Friday, December 31, 2021

Sandhills C C Horticultural Gardens Visit

Hello, friends.  With all of the chaos of the fire, I realized I never shared photos of the Sandhills Community College Horticultural Gardens visit in September.  I thought you might appreciate seeing it now.

They had an amazing sculpture, created by Patrick Dougherty.

Happy New Year, friends!

Monday, December 27, 2021

Holidays 2021

Hello, friends.  I hope you had a lovely Christmas, if you celebrate it.  J has been working on our solar project, first creating our battery room.  He also dug and put concrete in the footers for the frame for the array.  Last week, I harvested lettuce, broccoli, and parsley.  I found usnea on a walk two days, and started a jar of glycerite with it.  For my lunches, I made soup, which used homemade broth, our onions, oregano and parsley, and pantry items.  I received some duplicates for presents.  One was able to be returned, but it had been too long for the other, so I listed it on ebay.  I finished the cross stitch, and framed it on the 23rd.  Unfortunately, our mail carrier didn't work on the 24th, so it will be a late gift for her.  Our home and auto insurance provider was able to recommend someone to assist with health insurance.  I was able to switch to "real" insurance, vs the health share I had been using, for almost $50 less per month.  A batch of suet was made for the birds, using dehydrated bits leftover from canning tomatoes and berries..

Veggie bits were added to the broth bag, and the rest were composted.  Paper and cardboard were shredded.  I'd been saving the kraft packing paper that came in orders, and ironed some to wrap a large package of J's.  After an appointment, I went by Harris Teeter.  It was a bit of a madhouse, but I hung with it, and got J's bread B1G1 free, organic canned beans for .85 can, and received a 5% senior discount on the total.  Two new GF cookie recipes were made on Christmas Eve, and a plant based eggnog.  All were healthy, fitting with our current diet, and good.  Daisy shared these Pecan Sandies with me, and I made cinnamon cookies.  A bit of sweetness to celebrate the holiday.  The amaryllis I had intended to gift, then forgot about, are making buds.  We enjoyed watching some holiday movies, including It's a Wonderful Life, which I got from the library.  I also enjoyed the Call the Midwife's holiday special.  Now that we're in wood heating season, our electric bill dropped around $50, which was most welcome.  J took his car in for an ABS light, and ended up getting two recalls the previous owner hadn't taken care of done while there, having to do with his seat belts and door latches.

I caught up on laundry, and hung three loads on the line.  Our broccoli was used in noodles with Thai peanut sauce.  I made a batch of toothpaste, trying a little different recipe this time, which used peppermint, vanilla, frankincense and nutmeg essential oils.  Another 15 cups of broccoli were blanched and frozen.   For Christmas, J requested our potatoes with mushroom gravy, my Grandmother's stuffing (veggie version), Wild Blueberry cranberry sauce, and I made a salad to go along.  My latest favorite salad uses our lettuce, pomegranate arils, dried sour cherries, roasted pecans for me and pumpkin seeds for him.  We had a quiet day, which was fine.  I enjoyed reading one of the sweet books I was gifted.  For the first time ever, we decided to stop taking orders for our metal home goods after early December, mostly because we had already begun having problems with shipments being lost and damaged, but also to give us time to enjoy the holidays.  I'm planning to use the coming week to catch up on some things, before the orders start rolling in again.

Last summer, I really enjoyed making egg scrambles with lots of veggies, mostly from our garden.  Not being able to use eggs put the "eeks" on that, but MM recently posted a recipe for a similar plant based version.  Though you wouldn't mistake it for eggs, it satisfied that desire.  I rehydrated maitake mushroom for it, and added asparagus, grape tomatoes, black olives, and yellow pepper.  It's pretty good, and as the base is potato flakes, quite filling.  On Sunday, we took our GD out for breakfast.  Afterwards, we went to a local park, where she opened her gifts.  It was an amazingly warm and beautiful December day, in the 70's.  The bench we were at had a little free library near it.  J found a book, but I didn't find any I really wanted to read.  I wish I'd known we would see the library, as I have a pile of books I've been intending on donating.  After we dropped her off, we stopped at Food Lion, and got a couple bunches of asparagus for $1.59/#, with a few other things.  Here's looking to a happier and healthier 2022.  Be well, friends.  

Monday, December 20, 2021

A Little Afternoon Trip, Rain & Cookies

Hello, friends.  Last week, I potted up the amaryllis and paperwhites, and wrapped all the presents for the family gathering on Saturday, while enjoying free holiday music.  While working on this post Sunday night, it occurred to me that all the amaryllis are still sitting in my studio windows.  Oops!  I somehow totally forgot to take them with me.  Sheesh... The GPS sent me a new way to the dentist recently.  While driving home, I drove through the most quaint intersection, and realized it was the edge of Gold Hill, a tiny historic town my sister and I had planned to visit a few years ago, but never did.  I asked if she'd like to go while it was all dressed up for Christmas, and we did.  I actually saw a chicken cross the road at the intersection, and bought one last gift for J.  We had dinner before heading home.  It was a fun afternoon trip.  I made Pasta Norma for our gathering, using our garlic, onion, eggplant, tomatoes and herbs.  

We lost the blind rooster last week.  We're actually surprised how long he made it after his health challenge.  I think having one of the hens in with him the past year kept him going a while longer.  Now the hen is back in with the others in the main coop, and we have our chick area free again for the spring.  We enjoyed homegrown pesto and a salad for a dinner.  I cut up, blanched and froze a large bag of our broccoli, ending up with 17c of broccoli for future meals.  Lettuce, oregano and chives were harvested.  At the grocery store, I was able to get asparagus for $1.59/#, and dogfood on sale for $6 off.  M is still attempting to create drama from afar.  I'll be so glad when the last few belongings he has left are gone, which we've said must be by the end of the year, and that chapter is in our rearview mirror.  

We got more rain, including just under an inch over the weekend, and were able to switch our home back to rainwater.  Hallelujah!  J then had to work on cleaning out the shower head and the toilet float valve from all the gunk from the well water.  We're hoping we don't have to go back to well water any time soon, if ever.  I've been making good progress on the cross stitch.  All the details are done, and I'm just working on filling in the main color.  I'd been feeling sad about not being able to bake some of my favorite Christmas cookies, due to not being able to have gluten, eggs or butter.  But then I started seeing cookie recipes that MM posted.  I made the first ones, Snickerdoodles, on Sunday, and they're good.  Not exactly the same as crispy, buttery cookies perhaps, but still quite good.  While the oven was hot, I roasted garlic and baked sweet potatoes for future meals.  

Many wishes from our home to yours for a peaceful and joyful holiday!

Monday, December 13, 2021

Holiday Cheer

Hello, friends.  Last week, I made a double batch of Medical Medium chickpea noodle soup, and froze several portions.  I'd read some discussion recently about having soups on hand, to have in case you were to get sick.  I have lots of food in the pantry, but haven't been good at having much in the way of ready made meals, so this is a step towards being more prepared in that manner.  Hopefully, it will be eaten in times of health, but it's there if needed.  I decorated the tree, and J topped it with our rustic angel, and hung the last of the ornaments.  

I haven't cross-stitched in years, but saw a free post office pattern in Country Living a few months ago, and wanted to make it for my mail carrier.  I finally went through my supplies, and found all the colors of floss I need.  They weren't all the exact color called for, but similar enough.  The least expensive fabric was at Hobby Lobby, so that's where I went, and only bought that, even though there was a vintage looking pitcher that wanted to come home with me ;o).  On Tuesday, I started stitching, and have made sure to do a little every day, even if it's only five minutes.  We enjoyed our sweet potatoes, our lettuce in a salad, and a cauliflower dish for a dinner.  Another night, I harvested collards, and tried a new dish with them, as well as a new potato dish and a new roasted carrot dish.  They were all OK, but not wonderful.  I'll probably try the carrots again, but cover the pan with foil this time.  I think that may do the trick with them.  

We have no mantel, so get creative with our stockings.  I went to town to pick up books at the library, and also got a movie and a series to watch.  While there, I went by a thrift store, and found a frame for the cross stitch, several small Christmas bowls perfect for amaryllis, and plain scrap book paper I intend to make bookmarks with, using a free design.  So, the last of the gifts are taken care of for $5 and change.  I've been enjoying my free Peaceful Holidays station on Pandora while working in the kitchen and my studio, as well as some podcasts.  I decorated the house, and added two things to the donation box.  With changing over to well water, and the discoloration that comes from the high iron content, we noticed the toilet has a leak.  That may have been part of the reason we ran out of rain water.  We did have 1/2" rain midweek, but it only added ~1K gallons to the tanks.  I noticed one of the hellebores has a hint of a bud forming.  

I made a cranberry pie, which we enjoyed through the week.  Saturday started off with some rain, and more was in the forecast in the evening.  It ended up not being much, so we're on well water for the time being.  But, in the meantime, it was a breezy day, so I decided to do two loads of laundry, and hang them on the line.  The first load dried entirely on the line.  The second mostly dried, and 20 mins in the dryer finished them off.   The last of the Christmas cards were written and stamped.  I used our onion, garlic, and a pint jar of tomatoes in a tomato rice loaf for dinner, along with our lettuce in a salad.  J splurged on asparagus, so I roasted them while the oven was going, to have as well.  On Sunday, I harvested a head of lettuce, and 8 heads of broccoli.  It's been a better than usual broccoli year.  I used some in a new to me recipe, shared by Heather at Northridge Farm, which we both enjoyed.  There were a few adjustments, to fit our diet restrictions, but we both agreed it will make it into our rotation.  Wishing you a week of peace and good cheer.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Early December Days

Hello, friends.  Last week, I hung laundry on the line two days.  I tried a couple of new recipes.  The first used our kale in a quinoa salad, with dried cranberries and walnuts, which was very good, even better leftover.  I changed up the dressing, using less oil, and using lemon juice in place of the ACV.  I also tried a new burger recipe, which used lentils and oats, which was also good, and helped use up some of the lentils that need using.  Oregano was harvested and dried, for those winter nights when it's already dark, and I don't want to go outside when a recipe calls for oregano.  I dehydrated a batch of sweet potatoes that had been chewed on.  We had tried eating some of the larger ones, but they were bland tasting, so I decided to use them for dog treats.  My soap business has been quite busy, for which I'm so thankful.

One night last week, we ran out of rainwater, which is the first time that's happened in more than two years.  Though we had a couple of good rains in September and early October, it obviously hasn't kept up with household use, which means we're back on well water.  We both notice how drying it is to our skin, and I've got discolored fingers and nails again, from the excessive manganese.  Though we do collect warm up water, turn it off while brushing teeth, and follow the mellow rule in the bathroom, we could both do lots more to conserve.  I wish there were some way to track how much water we have in the tanks, but J says there's no way to do it.  He says an attached outside gauge would just freeze and break, or grow algae.  Needless to say, we're both looking forward to rain, and there looks to be a good chance midweek.  Hopefully, there will be enough to make a difference.  Thankfully, we have a separate rainwater tank for our drinking water, and it's still half full. 

After a soap delivery, I returned and picked up books and movies at the library, and got groceries.  Though the price of our dogfood has increased, it was on sale, and I purchased a couple of bags for $6 less than the new price.  I'm thankful it has remained in stock, as I've heard of some shortages of other pet foods.  I harvested mint, and dried it, as part of a Christmas gift.  Suet was made for the birds.   I'm not sure if it's the same across the country, but shortening has really gone up here.  I usually buy it at Aldi's, but have not seen any on the shelf this holiday season, which is usually when I can find it there.  Another hen has begun laying again, so we've actually had 2 eggs a few days, something we haven't seen in a while.  We've got some big, beautiful heads of broccoli that I'll soon begin harvesting.  I sauteed the last of the tromboncino with mushrooms, our onion, and all but the last two of our tomatoes.  A cube of frozen basil was added.  Orange skins were added to a pot on the woodstove, along with cinnamon pieces that were first used in making cranberry sauce, making the house smell cozy. 


While packing orders and wrapping soap, I listened to an On Being podcast with Jane Goodall.  What a beautiful human being she is.  J & I enjoyed a quick getaway, meeting dear friends at a historical Inn an hour away.  It was such a treat to spend time catching up, not to mention the dinner and breakfast we enjoyed in the French restaurant on site.   Before we went, I researched and found a tree farm in that town, so on the way home, after finding a few treasures at an antique store, we stopped and got our Christmas tree.  Service was great, the trees were all sitting in water, and the cost was $15 less than our local big box hardware, where all the trees are piled together and usually drying out.  After getting home Saturday, J got the tree inside.  We got all the Christmas boxes down from the attic, and put lights on it Sunday.  We need to pick up another string of lights, then will start decorating it.  It's a bit early for us to have a tree, but this seemed the best chance to have a healthy tree at a reasonable price.  Have you started any holiday preparations?