Monday, December 30, 2019

Late December & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  I hope it has been an enjoyable week for you.  For Christmas, I gave several jars of pear preserves made last summer as gifts.  A pumpkin pie was made, using our canned pumpkin and eggs.  Cookies were made with pantry items.  For orange zest, I used some I had frozen.  On Christmas Eve, we took our granddaughter out to dinner.  I brought home leftovers to enjoy for another meal.  Biscuits were made for Christmas breakfast.  As they use 6 tbs of butter, I rarely make them.  I made baked ziti for Christmas dinner, using tomatoes from the pantry, fresh oregano and garlic, and basil frozen from the summer garden.  Though it didn't go with the meal in my mind, J requested cranberry relish with dinner.  I used frozen mandarin zest in the recipe.  It used two cinnamon sticks, which after being used in the recipe, I rinsed and added to the water used for humidity on the wood stove, which smelled very festive.  Lots of Christmas music was enjoyed for free on Pandora and youtube.

A Christmas tradition of mine is taking a walk in the woods.  The pups and I enjoyed our wanderings.  While shopping for mozzarella cheese, I noticed the store brand had 2# for only .11 more than 1#!  I bought 2#, and will divide and freeze it.  Two heads of broccoli were harvested, and some was used in a broccoli and quinoa dish, which also used our eggs and garlic.  Here's the recipe:

Broccoli Cheddar Quinoa

Quinoa, 1/2 c uncooked
Broccoli florets, frozen 2 c
Eggs, 2 large
Milk, 1/2 c
Sourdough bread, 1 slice toasted well and chopped in small pieces
Cheddar cheese, shredded 3/4 c
Onion, 1/2 chopped
Garlic, 2 cloves chopped
Spices-  I like 1/2 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Cook quinoa and broccoli per package instructions.  Saute onion and garlic in butter.  Beat together milk, eggs and 1/2 c cheese.  Add cooked quinoa, broccoli, and onion/garlic.  Add desired spices.  Spread in a buttered 9x9 pan and top with bread "crumbs" and remaining cheese.  Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.  Makes 6 servings.

I don't often have sourdough bread for the recipe, as J isn't a fan, so I use what I have.  I first tried making it without the paprika, but it was too bland.  If you don't have smoked paprika, substitute another spice to give it some zip.  During the holidays and the coldest part of the year, we enjoy an occasional hot buttered rum.  I mixed up a batch of the batter, which keeps in the fridge a few weeks.  A $4 coupon was used to purchase dog food.  You might imagine I'm an encourager of other people's frugal accomplishments.  Last week, M brought me an amaryllis.  I'd been looking for one since we got back from Germany.  I was excited to get it, but the best part is he said he got it marked down to $1, and knew I would appreciate that as much as the flower.  Indeed, and well done.

A salad was made for a family gathering, with homemade dressing.  Before the gathering, I took advantage of the beautiful sunny day and 70 degrees.  Five lettuce volunteers were transplanted, and all of the greens were fertilized.  It was good to be working outside again for a little while.  I thought I'd share a finished pic of the gifts I made for several women in the family.  They're reusable produce bags.  The tulle was some I thrifted, maybe close to 15 years ago now.  It was my first time trying to sew with it, and it wasn't the prettiest sewing I've done.  The strings were made from bias tape, also thrifted.  They were dyed with onion skins.  I was able to use wood beads with the thinner tape, but the thicker tape was too big for the beads.  I've saved one for myself, and may make some more.  J & I have had some responsibilities, which have kept us very busy since Christmas.  We're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, then it's onward into the new decade.  Happy New Year, friends!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Natural Dyeing with Onion Skins & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  It's been one of those weeks with numerous challenges.  All the hours on airplanes caught up with me.  I came down with a cold, and appointments on Monday and Tuesday had to be cancelled.  On two separate days, a hawk got one of our chickens.  My check engine light came on again.  That's just a sampling, but you get the idea.  This too shall pass.  A quiche was made, which used our eggs, peppers, garlic and parsley.   I pulled lambs quarter and spaghetti squash from the freezer for a side dish, and made thousand island dressing for a salad.  I dyed a second round of fabric in onion skins, and was pleased with the results of both batches. 

With living in a handmade house, as well as Joseph's knowledge of so many things, we have a number of unusual systems on the homestead.  A while back, I decided to make a systems book, mostly for my knowledge, but eventually for future occupants, which I hope is a long way off.  I hadn't put much in the book so far, but last week, I added the procedure for draining the rainwater pipes during frigid temps.  I had previously been making sketches in the book, then realized photos would work really well, so that's what I did this time.  My goal is to steadily add to it, until all systems are included in the book.

I paid the propane bill within 10 days to get a small discount. Laundry was hung on the line.  Split pea & barley soup was made from pantry items that needed using.  Kale was harvested, and a kale salad made to bring to a family gathering on the weekend.  I also made an autumn succotash to bring, with a couple of our butternut squash.  J is still working hard on firewood, whenever he gets the chance, and has split and stacked more wood.  We decorated our tree, and the house.  I'm hoping to finish wrapping gifts, and hopefully bake cookies on Monday.  Wishing you the happiest of holidays!

Monday, December 16, 2019

A Trip Abroad & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  Since I was here last, J planted our garlic.  They'd been stored in our basement, and a disappointing amount of them had started molding.  We'd intended to plant them much sooner, but just hadn't managed to find the time to prep the bed and plant them.  We ordered the garlic months ago, because they sell out quickly, so it can be a challenge.  I harvested collards, and made this recipe.  A few more Christmas presents were sewn.  I've been wanting to collect some reusable Christmas boxes, and found some at Dollar General.  Last year, I thought I'd wait until they were marked down, but they were all gone, so I bought two when I saw them.  We still have a few of our tomatoes ripening.  Some were used in a tomato rice loaf, along with our garlic, onions I'd dehydrated, and homemade bread crumbs.  I spent 1 hr 45 mins on hold with my healthshare.  I never managed to talk with anyone, but got my holiday cards written while I waited.  I downloaded a free Kindle book.  A batch of ear oil was made, for an ear that had a little discomfort.  Two heads of broccoli were harvested; one enjoyed, and the other frozen.  Kale was harvested, and salad made.

The last few days before we traveled were a whirlwind, with packing, taking care of last minute things, household chores, holiday prep, and creating and shipping two orders.  But the day came, and we were off on our adventure.  For several years, J has told me he wanted to show me where he was stationed in Germany.  His daughter, who was a small girl while there, instigated a trip earlier this year.  We timed it so we'd be there for the Christmas markets.  We did visit several, including one in rain and a wintry mix.  I tried gluehwein, and have to say I'm not a fan.  At another market, I had hot chocolate, which was wonderful. 

The hotel we stayed at served a delicious, elaborate buffet breakfast, free to us, as J had joined their rewards program shortly before our trip.  We enjoyed wandering the town they had lived in, stopping in at the bakery next door. While walking down at the river, I noticed chestnuts that had fallen from a tree, and gathered a few.  I suppose that was not strictly allowed, but when we arrived home, they came into the house with the luggage, and were quickly prepared for eating.  We then went to a royal residence with lovely museums, having free entry and art dating to the 12th century. 

I was drawn to the woman sewing

On Sunday, the ladies had a spa day, with thermal baths and massages. We had some challenges navigating their system, with the language barrier, but all ended well.  We returned to the town where J & his daughter lived, and were able to spend time with the woman they had rented their apartment from (the first floor of her home, begun in the 1100's), and her nephew.  They took us all around town, treated us to lunch at a traditional German restaurant, and we even had a chance introduction to the burgermeister or mayor.   It was a special day.

the doorstep to their home in Kitzingen
I enjoyed free ebooks while on our trip.  We brought back money, which is always a plus.  We arrived home late, without getting dinner on the plane, so made egg sandwiches.  Exhausted, having been up over 24 hours, we decided not to stop on the way home.  The morning after arriving home, a driver who came up the driveway backed 5 or so feet beyond the driveway, knocking down a trellis, and crushing a statue of St. Francis that my Mom had bought for me.  I shed a few tears over that.  Amazingly, this was someone who works as a driver.  Pretty sad.

Christmas market in Frankfurt

At home, I enjoyed a free Christmas movie on amazon prime, and listening to free music on Pandora.  On Sunday, we ventured out for groceries, chicken feed, lumber and a Christmas tree, which had been marked down 25%.  Dog food and naval oranges were on sale.  When we got home, J put up our wood shed addition, all but the roof tin.  I baked our first sweet potatoes, and harvested collards for collards and rice.  I dyed fabric with onion skins, which will be used in presents I am making.  Though still not back to full energy, it's going to be a busy week, so I'd best think energetic thoughts.    Have a good week, friends!

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Thankful & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Whenever I've previously checked for organic butter at Aldi, they'd had none.  I'm glad I thought to check again, as this time they had it, for $4.25/#, which is the cheapest I've seen in a while.  Food Lion had some for $4.99.  At Aldi, I also got a $1.29 pineapple, and avocados for .79.  I used $1 coupon for cat food.  I picked up photos at Walgreens, got pistachios on sale at $5.99/#, and used a $5 reward.  I found a penny in the parking lot.  The remaining fresh tromboncino squash were used in pasta sauce.  Unfortunately, I had to compost all but a piece of one of the remaining eggplants.  Our tomatoes, basil and rosemary also were used in the sauce.  Last week, my online soap shop had its 11th anniversary and 700th sale, which was hard to believe, as well as encouraging.

I repaired a boot and a slipper with the hot glue gun.  During the first several years of doing massage, I mostly used my table, then things shifted, and for a number of years, I've been using my chair the majority of the time, so the table mostly sat in it's carrying case.  It had started getting a sticky residue on the vinyl, and nothing I tried seemed to help.  I was beginning to think I'd have to recover it, or buy a new one, which I really didn't want to do at this age.  I googled it, and was delighted to find someone with the same table had had the same problem, and written a tutorial.  It was messy and took quite a while, but the table is 90% better.  I'm happy with that, and very happy to not have to spend several hundred dollars to replace it.  A pottery friend I spoke with at last week's show asked for soaps to carry in her shop.  I delivered them to her, and bartered for one gift while I was there.

I made swag goal several days.  I answered a question about what I was preparing for Thanksgiving, and won 100 SB (the equivalent of $1).  Thanksgiving was a fairly low key day at home, with M and J's son joining us.   Bouquets were gathered for the house, and natural items for the table.  The mismatched thrifted brown plates were used.  I made pumpkin pie, autumn succotash, cranberry relish, and a vegetarian version of my grandmother's dressing.  J prepared pork loin with carrots and potatoes.  Fresh whipped cream was made to enjoy with the pie.  My dietary recommendations were forgotten for the day.  The night before, I began the peanuts for succotash on the stove, and once they were boiling, moved them to the wood stove overnight.  Back in the summer, I made some lotion.  At the time, it seemed too heavy.  Now that cold weather is here, with the drier air, I'm enjoying using it.  Warm up water was used for humidity on the wood stove.  A bin of shredded paper and cardboard was added to the compost bin.

The day after Thanksgiving, I was in the mood for lighter fare, and made Jill's juice for lunch.  I have yet to find a juice I like better than this one.  I finished organizing the upright freezer, using bins I purchased at Dollar General.  There was so much stuffed into the freezer that I could not get it all back in.  Quite a bit was composted, mostly older and freezer burnt packages of okra, squash and lambs quarter.  The chickens got a few treats, including a few figs that had been in there a while, and an English muffin that had seen better days.  I caught up on laundry, and hung it all on the line.  The forecasters were wrong, and it got rained on early morning, so finished drying in the dryer.  I sewed several presents.  For the remaining detail, I plan to dye some fabric with onion skins.

Recently bought presents were wrapped, and I'm again caught up for the moment.  I learned about a site that can tell you whose ancestral land you live on, here, and learned we live on Catawba land.  I've found several arrowheads over the years, and there is an undisturbed Indian mound on private land that adjoins ours.  I'd never heard which people were originally here, and am very happy to now know.  Two batches of thieves vinegar have been mixed up, and are steeping.  If you don't know the story of thieves blend, it's pretty interesting.  The mixture already has the most wonderful scent.  I will be off on an adventure next week, but will be back with details when I return.  Be well, dear friends.