Monday, May 27, 2019

Repairs, Projects & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week started out with a glitch in our A/C.  We noticed it running and running, but never getting cool.  Turns out, there were tiny ants in the contactor of the heat pump.  In fixing that, J burned out a fuse.  He searched his parts bins, and had it up and running the next morning.  I occasionally get tired of all the "useful stuff" we seem to accumulate, but am thankful when some of it does indeed turn out to be useful, and thankful for the one who knows how to use it.  The amaryllis and 12 apostle lilies have been blooming.

The honey bees have been working the winterberry bush.  You can hear their buzz from a distance.  While at the dentist for a cleaning, I didn't want the fluoride toothpaste, and was given 4 dental floss instead.  That's a win.  I finally finished sewing the last of the summer bed cover.  There wasn't very much left to do.  I just had to make time to do it.  On one of my recent work days, J went to visit his Mom.  He came back with an air fryer she sent.  I need to do research on what I can do with it.  I understand I can make fries with it, but not sure what else I can use it for in the vegetable realm.

A friend and I went to hear local music one night.  It was free, with donations accepted.  We had a great time, and I laughed until I cried, which is always a good thing IMHO.  My friend gave me a number of things, including several raspberry bushes, seeds and cat food.  I shared several tomato plants, soaps and an autumn clematis with her.  The next night I met my niece and sister for dinner at a restaurant I'd never been to, and it was delicious.  It's nice when that happens.  I gave my sister a dozen eggs.  She bought my dinner.

I cleaned out several flower beds, pulling weeds and cutting wild blackberries, cat brier, small saplings and honeysuckle.  I made a quiche, which used our eggs and parsley.  Two loads of laundry were done, and dried on the line.  I worked on readying my friend's vintage/antique items for sale on ebay.  All the cleaning, photos, research, measuring, and shipping info was figured, so on Sunday, all I need to do is list them.  We had J's son, his lady friend and daughter here on Saturday.  His son helped J with putting up a structure for our solar hot water, something that's been on our to do list for a number of years.  It is being built over two of our water cisterns, to shade them from the light.  Afterwards, the guys cooked most of dinner on the grill.

On Sunday, I helped the guys a little while with the solar hot water installation, but, for the most part, I worked on ebay listings.  After I had listed my friend's item's,  I decided I was on a roll, and listed a pile of books I've been wanting to sell.  A few were mine, but most were my friends.  Quite a few are more than 100 years old.  I have no idea if they'll sell.  They weren't in pristine condition, but I thought it was worth a try.  With it being in the 90's outdoors, it seemed a good use of my time.  I'm quite sure it's a personal record, listing 26 items in one day.  I used a free listing offer for them.  All three solar panels are on the roof.  J has to make brackets to angle them a bit, then hook up the plumbing for them.  I'm so excited to be close to having solar hot water!  Wishing you a most enjoyable Memorial Day!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Garden Days, Critters and Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  On Monday, I canned up vegetable broth, adding 16 pints to the pantry.  I was excited to see the turmeric I planted in a pot is sprouting.  After working in town on Tuesday, I ran errands, including picking up a few groceries.  I found one can of natural canned dogfood on the clearance rack, which was added to the pantry.  I got the pups bones at Marshall's.  One for Guinness was $1 less than amazon, @ $4.99.  I found a huge bone for McNibs at $16 less than amazon, @ $7.99.  McNibs had chewed the ones they had to tiny nubs, and both were happy boys when I got home.  A requested book was picked up at the library.  Three volunteer elderberry plants were shared with a friend.    A load of laundry was hung on the line, and sheets were changed.  I tried this new recipe.  Though it has lots of good things in it, I found the flavor too bland for my liking.  I like my vegi's to have some pizzazz.  The only thing I changed was to use a bit less black pepper.  Upping that would have given a bit more heat, but not done anything for the flavor.  On to some more recipes.

The outdoor shower was swept, and the cobwebs removed.  It's now ready for another season.  I hope to bathe the dogs in it soon.  I began working on another box of my friends antiques, to sell on ebay.  All the winter lettuce bolted.  I harvested them, and mixed it with store bought lettuce for our salads over the past couple of weeks.  There is some lettuce coming up in the garden, and some coming up in pots.  Speaking of which, I found another toad in a pot, this time in the basil.  Silly toad.  I've since moved the pots off the porch floor.  Seeds for red noodle beans, arugula, purple green beans and a few flowers were ordered online.  Cucumbers, summer squash and several different beans are coming up in the garden.  Growing the sweet potato slips in the repurposed truck tool box was a success.  J planted over 60 sweet potato plants so far.

My sweet stepdaughter sent me a bouquet of the most beautiful shade of roses.  Aren't they lovely? They've cheered me all week.  Last week, I woke at first light several days, and the chorus of birdsong was amazing.  Such a sweet pleasure right outside my windows.  I worked a couple days at one of my occasional jobs.  In between customers, I did a little mending, and made progress on catching up on my inbox.  Leftovers were brought for lunch.  The tunnel or miner bees have emerged, and are staking out new territory around the pond.  We're happy to provide them habitat.  Tiny frogs have hatched out from the pond, and are everywhere.  I noticed a branch of the oldest hazelnut dying.  J checked it out, and found a borer in the branch. He researched it, and apparently it could be one of several borers.  I fed it to one of the chickens.  Wednesday morning was chilly, with lows in the 40's.  After making yogurt and catching up on ironing, I cleaned, powder coated and began packing 4 orders.

Miner bee tunnels. Look close, & you may be able to see one going in the middle hole.
We've had three broody hens over the past few weeks.  I've taken them out of the nest boxes, and put them in the yard on several occasions, so they can get some of the wild lettuce or other goody I've brought.  After the elder rooster died, we decided to see if they would tolerate the blind rooster being in the broody area with them.  Each hen seemed to do fine with that, but quickly lost interest in sitting on the eggs.  At least that broke two of them of broodiness, but the last one is still broody, though never on any eggs.  We dealt with that the last time, until one of the Americauna hens went broody.  She was a good mama hen.  We haven't given up yet.  I've been noticing a pretty purple wildflower on my walks, and found out it is Venus' Looking Glass.  We were out of lettuce, and I wanted a salad.  I gathered sorrel and cat brier tips on my walk, and kale and chickweed from the garden.  It was excellent, mixed with some store bought things.  I made pasta using our tomatoes, eggplant and summer squash.

good camouflage 
The temps have gotten much hotter (upper 80's & 90's), so we're using A/C off and on.  So far, we're able to keep it off at night, close up in the morning, and just turn it on when it gets too hot indoors.  We use fans to help cool us as much as possible.  Wild lettuce and mock strawberries are gathered and given to the chickens on a regular basis.  Also, wild dock that has gone to seed.  They love all of it.  J mowed and weedeated some of the wilder places on Saturday, around a number of fruit trees that brambles had grown around, and in the area we planted olives.  We thought we only had one remaining olive that made it through the winter, but it appears two others have sent up small amounts of growth.  He's amended them all with oyster shell, minerals and compost.  They've never been happy where they're at, so our intention is to move them close to fall.

I had a hankering for french toast Sunday morning.  Trying to figure out a version that would work with my diet recommendations, I used hemp milk in place of milk, and used some wild blueberry all fruit jam on top, in place of maple syrup.  It was quite tasty and satisfying.  Suet and hummingbird food was made for the birds.  Two loads of laundry were done, and hung on the line.  It reached 87 on Sunday afternoon, so I thought it was a good time to give the dogs a bath, and take my first outdoor shower of the year.  It was lovely.  Wishing you a week of lovely things.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Around the Homestead, A Movie, & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  I meant to mention the frugal things we did for our Charlottesville trip.   We brought a jug of our filtered rainwater with us, with my refillable bottle, as well as apples, peanuts, juice and a banana.  We drink a lot of water, and don't care for the (chlorine, etc.) taste of "city water", and prefer not to use plastic bottles.  On the way, we stopped at a pie shop that we'd heard raves about.  We each got a piece of pie, and bought a couple of large fried apples pies for the next morning's breakfast.  Our air bnb host provided some things for breakfast, and we did have oatmeal the morning before we left, but the bread and oats weren't organic, and we're spoiled by our girl's fresh eggs, so it wasn't really what we wanted to eat.  Leftovers from a dinner were brought home.  I worked one of my occasional jobs Tuesday and Wednesday, and brought the leftovers for lunch one day.  I made Swagbucks goal most days.  I wrote them about points not received, and received them the next day.  Here's a peek of the kitchen at Monticello.

I believe I mentioned that our elder rooster was demoted of his position in the hierarchy by one of the younger ones not long ago.  Whether he was sick, or just gave up, we don't know, but he died just before we got home from Charlottesville.  He was an excellent rooster, and will be missed.  A batch of hummus was made for lunches from pantry items.  Eggs were boiled.  Last week, somehow J cultivated (killed) two out of three of the swiss chard plants I've been babying since last summer.  They were almost big enough to start harvesting from :o(.  I planted seeds for some weeks ago.  There are 3 scraggly ones remaining, and I found a toad sitting in the dirt of one of the pots!  Though they were not a great deal, I bought 2 containers with 6 plants at Lowes, so we'll have some chard before too long.  Every year, it seems there are some things it is challenging to grow, so sometimes it's just easier to roll with the punches.  I picked up a few things at Aldi's, and found a loaf of organic bread with a $2 coupon on it.  I've really been wanting to make asparagus soup, but it takes 2# of asparagus.  I'm usually harvesting only 2 or 3 spears a day, so don't have enough at one time.  I saw asparagus at Aldi's for $1.39/#, and bought two, as well as Baby Bella mushrooms .89/8 oz.

I've been closing up the windows mid-morning, when it starts to heat up, then opening them when it cools in the evening.  Most days, we've been doing without A/C, but some days, after J has been working hard outdoors all day, he wants it on a bit to cool down.  A few months ago, J changed from the disc service to streaming on Netflix.  It seemed there was much less selection for the type of things we watch, and neither one of us found much that interested us, so he changed back to getting discs.  The first one received was On Our Way To School, which had been on my queue several months ago.  It really is amazing to see what some children endure to go to school.  How much we take for granted in this country.  Though I try to be mindful and grateful, I still take so much for granted of the blessings I have just living in this country.  This movie was a good reminder.

On Friday, we accomplished much in the gardens.  I planted the swiss chard plants, and seeded lettuce in two beds.  The winter sown columbine and rose campion were planted in patches here and there.  I hope some will make it.  J planted seeds of cucumber, summer squash, butternut squash and watermelon.  Several years ago, I bought a mixed container from a local nursery, which overwintered indoors.  All that remained in it were some ferns, so they were planted in the bed we're creating near our outdoor shower.  I planted nasturtium seeds in several places, and a row of Hopi dye sunflower.  Every day, I pick some cat brier tips for our salads.  Homemade Thousand Island dressing was made.  I found a penny on the ground, a nickel in the laundry (I take possession of any laundry money :o), and a sweet bird's nest on one of my walks.  Three loads of laundry were washed and hung outdoors.  Before they were fully dry, there was some misty rain, so I ran them through the dryer for a few minutes each.

I received ebates funds of $16.75, and placed an order through them earning 2% back.  We're finding lots of volunteer tomatoes in places we added our compost to.  While J was weeding one of the potato beds, he found a fairly large tomato plant, quite a bit larger than the ones we've been growing from seed.  Hopefully, it will give us tomatoes a few weeks earlier!  I made a butternut squash crumble using our squash, parsley and thyme.  All the vegi broth bags were pulled from the freezers, and simmered on Saturday afternoon, with a couple pieces of reishi mushroom added to each pot.  At night, they were strained, and left on low on the smallest burner overnight. I will can it up today.  J got a scoop of mulch, and added it to several beds.  Each of the rhubarb containers has a plant with at least one leave so far.  The houseplants, along with plant stands, saucers and such were moved out of the house to their summer quarters, shortly before a rain.  Between the honeysuckle and fringe trees blooming, the breeze brings sweet scents.  Wishing you a sweet and lovely Mother's Day.

Monday, May 6, 2019

A Little Getaway & Frugal Accomplishments

On Monday, I baked the last 3 spaghetti squash, and froze them.  The 6 remaining butternut squash were cubed and frozen.  All that's left in storage is a huge cushaw squash.  The creeping jenny is doing well in the porch bed.  We transplanted several sprigs to other places we'd like it to grow.  The zinnia seeds are coming up nicely.  We planted several basil plants and a stevia.  We created and powder coated two orders, and shipped them on Saturday.  Another order came in over the weekend. 

To celebrate our anniversary, we had a little getaway to Charlottesville.  Our main desire was to visit Monticello.  We also visited Ashland/Highland, said to be the home of James Monroe, though we heard murmurings that new information had come to light that it was instead the guest home.  We did not tour that home, but enjoyed a folk festival there, and purchased two heirloom apple trees.  At Monticello, I bought a birdsfoot violet, black cohosh, and a globe artichoke.  We'll be making our way home today.  Have a lovely week, friends.