Sunday, March 24, 2019

Mid March & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  I finished putting everything away from our gathering on Monday.  A load of laundry was done, and hung on the line.  Paperwork was worked on for two of our businesses.  A few soaps were wrapped, enough to take into town to restock one of the galleries. The first hummingbird food of the year was made, and feeder hung.  Some good grocery deals were 5/$4 cans of organic beans, $1 for 28 oz organic fire roasted tomatoes, and .89 avocados.  I also bought a good amount of organic produce at a co-op, including mangoes, minneola tangelos, and red bartlett pears on sale.  They always ask if you want a receipt.  I declined, and don't remember prices.  While heading to the compost bin, I found a sweet little bird's nest.  I've added it to my little nature windowsill, which in theory is for our granddaughter, but I expect I get at least as much pleasure from it.

I pulled a bag of maitake mushrooms and two of shredded zucchini from the freezer.  The zucchini went into fritters.  A friend and I went to a concert by these fine folks.  The concert was free, as they'd just released an album, but an annual $5 membership was paid to the venue, and a donation happily given for a fantastic evening of music.  The food available was barbecued pork, so I brought a salad for my dinner.  I'm still trying to eat lots of salads, though some days I do better than others.  An Eat To Live salad dressing that I'm enjoying is his Walnut Vinaigrette:

1 clove garlic
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup water

Blend all in a high speed blender and enjoy.  So far, I've been subbing oregano for the thyme, and it's great.

After J's shop closed up a bit early on Friday, we did some garden clean up, removing all the tomato cages, rebar and wood posts.  We usually have it done before now, but it's been so wet for so long, it's taken longer this year.  On Saturday, I chopped all the remaining pruned kiwi vines, and put them around a nectarine, two peaches and a goji berry.  Between us, we finished pruning the last of the grapes.  I pruned the last apple tree.  J planted onions and shallots, and heeled in the last of the potato sprouts.  He also planted some tomato, eggplant and pepper seeds.  These were put in a repurposed truck toolbox that he recently put sweet potatoes in to sprout.  We're always experimenting in the garden.   We went through our seeds, and don't need any this spring.

Several mornings, I used mixed frozen berries from last year's garden in my oatmeal.  A few weeks ago, I'd mentioned J checking at a local restaurant he frequents for lunch for olive oil for soapmaking.  The owner ordered a case for me, and though it was a bit more than I'd been paying, he was willing to barter for soaps, which makes it work for me.  J brought the first soaps to him, and the next day he was raving about them, saying I had a lifetime customer, which is a lovely thing.  He and his lady friend had tried the shaving soap and one or two others.  I'd been pondering and praying about if soapmaking was something I was to continue to do, as the profit is minimal.  I'm going to take this endorsement as a sign to continue, which makes me happy, as it is something I enjoy doing.

I was happy to see many honeybees on one of our pear trees.  Every year, I try to plant more things for the pollinators.  They're pretty important for the planet and for gardeners.  Lettuce was harvested for salads.  Now that we're not having rain every day, I've started saving warm up water again.  I've used the water in the wood stove humidifier and for the pups water.  Laundry was hung out on the line two days this week.  Eggs are still bountiful, and some were shared.  Some windows were opened most days for fresh air.  I used up mushroom leftovers with eggs for a breakfast.  I zested an organic tangelo and put it in the freezer for future recipes.  Two movies were enjoyed on Netflix.

On Sunday, after house cleaning chores, I hand washed a sweater and all the pine cone dyed items.  J welded up 4 orders, which I then cleaned up and painted.  The new powder coat painting system is such an improvement over spray painting.  For dinner, I tried an Eat to Live vegi burger recipe, which used our parsley, basil, oregano and lambs quarter, along with other pantry items.  We both agreed they weren't wonderful.  I pulled broccoli from the freezer, and we used up a couple of leftovers, so there's that at least.  I planted 3 types of lettuce and swiss chard in containers to plant out later.  I'm enjoying these warmer days.  Have you been able to plant anything recently?

Monday, March 18, 2019

St. Patrick's Day Shenanigans & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  There were a few hours reprieve from the rain on Monday, so I did chop and drop around the newly planted NJ Tea and sweet pepperbush plants, covered them with leaves, pruned the apples and pears in the pond garden, then the cherry and hawthorn near the house.  It was warm enough (low 60's) that I opened a few windows to air out the house.  On Tuesday, it was back to working on deep cleaning the house, and getting ready for our family gathering.  The ceiling fan and deep window sills were cleaned, and J and I worked together to create a family photo wall, which has been on my to do list for a long time.  I'll probably tweak it as time goes by, but am happy to have it up.  A few stitched pieces were hung by my sewing area, which make me happy.

Another natural dyeing experiment took place, this time pine cones.  For the first time, I tried pre-mordanting with soy milk.  I left the items in the dye pot for a day, then hung them to dry.  They were a light brown.  I'd read about using washing soda, which changes the pH and the color, so added around 2 tbs of washing soda to the dye, then put the items back in, and was rewarded with a warm, rosy brown.  The clotheslines were full on Wednesday, with rugs, shower curtains and the usual laundry.  The eggs continue to be bountiful, and several dozen were shared.  Recyclebank points were redeemed for a free magazine subscription.  J & I watched a movie on amazon prime.  I needed milk and buttermilk, and noticed a marked down "manager's special" container for both. I'm not sure why, as they were 9 and 12 days from expiration, but I was happy to find them.

Natural dyeing with pine cones
On Saturday, while the floors were drying, I did a little more pruning, and chop and drop around two figs and some lilacs.  I assisted J in doing a severe pruning on our largest mulberry.  He did this some years back.   I also recently saw one on a permaculture video, which gave us the inspiration.  The tree had gotten so large, I was unable to reach all but a very few lower branches, so the birds and squirrels were getting almost all the berries.  Mulberries generally quickly grow back, so we're hoping to have more manageable fruit again soon.

  We had our St. Patrick's Day gathering on Sunday, and it was a most lovely day.  The weather was beautiful, and there was plenty of yummy food and great company.  Leftovers were shared all around.  We shared several spider plant babies.  Good friends and family are such a blessing.  Whenever my sister and I take a sister trip, our brother always kids us about being up to shenanigans.  He wasn't able to make it to our gathering, but I bought us each a shirt, and sent this pic to him.  

My sweet Sis and I
Now that the ground is drying some, and we're not supposed to have rain for another week, I hope we'll be able to get some things planted soon.  It's definitely time.  It's also time to start making hummingbird food again, as the earliest one's can show up anytime now.  Yogurt was made, and eggs were boiled.  I'm grateful to have much of the deep spring cleaning done.  I do want to go through my closet again, there are still a few cabinets I haven't gotten to, and I never did get the entire fridge cleaned out, or any windows washed.  I'm thinking those things can be done at a more leisurely pace, in between other tasks.  The days are getting noticeably longer, which we're enjoying.   Have you got any gardening or spring cleaning planned for this week?

Monday, March 11, 2019

Nice Movies & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I went through ebates to purchase a book for a future gift, for 6% cash back.  Ziploc bags were washed to reuse.  Eggs were gathered, and a bouquet of forsythia, peach blossoms and daffodils gathered  before lows in the 20's might have killed the blooms.  I enjoyed watching two movies (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society & Our Souls at Night) on amazon prime & Netflix.  I had read both books, and was happy that the movies were enjoyable too.  With an abundance of eggs, I decided to make a frittata for dinner.  The leftover asparagus was used, along with artichoke hearts and cherry tomatoes, and our oregano and parsley.  These were what hubby requested in the frittata, and it was good.  Though I packed our orders to ship on Sunday, I wasn't going to town to work until Tuesday, so waited until then to drop off the orders at the Fedex site, saving an hour of driving time and gas.  The orders were ready before they were promised, so it seemed the frugal thing to do, both in terms of time and money.  I learned that what I was thinking was scotch broom out by the road is instead winter jasmine.  They're similar looking, but winter jasmine has red buds. before they open into yellow flowers.  I always say gardening is a life long learning adventure.

After work on Tuesday, I went by Aldi's and picked up asparagus for $1.79/lb, as well as organic strawberries and a few other things.  I got 8 bottles of organic cranberry juice for $1 each at the discount grocery.  The day before it was to be in the low 20's, I harvested kale and collards.  I made kale salads, and enjoyed using some mixed in green salads.  I've been eating larger and more varied salads, more fruit, and reading Eat To Live, which was an ebook from the library.  I doubt I'll do the 6 week program, but it makes sense to add more leafy greens and fruit to my diet.  This weekend, I noticed the grape hyacinth and crocus starting to come up, and peony leaves breaking the ground.  It hasn't felt like spring the past week, but the plants know it's coming.  I redeemed Swagbucks points for a $25 amazon GC.  I worked at an occasional job on Saturday.  On Sunday, we picked up our taxes, then worked on orders.  On Saturday, I was able to sew a button on and mend a sweater, and finish hooking a rug.  There's still a bit to do before it's finished, but it's progress.  I enjoyed listening to Pandora and podcasts.  Swiss chard soup was pulled from the freezer and enjoyed.  Crushed egg shells and shredded paper were added to the compost bin.  We're soon to have a family gathering here.  My focus this week has been on getting the house ready, so this will be a short post.  I hope your week will be a lovely one. 

Monday, March 4, 2019

New Music & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  On Monday, I worked at one of my occasional jobs.  Between customers, I was able to wrap soap, catch up on newspapers, and do a little rug hooking.  It's been years since I made sprouts, as the last several batches just rotted, even with trying new seeds.  J suggested that I sterilize the jar and lid with boiling water.  I did that, and got a lovely batch of alfalfa sprouts.  I'm happy to be able to add them to salads again.  The pups were not impressed when I added some to their dinner, which was interesting, as they regularly eat grass. Go figure.

Our sweet potatoes were baked for a dinner, and tomato rice loaf made with our tomatoes and celery, and homemade yogurt.  I made lentil soup with the last of the home canned lentils, our celery and leeks.  I took advantage of a non-rainy day, and did more chop and drop.   I was able to hang two loads of laundry on the line one day.  It was breezy, so I was able to bring them in that evening.  I harvested kale for salad, and enjoyed it for dinner and several lunches.  Eggs were gathered daily, some boiled for the pups, and I made yogurt.  I ordered bereavement flowers for my husband's business through ebates, and will get $6 cash back.  When a friend gave me hollyhock seeds, she said the plants themselves were pretty.  I have to agree. 

On the way home from an appointment, I stopped at Trader Joes, and bought various breads, produce, mayo, nuts, seeds, and wine.  I then stopped at Harris Teeter, and bought two 4 packs of organic beans for $3.29.  I also bought 2 cans @ .89 ea., which is also an excellent price, as they did not have any more of the 4 packs I wanted.  On Thursday, I headed outside, thinking rain was imminent in the afternoon, but it didn't start until after dark.  I was able to prune an elderberry patch and our largest fig, cut and added the prunings to several fruit trees, and covered all of these with hay.  The blueberries, figs, service berry and loropetalum that had prunings added to them recently were all covered with leaves.  Bring on the rain. 

I pulled 3 gallons of vegi scraps out of the freezer, and put them on the woodstove to warm and simmer overnight.  I canned them the next day, adding 11 pints of broth to the pantry.  There was a little broth left, which was frozen in an ice cube tray for times I need a smaller amount.  I cleaned another cabinet, while keeping an eye on the canner.  For a dinner, our basil and red pepper flakes were added to a broccoli dish.  I roasted our potatoes, rosemary and oregano.  I dehydrated another round of sweet potato treats for the pups, and some more green onions.  J picked more oregano than I needed for the potatoes, so the extra was dried.  Saturday was another no rain day, so I washed and hung two loads of laundry on the line.  They required a little time in the dryer to finish, then the sheets went back on the bed. 

I was introduced to this talented group of young musicians.  They'll be having a concert near here in a couple of weeks.  I hope to go, but it's on a weeknight, which may be a challenge.  I'm still trying to use what's in the freezer, and pulled out roasted root vegetables and lima beans for a dinner.  Orders were painted on Saturday, and packed on Sunday.  I made an ebay sale, which got packed up, and listed four more items on ebay, as well as a compost crock in my online shop.    Pears, a cherry, and the peaches have begun blooming.  We're expecting lows in the 20-22 degree range this week, which will take care of the blooms.  We've got our fingers crossed that the trees themselves will be OK, as once the sap starts rising, the limbs will often split at such low temperatures.  The adventures of gardening!  Be well, friends.