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!