Monday, October 28, 2019

The Late October Garden & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  Last week, I really enjoyed reading a Kindle book I had downloaded for free.  It was a heartwarming story of how the area of Gander, Newfoundland responded to the aftermath of 9/11, by welcoming 6700 people whose planes were required to land there.  As I write this, it is still free for those with amazon prime.  I so enjoy reading about all the good in the world.  I was a bit under the weather most of the week.  The first day, I read quite a bit, went through a pile of previously read magazines to get recipes, etc., and shelled lima beans while watching a show on Roku. I made soup with pantry items, along with our garlic and leeks, and took remedies I had, including homemade fire cider.  We did without heat on nights with lows in the 50's.

In the past several weeks, I found 4 kitchen canisters at thrift stores.  Last week, I drilled holes to turn them into compost crocks, took photos, and listed them in my shop.  The weather pattern has shifted, bringing us rain, and filling our tanks.  I'm so very grateful for that.  I harvested the turmeric, and ended up with 11 pieces, from the 2 that were planted.  The soil was loosened first with a trowel, then the plants pulled up.  I replanted one of the pieces, to see if I can keep it going indoors until spring.  I plan to put some in a batch of fire cider, and try dyeing fabric with the rest.  I began gathering the dry green beans for seed, and some of the scarlet and peach runner beans.

I was feeling lots better on Friday, so on Saturday helped J & his son with firewood.  That may not have been a good idea, as I ended up with a bad cough, and my voice has been coming and going since Saturday.  Oh well, we persevered until dark, and got most of the wood to our land... 3 long bed pickup loads, and two 17" flatbed trailer fulls of huge rounds of trunk.  The lettuce and winter greens are coming along nicely with the rain, and the broccoli has started making heads.  After hundreds of blooms, it looks like we'll only harvest five tiny goji berries this year.

Here it is, almost November, and I'm still harvesting things from the summer garden... several tromboncino squash, eggplant, a couple of tomatoes, a pepper, dried lima beans and a fig were picked on Sunday.  J harvested 4 of the little pumpkins, which are now curing on the porch.  I've been wanting to try making the autumn succotash mentioned in my last post, but between illness and today's unseasonably warm temp of 82, that hasn't happened.  Soon, I hope.  I'm still cutting flowers to enjoy in the house.  Some look a little worse for the wear, but I'll take them this time of year.  I've been curious to see how well my soap cleaned my hair, and used it as shampoo last week.  It did a perfectly good job of cleaning it, though it doesn't feel as soft as shampooed hair.  I would do it again, and will try my homemade rosemary lavender rinse on it next time.

The cold weather clothes and sheets were brought down from the attic.  I went through all my clothes drawers while swapping them out.  There's a box of things to donate, and three homestead T shirts to turn into rags.  I don't think I ever followed up on my Marie Kondo experiment with folding clothes last spring.  I really love it.  It makes it so much easier to see what my choices are, so I did it with all the drawers this time.  The fall mailbox bow and garland was also gotten down, and hung.  I've started a new (free) Kindle book, and recently ran across a youtube channel I'm enjoying, called Fairyland Cottage.  It's about simple, sustainable living, with lots of tutorials.  I'm very excited about one thing I want to try, and will let you know if it works as well as I hope.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Autumn Succotash, Wonky Squash & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I didn't do a good job keeping up with what I did during the week, so let's see what I can remember.  I took a free mushroom class with a friend, which included a mushroom walk.  I learned quite a bit about one I'd been interested in, which grows in abundance in this area.  Afterwards, we had lunch.  I tried my first Banh Mi (vegetarian) sandwich, which was delicious.  We then stopped by a thrift store, but I didn't find anything I needed.

We often hear them on our land, but don't catch sight of the pileated woodpeckers very often.  One day, I happened to see one up high in a sourwood tree, eating the fruits.  It's not the best photo, but the best I could get of it.  I brought all the house plants indoors for the cold months, as it got down to 39 a couple of nights.  Due to a recent recommendation from Susun Weed, I gathered a jar of mint, covered it with local honey, and will let it sit 6 weeks.  Then, just put a generous spoonful with boiling water in a cup, and you've got quick and easy herb tea.  I thought it sounded like a great idea, don't you?

Our tea camellia is in flower, which makes lots of pollinators happy.  Laundry was hung on the line.  For a dinner, we had pasta with tromboncino squash, tomatoes and basil.  My music friend and I went to a concert in Raleigh over the weekend.  We went to a nearby store in search of a gift I wanted to get.  They had just sold out, but I found another similar item that will work, as well as a few more holiday gifts.  I received a 15% discount on my order for joining their mailing list.  At Marshall's, I bought a few household items, and some more gifts.  We took advantage of the free water and breakfast at our hotel before heading home.

We have some really unusual, well downright wonky, winter squash this year, which came up from the compost in the tomato barrels.  The thinking is they are some sort of cross.  Hopefully, they will be delicious.  Saturday night, I had a wonderful meal, including the most delicious autumn succotash.  I was hoping to use some of our winter squash this way, and was delighted to find the recipe.  I wasn't sure I'd like it when I ordered it, but the boiled peanuts still had crunch, and it was a great combination.  J, who is a boiled peanut fan, tells me green peanuts are in stores this time of year.  I'll be keeping my eye out for them.  After unpacking, I checked the garden, and gathered two eggplant, a cucumber, and several tomatoes.  I was a little discouraged that all the tomatoes were split from the overnight rain or had been chewed on by something, but J reminded me that harvesting tomatoes at all this time of year is a pretty good thing.  Wishing you a most bountiful week.

Monday, October 14, 2019

October Days & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I picked lima beans, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, tromboncino squash, green beans and lettuce.  J cut more firewood after work one evening.  Some time back, I bought several pillows from thrift stores, intending to recover them.  This week, I got around to sewing the covers.  I had to piece together fabrics to make it work, but I'm happy with how they came out.  The fabrics were all on hand, including chenille a friend had given me, used for two of the backs.  The other fabrics were thrifted.  I turned one of the pillows around in the pic, to show the chenille.  It seemed a soft and appropriate fabric for a day bed.  They're simple envelope covers, made using these instructions.

I went with a friend to an antique mall where friends had booths, but bought nothing there except a locally made lip balm for J.  After that, we stopped at two thrift stores, where I purchased a cotton sheet ($2), two very thick, high quality like new cotton towels ($3.50 ea), a cashmere sweater ($3.99), and a fleece vest ($3.50).  I finally got around to planting some lettuce seed in the cold frame beds, though it may be too late for them to do well.  We're eating from the bought lettuce plants, though they've all bolted and are a bit bitter.  This is the first time we've had fall lettuce bolt, but then, it's been an unusual year.  I picked up two library books, and have been enjoying them.

October page from The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady
The rain water was low, so I went to the laundromat.  I brought some lima beans to shell while waiting there, and had a nice conversation with a gentlemen and a little girl.  I shared shelled beans with the man, and the little girl wanted some unshelled ones to take home.  Neither her mother or grandmother had gardens, but we talked about how she might plant them.  I brought the laundry home, and hung it on the line.  I've been dealing with a check engine light on my car for several weeks.  After I had them diagnose the code at the auto store, J suggested I run fuel cleaner, and then a tank of premium gas.  The light came back on, so he replaced the part the store suggested, which he found online for 1/4 of the cost the store was selling it for.  The light came back on, and another diagnosis gave the same code, so J suggested I change the gas cap, and after several days, the light came back on again, but then it quickly went off again, and stayed off through an entire tank of gas. Here's hoping it's fixed.

turmeric on the left, with Callie photobombing
One evening, J  & I transplanted some collards and cabbage we had grown from seed.  We also planted a bed of winter salad mix.  Soon, I need to harvest the turmeric, which I plan to use for dyeing fabric.  I prepared the last of the green beans (the rest are growing out for seed), a salad with our lettuce, cucumbers, and pepper, and made fritters with leftovers.  This time, I used the last of the eggplant spread, a squash, tomato, onion & basil dish, and lima beans which were mashed first.  They turned out pretty well.  I saw the last hummingbird on October 1, so believe they've flown for warmer climes.  A batch of yogurt was made.  After an appointment, I visited three thrift stores in that town.  A cashmere sweater and fleece vest were $6, a pair of pants for J was .50, and I found two vintage brown transferware plates to add to my fall dishes for $2 ea.  We've had too many commitments this fall to have a hayride, but these will be used for future hayride meals.

I stopped at a local garden center, and bought a dozen pansies.  A dinner of Pasta Norma was made, with our eggplant, tomatoes, garlic and herbs.  The chicken coop was cleaned, and mint was harvested to put in the coop.  The coop cleanings were put on a pile, and will be added to the garden in the future, once it's had time to break down some.  I planted the pansies, some next to the walk by the house, and others near where I park.  Most of the tomatoes being harvested are pretty small, but there were three that were of good size, so I made caprese salad, to go with the leftover Pasta Norma.  Did the usual composting, washing plastic bags for reuse, and shredding paper and cardboard to add to the compost. 

custom metal water filter stand to be secured in an RV
On Saturday afternoon, we headed out of town for J's 40th HS reunion.  Before we left, J finished up the last of three orders, and I cleaned and powder coated them.  One order was a custom stand, built for a couple that wanted to secure it in their RV.  There are tabs in the back, which are not visible in the pic.  We love working with customers on specialty items.  I had picked around 1/2 of a 5 gallon bucket of lima beans on Friday, and took them along to shell while we were on the road.  The reunion was 2 1/2 hours away and at night, so we booked a room at a B&B, which was lovely, and the innkeeper is interested in my soap for her B&B.  We arrived home to some blessed rain, which we're so thankful for.  The lettuce and winter greens are coming up nicely.  Soup was made with our tromboncino squash, tomatoes, garlic, basil and homemade broth.  Have a great week, friends.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Early October & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  While at work on Monday, I shelled almost a 5 gallon bucket of lima beans.  The dried ones were laid in pans to finish drying before storing.  The fresh ones were blanched and frozen. With our water situation, I thought I was going to have to go to the laundromat to help conserve water.  Lo and behold, we got several showers.  Though the forecast only showed a 10-20% chance each day, I think our angels were looking out for us.  By Tuesday morning, our tanks were between 1/3 and 1/2 full.  So, laundry was thankfully done here, and hung on the line.  Scrap paper was used for notes and lists.

I harvested two pumpkins whose vines had died.  Cleaning the windows is on my list for fall chores. I got the first two windows in the kitchen cleaned. I forgot to mention that we saw Downton Abbey while on vacation.  I thought it was lovely, and J enjoyed it too.  We rarely go to movies, so seeing it on the big screen was pretty special.  While in another town for an appointment, I stopped at Trader Joe's and a natural food co-op.  I brought a cooler for the groceries.  At a thrift store, I picked up two cotton pillow cases for $1.  I harvested kale, and made a kale salad to go along with vegi sloppy joes.  We're still having summer temps, with highs several days in the mid 90's.  The sloppy joes were made for one of those nights.  Hummus and eggplant spread were made the next night, to have with pita bread, along with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.

I thought I'd been doing a fairly good job of culling some of the small loofahs, so was surprised to see how many large ones there are.  I'm still hoping some of them will be mature before first frost.  A small butternut squash was harvested, and the remaining garlic harvest was cleaned.  Yogurt was made.  I made another batch of corn ice cubes for the chickens, for the days in the 90's.  Hopefully, they'll be the last ones needed this year.  Though the fruit is definitely winding down, I did manage to have a fruit salad using a pawpaw, a passionfruit, and a fig from here, along with a banana and pear.  I continue harvesting lots of dried lima beans.

A silly bluebird has been attacking various windows of the house for several months now.  I'm surprised it's still at it in October.  I've read it's a territorial thing, but would have thought that would be done for the year, no?  On Saturday, J & I worked on firewood, cutting up a tree that had fallen at our friends' home.  In between moving brush and throwing wood into the truck bed, while he was cutting, I shelled another round of lima beans and visited with my friend.  Shelling beans is so much more pleasurable while having a conversation with a friend.  Some of the shelled beans were left there.  I had a homegrown breakfast on Sunday, with eggs, tomatoes and garlic.  Fortification for the window cleaning planned.

While I washed all the windows, J washed the screens, and then rehung them.  That was a huge help.  I spoke about what I use to clean windows here.  Now I'm ready for the houseplant exodus back into the house, which will happen soon.  My music-loving friend and I are heading to a concert tonight.  The venue is a farm about an hour from here, one I've been wanting to check out for a few years.  I can't imagine a better way to spend an early fall evening.  Wishing you a week of good things.