be surprised if we get any more squash, as they're looking very sad.  Okra is still producing some, and it looks like we'll get more eggplant.  Our recently planted cucumbers have blooms, so it's possible we may get more cucumbers before first frost.  It looks like about half of the fall lettuce seedlings have rotted.

sweet potatoes drying under the carport
After an out of town appointment, I stopped at a thrift store I pass, but didn't find anything I needed.  We shared okra, pawpaws and eggplant with friends.  Our eggs and homemade bread crumbs were used in a broccoli quinoa dish.  I've heard and read good things about celery juice, so have been giving it a try, drinking it some mornings.  The celery pulp from the juicer goes into the broth bag.  J dug our sweet potato crop, which we then harvested.  We usually wait until the first frost is forecast, but ants and other critters have been munching on them, so he decided to get them now.  We got a bigger harvest than expected.  Though some were partially eaten and others were cut, we should still have a gracious plenty to eat through the winter.  The hummingbirds have been at the feeders, often with two fighting over the same feeder, though there is another feeder.  I'm sure they'll soon be flying to warmer climes.

Last week, a potter friend gifted me a beautiful spoon rest.  It's such a pleasure to enjoy handmade things in my daily homemaking tasks.  Another friend gifted me several canning jars and two shirts.  I took the leggings out of the dye pot.  When I rinsed them, they sadly lost lost much of their color.  I'm going to keep at this, maybe trying oak galls next.  I'm wanting a nice deep mottled brown, so we'll see.  After Florence, many leaves fell.  Along the walking path, it's beginning to smell like autumn, that lovely spicy scent of decaying plants and leaves.  It's looking more like fall too, with asters blooming and hearts-a-bustin' along the paths.  We had to make some changes to our upcoming road trip due to Florence.  It's always good to be flexible.   I'm so looking forward to cooler days and lower humidity.  Wishing you a lovely first week of autumn.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Hurricane Florence & Frugal Accomplishments

monarch chrysalis on lambs quarter, close to emerging
Hello, friends.  Monday morning, after some searching in the garden, I found a monarch chrysalis on lambs quarter, as well as what I think may be red admiral chrysalises on stinging nettles.  When I went by a couple of hours later, the monarch had emerged, and was drying it's wings.  A couple of checks later, it was gone, hopefully flying off to a safe place.  Thankfully, the storm has weakened, and though we'll get wind and rain, it will not be to the extent as originally forecast.  Several of J's extended family, further east, are without power and dealing with flooding.  In these days of technology, we're thankfully able to talk or message with them, and know they are OK, even though one family had to leave their home due to flooding.

Pasta Norma was made with our eggplant, tomatoes and herbs, and caprese salad with our basil and tomatoes to go with it.  Some deep cleaning and decluttering was done.  I went through my jewelry box, and put aside a bag to be donated, as well as a pile of bits and pieces, such as single earrings, that will be given to a jewelry maker or thrift shop.  A collection of antique paper ephemera has been collecting dust.  I thought of someone who might be able to use it in her creations, and she is thrilled to take it.  So, a bit of progress made on the simplifying front.

I enjoyed some of our yellow watermelon for lunch one day.  It had been picked around 10 days earlier, and was rather soft in the middle.  Those bits, and the rinds and seeds went to the chickens.  J enjoyed some for lunch another day, and what he didn't eat went to the chickens.  The evening after we planted carrot seeds a few weeks ago, we had a heavy rainstorm, so a number of the seedlings had escaped the bed.  I transplanted those seedlings back into the bed, and hope they will live.  The kale seedlings seem to be doing well, and there are a few lettuce seedlings.  I made my Swagbucks goal once, and received a sample of catfood in the mail, along with two $3 coupons.

I gathered pawpaws and pears most days.  Many of the pawpaws had to be turned into compost, but I did make pawpaw parfait again one evening, with the last of this year's fresh blueberries.  We keep the chicken coop opened up during the summer. With the storm coming, I covered the window in their coop, and replaced the windows along the bottom of their little enclosed covered yard, to give them some wind protection while eating and drinking.  It feels pretty cozy in there now.   Greens and concord grapes were gathered for them to enjoy several days, and occasional cherry tomatoes.  I used one of our pumpkins, as well as cinnamon sticks and whole cloves from the pantry in a photo shoot for the Pumpkin Chai soap, and listed it in my shop.

As I was getting tight on freezer space, knowing I was going to be staying indoors due to the storm, I decided to simmer and can 2 1/2 gallon bags of frozen vegetable scraps into broth.  Thankful for more freezer room, and a few more jars on the pantry shelf.  I pulled a few carrots and about half of the beets before the storm arrived, concerned about them rotting with all the rain coming.  I also dug the small bed of potatoes we planted from small ones we grew last year.  We knew there wouldn't be much, but there ended up being enough potatoes for 2 meals, so two meals of potatoes we won't have to buy.  I took advantage of another mostly indoor storm day, by taking an online course and test for my massage license renewal, wrapping soap, and writing a letter I'd been putting off.  It's good to cross those off my to do list.

Late in the week, I found another monarch chrysalis in the garden, where I had seen one form a J the day before.  I was pretty sure that meant it was getting ready to form a chrysalis, so it was pretty neat to find.  I checked it on Saturday, about midway through the storm, and it was still there.  Last week, I made my Mom's zucchini soup and Brandy's Tuscan Tomato Bread soup, with our squash, tomatoes and herbs.  A batch of Butternut Chocolate Chip Brownies was made, using homemade vanilla, our eggs, and subbing seminole pumpkin in place of the squash.  I found a free series on Amazon prime, called Pioneer Quest, and have enjoyed it so far.  Watching these types of shows always makes me very thankful for modern conveniences.  During a hard rain, I noticed a good bit of rain flowing over the gutters.  We have guards on our gutters, so during a lull, I went up a ladder, and cleaned off the main rain water collection area, where the two rooflines meet.  Our cisterns are all full now, which is always a good feeling.  The gutter guards don't work as promised, as they still collect leaves and other bits that fall on the roof, but it is easier to wipe them off than having to dig all the detritus out of the gutters as before.

Cleaning up the porch before the storm, I realized I hadn't done anything with the dye pot full of hickory and hazelnut husks.  The liquid looked darker than it had when it started, so I strained it and added the pair of leggings I had originally tried to dye with pine bark.  After a couple of days, the leggings have taken on enough color to be tan or light brown.  I'll leave them a bit longer, and see how they end up.  The sheet I dyed with marigolds was machine washed, and it kept all it's color.  I watched several online tutorials on tying quilts, ordered basting pins to do it, and hope to start on it soon.  All the plants that had been on the porch were moved indoors, to prevent a repeat performance of pots being flung hither and yon during the storm.

There's a plant I'd noticed, but hadn't paid much attention to this summer.  I had thought it was one of the grapes we planted a few years ago, but seeing blooms on it last week made me realize it was a volunteer hibiscus, such a welcome surprise.  I'm thinking it's a hardy hibiscus, but not really sure.  It would be most appreciated if you'd share, if you happen to know this plant. (update; it's Turk's Cap, which I'd forgotten we planted :o).

I generally try to work on these posts as the week goes by, and am typing these lines on generator power Sunday morning.  The power has been out for an hour or so, and the map shows a rather extensive area out.  I'm loving the jumble of morning glories and day flowers along the garden fence right now.  J emptied the rain gauge today, which holds 5".  It's been raining steadily since,  We were in the 10-15" forecast, but I'm thinking we may get a bit less when all is said and done.

Though it does take diesel to run our generator, J said it's good to run it for a while now and then, so I thought of chores that use electric to do then, instead of paying for the electricity when it comes back on.  I got a load of laundry washed and dried, ground a pan of bread ends into bread crumbs, and vacuumed.  Just a bit over 3 hours, and the power returned. I took advantage of a free listing offer on ebay, and listed six books, part of my decluttering efforts.  I mended a pair of shorts.  For dinner, along with bought corn, I cooked our okra and a new lentil based vegi loaf.  We weren't fans of the vegi loaf.  It was decent, and we'll eat it, but it won't make it into my repertoire.  There's a chickpea based one I still want to try, and there's a nut based loaf I love, but rarely make any more, as it's pretty expensive.   I may have to find that recipe.  Though we've got some warm days coming up, the storm has made it feel like soup and meatloaf (vegi) weather.  I hope you are all staying safe, and wish you a good week ahead.

Monday, September 10, 2018

The September Garden & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  On Labor Day, I prepped eggplant and okra, for my husband to grill.  We had sliced tomatoes to go with it, and made ice cream using our (toasted) hazelnuts.  It gives me such pleasure to have most of a meal come from this land.  Last week, I harvested green beans, okra, tomatoes, basil, eggplant, pawpaws, lima beans, pears and a plum.  Ironing was caught up.  I shopped at Walgreens, getting the Senior discount as well as the equivalent of over $18 in bonus points, plus a $5 off $20 coupon, just getting a few things I needed.  Laundry was done with homemade soap and hung on the line.  I shared pawpaws, tromboncino squash and cherry tomatoes with several people.  A large amount of pawpaws had to be composted, as they're so very perishable, and I just couldn't give them away fast enough.

I celebrated my birthday last week, a landmark 60.  Beautiful flowers arrived from my daughter in spirit.  One bloom was open when they arrived. By the time I returned from out of town, they were a riot of color.  A lovely dinner was cooked by J.  One of my presents was an IOU to attend a festival this fall, one I've been wanting to attend for a few years.  I'll share more about that once we've been.  While we were at the pond, J noticed a good sized Eastern painted turtle on a log.  A sweet friend gifted me this very special book, a peek of it in the top photo.  I've admired it for some time, and had enjoyed a copy from the library.  The illustrations and notations take you through the seasons.  It will be a lovely thing to be able to follow it along as the months go by.

A dear friend and I took a short road trip to Charlotte.  We attended an opening for an artist acquaintance, enjoyed a fantastic concert, and ate extremely well.  The only somewhat frugal part of the trip was shopping at thrift stores, and a discount grocery.  I was happy to find several things for my granddaughter, including rain boots and three pieces of dress up/Halloween clothing.  Favorite finds at the discount grocery were organic crushed pineapple, regular price $3.79 for .99, maple syrup, sale price $4.99 for $2.99, and smoked basmati rice, regular price $15.81 for $1.99/ 2#.

Two friends have been sharing photos of monarch and swallowtail caterpillars, chrysalises, and emerging butterflies.  Last night, I was excited to see at least 10 monarch caterpillars on the milkweed in the garden.  I didn't explore much, as I didn't want to disturb them.  Hopefully, I will spot at least one chrysalis this week.

Another order for a Berkey stand came in while I was away, as well as several inquiries, which means our vacation fund happily continues to grow.  When I returned, the garden had not been picked, and I harvested tomatoes, green beans, eggplant and pawpaws.  I didn't get to the pears or the okra, but plan on doing that today.  I'm sure a lot of the okra will be too large, but they'll make good compost.  On occasion, I open the big pods to give the inner seeds to the chickens, as they love them.  Thanks to McNibs, I didn't get a great deal of sleep last night, so it depends on how much energy I have if that gets done or not.  We've started getting rain, much needed, ahead of the storm.  We'll go over our hurricane prep today, and be ready to batten down the hatches if needed.  Be well and safe, friends!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Early September & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  I tried two new recipes on Monday, and both were keepers. It's nice when that happens, because let's face it, cooking from scratch takes some work.  The pawpaw recipe on Sunday was good, but J has come to the conclusion that cooked pawpaws do not agree with him.  He does fine with it raw in a fruit salad, but not so well with it baked in a pudding (think persimmon pudding, but with pawpaws).  I froze the remainder, then shared all of it with several friends.  The keeper recipes were lemon rice salad, shared by Susan Branch, and zucchini gratin, and I'm sorry to say I can't tell where it came from, other than it was adapted from a recipe from Just A Pinch, and the recipe I used was doubled.  I used tromboncino in place of zucchini.  The tromboncino seem to be winding down now, with just a few manageable ones ripening a week.  We're letting one mature, to save seed.  The latest kale planting is germinating well, and there are a few sprinklings of carrots and lettuce coming up.

I gathered just about all that's left of the plums, and made asian plum sauce.  As it ended up being only a 4 oz. jar's worth, I decided not to can it, but keep it in the fridge.  A large basket of lima beans, both dried and fresh were picked one evening.  I decided to take the beans with me to the hair salon the next day, as I  knew I'd be there a few hours.  I expected to be laughed at, but it turns out a woman there ended up shelling more than I did.  The hair salon is a tiny place, with no nails done, and no perms, so not a smelly place to bring food.  I haven't done a hair update in a while.  I suppose I'm still not ready to go gray, as I'm still using Hairprint.  To solve the issue of roots quickly showing up, someone near and dear to me, who is beautiful inside and out, shared that she uses root touch up.  I found a natural one I like, so have started doing that too.  Ah, vanity!

Pawpaws were shared with several friends during the week.   A "free" box was brought up to our little community store, and someone else picked up a box to share at the local animal shelter thrift store.  There are so many ripening, if J can't eat them cooked, that seems the best choice.  It makes me happy that everyone who has tried pawpaws this year has loved them, whereas a few years ago, nobody seemed to like them at all.  If I haven't mentioned before, they've been shown to have some serious anti-cancer properties, so a good fruit to have around.  I brought three beauty berry bushes J dug up to someone who had requested some.  The birds scatter the berries all over, so we have no shortage of seedlings.  I tried a new eggplant dish, called Poor Little Eggplants.  The dish was rather tough that night, but lots better when reheated with some water as leftovers.  I've been enjoying library books, and requested another.  A 40% photo coupon was used from Walgreens, with the cost of a 4 x 6 print at .20.

I passed McNibs one day outside, and noticed an Eastern Painted turtle just a few feet away.   That's the species that laid eggs near the pond earlier this year.  I wonder if we will see many more of them next year.  Yogurt and hummingbird food were made.  Laundry was done with homemade soap, and hung on the line.  Homemade soap and deodorant were used each day.  Composting, shredding paper and cardboard, and washing out plastic bags for reuse happened too.  I received a $10 off $50 coupon from Tractor Supply, and used it to buy chicken feed and dog food.  The three young roosters were offered free on my fb page, as well as craigslist.  A woman came and got all three on Sunday.  It's amazing how much calmer the chicken yard is without the overabundance of young male hormones.  I will say, I don't enjoy craigslist, with the multitude of messages, and people promising to come, but who never show up.  But in this case, it did serve its purpose, giving us three less mouths to feed and significantly less chaos in the flock. 

My online shops have continued to receive orders and positive reviews, of which I'm most appreciative.  I worked on painting four orders, and made two batches of soap last week.  There were also two local soap sales, a very nice surprise.  I enjoyed meeting my stepmom for lunch one day, then went to my co-op while I was in that town.  I bought a few needed things, including NC apples for .99#.   A canister was found at a new thrift store.  This weekend, I turned it into a compost crock, took photos, and listed it in my shop.   Pasta salad was made using our cherry tomatoes, basil, oregano and home canned olives.  The pups get a few cherry tomatoes with their dinner each night, and usually some pear pieces from ones that have developed a brown spot.  J made us delicious cheese biscuits for Sunday breakfast.  He'd talked about them recently, and I'd never had them, so was delighted he made them.   On the chance that someone reading has pawpaws to work with, I wanted to share this parfait recipe, which we both thought was yummy.  I substituted our blueberries for raspberries, Sucanat for powdered sugar, added a little homemade vanilla, but otherwise followed directions :o).  Happy Labor Day!