Monday, March 27, 2023

A Few Little Projects

Hello, friends.  I hope your week has been a good one.  Last week, I put a pot of sweet potatoes to simmer on the woodstove, for the dogs and chickens.  Some months ago, I requested that J begin saving bones from his meals in a bag in the freezer.  There were a good amount, and while we still have the woodstove going some days, I wanted to put them on it to simmer as well.  Afterwards, any meat was pulled from the bones.  The meat and broth filled just over two 32 oz. yogurt containers. I froze one, and the other is being doled out to the pups, which they're loving.  This week, he began freezing another bag of bones. 

I made Winter's Delight Jam, which helped me clean all the cranberries from the fridge and freezer.  The jam is quite lovely.  I ended up with 8c of cranberries, and adjusted the recipe to match.  I did substitute some blueberries, as I didn't have quite enough strawberries.  All the cranberries were picked through, and the chickens got the ones that had seen better days, which made for a happy flock.  I feel good about already having a head start on gifts for this year's holidays.  If you're wondering, I always use new canning lids for any jars that are to be gifts.  For ourselves, though, I often use at least some reused lids.  Asparagus, lettuce and oregano were harvested from the garden.  

J and I worked on a fence extension around the garden, for the deer.  Our 4 foot fence wasn't tall enough to keep them out, so he added extensions to the posts, and we're stapling up 4 foot fencing above the original fence.  After delivering soap in a nearby town, I did some shopping.  I got a 4 pack of swiss chard seedlings at the home & garden shop, and got them in the ground before it started sprinkling.  At the thrift store, I picked up a wool/cashmere sweater, camisole, and spool of winter ribbon for $7.  I stopped at the Dollar Tree, but there was nothing on my list, so I left without buying anything.   As I can, I continue to work on my cross stitch project.  We're trying a new experiment in potato planting.  We filled twenty 15 gal. grow bags with soil, and placed them across the bottom of the solar panels.  They'll get lots of sun, and the rain runoff.  Hopefully, the bags will keep the wireworms and fire ants out.  

I brought up the containers of tomatoes prepped in the fall, via Stacy, and began watering them.  This is a new to me technique, and time will tell how well it works.  I'll keep you posted.  There are now 24 tomato seedlings up, of the ones I started recently, but no peppers yet.  I picked up a few groceries while J & I were in town, and got a lb. bag of almond coconut flour on clearance to try for $1.45 (normally $5.79).  I use both flours in my baking, but haven't tried them combined before.  I figure it'll be easy to make GF cookies with, and they also recommend using it for pancakes, waffles and muffins.   I made a batch of cashew parmesan using homegrown herbs, and made pasta with our herbs and veggies, to enjoy with it.   That's about it for the week.  


Monday, March 20, 2023

Late Winter Days & A Gathering

Hello, friends.  I hope these late winter days have been good ones for you.  One morning, I saw this sweet one resting on the cat bowl on the porch.  Last week, I canned garbanzo beans and vegetable broth.  The majority of canning lids were reused, including some that were on their third round, and all sealed.  I'm not encouraging anyone to do this; only sharing my experience with it.  I made golden paste for the pups and suet for the birds.  For a dinner, I made our roasted green beans with baked potatoes and sauteed garlicky spinach.  Another night, I roasted our first asparagus with roasted brussels sprouts and sweet potato fries.  The first of our tomato seeds are starting to sprout, with 11 up, as of Sunday morning.  I harvested lettuce and broccoli, some of which was used in a peanut noodle dish, and  J harvested a cabbage.

I stopped at Hallmark after a nearby appointment, and picked up a few cards, along with my free card.  At the grocery store, grape tomatoes were .50 off, oranges were $1 off a bag, coconut milk was 2/$4, brussels sprouts were $1.99 off, and I received the 5% senior discount on my total order.  I was then able to pick up evaporated milk at Dollar Tree, and the cat treats our kitty especially likes.  Laundry was dried on the clothesline.  J had requested beets from the grocery store.  I'll roast them another night, but first cut the greens and sauteed them with lambs quarter I had frozen, to have with black bean burgers and home fries.  Another grocery stop, I got avocados for .79 ea.  Several books were requested from the library.  Some of our frozen figs were added to oatmeal.

All that recent deep cleaning was inspired by a family gathering, which was held here on Saturday.  It's always an encouragement to clean, when I know there are a lot of people who'll be visiting, lol.  There were 16 of us, a mix of mine and Joseph's families.  Though it was chilly, the sun was shining, the little ones were excited by the chickens and gathering eggs, we gave tours of the various goings on here to whomever asked, and we ate well.  I sent the littles home with a dozen eggs, and leftovers home with a couple of others.  I cut a few redbud branches for my sister to try and root.  It was a lovely day.  St. Patrick's Day marked 16 years since J and I's first date.  It was nice to have a gathering of our loved ones to celebrate.  I plan to take a well-deserved rest Sunday evening, and will get this post up Monday.  Wishing you a Happy Spring, friends!

Monday, March 13, 2023

Groovy Boots

Hello, friends.  Last week, I went through more of the pantry, and found things that were long past sell by dates, and other things I can no longer eat.  Some very old granola bars were composted, a couple of things were given to the pups, an apple/berry sauce cup was added to the chickens mash, a few sodas J said he'd use, and a few were thrown away.  Lots of wintersown plants are coming up, with the marigolds and zinnias being especially robust.  I started tomatoes and peppers, with six varieties of tomatoes and five of peppers.  Instead of using a heating mat, I tucked them under the woodstove for germination.  In all the spots that hadn't come up in the garden, peas were replanted.  I'm getting to more of the things that didn't get done during deep cleaning.  The range hood and filters were scrubbed, and the stove and oven were cleaned.  Some cabinets were wiped out.  I picked up sticks in the yard, and began cleaning flower beds.  

We had friends over for dinner again, taking advantage of our cleaner than usual home.  I decided to make a pasta sauce we'd enjoyed last summer, using our canned tomatoes, onions and roasted eggplant I'd frozen.  The sauce was together 15 minutes before they were to arrive, and when I tasted it, I realized the frozen eggplant was entirely different from the recipe when I used fresh eggplant.  It was not good... at all.  So, a quick plan B, with J grabbing a couple quarts of our tomatoes and snipping some oregano for me, pulling our last onions from storage, and frozen basil cubes, and we pulled off a simple tomato sauce.  Seconds were asked for.  I was glad there was a happy ending to our meal.  I made up a spice cake and GF cookies for dessert.

As I've been able, I worked on the cross stitch piece that will be a gift.  Never much at one time, but I'm making progress.  Laundry was dried on the line.  Though we didn't see it fall, we'd had some frozen precipitation when I went out to open up the chickens Sunday morning.  Early in the week, our temperatures were a bit of a roller coaster, which meant the woodstove did not stay consistently hot. I ended up dumping the pot of veggie scraps that I'd had on the stove to simmer, as I wasn't sure it would be safe, even after canning.  When temperatures got consistently colder, over the weekend, I put a fresh pot of scraps on the woodstove.  Two bills were paid online, saving stamps.

For Christmas, my sister bought me these very cool muck boots.  The sole to my old ones came apart over the weekend, and I got the new ones out.  They definitely brighten my day.  With Sunday being so raw and rainy, I wanted to make soup for dinner.  J suggested potato leek.  He harvested the leeks for me, and I made the recipe from one of my first and favorite cookbooks, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest.  During the week, broccoli, lettuce, oregano and asparagus were harvested.  We've now got enough asparagus for a side dish, so that will be on the menu this week.  Library books were picked up, and are being read.  There will be several nights below freezing this week.  Hopefully, the fruit trees will fare well, and produce this summer.  Wishing you a groovy week, friends!

Monday, March 6, 2023

Small Steps & Little Things

Hello, friends.  We had some lovely days, mixed in with rainy ones last week.  Many plants are beginning to bloom.  I harvested thyme and oregano.  A few sprigs of thyme were steeped as tea, and the remaining herbs were dried.  A batch of hummus was made for lunches.  I got tired of my long hair, which reached my waist, so I've been cutting it bit by bit, and it's now about a foot shorter.  I'm enjoying it much more.  Four books were requested from the library.  The bedroom deep cleaning is finished.  J and I worked together, moving furniture and such.  I've been enjoying my homegrown tea blend of lemon balm, lemon verbena, nettles, and spearmint. 

This is a new little corner, created by the addition of the sewing room.  I think it'll be a nice spot to enjoy some meals on lovely days.  I used two of our butternut squash in soup, along with our onions and garlic.  On a day reaching into the 60's, I winter sowed 28 pots, using a combination of old potting soil mixed with new.  On Sunday, I could see the parsley starting to sprout up.  I redeemed Swagbucks points on a gift card, in time to get the equivalent of a $3 bonus.  When library books were picked up in town, I stopped for groceries.  The blueberries for my smoothies were $1 off/bag, and avocados were .89.  Nothing earth shattering, but every little bit helps.  Our holistic vet made his annual visit for the pups.  The only thing found was a small, reddened area on Guinness's gum, which may be some infection.  One of his suggestions was berberine, which we had in our supplies, so I'm giving it twice a day mixed in something good, and there's already a noticeable improvement.  


 When heading out the driveway on the day I went to town, I noticed asparagus up, in what is always our earliest patch.  It's in a sunny spot where it volunteered, probably with the help of some birds.  The next day, I harvested the first asparagus, as well as stinging nettles.  The nettles is drying, to be used for tea.  All laundry was dried on the line.  For a business purchase, I used a 20% coupon code, and went through Swagbucks for an additional 4%.  J prepped the garden area, and planted the onions.  He also did some weeding in the garlic bed and an asparagus bed.  I pruned some of the smaller fruit bushes and trees, and he got the larger trees.  We probably have another third to prune, but it feels good to be making progress.  I've begun going through tomato seeds, which I hope to start the coming week.  Is it time in your area to be planting seeds yet?

Monday, February 27, 2023

A Short Post

This is going to be a shorter than usual post.  Somehow, after working on it off and on for several days, it was deleted Sunday evening, and I don't have the heart to redo it.  I can tell you that there was another broccoli harvest, part of which was used in pad thai.  The rest of the broccoli was frozen.  A pot of sweet potatoes was put on the woodstove for the pups and chickens.  I went through Swagbucks for 4% off an order, and used coupon codes for another 12% off the entire order, plus a few items that received 15% off.  The deep house cleaning is done, except for the bedroom, which will happen this week.  

We've owed two couples in the neighborhood an invite, and had them all for dinner over the weekend.  I harvested lettuce to mix with store bought for our salads, and pasta sauce was made with our canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and summer squash, garlic, onions, and fresh rosemary.  Brownies and GF cookies were made with items we had in the pantry.  It was a nice night.  We learned a few more things about the neighborhood, including one of our claims to fame, Rufus Hussey, known as bean shooter man.  Here he is on Johnny Carson.  Have a wonderful week, friends!

Monday, February 20, 2023

Mid-February Days

Hello, friends.  Lots of progress was made on deep cleaning the house last week.  On Saturday, J helped out, taking down many of the light shades, washing them, and putting them back up.  He also repaired the string on a blind that had broken.  I went through a large pile of magazines.  Some will be given to an acquaintance who expressed interest in homesteading-type magazines.  The remainder will go to the sharing basket at the local library.  A thrift store had their clothes at 50% off.  I needed groceries, and it happened to be close by, so I stopped and found J two shirts, and myself two tank tops and a skirt for $1.50 ea.  A partial box of cream cheese was pulled from the freezer, and is being doled out for the pup's breakfasts, as we're dairy free now.  I've also been sprinkling a little homemade granola on it, being it's not GF, and they seem to be enjoying both.  

Early in the week, I canned vegetable broth, adding more pints to the shelf.  I grocery shopped after a soap delivery.  Surprisingly, many of the things on my list were on sale.  None of it much, but I saved $12.99 total on sale prices, and another $5.99 discount for shopping on senior day.  I then went by the Dollar Tree, where I found the lentils last month, and they had more, so I picked up 6 lbs.  My plan is to can them.  I had stopped into two other Dollar Trees recently, and neither had them, so I was very happy to find these.  I was also happy to find a 100% cotton tank top there.  The thrift store prices have gotten really high for such a simple thing.  I wear these daily as an underlayer in the cooler months, and several are wearing out.  In the same town, I stopped by Hallmark, found some 90% off Christmas cards, got my free greeting card, and used a $2 coupon.

This was the easiest cleanse I've done so far, and I'm also happy it's done.  J took care of his dinner through the cleanse, though I did make a very simple dinner and brownies for him on Valentine's Day.  When I went to get the vacuum bags for the old system to list on ebay, I found the other bag we'd thought we had for the new one.  Sheesh.  The recently bought ones were finally delivered mid-week, which meant the Christmas tree was finally taken down.  That was a definite record!  When I went to the basement one day, I noticed a smell I couldn't identify, until I looked at the pawpaw wine, and saw that the airlock had gotten clogged, and it spewed.  I hope that's the first and last time that happens, as it was rather a mess.  All has been well since, so fingers crossed.  I finally got around to pulverizing all the tomato bits I'd dehydrated into powder, which will be useful to have on the shelf for cooking.  That's all I can think of, so take care friends, and let's make the week a good one.

Monday, February 13, 2023

A Small Harvest and Making Wine

Hello, friends.  Last week, I planted peas, after cleaning last year's bean vines off the trellis, prepping soil and adding aged chicken manure/bedding.  I tried a sweet potato hummus to help use up some of the sweet potatoes.  It was basically the regular version, with sweet potatoes added, and was decent.  A 20% coupon code was used for a business purchase, going through Rakuten for another 7% back.  I went through Swagbucks for 1% back on another business purchase.  More cleaning has been done.  The hoosier cabinet was cleaned, and another round of cleaning most of the refrigerator, including the crisper bins, before I went to the grocery store.  I'm not sure how the shelves end up so sticky, but I suspect the bags of sweet potatoes made for the critters leak some.  At least it's clean for the moment.  

At the grocery store, asparagus were $1.49, avocados 2/$1, our dogfood was $6 off, and organic lettuce & kale were $1 off.  I decided to do another 9 day cleanse to move my healing along, and will be eating lots of leafy greens.  A $5 reward went towards my purchase.  Soapmaking oils were melted on the woodstove.  As I write this on Sunday, it's been two weeks since we ordered vacuum bags, and I've been sweeping in the meantime.  They're supposed to be here in the  next few days.  We're usually so much better about having supplies on hand.  In fact, we have seven bags for our now defunct vacuum, so it really irks me.  Somehow, the bags slipped through the cracks, which I guess happens from time to time.  Laundry was dried on the line.  Not long ago, I heard about a food pantry in our little community.  On Saturday, I dropped off a box of tomato products and pasta there.

A friend has a set of glasses just like my recently thrifted one, and told me it's a Murano glass from Italy.  I already loved it, but how cool is that.  While picking up something for J at Lowes, I bought a bag of potting soil for winter sowing.  I had a partial bag, but doubt it will be enough, with the pile of seed packets I put aside for this.  Maybe next week I'll be motivated to work on it.  I recently used up the last of the homemade curry powder, and didn't remember which recipe I used.  So, a double batch of this one was made, with all the ingredients on hand.  Some of the spices were older, and I used her tip to lightly toast them to refresh them.  A large pot of veggie scraps was placed on the woodstove to simmer, to be canned as broth this coming week.  A nice cutting of broccoli was harvested from the garden.  A few could have been cut sooner, as evidenced by the flowers, but we'll eat it just the same.

 The English muffins were used up in the chicken mash, so this week's carb cleanout was a small bit of couscous left in the pantry, and some ramen noodles.  Months ago, I mentioned freezing pawpaw, so we could try making wine with it.  We finally started it!  This is just before the airlock went on.  After I had the idea to try it, I got on several forums to see what had been said about it, and most people said they'd make it again.  Some describe it with tropical undertones, some describe it as off-dry (some German wines are described this way), with most prominently peach flavor, and some pear and banana. It's said to be "pretty darn good".  In any case, we have them in abundance here, and don't do a lot with them, so it'll be great if this turns out well.  We'll have to be rather patient, as it was said that it's disappointing at one year, very pleasing at two years, and fabulous at five.   Wishing you all a lovely Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 6, 2023

Early February on the Homestead


Hello, friends.  Last week, I cut stained shirts into rags, and saved the buttons.  One had a lovely saying from Mary Engelbreit.  I pondered doing something with it, but decided to just enjoy a smile whenever I use it.  A jar of astragalus root glycerite was started.  I realized I'd been making things for J he didn't necessarily need to eat, which cost us more money.  So, I made some of the regular pasta for him, which we had in the pantry, and made a smaller amount of GF pasta for me.  The next day, I made sweet potato pies, a GF one for me, and non GF for him.  While I had the oven going, I added two butternut and a spaghetti squash to bake.  The ends of GF bread were placed in a pan to dry in the oven, for future bread crumbs.

canning jars emptied and ready for storage

I saw a post about cleaning the washing machine, which I'll admit, I rarely do.  I was able to pull two pieces from the top of the agitator and wash them, wiped down the drum and outside, then ran a hot water wash with vinegar.  It definitely looks better.  Two books were requested from the library.  When they were picked up, I had a little time before meeting my sister, so I checked my list, and picked up two children's books I've been wanting to read, one of them a winner of the Caldecott Medal.  I've been regularly starting alfalfa sprouts this year, to supplement our salads.  I've mentioned that I'm not a fan of the taste of squash, either summer or winter.  But it's good for us, grows well in our garden, and is good when doctored up.  I made minor changes to suit our needs and what we had on hand, but we thought all of these were good.

Cinnamon Pecan Roasted Butternut Squash

Creamy Curried Butternut Squash Lentil Soup

Creamy Vegan Tuscan Spaghetti Squash

I made suet for the birds, using dehydrated bits left from canning tomatoes and grapes.  For dinner on a cold night, our garlic and veggie broth were used with chard. Mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, and peas rounded it out.  Another small corner of the house was cleaned.  Little steps.  I cooked way too many sweet potatoes, in anticipation of making the two pies early last week.  Another pie was made on Sunday, and a sweet potato casserole for dinner, along with salad and home canned lima beans.  I still have a quart of sweet potato puree, which probably just needs to be frozen.  My intention was to take the Christmas tree down, but as we're still waiting on vacuum bags, that didn't happen.  It's getting really fragrant, and is obviously drying out.  That's always been a favorite fragrance of mine.  My Mom used to gather up vintage handkerchiefs around the fir needles from her tree, and gift them to me, because I loved the scent so much.  When taking them out of the Christmas boxes the next year, it always surprised me how wonderful it still was.  Such sweet memories.  Wishing you a week with some sweet moments.

Monday, January 30, 2023

New Shelves & A New Spring

Hello, friends.  I hope your days have been filled with what has meaning for you.  Last week, I used homemade curry blend in a cauliflower curry dish.  I made GF bread crumbs and canned a batch of vegetable broth.  Our garlic and onion were used in a tomato rice loaf, and some of our sweet peppers were rehydrated for a potato dish.  Now that the bagels from the freezer have all been fed to the chickens, I'm defrosting some English muffins that have been in there quite a while.  I don't give them much of it in a day, but they do love all sorts of breads.  An item I thrifted last week was listed on Ebay.  I hadn't been picking up things to resell, but this pretty pottery plate inspired me, and was only .99.  If it doesn't sell after a while, I'll be happy to add it to our dishes.  

Two more hellebore flowers joined the party.  I contacted Staples about an order that had been MIA for a couple of weeks.  They sent out the item again, and I received it in a day or two.  At the grocery store, our dogfood was $6 off.  I've been looking for our cat food on sale, but haven't seen it so far.  Kiwis were 3/$1.  Lemons were $1 off/bag.  Mushrooms were .99.  I considered getting several of them for canning, but decided not to add that to my plate.  All laundry was dried on the line.  J's business partner has had another injury, so I'm assisting him again on jobs where I can be of use.  I'm most thankful for the extra income.  I brought water, lunch, and snacks.  As it was sunny, I placed my lunch on the dash to warm, and ate it with him, when he stopped for fast food.  Our little bantam hen started laying a couple of weeks ago.

The countertop in our pantry was covered, mostly with homemade medicines, and supplements.  I asked J to make two shelves to span the back of the counter, wide enough for a mason jar.  Everything now has a place, and I can use the countertop again.  Now it's possible to empty the freezer shelf by shelf, and do an inventory, which is much needed.  J requested vegetable soup on Sunday.  Some dribs and drabs from fridge and freezer, home canned vegetables, and onion and garlic from storage were used to make a tasty soup.  A honey and lemon juice salad dressing was mixed up.  I harvested lettuce from the garden for our salad.  I made a bit more progress on deep cleaning the house, involving moving furniture away from the walls,  but then the vacuum bag filled up, and we couldn't find another bag to fit the new to us canister, though we both thought it came with more than one.  Oh well, I swept the remainder and stopped for the day, and J ordered more bags.

Pots of sweet potatoes were put on the woodstove to simmer, one with large ones for us, and the other with small ones for the pups and chickens.  I saw a movie I wanted to watch, which is available on our Roku TV, so I saved it to my watch list.  We rarely turn it on, but it's nice to have now and then.  Our solar system was reprogrammed by the company, and is working much better for us now, though we still have some things to figure out.  J has felt sure there were springs on this land, and found one over the weekend.  He dug it out, ran a pipe from it, and began shoring it up.  The water was still pretty stirred up, so it hasn't been tasted yet.  It would be wonderful if it was good tasting water, unlike our well water.  May the week ahead bring you some happy surprises.  

Monday, January 23, 2023

January Blooms

Hello, friends.  Though it's still two months until spring, it's been really nice to begin seeing signs of it on the way.  I went around the house and tackled all the cobwebs.  Though it hurt my feelings to do so, I defrosted my two remaining beloved Field Roast plant based frankfurters, to give to the dogs, as the first ingredient after water is vital wheat gluten.  They also include other "no foods", such as natural flavors and ACV.  I'd hung on to them, thinking that I'd be able to cheat now and then after my eczema was fully healed, but I'm not there yet, so it's time to let them go.  I intend to go through the cheese in the freezer, of which I have quite a stash, and relegate at least some of it to the pups and chickens.  

Joseph was offered the lower limbs of a massive white oak, by neighbors who know we heat with wood, as they're unable to work around it with their tractor.  We're very thankful to get it.  I did help unload some, but he has done all the real work.  I'm very thankful for a hard working husband too!  He requested a dinner of our canned green beans and potatoes, with lots of garlic, so that was made one night.  A different meal was lentil sloppy joes, fried sweet potatoes and salad.  Another used our cabbage in colcannon, along with our lima beans.  My sister and I had a thrift day on Wednesday.  Favorite finds were a  .49 handblown clear and cobalt glass tumbler, $2 Krups coffee grinder (ours was thrifted years ago & had recently died), $4 lovely hand hooked rug, $3 canister for my shop, $1 like new steel sink drainer (ours had begun rusting), and $8 huge wicker laundry basket.

The pups and I continue to enjoy our daily walks as the weather allows.  After an appointment, I stopped by Harris Teeter for groceries, getting 5% off the total for senior's day, and picked up lentils 1#/$1.25 at Dollar Tree.  Now that I've checked prices elsewhere, I'm sorry I didn't pick up more than one bag of lentils.  I'll keep a look out for them.  On Sunday afternoon, I put another 4 gallons of veggie scraps on the woodstove to simmer, to be turned into broth this week.  I'm slowly gathering all the info needed for filing taxes, and J and I filled out the various county tax forms that needed to go back.  I added all three forms to the same envelope, saving two stamps, after confirming it was under an ounce.  We're getting some nice rain, which is filling our tanks.  I'm hoping to get some soap wrapping and more house cleaning done this week.  Stay cozy out there.

Monday, January 16, 2023

More Winter Canning & A Little Harvest

Hello, friends.  The increasing amount of daylight has our hens laying more, and J is enjoying plenty of their eggs.   I'm still soaking their scratch grains overnight, and giving them a mash of various things every day, including grated squash, chopped banana peels, chopped sweet potato, and whatever else I rustle up.  I steamed eggs, and made egg salad for J.  If you haven't tried steaming them yet, that has been the easiest way I've found to peel them.  So quick and easy.  I was skeptical when I first tried it, but it works.  I chose a slower shipping time on amazon to receive $2.25 in digital credit.  I harvested sweet potato leaves for a smoothie, from the indoor plant.  It was looking rather puny, so I fed it with some of the worm castings I was gifted last summer.  

I finished watching Tales From the Green Valley on youtube, a series about life in the 1600's, and am sorry to see it end.  I used our onion, and sweet pepper pulled from the freezer, for fried potatoes.  When I canned apples last week, I'd thought there was another bag in the freezer, but couldn't find them.  Well, I've found them since, and canned another three quarts of apple slices for pie.  This time, I didn't use a thickener or Tattler lids, and am thankful all sealed.  It will be easy enough to add some spices, and some flour if needed, before baking.  Batches of suet for the birds and golden paste for the pups were made.  I dropped off two books, and picked up three more at the library.  Chickweed was gathered for smoothies.  The first one used straight chickweed, which tasted stronger than I'd like, so after that, I mixed it with spinach. 

I've started working on a piece of cross stitch, which will be a gift.  I took my car in for an inspection, and it passed without problem.  It's 13 years old, and has been a wonderful car.  I'm hoping it has a few more good years in it.  When I picked up sunflower seed for the birds, I noticed the bag had 10% off written on it.  I questioned the cashier, and she gave me the discount, though she hadn't at first.  I'm glad I asked.  It's expensive these days!  There was a piece of tape over a small cut on the bag, and it didn't look as though any was missing.  I'm thinking I will not use the feed through the warm months this year, for a number of reasons, including the spread of disease from feeders in house finches.  Birder extraordinaire Julie Zickefoose  has stopped summer feeding for this and other reasons, so I'm comfortable making the same decision.

One morning, I woke at 3:30, and couldn't go back to sleep.  By the time dinner rolled around, I was ready for something comforting, so used our potatoes and broth in mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, along with peas and a salad.  I forgot to mention last week that Joseph received a free 5# bag of dogfood in the mail, and has no idea why.  We've not ordered from them before.  It's a cheaper brand that I would normally buy, but it won't go to waste.  At the grocery store, I picked up spinach, cara cara oranges and lettuce, on sale for $1 off each.  The wild blueberries I use in my morning smoothies dropped $2, to their previous price, so I picked up a couple.  They didn't say they were on sale, so I'm hoping this will be the every day price again.  Laundry was dried on the clothesline.  A tuft of usnea was found on a walk, and added to the glycerite jar, and a new batch of cat's claw glycerite was started.  I finally remembered to watch the Call The Midwife holiday special on PBS, which was lovely.

Saturday's low was to be 24, so we covered up all the winter garden again.  Before I covered the lettuce, I noticed the lettuce had grown enough to harvest some.  It's not growing fast these cold days, but there's enough for a few salads.  I try and eat a good amount of leafy greens every day, so these are most welcome.  On Sunday, I canned another round of vegetable broth.  While keeping an eye on the canner, I prepped the last of our apples.  It was still pretty early in the day, so I went ahead and made applesauce, and canned 3 1/2 pints.  That's the last of the perishable things that need canning.  I'll keep working  my way through the vegetable scraps in the freezer, and also plan to can up some beans during these cold months.  Now that the pressing canning is done, I need to concentrate on some deep cleaning.  The cobwebs are calling me.  Take care, friends.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Canning Success and Failure

Sweet boy, napping in the sun

Hello, friends.  During the winter, the low sun shines in the front door, and I move one of the pup beds there during the day, so they're able to lay in it.  Last week, I was able to use a 10% coupon code for a business purchase.  There were some crumbled black bean burgers I needed to use up.  I decided to make a lentil sloppy joe recipe, and also added some mushrooms that needed using.  It was excellent, and no food waste..  Then later in the week, the last of the sloppy joe was added to vegetable soup, along with leftover beans and rice, and a small amount of lambs quarter and spaghetti squash.  I want to be sure to use it all up, especially these days.  J & I gathered all the metal scrap we'd been collecting, and took it to the salvage yard, which brought us $47 and change.  I enjoyed the cranberry quinoa salad so much on Christmas, I made some more, and baked one of our butternut squash to go with it.

During the week, I had a canning fail, with apple pie filling.  I'm not sure if it was because I used Ultragel, which I haven't used very many times in the past, or because I used Tattler lids, but two out of three quarts spewed when I took them out of the canner, and the third didn't seal.  It wasn't what I planned, but it won't be wasted.  I realized the ultragel is a corn product, which I'm not supposed to have, so made a pie for J with the first half of the filling.  Happily, there was canning success with vegetable broth.  Vegetable scraps were defrosted on the woodstove before processing, and 11 pts were added to the pantry.  There are many more bags of frozen vegetable scraps to process, but I wanted to work on just one large pot of scraps at a time that day.  J took down a tree that was blocking a portion of the solar panels, and let me know there were branches with usnea.  I was able to forage a nice basketful, and began a jar of glycerite with it.

The handle to the spout on our tea kettle broke, and J fabricated a new one.  The usual composting, saving veggie scraps for broth, washing ziploc bags for reuse, saving warm up water, and shredding paper happened.  After reading about mache at The Prudent Homemaker, I ordered seeds, as well as two new to me paste tomatoes, and borage, with a 10% off coupon.  After a dinner out with our granddaughter, we stopped at Harris Teeter, and looked through their marked down Christmas.  J got candy canes and a pack of chapsticks ("holiday flavors"), marked down.  Sadly, the sale priced produce I wanted had sold out, and what was available wasn't the best quality.  Still, I'm thankful to get what I could.  A coupon code was used for supplements, saving 24%.

Soapmaking is back in gear, and the oils were melted on the woodstove to save propane.  I wrapped soap, while it was raining Sunday, and the nearly bare shelf is beginning to be replenished.  I'm greatly enjoying reading The Rose Code, a WWII historical fiction.  A small amount of bread crumbs were found in the freezer, and were added to the chicken mash one day.  There were also everything bagels that I mentioned to my husband months ago, but as he hasn't eaten them, they'll also be used in chicken mash.  No sense in keeping them, as I'm GF now.  I used to love using them for egg sandwiches.  The band that played at our wedding celebration was at a local brewery Saturday, and  J & I went to enjoy the show. Friends joined us, and there were a number of people we knew there.  It was a most enjoyable date night.  Take good care of yourselves, friends.

Monday, January 2, 2023

A New Year

Hello, friends.  I hope you've been doing well.  Last week, I went to our little local grocer.  Though they were out of the cilantro I stopped there for, I found 12 oz grade A maple syrup on the clearance rack for $3, and bought 8.  At the nearby Dollar General, I found 50% off Christmas, and picked up twinkly lights, gift tags, and ribbon.  I used our potatoes and vegetable broth in mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy.  Lots of sweet potatoes and greens were eaten in various forms throughout the week.   A few Christmas items I wasn't using were added to the donation box.   Though it was mighty cold hanging it out, with temps in the 20's, I dried laundry on the line.  I found cherries for $3.99/# at Food Lion.  While in town, I thrifted a 1/2 gal canning jar $1.99, canister for my shop $2.99, and two pretty handmade pottery bowls 2/$3.99.  Our elderly neighbor, who I've mentioned here before, sadly passed away.  The day after the funeral, J brought a trailer load of our wood to his widow.  

One of the hellebores has a flower bud, a hopeful sign at the start of the new year.  A customer who has turned into a friend sent me a lovely handmade Christmas ornament.  Sweet surprises in the mail are one of life's old fashioned pleasures, don't you think?  I prepped all the pears, and the apples that wouldn't last, and made sauce, canning two 1/2 pints of each. I hope to process the remaining apples soon.  Annabel put up an excellent post on these times.  I'm thankful that there are so many good people sharing information.  Though there is plenty of junk online, and those stirring up drama and fear, there are also those who calmly share information which is helpful to know.  It requires some discernment, and I've been consciously choosing to watch and read more things that uplift me while informing me.   Happy New Year, friends!