Monday, October 29, 2018

A Festival & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, we enjoyed our last eggplants in an eggplant crumble, the first winter salad of the season, and sweet potatoes for a dinner.  Having a meal with almost every ingredient grown here is satisfying.  Our hens have gone on strike.  For weeks now, we've been getting zero to two eggs a day from 13 hens, most days one lone egg.  Some of the hens are older, some are molting, but many aren't, so I suppose it's just the change in light.  They are definitely not earning their keep at the moment.  When I went to pick some winter greens for them, I noticed some of our garlic had been dug up.  We're guessing it's just like the artichokes planted in the summer, they're after what's in the planting hole with the bulbs, this time bone meal, blood meal and fish emulsion.  As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say, it's always something.  I covered them back up, and will hope for the best.

Laundry was all hung on the line.  I swapped all my summer clothes for winter clothes, and boxed them up.  After an appointment, I went by Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.  Making a few changes to my diet, I mainly went in search of organic produce, and non-caffeinated teas.  I didn't find any excellent deals, but did get cabbage for .99/#, which is the cheapest I've seen lately.  I was happy to find the $3.99 wine still at Trader Joe's, so bought more of that.  Woman can not live by vegetables alone :o).   A little splurge was a package of maitake mushrooms at Whole Foods for $3.99.  I'd read of them, but never had them.  Sauteed in butter and salt, they were delicious.  Mushrooms are something I've seen mentioned a number of times recently as having many health benefits, and they're certainly a pleasure to eat.  I requested and picked up two books at the library, both Newbery medal books.  I'm slowly trying to make my way through the list, reading ones that are of interest.

There are still a few butterflies and bees on the butterfly bushes.  I'm taking advantage of the cooler temps, and petting the bumblebees :o).  We're enjoying the late planted cucumbers in salads along with recanned black olives, and bought items.  I made a batch of Thousand Island dressing as well.  For a couple of years, I'd wanted to go to the annual Hart Square Festival.  My sweet husband gave me that as a birthday gift this year, and we headed there this Saturday.  There were over 100 log structures, so we did not see everything, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable day.  Friends met us there, and we enjoyed spending the day with them.  There were lots of old time skills being demonstrated, including butter churning, apple butter making, a forge, cotton ginning and baling, spinning, weaving, flax being turned into linen, soap making and more.  Late afternoon, we all went to a nearby Apple Festival,  then J & I headed to a nearby B&B.  It was a wonderful though quick getaway. 

On the way back home on Sunday, we stopped at a discount store called Ollie's.  I had hoped to find a pair of muck boots and tins of olive oil, but it wasn't to be.  We did find a few things, including our holiday cards and organic tomatoes @ 28 oz/.99, so it was worth checking it out.  When we got home and had a bite to eat, it was back to work.  Well, the pups let me know the first order of business was a walk.  Once that was accomplished, I gathered greens for the chickens, picked the few things remaining in the garden, and unpacked, while J worked on several orders we got in our online shop. 

I haven't spoke of it recently, but I did decide to let my hair grow out.  It's been a couple months or so, and you can see it's quickly turning white.  I wondered at first if I should get some highlights to try and blend it, but as obvious as it is already, I don't see that helping to hide the fact that it's growing out.  I will just be real, and may cut it a bit shorter to get rid of the brown at some point.  This too shall pass.  I hope the week ahead will be a good one for you. 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Feels Like Fall & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  I hope you are enjoying these fall days.  I surely am.  Last week, I fixed a zipper on my massage chair cover, where it had started pulling away from the fabric.  A bit of hand sewing, and it's working again.  For a dinner, I prepared our eggplant with the asian plum sauce I made recently, as well as store bought ingredients, over jasmine rice, with cauliflower salad.  It was my first time making the eggplant dish, and happily it was good.  On a walk and wanderings around the homestead, I gathered cinnabar and yellow chanterelles, and an old man of the woods.  Though I've seen them, it's the first time I've harvested old man of the woods.  I learned that it has few if any toxic look-alikes, and gets soggy and less tasty as it ages.  This one had been chewed on and slimed by snails, so I decided to try a spore print, and thought the results were rather nice.

After an appointment in a town over an hour away, I went to a nearby Trader Joe's.  There wasn't as much organic produce as I'd hoped, but I got bananas and gala apples.  My favorite find was a red wine for $3.99, which was quite good, especially for the price.  I'll be looking for more after my next appointment.  Knowing I'd be getting home late, I had boiled eggs the night before for egg salad sandwiches.  We finished leftover cauliflower salad, and had some grape tomatoes and olives with it.  I went through ebates to buy office supplies, getting 3.5% cash back, used a $30 off $75 order coupon with it, and all prices were already lower than I saw elsewhere, which made for some pretty nice savings.  The toad lily bloomed again, a welcome bit of loveliness this week.

 I gathered eggs, harvested okra and collards, then made a dirty rice and collards dish, along with bought baby bella and harvested chanterelle mushrooms.  Another dinner was roasted brussels sprouts, a vegi version of my Grandmother's stuffing, and waldorf salad.  The onion, apple, parsley and sage were grown on the homestead.  On Thursday, laundry was done and hung on the line.  My impression is that the laundry is smelling better using Biokleen than it did with my homemade soap, so I'll continue the experiment.  I brought in all the remaining house plants.  There are still a couple that need to be moved around, but at least they're in.  I gathered a few more fresh lima beans, blanched and froze them, and a few pods of dried ones the will go in a jar once they dry a bit more.

Our garlic was planted.  We added bone meal and blood meal to the hole, and watered them in with fish emulsion.. All the cold weather clothes and sheets were brought down from the attic.  We cleaned the stovepipe and had the first fire in the wood stove.  Between putting the flannel sheets on the bed, and our first fire, it's feeling like fall here.  Our first frost is expected Sunday night.  I've been mourning the fact a little bit that we already had our last tomato, other than a cherry tomato or two.  From the 2017 garden, we ate our last tomato this January, as I picked lots of green ones and used them as they ripened.  I'm thankful, though, that we hopefully have enough canned from previous years to make it until next summer.  If we have a similar summer next year, I'll definitely be buying tomatoes.  I hope that's not the case.

At the edge of the dam at the pond, I noticed a small shrub or tree that was fruiting.  I'm not quite sure what it is.  Any ideas?  The fruit size and shape remind me of pyracantha, but the leaves are different and no thorns.  Our first fig was overtaken by a multitude of ants before we could eat it.  J thankfully got the second fig after it had only slightly been chewed by something, and we enjoyed sharing it.  There are a dozen or so more, but they won't ripen before frost.  I continue to keep my eyes open for chanterelles.  I leave most, but gather a few here and there, as well as usnea, oak galls and parmotrema lichen when I find it.  There was one huge garlic clove that J separated, thinking it was two cloves, so it couldn't be planted.  I cut it up with harvested chanterelles, sauteed in olive oil and we enjoyed it over gnocchi, along with a kale salad.  A medical expense was submitted online, saving a stamp.

While wandering the woods one day in search of chanterelles, I came across a patch of American alumroot (Heuchera americana) down near our creek.  I marked it with some limbs, and was able to find it again, take some pics, and ID it.  In researching this plant, I discovered that another wild plant I'd found this year is pussytoes.   I really enjoy learning the names of the things I share this land with.  As the first frost was on it's way, I gathered all the basil, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, tromboncino squash, purslane, chickweed, a few beets, 3 tiny tomatoes and some of the lettuce.  J covered up the remaining lettuce and celery with leaves.  I removed the stems from the basil, made a batch of purslane pistachio pesto, froze some as leaves and covered some after chopping in the food processor with water in ice cube trays.  Then I thought about the parsley, and couldn't remember if it freezes in the low 30's.  Erring on the side of caution, I harvested the biggest stems, covered the plants with leaves, and made a parsley roll as Margaret does.  We enjoyed pasta with the pesto for dinner.  I harvested arugula, tiny lambs quarter, a few dandelion and violet leaves, and we had a salad with those, lettuce, chickweed, a bit of purslane, plus bought carrots, avocado and olives.  I cut lots of flowers to enjoy in the house, one last hurrah before the frost.  Have a great week, friends.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Another Storm & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.   Last week, I harvested okra, beets, cucumbers, eggplant, and tromboncino squash from the garden.  Four celery ends were planted, which replaced some that rotted from Florence.  For a dinner, I cooked our beets and potatoes, and incorporated our cucumber, carrot and sweet pepper,into a salad.  The bedroom still smelled slightly musty, so I washed the throw pillows and rag runner, and added in one of the pup's bed covers.  I was a little concerned about washing the rug, but washed it on a light wash, then pulled my car in the sun, and draped it over the car to dry (J's suggestion).  It thankfully did fine with that treatment, and seems to smell just fine in there now.  Now we're supposed to get another 2 to 4" of rain from Hurricane Michael.  Knowing that was coming, I caught up on laundry, and hung it on the line, as well as cut a bouquet.  Last week, I learned that some people think it's not a good thing to make your own laundry soap.  The soap supposedly does not come out of fabric or your washer well, attracting dirt and smells.  I've been making laundry soap for years, and always blamed the smells on our water, but perhaps not.  I bought Biokleen laundry detergent, through Vitacost at 3% cash back, and am seeing if I notice any difference.  Towels and J's work clothes were the worst, as far as being smelly.  We'll see what happens.

I've had redyeing the pair of leggings on my to do list.  So much of the plant dyeing info is geared towards wool and silk, and I spent a lot of time researching what I could do with what I had on hand for cotton fabric.  I finally decided to try dyeing with oak galls with some added iron water (prepared months ago with iron filings, water and vinegar).  They're soaking as I type.  Hopefully, I'll have something interesting to show you.  I accepted an offer, and sold a book on ebay.  I sold another book a different day, and reused mailers to ship them.  Our okra, a quiche which used our eggs, sweet pepper and parsley was made, and two rolls that were in the freezer to go along.  Thanks to Becky's encouragement, I planted more chard seeds.  Maybe this time, they'll do something.  We'll be getting lots of rain from Hurricane Michael starting tomorrow, so as long as they don't get washed away, that should help.  I dug our peanuts, and got less than I planted.  They were in a somewhat shady spot, and they'd been chewed by something (again), either rabbits or deer I expect.  I may have to add peanuts to the list of things I can't grow here.

the leggings just pulled out of the dye bath
I rinsed out the leggings the following day, and am happy with the results so far.  We'll see how they look after going through a machine wash.  I had gathered them with rubber bands in six spots, which made an interesting design, as did the mix of oak galls and iron water.  We did well eating leftovers last week.  Tropical storm Michael came through on Thursday, which brought less than 3" of rain, some major wind for a short while, which brought many trees down in the area and knocked out our power for 18 hours.  We ran the generator as needed, and were thankful to have it.  I worked on sewing the bed cover for a while, than prepared baked ziti for dinner, with squash brownies for dessert.  Neither of us got much sleep that night, with McNibs having two barfy episodes, and the neighbor's dog barking loudly, among other things.  My shop sitting job on Friday and Saturday was canceled, thinking that there would likely be no traffic at the shop.  After almost no sleep Thursday night, I was thankful to have the day at home.  I did work on cleaning up and painting several shop orders, and did some easy sewing, but not much else.

Michael's rain brought more mushrooms.  With the first nights in the upper 40's (hooray, the lows have lately been upper 60's and low 70's), I brought in all the orchids, the aloes and Christmas cactus.  I've been gathering holey greens and wild dock for the chickens.  I really wanted a salad on Sunday, but didn't have a lot to work with.  I grabbed the few lettuce leaves I could, found some chickweed, tiny lambs quarter and violet leaves, arugula growing with the winter greens, added our cucumber, a carrot and there you go.  I made soup with our tromboncino squash, tomatoes, basil , parsley and a few bought items.  I placed an order through ebates, with 12% cash back.  It's supposed to get to 81 tomorrow, so we didn't want to get the wood stove going just yet.  We turned on the heat pump just long enough to get the chill off, after the night in the 40's.  I brought my wool slippers out, and hot glued some spots where the sole was pulling away.  This week, I think it's time to switch to cold weather clothes and sheets.  I'm looking forward to flannel, cashmere sweaters and cozy clothes again.  Have a great week, friends!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Beautiful Music & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week still felt like summer here, with days in the 80's and high humidity.  Yogurt was made from powdered milk, as I'd only frozen a pint before we left for vacation, and a small batch of hummingbird food was made.  I continued to see one or two hummers at the feeder up to Oct. 4.  Pasta Norma was made with our eggplant, tomatoes and herbs.  A new recipe for Amish Pear Pie was made with our pears, which was yummy.  Running errands after working in town, I stopped and bought a 6 pack of red Romaine lettuce (with 8 plants in it), after much of our lettuce rotted during Florence. I was also hoping to find some chard seedlings, because try as we might, we just can't seem to grow it this year, but no luck there.  I added some pear pieces to the vegi broth bag, a new experiment.  I'm adding quite a bit of celery pulp, which can be bitter, and I'm hoping this will balance out the flavor.  Two books were picked up at the library.

I'm drinking celery juice most mornings.  I'm drinking about 1/2 of what is recommended (~8 oz), and most days it does seem to give me an energy boost.  I've found that Food Lion carries nice organic celery.  I continue to plant the celery ends in the garden, and have 7 now, though one is looking pretty sad after Florence.  I harvested okra and a few fresh and dried lima beans.  A gallon vegi broth bag was filled, and put in our outdoor freezer.  The only way to get it in there was to take a bag of okra out, so I knew I needed to work on eating out of the freezer.  I pulled a bag of Spanish rice from the freezer, as well as taco shells, and doctored a can of refried beans.  I cut up one of our last tomatoes, opened a jar of our salsa, one of recanned black olives, added some cheese, lettuce, and sour cream, and that was dinner.  I had two avocados, but both ended up being bad, so we did without.  Flower seeds were picked up on sale at Dollar General.  I spoke up when I noticed I'd received 50% off instead of the 70% advertised, and actually ended up getting a bit more of a discount from the manager.

On Thursday, I made a soap delivery and ran errands.  There were no chard seedlings at the Feed & Seed either.  All but one of our cabbage seedlings had died, so I picked up two six packs of cabbage and one of red leaf lettuce while there.  Recently, I've read that molasses along with other ingredients, which seem to vary, helps eradicate fire ants.  If you've tried this, I'd love to hear your results.  It would be fantastic to find a natural way to deal with them.  We'd leave them alone most places, but in our garden and flower beds, we'd love to not be stung while working.  After I got home from my delivery, it was in the upper 80's, so it seemed a perfect day to give the pups a "bath" in the outdoor shower.  A pitcher was used to wet and rinse them.  Being the shower has a spring-loaded door, it kept them captive until I was finished, which made it easy.  After October, I usually don't bathe them again until it warms up in the spring, unless they get into something stinky.

Two more experiments were tried last week.  The first was using my home canned sweet relish to make thousand island dressing.  It was good, but I'll tweak the recipe some.  The one I used had a little garlic in it, and that flavor didn't seem right, plus it could use a little more pizzazz.  The second experiment was cooking up mushrooms that I'd been keeping in a paper bag in the crisper, as was recommended.  The mushrooms weren't slimy, but I thought they were slightly questionable.  I went ahead and cooked them up for mushroom sandwiches, and both of us had a bit of an upset stomach the next morning.  In the future, I'll probably cook and freeze any mushrooms we don't use quickly.  A pan of egg shells were crushed and added to the outdoor compost bin.  The late planted cucumbers are starting to produce.  I picked two, and a small tromboncino squash.

On Friday, I made a soap delivery, then ran errands.  I dropped off household goods at the SPCA thrift shop, and clothes, books and CD's at Goodwill.  At the SPCA shop, I found a large piece of fabric for $1 and two pieces of felt for .10.  I really ought to stop gathering fabric and create before I buy more.  I stopped at the discount grocery store, and they have less food every time I go.  I suppose they make a lot more money on "stuff".  I did find organic beans for .50, Grey Poupon mustard .50, whole wheat and 2# pasta for $1, and Lindsay black olives for .50.    All the pasta was put in the freezer to eliminate any chance of pantry moths.  I made waldorf salad using our apples, and used our potatoes and tomato sauce plus pantry items in Shipwreck casserole.  Bread from the freezer was warmed, making just a bit more room there.  Since Florence, we'd been noticing a musty smell in our bedroom, and then splotches of mildew on the walls.  When I got home, J had pulled all the furniture away from the walls and was washing them with a vinegar/washing soda mix.  While the furniture was still out, I vacuumed and mopped the floor around the perimeter.  It smells much better, and I'm sure is a healthier room to be in.  We washed all the bedding on Sunday. J's pillow "exploded" in the washer, but he sewed a new side on the one that had the hole.  I had the perfect fabric for him to use, so that was a plus.

This week, I have so been enjoying this song.  I must admit that when I find a song that fills me with joy, I can listen to it over and over.  I've listened to it while I worked in the kitchen, worked on soap orders, even in the car.  I'm so glad there is beautiful music in the world to listen to.  Watching the video brings joy too, in seeing how beloved they are to one another.  On Saturday, honeybees were really working the wild dayflowers.  J & I planted a dozen cabbage seedlings, red leaf lettuce, and a goji berry I started from a cutting.  While weeding, waiting for J to dig holes, I found a couple of potatoes we had missed.  The mosquitoes were horrendous.  We both got many bites even with spray on, and got back to the house as soon as possible.  It confirmed we made the right decision to cancel the hayride.  I cut pieces of sweet potato to fill the dehydrator for pup treats.  We enjoyed one of our cucumbers with our last tomato, basil, oregano and black olives in a pasta salad.  My husband enjoyed several hot peppers with this that were given to him.  Wishing you good things in the week ahead. 

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Last Pawpaw & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Because of Florence, we had to make changes to our trip to the coast.  We usually go to Atlantic Beach, but our lodging was affected, so we switched to the Outer Banks. The trip was shortened by a day, and I booked our room through Swagbucks, so we'll get 8% back.  Our room had no kitchenette, but an adequate breakfast was included and we brought food for lunch and snacks, plus our tea, milk and beverages.  We enjoyed the coffee included in the room, which was better quality than what was served at breakfast.  I grabbed a few real half and half containers at breakfast to use in it, as the room only supplied the powdered stuff, and I'm picky that way.  We visited a small free arboretum and teaching garden.  It started raining just as we were heading back to the car, so that worked out well.  We had two nicer meals out, and two less expensive meals.  Our favorite was a Sicilian place, obviously the favorites of lots of others too.  We had gotten there almost 30 minutes early.  By the time the doors were opened, there were at least 20 others waiting.  Our meals were fantastic, and I enjoyed leftovers another day.  The last night, we picked up a pizza to enjoy in our room.  We checked to see what was playing on HBO and the other movie channels in our room, but there wasn't a thing that interested us, so the TV was never used.  We both brought books to enjoy, and I finished two while there.

At thrift stores, J found several pairs of work pants, a thermal shirt, a couple of books and a kitchen knife.  I found 3 linen shirts, a thick cashmere sweater, some cotton and linen threads & some silk alpaca yarn to craft with, and a lightweight watering can.  The guys fabricated a lovely steel one for me a few years ago, but it is very heavy, even when empty.  Add water, and it's almost impossible to haul around the older I get, so this one will be used and enjoyed.  J spotted a lampshade to replace the one I bought for our bathroom (but really disliked) for $4.  I was surprised when searching online, how expensive lamp shades are.  I had bought the least expensive one I thought I could live with, after the last one got damaged during the redo, but it just doesn't go with the room at all.  One I liked better was around 6 times as much, about $45, but I just couldn't bring myself to pay that.  The thrift store shade fits perfectly.  We enjoyed free wine tastings at two wineries, though we did end up buying wine at both places.  On two days, I enjoyed a scoop of frozen custard.  Some years ago, I was introduced to frozen custard while in MD, and was hooked.  I'm not much of an ice cream eater, but this is so good.  It's a good thing there are none closer than an hour away from us :o).

When we got home, we had the leftover pizza we'd brought back, and I turned the boiled eggs we hadn't eaten into egg salad sandwiches.  We had turned up the a/c two degrees while we were gone, and turned it back down when we returned.  I came back to an unpicked garden, as expected, and cut many large okra, which were cut open and the seeds given to the chickens.  The tomatoes are almost done, but I managed to harvest a handful, as well as two pawpaws.  J found one of the cheese wheel pumpkins had started oozing while we were gone, so I threw it in the chicken pen.  The day we left, I noticed one of our older Barred Rock hens looking poorly.  I gave her some extra treats and attention, but found her dead when we got home.

I made a fruit fly trap with cider vinegar in a mason jar, and a paper funnel.  With all the rain from Florence, we now have a multitude of huge mosquitoes, called gallinippers. They're very aggressive, and make it really tough to be outdoors, even with spray.  I'll be glad when it gets cold enough for them to go away.  It's been so miserable, we ended up having to cancel our family hayride that was supposed to be next weekend.  Still, I know we are lucky, seeing the flooding and devastation elsewhere.  Searching for parsley on Friday, I noticed two of the plants were just stems.  Then I saw the culprit, a black swallowtail caterpillar.  Though he was looking pretty fat, I moved him and his stem to another parsley that still had lots of leaves.  While doing this, I noticed something orange, and learned it is an osmeterium, which they put out when disturbed and which apparently smells like rotten cheese.  So glad I didn't notice that :o).  On Saturday, it was munching away on the new plant. Also, I saw two monarch chrysalises on the milkweed in the garden.  Update:  I'm sorry to say that the milkweed was mown down on Sunday.  Not sure why, as it's been there all summer, but that's life on the homestead.  You take the good with the bad.

There were some frugal fails due to our vacation.  I had intended to do something with eggplant before leaving, but didn't get to it, so a few needed to be composted.  I cut the good bits out of three more and added those bits to the broth bag.  I found all but two of our tromboncino in storage had started going, so I composted the bad bits, and made soup with the good parts, along with our tomatoes, homemade broth and herbs.  A bag of our "winter" salad greens hadn't been used in time, and those went to the chickens.  Though it's not really wasted if it's composted or fed to the chickens, I'd certainly prefer to not have so much unused of our garden produce.  I had the two pawpaws and the good bits of a pear that had been chewed on, along with a banana for lunch one day.  Plastic bags were washed for reuse, and laundry was done with homemade soap, and hung on the line.  Our 6 yr old washer has not been rinsing correctly; not filling up with enough water to rinse and then not spinning all the water out.  We looked at washer reviews, which was pretty dismal.  Nothing seems to be made well any more.  Even the Speed Queens, which were expensive and spoken highly of, seem to have gone down in quality with this year's models.  J is going to try some things to see if it helps ours, but if it doesn't work, and the computer board needs changing, we think it's best to get another.  The washer I had before this was one I bought used, and it lasted 15 more years.  I sure wish things would turn back in the other direction, when there was pride and good workmanship in making things.  Otherwise, I really don't know where we'll end up.

Decluttering has been ongoing.  Most recently, when I was looking at what to take on vacation, I got rid of several items of clothing I wasn't wearing, either because it didn't fit well or I just didn't love it.  I'm also working on fall cleaning as I can, in between other things.  I made my daily Swagbucks goal twice.  Our shower head has been leaking for some time.  Though we changed the head during the redo, the working parts were from the one I originally put in the house 12 or 13 years ago.  After several tries, J wasn't able to fix it.  He called the manufacturer (price pfister), they sent replacement parts for free, and it seems to have fixed it!  I harvested dried zinnia heads for seed.  We received another 2" in rain since arriving home, but it looks like it may dry off for a bit now, thank goodness.  The nights are finally cooling off, so we've been able to turn off the a/c and open up overnight.

Two books were requested from the library.  Potato salad was made using our potatoes and parsley.  There is one last pawpaw in the orchard.  We enjoyed the good bits from one of our yellow watermelons, and gave the rest to the chickens.  Warm up water was used for flushing and watering plants.  The goji berries have been blooming for weeks, with plenty of pollinators, but I can't tell if there are any actual berries.  I remember last year, all of a sudden it seemed that there were red berries, right before frost.  I'm still figuring them out.  We brought in the best sweet potatoes, and put them in storage.  I boiled some of the smallest ones for the pups, and J fried up some that had bad spots, and dehydrated some others.  Happy October!