Monday, October 11, 2021

A New Garden Gate & Some More Canning

Hello, friends.  Last week, Joseph surprised me with this wonderful garden gate.  Our last one was cobbled together from some decorative metal we were given, and it had rusted enough that it fell apart.  I asked him if we could build an artistic one a few weeks ago, being we work in metal.  We hadn't discussed it since, nor talked about a design, but I love what he came up with, using scrap metal we had on hand.  For a number of months, Harris Teeter has had 3L tins of olive oil on sale for $19.99.  I bought one tin a couple of weeks ago, but realized at that price, I should stock up, so last week I did.  Besides using it for cooking, I use it in soap making.  It should last for years in the tins.  In all the years I've been buying the tins, I've never had one go rancid.  Across the road from HT, I noticed Ace HW had a nice looking nursery.  I've been keeping my eye out for pansies, and was delighted to find some there.  I also got a corkscrew rush, which I really enjoyed having a few years ago, but that one came back as just a plain, straight rush.  I hope this one will keep its curly habit.

In preparation of moving the house plants in, I bought potting soil  to repot several plants.  I also saw a golden raspberry while there, and picked it up.  When I got it home, I realized it was the wrong time to plant it, but tried anyway, planting it just as it started raining.  After finishing another cleanse, I was looking forward to simple, steamed, homegrown potatoes. It's amazing how good they were after having nothing but salads, juices and smoothies for days.  I harvested rosella, stevia, lemon verbena, and dock seed, which are drying.  The wasps and bees are all over the figs.  I managed to harvest about half of them, and what didn't get used in salads were dried. Next, three trays of sweet peppers were dried.  I harvested the last of the pears, and simmered them with cinnamon and lemon juice, to make pear sauce.  Two pans of dried bread, both GF and non, were ground into bread crumbs.  

The garden is still producing a few things.  I harvested yellow squash, eggplant, a lovely head of lettuce, sweet peppers, and hickory nuts.  It's molting time in the coop, so eggs are scarce these days, with maybe one, or if we're lucky, two eggs gathered a day.  We're managing, because they're one of my off limit foods at the moment.  The discount store barley, quinoa and lentils were put in jars for the pantry.  A dish was made using our yellow squash, tromboncino, red pepper and onions.  Our garlic and broth was used with sauteed spinach.  Laundry was hung on the line, but hadn't fully dried before a shower came, so it was finished in the dryer.  I gathered fruit from the black haws I found this summer, maybe 1/2 cup.  It turns out they are mostly seed.  Being there were so few, I thought removing the skin and flesh from the seed, drying them and powdering them to add to smoothies was a good idea.  Turns out it's a great deal of work for very little.  In the future, I'll cook them up with another in season fruit, perhaps pears, and put them through a food mill to remove the seeds.


Saturday was a cooler, damp day, so after canning the pear sauce, vegetable soup was for dinner.  Home canned tomatoes, tomato juice, squash, lima beans and cabbage were used, and homegrown onions and garlic, with bought carrots and celery.  I meant to add potatoes, but forgot until it was almost done. Oops.  Popcorn was made to go along.   I've noticed lots of pumpkin recipes on social media recently.  I wanted oatmeal on Sunday, and opened a jar of home canned pumpkin, which I whisked a portion of until smooth, added cinnamon and cut up an apple to top it.  It felt like a proper fall breakfast.  I wear a scrunchie in my hair daily that I made from fabric I had dyed with plants.  The elastic was giving out, so I took it apart and gave it new elastic.  Hopefully, it will last a good while yet.  Two of the three library books I have were attempted, but not enjoyed.  To stop reading two books in the same week is a first, but there's no sense wasting time reading books that aren't enjoyable.  Thankfully, I'm enjoying the third one quite a bit.  

Our main rooster has had a foot issue for a while.  We both did research on bumblefoot, and on Sunday, after soaking his foot in a warm epsom salt bath, J held him, and I sanitized his foot and removed a scab, then put Neosporin on it and wrapped it up with gauze and a vet wrap.  I hope it helps.  With an abundance of eggplant, I quadrupled my Mom's caponata recipe, and canned it for the first time.  I cut down on the olive oil and vinegar, and it still tasted amazing.  I look forward to enjoying it over some crusty bread.  For dinner, I harvested pesto and purslane, and made pesto.  A salad was made using our lettuce, cucumber, red pepper and store bought items.  It won't hurt my feelings if that's the last canning I'll do from the garden this year, as I need to be moving on to repotting house plants and cleaning windows.  We've got several nights in the 40's coming up in a week or so.  I'm looking forward to that first fire in the woodstove.  Wishing you a cozy week, friends. 

Monday, October 4, 2021

Sweet Days of Early Fall

Hello, friends.  Last year, a potter friend gifted me several elephant ear bulbs.  Having no idea they bloomed, we were happily surprised to see it does, and there's another bud developing.  Last week, while in town, I ventured to the salvage store I hadn't been to since early in the year.  I found bags of both tri-color organic quinoa and organic lentils $1/#, organic barley $1.50/28 oz, a can of Amy's organic soup .50, and 6 packs of riced cauliflower for $4.  There was no more food than they had the last time I was in, but at least there were a few healthier things I could get for pantry storage.  Several books were returned to the library, and three more were picked up.  I used a $10 off $50 coupon at Tractor Supply to buy laying pellets, sunflower seeds, a mum and dog treats.   Because they were out of chicken scratch, my total came to just a few cents under $50, so I went and found a hummingbird feeder on clearance for $5.99.  

Online, I learned about a cold and flu remedy, and had all the plants here, so gathered yarrow, goldenrod, wild rose hips and mint to dry and keep on hand for tea.  I gathered muscadines, lettuce, eggplant, figs, hickory nuts, pears, a small tromboncino and two yellow squash with borers that the pups got the good bits of.  Needing to buy powder coat paint for our small business, I noticed they were having a $25 off $125 special, so bought just enough to qualify for that.  After an appointment, I went by a supposedly great thrift store I was told about.  It ended up being a consignment store, so prices were higher.  Though fairly large, I didn't find anything I needed.  I stopped at a nursery I've been wanting to check out for a few years, and picked up chard plants and some organic fertilizer.  I've had such bad luck growing chard this year, I don't want to count on the seeds I planted doing well, so this gives me some back up.  I've really missed having chard these past several months.  The broccoli, cabbage, and collard seedlings we planted several weeks ago are growing nicely.

With the comfortable fall temperatures recently, I got some things done outdoors.  There are several stages requiring different temperatures, when I'm powder coating orders.  I'd been keeping up with the times with paper and pen, but wanted a chalkboard in the new workshop.  I painted a board with chalk paint, and M created a frame and little shelf for the chalk and eraser, all of it using wood on hand.  Before the workshop was built, the powder coat oven lived along an outside wall of the guy's shop, so it had rusted pretty badly.  Once it got in the workshop, I knew I wanted to spruce it up, so cleaned it up with a wire brush and painted it last week.  J made a new latch for the oven and cut and placed a filter for the intake vent in the wall.  There are still a few things to do, but I'm happy about each little thing that makes it an easier and more pleasant place to work.  

I push mowed a number of areas that got missed by the riding mower all summer.  Our homestead is a hodgepodge of planted areas, not neat squares, so there are lots of little spots that are hard to get to.  They were push mowed once in the spring, but definitely needed it again.  I also worked a little on the garden fence, pulling down morning glory and virginia creeper vines.  It's been lovely not needing a/c since we got back from the beach.  We're in that in between season, where a/c or heat isn't needed.  I noticed a link to a list of movies on a blog I follow, and added several to my Netflix queue.  I enjoyed a free movie on Amazon prime, and watched the first episode of another that had been recommended, which ended up not being my cup of tea.  I added a free book from prime to my Kindle, and went through Swagbucks for 1% back for a business purchase.

We've been sprucing up things around the homestead recently.  Our kitchen sink faucet began failing a month or so ago, and just before we left for the beach, it broke enough that it wouldn't shut off.  J managed to cobble it together well enough to where it would work, but decided to purchase a new one.  The faucet had already broken several times, and though it had a lifetime warranty, he was tired of how often he was having to wait for and change out the parts, which was not an easy job.  Our old kitchen sink was a used one gifted to me when we were building the house, an enameled cast iron one that now had numerous chips and grout that needed redoing.  He decided to replace that too, and installed the new sink and faucet on Friday.  Earlier in the week, I saw hummingbirds at the feeders for several days, but not in the past few days.  I suppose they are headed south, but I'll leave the feeders up a bit longer for any stragglers.  Happy October, friends.  

Monday, September 27, 2021

A Trip to the Coast

Hello, friends.  Last week, J & I took a much needed break, and headed to the coast.  I brought a library book, and finished it, The 100 Years of Lenni and Margot, which I enjoyed.  I also brought a copy of Saving Jemima.  I'd been holding on to it, waiting for vacation to read it.  It was also an enjoyable read.  Several magazines, a Netflix movie and another book from home were also packed.  All breakfasts and lunches were eaten in our room (with kitchenette), and 3 of the 6 dinners.   We tried a new to us place for one dinner, which ended up being the best meal of all.  We'll be returning there.  Some food was brought from home, including our last watermelon, and some was purchased at the grocery store.  

We did our usual thrifting rounds, but did not find as much as in years past.  J found two pants, a shirt and two books.  I found a winter shirt, two linen shirts, a skirt, sheets, a pillowcase and two books.  Another thing I found was a box of artichoke steamer stands for .25.  After purchasing two artichokes, I realized I had no way to steam them there, so this was perfect.  I'd never known there was such a thing, but it worked well, other than not being able to put the lid on fully.  The largest pot provided in our kitchenette was not very large, needless to say.  I brought a good knife with me.  Next year, I'll also bring a steamer basket.  

The garden had been picked pretty well while we were gone, so there wasn't the usual harvest needed when we returned.  I harvested a couple of yellow squash.  There was a small tromboncino the borers had gotten into, so I cut off the wormy parts and grated it for the pups dinner.  There were two cucumbers, and a couple of small, sad tomatoes, and I picked the first lettuce.  A few muscadines were harvested in the past 10 days.  There are plenty of noodle beans, but there are still a good amount in the fridge, so I don't feel the need to harvest more.  J decided to clean up the garden on Sunday, so the noodle beans are now gone.  I can't say I'll miss them, lol.  Two loads of laundry were hung on the line the day after we returned, and I finally got around to working up a bed and planting carrots, beets, chard and lettuce.  It's very late, but you never know what the weather might do.  The goldenrod is blooming profusely.  I decided to gather some to use for dyeing.  Several pieces of cotton were scoured, and a pot of goldenrod started.  The first round of plants did not turn very yellow, so I gathered two more rounds, added them to the pot, and I'll let it sit overnight.  I'm so enjoying these cooler days and nights.  Wishing you beautiful days.   

Monday, September 20, 2021

The Last Sweet Days of Summer

Hello, friends.  Seeing this monarch caterpillar on some of the milkweed made me smile.  Last week, lemon balm was harvested to finish filling an already started jar of glycerite.  I gathered more stems of dock seed, and dried them for future baking.  Three trays of figs were dehydrated.  I'm thinking of baking fig bars during the cooler months, and came across a healthy, GF recipe I can use.  For several weeks now, I've been gathering hickory nuts as I come across them.  The best place is our driveway, as the vehicles run across them, and take the outer husk off, so each time I go to the mailbox, I gather some.  There are still some from last year I've not used, but they'll last a long time in their shells.

On Tuesday, I canned eggplant.  If I have more eggplant bounty, I intend to make caponata with at least some of it.  On a roll that day, I went ahead and canned up yellow squash too.  It felt good to catch up with those.  I also prepped the noodle beans, some while watching the canner.  All the end bits went into the vegi broth bag, which filled the 4th gallon bag.  Soon I'll need to be canning broth.  On that day, I was on the 9th and final day of an advanced Medical Medium cleanse.  I was worried my energy might be low, because on this final day, only liquids were allowed.  It turns out my energy was great, which has been the case throughout the protocol I've been doing, which tells me I'm on the right track in supporting my health.  My weight has dropped to 100, the lowest I've been in, well... decades, but still a good, healthy weight for my height.  I continue walking daily with the pups for exercise.

On Wednesday, after painting orders, I canned noodle beans, and froze red pepper.  Another day, I cut and dried several sweet peppers.  The ground is still quite dry here, so it has not been a stellar mushroom year.  Still, I found a few more small chanterelles on my walks and dried them too.  A juicer I tried, but didn't work for me, was returned to Amazon.  The tomatoes in the garden are pretty much done, but I'm still harvesting figs, eggplant, cucumbers, peppers, the last pawpaw and noodle beans.  The yellow and tromboncino squash are slowing down, but we're still getting a few of those.  Herbs have been harvested for meals, including basil, oregano and chives.  We enjoyed our watermelon.  I saved the seeds, and harvested our last one.  Our little home goods business has been booming, and we're looking forward to a little break.  Enjoy these last few sweet days of summer, friends.  

Monday, September 13, 2021

A Road Trip for J & A Dwindling Garden

Hello, friends.  Last week, J noticed I'll soon need new tires, and definitely will before my January inspection.  We'd heard tires may get difficult to come by, so he found a good sale, and we went ahead and purchased them.  I gathered potatoes from our outdoor potato stash, and all I could see were looking good.  I'm sure happy about that.   From the garden, I harvested tomatoes, yellow squash, yard long beans, figs, pawpaws, eggplant, a tromboncino, and a small butternut squash, which I believe is the last one.  I also harvested what I believe are the last of the hazelnuts.  The garden is definitely dwindling.

I took advantage of a 25% off sale, and stocked up on toothpaste and hand lotion, and got 3% back through Swagbucks.  One afternoon, I mended a sweater, pillowcase, and pair of shorts.  I cut two favorite pairs of cotton batik scrub pants that I'd worn the knees out of into shorts, and hope to hem them soon.  I went through Swagbucks for a couple of business orders, for 2% back each.   We shared pawpaws with a neighbor who asked about them.  His wife has been ill, and she loves them.  We were glad to share.  I froze the pulp from several.  On a wet morning, I caught up on number crunching... balancing my checkbook, books for our home goods business, and for J's business.  All laundry done this week was hung on the line.  Several chanterelles were harvested and dried, and another stem of dock seed.

J took a break on Friday, and went to Charleston to see the submarine, CSS Hunley, which was used during the Civil War.  He also visited a distillery that an old coworker works at.  After picking the garden, and powder coating orders on Friday, I headed to town for groceries and errands.  There were no great sales at the grocery store, but I stopped at Marshall's, and got two jars of raw honey, and found packs of organic spirulina, which I use in my smoothies, in the clearance area for $5.  They came to $1/lb, much less than the $3.41/lb plus shipping I've been paying, so that was a happy find.  I also found dried white mulberries marked down to $2.50, which are in a recipe I plan to try from Medical Medium.  That evening, I gave myself a little self care, including a manicure and a facial mask.  Yellow squash, beans, a tromboncino and some figs were shared with a friend.  Wishing you a lovely week, friends.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Labor Day Wishes

Hello, friends.  Last week, I was delighted to see a monarch in the garden.  It alighted on a cucumber plant, and kept me company for a few moments.  From the garden, I harvested a few tomatoes, some eggplant, peppers, yard long beans, yellow squash, a tromboncino, hazelnuts, pawpaws, purslane and apples.  I harvested and dried lambs quarter and two chanterelle mushrooms.  Since the rain midweek, I saw two more tromboncinos beginning.  We planted collards, broccoli, cabbage and lettuce seedlings that J purchased. It's just been that kind of year.  I shared yellow squash, beans, peppers, and a couple of pawpaws.  For my birthday, my spirit daughter sent me these beautiful flowers.  (We prefer spirit daughter to step-daughter).  

I grew up using a sponge to wash dishes, and still prefer it to a dish cloth.  Though it's not the most frugal choice, I've started a new habit that makes a little more use of it.  When it's time to replace the old one, I use it for wiping several dirty jobs, such as the trash can, baseboards, and dirty places on the doorframes and wall corners where the dogs rub (do other dogs do that??), before throwing it away.  I do keep some older ones to use in the bathroom, and one to scrub the occasional egg, but the dirty jobs idea is a new one that's uses them up a bit more.  Warm up and dehumidifier water were used for flushing and to water plants.  The bamboo cutting board was scrubbed with baking soda and homemade thieves vinegar, to cut down on the onion and garlic residue.

After delivering soap to a gallery, I went by Hallmark, and received a free card, while buying other greeting cards.  At Harris Teeter, I got a 3L tin of EVOO for $19.99.  This time I made sure I got the sale price before leaving, and also got the 5% senior discount on my total.  J made a hay spike to move the large round bales he recently bought.  We're planning on turning the road garden into a hay field, once we enlarge it some.  That was the field we tried wheat and peanuts in in past years, but the deer ate our crops, so hay seems like a better use of that spot.  The garden is a good ways from our house, and they're braver there.  M has been getting videos of the deer over there on his webcam regularly.  After making soup for lunch, using homemade broth, I froze the remainder.  A dish was made, using our potatoes, peppers, onions and garlic.  

consolation scene

On Friday evening, we picked up our GD just after she got off the school bus, headed to pick up dinner, and then to the Paperhand Puppet event.  We were the second group that arrived, so we had our pick of seats, and enjoyed a leisurely dinner there.  It took place in a lovely venue, an 100+ year old stone amphitheater in the woods.  The pre-show was a local  kora player.  Though I was the only one of our trio, I greatly enjoyed it.  Things went south from there.  Right about when the show was to have started, there was a local power outage, which wasn't expected to be resolved for several hours.  After several minutes, they did a short scene as a consolation, and cancelled the show.  We plan to try again in a few weeks.  J and our GD planted lettuce seeds, while she was here.  After dropping her home, we met dear friends at a winery, and had a most enjoyable afternoon catching up.  Wishing you a lovely Labor Day.  

Monday, August 30, 2021

Late Summer Days

Hello, friends.  I'm sending prayers that those in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida are safe, as I'm writing this Sunday night.  This storm coming on the anniversary of Katrina makes my heart heavy.  It seems there are so many things, coming at us from so many angles, it can be tough to find the bright side some days.  A happy note is last week, I saw a new to me bird at the feeder, a hooded warbler, which is not uncommon here, apparently.  It always cheers me to see more diversity on this land.  

The figs, yellow squash and yard long beans are coming in well.  One day, I made fig jam and fig sherry bread, which J requested.  For a dinner, I made yellow squash soup, and pulled homemade bread from the freezer to go with it.  On Tuesday I had a slower day, which allowed me to pick up and put away things, and give some attention to things that often get missed.  One of the things I did was pull everything off the day bed, and clean and polish it.  The next day, I dehydrated lambs quarter, plus a chanterelle I found on a walk, and wrapped soap.  With days mostly in the 90's, I did the majority of my outdoor chores early, then enjoyed being in the house.  

I made zucchini orzo with the last of the tromboncino, and an apple beet salad.  The asparagus sent up some late spears after last week's rain, so I harvested a few in spots that had plenty of other spears to feed the roots.  I harvested concord grapes, and made juice with them.  The pond garden became a jungle this year, and the butternut squash did poorly.  Several vines died, and a few small, immature squash were harvested.  The sweet potatoes are also in this garden, so our expectations are not high for them.  While out and about, I went by the discount grocery, and got organic and natural peanut butter 2/$1, organic beans .60, organic soup .40, glow sticks 2/$1.  Our basement is also our storm shelter, and I thought we'd appreciate having those sources of light, if we ever had to spend much time there.  While at the store, I was told they're phasing out food, to become a hunting and fishing shop, which saddens me.  J bought pork chops at the local, small grocery store for $1.68/#, which he says is a very good price for here.  

On the way home from visiting my sister, I had a hankering for pesto, so I gathered basil and purslane when I got home, and we had it with GF pasta and sliced tomatoes for dinner.  I needed to order paint for our small business.  When I began checking out, I saw a banner for $25 off, for just a few more dollars than I was spending.  By adding one more to my cart, I got almost 2 free, which was a nice bonus.  While cutting the grapes, I cut the tip off a finger of my gloves.  I mended it with super glue.  I have small hands, and the gloves were longer than my fingers, so this should work just fine.  One of the hot evenings, I mended a napkin, a pair of shorts, 2 reusable grocery bags, 5 pairs of J's work pants, and redid an uncomfortable neckline on one of my homestead shirts.  J brought me this bouquet of local sunflowers on Sunday.  He went to pick up two more bales of organic hay, and the man also sells sunflowers.  J created a vacuum chamber to "can" our dry goods, which worked wonderfully.  We were having issues with our old method, and this seems to work a lot better so far.  

I noticed the tendril of one of the watermelons had dried several days ago, so I harvested it Sunday.  I may have jumped the gun, as the patch that was on the ground looks more creamy than yellow.  I guess we'll find out.  Neither of us feels very confident in telling when a watermelon is ready.  This coming week, I'm looking forward to seeing Paperhand Puppet Intervention, which we're taking our GD to see.  I've seen a few of their puppets at various local events, but have never been to one of their shows.  It's at a lovely, old outdoor theater in the woods on the UNC campus.  After the next few days in the 90's, we're supposed to cool down some.  I'm surely looking forward to that.   J cooked potatoes, squash, eggplant and chicken on the grill.  I've been gathering vegan ice cream recipes, and made the first one, Vanilla Maple.   I subbed almond milk for the oat milk, and sadly, it tasted more of almonds than vanilla or maple, and not much of that.  I put some of my amaretto pear preserves on top, which helped.  Stay safe and well this week, friends.    

Monday, August 23, 2021

Flowers & A Feather

Hello, friends.  A downy woodpecker feather was noticed near the bird feeders.  The next day, I saw one of these woodpeckers on the feeder.  Just this summer, it was brought to my attention that it is a crime to have most bird feathers in your possession.  I've brought them home for years, to decorate wreaths, windowsills and vases, and never knew.  I can understand the logic behind it, though picking up a random feather seems innocent enough.  The juicer I've been using daily for a little over 3 months has started acting up and showing signs of wear.  I wrote the company, asking about replacement parts.  With recent experiences with customer service, I didn't expect much.  I was pleasantly surprised, and there are two parts on the way to me for free.  The chicken coop was cleaned, and mint was harvested and placed in nesting boxes and on the floor.

One night, I pulled out corn on the cob I'd frozen, to go with a yellow squash and kalamata dish, steamed cauliflower and sliced tomatoes, which was a dinner requested by J.   A couple of days last week, dock seeds were gathered to dry and grind for flour.  I've started doing some Christmas shopping, though I've only been given a few ideas so far.  Most often, family members give ideas from Amazon and other online shops, and with hearing about the port closures, I want to get a jump on it.  I'd put one of the presents in an online cart, but didn't purchase it, as it was late one night.  The next day, I received a 10% off coupon, and purchased it.  I've gotten an idea of something I can make my husband, as one of his gifts.  Black eyed pea salad was made for lunches, but our home canned crowder peas were used.  Pasta Norma was made with our eggplant, tomatoes, onion and herbs, with a green salad with figs, pecans and beauty berries.  Though it's not strictly wild, the birds planted the beauty berry I harvested from, and it grows along the walking path. Any time I can get some extra nutrition from wild foods is a plus.  Another night a green salad was made with cherries, pecans and figs.  I made a Medical Medium-friendly "vinaigrette" from the last of a jar of fruit sweetened black currant jelly and lemon juice.  It was surprisingly good.

The mesh bags from oranges have been saved, and put at the outdoor spigot, for washing buckets, chicken waterers and such.  For a dinner side, I roasted yellow squash with maple syrup and butter.  Three jars of herbal glycerites were strained and bottled.   We're having a hard time growing bell peppers this year, as they're being chewed on before ripening.  I found several that had fallen off, cut away the good bits, and dried them.  Pasta salad was made with our cucumber, tomatoes and herbs, plus black olives.  The figs are bountiful.  I had seen a photo of a fig clafouti that someone had made, and decided to make one, but the recipe I used was not a keeper.  Well, J likes it, and is eating it, so that's good.  When I called to order metal for our home goods business, I was told they would not be getting any more metal until some time in November, due to supply chain challenges.  Our business continues to do well, and it would really hurt us to run out of metal.  I placed a much larger than usual order, and pray good sales continue.  The pups were bathed with homemade dog soap.

It's finally starting to cool off at night, so we can open up for at least part of the night, before closing in the morning.  I linked through Swagbucks for a purchase, and hadn't received cash back, so contacted them, and quickly received it.  I also wrote them again about another purchase, in which they hadn't responded in the promised 30 days, and am waiting to hear back.  Our volunteer watermelon has several melons on it.  One was an odd shape, so I cut it open for the chickens, and found out they're yellow.  More basil than was needed for a recipe was picked, and I chopped the remainder, put it in an ice cube tray with water, and froze it.  I prefer freezing to drying basil, as it has a taste much closer to fresh.  A new recipe was tried for gnocchi with tomato broth, which used our tomatoes, basil, garlic, onion and broth.  The recipe called for straining out the vegetables before serving in the broth, but I couldn't see a good reason to do that, so didn't.  It was very good.  The refrigerator is filling up with figs, so I see jam making in my near future.  Wishing you a bountiful and blessed week.

Monday, August 16, 2021

August Garden Harvest

Hello, friends.  The organic oats I recently ordered came in, and my husband picked them up on Monday.  Golden Paste was made for the pups.  Tromboncino squash and beans were shared with a friend.  We were gifted cucumbers, and shared beans with two more friends.  Another two rounds of elderberries were gathered and dried.  The week has been very hot, with lots of highs in the 90's, and very humid.  After the morning walk, and chicken and garden tasks, I devoted the majority of two days to number crunching and paperwork, enjoying being in the a/c.  I was woefully behind on paperwork for SoulSeeds and my checking account.  Now it's all caught up, as well as bookkeeping for J's business.  That feels like a big relief. 


While in town to get groceries, I stopped to check out the food at Marshall's, and got raw honey, olives and a lb. of walnuts.  At Aldi's, I bought avocados for .69, some pecans and other groceries at the usual prices.  I stopped at the library to return The Four Winds, and picked up The Paris Library.  Gas was .10 less than locally, which saved .75.  I then headed to visit with my sister, who is healing well.  While there, I borrowed an extra fitbit she had.  Several years ago, a friend who had a fitbit walked with me, and calculated his steps were around 3 miles.  Well, it turns out it's less than that, at just over 1.5 miles, so my two daily walks are only 2 or so miles, instead of the 4 I thought they were.  I wore it most of the day, and when I took it off, it registered 6.4 miles on just an average day around the homestead.  A full shredder bin was added to the compost.  

Noticing spikes of dock seeds, I harvested several, with the intention of cleaning and using them in baking at some point.  With rain in the forecast, I planted the marked down marigolds and blanket flower.  Except for one in the window box at the SoulSeeds shop, I planted the rest around cucumbers, squash and eggplant, as it supposedly helps them grow.  From the garden, tomatoes, beans, yellow squash, a pepper and eggplant were harvested.  Apples, hazelnuts, figs and pears are also being gathered as I see them.  Our new freezer is set up.  I brought all the food from the outside refrigerator/freezer inside, and unplugged it.  I used baskets I already had to organize the freezer.  Another round of potatoes that needed using were steamed, and two jars of beans that didn't seal were made into garlicky green beans.

We'd gotten so dry here, I noticed wasps, ants and yellow jackets fighting on the beans, I suppose for the moisture.  Interestingly, I didn't notice anyone bothering the bumblebees.  I spied a large praying mantis on them one day.  Laundry was hung on the line two days.  Warm up water and dehumidifier water were used to water plants and for flushing.  One night, I made a dish which used jasmine rice with our canned butter beans.  This, with sliced tomatoes, was good on a hot night.  As I'm finishing up this post Sunday night, we're getting a heavy rain, which we're so thankful for.  There wasn't much sleep last night, due to one of the pups and some other reasons, so I'm pretty fuzzy and think I'll end here.  I'm sending thoughts for a peaceful week for the world and you, friends.  Be well.

Monday, August 9, 2021

A Hint Of Fall

Hello, friends.  After an appointment in town, I picked up an order for J at Tractor Supply, stopped by the vision center to check on his glasses order, then stopped for groceries.  There were no fantastic sales, but I got avocados for .89 and cans of organic pinto beans for .99.  On the way home, I stopped at a local orchard for peaches.  I've tried several from the stores, and they've all been awful this year, because they pick them so early.  They were pricy, but I'm hoping they'll be worth it.  (Update: they were good peaches, hooray).  From the garden, I harvested tomatoes, a pepper, tromboncino squash, an eggplant, and a cucumber.  

I weeded all the eggplant in the main garden.  Lately, I've been adding at least two items to the thrift store box every week.  There will be more than usual this week, as I'm going through the clothes we have for our granddaughter, and she's pretty much outgrown everything.  I'm slowly but surely decluttering.  J bought 200 canning lids online, which came during the week.  Though we were already good for this year, you never know what the coming year will hold.  I'm seeing so many posts and videos about food shortages, it's concerning.  Please make sure you have a stocked pantry, rotate food and replace it as you use it.  We're surely living in interesting times.  We're getting low on rolled oats, so I ordered a 50# bag from the co-op we often shop at.  

Though I'd asked J to plant just enough beans for fresh eating this year, I'm harvesting more than a meal's worth daily, which is several times too many.   I guess I'll soon be adding to the number of jars already on the shelf.  That's not a terrible problem to have, but I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed and exhausted this week.  There hasn't been a lot of sleep, due to one of the pups, in addition to feeling stressed.  This too shall pass.  Elderberries were harvested again.  I found some lovely heads in the chicken yard.  We've been letting elderberry and mulberry volunteers grow in the chicken yards, and this is the first harvest of these elderberries.

A bag of winter squash cubes was pulled from the freezer, for soapmaking.  With fall approaching, it was time to make a batch of Pumpkin Chai.  There was still plenty of squash left, so I made a double batch of dog treats, and Jackie Clay's Minnesota Harvest Bars with the rest.  The recipe is in her book, Growing & Canning Your Own Food.   A pint jar of tomatoes that didn't seal and tomato juice from canning were used in pasta sauce, with our herbs and onions.  Another day, tomatoes were canned.  I reprocessed a jar that didn't seal, and canned tomato juice, along with catching up on the tomatoes that needed canning.  The following day, I canned 7 jars of yard long beans, a mix of quarts and 20 oz jars with straight sides, which work well for beans.

A small tromboncino was used in a dish with quinoa, avocado and our onion.  My favorite tomato, cucumber and black olive salad went with it.  A frugal fail this week was with an order we recently had.  There was miscommunication between the customer and I, and though she was equally at fault, I took the burden of the blame, and we'll lose any profit.  Having a happy customer is worth a lot, though.  We've never gotten anything other than the best (5 star) review in our shop, and I don't want that to change if I can help it.  I've been trying to return some items we had gotten the wrong size of.  The first email I sent was in May, following the instructions they gave for returns.  As I had not had a reply to any of my emails, I did a review on them last week, giving them one star.  They quickly responded, and I got an email response a few hours later, along with a return label.

We received some much needed rain, as we haven't had a good rain for weeks.  We got 3/4", which all soaked in.  I was hoping it would replenish our creek, but I'm thankful to get what we did.  The plants are obviously happier.  For a dinner, pasta sauce was made with our tomatoes, squash, garlic, onions, rosemary and basil.  On a day the guys were working in VA, I decided to have a self-care day.  I gave myself a pedicure, cut a bouquet, and did some spiritual work.  The garden and animal chores were done, but otherwise, I focused on myself, which recharged me a bit.  Beans were shared with friends, who came to pick up our sofa to reupholster.   Lots of orders were washed, in preparation for powder coating them.  Included is the first stand we are shipping to Australia.  It's pretty exciting to be sending our work around this beautiful world.   Wishing you a week of peace and prosperity.

Monday, August 2, 2021

The Latest in the Potato Saga & A Cute Camper


Hello, friends.  With a good chance of rain in the forecast starting Monday evening, and while the morning was still reasonably cool, I filled a 55 gal. barrel with the recently bought hay for the chicken coop.  I then worked on the potatoes, sorting them into small, medium and large piles, pulling any that needed eating soon, and a few that went into the compost.  They were then covered up with fresh pine straw.  Hopefully, the only other attention they'll need now is to enjoy eating them over the coming months.  Before the rain, I planted the gifted milkweed, and gathered lemon balm to start a jar of glycerite.  

Well, it turned out the rain was a bust. It went all around us, and we got only a sprinkle.  The first yard long beans were picked, and they've been producing well since.  After meeting my niece for lunch, I stopped by the library, then got some groceries.  I also stopped at Lowe's, and got two 4-packs of marigolds for .50 ea. and a blanket flower for $1 on the clearance racks.  I plan to plant most if not all around the workshop.  Filling up in town saved .10/gal.  Another batch of tomatoes was canned up on Thursday, adding 6 qts and a pint to the pantry.  All the excess tomato juice was saved in the fridge.  I rearranged some things in the pantry to make room for the jars of tomatoes.  The chard seedlings, nasturtiums and elephant ears were fed with comfrey tea.  My toothpaste tube was cut open, to use up the last of it.  

We had several days in the 90's, so dinners were simple.  I made hummus one day, a green bean & potato salad with lemon juice subbed for vinegar, and a blueberry/blackberry pie, which used up the last of our fresh berries.  I didn't get to freeze any berries this year, but we sure did enjoy those pies.  Another night I had leftovers, and J wanted egg salad sandwiches with sliced tomatoes.  There weren't as many as the usual amount of elderberries this year, and the birds had gotten a large portion of them.  I harvested what I could, and dried them.  Also harvested were tomatoes, a cucumber, a pepper, apples, lambs quarter and yard long beans.  

I started reading The Four Winds, one of my library books.  One night, I made garlicky green beans and potato salad with our beans, potatoes, garlic and parsley.  A salad with our tomatoes went with it.  J did some earthwork in the garden, and found a good sized renegade potato.  A tromboncino and garlic was used in zucchini orzo.  We enjoyed our sliced tomatoes with it, as we did several nights during the week.  I purchased three books of Forever stamps, in anticipation of the price increase, and also got 2 for J's business. I picked a second small round of elderberries, and have them drying in the dehydrator.  

On Sunday, J fixed himself chicken and noodles, so I took the opportunity to not cook, and enjoyed two tomato & basil sandwiches for dinner.  They were lovely.  I'd had a stressful day, dealing with a challenging customer, so this was a welcome break.  We had a pretty special order come in over the weekend, our first from Australia.  So far, our only out of the country orders have been to Canada, so we're pretty excited about this one.  This cute little camper is parked here for the guys to work on.  It makes me smile.   Wishing you a week that brings some smiles, friends.  

Monday, July 26, 2021

A Bird ID & Our Potato Disaster

Hello, friends.  Last week, I canned blueberries in a very light honey syrup, with plans to use them for pies.  Three of the Tattler lids didn't seal on the tomatoes canned the day before, and I had just enough room to add them to the canner to reprocess them.  It worked great to take the blueberries out at 20 minutes, and leave the tomatoes in for another 25, and they all sealed this time.  I went through Swagbucks for a Vitacost purchase for 4% back, and used coupon codes for 20% off of most things.  Our first eggplant was harvested.  A saute was made with a tromboncino squash, a yellow squash we were gifted, tomatoes, and foraged chanterelles, with fresh basil and oregano.  In one of the mushroom classes I took, the instructor felt the old man of the woods mushroom's taste benefited from drying, so that's what I did with one I foraged.  Daily hand picking is barely making a dent in the Japanese beetle population.  They've started eating things we've never seen them on before, including comfrey, with it's prickly leaves, and basil flowers.  Sheesh.  

Can you find the 3 critters?

There were frugal fails last week.  Because my car was in the shop, I missed the Big Lots 20% off sale.  I've been keeping a list for when they had one of their sales, and guess it will have to keep until the next time.  A significantly greater fail was our potatoes.  When I went to gather potatoes one evening, I found many of them rotting.  Because we had so many this year, instead of having them in single layers as we have in the past, they were piled up.  We believe that was our error.  Boy, was that a nasty, stinking mess!  I sorted through all I could handle that evening, threw many into the compost, and used a pile of them for mashed potatoes that needed parts cut away.   J threw some more lime on them until we could do something else, and put an old dog lot around them, to keep McNibs away.  Another day, I went through them again, and gathered all the small potatoes to can.  Another 2/3 of a 5 gallon bucket were composted, and another batch were cut and salvaged, and used in a stir fry for dinner.  I'd say we lost 20-25% .  Lesson learned.  If you didn't see the post, this is how we store them when we have a large harvest.  

It appears that we should have a bountiful fig crop this year, despite the first round being frozen by a late frost.  One of my go to salads at the moment is a sliced cucumber and tomatoes, with black olives.  After our spring lettuce was gone, I was regularly buying the clamshells of spring mix for our salads.  Besides the lettuce lasting no time before becoming slimy, I realized how much plastic I was generating with those clamshells.  The natural co-op carries leaf lettuce, but it's 45 minutes away.  Any time either of us are in that town, we pick some up.  Aldi's and Food Lion only carry the clamshells of organic lettuce.  The other store, which I rarely shop at, sometimes has organic leaf lettuce, but not always.  Hence the cucumber, tomato, olive salads.  Apple beet salad and fruit salads occasionally make it on the menu too.  As soon as there's time to prepare a garden area, I plan to plant more lettuce seeds, as well as some of the fall crops.  Thanks to Julie Zickefoose, I'm delighted to know that the sweet birdsong I've heard at first light is an Eastern Wood Pewee.  I have her Saving Jemima book, which I'm waiting to enjoy on our beach trip.

The harvested eggplant, potatoes I'd steamed earlier in the day, sweet peppers, onions and garlic were sauteed together.  On Friday, I canned the small potatoes, which filled up the canner (18 pts), except for 3 potatoes, which I enjoyed as part of a late lunch.  A pan of egg shells was crushed, and bread crumbs were made from the failed GF loaf I made, plus a couple bread ends.  I gathered a bouquet for a visit to my sister, who was under the weather, and brought eggs and tomatoes to share.  J voted thumbs down on radish pods I'd collected from the garden.  I was glad I put them on the side, instead of in his salad.   He finished covering the asparagus patch with the final layer of soil.  We've been needing mulch, and it occurred to me someone may be offering organic hay on either Craigslist, or fb marketplace.  Sure enough, he found some not too far away, and brought home a round bale.  He partially mulched the asparagus with it, on a very hot afternoon. 

There were 9 orders to wash and powder coat on Saturday, which had me hustling.  Packing them will take another day.  Another round of tomatoes was canned on Sunday, this time 11 qts.  The man J got the hay from gifted him 6 heirloom tomatoes, and a milkweed I don't have.  When I researched it,  it's not a recommended milkweed to grow due to bloom time, but there are varying opinions out there, and we do have many native milkweed plants here, so I think it will be OK.  It's an annual in this zone, so I can always choose to not save seed.  It has a very pretty flower.   I harvested tromboncino, cucumbers, tomatoes, a yellow squash, basil, oregano and lambs quarter.  Both squash are still growing very slowly, but we're usually able to have one meal a week using them.  J had tried replacing a part in the freezer that died, but it didn't fix it, so he offered it for free.  Within minutes, he had someone who wanted it, and it was gone within a couple of hours.  I was quite happy to have it off our porch.  These peak days of summer have me hitting the ground running each day, but it feels good to be harvesting and putting food by.  Wishing you a most abundant week, friends.