Monday, February 22, 2021

Pine Needles, Prunings and Podcasts

Hello, friends.  Last week, two sweaters were mended.  Cabbage, kale and winter greens were harvested.  There is still quite a bit of the strong tasting winter squash in the freezer. I expect it came from the huge, warty mutant squash that showed up last year.  I realized I could feed it to the dogs, whom it is so good for, they enjoy it, and I was able to start working on the squash in storage.  Two were getting soft, and went to the chickens, but I cut up several butternut squash, enough to make a butternut squash crumble, and froze two additional bags.  The crumble also used our fresh parsley and thyme.  A bag of our butter beans was pulled from the freezer.  Another night dinner was pasta with pesto.  I've been wanting to try pine needle tea for a while, and made some, but was not impressed with the flavor.  I've read that different species have different tastes, but I expect the main reason is I did not make it into tea for a couple of days.  I need to try some fresh, but in the meantime, I read a post by Susun Weed, who recommended steeping the needles in ACV, so I started a batch of that.  They're an excellent source of Vit C.  There are often tufts of pine needles on the ground where I walk, I assume dropped by the squirrels, and these are what I forage.  It's difficult to get a nice pic by candlelight, but I tried.

The hens have slowly been increasing their egg production.  I had enough to share some with M, the first time in months.  I finished filling another gallon bag of vegi scraps for broth.  After an appt., I delivered soap to a nearby gallery, went by Hallmark, where I got a free greeting card, then to Harris Teeter, where I found organic butter for 4.77, and got 3#.  A batch of yogurt was made.  A frittata was made to use up leftovers, which consisted of potatoes, green bean casserole and a little cauliflower.  Pear blue cheese salad was made with one of the last gifted pears, and homemade berry vinaigrette dressed it.  Our friend, M, made an oak shaving bowl on request from one of my customers who had bought one of his shaving brushes, and wanted a bowl to match.  I think it turned out lovely.

On Friday, I cleaned up several orders.  I also spray painted a custom paint order.  On Saturday, I painted all but one order, finished the last one on Sunday, along with another custom order.  Most orders were packed on Saturday and Sunday, and the rest will be packed on Monday.  While packing orders, I so enjoyed listening to a few On Being podcasts.  The ones I listened to were with Ariel Burger, Alain de Botton, Parker Palmer and Drew Lanham.  Each of these people were unknown to me, and each was beautiful.  I've been keeping an eye on the peas and the wintersown containers, but don't see anything up yet.  The predicted wintry weather did not arrive last week, only the usual rain.  I received a small bag of cat food.  A small refund check was received from the insurance company.  J pruned fruit trees on Sunday, and the fig cuttings were shared with friends.  It was such a pleasure to have a good visit with them outdoors.  It was getting hard to remember what it's like to have good conversations with friends.  I hope it will be not too far along in the future before we can freely visit again.  Some progress was made on the workshop over the weekend.  The screws in the sheetrock were mudded, the Solatube was placed in the roof, and the wiring for the ventilator fan was run.  Little by little, we're getting there.  I hope you are moving forward in whatever ways feed your soul. 

Monday, February 15, 2021

February Days

Hello, friends.  I hope you felt surrounded by goodness and love on Valentine's Day, even if your day was spent in your own company.  Last week, I harvested a cabbage, and made cabbage and noodles for a dinner.  There was one unseasonably warm, mostly sunny afternoon in the mid 60's, so I changed my plans, and worked on winter sowing.  I prepped a dozen containers, which involved drilling holes, cutting them across the middle, and filling with potting soil.  I ended up seeding 4 containers, all dye plants, before running out of daylight.  It's been a rainy week, but I'll get back out there soon, and seed some more containers.  Spending time outdoors on a gloriously warm, sunny day did my heart good.  

I read Tuesday afternoon that it was National Pizza day, and decided to play along.  I made a double batch of dough, a mix of whole wheat and white, and parbaked and froze the second crust for another time.  Toppings were our pickled sweet red and frozen green peppers, eggplant cubes I'd roasted and frozen, home canned mushrooms and olives, and homegrown garlic.  There was plenty of sauce made, and some was frozen.  A salad rounded out the meal.  A load of laundry was hung on the line my one window of opportunity.  Though it's not my preference, two loads had to be dried in the dryer over the weekend, and wool socks were hung all around the house to dry.  J requested potato soup and waldorf salad for a dinner.  Parsley was harvested for the soup.  I made cranberry bread with leftover sauce and the last of the pear cranberry jam and homemade buttermilk to have for dessert.

I had to go to town on Friday, to buy paint for a custom order, and ran errands while there.  It was some time in 2019 that I last went to the Asheboro discount grocery, as there was less and less food, and lots more other stuff, which I'm not interested in.  I'd messaged them recently, and they said they'd gotten some food from Costco, so I ran by there.  They opened a back room for even more stuff, and there was pitiful little food.  I did find honey-sweetened ketchup, and got one to try.  My intention was to then head to the newer discount grocery, where I've found some good things, but the owner and my schedule just don't seem to jibe.  She'd told me she'd be open until 5 (I've learned to check first), but then received a message that she was leaving for lunch (at 11:43), and would be back no later than 2.  I really have a hard time comprehending how someone can run a business like this, as it's the third time I've known of her being closed during her posted business hours, and I've only attempted shopping there a handful of times.  I'd love to support her, but expect she'll be out of business before long.  

At the grocery store, between a sale, coupon and rewards, I saved $19 on two bags of dog food.  Avocados were .55.  Organic blueberries were $2.  Asparagus was $1.49#, and I got 3.  I picked up 2# of organic butter for $4.49, the best price I've seen in a very long time.  I do wish I'd see a good sale.  I filled the car when passing a station with gas .11 less than it is closer to me, saving .80.  After getting in on Friday, I decided to make a green bean casserole.  It used two quarts of our oldest green beans, and what's left in the pantry is now from 2016 & '20.  There weren't enough fresh mushrooms, so I rehydrated some of the maitake for the remainder needed.  I also tried a new cauliflower recipe, with kalamata olives and lemon pieces.  It was good, but the lemon pieces were a bit much to bite into, so next time, I'd just use the juice instead.  A few more hours were spent working on taxes.  I've been enjoying free movies on Prime.  J is thinking about cancelling it, so I've been trying to catch up on my watchlist.  I found a list of the Superbowl commercials, and watched them.  I thought the Chipotle one was good, but my favorite was the Bud Light lemonade one.  I've watched it several times, and it still makes me LOL.  It seems so appropriate for 2020.  Have a lovely week, friends.    

Monday, February 8, 2021

Midwinter on the Homestead


Hello friends.  Last week, I redeemed 2100 Swagbucks for a $25 Lowes GC, which will come in handy for the workshop build.  I harvested a small cabbage and parsley, both used in a dish with our garlic, sweet onion and homemade bread crumbs.  Last summer's garlic is fading in storage.  I took a portion of it, and dehydrated it to preserve it, and will grind it for powder at some point.  It takes time to peel all the cloves, so I stopped when I got three trays filled.  My dehydrator is one of the old, round, cheap types I've had for 20+ years, but it does what I need.  Some years back, I asked J to make some sheets to fit it, from some food grade stainless mesh he had in the shop, which makes it easier to do small pieces of things.  While baking potatoes for dinner, I added some sweet potatoes, to make good use of the oven.

I continued gathering paperwork, and crunching numbers, in preparation for taxes.  Yogurt was made.  Though the garden grows slowly this time of year, I was able to harvest kale and mixed winter greens.  The mixed greens were made into a winter salad that night.  It's such a treat to have tender, fresh from the garden greens midwinter.  I sliced up two of the sweet potatoes, and fried them with cinnamon.  I cleaned up one of the raised beds.  It was full of henbit, among other weeds, and was quite a challenge, but at the end of it, I was able to plant two rows of Frosty peas.  I planted them mid-January last year, and they did pretty well, considering they never had proper support.  Here's hoping they do at least as well this year.  The chickens got all the weeds from the bed, so they also got the treat of a midwinter salad.  Lately, I've been giving our farm cat a spoon of wet food in with her dried food most evenings.  I saved the can, and screwed it into a post in the chicken pen to hold oyster shell.  I did this long ago, and it fell apart at some point, so I've been scattering it on the ground.  This will make it less wasteful.

Thinking about breakfast one morning, I remembered seeing random bags of single pancakes in the freezer, and determined to find them.  It took a couple of minutes, and now the freezer is less two bags.  While looking, I noticed a large bag of blueberry pancakes, and need to remember to pull them out one weekend.  I read about house finch eye disease recently, then began seeing birds with eye issues.  I am good at keeping the feeders filled, but not very good at washing them, so I've got to up my game on that.  I washed all the feeders and bird baths with a 10% bleach solution as suggested.  I don't know if there are others feeding birds nearby, but at least the ones here won't be spreading disease.  A batch of Wake Up soap was made, the oils warmed on the woodstove, and filtered rainwater and homegrown dried spearmint incorporated.  

On Saturday, while I powder coated orders, J finished the porch floor of the workshop, and made a threshold out of a piece of lumber I salvaged 20+ years ago, just before the local little store was torn down.  There's a lot of the salvaged store and school building that was next door to it in this house.  I love that a piece of it will also be in the workshop.  I pulled butter beans from the freezer, made a kale salad, and finally used up all the cranberries in a fresh sauce that also used our blueberries.  As I was finishing my shower one night, I happened to look up and see a stream of water spewing from where it shouldn't, above the shower curtain and into the bathroom.  Uh oh.  J checked it over, and it can't be repaired, so he put a clothespin on it, to keep the spewing contained in the shower.  Not ideal, but it will work until the new one arrives.  I researched the link he sent me for a better quality showerhead, and found it elsewhere with free shipping and 2% back through Swagbucks.

Sunday morning started slow, which was lovely.  After a leisurely breakfast, I made suet for the birds, then began packing orders.  Once that was accomplished, I unmolded one batch of soap, and cut another.  The Prudent Homemaker's taco soup was made for lunch.  Instead of black beans, I finished up a quart of crowder peas I opened earlier in the week.  By around 3, J had finished some more orders, so I decided to powder coat the 3 that were ready.  We're trying to get a bit more caught up, to give us time to finish the workshop, though not sure how that's going to work, as orders continue coming in.  I can't complain, though it would be nice to get into the new shop.  With some leftovers, I made frittata to use them up, and warmed leftover sweet potatoes with butter and cinnamon.  Some of the leftover kale salad and cranberry sauce was enjoyed with it.  J has made us reservations for Valentine's Day, which surprised me.  The forecast shows a number of days coming up with possible wintry precip, but whatever happens, I'm sure we'll have a lovely day.  Wishing you a day filled with love, however you spend it.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Fun With Clay & Workshop Progress

Hello, friends.  J found cypress boards for a good price for the workshop porch floor, so Monday morning, we headed out to get them.  A sweet potato pie was made with leftovers, and enjoyed for dessert and breakfasts.  A friend came for an outdoor visit, and gifted me organic pears.  We bundled up in alpaca throws on the porch, and drank hot tea.  I used the first pear in a salad, along with pomegranate arils, pecans and feta.  For dinner, I harvested collards for a saute, pulled zucchini tots from the freezer, and boiled potatoes.  Sweet potatoes were shared with a couple of friends.  Another day, I pulled a bag of pesto from the freezer, enjoyed on pasta with a green salad, and with some lovely sourdough bread J brought home from a local co-op.  I worked on a new batch of clay pumice stones.  The prepared clay was picked up at a friend's, and she also gifted me strawberry jam.  Yum!  I had fun working on the stones, which are drying now.  

My sister and I met on Friday, to celebrate her birthday.  We enjoyed catching up over a glass of wine.  Saturday morning, J & I headed out to get the unfinished pine flooring he found on craiglist, after dropping off a truck he finished working on nearby.  The flooring was more than we needed for $80.  The majority of the boards were 16', which wouldn't fit in the workshop, so we cut 8" off all the long boards  to accomplish that, and get them out of the weather.  Well, I marked them, and he cut.  J also cut and screwed the first few porch floor boards, which will make it easier to go in and out of the workshop.  For dinner, he asked for vegetable soup.   It was nice to use our tomatoes, crowder peas, canned cabbage, onions and garlic, plus a small amount of leftover succotash, and a few store bought veggies.  I remembered carrots I had dehydrated a few years ago, and tried rehydrating them for the soup, but their texture was awful, so I ended up giving them to the dogs, who gobbled them right up.  I made portabella sandwiches to have with the soup.  

We didn't get the hoped for snow either of the two possible days this week.  Sunday was a cold, rainy day, so I decided to make butternut squash & caramelized onion galette.  It's rather time consuming, but what better time than a slow Sunday?  Plus, it used up another 6c of frozen winter squash and two of our sweet onions, which are fading fast in storage, and need using.   J worked on orders, which he finished up late afternoon, so I had no powder coating to do this weekend.  I worked a bit on paperwork.  Two of the places had more than one document being returned.  I combined them into one envelope, which saved postage.  Two library books were picked up last week, and a free Kindle book was started, which pulled me right in.  It's called The Keeper of Lost Things.  I checked, and it is sadly no longer free, unless you get it through Audible.  A free movie on amazon prime and several youtube videos were watched.  The chickens got a warming treat several days, made from oats, warmed homemade buttermilk, foraged plantain seed, and dried lambs quarter.  A little extra protein and nutrition to get them through these cold days.  No buttermilk was used in baking during the week, but using it for the chickens will help me use and refresh it.  Wishing you a lovely first week of February.