Monday, May 31, 2021

Homestead Projects & The Garden

Hello, friends.  Last week, while heading to the grocery store, I noticed two stations had $2.99 gas.  Across from my last stop was a station with $2.77 gas.  Filling up there saved $1.80.  Lettuce, radishes, the last few asparagus, and broccoli were harvested.  We kept the a/c off, with days in the upper 80's, until the day the house reached 79 before cooking dinner.  On those evenings, it was turned on for a bit.  J is keeping our old system limping along until our new one hopefully arrives.  We only run it for a little while in the evenings when needed, and open up at night.  On Sunday, we saw they backed up the ship date another week, which is how it's been going since October.  We're going to start seriously looking for an alternative unit.  After a meeting with someone in town an hour and a half away, I picked up 9 pairs of workpants for $10 for J, which he had found on FB Marketplace.  They're the good cargo type work pants that he likes.  It couldn't come at a better time, as his are all falling apart, have weld holes in them, etc.  I received another $1.50 digital credit from amazon, making a $7 total credit.  There are a few shows with charges I'd like to see on my Prime list, so I'll likely use it towards some of them.   

The asparagus J ordered came in.  I gathered any soil I could find in empty pots to reuse, which we mixed with peat moss and native soil.  This mixture made up the mounds the asparagus crowns were planted on.  The inoculated biochar was scattered through the bed, mycorrhizae and organic fertilizer was placed on the mounds before the crowns, then native soil covered them.  Once they send up shoots, the remaining soil will be filled level with the top of the bed.  I made a batch of homemade toothpaste.  Last summer, I infused a jar of coconut oil with chocolate mint, and another with rose petals.  I used a mixture of these, in place of plain coconut oil, and left out the essential oils.  A batch of yogurt was made, and laundry was hung on the line.  An onion was harvested.  J picked up a gallon of milk, as they were out of half gallons.  We're only buying it to make yogurt for the pups these days, with both of us off dairy, so I froze the remainder.  We have quite a few plants with little tomatoes, which is always exciting.  As J finished creating orders, I cleaned and powder coated them.  That and packing them kept me busy several days.  With metal prices rising significantly, we had to raise our prices, but we thankfully continue to get new orders.  We are grateful. 

Some work was done on the workshop.  I painted the trim molding earlier in the week.  J found some crown molding left over from the house build, so we decided to use that as well.  It was pretty dirty, so I scrubbed it all well.  When I was building the house, my SIL worked for a molding company, and I was able to get all the molding I needed for free.  All of it was considered imperfect, but many had just minor scuffs.  Other pieces just had to be cut down.  That was a real blessing, and now we're blessed again.  J put the crown molding up, all the vertical trim, and made a frame around the exhaust fan.  It feels good to be making progress again.  The garden and other projects kept us from it recently.  One of the projects was a two vehicle carport J found on a FB Marketplace estate sale, at half the price of new.  It's now up, and holding his two personal vehicles.  His work truck sits out in the weather.  About twice a year, I refresh the yogurt with new starter.  As the local stores only carry organic plain yogurt in quarts, I froze the remainder in cubes, and will add a cube to a batch every so often.

With Saturday and Sunday's nights in the 40's, and a high in the mid 60's, I decided Sunday was the perfect day to process the last of the winter squash in storage.  The butternut squash and hubbard squash were diced, steamed, then pureed.  The spaghetti squash were baked.  There were 2 1/3 squash that had to be composted, but they'll still feed us, by adding fertility to the soil.  When I finished with the squash, the end bits and skins filled up a second gallon bag of veggie bits, so I went ahead and simmered it all for broth.  That will make a bit more room in the freezer.  Some of the cooked hubbard squash was kept out, to make a pumpkin bread.  I was able to use pumpkin spice mix that I made up earlier in the year.  For dinner, I made a plant based broccoli mac & "cheese", which I loved and J liked, so that's another recipe I can add to our repertoire.  I was able to use our broccoli in the dish, and found my favorite GF pasta so far.  Speaking of broccoli,  J & I hand picked many caterpillars off the broccoli and cabbage over the weekend, both imported cabbageworm and zebra caterpillars.  The chickens were happy to get an extra large helping of protein.  The pups got chopped broccoli stems and dandelion greens.  I guess we're all eating well on the homestead.  Wishing you a most enjoyable Memorial Day.  

Monday, May 24, 2021

A Little Visitor & Life Around the Homestead

Hello, friends.  Last week, I harvested peas, asparagus, lettuce, a small amount of spinach, and radishes.  Catbrier tips and lambs quarter were foraged for salads.  A nice bunch of oregano was harvested, and dried.  We've enjoyed many salads with our lettuce.  I agreed to hold off shipping an amazon order, for a $1.50 credit, making my current digital credit $5.50.  A pan of egg shells were crushed, and added to the compost bin.  Bread ends were processed into bread crumbs.  Two volunteer tomatoes found near the compost were potted up.  I recently bought a flat of strawberries from a local farm.  We enjoyed some fresh, and some in salads, but weren't going to eat them in time, so I froze the remainder.  The chickens enjoyed the tops that were cut off.  My niece inspired me to start a batch of sprouts.  It'd been a while since I'd started any.  

After grocery shopping in town, I stopped in to see friends.  I was gifted a beautiful, vintage hooked wool rug she couldn't use.  I'd been wanting a pottery cruet for olive oil, and when I picked one out in their shop, I was gifted with it.  I'd really intended to support their business, and felt rather bad about that, though I did bring eggs and basil plants to share.  Laundry was hung on the line.  A full shredder bin was added to the compost bin.  I picked up a library book, and dropped one off.  While there, I donated a book I recently bought, as I knew I wouldn't read it again.  They were happy to have it.  Vegetable soup was made from canned garden produce and fresh vegetables.  I'm doing a good job of eating up the leftovers.  Summer and winter clothes were swapped out.   I decided to make a vegan pesto, and gathered nettles, purslane, basil, and a few lambs quarter for the greens.  The nettles were blanched first, to lose their sting.  It wasn't as good as the cheese version, but it was pretty good, while we're not eating cheese.  

J cleaned out the woodstove, hopefully for the last time this season.  I sifted the ashes, left the ashes themselves for him to put on some of the potatoes, and then pulverized the pieces of char.  It's a simpler version of biochar.  Next, I'll be inoculating it with several things... likely comfrey tea, mycorrhizae, and urine.  That's what we have, and all are mentioned as good things to use.  It's said that if not inoculated, it acts like a sponge, absorbing nutrients until it reaches equilibrium with the soil.  If inoculated, it accelerates mycorrhizal growth, and creates healthier, stronger, more nutrient dense plants.  That all sounds good to me.  I continue drinking celery juice every morning.  I believe I previously mentioned I purchased a new juicer, which I'm loving.  It's this one, which is so easy to disassemble and clean, and so quiet compared to my old one.  It's actually $9 less than when I purchased mine.  The $45 coupon makes it $80.99 at present.   

Parsley was harvested for a cauliflower dish, and our oregano and garlic were used in a mushroom dish.  J pulled up stumps with his tractor, then excavated a spot for the 100 asparagus plants that he bought last week.  The soil in this new spot is pretty bad, so we're brainstorming what we can use to build the soil.  It's a pretty large area.  A neighbor, one of the only ones who doesn't spray with Grazon, is checking to see if he has any spoiled hay we can have.  While it was still cool Sunday morning, we added several tarps full of leaves.  Knowing bought manure and compost can also have Grazon in it, we're going to skip those.   As manure and compost are generally sourced from local and regional materials, and the vast majority of farmers use Grazon around here, it doesn't seem a safe choice.  We're not aware of any way to be sure it doesn't contain it, and J has read accounts of others who have had this happen.  Our food is too precious to risk it, so we'll be creative in coming up with other materials.  Wishing you a lovely and bountiful week.

Monday, May 17, 2021

New Recipes & Staying Cool


Hello, friends.  A potter friend recently made this tile for me.  Isn't it lovely?  Her address tiles are popular, and each one is unique, based on your interests.  Last week was unseasonably cold, with some nights in the low 40's.  The woodstove was fired up again, the latest we ever remember.  I took advantage of it one of the days, and simmered a gallon of vegi scraps on the woodstove for broth, then froze it as cubes, to use in various recipes.  We hope we're done needing the woodstove for good this season.  Soon I'll start working on getting the houseplants out to their summer quarters.  Homegrown aloe was used in smoothies.  I harvested asparagus, onions, peas, a little spinach and lettuce.  Eggs were gathered, and yogurt was made.

I thought I would share that the eczema protocol I'm doing is from Medical Medium.  If you've not heard of him, he's gotten great acclaim for helping tens of thousands of people.  His recommendations are unconventional, but apparently they work, based on the dozens of stories and before and after photos I've seen people share on his IG page.  Many sharers had been seen by multiple conventional physicians for numerous challenges, without getting any better, and came to him as a last resort, with excellent results.  I made another batch of his Anzac cookies, which I think are yummy.  It's been quite interesting learning a new way of eating.

After a soap delivery, I went by Hallmark, and used a $5 reward and a free card coupon.  I then headed to Harris Teeter, and got mad at myself when I got home, as they had overcharged me $10 on a tin of olive oil, by not giving me the sale price.  I only go by there once a month, after an appointment, but believe I'll have to see customer service next month about it.  The cashier did ring up my organic oranges as conventional, which made up some of the difference.  I received a gifted aloe plant, when I made the soap delivery.  The garden is growing well.  Last week, J hilled the potatoes, planted eggplant from the cold frame, replanted cucumber seeds in spots, cut garlic scapes, and more.  The garden is looking better than ever.  I really ought to take a pic to share.  

After painting orders, I replanted a flower bed that had only one seed germinate. This time, old-fashioned flower mix, a cut flower mix and borage seeds were planted.  J tilled the bed for me.  I'm hoping to have higher germination with a better prepared bed.  Stinging nettles were harvested, and a glycerite was started.  Laundry was hung on the line.  For dinner, I sauteed spinach, and tried a recipe for blackened roasted cauliflower steaks.  J didn't love it.  I may make it again with less or no cayenne,  which was in the blackened spice mix.  In it, I was able to use our oregano, thyme, and garlic powder.  Looks like we're jumping from cool to hot, with temps 90 and above in the forecast.  The a/c unit J ordered in October still hasn't arrived, with the ship date constantly moved back.  He'll try to make our old one limp along until the new one hopefully arrives.  Right now, they're saying early June, though we're not counting on it.  Stay comfortably cool or warm, wherever you are.  

Monday, May 10, 2021

Nature on the Homestead

Hello, friends.  Last week, while hanging laundry, I enjoyed watching a bluebird gather nesting material by the pond.  The natural world brings me such joy.  A friend was sent a get well card from my stash.  Celery, onions and parsley were harvested for soup.  Our garden celery is more leaves than stem, so I like it best in soups. The soup also used our garlic powder, broth and dried oregano.  I've finally turned the corner towards healing on my eczema, and decided to do some long overdue weeding.  What I learned is I need to wear gloves, which I often don't think of, as it set off a histamine reaction, making those areas very itchy, which has been one of my battles with this.  I'm living and learning on this journey.  I'm so very thankful it's beginning to get better.  A frog kept me company while I weeded.  

The stovetop was cleaned with baking soda and homemade thieves vinegar.  Several areas were prepared, and flower seeds planted, including bachelor buttons, forget me nots, red safflower (a dye plant), and a mix of old fashioned flowers.  A purchase was made through Swagbucks, for 6% back, and with a 15% off coupon.  These were mostly GF items.  The prices were already less there than most, so it was nice to get additional grocery savings, especially these days.  Lemon balm was harvested, and a jar of glycerite was started.  The forecast has been very changeable, with significantly more rain than forecasted.  It should help give all the plants a good start.  Several receipts were entered on Swagbucks for cash back.  

I've enjoyed reading a library book and a free Kindle book.  Yogurt and suet were made.  In the suet, I'm continuing to use dehydrated tomato skins and bits, and the seeds and bits left after making berry jams.  Homemade garlic powder was used in several recipes.  We had our 4th anniversary last week.  I'm happy the two new recipes I tried that day were good.  One was broccoli & cheese potato.  This was plant based cheese, made from potato, carrot and spices, to resemble nacho cheese.  I'll lower the cayenne a bit next time, but we liked it.  The other was quinoa black bean chili from Daisy, one of her allergy-friendly recipes.  I transplanted parsley and cilantro into the garden.  Peas and lettuce were harvested. J & I went to dinner in Chapel Hill the night after our anniversary, to celebrate.  There was nothing frugal about it, but it sure was enjoyable to have a nice meal out.  I made a diet exception for the night, and enjoyed some wine, which was most lovely.  

Four loads of laundry were hung on the line.  I went grocery shopping, and got avocados for .79, mangoes for .49, and marked down portabella pieces, which I cooked right away.  I picked up two small bottles of olive oil at a good price, and got .15 back for using my own bags.  My daughter had a beautiful bouquet delivered to me for Mother's Day.  Over the weekend, I painted orders, and gave the workshop walls and ceiling another sanding.  J worked on boxing in the eaves, and I helped minimally with that.  I went to harvest a few carrots, and found the lovely surprise of an eastern black swallowtail caterpillar on one.  May your week be full of good surprises.  

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

A Coastal Getaway


Over the weekend, my sister and I made a quick trip to the coast.  Several weeks ago, I'd gotten tickets for a socially distanced event, to attend on Saturday.  On the way there, we stopped and got lunch.  I got what I thought was one of the healthier things on their menu, a fried green tomato sandwich.  There's no doubt I ate more fat at that meal than in the past month, but I must say it tasted good.

We mostly relaxed.  I got to read a bit, and the TV was never turned on.  We had dinner outdoors at Tupelo Honey, which was lovely and healthy.  Sunday morning, we asked how to get to the closest beach access, and took a nice long walk.  On the way back to the car, we heard what we thought was a bagpipe in the distance.  Sure enough, we were treated to a bagpipe serenade.  We were only able to listen to three songs, as the car was in timed parking, but it was a lovely thing.  I wish I'd have thought to record sooner, as the earlier songs were prettier.  Sorry for the quality.

Once we checked out, we stopped by a Goodwill.  I found a canister to turn into a compost crock, and two Egyptian cotton pillowcases and a sheet.  My sister found several treasures as well.  On the way home, we stopped for lunch.  I had found a market with fresh juices, so was able to get celery juice, and not miss any days.  We got food to go, and I also did a little grocery shopping, mostly for gluten-free items.  GF is new territory for me, and I'm trying to find items that I and hopefully J can eat.  I've also begun printing recipes that sound worth trying.  If you have any yummy GF foods to share, I'd love to hear. 


Monday, May 3, 2021

Visit From a Heron

Hello, friends.  Last week, I met a friend and walked on a beautiful trail at the zoo, which is free to hike on, and saw the sweetest tiny turtle.  I then ran errands, which included dropping books off at the library, picking up our new modem, stopping for groceries, and going by the discount grocery.  I finally made it when the discount grocery was open, and got multiple cans of organic beans for .35 to .60, organic tomato sauce for .60, gluten free pasta for .75 and organic soups for .40, plus a few other odds and ends.  If I don't have good leftovers or anything frozen, I occasionally start a soup with one of these, then add to it.  There was also one tin of golden syrup, which I've seen in some recipes, for .99, significantly less than online.

I needed to make yogurt, with only a small amount of fresh milk, so I defrosted a pint I had frozen, used the last of a container of cream, and added a small amount of half and half to make a quart.  A real mix of dairy, but at least there was no waste, and the pups don't seem to mind a bit.  J let me know he saw a heron land on our dock, a great blue heron.  It was on the dam when I got out there, hunting for frogs I expect.   I'm harvesting asparagus just about every day.  Eggs were shared with a friend, as a thank you for making a delivery to me.  Some of the supplements I'm currently taking are glycerites, which means they're preserved in glycerine rather than alcohol.  I purchased a quart of glycerine, and started two jars of glycerite, as all the medicine I've made so far have been alcohol tinctures.   It should save me money, making my own.   My sister and I had a brief getaway this weekend, which I may write about in a separate post.  Be well, and have a beautiful week.