Monday, November 28, 2022


Hello, friends.  On Monday, I canned vegetable broth, adding another 14 pints to the pantry.  When the canner water cooled, I added it to the woodstove humidifier.  I enjoyed warm cups of tea, using homegrown herbs.  Chickweed was gathered, and added to a smoothie.  Kale, collards, and mixed greens were shared.  Laundry was dried on the line.  I've been shopping sales for gifts, and using coupon codes when available for purchases, which have further lowered prices as much as an additional 20%.  While prepping for Thanksgiving, pumpkin seeds were thrown in to roast, along with the cookies I was baking.  Fresh cranberry blueberry sauce, GF pecan sandies cookies, maple roasted brussels sprouts, and our lima beans, which J requested, were brought to share for Thanksgiving.  

I tried a recipe for lentil sloppy joes, which we both liked, though I'll decrease the heat factor next time.  We were blessed with 1 1/3" of rain Thursday night, so needed, as our tanks were getting very low again.  Once we sent the new video to the solar company, they said the board they sent was not good, and they'll send another.  Our confidence in this company is rapidly diminishing, and J is looking into getting another inverter from a US company.  It was a huge investment, to only last 8 months, and it's not looking terribly good that it will last for the long term.  It stinks, but that's reality.  J picked the company partly because of the great reviews, but he thinks many people may be using the inverter for a small backup system, not to power a home full time as we are.  Which could explain why it lasted no time before failing.

I did a little online Black Friday shopping.  A family member sent ideas for her family that day, and two of the items were 40+% off for Black Friday, so they were purchased.   I also placed a supplement order, for 23% off.  Spaghetti squash and lambs quarter were pulled from the freezer for a side dish.  Oils for soapmaking were melted on the woodstove.  I tried a new recipe for vegan sweet potato pie, using our potatoes, which was delicious.  Winter greens were harvested for a salad, and a jar of crowder peas was opened for dinner.  A bottle of nettle glycerite was strained and bottled.  We had an interesting issue happen last week, in that things that were supposed to suck were not doing so.  The motor on the house vacuum went out, quickly followed by the shop vac motor.  And the lawn vac motor went out too.  J made repairs, and got a new house vacuum (it was used when bought, and a new motor had been put in it once already), and in the process, used some of the good parts to repair others.  Thanks to a very handy guy, all is up and running again.  So many things to be thankful for every day.  Take care of yourself, friends.  

Monday, November 21, 2022

November Days

veggie scraps being turned into broth

Hello, friends.  I headed to the coast on Monday for a funeral, and listened to an audio book that I was able to change from an ebook on Kindle for free.  It was a gorgeous day, perfect for a long drive.  With the woodstove going again, another three gallon bags of veggie scraps were taken from the freezer, and simmered for broth.  I cut up and grated another two large cucuzza squash for the critters.  A toothpaste tube was cut, and it's already lasted close to a week more, with more to go.  I strained the first batch of broth, put it in the fridge, and started another pot of scraps on the woodstove.  Last week, I harvested parsley, rosemary, and collards.  I went through Rakuten for gift purchases for 2% and 2.5% back.

this Mickey mouse shadow caught my eye one day

We did get another 1/2" of rain early in the week.  The first real cold arrived, with lows in the low 20's.  We closed up all the chicken coop windows, except for leaving a small opening at the top of one for air flow.  I was able to purchase a label at home for a package heading to family in Italy, saving me a trip to the P.O..   I've been reading Lilac Girls from the library, which is a hard read at times, as it goes into details about experiments done in concentration camps.  I've known there were horrific experiments that went on, but would rather not know the details.  Before the coldest night, J and I gathered up everything we could find, and covered up all the plants in the fall garden, plus the olives and pomegranates.  There was kale that had a stalk too tall to fit under the cover, so J cut it off, and I tried a new recipe for wilted kale salad with apples and pecans.  The pups also got some chopped leaves in their dinner. 

this is apparently what made the shadow above

I turned some of our potatoes into fries, made black bean burgers, and harvested winter greens for a salad.  J and I watched the new Downton Abbey movie, free on Prime.  I would have loved to have seen it on the big screen, as we did the first movie, but we were too busy when it was playing locally.  We did enjoy watching it.  When I went by Harris Teeter after an appointment, the produce section was looking rather skimpy in what was offered.  I decided to head to Food Lion on Saturday, to get the things HT didn't have, or were too expensive.  I stopped at the Aldi across the street first, and was happy to get .99 cranberries, pomegranates for $1.89, which is the cheapest I've seen this year, and brussels sprouts for $2.29.  Food Lion had bags of mandarins for $2.99.  I went to a second Food Lion, because I wanted enough celery to not have to shop again before Thanksgiving.  They had enough celery, and I was delighted to see 3 bags of organic Pink Lady apples, which I had a $1.50 store coupon for, and haven't been in the first store in at least a month.  I also found $1 off raw honey on the clearance rack.


tomato rice loaf ingredients before combining

For a dinner, I made colcannon with our potatoes and cabbage.  It's one of my favorite comfort meals.  J is still going back and forth with the solar company in China.  It sounded as though they were trying to blow him off last week, and honestly, what could one do about a company in China?  But he persevered, letting them know how unhappy he was, and they asked us to take another video to send them.  Please send good thoughts for a positive outcome.  I've seen a few people using LED candles lately.  With being back on grid power, I decided to buy some I saw at Aldi, and so far, have been using one in the bathroom in the early mornings and evenings.  J spent Saturday blowing a large portion of our leaves into piles, which he'll pick up with the lawn vac.  For Sunday dinner, I made tomato rice loaf, using our onions, garlic, last grape tomatoes, and three small tomatoes.  Peas and pear sauce were sides.  While the oven was going, I baked lots of small sweet potatoes, some of which I plan to turn into pie.  We'll be enjoying the day with my sister and family for Thanksgiving.  I hope yours is peaceful, if you celebrate, with good food and company.  Take care, friends.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Going With the Flow & Sustainability Challenges on the Homestead

Hello, friends.  Last week, I earned $20 off with a promotion Food Lion is doing, and redeemed it the next visit.  I was excited to find that my library offers some streaming movies, and want to explore it further.  While checking for eggs one day, I found a snake in one of the nest boxes eating eggs.  I called J, who was on his way home.  When he got here, he bagged it up, and we relocated it, hopefully never to return.  I weeded and mulched several beds, which contain lots of lettuce, beets and chard.  We covered all the beds with lettuce and chard with row cover that is supposed to protect them several degrees.  J was able to barter with someone nearby.  She's finishing our sheetrock, and he's going to hang hers.  He found a good deal on lumber for the siding of the new sewing room, cheaper than we paid for the studio addition several years ago, and finished siding it.

I enjoyed herb tea with homegrown lemon balm, lemon verbena, spearmint and red clover.  Our frozen broccoli was used in a pad thai dish.  I emptied several pantry staples into canning jars to store.  All laundry was dried on the line.  Warm up water and water from washing greens was used for flushing or added to the humidifier on the woodstove.   When I saw a friend recently, she gave me several birthday presents, including 2 gorgeous thrifted cotton pillowcases and a floral sheet.  Seeing them while hanging them on the line, and taking them off gave me a smile.  I do love linens, especially older ones, which are often so soft.  

The soles of my my husband's work boots were in bad shape.  He bought a new pair, and when they arrived, he mailed his old pair to the company to be resoled.  He's been wanting a sweet potato pie, so I made one using the last frozen whole wheat crust just for him.  Even if it had been a GF crust, the recipe (Betty Crocker) has eggs and evaporated milk too, so I just need to find a good vegan pie recipe.  I finally got to cleaning the fridge, which has been on my to do list a very long time.  During the summer, I'd clean a shelf or two as I could, but never finished the entire thing at once.  That feels good to have done.  Boy, it was sticky!

While researching a trip to Charlotte with a friend, I found a restaurant chain called Flower Child, who have many vegan and gluten free choices.  We had lunch there, and it was delicious.  We had intended to visit a garden and bird sanctuary, but got rained out, so we ended up visiting several thrift stores.  I ended up with a cotton, still in package fitted sheet for $5  (priced $22), medium glass refrigerator dish with lid for $9, like new waffle iron for $15, shirts for J, and a large and super soft cashmere scarf for $3.50.  It was a fun day, and I look forward to visiting Wing Haven another day.

It was a bit of a challenging week, as far as sustainability goes on the homestead.  The big tanks that supply our household water ran out mid-week due to the drought.  Thankfully, J keeps a small backup tank for times such as this, which covered us the 36 or so hours before the rain started.   To make sure we'd be able to store as much rain as possible, I got up on the roof with J's electric leaf blower, and cleaned off a large amount of leaves, acorns and sticks, then did the gutters.  We were very thankful to get 1 3/4" of rain from Nicole, which filled our tanks halfway.  There's more rain in the forecast this week.  With any luck, our tanks will be filled further.  Then, the two solar boards arrived from China for the inverter.  J replaced them, and the power lasted about 10 minutes before crashing.  He tried it several more times with no success, making it obvious this isn't going to fix the problem.  He contacted the company again, to let them know.  We're back on grid power, hoping for a positive outcome and a quick return to solar.

At the grocery store, I was able to get frozen wild blueberries for $1 off, an avocado for .89, and organic red grapes for $2.49/#.  From the garden, I harvested winter greens, oregano, collards, rosemary, lettuce and chickweed.  On the most likely last day in the 70's, I cleaned the chicken coop.  Sunday was chilly, so I made a vegetable soup by sauteing  homegrown onions, garlic, carrots and cabbage, and adding jars of tomatoes, tomato sauce, summer squash and potatoes.  A store bought can of beans and stalk of celery were added, with a container of a small amount of leftovers from the freezer.  Some winter salad was included, and it made a tasty meal.  The week ahead had looked to be a calm one at home.  But now, an appointment has been moved to this week, and there's an out of town funeral to attend another day.  Ah well, it's good to breathe, and go with the flow.  Wishing you a good week!

Monday, November 7, 2022

Time To Play

Hello, friends.  Each morning, I've noticed bumblebees hanging out on the stevia flowers, where I assume they'd spent the night.  Last week, our weather continued to be dry, and laundry was dried on the line.  I cooked small sweet potatoes for the pups and chickens, and baked a few larger ones for us, to have with a winter salad and pinto beans.  We're eating the tomatoes and peppers as they ripen indoors.  My husband needed assistance at a job this week, this time at a home.  We were working under some large trees, and I noticed several small tufts of usnea, which I brought home, and added to the glycerite jar.  A batch of alfalfa sprouts was made.

The sweet peppers that aren't being eaten are being chopped and frozen.  My sister and I met one afternoon, a few towns away.  I made several stops on the way, and picked up three books at a library branch I'd not been to before.  I noticed gas @ 3.05, instead of the 3.29 near us, so stopped and filled up.  The same station was 3.09 when I went by on the way home.  My sister and I stopped at a Goodwill, and I found a canister to turn into a compost crock.  I made my "fast food" sauteed peppers, potatoes, garlic and onions for dinner, with asparagus and salad when I got home.  I was able to catch up on several small things on my to do list last week, which feels really nice.  Kale, lettuce, chickweed, rosemary, thyme, garlic chives and spearmint were harvested, along with several leaves from the potted sweet potato.


Still using up the last of the eggplant, I made a pasta sauce using most of them, along with our tomato juice, onions, garlic & herbs.  I found a package of blue cheese in the freezer, which neither of us can eat now, so I've been doling it out to the pups, who are in heaven.  We were able to open up the house several days, due to temps in the mid to upper 70's.  I rearranged the closet, so my winter clothes would be easier to reach.  I pulled several things to donate, including the majority of my scrubs, as I'm letting my massage license expire this year.  A local brewery sent an invite to all of the original backers, to view a production of Every Brilliant Thing for free Sunday night, so J & I had a date night, and enjoyed a beer while viewing the play.  We were glad we went.  A fun day is planned with a friend this coming week.  It's lovely to have a bit more time to relax and play again.  I hope you're finding some time to do the same.