Monday, December 28, 2020

As 2020 Draws To a Close & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  One of winter's blessings is noticing how the light moves and changes through the house.  Lentil soup was made for a dinner, and ciabatta rolls pulled from the freezer and warmed.  Our Christmas Day was a quiet one, with just the two of us.  Earlier in the week, I made cookies and candy with my GD and niece.  The honeycomb candy did not come out well, due to my error in following the directions to heat "all" the ingredients in a pot, only to find out the baking soda was to wait until the next step.  It never set up well, though it was edible if you didn't mind the stickiness.  There wasn't time to make another batch, and notes were made on the recipe for the next time.  We were able to view the Christmas star and some lovely holiday lights when taking our GD home.  Cabbage, carrots and dandelion greens were harvested.  Imperfect carrots were cut up for the pups dinners, and the tops added to the broth bag.  Containers of homemade cookies were given to our mail carrier and Fedex driver, as a small token of our appreciation.


Yogurt was made, and three celery ends were put in a pan of water to regrow.  Oatmeal was enjoyed with our peaches and blueberries a couple of mornings.  Books were requested from the library, including A Quilt For Christmas, which was started on the 23rd and finished Christmas afternoon.  We watched The Bishop's Wife for free via amazon prime on Christmas Eve.  To have with the movie, we tried an old, but new to us drink I'd seen in a recent Country Living magazine, called Tom & Jerry.  It surprisingly used raw eggs, but as we were using our own eggs, I wasn't concerned.  We cut the recipe in thirds, to make enough for us each to have a cup, which was just right.  We both thought it was good, and we'll probably make it again this holiday season.  Pasta Norma was made on Christmas Day, which used our canned tomatoes and eggplant, onions, garlic, and herbs, with the addition of cheese.  A green salad was made, using some of the gifted pomegranate.  Though it was off my radar before watching The Crown, I've come to enjoy watching the Queen's Christmas message, particularly this year's.  I also enjoyed watching the Call The Midwife Christmas special online for free.

J & I  went around the garden, covering up all that we had coverings for, as it was getting down in the teens Christmas night.  When I harvested collards the next day, they didn't look as though they'd been affected, which is lovely.  That morning, the pups and I walked as usual, though I layered on another wool sweater.  Laundry was hung on the line.  The collards were enjoyed in a saute, with our sweet potatoes and lima beans.   Sunday morning was another morning for frost flowers.  I love having interesting things to look for on my walks, and how those things change throughout the year.  We needed some supplies for the workshop build, and J got his 5% veterans discount for that.  We also ran into Big Lots.  I was hoping to find Christmas cards marked down, but there were none left.  I did find two sweet little reusable boxes marked 50% off, making them .75 ea.  We also did an Aldi's shop, and stocked up on produce, bread, frozen organic corn, and also got a bottle of Prosecco for New Years Eve.  I found pineapple for $1.29, mangoes for .79, brussels sprouts for $1.49, and Cara Cara oranges for $3.99.  As I've yet to find a sale on organic butter, we bought 4 lbs for $4.49 ea., the best price I've seen this year.  We've used quite a bit of butter lately, so this will help restock.  Extra sweet potatoes were baked, and one was used in pancakes on Sunday, with some home ground wheat.  Homemade buttermilk was also used, and a new batch started with the remainder.  Some of our dried crowder peas were placed on the woodstove to cook.  As the year draws to a close, I'm looking forward to ushering in a bright, shiny new year.  Here's to a year of peace, hope, health, and the blessings of the company of loved ones again.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Winter Solstice & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I was able to catch up on a number of things on my to do list.  One day, I made dog treats and a double batch of granola.  For the dog treats, I pulled cubed pumpkin from the freezer, and pureed them when defrosted, to add to the dough.  Home ground wheat was used in both the dog treats and granola.  The forecast for Wednesday kept changing, and in the end, we only got rain.  But, it was one of those raw, cold days, so I made a cup of tea and mended cashmere sweaters, then ironed while watching a few short videos on youtube.  When I have various bits of leftovers, I tend to make fritters these days.  This week, they included pinto beans, corn, lentils with maple syrup, sauteed cabbage, and lambs quarter.  I made cranberry blueberry relish again, to go with them, and opened a can of peas.  Peaceful Christmas tunes have been enjoyed several days on Pandora, and I enjoyed listening to this Robin Wall Kimmerer interview.  If you haven't had the pleasure, I'd recommend reading her Braiding Sweetgrass book. 

Pasta sauce was made with our tomatoes, summer squash, herbs, garlic and onions.  Laundry was hung on the line.  Lettuce was gathered for salads.  Cashmere sweaters were washed with homemade soap gel.  I added soap gel to the bathroom sink dispenser. Kale and collards were harvested, enough for 18 cups of chopped greens, but you know how it cooks down to not much.  I used them in a new to us recipe.  Next time, I'll cut down on the bread crumbs, and may halve the recipe.  I subbed cheddar for fontina cheese, as that's what I had.  We thought it was yummy, but it's definitely not lowfat.  Some comfort food right about now is a good thing, I'm thinking.  Some of our potatoes and store bought rutabagas were cooked to go with it.  We decorated our tree on Friday, bringing some cheer to these short days.  First, we had to hang the paintings on the living room wall, taken down in the spring when painting, as they were sitting where the tree goes.  That's been on my to do list a long time, waiting for J, so I'm glad to have that done.  There's a book I've been wanting to read, but hadn't wanted to buy.  I checked my library again, and they now have it, so I put it on my list.  

This was the first year I tried bringing in the turmeric pot for the winter, to give it extra growing time.  It began fading rapidly last week, so I harvested what there was, a small 2 1/2" piece, and three tiny pieces.  Not enough to save to replant, they were cut up and added to the Fire Cider in progress.  J was visiting family over the weekend.  While he was gone, I pulled a bag of maitake from the freezer, and made mushroom gravy with jasmine rice for dinner.  He's sensitive to many foods, and that's one of them, so I'm using up the frozen mushrooms whenever he's away.  Some were used in a breakfast scramble on Sunday.  Earlier this week, I had mixed up a batch of za'atar, from foraged sumac.  Some was made for us, and some for his Mom, who expressed interest in tasting it some time ago.  I also sent him with a couple of jars of preserves.  On Saturday, I was grateful to be able to devote most of the day to spiritual pursuits.  On Sunday, I went through cookie recipes, in anticipation of our GD coming to bake cookies this week, then wrapped all the presents, and decorated, both of these simpler than most years.  I have all the ingredients for the cookies.  A number of J's presents were wrapped in cloth wrappers and pretty boxes I'd saved, instead of paper.  Almost all of the ribbons were reused ones.  I'm looking forward to the return of the light. Happy Winter solstice!

Monday, December 14, 2020

Frost Flowers & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I made pintos with cornbread, which J requested.  The cornbread was made with home ground wheat and corn, homemade buttermilk and our eggs.  I enjoyed sorghum syrup on my cornbread, which came from a small, local store, but was made in TN.  Recently, a man approached J about making a sorghum pan, for a possible new local endeavor.  Joseph's company has built a sorghum pan in the past, and he told him it would be no problem.  I do hope this new business works out.  They'd have my support.  A new batch of buttermilk was made, started with what was left from the cornbread.  After a dental appointment, I stopped at an antique mall on the way home that I've wanted to check out, and found an enamel pitcher, the main reason I stopped there.  I've been wanting one to keep in the shower for warm up water, so I could keep my soap pitcher for that purpose only.  The enamel pitcher is certainly more attractive than the plastic soap one, which makes me happy.  I also found four vintage pillowcases at 1/2 price there, $2 for all.  Three of the pillowcases were hand embroidered, and I found a sweet birdhouse ornament made from old quilts for $5.

I recently learned about Julie Zickefoose, and have learned several interesting things from her, including frost flowers and graupel.  On a walk one morning, I was delighted to see some frost flowers, which I've never noticed in the 24 years I've lived here.  I do love learning about the natural world, and the life forms that share this place with me.  I made a waldorf salad with our celery, after Becky mentioned doing the same.  In another effort to use frozen items, I pulled homegrown peaches and made cobbler, and a bag of pesto for dinner.  I continue to baby my muck boots along.  Besides the holes where the sections join, the sole separates from the boot once or twice a week.  I've tried shoe goo and a glue gun, but either way, it comes apart fairly quickly.  I sure hope Santa brings me new ones.  Our thoughts are moving to the seasonal treat of Hot Buttered Rum.  I mixed a batch of the dry portion up, so it will be ready.  I found another volunteer lettuce in the garden, and transplanted it to the cold frame bed.  I repotted the strawberry plants a friend gave me, as they shouldn't be planted out until the spring in this area.  

After orders were powder coated on Saturday, I helped J put the first two windows in the workshop.  On Sunday, the porch posts and roof were put up, and the porch flooring.  I wrapped and shipped the one Christmas box that needed to be shipped.  No wrapping paper, tags or cards needed to be bought this year.  I try and purchase the coming year's cards each year, but not sure if that will happen this year.  Hummus was made for lunches.  Notes and lists were written on scrap paper.  Yogurt was made.  Laundry was hung on the line.  We had a dinner of lentils with maple syrup, sweet potatoes and cornbread.  Though there were no markdowns this year, we bought our Christmas tree.  We'd been hearing stories of shortages of trees, and wanted to be sure to get one.  With not much in the way of festivities this year, a tree will surely help to bring cheer to the season.  J did get his veteran's 5% discount at checkout.  There's a chance we'll have wintry precip this coming week.  Soon the light will be returning.  Enjoy these remaining days of fall, friends.  

Monday, December 7, 2020

Workshop Progress & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Happy December.  Last week, I harvested lettuce and parsley.  I made spaghetti sauce with some of the parsley, our onions, garlic, canned tomatoes, and a cube of the basil I had froze.  The parsley that didn't get used in the sauce was frozen.  I like Margaret's method of freezing it in logs.  For the new workshop, two french doors and three windows were found on fb marketplace, in various places, for $170 total.  We already had some windows.  Only two of the windows will match, but that's OK with me.  I also have a solatube that we'd planned to use in the studio build.  That never happened, so I've asked for it to be used in the workshop.  M suggested a diagonal placement of the doorway, which I liked, as it will mostly be facing trees and flowers, instead of directly looking at the shop, or the lawn mower and such under the shed.  It will also allow me the best view of the house.  I'm willing to give up a few feet of floor space for a better view.

For dinner one night, J asked for vegetable soup. I gathered a can of our tomatoes, onions, garlic, frozen corn, frozen black eyed peas, homemade broth, and store bought carrots and celery.  I also used a pint of cabbage from the canning experiment in the soup, after draining the liquid, and we both agreed it was fine.  Hopefully, we will also like the cabbage sauteed, as I mostly canned quarts, which I think is a bit too much to add to soup.  Soup leftovers were enjoyed for my lunch.  I'm blessed that orders continue to come in to my soap shop, so I've packed and shipped them several days this week.  A fresh batch of Back To The Garden soap was made, which incorporates homegrown mint and local clay in its recipe.  It's been a best seller this holiday season, and sold out over the weekend.  A pan of eggshells was crushed, and added to the compost bin.

The hollies, winterberries and nandina are looking festive these days.  When we replaced our refrigerator this summer, we were in the middle of harvest season, and kept the old one on the porch, to use for the excess.  I have to admit, it was nice to have the space, though definitely trashy looking.  I finally got the last of the food emptied out of that freezer and fridge, and unplugged it.  One of the things found in the freezer was a partially used bag of garbanzo flour.  It smells fine, but has been in there a while, so I thought to look for ideas for using it for animals, and found a recipe for dog treats I plan to try.  There are only three ingredients... the flour, applesauce or pumpkin, and peanut butter.  Seems a good way to use it up.  I woke very early on Saturday, and was moving slow, so decided it was a good day to make some cocoa, and finish writing holiday cards.  A load of laundry was hung on the line.  A broccoli dish was made, using a mix of ours and store bought broccoli, and our garlic, eggs and onions.

J and his son put the roof on and attached the siding for the workshop on Sunday.  Next will be framing and putting the windows in.  Between powder coating orders, I made lunch for us, the Prudent Homemaker's taco soup, and pulled a loaf of fig bread from the freezer to have with it.  I harvested a small but ready broccoli.  Hopefully, the others will grow much larger, and this one will have some good side shoots.  Collards were harvested to saute for dinner.  Winter squash was pulled from the freezer for butternut squash crumble, and lima beans were also pulled from the freezer.  I needed 1/2c of broth for the crumble, and pulled some mushroom broth I had frozen.  Bringing all the outdoor freezer in has made it a bit tight, so I'm trying to use frozen things as I can.  It makes it so much easier to use what's there, when you can see what you have in the freezer.  I'm slowly putting away the fall decor.  We may look for a tree next weekend.  I keep twinkly lights up all year, and gathered cedar, holly, pine, and catbrier berries for a small bouquet.  

I needed to replace a pillar candle, and noticed I paid .25 at the thrift store for the "new" one in 2017.  I've only bought beeswax candles the past couple of years, and that's what I use at our kitchen table, but I'll use up my thrifted stash of other candles until they're gone.  If you could use some frugal encouragement, join the community of like minded folks at The Prudent Homemaker.  Well friends, it's been a whirlwind of a week.  I hope the coming week will be full of good things for us all.  Be well, friends.

Monday, November 30, 2020

A New Workshop & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving, even if it was a bit different than previous years.  Last week, I made an online purchase at Lowes, and used their credit card, for 5% off, which is significant on the supplies bought for a large project.  J is building a workshop, where I can powder coat and pack our orders.  As it is now, I have to paint when the guys are not working in the shop, and when it's not raining or very windy.  The workshop will allow me to paint in all weather, and anytime I'd like.  I also used rewards cards redeemed with swagbucks towards the purchase, which lowered the cost almost $50 more.  I'll pay off the cc bill when I receive it, so no charges will be incurred.  On a walk, I found usnea and an oak gall.  The usnea was added to an already started tincture bottle, and the oak gall was saved for future dyeing projects, as it's a source of tannin.  Lettuce was harvested from the garden.  I finished pulling the remaining section of morning glories off the garden fence, and they were added to the burn pile.  

On Tuesday, I picked up our friend M in Durham.  As he needed groceries, and I can always pick up a few things, we made two stops on the way home.  There were no great sales at the natural food co-op, but I picked up what I needed, and at Harris Teeter, I picked up a few more cans of organic garbanzo beans at 4/$3.19, and 3# of clementines for $2.99. I keep hoping I'll find a sale on organic butter, but have not found one yet this year.  The best price I've seen is $4.49 at Aldi.  I made pumpkin soup, which used homemade broth and our pumpkin, and I harvested rosemary for the brown butter.  Chickweed and dock leaves were gathered daily for the chickens.  Thanksgiving was simple.  I made the vegi version of my grandmother's stuffing, brussels sprouts, and a fresh cranberry relish.  The version I tried this year had the addition of blueberries, and we liked it.  J made himself a small ham, and I also baked an apple pie, using apple pie filling I had previously canned, which made it very quick and easy.  I zested organic lemons and an orange, and what wasn't used for the meal was frozen.


On Friday, I did photo shoots for several items for my shops, so now everything is up to date.  J made great progress on the workshop, and we made some decisions about door placement and the porch.   I'd been wanting to make some more Fire Cider, and got to that on Saturday, after powder coating orders.  Fire Cider ingredients are flexible, depending on what you like and what's on hand.  This time, I had a good assortment of ingredients.  A couple of weeks ago, I picked up organic ginger and turmeric for it, and also added our garlic, onion, fresh thyme and rosemary.  One suggestion was rose hips, and I decided that was a good use of them, along with the hawthorn berries and turks cap lily fruit I'd been collecting.  An organic orange was sliced and added, as well as foraged sumac berries.  I threw in a few dried hot peppers, and some dried roselle hibiscus, then topped it off with ACV.  It will sit from 4 to 6 weeks, and hopefully I'll remember to shake it regularly.  Once strained, raw honey will be added, and it will be ready to offer some excellent immune support.  

Several small sweet potatoes were baked for dinner, and some shared with a friend.  Our home was heated with wood, and windows were opened on warmer days.  After packing orders on Sunday, I made a simple dinner of cabbage and noodles, with a green salad using some of the gifted pomegranate.  J & I worked on vacuum sealing many jars filled over the past several months, things like nuts, raisins, rice and beans.  Some jars just wouldn't seal, even after changing lids, so those will be used first.  Laundry was hung on the line, and the compost crock was emptied into the outside bin several times.  Paper and cardboard were shredded, and yogurt was made.  As we move into December, I wish you time to enjoy seasonal pleasures.  

Monday, November 23, 2020

Even The Laundry & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I made Disappearing Zucchini Orzo with some of our tromboncino.  Then 4 bags of tromboncino were grated and frozen for this dish in the future.  Needing to pick up J at the airport on Monday, I realized that Trader Joe's was only 10 mins. away, so went by beforehand.  As it was close to closing, there were few people in the store, which worked out great.  This store had opened over a year ago, but I'd never been, and was happy to pick up a few favorites.  Chard was harvested before a hard freeze, and winter greens were harvested for a salad.  I found two tiny eggplant before the freeze, so harvested them too.  In oatmeal one morning, I enjoyed our figs and a passionfruit.  Usually the critters find the ripe passionfruit before I do, but I was lucky this time.  Working on using up the tromboncino, I made this chocolate zucchini cake.  I baked sweet potatoes while the oven was on.  A friend shared pomegranates with me, as she received more than she could use in an order.  Another friend shared purple stemmed elephant's ear plants and strawberry plants.  Home canned jams and preserves were shared with both of them.  Both were brief, outdoor visits with masks. I've been gathering rose hips, hawthorn berries, and the fruit of Turk's cap lily.  I believe I'll make a little syrup with them, for a tasty and medicinal treat.  Isn't that the cutest spoon rest my friend gave me?

Laundry was done, and hung on the line.  We finally had a killing frost, as predicted, so that's it for the summer garden, but how wonderful it lasted so long this year.  We'd harvested lots of green peppers, and a few that were barely ripening, recently.  As I don't care for green peppers, I decided to pickle them.  I sure don't want to waste any food this year.  Even if I still don't like them pickled, I can put them in J's salads, as he does like them.  I also used our red onions in the pickles.  Water from sterilizing the lids were used to water plants after cooling.  At Aldi, 4 cans of organic black beans were bought at .89 ea.  Winter squash and boiled peanuts were pulled from the freezer to make succotash.  Chard was sauteed with garlic, green salads were made and leftover brussels sprouts were finished.  The brussels sprouts were a new recipe we really liked.  But I'll warn you, low fat they're not.  My closet was rearranged, so the cold weather clothes are now more easily accessible.  I went through swagbucks for 3% back on a small purchase.  Two books were requested from the library.  I enjoyed visiting with my granddaughter on facetime.  She was more talkative than usual, showing me her latest schoolwork and artistic creations, which was fun.  

A friend suggested we meet for lunch at one of the picnic areas of our local zoo.  We hadn't seen each other in months, and it was a nice way to safely share a meal and catch up.   After, I picked up a part J needed in town, stopped to pick up a book at the library, and went to the discount grocery.  I got several lbs of whole grain pasta for .75 ea.  Also, raw honey for $1.99, black olives .60 and moringa powder $1.  Then, a quick run into Food Lion for dog and cat food, and cranberries, all of which were on sale, and a stop just up the road to pick up an item I ordered for a small present, to save on shipping.  Our collards, garlic, onions and pantry items were used in this dish.  The last of the summer garden was enjoyed in a breakfast scramble.  Two tiny eggplant, a tiny tromboncino, sweet pepper and cherry tomatoes were chopped, along with lambs quarter and olives.  I thought perhaps there wouldn't be any more scrambles for a while, but realized there are mushrooms, olives, the peppers I've pickled, and usually grape tomatoes in the house, so just a different sort to enjoy.

While hanging laundry on Saturday, it occurred to me that even the laundry looks different in 2020.  I'm humbled, and honestly a bit tired at the moment, from all the orders that have come into my online shops.   Besides Berkey stands, there's soap, clay pumice stone sets, hemp mitt/soap sets, compost crocks, and garden sets travelling across the country for gift giving.  It is a lovely thing to know you're playing a small part in people's holiday festivities.  It's a good thing I did the cleanse a few weeks ago, as I'm thinking this winter is likely going to require a larger than usual share of comfort food.  After powder coating orders on Sunday, I made my Mom's baked ziti, with homegrown tomato sauce, and made these brownies for dessert.  I've shared them before, but they're worth another mention.  Don't judge.  There was a green salad too.  Just saying.

Monday, November 16, 2020

November Days & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  I hope you've been doing well.  Last week, pasta sauce was made, using our tromboncino squash, tomatoes, onions, basil and rosemary.  A salad was made, which used one of our peppers.  Whole wheat was ground; regular wheat for the pups, and Red Fife for us.  I made these pumpkin peanut butter dog treats, using a whole egg, rather than just the yolk, and baked sweet potatoes at the same time, making good use of the oven.  The pups were happy.  Somehow, the grinder got partially unplugged midway through grinding.  The outlet is inaccessible, which meant J had to pull the 6' cabinet away from the wall to get to it.  I had to remove all the pantry items that were sitting on it, so it was a good opportunity to clean and put away things.  I rented a movie on amazon prime that I'd been wanting to see, using a $1.50 credit, for using a later ship date.  When I washed windows recently, I hadn't gotten the inside of the bathroom and bedroom windows, and got to that last week.  The window washing water in the bucket was used to flush the toilet.  I then repaired a weather strip that was coming loose on a window. 

On a day in the 70's, I pulled more of the morning glories on the garden fence between rain showers, and added them to the burn pile.  All that's left is a small area on one side of the garden, other than what's too tall for me to reach, up on posts and in trees.  I worked on eco-printing the gift fabrics, which was a learning curve.  Many different plants were gathered and used, and good notes were taken after the process, as far as which ones gave good results, and which didn't.  Lettuce, a pear, cherry tomatoes, a tromboncino and figs were harvested.  The light came on in my car for low tire pressure, and my husband topped them up with the air hose from his shop.  A batch of alfalfa sprouts was made.  A breakfast of avocado toast was topped with a homegrown egg, lettuce and sprouts.  Salad was made one night, which used our lettuce and figs.  On another night, one used our lettuce, sweet pepper, sprouts and chickweed.  A pumpkin pie was made.  The fall garden is coming along nicely.  There are some little broccoli heads too.  

On an evening walk, I saw a large flock of turkeys under the big tree in the field.  I saw them before the dogs did, and quickly headed us back towards home.  I'm happy to know they're out there.  To our knowledge, there are no local hunters who hunt them, which makes me happy.  As J is away from home for a few days, I'm working on eating things he can't eat or doesn't like to.  The first thing I pulled from the freezer was maitake mushroom, which I made mushroom gravy with, and had over jasmine rice.  I have several more bags of maitake, and decided it would be easy enough to have this meal for lunches these next few months, as a way to use them up.  Another lunch I've started making for myself this fall is The Prudent Homemaker's taco soup.  J likes soups that are thick, which is fine sometimes, as in pumpkin soup.  But, I love broth based ones too, and have realized there's no reason I can't make this one for lunch.  I'm late getting on board with cooking for lunch, but neither of these is any more work than making hummus, and the soup is much quicker.  A bonus is both of these will provide several lunches, with just one day of cooking. I'm happy to keep learning new things with every year that goes by.

On the way to the chicken coop, I came across a few frolicking anoles on the wood needed to finish up the coop project.  After dropping J off at the airport, I went shopping at the co-op I belong to, the first time I've been in that town since Covid began.  Sale items purchased were walnuts $5.99/#, organic oranges $1.79/#, and organic Honeycrisp apples $1.99/#.  I also went by an interesting shop a friend told me about, called Reconsidered Goods.  They have many supplies for crafts of all sorts, and many other things.  It was fun to wander there.  I got 2 rolls of wired ribbon, a zippered bag, handmade pottery dinner plate, long length of silk with lace edges (likely a dresser cloth) and antique underskirt petticoat for a little over $12.  I'm planning on dyeing the silk, and haven't decided about the petticoat, which sadly doesn't fit.  Paperwork was gone through for J's business, and I was able to shred a good pile of papers, which are being added to the compost bin.  

The recently purchased sweaters and vests were washed with homemade soap gel, and hung on the line.  I love that sweet Guinness is in the pic, looking towards the pond.  I got all our winter clothes boxes from the attic, and handed them down to J, as well as the flannel sheets.  I switched out all the clothes in my drawers, but still need to switch around my closet, so the cold weather clothes will be easier to reach.  At the co-op, I also picked up pints of eggnog and buttermilk from a local creamery.  A bit of eggnog was enjoyed while watching episodes of The Crown.  On Sunday, I used the remaining half of the dry pancake mix, but this time, instead of pumpkin, I used leftover sweet potato, which was good.  With the buttermilk that wasn't used for the pancakes, I started a new batch, something I've been wanting to try.  It couldn't be easier.  Mix milk and buttermilk in a 4:1 ratio (ie: 1c milk to 1/4c buttermilk) in a nonmetallic bowl, let sit on the counter for 12-24 hrs, and voila.  I see pancakes, biscuits and more goodies adding some comfort during the coming cold months.  Wishing you a bounty of things that bring you comfort this week. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

A Bit of Canning, Pumpkin Pancakes, & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Because of the busy days last week, I found some eggplant that had to be composted, a definite frugal fail.  To make sure that didn't happen with our last picking on Sunday, I cooked it up with chinese plum sauce I made a while back, and rice.  This and sauteed spinach were cooked with our garlic.  I wanted to keep busy on Tuesday, so Monday evening, I pulled out six gallon bags of veggie scraps from the freezer, and put the pots on the woodstove.  They warmed and simmered all night, and early morning.  I strained them, then pressure canned two rounds of broth, which will be added to the pantry shelves.  For supper, I used up all the cute little tromboncino we harvested on Sunday, and made Burden soup.  This also used our garlic, onion, potatoes, parsley, and the last of the basil.  Focaccia was made to go with it, using our rosemary and onion.  We did get a good freeze Monday night, though it doesn't look like it bit everything in the garden.  For the past week or so, we've been having dinner by candlelight, which is always a welcome seasonal pleasure.

I met my sister on Wednesday.  Though we found one of our favorite thrift stores closed now on Wednesdays to sanitize, we were able to visit several others.  I found two cashmere sweaters for $1.49 & $2.99, two wool vests (I forget, but not much), a sturdy basket $2, and cobalt blue jar with bail lid $1.99.  I'd recently heard of a bakery in that town who were making Italian pastries, so we went by there, and got some goodies.  It's been a long time since I had these.  My favorite was the sfogliatella,  which was the real deal.  We also headed to TJ Maxx, where I found a cotton nightgown on clearance for $12.  The best price I've been able to find online is in the $30's, so this made me happy.  Then next door, at Harris Teeter, I stocked up on organic garbanzo beans at the sale price of $3.19/4 cans, and got B1G1 on my favorite organic chips.   I made hummus for lunches, and yogurt.  Kale was gathered for a new to us salad, which also used our pear and garlic.  I subbed feta cheese for the gorgonzola, because that's what we had.  I'd make it again.  

Laundry was hung on the line.  All the items I'd been collecting to donate were dropped off, while I was in town.  I found a small gift to put in J's Christmas stocking  and a pillowcase, both for .50, while there.  Windows were opened on warm days, and shut in the evening, to keep the warmth in.  Nights warmed up to the 50's, so we let our fire go out.  Sweet peppers were pickled and canned.  These are new to me, but I'm hoping they'll be good in salads, sandwiches and egg dishes, as promised.  I enjoyed listening to free Pandora while canning.  I returned a book to the library while in town.  This is the second one recently that I didn't want to finish, which is unusual for me.  I decided there are so many good things I want to read, there's no sense in wasting time on something I'm not enjoying.  I'm still enjoying breakfast scrambles some mornings, using our tromboncino squash, cherry tomatoes and peppers, and some olives.  One morning, I had a couple of sprigs of lambs quarter to add in.  

On Sunday, I felt like pumpkin pancakes, so that's what I made, using the King Arthur Flour recipe.  J had already eaten, as he eats shortly after he gets up, and it takes me a while to want breakfast.  He ended up having some for lunch.  I put a half recipe of the dry ingredients in the pantry, so next time, I'll just have to add the pumpkin, eggs and milk.  Both of us were really dragging, as neither of us slept well, but we managed to transfer most of the files on the old computer to the new, which felt like an accomplishment.  J also planted our garlic, which is also a great accomplishment.  There are 174 cloves in the ground now, which should be a gracious plenty.  He amended the soil with organic fertilizer before planting.  J finished an order, and I powder coated it, which was all we felt like doing workwise.  We have time before the other orders need to ship, and we'll get to them when we're more energetic.  It's good for me to remember to be kind to myself.  Wishing you many kind experiences this week.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Anticipating Frost & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  It's been a busy week. Between working away from home Monday through Wednesday, and taking an online class Friday through Sunday, that didn't leave much breathing room.  On the way home from work one day, I stopped at Food Lion to pick up some produce.  I found avocados 2/$1, so got 4.  My computer wasn't fixed when I brought it home from the computer repair shop this summer.  It didn't do anything unusual while there, so it seems he couldn't figure it out.  I continued getting error codes, and then last week, it began strobing one evening, going from a black screen to my home page.  I decided it was time to just get a new tower, as I wanted to be sure I could take the online class without challenge.  The last one was refurbished, and lasted 3 1/2 years, so I really can't complain.  Going through Swagbucks, I earned 2% back, and used $35 in Staples rewards.  I picked it up on Thursday, dropping 4 ink cartridges off for rewards while there, and ran to the library and Aldi's while in town.  I'm continuing with celery juice in the mornings, and was happy to find celery hearts about half of what I had been paying at Food Lion.  I was happy to find they also had pomegranates, for $1.19, which may not be the best price, but a good price, so I got two.  I love mixing them in green salads.


We had an unseasonably warm day on Thursday, 80 degrees, and had wind gusts above 50 mph.  Half of a large maple tree came down on the back of the shop.  Thankfully, it didn't hurt the fig tree back there, or the guys working inside.  J cut it up in firewood sized pieces, and several nice pieces of usnea were found among the branches.  After not being able to harvest for 3 days, on Thursday I harvested 3 tromboncino, an eggplant, 3 peppers, a few cherry tomatoes, and quite a few figs.  I dried several trays of figs.  The goji berry was a disappointment again this year.  I found four miniscule berries, and am wondering if pruning it back hard would help it put more energy into fruiting.  I pulled winter squash and boiled peanuts from the freezer, to make the first autumn succotash of the season.  J installed the new computer tower.  It may be a while before we've got the photo and other programs set up, so I'm glad I loaded these onto the blog before it changed over.  Lemon balm was harvested, and a jar of tincture started. 

The cold and our first good frost is coming Sunday night.  I'm enjoying the blooms, butterflies and bumblebees while I can.  During down time at work, I shelled a bucket of black eyed peas.  On Thursday, I went through all the peanuts that had been drying, and put the good ones in jars.  We ended up with 5 1/2 gallons of unshelled peanuts.  J and I also brought in the sweet potatoes, which had been drying, and stored them in the basement.  That should do it, which is good, as our shelves are full.   Our first sweet potatoes were baked.  Broccoli Cashew Apple & Pear salad was made, which used our pear and onion.  A green salad with pomegranate, toasted pecans and feta cheese was enjoyed another night.  A few orders were powder coated on Saturday, before the online class.  Hummus was made for lunches, yogurt was made, and a load of laundry was hung on the line.  Before and during breaks in class on Sunday, J & I picked the garden, covered the lettuce bed, and powder coated the remaining two orders.  I'm very much looking forward to a less busy week, as well as a day I'll be spending with my sister.  Wishing you a week of things that support you and bring you joy.  

Monday, October 26, 2020

Sweet Fall Days & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  J had a piece of scrap left over from a job he thought looked like a turkey, so he did a little more with it, and we have another piece of yard art.   Though the garden has got "the dwindles", I've managed to harvest a pepper, tromboncino squash, lettuce, chard, figs, basil, oregano, a few cherry tomatoes, and black eyed peas.  I checked the tree where I found hen of the woods mushroom last year, and sure enough, there were three clumps.  I harvested two.  The first one was obviously older, but when I cut into it, it was quite buggy, so that one went to the compost.  The other was cut and dried, and I'll be making medicine from it.   With the lovely fall weather, I've been working on some outside chores.  More dog fennel was cut and placed in the chicken coop.  I worked an hour or so cleaning up the dog trot between outbuildings.  It needs lots more, but it's a start.  Things just seem to get placed there.  My potting bench is totally covered with stuff.  It's next on the list.   

I tasted some of the limes that were fermenting, and realized I'm not a fan, so into the compost they went. A basket of black eyed peas were picked, along with a handful of butter peas.  Seeds from both were shared with a friend.  Before her visit, I gathered a bouquet for us to enjoy, while we sat at the pond.  I also gave her one of the Meyer lemon seedlings, among other things.  She gifted me a parsley and a celery plant, and other lovely things.  And she bought some soap.  I cleaned the nest boxes in the chicken coop, and cut more dog fennel to put in them.  It's the time of year to start the deep litter method, to keep them warmer through the cold months, so I'm doing that.  There's been a little run on shaving soap, so I made a batch, and made a batch of Lavender too.  It will be good to get stocked up for the holidays.  

A little fall decor, using mostly natural items from the homestead, was placed on the porch to cheer us as we come and go.  I thought to try to find an old friend on facebook, and found her.  It's been so nice catching up on the past 40 or so years.  There are still quite a few things blooming, and I'm enjoying them so much, knowing how precious they are.  Since many of our apples were imperfect, some are turning brown in storage.  Ones that still have good bits, I give the bits to the dogs.  Otherwise, the chickens get them, and really seem to like them.   A month after submitting it, I received an email from Swagbucks, saying my receipt for an offer was not readable, and to submit another.  The offer had of course ended, so when I tried to do this, I got another email saying they couldn't help, but got yet another email I could reply to.  The deal was worth $12, and I persisted.  I'm glad I did, as they gave me what was due me.  

On a run to town to return library books, I ran a few other errands.  Some deals included $1 off a block of feta cheese at Food Lion, B1G1 almonds and $2 off pistachios at Walgreens.  A $5 reward was redeemed towards my purchase.  I filled up for $1.95/gal., and noticed it had been almost a month since my last fill up.  Saturday was an amazingly warm 80 degrees.  I worked on lots of outdoor chores, including hanging two loads of laundry, vacuuming and organizing my car, giving Guinness a bath, and washing the house windows.  On Sunday, I blanched and froze eggplant.  I'll be working away from home Mon-Weds, and wanted to be sure none of it went to waste.  I cut an order of soap for a B&B, and will wrap it during down time at work.  A batch of At The Forest's Edge soap was made, one of my favorites, which incorporates parmotrema lichen extract that I gather.  Kale was harvested, and used in a salad.  Several sweet peppers were harvested.  I hope to make a small batch of pickled peppers sometime soon.  Several tromboncino squash were shared with friends, and they gifted us several "seconds" pottery pieces, which are lovely.  Wishing you a peaceful week, friends.    

Monday, October 19, 2020

Autumn Outside My Door & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  With J working out of town last week, I did start the cleanse I mentioned in the last post.  He'll be home before it's finished, but at least I didn't have to worry about feeding him something different for five of the days.  I'm hoping to bolster my immune system, and lose the few lbs. I've put on during Covid, before we get into winter, when I usually gain a few.   When you're under 5', you don't have a lot of leeway before you begin to look like a bowling ball. :o)  I was able to use our squash, lettuce, tomatoes, figs, apples, lemon balm, cucumbers, blueberries and peppers in the cleanse recipes.  I dried another two trays of figs.  Black eye and butter peas, lemon balm, baby kale, arugula, tromboncino, eggplant, lettuce, chickweed, peppers, figs, persimmons and a few cherry tomatoes were harvested.  I'm still finding a few peanuts we missed most times I wander through the garden.  Several loads of laundry were hung on the line to dry.  A batch of yogurt was made.  The pear scrap vinegar, which is tasting very nice, was strained and bottled.     

I had seen a volunteer lettuce early in the week, and when I went to move it, found five more.  Happy dance, and they are different varieties than the fall ones that germinated, which is very nice.  They were moved next to the fall planted lettuce.   I redeemed points for a $25 Amazon GC on Swagbucks, using the monthly special, saving 300 points, equivalent to $3.  In purchasing gifts during Amazon Prime day, I noticed that the advertised price of an item increased almost $5 when I went to checkout.  I ended up spending over a half hour on a chat to resolve it, which felt like a major waste of time, but I didn't feel it was right to pay more than the advertised price.  I chatted with three different people, and they never did figure it out, just credited me the difference.  I wondered how many other savvy shoppers noticed they were paying the regular price, instead of the sale price.  My car was in the shop for 9 days, most of that time waiting on a part.  With J out of town, a friend offered to take me to pick it up on Thursday.  I shared tromboncino and figs with her.  J had asked the shop to add a service when we took it in, and even so, the total was less than they had quoted.  One day in the garden, I saw a black caterpillar in the J shape on an eggplant, and later found this chrysalis.  Aren't the gold spots interesting?  I'm having trouble ID'ing it.  The chrysalis of the Question Mark butterfly is very similar, but the caterpillars don't look right.  I wish now that I'd taken a photo of the caterpillar.  

On the way home from meeting my sister recently, I noticed a discount grocery just a few doors down from one that closed some years back.  I went there, the day after getting my car back.  It's a small shop, and some of the prices were a little high, but I was happy to find what I did.  Included was organic peanut butter $1 ea.   All canned goods were .60, and I found several cans of corn, olives,  garbanzos and  soup, all of them organic.  I found 100% unsweetened cranberry juice for $2.99, another bottle of organic juice $1, and a 3L tin of olive oil $15.  The olive oil is more than I usually pay at discount stores, but less than the grocery store by at least $5.  I go through quite a bit between cooking and soapmaking, and was happy to find it.  I also got several pasta, either organic &/or whole wheat for .75 ea.  Though there were some chilly nights in the low 50's during the week, I didn't start a fire until Friday, with the morning rainy and in the 50's, and forecast to get down to 39.  

I was delighted to find a rose breasted grosbeak on the feeder one day.  Sorry for the blurry photo, taken through the door.  Another morning, I saw four bluebirds eating berries on a beauty berry just outside our window.  I find so much cheer in the birds that visit.  We had a frost advisory on Saturday, so J and I covered up the eggplant and peppers.  All was well, as it was just a barely noticeable frost.  I harvested winter greens, and made winter salad for J.  Several orders were powder coated on Sunday.  Now that it's candle season, I cleaned up several candle holders, and saved the dripped beeswax bits for fire starters.  Plantain leaves were gathered daily for the chickens.  I decorated with some fall decor, inside and out, and hope to do a little more in the coming days.  Moving into the darker days, making cheer any way we can seems like a good idea, especially this year.  

Monday, October 12, 2020

Fall Colors & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends. Last week, laundry was done, and hung on the line several days.  Another batch of goldenrod was harvested for dyeing.  I did some quick research to see about adding it to the previous dye bath.  I never found an answer, and tried it.  The second round doesn't seem to have imparted much more yellow to the fabric.  It seems as though it's one of the dyes that adheres best to animal fibers such as wool.  A spaghetti squash was shared with J's business partner, and some tromboncino with my SIL and her friend, who came for a visit.  We enjoyed hanging out by the pond.  On a cool morning, I baked two loaves of raisin zucchini bread, and froze one.  Pepper and eggplant limbs were secured with some of the twine I found earlier in the summer.  J dug the peanuts in the pond garden.  As we expected, there was not much of a harvest, but I gathered what there was the following day.  The peanuts and sweet potatoes are drying on tin in the carport.  

I found one more chanterelle, and used it in a breakfast scramble, along with tromboncino and sweet red pepper.  In oatmeal, I enjoyed figs, a pawpaw and persimmons several days, all homestead fruits.  I used a long handled fruit picker to harvest most of the remaining pears.  The wire shelves we store our garden produce on, such as potatoes and winter squash, were wiped down with some of the thieves vinegar I made in the spring.  We've had some things go moldy, and I wanted to see if this would help.  A batch of golden paste was made for the pups.  Eggs were boiled for egg salad sandwiches.  Our cucumber, tomato and pepper were used in a salad.  Hummus was made for lunches.  Tomato rice loaf was made, this time with brown jasmine rice.  Two free Kindle books were downloaded.  Three celery ends were planted in the garden, and they're already sending up new growth.  Black bean burgers and garlic roasted potatoes were made for a dinner.

We had a couple of days in the 80's, so I took advantage, and had an outdoor shower one evening.  It was most lovely.  I had an idea for Christmas gifts, and placed an order.  The items came in, and I scoured all the pieces, along with a shirt I want to dye.  A pot of zucchini soup was made, with our squash, tomatoes, onion, basil & parsley, and homemade broth.  I signed up and watched a free webinar of invasive plants and native plants in our area, and learned several things.  Another fairy egg was found in a nest.  It's still a mystery who's laying them.  I potted three of the Meyer lemon seedlings I started from seed.  Pizza was made from scratch, and included our peppers, eggplant and oregano.  I roasted the eggplant, and what wasn't used on the pizza was frozen for another time.  Our last two tomatoes, or parts of them, and cucumber were used in a salad.  We may get a few more cherry tomatoes, but otherwise, the tomatoes are done.  I had a frugal fail, and had to compost three japanese eggplant, which I hadn't used in time. 

My medical healthshare is going up significantly, but they offered a new lower cost alternative with a higher deductible.  I switched over to that, as I only have it for a catastrophic event.  I'm not on any prescriptions, and see only alternative Dr's as needed.  I do hope healthcare changes in the coming years to more of a wellness model.  It's very concerning to think about having to join Medicare in a few years, when what I've seen them offer is of no interest to me, except possibly the over the counter offerings, and emergency care.  I decided to begin a cleanse, which involves eating only fruits and vegetables for a number of days.  Though we had a small amount of what I needed, I filled a cart on Sunday morning with the remainder of produce.  It wasn't cheap, but it's what I think of as insurance for my health.  A check was mailed for deposit, saving an hour round trip drive.   I made a large fall bow for the mailbox, reusing some wired ribbon, and using some bought for $2 at Dollar General.  I harvested eggplant, cherry tomatoes, the last cucumber, figs, lettuce, basil, parsley, tromboncino, persimmons, apples, black eyed peas and butter peas..  I split the gift fabrics up between the goldenrod and avocado dye baths.  This time, I added washing soda to the goldenrod bath, which did seem to deepen the color a little.

Newest goldenrod and avocado dyed fabrics
Newest goldenrod and avocado dyed fabrics

My muck boots are just about two years old, and starting to separate between the lower and upper sections.  J tried mending them with vulcanizing tape, but it didn't hold up.  I've asked for some for Christmas, and hope they will hang on until then.  They've done well, walking an average of four miles a day with me during that time.  The back field is always damp in the mornings, so waterproof shoes are a must.  The boots are often worn to the garden and chicken pen as well.  For Saturday dinner, I harvested winter greens for a salad, and prepared previously canned black eyed peas and sweet potatoes a neighbor gifted us.  Orders were powder coated, and packed up to go out on Monday.  We're getting some nice rain, which all the plants seem to appreciate.  Many wishes for a lovely week.