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.