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.