Monday, January 27, 2020

A New Winter Squash Recipe & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  After work in town last week, I ran some errands.  A high end dog food was bought on clearance for half price at Tractor Supply.  We barely needed any groceries, so I stopped at the small local store and picked up 4 items.  Pasta Norma was made mostly from the pantry, including our canned tomatoes, eggplant, and garlic.  Another night, veggie sloppy joes and corn were made with pantry and frozen ingredients.   I defrosted a quart of milk I'd frozen when it was getting close to the sell by date, and made yogurt with it.  I caught up on the ironing on one of the cold days, while enjoying free PBS shows on our Roku TV, and was able to watch two episodes of Howard's End.  On nights with lows of 19 and 20, J kept our kitchen faucet slowly dripping.  The water was used in the humidifiers we have on the wood stove.  On especially chilly days, I often bring the chickens a treat. This time it was oats and bread ends with nettles and yogurt, warmed with hot water.  They loved it.  I also gave our cat some salmon canned food to provide some extra fat and calories, which she loved.  I learned that she is not a fan of turkey and giblets.  The pups didn't mind finishing it up for her.

Sadly, two months after J replaced my gas cap, the check engine light came on again.  At this point, he'd replaced three items in the system, and I'm due for an inspection this month, so we decided to bring it to a shop that was recommended as being reasonable.  They were indeed, and fixed it in one day for not much over $100.  The only challenge came when I took my car to be inspected, and found out I hadn't driven enough since the repair for them to get the computer reading.  I've got a couple of adventures planned this coming week to help that along.  Laundry was done,and hung on the line.  I'm so happy with how my dental procedure went.  I wasn't sure what to expect, and the only "medicine" he recommended afterwards was arnica, which I already had, and which worked perfectly.  He had also prepared me to expect an additional procedure that would have cost another $750, and it turned out that wasn't needed, thank goodness.  It's all OOP, as my healthshare doesn't pay for dental, so a definite blessing.  Paper and cardboard were shredded.  A full compost crock was taken to the outdoor bin.

The garlic seems to be doing well.  Cleaning baseboards is another chore that doesn't get done enough around here, but I can now cross that off my list.  Between the pups, wood smoke, and a busy gravel driveway, it won't last long.  Ah well, that's the nature of housework.  Trying to do another heat-producing chore, I decided to recan a #10 can of sliced black olives I had bought at the discount grocery a while back, which added 16 half pints to the pantry.  I like to use them in pizzas and omelets.  Once the jars were in the canner, I made my first ever batch of ghee, using these instructions.  With most dairy off limits per my Dr., it hadn't occurred to me to ask about ghee until my last visit.  I was pretty happy when he said ghee was fine.  I've found a reasonable plant-based butter substitute, but honestly, nothing beats real butter.  A few blooms are showing up around the homestead.  A couple of peas have come up in the garden.  I'm still enjoying my nature tree, and so far, it's not shedding many needles.

I've been enjoying trying some new things for breakfast and lunch.  For breakfast, I tried avocado toast with a fried egg and salad greens on top, and really enjoyed it.  For lunches, I've been making sandwiches with either hummus or avocado, cucumbers, lettuce and salt.  Some days I've added black olives, and have really been enjoying this too.  During the summer, tomato sandwiches are a go to for lunch, but in winter, I often had cheese sandwiches (or plant cheese recently) with lettuce.  This new combo is much better than I thought it might be, and gets me eating more vegetables.  When I was recently at the library, I ran across a cookbook from Smitten Kitchen, a blog I have followed in the past.  When I opened it, I saw a recipe for Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion galette.  I'm always looking for new things to do with winter squash, so brought the book home, and tried the recipe.  It's a time consuming recipe, but well worth it.  Broccoli was harvested to have with it the first night.  The galette leftovers were enjoyed with friends.  Lentil soup was made with home canned lentils, our garlic and leek, and I took homemade crescent rolls from the freezer to have with it.  It's good weather for soup.  Be well, friends.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Winter Days & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  In preparation for needing to eat soft foods after a dental procedure, I made two batches of soup.  One was pumpkin, and the other broccoli almond soup, both with homegrown vegetables.  I also borrowed books and got a movie from the library, an anticipation of some down time.  The greens in the pond garden were fertilized with fish emulsion.  I planted Frosty peas, given to me by a friend, which can be planted with cooler ground temps.  The last few years we planted peas, it got too warm before they did much, and I hope these will thrive.  It's been an especially warm winter so far.  Daffodils are up.  Some already have buds formed.  Many spiderwebs were seen.  I even heard peepers earlier this week.  It's been some time since I mentioned it, but if you could use some companionship on your frugal journey, I'm joining in here.

I used leftover sweet potatoes to make muffins.  The recipe suggested using banana, if you didn't have quite enough sweet potato.  I did this with one that needed using, which worked perfectly.  We did without any heat for two days, with the unseasonably warm temps.  I found another five lettuce volunteers in the garden, and transplanted them to the cold frame.  Kale was harvested for a latke dish.  We didn't love them, so they won't make it into our rotation.  I tried having two with a fried egg, which was slightly better, but still not my favorite.  The chickens may get a good portion of them.  I pulled a summer squash dish from the freezer to go with dinner one night.  Another night, I made pizza with a crust and pizza sauce I had made earlier and frozen. Our garlic and sweet peppers were used in the toppings.

The paperwhites have begun blooming.  The scent is not my favorite, but I don't mind it very much.  I think having cheery blooms makes it worth it.  My SIL and I firmed up plans to visit the Downton Abbey exhibit at Biltmore House this spring.  I'm excited about that.  It won't be a frugal week, but we spent some time looking for lodging, and ended up with a nice air bnb that will be half as much as the original hotel we were considering, and only 2 miles from the exhibit.  We also got $10 off the usual ticket price.   Another one of the things that came from the shed clean out was a push mower that looked like it had hardly been used.  J got a chance to check it out, and it appears all it needs is a $1.83 diaphragm, because ethanol gas was used in it.  I'm grateful to have such a hard working and knowledgeable husband.

I caught up on soap wrapping over several days.  J got some more raw peanuts, so I started another batch of them boiling on the stove, then transferred them to the wood stove.  They'll be used in the winter succotash recipe.  Magazines were dropped off in the free basket at the library, when returning a movie.  A dish of green beans and garlic was made, butternut squash crumble was pulled from the freezer, and a salad with homemade dressing made to round it out.  I checked our daily electric usage, and was surprised to see the highest use during the night, which I realized was the electric heater we have in the crawl space to keep the pipes from freezing.  After asking J about it, and him looking into a more efficient way to do this, I bought heat wrap for the pipes.  Some of the night hours were 4x the power use at noon, on a day I was at home, and it never got below 30!  I'm hoping this makes a big difference.

We began a new jigsaw puzzle, something we've been enjoying on long winter nights the past few years.  It's been too long since I cleaned dog nose art from the storm doors.  I got to that on Sunday, with my squeegee, and no more expense than a few drops of dish soap.  A batch of sweet potatoes was cut up and put in the dehydrator, for dog treats.  A fresh batch of yogurt is warming on the heating pad as I type.  Two sweaters, several socks and a nightgown were mended.  I went through swagbucks for a purchase.  We shared our wood ash with a chicken loving neighbor.  She mixes it with diatomaceous earth and sand for dust baths.  Tomato rice loaf was made, which used our tomatoes, garlic and homemade bread crumbs.  I'm still enjoying my "nature" tree, which continues to exude the most delicious scent.  It was especially nice to have some slower days this week.  The rhythm of winter asks us to slow down, and enjoy the stillness, and I did just that.  Wishing you peaceful days, dear friends.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Love, Peace & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I made spaghetti, using our tomatoes, garlic and herbs.  A $25 Amazon GC was redeemed through swagbucks.  I was mad at myself, after a trip to Walgreens.  I received an in store coupon for $5 off $20.  I had also received a couple of these coupons via email, but deleted them because I had this one.  When I went to use it, I found out it had expired the day before, unlike the ones sent via email.  I tried to bring one up on my phone, but couldn't find it.  Oh well, I did receive $2 off the cards I purchased, as well as another 20% discount for seniors day.  Organic navel oranges and gala apples were bought on sale at Aldi, as well as a mango for .49 and grapefruit for .49 ea.  Along with the usual deer tracks, I've been seeing raccoon tracks on my morning walks.  In years past, we've had them come up to our door, and get into the chicken coop.  Hopefully, they'll stay in the wilder places. 

I contacted amazon customer service, as a $1 promotion for no rush shipping was credited as .01.  I ended up receiving a $5 credit for my trouble.  A batch of bird suet was made.  I needed some more pillows for the day bed, as the back made it really uncomfortable to sit on.  I found the perfect large pillows, covered in linen, as the local Dogwill thrift store for $4 each.  They're perfect, and it is now a comfy place to sit.  I made the salad dressing in this post, using homegrown thyme this time.  We're having some warmer days.  I enjoyed being in the garden, and fertilized all the greens in the main garden with fish emulsion.  At almost dark, I remembered the cabbage and collards in the pond garden, but that will wait for another day.  A small amount of weeding was done.  I tried a new recipe, using our canned green beans, which we both agreed was just OK.

While dropping off orders for Fedex at Walgreens, I noticed all their Christmas items were marked 70% off.  I found holiday cards, and bought two boxes for $4.50 each.  They also had reader glasses BOGO, so I got 2 pairs for $9.99.  I tried on two pairs of jeans I brought home from the shed clean out, and both fit great.  I've long wanted to read the UK version of Country Living, but didn't want to pay the high cost of a subscription.  I looked to see if I could purchase one at the news stands in Germany, but never saw any.  I asked J for some for Christmas, and he gifted me two issues from 2019.  I've read one of them, which was lovely, though I'm really surprised by the pages and pages of advertising, which seems much more than my US version.  I guess it's good I never splurged to get a year's subscription.

My initial daily swagbucks goal was made most days.  Walks were taken with the pups.  Wild greens were harvested for the chickens, with occasional kitchen scraps thrown in.  Some of our sweet potatoes were baked, to go with leftover cabbage and noodles.  A batch of yogurt was made.  While in town, I ran by the discount grocery, but didn't find anything I wanted.  I dropped off bags I'd been saving for them to reuse.  Recyclables were dropped off.  Though I canceled my newspaper subscription in the late summer/fall, it took them this long to finally stop it.  I would love to continue supporting them, and know it's got to be a tough job to reliably provide newspapers in rural areas, but I just can't convince myself to pay for a service I don't receive on so many occasions.  I'm sure they'd love subscribers to use the online version, but that's not for me.

Though I'd read about others doing it, I'd never cut open a tube of toothpaste until now.  There really is quite a bit of toothpaste still in there, which I'm working on using up.  A neighbor gave me 60 tulip bulbs last month, which I finally planted on Sunday.  Better late than never, right?  The warm weather allowed me to open windows over the weekend,  and the fresh air was wonderful.  J helped me put Christmas boxes back into the attic.  My studio is returning to some semblance of order, though I decided to keep the tree up a bit longer.  All the Christmas themed ornaments were taken down, and the nature related ones remain... bird nests, feathers, bird houses, chickens, as well as anything related to love and peace.  I'm thinking we can always use more of that.  Wishing you a plentiful amount of both this week.

Monday, January 6, 2020

A New Year, A New Decade

Hello, friends.  Last week, I baked some of our sweet potatoes, and pulled lambs quarter and spaghetti squash from the freezer for a side dish. One of the things J & I had to do last week was empty a building, which was full of things people left.  It truly amazed us what people leave behind.  Quite a bit went to the dump, two vehicles full went to thrift stores, and one tote came home with us, with things we can use or try to sell.  We went by Aldi, and got four .49 avocados, along with a few other things.  A $5 reward was redeemed when buying cards at Walgreens.

With the new year, we have a bit of catching up to do.  The entire week between Christmas and New Years kept us busy with the unexpected responsibilities.  Now that all of that is taken care of for now, we have 12 orders to create and ship over the next few weeks.  There is a soap order to wrap and deliver, several other batches of soap to wrap, and some to make.   I took New Years day to catch up on a few things, then began focusing on our traditional Southern meal of black eyed peas and rice, collards, and cornbread.  Fresh cornmeal was ground for the bread, and collards were harvested from the garden.  Oregano was harvested, and dried for winter use.

"safe room" for the chickens
When an out of town appointment kept me away from home most of one day, I pulled some things from the freezer for dinner, including zucchini tots I'd made in the summer.  A load of laundry was hung on the line to dry.  A pan of egg shells was crushed, and added to the compost bin, along with shredded paper and cardboard.  I researched what we might be able to do to keep our chickens safer, after the recent hawk attacks.  We're already doing most of the things, but the chickens have a fairly large yard (~30' x 50'), and I saw an idea about creating a teepee for them to run to when in danger.  J built them a structure, making a closer place to run to, if they're on the far side of the yard, which we believe is where the hawk hangs out.  We're hoping it will keep them safe from swooping hawks.

The last time I harvested broccoli, it looked like the next round would be a while yet, but when I went to check them, I was disappointed to see they had started getting slimy in the middle.  It's been quite rainy, so I'm sure that played into it.  I composted the middles, and had a pound of good broccoli left, which I roasted, along with a pan of one of our small pumpkin pieces.  A package of frozen lima beans rounded out the meal, which made for an entire homegrown meal, other than oil, spices and a small amount of onion that went into the beans.  That's always a great feeling.  One of my nieces is getting ready to head back to college, to begin her master's degree.  She and I met at Small B&B cafe for breakfast, where I had to drop off a soap order.  After we ate, we checked out the little folk art museum that is there.  In all the times I've been to Small, I've never seen the museum, as it's only open Saturdays, so that was fun.  We then stopped at a few places, and I found some treasures, including an amaryllis bulb marked down 30%, and two canisters I plan to turn into compost crocks.  J finished making a dozen orders this weekend, and I painted 8 of them on Sunday.  Whew!  I'm looking forward to a slightly slower pace this coming week.  Have a good one, friends.