Monday, June 24, 2019

Summer Fruits & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I picked up two books from the library.  I already finished one of them, Educated, which is a heartbreaking and amazing story.  The ants are being very persistent with our A/C.  J has fixed it two more times where they got into the contactors.  This time, I mixed up a solution of orange, tea tree & peppermint essential oils to repel them. I hope that works, as the temps are heating up again, and J is working out of town.  I made pasta with tomatoes, squash & eggplant from last years garden, and our fresh herbs for dinner before he left, one of his favorites.  Lettuce was harvested several times.  It was lovely being able to do without A/C recently, but on Sunday, it was back on in the afternoon, and on most of the rest of the week.  I loved the sweet, speckled egg.

While J was working out of town all last week, I pulled leftovers from the freezer, and ate other things he either can't or won't eat, making a bit more room in the freezer.  I had asparagus soup with salad, mushroom gravy & noodles with foraged maitakes and chard.  I gathered the first wild blackberries of the year, and enjoyed a handful in a fruit salad for lunch one day.  The first blueberries and another large basket of lambs quarter were gathered.  A batch of bird suet was made, using the leavings from berry jams and tomato canning, basically seeds and skins I dehydrated for this purpose.  While we were having a rainy spell, I decided to plant a few more things.  I replanted the Hopi Dye sunflowers that didn't germinate, several calendula, cypress vine as only two came up, several multi-branched sunflowers, loofahs, and zebra hollyhocks along 2 fence lines.  It's late, but I do have seed for next year as a back up.

I'm so enjoying summer fruits, for breakfasts, lunches and snacks.  It changes, but so far there have been a mix of blueberries, blackberries, cherries, mango, nectarines, bananas, and grapes.  Watermelons have come down to a reasonable price, so they're being enjoyed too.  I picked our first ripe figs, which we enjoyed fresh.  I blanched and froze the lambs quarter, enough for 10 meals.  J had designated a pile of his work shirts as rags, so I cut and tore them up.  Most were T shirts, but one had nice metal buttons, which I removed and added to the button jar.  Black bean burgers were pulled from the freezer.  A burger, leftover chard and a salad were dinner.  The other burger was eaten for lunch the next day.  A batch of yogurt was made.  I asked about, and got a better rate on my IRA.  I pulled okra and vegi meatballs from the freezer, and had it with a salad.  I made homemade salad dressing, using our herbs.  We had some nice rain, good for all the growing things.  I made my daily swagbucks goal several days, and redeemed swagbucks for amazon gift cards.

The door and blinds on the south side of the house were closed during the middle of the day to keep the house cooler.  Two loads of laundry were done, and hung on the line.  The two lemon trees I grew from seed were transplanted to larger pots, and the moringa seedlings I bought recently were transplanted into pots.  I ordered two, and got a bonus one.  New soil, mushroom compost and azomite were added to the pots.  I made hummus and potato salad.  J was in need of work T shirts, and I found 6 at two thrift stores.  Two are nicer than usual T shirts, so he may wear those for date nights and such.  I also found two pants and shirts for the GD, and a large wicker laundry basket for $2.  My last sympathy card was used, so I picked up a couple at the dollar store.    I made a honey spice cake.  It's slightly sweet, and we both thought it was pretty good.  I don't need sweets often, but it's good to know I have another recipe I can use when needed.

Dozens of Japanese beetles were gathered daily, and fed to the chickens.  Another round of purslane was gathered before J mowed again.  I made 4 batches of pesto with it, used one for Sunday's dinner, and froze the rest.  The recipe for dinner used our basil, purslane, shallots, vegetable broth and eggs.  J worked on two orders Sunday morning, and I powder coated them in the afternoon.  Labels were created for my newest soap, Helios Sun & Swim bar, requested by a Greek friend.  In the area where his family lives, the women made a honey and yogurt soap to soothe sunburn.  This one is unscented, as he prefers.  Both honey and yogurt have skin loving properties.  I'll be trying a bar this week.  Wishing you happy summer days!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Pink Blooms & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  On Monday, I harvested stinging nettles, lambs quarter and lettuce.  Now that the garden is getting very weedy, I'm finding more lambs quarter.  J is going to mow and weed eat the garden soon, and I intend to harvest more purslane and lambs quarter before he does.  I began a batch of medicinal tincture with the nettles.  A batch of yogurt was made.  I helped J set up the posts, rebar and string for the beans, and set up a wire trellis for the cucumbers.  He replanted the squash that had died.  The lambs quarter was blanched and frozen.  I added some of the purslane to our salad, and like in the burritos, it mixes right in with the lettuce, and is not noticeable.  A great way to get some omega 3's.  I had a jar of poppy seeds that were getting old.  I started to give them to the chickens, but decided to see if any might germinate, and sowed them in a couple of places.  One of my tasks while working last week was to keep several flower pots watered.  Two of them had Oregon grape shrubs in them.  There were a number of fruits that had fallen off, so I grabbed a few and put them in a pot, to see if the seeds might germinate.  The plant has edible and medicinal benefits, so I hope they will grow.

After work on Tuesday, I ran errands.  I stopped at Lowes for marigolds, as mine didn't come back from reseeding this year.  There was a pack of 8 for $10.98, which I thought was rather pricey, so I headed to the mark down area, and found lots more.  In addition to a full price German thyme, I bought 3 dianthus @ $1 ea.  They looked great, so I'm not sure why they were there, unless it was because they were finishing blooming.  I also got 7 celosia for $2, and 16 marigolds for $3.  There were 3 colors of marigolds altogether, so I was happy I had looked.  I ran into someone I knew, and we caught up as we rummaged through the plants.  I'm loving all the different pink blooms right now.

Tuesday night, a friend and I went to see this movie.  The cinematography was beautiful, and it was a realistic look at the challenges of growing food.  Wednesday morning, I went into my studio to meditate and found parts of a bag of rat poison.  Apparently, while I was out Tuesday night, McNibs got into a kitchen closet, and moved the recycling out to get to it.  J found the recycling a mess when he came in from dealing with a customer, but didn't go into my studio, so hadn't realized.  I got McNibs into the vet first thing Weds. morning, and got Vit. K started.  The poison is not usually anywhere the pups can get to, but this one somehow ended up there.  He's acting fine so far, but it can take a few days for the effect to kick in.  We're not sure how much was left in the bag.  He's a big boy, so we're praying he'll remain healthy.  I spent most of the rest of the day in the garden, weeding and harvesting a good amount of lambs quarter and purslane.  I got some things accomplished, and it helped me de-stress from the morning.  J weed-eated the garden after I was done harvesting.

The Carolina wrens have been busy building nests.  We noticed the first one on top of a porch post, but, for some reason, a couple of days later, I found all the nesting material on the porch floor.  J thinks another bird did it.  I next found one in a pot with soil in it neat the outdoor spigot, with mama and eggs inside.  Then, I saw one of the wrens flying into one of the houseplants that is spending the warm months outdoors.  Sure enough, when I looked a bit later, there's a nest there too.  The tomatoes we had planted in our new containers weeks ago are not thriving. I helped J add compost to the containers, then replant them.  He planted more volunteers in the containers that had died.  I weeded the tomatoes in the ground, and put cages around most of them.  The new round of tromboncino squash are coming up.  Let's hope the squash bugs ignore them.

I was asked to be a vendor at a show the local arts guild put on Friday.  I've said I wouldn't do any more outdoor shows, but with lovely weather, with highs in the 70's, I said yes.  People came for the music, and I only made 2 sales.  But it paid for my gas, I was able to catch up with a friend, and got to talk with a favorite Dr. I used to work for.  I was also contacted by the local microbrewery, wanting to know if they could carry my beer soap, which is created with their beer.  I'm pretty excited about that.  I used a $10 promo code and went through swagbucks for 5% back for a small order on Vitacost.  Two loads of laundry were hung on the line.  I picked bouquets for the house.  As I was finishing gathering the flowers, there were 6 bees and hummingbird moths on the flowers in the vase.  I've begun gathering japanese beetles, which the chickens are relishing.  I'm squishing squash bugs and doing a bit of weeding every day.  Since we've had more rain,  I noticed more lambs quarter that needs harvesting. That will be on my to do list next week.  McNibs seems to be doing well, thank goodness. Wishing you a lovely last week of spring!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Bumblebees & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I redeemed swagbucks for a $25 amazon GC, and made my daily goal several days.  With working away from home Monday through Saturday, not much was accomplished at home, though I was able to walk with the pups each morning, and on a good day, I'd manage a small chore, such as mending a slipper before leaving.  At work, between customers, I was able to wrap soap, catch up on reading, and work on clearing out my inbox.  I brought food and water with me each day.  I pulled small bits of leftovers from the freezer for some lunches.

J generously bought pizza one night, and Chinese another.  For one dinner, I made pasta with pesto, and a salad.  For another, I harvested our first chard, and made it along with mushrooms, potato salad, and a green salad.  I boiled the potatoes in the morning, so making dinner went more quickly.  I harvested the first of the lettuce for two of our salads, and herbs for the potato salad and mushrooms.  I'm not sure if I remembered to mention that J brought home 4 Buff Orpington chicks a couple of weeks ago.  They're growing and doing well. One evening, I cut a small bouquet for the house.

We are finally getting some nice rain, and it looks like we may be in for several days of it, which suits me.  Our water tanks could use it, and the plants, animals, and water aquifer surely can too.  I used $75 in amazon GC towards purchasing a camera, all redeemed with swagbucks.  It will arrive next week. Hopefully, I can figure out how to use it fairly quickly.  There have been many bumblebees and other pollinators visiting the milkweed and lambs ear blooms.  I expect they're enjoying the magnolia blooms too, but they're too high up to see. 

I harvested several blackberries.  Bean burritos were made with Brandy's Spanish Rice on Sunday.  As part of the "fixings" for the burritos, we used purslane, which neither of us could even notice when we ate them.  I'll be trying other uses for it in the coming week.  We have our first tiny tomatoes!  They're on one of the mystery plants from the compost, but they're looking like they're going to be Indigo Berry cherry tomatoes.  Wishing you a wonderful week.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Early June & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week brought us much warmer temps, with several days in the 90's.  I froze canned corn I'd purchased at the discount store in ice cube trays, and gave cubes to the chickens for cool treats.  J got a watermelon, and gave them the rind, which they love.  Squash bugs have sucked many of our squash plants dry, including all of our tromboncino, so we'll have to replant them. I made deviled eggs, which lasted for two dinners.  I'm joining in with Brandy's Frugal Accomplishments today.

My friend and I enjoyed another concert in our "60th mystery tour".  Before the show, we shared appetizers, and had salads for our meal, which was just right on a hot day.  We've got lots of beautiful purslane volunteering in the garden.  I gathered some, and made a double batch of pesto.  After an appointment on Thursday, I went by Trader Joe's and a local co-op.  No exceptional deals were found, but a much larger selection of organic produce was available.  I bought the first peaches of the year.  They're not yet ripe, but hopefully they'll be delicious.

There is very little lambs quarter this year, but the purslane is going gangbusters.  I harvested enough for 8 more batches of pesto on Friday, with much more available to harvest, if I have the time and inclination.  This works well right now, as it only takes a small handful of basil per batch, and the basil plants are still pretty small.  The purslane stretches the basil, and is so good for you... antioxidants, omega 3's, Vit. A, potassium, magnesium, likely anti-cancer activity, etc.  I'm going to see if I can branch out and try some other recipes for it.  I requested a book from the library.

After days with the house being closed up due to the heat, and weeks without rain, we finally got a little rain Friday evening, and were able to open up and have fresh air in the house.  Many plants are still suffering.  We hope there will be more rain this week.  Three orders were powder coated on Friday, and packed and shipped on Saturday.  After dropping them off at the P.O., I picked up the requested book at the library.  I harvested some of the lavender.  J & I worked on the piping for the solar hot water on Saturday.  He's done more work on it, and some trees need to come down to optimize our solar gain. 

On Sunday, I weeded and mulched one flower bed, and five of the raised beds.  J & I planted raspberries a friend gifted us.  For many years, I planted garlic on the winter solstice and harvested it on the summer solstice.  I'd read it somewhere along the way, it was easy to remember, and seemed to work well.  Since meeting J, he prefers to plant it earlier, in late October or November.  The leaves had begun browning, which means they're ready.  We harvested them on Sunday.  He dipped them each in diatomaceous earth, before hanging them to dry.  The DE helps kill mites, which has been a problem with storing our harvest in the recent past. The harvest looks very healthy, so we're hoping it's a good garlic year. 

I'm loving the mix of colors in these hollyhocks that grew from seed a friend gifted me.  The camera I use was gifted to me quite a few years ago, a pre-owned one from M.  There is no longer any support for it, and as time goes by, more and more things fail.  Last week, it stopped letting me access photos in the Olympus photo editor.  I had to switch to that, after it stopped working with my original photo editor a year or so ago.  It's time to replace it, and I've been looking at simple and reasonably priced cameras.  I sold 4 items on ebay, and packed them Sunday evening.  I'll be working full time this week at one of my occasional jobs, which I'm so thankful for.  Wishing you a week of many blessings.