Thursday, August 30, 2012


For those of you with a wrinkled brow concerning the title of this post, let me assure you I am not nuts(well not technically).  Our family is big Christmas Story fans.  Watch it every year on Christmas eve.  So if you know the movie you will know what that is in my title.  Don't know the movie, I will splain.  Apparently the Dad had this on going battle with the furnace and you could hear him working on it and "swearing" at it.  Course it was supposed to be so bad, but the audience only hears the above word.  So this morning I am trying, as a christian woman, to find the appropriate word to describe what happened this morning.  That word fits.  Perfectly.
I guess a subtitle of this post would be "why you should not do heavy amounts of baking at 4:45 am with no coffee".  Yea that would work too, but the first word is shorter(not if I have to explain it though).  I wake up this morning and can't go back to sleep.  Thinking about my day, my week, Christmas, Birthdays, sewing, gardening, raised beds, SQUIRREL!  Oh sorry... I digress.   Anyhoo, you get the idea.  I decide to go ahead and get up(Proverbs 31:15 she gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and a portion for her servant girls.  That's me!).  I need to make blueberry muffins and something for my knigth in shining armour to take to work in his lunch.  I think "I know, I will mix up brownies and blueberry muffins and bake them in the oven together in order to save electricity!"  Brilliant!  Ummm yea.... not so much.  Apparently when one tries to cook that early in the morning after 5 hours of sleep and no coffee, one can drop the ball so to speak.  The muffins turned out great, but I couldn't figure out what was wrong with my brownie dough. That is until it had baked.  Yea....forgot to add THE SUGAR!  Mmmm mama made black play dough!  Well it is trash now.  Grrr.
I share this for two reasons, 1) if you are going to attempt to be the Proverbs 31 woman, you need a good supply of caffeine, and 2)  I want you guys to see that all is not always rosy at the frugal maven homestead.

Now, my attempt for the rest of the day is to do laundry and other various house cleaning things, and make bread.  I have had two cups of coffee so I am hopeful for success with that one.  I will also attempt something else in the snack area for lunches and such.  This should be interesting though cause I am now out of eggs til tomorrow.  Tomorrow is grocery day.  Yay!

So I hope you guys have a great day til I can see you again.  Remember!  Always be positive.  I.E   I am positive I will use sugar next time.  See?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Putting the garden down for a nap, and trying something new

New to me anyway.  I actually spent 4 hours yesterday outside in the garden(housework went to rack and ruin but...)putting some of the beds down for the winter.  I have blister on top of blister this morning and my shoulders are sore, but it is a good feeling to have three beds prepared.  I am trying something new.  A variation from another blog site I read.  You can link to it here.  I really enjoy this site.  The couple live in the North Ga mountains which aren't too far from me.  They pretty much grow all they eat with few exceptions. Anyway, Here is what I am doing.  I dig up the bed, putting the dirt onto a tarp, then fill the bottom of the "hole" with organic stuff from the garden i.e. dead weeds, corn stalks, bean plants dug up, etc.  I layer a nice thick layer, liberally sprinkle fertilizer over it all then top it with the dirt from the tarp.  I then cover all of that with black plastic.  The largest pieces of stick are mainly the pruning from my blueberry bushes.  It is a great way to get rid of yard refuse and build up the soil in the process.  I hope.  But at least it does get rid of the yard waste.  Kind like sweeping the dirt under the rug, but more beneficial.(smile)  I will update in the spring if I was successful.  It is kinda like having individual compost bins.  So I accomplished three of these beds.  I would have done four. I did cultivate the bed, but when I was going to put the bed down for the season I discovered 3 potato plants.  So instead I covered them up with more dirt and left them alone.  Later on in the day I found 4 more potato plants.  So my final tally of 60+ lbs for the season, may be premature. We'll see.  My tomato plants continue to come back.  Not sure if I will get much from them, but they have plenty of blooms.  I am dying to dig up my peanuts, but I must be patient.  They aren't ready yet.  I hope I get a good harvest from them.  The plants look wonderful.  Well, I am off to clean. Unfortunately, not my house. Mine will have to wait a bit longer.  It'll just get dirty again anyway.  As my sister says "If evolution were true, houses would get cleaner".  You guys have a great day.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hello all!

Just biding my time as I watch the canner percolate away pressure canning some red beans and rice.  Uh minus the rice( to be added when serving) can't can rice.  You end up with something akin to glue I suspect.  I got the idea to just make up the recipe instead of just canning beans.  I don't know why I didn't think of this before.  Hey I'm slow, but I get there eventually.  The convenience will be awesome.  Just open the quart jar and heat up while I am cooking some rice.  This is going to be so awesome this winter.
Finished up with the harvest of navy beans for the summer.  I figure I got about 4-5 lbs from about 1/2 cup of beans to begin with.  I would say a great return on my investment.  My pinto bean plants aren't quite ready yet, but they are hanging with beans.  I am just waiting on them to get some color.  I have 10 watermelons that will more than likely be ripe before the first frost.  Add to that I found potato volunteers growing and pretty good size yesterday.  We will see what I can get from these by the first freeze.  None of these items came from heirloom variety seeds/tubes.  Yet they are not only producing, but producing well and producing an item true to the parent.  My navy beans are white little beans, look like navy beans, act like navy beans; my watermelons are green on the outside, red on the inside(with seeds) and sweet!  My pinto beans so far are exactly like pintos should be.  We have all eaten this stuff from the garden.  No one has a dread disease or anything, so I am feeling fairly confident that I can save pretty much any seed I need to.  Yesterday I harvested my first group of lettuce seeds.  They are currently drying on top of the bread box.  Along with some jalapeno seeds
The little green buds here are the lettuce seeds:
You tear them open(easier after they are dried) and inside are the little lettuce seeds.  See
The little bit of white represents the seeds.  Not a great picture, but my talents don't lie in photography.  So far this year I have saved seeds from lettuce, Limas beans, green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, watermelon, and seed potatoes.

Onto a different subject, remember the doll I told you about?  The one a wonderful co-worker gave me?  I am going to post a pic of her so you guys can see what she looks like right now, and hopefully I will be able to repair her and post a new pic of her. Now more than likely I will have to send her off to someone who  can take care of the really hard part, but the cleaning, etc.  I am hoping I can do.  Here she is:
You can't see it in this pic, but the paint at the seams of her legs is flaking off.  She will need to have her legs repainted and that is something I am not equipped to do.  I love her little face.  She looks very young for her age as she is 88 years old.  She was made in 1924.  She is about the size of a 1 year old baby.  She is actually in remarkable condition all things considered.  I already have plans for the outfit I will make for her.  Picture a little off white dress edged in lace and with tiny Christmas red roses.  I want to get her some little off white stocking and black patent leather shoes.  I want to make her a little coat and bonnet out of  Christmas red , trimmed in off white lace and ribbons.  She's gonna be such a pretty girl.
Well that is all from my neck of the woods.  How is everyone else?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Just thought I would check in

Nothing very impressive to report.  It is a cloudy morning and I sit here drinking my second cup of  percolated coffee.  In keeping with my homesteady decor, my coffee is percolated on my kitchen stove in an old fashioned lookin camp coffee pot.  Drip coffee does not, I repeat does not come close.  Percolated coffee is rich, but not bitter, hot(and I do mean hot), the smell permeates the house as it perks, and it used less coffee grounds.  My Dh prefers drip coffee, but while he is away on a training, I get percolated.  When he comes home, it will be drip.  The things I do for love!

  Well I'll be!  The sun has won and broken through the clouds!

This morning at 5:45 am I was awoken by thunder and lightning.  No rain, and I snuggled down in my sheets.  .  I was startled awake by the realization that I had clothes hanging on the line that I forgot about yesterday.  Now Murphy's law will tell you that had I stayed in bed and said "ah they'll be fine", I would have had a downpour on my hands as well as soaked clothes.  So up I get and outside, in the dark, to get the clothes off the line.  I got them into the house and situated, then went back to bed.  Yea....not happening.  I was awake.  It didn't help that my dog, Wolly,

 decided if I was up it must be time to get out of the kennel and Mama just forgot.  So he kept whimpering while I was trying to go back to sleep.  BAD DOG!  So giving up sleeping, I put on a pot of coffee, and started my day.  I made a batch of banana bread for breakfast, and am trying my hand at making pinto bean bread.  The recipe is in "The More with Less" cookbook pg 62.  We'll see how it does.  If successful I will have a bread that not only can be good for sandwiches and such, but could actually be a meal.  The addition of the pinto beans will make this bread a complete protien.  Add some fruit, soup, or salad with it and voila!  Dinner!  We will see.  I can tell you it does rise quite a bit.  Oh by the way, paused to add...It did not rain... Yea Murphy Law got me on the other side.  I knew that would happen.

So the plan for today is for the boys to cut the grass.  I am hopeful I can finally get back into the garden.  That is after my sons lessons are done for the day.  I am sure they are going to want to go to the "Y" for a swim, but the lawn has to be done first. So that is my day in a nut shell.  Like I said nothing earth shattering.  I guess I need to get going again.  Hopefully I can have something more impressive to write about next go round.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thoughts turning to fall

I know, yesterday was hot and steamy, we still have about 7 weeks til the first day of fall, but I am beginning to think along those lines.  We have had two days of real rainy weather here (Praise God), and before that we had pop up storms; so my time out in the garden has been limited.  I was able to get out there yesterday to pull weeds and with the ground wet it went pretty fast(though muddy).  Anyway, I digress.  Since we have had a few rainy days I was allowed to focus more on house work  I have started my "fall cleaning".  I usually start on one end of the house and work my way slowly but surely down to the other side.  It was a day of pulling out furniture, sweeping and mopping underneath, brushing down cobb webs and dust bunnies, washing windows and curtains.  So far I have one half of 1 room complete!  See I told you... slow going. I will work on more stuff today.  Little by little I will reclaim the house from a summer of gardening and canning.  Anyway.  As I take down curtains I am trading them for heavier curtains used during colder weather.  We keep the thermostat set at about 65 during the winter.  Needless to say everyone has their favorite blanket to carry around.  It is rather cooling to think of fall weather.
I think one of the reasons I am thinking fall is because I have had to get into that mindset with the garden.  You know making plans and such for what will have enough time to produce and what needs to be replaced.  Most of it will come up in the next few weeks.  I will plant some more beets, spinach and lettuce.  That with the beans I just got in (who are up out of the ground now), and hopefully the tomatoes will be the extent of my fall garden.  I can happily record that so far I have harvested 2 watermelons, 16lbs of broccoli, approximately 180 lbs of tomatoes, 6+ lbs onions, 4 lbs navy beans(so far), 8lbs lima(so far), 60 ears of corn(so far), 3 lbs bell peppers(so far), 6 lbs of jalapeno peppers(so far YIKES!  I don't need this many, any takers?), 1 lb pintos (so far), 35 lbs blueberries, 14lbs black berries, 4 lbs peaches, 60+lbs potatoes,parsley, mint, rosemary, oregano, thyme, lettuce, and spinach.  so a total so far of 331lbs of produce so far not counting the stuff I didn't weigh.  Still looking to harvest more tomatoes(hope), corn, green beans, lima, pinto, and navy beans, peanuts, parsley, mint, and later beets, spinach and lettuce.  Not too shaby for the season.  Not taking too much credit for this one, I just planted the seed.  God provided and for that I am truly thankful.  Come winter I will smile a little as I open a jar of Tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, jelly, salsa, beans, corn, peanut butter, etc.  Somehow when it gets to winter and I enjoy the product of a summer of hot dirty sweaty work, I forget how much work it took and the fact that at the end of the summer I am usually saying "never again".  That is usually when the seed catalogs arrive and I am once more lured into the thought of spring planting.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Whoa, sticker shock today and what can I do about it.

So went for my monthly grocery trip today.  It is definitely and adventure to shop once a month, but once done I am done for a month.  No putting groceries away every week or two weeks. I knew going in how much prices would be for Sams thanks to their website, but wasn't prepared for the price hikes in everything else.  I allow myself $400 a month for groceries.  I know a lot of people that would tell me that is what they spend each month as well, but mine not only includes toiletries and pet items(i.e dog food, cat food, kitty litter), but I also try to always add to my pantry for emergencies.  Items I did not need this go around but bought to add to my pantry are: sugar, flour, cocoa, oil, butter, lentils, dry milk, popcorn, tortilla chips, boxed mac and cheese, raisins, canned fruit, oatmeal, and all natural peanut butter.  I will do this as long as I am able to do so.  The vast majority of these items I am buying before a price increase.  Namely the corn products.  I get a better price on these things when I shop like this and have them to fall back on if inflation kills us(just a waiting game til it happens I assure you).  Even with trying to shop for items at a good price, some things had spiked already.  I almost needed CPR when I saw the price of eggs.  YIKES!  Last month I  paid about .84 dz for eggs.  This time at Aldi no less I was to pay $1.69.  Double!  I can't stick to a budget of $400 and stock up with prices like that.  Dried beans had gone up as well.  So how can I combat prices like these.  Well first off I didn't buy eggs.  I still have some and so will watch for them to go on sale (hopefully).  Until then I will use substitutes in baking, and our breakfast will more than likely be things like muffins, oatmeal, etc..  I have "egg substitute for baking.  It is a powder made of potato starch that I use sometimes in baking.  You can get it in the whole foods section of your grocery store.  It is simply called "egg re-placer". It is around $6 or $7 depending.   If you can't buy that you can simply use soy flour.  I Tbs of soy flour and 1 TBS of water.  Other things I am trying include: cut out all store bought snack items such as potatoes chips, cookies, crackers, etc.  You would be amazed at the amount of money chips etc can add to a grocery bill.  Cookies, and crackers will be made at home by me.  I bought French fries at Sams to bake in the oven instead of chips. I am also making my own yogurt and am attempting to make things like yogurt cheese with it. I will also use my yogurt as a substitute for sour cream in recipes.  Meat will be cut back and will become more of an accessory instead of a focal point in our meals.  Each purchase today was thought about.  Nothing was tossed willy nilly in the cart.  I couldn't afford that.  I still have money left over from today to keep us in fresh produce.  This is where gardening comes in handy because I really only had to get fresh fruits and celery.  I know there will come a time when in order to keep up with my pantry I will need to reconfigure my budget, but for now I am holding on.
***TIP OF THE DAY!!!!*** I have omitted cooking sprays in my quest to cut our food dollars.  In order to grease my pans the old fashioned way, I needed paper towels.  Dreadful things those.  I hate to use them.  Seems like such a waste.  I was just about ready to throw a roll of paper towels in the buggie when I saw paper napkins.  Same number of sheets, but $1.00 less than the cheapest paper towel.  Yay!

So off I go to finish up before Dh gets home.