Monday, October 25, 2021

The Slow Turning of the Leaves & Bonus Flowers

Hello, friends.  Last week, I redeemed rewards at Food Lion for $9 towards my purchase.  For one dinner, I tried a new recipe for peppers stuffed with seasoned mashed potatoes, which used our peppers, potatoes and herbs.  Two library books were enjoyed.  While on the website to purchase lye for soapmaking, I saw they were having a sale on their lifetime membership for $100, down from the usual $500.  With membership, you receive 20% off all purchases.  Not only did they give me 20% off my purchase, but they also gave me 20% off the membership price.  I've already recovered a significant portion of the $80 membership, and though I'd never considered getting the $500 membership, this was definitely worth doing.  

J planted garlic, and seeds of mixed winter greens, kale & turnips, carrots and chard.  I planted more lettuce and beet seeds.  The forecast can always change, but at the moment, it appears we'll make it into November before our first frost.  He has been cutting some of the free firewood, making room for some more someone else wants to give him.  He has lots to split, but has cleared the area where he first puts the large pieces.  It's crazy how much free firewood we've been offered the past couple of years.  We're so thankful for it.  J dumped the old soil from the houseplants in a bed that's never had much done to it, and I planted seeds of evening primrose that neighbors gifted me.  More of the seeds were planted in the beds around the workshop. 

With our library now fully open, I brought in magazines I'd been saving to put in their free basket when I returned a book.  I also had a fun jigsaw puzzle with a books theme, and asked if they might be able to do something with it.  One of the branches in the county does have jigsaw puzzles, and she was very happy to get it for them.  I used some of our eggplant, canned tomatoes and herbs to make Pasta Norma, with our figs and lettuce in a salad.  With our sad butternut squash harvest this year, I've been researching store prices.  Two stores had them at .99/#, but they were .79/# at Aldi's, so I got one there.  I'll see if I can find them any cheaper.

While out thrifting with a friend, we visited a new to me discount grocery.  They had a lot of frozen foods, which I wasn't interested in, but I found kalamata olives for $1.99 and a 5# bag of grits to make bird suet with for $2.99.  While thrifting, I found a lovely enamel pan to save egg shells in before composting for $3.  My old one had rusted enough that it had holes in it.  The Habitat store we visited had a nice bird section in it, with seed and bird houses, among other things.  I found the bird alert decals I use on the kitchen windows and door for less than half price.  Harvested last week, were eggplant, yellow squash, peppers, hickory nuts, black haw and hawthorne fruits, and figs.  With no frosts in our forecast through the 7th, we're enjoying all the bonus flowers.  Wishing you a week of seasonal pleasures.  

Monday, October 18, 2021

The Last Hurrah & Fall Prep

Hello, friends.  Last week, J dug our sweet potatoes, and as expected, it was a dismal harvest. If it was just the weeds, we would have had a decent harvest, but he found lots and lots of empty skins, where the critters (he thinks gophers??) ate them.  This year, we tried solar sonic repellants for the first time, placed on either end of the rows.  They obviously don't work.  Sigh.  I froze a very small amount of leftover squash dish to use in a soup, so it wasn't wasted.  I used what is probably the last of our yellow squash in a quinoa dish.  I tried using 1/2 as much olive oil, and added more squash, upping the nutrition, and lowering the cost.  We both liked it just as well with less oil.  A bin of shredded paper and a pan of crushed egg shells was added to the compost bin.  Laundry was hung on the line.

I made a sort of healthier version of garlic mashed potatoes with our veggies.  There was no milk or cream in it, but I sauteed the garlic in butter, and though not decadently good, it was still pretty tasty.  I made black beans with our onions with it, and another beautiful head of lettuce with our figs went into a salad.  I don't often cook something I can't eat, but earlier in the day, I tried a GF/MM compliant butternut pancake recipe, and it was truly gross in texture and taste.  The chickens were the recipients of that failed experiment.  I added the tiny amount of leftover black beans into the soup fixings container in the freezer, so it wouldn't go to waste.

Several days were spent on fall preparations.  One day, I washed all the windows and doors, as well as the sills, and cleaned several of the blinds.  I may not get the windows washed in the spring very often, but the added light from clean windows in the fall makes for happier plants over the winter, and brings us the most amount of light during the darkest days of the year, which helps keep spirits up.  J & I refreshed the soil in the house plants, repotted a number of them, and got them all back indoors before a low of 39.   That was a large job, and I'm so thankful for his help.   I harvested basil, purslane, lettuce, chickweed and nasturtium flowers for a dinner of pesto and salad.

Flannel sheets were brought down from the attic.  All the bedding was washed, including the mattress pad and pillow covers, and changed out to flannel sheets.  The mattress pad came apart at the seam in a couple of places when I washed it, and one of the elastic corner pieces came off.   My sewing machine is in the shop for a good cleaning and checkup, so I mended the pad by hand.  We had our first fire in the woodstove Sunday morning, and I decided a baking day was in order.  I used up the last of a jar of pumpkin to make dog treats.  While still warm, I roasted chestnuts that were gifted and grown by a customer J did work for, and then finished up with a GF blueberry pie.  I'm keeping an eye out for food shortages at the grocery store, and only noticed the frozen potato section almost empty last week.  I didn't walk down every aisle, but that's what I did see.  

A number of herbs were harvested, including thyme, oregano, sage, lemon balm and a small amount of lemon verbena.  I started a glycerite with the lemon balm, and the rest were dried.  While I was getting the flannel sheets from the attic, I also brought down a box of fall decor.  I placed our fall bow and leaves on the mailbox, and added a few touches to the house and porch.  There are still flowers blooming, which is a treat, as we're a couple of days past our average frost date.  We'll enjoy them while they last.  Wishing you a most enjoyable week. 

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.