Monday, September 30, 2019

Time at the Coast & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  We left for a few days at the coast on Sunday.  It's our favorite place to stay, and we'd had to cancel the past two years, due to hurricanes, so we were very happy to be able to go this year.  There's a kitchenette, and we brought food from home.  All breakfasts, two dinners, and all but one lunch were eaten in our room.  We usually go to one nearby restaurant the night we arrive, but learned they have a BOGO entree a couple of nights later, so I cooked the first night, and we went there on the BOGO night.  I had requested Where The Crawdads Sing from the library, and read it while on vacation., as well as some favorite magazines I brought from home.

We visited several thrift shops while there.  J found several pairs of work pants, a fleece vest, 2 books, and a wool suit.  I found 3 canisters, which I'll turn into compost crocks for my shop, 2 fleece vests, a floral painting, and a nicer frame to use with the painting.  I saw that This Is Us was on NBC one night.  It's the one time we turned the TV on.  I skipped a few episodes watching this one, but they go back and forth in time so much, I don't think it much mattered.  We bought water and just a few groceries while there.  On the way there and back home, a 4 hr drive, we ate snacks I brought, except for a stop for frozen custard on the way home.  Some years ago, I was introduced to frozen custard, and consider it a real treat when I can have some.  We just got the custard, without any toppings, as that's what we like, so inexpensive enough.  It's not in my recommended diet, but I feel a treat now and then is acceptable.

At an antiques shop, I found a glass refrigerator dish for $10.  There were others more expensive in red and other collectible traits, but this one will work just as well.  I've almost totally replaced plastic with glass ones, and only use the plastic ones if there's no other choice.  We always look for driftwood sticks, and bring a couple home for the pups.  There were leftovers from dinners several nights, which were eaten for lunches, and one was brought home for dinner.  The night we got home, I fixed pasta with our tomatoes, garlic and herbs, and thought it was better than anything I'd had on vacation.  I don't want to cook every night of vacation, though, so I guess that's the trade off.  We got home, and unpacked everything, then I picked the gardens.  All that's left to do is the laundry.  While at the coast, I had a message asking me to work two days at one of the galleries, so it was straight back to work.  I enjoy being there, and appreciate the money, so the laundry can wait.  I brought some of the pasta leftovers for lunch at work the next day.

On Sunday, I picked a good amount of both dried and fresh lima beans, to shell at work on Monday.  I've done this before when I shop sit, and folks are often curious about what I'm doing.  It seems a good use of my time there.  I'm still seeing one or two hummingbirds at the feeder, so another batch of food was made.  We ran into town, and took advantage of 20% off the entire purchase at Big Lots, and a birthday coupon of $10 off $50 at Tractor Supply, stocking up on chicken feed and sunflower seeds for the birds.  I made bruschetta for the first time for dinner, with our tomatoes, basil and garlic, which we enjoyed.  I'll be taking some, along with other leftovers for lunch on Monday.  Though we've been in the 90's today, and have some even hotter temps forecast in the week ahead, I hope typical fall weather will soon be here.  Wishing you a most lovely week.

Monday, September 23, 2019

A Morning's Harvest & Frugal Accomplishments

morning harvest
Hello, friends.  The figs and pawpaws are dwindling, but I've been enjoying them several times a week in fruit salads.  I made an eggplant crumble, zucchini tots, and a pear blue cheese salad with our fruits and veggies.  Leftover eggplant went with chard and asian cukes another night.  It looks like they may be the last of the cucumbers, unless we get some rain.  The drought and hotter than usual temps are really taking a toll on things, despite watering as best we can.  Several jars of tomatoes and tomato juice were canned.  One of the jars didn't seal, so it went into the fridge, and we'll use it for pasta soon.  I applied Armor All to the trim of my car.  Many of the birthday flowers were still going strong early in the week.

I redeemed swagbucks for a $25 amazon GC, and made my daily goal several days.  It's working out just fine without running videos on their site.  Laundry was hung on the line several days.  While harvesting the garden, I've been seeing tree frogs and anole lizards among the leaves.  I've not had my camera, but they make me smile, keeping me company while I work.  The friends we introduced to pawpaws recently loved them so much, they're planning on planting a grove of them.  It's nice spreading appreciation for our native plants.  I made smoothies with homemade yogurt, and used 1/2 c of strawberry puree, along with a mix of raspberries and mulberries, both of which I found in the freezer when J did the repair.  I mended my massage chair cover.  The pups got a bath with homemade dog soap.

I ground up all the dried tomato skins and bits to make tomato powder.   The chicken coop was cleaned, and I put fresh mint and catnip in the nest boxes and on the floor.  The scent doesn't last long, but it helps a little while.  Plus herbs can help support their health and repel unwanted critters.  There were still hummingbirds at the feeders last week, so I made a small batch of food for them. I harvested the first of the fall kale, and will use it for kale salad.  With the drought, we've emptied our two large water tanks, and are now using our small reserve tank.  If that empties, it's back on well water, which neither of us wants to do.  There is no rain in the extended forecast, but we really hope that changes.  We've got a little adventure away planned, so that will cut down on the water used, and extend it a bit.  Wishing you a week of adventures, large or small!

Monday, September 16, 2019

A Doozy of a Day & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  I forgot to mention last week that friends that visited brought us large bags of tart dried cherries and dried cranberries.  They were put in jars to store in the pantry.  I cut up one of our peppers, and sauteed corn with it and a clove of garlic. Speaking of garlic, ours has been languishing on a table on the porch since harvest.  I'd been cleaning a few heads at a time as I needed them.  I finally got around to cutting the roots and cleaning the majority of them, before a blister caused me to stop. Seed was harvested from carrot plants.  I enjoyed an outdoor shower.  Though the days are remaining quite hot, the nights are cooling off enough to open up and let the cool air in.  Some nights, the temperature in the house only drops 1 degree, but having fresh air and not having to use the a/c is a definite plus.

I decided to try something new with the corn and pepper leftovers, leftover roasted potatoes and herbs, and a zucchini orzo dish.  I mixed them all together with an egg, some flour, cheddar cheese and garlic powder, and made fritters.  We had J's son for dinner, and we all agreed they were quite tasty.  I'll have to remember that when we have dribs and drabs of leftovers.  I had a frugal fail on Monday, when after hours of chopping the night before, and a few hours of simmering, I scorched a batch of pear preserves.  Bummer.  On Tuesday, I made pear sauce.  I'm used to eating unsweetened apple sauce, but this batch was pretty bland.  The next day, I added vanilla and lemon juice to another batch for more flavor.  For about half of the pears, I was able to use my apple peeler/corer, but the rest had spots that needed cutting out.  I'd read of people who steam them, and decided to try that, to take care of the problem of scorching.  It worked great.  The first day, I used the blender to turn them into sauce, which worked fine, though I did it in small batches, and poured them directly into the jars without tasting.  The next day, I sauced the whole batch in the pot with the immersion blender, then seasoned it before putting it in jars.  I'll do that again.  I've tackled all the pears, except for a handful, which we'll eat fresh.  Yay!

A book I requested from the library came in.  When I requested it, I was 9 in the queue, so had no idea when it would be available.  I won't be in town until next week, where the main library is, so asked them to send it to the local library.  They run couriers between the libraries daily, and it saved me a trip to town.  I save all our corks for the local orchid grower, and dropped them off while passing by on an errand.  Pasta Norma was made with our herbs and veggies.  I chopped and froze some of our sweet peppers.  I harvested cucumbers, pawpaws, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, green beans, squash, figs, lettuce and lima beans.  Tomatoes were canned.  Our lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes were used in a salad, and homemade dressing made from pantry items.  I learned that our phone company began giving all customers free caller ID this month, so called and set that up.  We've gotten into the habit of often letting the phone ring, as so much of it is robocalls, so this will help.

 The requested book was picked up.  For a dinner, I made a tomato rice loaf and squash dish, using our vegetables and herbs.  A friend visited, and gifted me several books, a sweater, shawl and scarf.  I worked in the garden, cutting back dead leaves and vines of cucumbers, squash and tomatoes.  The heat and drought have taken their toll, as well as it being time for things to begin dwindling.  I hope the pruning will help things produce a bit longer.  I gathered more basil than needed for a recipe, so the extra chopped basil went into an ice cube tray, was covered with water, and frozen.  I made a batch of yogurt.  Eggs were boiled for us and the pups.  After working on firewood, J & I enjoyed a night out, meeting friends for dinner and a concert.  J worked on the refrigerator again, and so far, it looks like this time fixed it.  There was one day that was a real doozy, but we made it through intact.  Life is always interesting, that's for sure.  Wishing you good things in the week ahead.   

Monday, September 9, 2019

Early September & Frugal Accomplishments

loofah blossom
Hello friends.  Last week, I listed several things on ebay, a few of my friend's antiques and several pairs of my shoes.  On Labor Day, we worked on the solar hot water system.  There were some less fun portions of the job finished, such as spending time in the crawlspace to hook things up, and covering a tank with insulation batting, but we were able to start the system.  There are still some things to do, but it's far enough along that water is being heated, though not yet to the 150 degrees needed to move to our hot water tank.  J cut down some trees, and needs to cut some more which are shading it. One good thing that came from that is a good amount of usnea, which was on a dying tree.  I gathered enough to finish out one jar of tincture, and filled another 1/2 pint jar.  The trees will be used for firewood.

After a soap delivery, I went by a favorite thrift store, and found a canister, which I'll turn into a compost crock for my shop.  I also found a lovely floral painting for $10, which will be added to a gallery of floral paintings on the tall wall behind the couch.  I shelled all of last years hazelnuts, and for my birthday, we made my Mom's recipe for hazelnut gelato.  A beautiful birthday bouquet was sent by my daughter in spirit.  We attended an appreciation night for a group we support.  There was live music, local beverages, and delicious food by a kitchen that has just opened up there.  They use lots of local foods, and all of it is vegetarian.  On a recent night when J had been working on that site, he brought home a couple of their offerings for dinner.  Both were savory items in pastry.  Yum!

A batch of yogurt was made.  On Saturday morning, while J was working on our orders, I canned tomatoes and shelled beans.  When he was done with his part, I cleaned and painted them.  During a lull, I fertilized several things with fish emulsion, including all the house plants.  Holes were drilled in the canister lid, to turn it into a compost crock.  After some research, I was able to figure out how to watch This Is Us on our TV.  The sad part is NBC only gives you 3 show credits, and I used one to find out I had already seen that episode.  It's been 6 months or so, and I couldn't remember exactly where I was at.  Oh well.  I suppose after the credits are used up, they'll want payment.  Hopefully, I can find another way to view them.  I tried a new recipe, with tromboncino squash and orzo.  It was pretty good, though a little bland for our tastes.

Our orders were packed up on Sunday.  After friends visited, and pawpaws were shared, we headed to town to ship the orders and run a few errands.  When we picked up items to do an oil change on my car, we got a deal that gave us a free oil filter.  When we got back, I prepped 4 1/2 qts. of pear preserves, which will be canned on Monday.  I packed up an ebay sale.  In the garden last week, I harvested tromboncino squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, a pepper, the last of the hazelnuts, pawpaws, a few leaves of lettuce, a butternut squash, basil, oregano and thyme.  I was happy to find  two monarch caterpillars on the milkweed.  I'm enjoying these late summer days, and wish you a lovely week ahead. 

Monday, September 2, 2019

Happy Pollinators & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I took advantage of a free 8 x 10 offered by Walgreens.  It happened that my cousin had just sent a scan of our grandparents wedding photo.  I'll be so happy to add it to our family photo gallery.  I pulled off the pillow covers and mattress pad, and washed them with the other linens.  All laundry was hung on the line.  One of the commenters on The Prudent Homemaker gave me the idea to freeze zucchini tots, so I made a quadruple batch, and froze 3 meals worth.  I plan to do it again, as a way to use up some of the squash.  All of our little apples in the crisper, along with one of our pears and several of the free asian pears, were used in an apple tart.  It was a real labor of love, as almost all had pecked or bad spots, but I feel good that they've been made use of.  The pups were given peelings a few nights with their dinner.  Update:  I made the tart using honey for sweetener, and have to go back to the drawing board, as the taste was too strong for our liking.

The pollinators have been happy on the mountain mint and Joe Pye weed.  I recently read of goldenrod helping achy muscles.  I gathered some, and followed the recipe to make salve.  If it works, that will be a helpful thing to have on hand.  The chicken coop was cleaned, and mint and lemon balm gathered to freshen it up a bit.  The pups were bathed with homemade soap in the outdoor shower.  I used homemade sweet potato treats to entice them.  After their bath, I made up a half & half vinegar/water solution, and cleaned their ears.  Lemon balm was harvested, and a jar of tincture started.  Basil was harvested, chopped and frozen in cubes with water for winter use. Pasta sauce was made with our tromboncino squash, tomatoes, basil, rosemary and garlic.  I requested a book from the library, and redeemed swagbucks for a $25 amazon GC.

I tried making another round of almond milk, this time a half recipe, as the majority of the first batch went bad, even with dividing and freezing half.  I like to mix things up for meals, so something that only lasts 2 days is a bit problematic.  On my Dr's recommendation, I also removed the skins this time.  I'm hoping that makes a difference in it's perishibility too.  A double batch of hummingbird food was made.  A pair of slippers were repaired.  One of the things I fall short in is fertilizing plants.  Somehow, I don't often get to it.  But this week, I did manage to fertilize a number of plants, some edible, but many flowering.  The heat and humidity drove me back inside, but I hope to get to another round of plants soon.  A neighbor came by while I was harvesting.  I had found the two largest pawpaws we've ever grown, and he loves them, so they went home with him.  The next day, I sent a bag home with him. 

Though my birthday isn't until next week, the celebrating has begun.  I enjoyed a dinner out with family on Saturday, and was gifted a painting and wildflower bouquet from a very sweet little boy (my great nephew).  With a hurricane possibly heading this way in a few days, we harvested all the pears we could reach with a picker.  They filled two 5 gallon buckets.  Now, what to do with all those pears?  I decided to make pear preserves on Sunday, which I plan to give as gifts.    That put a dent in it, but there are lots more.  After canning, I headed to a friend's lake house for the evening.  It's always a treat to relax and look out at the water.  I brought a tromboncino squash and eggs to share.  In just a couple more days, the Pumpkin Chai soap can begin being wrapped.  For all those in the path of Hurricane Dorian, I wish you safety.  Be well, friends.