Hello everyone! I know it has been over six months since I posted last. This year I decided to put most of my writing time into actually writing books, rather than blog posts every week. The decision has paid off. I'm currently working on a series of vintage-inspired booklets to help housewives save money in a dignified way. When the series is finished, there will be a book for each month with tips, hints and fun projects to try. Currently I have four booklets published, and I'm working on the fifth as I write this. I'm also working on a book about how to grow strawberries for profit, which will be out sometime this summer.
In addition to my non-fiction projects, I'm also in the process of doing research for, and learning how to write a historical novel. There are an incredible amount of moving parts involved that make the process complicated. You need a setting, characters, and a plot. The setting is the easiest, but requires a lot of research. Then your characters need a personality, back story, goals, and a character arc; preferably two arcs—an outward one and an inward one. Now I'm working on plot, which is a completely different beast.
One of my research projects this spring was to visit a local mansion built in the 1870s. You can see from the pictures that it still has a lot of the original tile, and also some unique antiques.
It was such a fun visit, and a place I can't wait to put into one of my novels someday.
Apart from writing, I've been trying to keep up with my garden and spend the blistering summer afternoons reading books. Or cleaning the house, but mostly just reading. I made my first substantial harvest of lavender this year, as you can see in the first picture. We just finished up strawberry season, and I made a net profit of about $400.00 to fund my hobby farm with over the next year. While there are still some kinks to work out, overall I was happy with my fourth year of strawberry sales. The patch is a manageable size, but I was still able to earn a good amount with very little outside help.
This year I also planted a crop of potatoes, field corn, tomatoes, gourds and peppers in between the strawberry rows. The corn, potatoes and tomatoes are doing marvelous. I will keep the potatoes, peppers and corn for our family, but there are so many tomatoes that I might try selling them out by the road, just like our strawberries. If they don't sell, I can bring them in and can them.
Then, of course, there is the kitchen garden. Something with our manure this year was off, so germination was slow. I sowed green beans twice and still have empty spots. I sowed sweet corn twice, and it still came up patchy. And my butternut squash are growing, but failing to thrive compared to last year. That being said, the summer squash, chard, peas, garlic and chamomile have all done well this year and I'm thankful for that.
I will be consolidating my perennial flowers to the front porch and surrounding areas so they are easier to keep track of. I have a copious amount of lilies and delphiniums that need to be transplanted, which I will probably do in the fall. I bought two David Austen roses this year. They are done blooming for now, but were beautiful for the few weeks that they lasted. That being said, we have three other varieties of rose on the homestead that are also beautiful and did not cost an arm and a leg. So I'm on the fence as to if David Austen roses are worth all the money.
Well, that's about all for now folks! As I stated before, I am happy and busy and hope to keep publishing more books for you as the months fly by. If you'd like more frequent (albeit less wordy) updates, please follow me on Instagram.
Until next time,
What a week! It's that busy time of year again. I did a lot of shopping last week; some of which was thrifty, and some not so thrifty. I found a few very cool items.
1. Valet stand: At a thrift store I found something called a valet stand- like a combination suit hanger, clothes rack and jewelry holder. It's a beautiful wooden stand; probably a mid-century piece, 1940's to 1960's. I put it in our bedroom and wondered how it looked and what it held in its heyday. And to think it only cost me $5.00!
2. Fur shawl: Another fun piece I found was a fur shawl ($30.00) at a local antique store. I'm guessing this one was 1960's, based on the label and the monogram letters stitched on the inside. The neat thing is that the piece originally came from a store (long since closed) just 30 minutes from where we live.
After I bought the fur shawl, I was looking up how to take care of fur and fell into the rabbit hole of fur ownership. Apparently, when fur-wearing was a thing, people would pay to have their furs stored in temperature and humidity-controlled vaults over the summer. Then I tried to figure out how we could make our own fur vault, since the nearest one is hours away... and that was a whole different rabbit trail in itself.
3. I found a book at our local library sale that I had been planning to buy on Amazon. I also used the library's internet for a few things.
4. I harvested leeks from our garden. Yes, it is December and I'm still harvesting! Unfortunately my leeks were still pretty small at the end of the summer, but I like them to cook with, so I will try growing bigger ones next year.
5. I made a reading area in our bedroom. It has been nice to spend an hour or so every morning with a cup of tea, reading. Right now I'm finishing up Live Not By Lies by Rod Dreher.
That's about it for this week.
Hi everyone! I know I missed two (!) weeks of posting, but it wasn't for lack of activity. I had a long list of things to do before the craziness of December begins, and thankfully I've been able to get some of it done.
1. Photo books: One of my big projects was printing photo books of family pictures. My goal is to print one every year, but I missed last year so I had double the work to do this year. I only have a certain amount of hours to work on the computer each week, so I spent a lot of my computer/writing time sorting, editing and arranging photos. I was able to get both books ordered from Shutterfly and used promo codes on each one. They were still expensive. I've tried printing individual photos and then stuffing photo albums in the past. That method is slightly cheaper if you can find a used album, but in the end they're so heavy and clumsy we never pull them out to look at them. Another option is to buy photo protector pages and put them inside a binder. That way you can print extra pages (and at minimal cost). But it still makes a bulky, easily-destroyed book.
2. Jeans hunting: I cleaned out some old wardrobe items I sometimes wear, but have never liked. The unthrifty part is that I bought some new clothes to wear. Several of my jeans had multiple patches and I was wearing out my "good" shirts too fast. I replaced the old jeans with new ones; a $36.00 pair from Amazon, and two $60.00 pairs from Wrangler. I bought an additional pair from Wrangler that I'll be returning, since I didn't care for it.
Recently I've been careful to check the tags on clothing to see what materials are used. You can read in this post about my last Wrangler purchase, where I realized that my thrift store Wranglers were likely the $60.00 kind, rather than the $20.00 TSC kind. I thought Wranglers were Wranglers, but apparently not! I told my husband about this, and while we were on the company website, we figured out that the wash, or color, of the jean had more to do with its material than the style or cut of the jean.
Do I love Wranglers in particular? NO! But I've struggled to find the kind of jeans I like: boot-cut or flare, low or mid rise, and no rips or tears. Seriously, most everything is high-rise these days, which I can't stand to wear and don't think are very flattering. Wrangler seemed to be a brand with at least three different style choices that fit the bill.
And interesting aside: as I compared my $20.00 Wranglers and my $60.00 Wranglers, I noticed some subtle differences. Apart from the large amount of polyester and rayon in my cheap pants, I also realized that the expensive jeans had "W" buttons and rivets, rather than flat, plain rivets. They also had a leather patch sewn to one of the back pockets. For the price difference ($40.00), I thought these details were shockingly petty. Interestingly enough, my thrifted Wranglers had the logo embroidered inside the waistband, while my new $60.00 pants had a stamped logo, same as the $20.00 pair. While I do care about the type of fabric I'm wearing, I truly could care less about how much branding is on the pants. And I will keep that in mind the next time I'm hunting for jeans.
3. Shirts: I purchased a whole new wardrobe of shirts that I love for $7.00 apiece. While my body hasn't undergone dramatic changes from pregnancy and childbirth, one bummer was that my top half seems to have shrunk in relation to my bottom half. My bottom half is slightly (truly, not much) larger, but my top half is the same or smaller! What?! All that to say, the form-fitting shirts I was keeping around make me look exceedingly pear-shaped now. So I decided to donate them and look for some new shirts.
Per that previous post I mentioned, I wanted shirts made with 100% cotton. I also wanted certain colors; jewel tones, mostly. I wanted a crew cut neck and long enough sleeves and hem. It's not uncommon that I find a shirt that meets the first two requirements, but has a short, wide hem, sleeves about one inch too short, and a gaping neckline that cold air rushes into when I wear a pea coat.
I got to thinking, "What I really want is a T-shirt. Like, a T-shirt with long sleeves." And then I got it. Long-sleeved T-shirts! I received one at a 5K several years ago, and loved it except for the gaudy yellow color. Sure enough, I looked on Amazon and found exactly what I wanted—every color of the rainbow—in 2-packs for $11.00-$14.00 per pack. I bought two packs for the lower price, and four packs for the higher price. The average price was about $6.50 per shirt. I usually pay $3.00-$6.00 for thrifted long-sleeve shirts that rarely function as well as my new long-sleeved T-shirts.
I love my new shirts and pants. I can wake up every day and not ask myself: "is it okay to wear a holey outfit today?" Or, "Will I be able to accomplish today's tasks without bending over and exposing myself?" or "Do I want to look like a pear today?" I know that every day I will reach a certain standard of "I look good today", regardless of what I choose. What's more, since all of the shirts came in 2-packs, I'll have a whole new set when the first set of six wear out.
I have more I want to say about this topic, but in regard to the aforementioned computer time, I'd better move along with this post.
4. I've been making fancy drinks (see above) with a milk-frother that we bought last year. I'm not a coffee drinker, but tea lattes and hot cocoa lattes (is that a thing?) have been popular tea time favorites over the past several weeks. The steamer/frother cost $40.00, so I'm curious as to how long it will last. The more drinks I can make before it dies, the lower the cost will be per drink.
I looked up the prices at some of our local coffee shops, and a tea latte can cost about $4.50. If the ingredients for my homemade latte cost $0.50 (a hefty estimate), then I've saved $4.00 for every latte made. By those estimations, 10 lattes would "pay" for the milk frother. That being said, I know there are cheaper ways to froth milk, but this one steams AND froths, and it's easy to wash. Anyhow, the more lattes I get out of this frother, the lower the cost per latte for use of the machine. I still have to calculate electricity usage, so perhaps I will check in on that again. As of today, I've probably used the frother 20 times, making the cost about $2.00 per use. I would love to get it down to $0.10 per use, but that would mean using it 400 times! If I make 20 lattes per month, 5 months out of the year, I'd have to use the machine for four years before I can say it cost $0.10 per use. Wow!
5. Garden: I've been using manure from our now-frozen steer to fill up my raised beds. We replaced three of the beds (which were rotting out, being made of untreated wood), and also added one new bed, which is a long one, rather than the square beds I've done for the last several years. My plan for the long bed is to plant "preserving crops" for overwintering. For example, corn, winter squash, dry beans or tomatoes. Eventually I will try to plant a plot of wheat in there.
Sheet composting is so interesting to me. I started with the simple layering of grass clippings and fallen leaves, with a little bit of chicken or goat manure on top, since the manure usually turns into a good soil over the course of a year or so. But last year I started adding garden clippings (for example, the frost-bitten tomato and pepper plants) as the nitrogen layer, which saved me a lot of time raking up grass clippings. Plus, I no longer had to find a place for the garden refuse. This year I'm putting twigs at the very bottom of my old bed, as a sort of base layer to fill up more space (it is frustratingly hard to fill a 1' tall bed with layers of grass and leaves! Or even garden refuse and leaves!) and as my first carbon layer. This was nice because rather than burning the fallen twigs, I could use them in a productive way, while also accomplishing the goal of filling the garden bed faster. To the twigs, I added fallen leaves (also something we'd have had to clean up anyway) to fill in the cracks for my base carbon layer.
Just in the last year, I've learned you can also compost bathroom trash like toilet paper (sans feces), human hair, and toilet paper tubes. So I added another trashcan to our main bathroom, and now I'm putting those things on the compost pile rather than throwing them away. Again, it accomplishes two goals: lessens trash that we have to pay for ($2.50 per bag... we figured it out), and also adds to my compost—aka soil—pile for future raised beds. Some other factoids I learned: urine helps speed up the breakdown process, and you can also compost cotton (and, I believe, wool) clothing. Two things I haven't implemented in the compost plan, but interesting factoids nonetheless.
So, that's about it for this week! I feel like this fall has been rather productive in terms of learning and trying new projects, so I'm pretty happy about that.
Happy Thursday, everyone! I have some fun things to share this week.
1. Fall décor and styling: I found a beautiful piece of autumn artwork (pictured above) at a thrift store for $3.00. The frame was a warm-colored wood when I bought it; very much in the 1970's bicentennial style. I absolutely loved the picture, but the frame didn't fit our décor so I decided to spray-paint it black to match our other frames. I was very happy with the result. After we hung the piece, I cleared the junk off of our piano so I could appreciate the decorative elements a little more.
2. I purchased some fall-themed pillow covers and a yellow throw blanket on Amazon, along with some small orange decorative pillows and a gray throw blanket at a discount store. I'm delighted with how cozy they make our living room, and bring out the orange in my new piece of artwork. The thrifty part? These are decorations that I'll be able to pull out and use year after year.
3. I added garden-fresh parsley, garlic and lemon juice to regular butter, and made flavored butter. Each stick of butter cost about $0.50 (I used three sticks), and with the added ingredients I made about 3.5 sticks of flavored butter. Store-bought flavored butter is something like $2.00 per stick, so by making it myself I saved about $4.00. The project was easy enough. It took about an hour, but the small hourly wage is offset by the fact that I'll be able to have "fresh" parsley and garlic, already chopped up and ready to use, in the winter.
4. Our duck began laying eggs! So far I've collected almost half a dozen duck eggs, the value of which is about $10.00 per dozen.
5. I butchered an extra rooster we had, that kept making a pest of himself. Rather than plucking and gutting him like you would a chicken, I just skinned the breast and thighs, and took those (I also saved the feet for broth). The meat was enough for two meals. Our flock seems happier and less "pecked-on" now that he is gone. This was the first bird that I butchered myself from start to finish, as previously I'd always had my husband do the killing. I still absolutely hate that part, but with a killing cone the process seemed quicker and easier.
We still have at least two more roosters that could go, but annoyingly they have become pets at our house.
That's about all I can think of for now!
Well, after a week of resting up, I'm eksited about life again. I will be participating in Nanowrimo in November, so I've spent some of the last week working on preparation for my novel. In the past few months I've listened to some great free lectures by Brandon Sanderson on developing characters and plot, which really helped me put things together. I've also been researching for several years now (it's a historical novel). The last time I tried Nanowrimo-ing this novel was in 2017, but I didn't have the research to support the story line or the character development.
Here are some other thrifty things I did:
1. Harvested roots to add to my medicinal herb cabinet. I've been using herbs for years, but never bothered to harvest any roots, as it just seemed to time-consuming and daunting. Since August, however, I've been diving more into herbalism and dandelion root keeps coming up again and again as something I should be using. So this week I took some time to dig up a bucket of roots; dandelion, burdock, yellow dock and marshmallow. I got about 3 cups total and it took at least 3 hours to process. While I'm happy that I got to go through the process from start to finish, I'm going to look into buying the roots, as they might not be worth my time to prepare (at least, while money is still in good supply and the roots are still available online).
2. Made elderberry syrup in my Instant Pot. This was so easy: I just put the berries and spices into the IP with water, pressure cooked the miksture, strained out the berries and added honey back in. It actually tastes good, too! We had one person with a fever and headache over the weekend; I kept giving elderberry "juice" (elderberry syrup and chamomile tea over ice) and they were totally fine the nekst day.
3. Harvested tomatoes, hot peppers, one beet, one carrot, parsley, and a LOAD of ornamental and edible squash from the garden! I cleaned out most of my garden this week and moved some of the more tender plants to the south side of our house, where they will be warmer.
4. Listened to Jocelyn Green's Spy of Richmond on Scribd. My goal was to read her other two novels (the Chicago ones) this year as well, but I think I'll save that series for 2022. I'm not quite done with Spy of Richmond, but I hope to have it finished by the end of the year.
I'm also reading one of Deeanne Gist's novels about the World's Fair. I read her novel about Biltmore, Maid to Match, a few years ago. While I really enjoy some of the humor in her books, the plot feels contrived, and overall there's too much smut and physical attraction. Going on and on about her beautiful eyes and lips, or his bulging biceps. I find myself skimming over those parts. It just feels awkward to read. I enjoy the historical aspects and humor, but her novels seem to be heavy on romance and very light on mystery, which keeps me interested a lot more than sculpted abs. I will look for other writers who feel more worth my time.
5. Didn't renew our Pureflix subscription. I talked a little bit about that last week. Another subscription I don't think I'll renew is the Epoch Times. While I really liked the newspaper, I just don't have enough time in my week to read it. I've figured that listening to one or two Youtube or Rumble shows will keep me updated with the truth for free, plus I don't have to use valuable reading time to digest the information. Cutting the Epoch Times will save $139.00 per year.
Well everyone, happy Thursday! Let's talk about being thrifty.
1. Fire cider: This week I went down the rabbit hole of Fire Cider. First I made the tonic itself, which took a whole afternoon of chopping (which included many interruptions). Then I got to thinking about the ginger and wondering if I could replant some and grow it in my new indoor garden.
2. Ginger: As it turns out, you can grow ginger indoors, and your plant can create a brand new rhizome to harvest in about 6 months! Of course, you'd want to have more than just one plant growing at a time. So I purchased a chunk of ginger with many potential growth knobs, and I'm waiting for it to sprout a little more before I plant it in dirt.
3. Turmeric: But wait, there's more! After I bought the ginger root, I found some fresh turmeric root (not available in our local area), and I grabbed some of that to try and sprout as well. I put the ginger, turmeric, and a small onion in a cheesecloth-covered jar to sprout together. Supposedly the onion will help them sprout faster. I'll get back with you on this project in a couple of weeks.
4. Horseradish: I harvested this from our asparagus patch, where the previous owners had planted it. To my delight, it turns out that horseradish is pretty fool-hardy and it's already planted in a suitable location. This plant is something I've had access to for years, but only now have I utilized it.
5. Thrifting: I found one pair of jeans and one long-sleeved shirt at the thrift store. I also purchased some medical supplies and some VCR tapes with Bible stories on them. Our Pureflix subscription is $100.00 per year, and we haven't used it very much in 2021. There was one series I found that was very good for kids, called Friends and Heroes. We watched that one through twice. We hardly watched any of the adult shows except The Chosen, which I believe is available for free on other apps. The other kids' shows we watched (Bibleman and Veggie Tales) were not to my liking.
The Pureflix account was purely for the use of a 30-minute portion of time every day for kids shows. If you divide $100.00 by 365 days, the cost works out to about $0.27 per day. Before we purchased the subscription, I asked myself if it was worth a quarter per day to have specifically Christian content, and came to the conclusion that it was.
While Bibleman and Veggietales did include some Bible verses and "moral lessons", they were thin on actual Bible stories or concepts that a young child could understand. I almost preferred showing Barney over Bibleman, because Barney shows real kids doing real things, plus there are (almost) no lasers, superheroes, or mouthy, disobedient kids portrayed. And Veggietales is just silly.
The conclusion I came to was that, ultimately, we paid $100.00 to watch Friends and Heroes. I will be searching the used market for DVDs of Friends and Heroes to watch next year, but otherwise we'll be watching educational videos on Youtube, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus. Which, as much as I dislike the Disney company right now, that was a streaming service that we did use quite a bit over the last year.
Okay! That is about all I have time to write about for today. Hopefully next week I'll be feeling a little more rejuvenated.
Hi everyone! It sure has been a while since I did a Thrifty Thursday. I'm crossing my fingers that the cooler weather will afford me more time to write.
1. Birthday gifts: I celebrated my birthday this month by doing some research at a college historical library, then having lunch out with my family and going antiquing. I'm more often a thrifter than an antiquer, but at this point in my life I don't need more stuff; I just enjoy looking at others' treasures.
That being said, I did find a set of pastry/dessert forks (pictured above) for $8.00. I had read about such forks but never seen any for sale. As it turns out, you can buy these on Amazon in stainless steel (the ones I bought were silver plated, I believe). But they are quite a bit more expensive.
The second item I bought antiquing was The Ethel Cotton Course in Conversation. I paid $20.00 for it, which seems to be the going rate on Ebay.
This particular edition was printed in the 1940s, but I know they have reprints from other decades. I've read the first lesson, and it is excellent. I'm not someone who enjoys most group conversations, but I think this will help me feel more confident and interested in conversation.
As I was searching the web for more information about this book, I found at least one internet commentator who wrote a whole article making fun of the course and talking about how useless and outdated it was. But here's the thing: is conversation really something that gets outdated? People do the same thing with Fascinating Womanhood, and I have to ask myself; is the way that men and women interact something that expires over decades? Does the human mind work differently today than it did 100 or 1000 years ago? No, it does not. Making fun of something solely because of its age is rather tasteless, if you ask me.
Rant aside, I'm greatly looking forward to reading the rest of the lessons and putting it into practice.
So those were my thrifty birthday presents (purchased with birthday money from my grandparents, I might add!). I also received treats and gifts from other family members, which were duly appreciated and enjoyed.
2. Herbs: I successfully harvested burdock root from our now-abandoned cow pasture. The trick is to pick smaller plants (not the ones that have gone to seed) and then pour water over the plant before you dig it out and pull it from the dirt.
According to School of Natural Healing, burdock root has several useful medicinal properties and is a good herb overall to take. I've tried harvesting it before, but without success.
I also harvested nettle, peppermint and calendula this week.
3. Garden: I harvested a small amount of potatoes, many tomatoes, green beans and gourds. I also harvested basil, hot peppers and some cilantro grown indoors. I made sun-dried tomatoes, frozen green beans, pesto and hot sauce. Later I picked peaches from our orchard and canned them. It has been a whirlwind of harvesting and processing, but our first frost date is nearing and after that, my garden and kitchen work will slow down considerably.
4. Fall decorating: I used a wreath, ceramic pumpkin containers, a Dollar Tree sign and homegrown ornamental gourds to decorate our home for fall. I also bought three new throw blankets, three small decorative pillows and four autumn-themed pillow covers; some of which are for our guest room. The pillows and blankets weren't necessarily a thrifty choice in regard to price, but I will be able to use them year after year to decorate and keep people warm during the fall/winter months.
5. Wardrobe: I switched out some of my summer wardrobe pieces for fall ones. I'm scrutinizing my clothing choices more and actually reading the labels. I've noticed that my 100% cotton shirts last for years, while the cotton/polyester blend shirts pill very easily. I recently bought a pair of jeans, and was happy with them... until I wore them at home. Then I realized that the top was too stretchy and I would have the same horrible problem I've had for years, of the jeans stretching out at the top and falling down. The jeans were Wrangler, so I just assumed they were a good jean, similar to a pair that I bought at a thrift store and was very happy with.
Well, sure enough I checked the tag and the two pairs were not equal Wranglers. My stretchy pants ($24.00 new) were something like 60% cotton, 30% polyester and 10% spandex. The good jeans ($7.00 thrifted) were 95% cotton and 5% spandex. And I could really tell the difference! I'm not sure how much the good jeans would have cost new, but I will be hitting the thrift stores soon and searching for some good quality jeans; not just by brand, as I now know can be misleading.
As I was searching for new pieces to bring out for fall, there were some dresses that I simply was not excited about any more; mostly because of the feel and color of the fabric. Assessing clothing quality is not something I was even aware of before our trip to Italy, but now I hope to make more informed purchases.
I think that's about it for this week!
Happy Thrifty Thursday!
I had a good week. Here were some of the highlights:
1. Steer: we took our steer to the butcher's, finally! Oh, what a happy day. We've had a handful of animals on our homestead, and the large animals are always my least favorite. They mangle fences and are near impossible to corral or get under control. Still, every couple of years I find myself getting another large animal... I seem to forget what a hassle they are.
It was a small miracle that we even found a place to take it to this year. In 2020, most of the processing plants were booked out several years. And not only did we find a butcher, but we also found a freezer to put the animal in. Yay!
2. Garden: I harvested green beans, beets, tomatoes, leeks, hot peppers, long beans, cucumbers, pears, grapes, butternut squash and ornamental gourds this week, along with several medicinal herbs.
I dehydrated tomatoes and froze several bags of beans. I also set the medicinal herbs out to air dry.
3. Decor: I used some of the ornamental gourds and miniature pumpkins to decorate our home for fall. I also got our our box of fall decorations and used many of those, as well.
4. Running: while I didn't increase my run time this week, I did increase my running distance to 1.66 miles. My hope is that, by increasing the average distance, I can run a single mile faster.
5. Reading: I've been working my way through Ina Gaskin's Spiritual Midwifery and Dr. Christopher's School of Natural Healing. Both are a bit "woo-woo" for me, but they also have some good points and I am learning more about health by reading them.
I believe that's about all for this week.
Hey, we're back to having Thrifty Thursday again! YAY!
Med skills: Our preschooler was sick this week, so I had a chance to use some of the medical equipment I've acquired over the summer. I used a thermometer (which I've always used), and added the stethoscope and pulse oximeter. I did an assessment once a day for three days, and it was very interesting to see the vital signs move during her sickness—which I presume was only a bad cold.
On the first day her temperature was 99.7 and heart rate was higher than it should have been at 135 bpm. On the two consecutive days, her temperature and heart rate went down steadily. Thankfully her O2 saturation was good during all three days, and her breath sounds were normal. She, too, enjoyed doing the assessments. I let her use the stethoscope to listen to her own heart and digestive sounds, which she got a kick out of.
Right now I'm reading through a cheap ($4.89) Jarvis Physical Assessment book that I got off of Ebay. There is so, so much to learn, but I love it.
Herbs: I gathered quite a bit of red clover this week, and identified a new herb growing on the side of our road; a variety of Lobelia. Every other day, when I harvest garden produce, I try to gather some red clover and/or other medicinal herbs to stockpile for winter.
Garden: I harvested two ripe butternut squash this week, along with a whole pile of beans and lots of tomatoes. I've been freezing the beans, and at this point also letting the big ones grow into dry beans. I've been dehydrating the tomatoes, which are small. I learned this week that tomatoes can sometimes be small when you plant older seedlings (which I definitely did this year). Next year I will make an effort to start the tomato seeds later.
The cucumbers are on their way out, but I'm still picking some. The long beans are on their way in, it seems. Next year I will plant more bean seeds; both green and long, as I didn't get as many as I could have hoped for this year. I've hardly had enough long beans to freeze any at all.
The squashes are doing well, for the most part. My hubbard squashes did not make it to maturity before the vines died. I've harvested one out of three available pumpkins. Since the pumpkin seeds were free, I think three pumpkins is sufficient. The Jack-Be-Little pumpkins are numerous, and I may have enough to sell some. And lastly, my butternut squash did very well. We'll have plenty of butternut squash for winter. I plan on storing all of our pumpkins and squash in the garage.
Steer: we are sending in our steer to be butchered next week. Hurrah!!! I think it will be several years before we keep another steer. This one wasn't a whole ton of work, but I didn't enjoy having him in the same way I enjoy having chickens and a garden. He mangled several (expensive) hog panels, just as the sheep and larger goats mangled the orchard fence that worked fine for our smaller goats. I've also had to fill his water container every other day, and it was a big hassle to water him in the winter, and it was also a hassle to find and stack hay for him.
The upsides to keeping a steer were: 1) he kept the deer away, and 2) he pooped a lot... compost galore!
The downsides were: 1) we had to put up a new paddock and electric fencing system, 2) he was a hassle to water, 3) he mangled our goat fence (hog panel), 4) I wasn't comfortable with having children in his pen, 5) when he got out, he ate my strawberry plants, 6) when he got out, I could not get him back in by myself... i.e., I couldn't man-handle him.
While we may have another steer in the future, I'm definitely ready to NOT have one for a while. I may buy some small milk goats at some point in the next year.
Bottles: I cleaned two essential oil bottles, a roller bottle and a salsa jar to repurpose. I spray painted the salsa jar lid black so it will match all of my other repurposed jar lids.
Fitness: I know I haven't been posting regular fitness updates in a while. The other day I weighed myself on the Renpho scale, and the results were better than they've been since November of last year. Recent changes to my health routine have been:
I quit intermittent fasting, but try not to eat after it gets dark. I've reintroduced eggs for breakfast; something I wasn't eating before because I was skipping breakfast.
Another change recently is that I began running again. My goal is to run a 10 minute mile, which was my best time back in the day. At first it took me 20 minutes to "run" a mile, because I walked for half of it. I felt like I was going to suffocate. Then I cut it down to 15 minutes. Today's run time was 14:13. I have a long way to go, but it's more than I've done in probably five years.
I feel like running one mile is something very doable for me. I can squeeze it in early enough in the morning to where my husband is still at home to babysit, plus it is only 15 minutes. I can do 15 minutes. It gets me up and going in the morning, plus I have some time to myself before the day starts, and when I get back after that 15 minutes, I feel like I've already accomplished something for the day. This is something I want to keep going until it gets too cold and snowy out.
That's about all for now, folks! See you next week,
Wow, it has been a hot minute, hasn't it??
Medical: As I mentioned last month, I've been on a medical kick recently and have been deep-diving into some new books that I bought (and some old ones that I've had for a while). As you can imagine, this takes up some time. But it truly is worth it. I bought some medical assessment tools this summer and have been learning how to use them, along with interpreting the results and figuring out treatment options for our recent ailments (which, unfortunately, have been several).
Gardening: I've been on an every-other-day garden harvest schedule. You can see an assortment of what I'm getting in the photo above. About two weeks ago the tomato harvest really started coming in. I have 12 plants this year that are producing far more tomatoes than we can eat, so I've spent a few hours every week preserving them for winter.
Shelving: this isn't actually frugal, but it makes the house and garage a lot cleaner and makes things easier to get to. We bought some Hyper Tough (Walmart brand) wire shelving for the garage, kitchen, laundry room and cleaning closet, and I love them. The largest shelf we bought was $80 and the smallest was $20, but they're very sturdy and will last a long time. I will use some of the larger shelves for cold storage in the garage, as they allow for a lot of air circulation and easy clean-up. I'll also use at least one of them for indoor gardening during the winter and starting seedlings in the spring.
I don't have a lot of time today to write, as I have some other writing to do, but I thought I'd pop in and give you all an update.
I am a Christian homemaker who lives in the Midwest. I enjoy sewing, gardening, reading and thrifting.