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.  

Monday, October 5, 2020

Dyeing with Plants, Peanut Harvest, & Frugal Accomplishments



Hello, friends.  Last week, I requested books from the library, when I needed to pick up an order in town, and coordinated a few more stops while I was there.  I used a $10 off coupon at Tractor Supply, and a 20% off coupon at Big Lots, which helped me restock.  Food Lion had avocados 2/$1, so I got 4, and also got $10 back in rewards.  The garden fence was overrun with morning glory this year, so I started pulling it out, getting two wheelbarrows full the first day.  I added it to our burn pile, so the seeds won't have a chance to germinate.  I made a double batch of fig bread, including two smaller loaves.  I also chopped and froze enough figs for two more loaves.  Pasta salad was made, using our tomatoes, cucumber, basil and oregano.  Deviled eggs were made with our eggs.  With the cooler temps, we've been able to keep the a/c off.  J split a large pile of wood, which will almost finish filling up our wood shed.

J hemmed two of the new work pants he got at the thrift store.  I harvested peppers, figs, pears, pawpaws, cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, eggplant, and persimmons.  One of my local soap clients expressed interest in my fig bread.  When I took a loaf by for him, he offered me persimmons.  We have three scrawny trees, and two young ones that are not yet bearing.  I'm not sure if I'll gather any there, but even if I don't, I do appreciate the offer.  A pan of bread ends was ground and frozen for bread crumbs.  A pan of egg shells was crushed and added to the compost bin.  I'd bought a bag of limes when I had yellow squash coming in from the garden, for a particular dish I make.  The squash has been long gone, and I needed to do something with the rest of the limes, so I decided to ferment them.  I've not had them before, but recommendations are to use the juice in salads and grains, which sounds good.  

For a dinner, I made eggplant crumble, sauteed squash & onions with herbs, and a green salad with figs and pear.  All the ceramic canisters I purchased at the coast had holes drilled, so I can turn them into compost crocks for my shop.   I discovered a new simple living vlog that I'm enjoying, The Cottage Fairy.  My sister and I met for the first time since March.  It was so nice to spend time catching up.  We enjoyed sitting on the outdoor patio of a shop, on a gorgeous fall day.  On Saturday, I had soap orders to deliver, and another errand dropping off something for J.  It was nice catching up safely with all these folks.  On Sunday, J finished up some orders, and in between painting them, I helped him gather the peanuts he dug.  We're pretty pleased with the harvest.  The photo was taken when we were not quite halfway up the row.  We do have more peanuts in the pond garden, but the deer chewed on the plants several times, so we don't expect there to be many there.

Another dye experiment was started.  I began by dyeing one batch of fabric with goldenrod, and another with avocado skins and pits.  The goldenrod was lackluster.  I'll have to try another batch less diluted, to see if I can get brighter colors.  The avocado batch, however, turned out beautifully.  I'd read to freeze instead of dry the avocado bits, and have been doing that.  The results are so much better than the last dried batch.  For dinner, I made tomato rice loaf, which used our tomato and onion.  J cut the first winter greens, and I made our first winter salad of the season with them.  They were so tender and good.  Be well, friends.