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Sunday, September 13, 2015


Hello dear friends!  I hope you are have a lovely weekend.  Cooler weather has arrived and the fields are bathed in an amber and rosy light from the goldenrod and asters. Our Indian Summer has arrived!
It's so nice just to be outside after so many weeks of heat and humidity.    Ran and I  spent several hours this week weeding.  Oh my!  Wheelbarrow upon wheelbarrow of weeds.  We are also pulling the tomatoes and other plants and beginning the process of putting the garden to bed. Harvest time is such a busy and fulfilling time of year.


I wanted some grape jelly, it's my favorite flavor for peanut butter sandwiches, but our grapes didn't produce much this year, as the vines had to be cut back severely due to winter damage.  Fortunately, we have lots of wild grapes climbing up the fences in our yard.
In our area, there are bushels full to be had for free, if you care to look.  While it takes more work to make than regular Concord grape jelly, the effort is well worth it.  I actually prefer them, there is a tartness along with the sweet that's very refreshing.

Wild Grape Jelly

Wash and clean  3-5 lbs. (about a peck) of wild grapes.  Place the grapes in a large pot with a 1/2 C. water and boil. Strain the grapes through several layers of cheesecloth overnight.  Measure the juice to 3 1/2 C. juice (if you need, to add a little water to equal that amount.)  In a large pot boil the juice and  3 tablespoons of powdered pectin.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling add  5 1/4 C. sugar all at once. Bring mixture to boil.  Boil for 1-2 minutes until the jelly begins to sheet or a dab placed on a cold plate doesn't run.  (The more jams and jelly you make, the easier it will be to tell when jelly is set.) Sheeting is when the boiling jam doesn't run off the spoon, but falls off in a slower sheet.)  Pour jelly into sterilized jelly jars,  Fill to 1/4 inch from top.  Place previously simmered lids on.  Screw on the caps.  Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
We went to one of our favorite foraging areas today just too check on how the rose hips were coming.
There was also this beautiful crab apple tree, just dripping with beautiful fruit. Crabapples make the loveliest  jelly and wine.

Our neighbor lets us pick her crabapples, but this just shows you, what can be had for free if you keep you eyes open.  Just be careful to know what you are picking, many plant have poisonous look-alikes. Also know the area you are foraging from; you don't want anything that has been sprayed with insecticides.  And don't trespass!  We have a lot of state land and national forests in our area.


With the rising costs of groceries, it's important to keep yours open for deals.  This week we drove to the big city and I noticed that a smaller meat market had chicken leg quarters for $2.90  for 10 pounds!  Can you imagine buying 20 pounds of meat for under $6?  What a deal!  Unfortunately or fortunately, depending upon how you look at it, I didn't need any more chicken, having canned up a bunch earlier this year.  But all the things that could have been done with that chicken!.  Shredded for tacos and casseroles, the drumsticks oven fried, chicken soups and stews and at the end the bones thrown in a pot to make gallons of broth.   It was hard to pass it up!

Also, there were 50 pound bags of potatoes to be had for $7.  I've mentioned many a time that potatoes are good fillers for hungry growing children.  And they store well in a cool dark place.  We store ours from September until April with no problem.  The ones that start to develop eyes are set aside for next year's crop.  I also can up all the little ones because I cannot tolerate buying potatoes.  They see us through until the new crop comes in.

Between the foraged fruits and bargains, you could fill your larder for under $20, if you throw in a bag of sugar for making the jam.  All it takes is time and effort.


The cooler weather brings baking.  Today I made Tourtiers or French pork pie for my husband.  It's one of his favorites.
He cut a piece before I could get a picture.  It's a good way to stretch a half a pound of ground pork.  Also baked a mixed orchard fruit pie.
Not the loveliest of pictures.  Way-back-when, when we had to buy our fruit, I used to buy it at the reduced-for-quick-sale rack of the grocery store.  There was seldom enough of one kind of fruit, so I made a lot of these sort of pies, using a combination apples, peaches, pears and plums.  Whatever I could find.  No one ever complained!

I was just thinking the other day, how I used to have a batch of refrigerator potato rolls  ready for baking whenever needed. Fresh bread is always so good.  One way that we saved on groceries was to eat only one serving of meat, but let the kids fill up on all the breads and side dishes they wanted.  Anyway, as I said, I used to have a batch of these dough ready in the fridge fairly often.  The dough can stay refrigerated for up to five days.  One time I kept putting off baking them.  I smelled the dough and it certainly smelled yeasty, but thought nothing of it.  While they were baking the house smelled like a brewery!  Once we tasted them, our eyes began to water, the alcohol content from the yeast an sugar was so high!  Everyone had a good laugh about that!

Refrigerator Potato Rolls

1 pkg yeast
2/3 C. warm water
2/3 C. mashed potatoes (reserve 2/3 C. of the potato water)
1 tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2/3 C. sugar
2/3 C. shortening
4 1/2- 5 C. flour

In a large bowl, soften the yeast in the warm water.
Stir in potatoes, potato water 1 tbsp. sugar and the salt. Cover and let stand at room temperature for one hour.
Combine eggs, 2/3 C. sugar, and shortening.  Add to yeast mixture.  Beat in enough flour to make a moderately soft dough.  Cover and refrigerate overnight. (Or for several days until ready to use)
Punch down dough.  Turn out dough on a floured surface.  Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
Divide into 24 rolls (you can use half and refrigerate the other half for another day). Place ona greased baking sheet.  Cover and let rise until nearly doubled.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 12 minutes until golden brown.

I usually made these on Monday, Sunday being the day we had a big formal dinner with a roast and mashed potatoes.  I always made sure to make extra potatoes and keep the water when draining them.


So tomorrow is supposed to be the big Shemitah  day, where the stock market is supposed to crash according to Jonathon Cahn.  I asked for God to give me some discernment about this, and as soon as I did, I started to notice that Mr. Cahn started backpedaling on what he was saying. I'm sorry, but if someone has truly had a word from God, they don't backpedal.  Then I started studying it more intensely and all I can say is that while he is very good at noticing patterns, so are a lot of other people that do not claim to be prophets.  I have to say, that I am dubious of the entire Back to Hebrew Roots movement, for among many reasons, but mainly if the Jews are so wise to uncover all these "mysteries", why are they not wise enough to recognize Jesus as their Messiah?  Besides, God doesn't work with mysteries and mysticism, He plainly has given us the Playbook in the Scriptures. The other problem I have with it is that it relies on a lot of traditions and not upon scripture.  You can read what Jesus says about traditions in Mark 7 and John 8.   I'm  sorry I mentioned Mr. Cahn (I do not call him Rabbi because Jesus said that he is our only Rabbi) in a previous post.  I did not follow the scriptures and be a Berean,  testing what is said against the scriptures.

"For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."
~Matthew 24:24

But I still believe that the economy is going to falter some day, mainly from what I understand about economics and politics.  In October the IMF will decide if China will share reserve status with the US. If they do, it will be devastating  to the value of our money.

I also believe that we are in the end of the Church Age. Not because of what some so-called prophets are say but  because of the reasons Jesus gave the Disciples in Mark 13 and the Revelation of John.  Just what has happened to the Pacific Ocean since the Fukushima disaster has me wondering if perhaps we are not to the point or will soon be, to where one third the oceans will be dead. (the second or third trumpet).  Anyway, just my thoughts on the matter.  Whatever the case, we do not need to fear, because when we see all these signs, we are to look up because our redemption  draws nigh! (Luke 21:28).  If you do not know the Lord, I would suggest you don't delay in doing so.  Buy a Bible and read it, ask a friend, ask a minister.

Anyway, so much for my preaching.  Suppose you wondered what I did this week to cut costs?


Harvested tomatoes, broccoli (amazing amount of off shoots from a few plants), peppers, eggplants, blackberries and some carrots.

Canned grape jelly and hot sauce.

Foraged for wild grapes.

Dyed some wool for a penny rug from some dye that I bought a garage sale for 10 cents (amazing to find just when I needed it and in the color that I needed)

Cut down the sunflowers and placed them on the garden fence for the birds. Free bird food.

Bought our own internet modem so we don't have to pay $10 a month to rent it.

Purchased a cheaper internet plan.

Ate most of our meals from the garden and pantry.

Finally!  It was cool enough to turn off the air conditioner  and the fans.  This ought to save a lot on the electricity bill!

Well, that's all folks!  Hope you have a splendid week!


Sunday, September 6, 2015


Hello dear friends!   So sorry to be away for so long, but have been busy doing this:
Not only the canning, but Ran and Jamie built  a pantry in our upstairs landing, which required a complete reorganization of the house.  The shelves are about ten feet long, five feet high and a foot and one half deep.  That's a lot of jars!  Ran calls it my grocery store.  When we put the last jar on the shelf, I held my breathe, lest all that weight cause the floor to give out.  So far, so good, these old houses are built like arks!  Finally, I can see what I have.  The little pantry under the stairs just wasn't doing a proper job.  Every time I went to get something off the shelf, jars would fall on my head.  One time, one conked me hard and I lost my sense of taste for about a month. (which is a easy way to diet, but I wouldn't recommend it) I guess that's better than going blind, though.  An old family friend, Lucille All, went blind when she bumped her head, so it's no laughing matter.  Anyway, as you can see, we won't want for food this year.  Just have to buy some milk, cheese, butter and coffee once in a great while.  We buy sugar, flour, shortening and oatmeal in bulk twice a year, just as the pioneers did.


Since I can finally get a good idea of what I have, I noticed that I have a lot of jams and jellies.  I just can't resist making them in the spring when the fruit ripens.  I also found my favorite recipe for jam bars while reorganizing, torn from my own handwritten receipt book and stuck to the back of a drawer.  It's an old-fashioned economical recipe that is simple to make and one of our favorites.
Frosted Jam Bars

1/2 C. butter, melted
1/2 C. corn or cane syrup (we use Lyle's Golden Cane syrup)
1 beaten egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 C. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 C. jam (any flavor)

Stir in syrup into butter in a medium bowl.  Stir in egg and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients and mix well.

Spread half of the batter in a greased 8" square pan.  Spoon jam over batter.  Carefully cover jam with remaining batter.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes until the top is set.  Frost while warm with powdered sugar icing. ( confectioners' sugar combined with a bit of milk to make a thin frosting)

Economical Soap Making

We made soap this week.  I won't explain how it's done, because there are many books and videos that can better explain it, than I,  but I will tell you ways that we cut the costs.  First, when I can meat, we cut off all the fat and render it outside our on rocket stove.  That keeps the grease and the heat out of the house.  This gives us several pints of fat. We feed the cracklins to the stray cats.  We supplement it with coconut oil that we buy at the bulk food store  at  $12.72 for 1 gallon.
Got to love the bulk food stores!  We set the fats inside of our car to melt, to save on some of the electricity.
Just have to use the stove long enough to heat the grease to the proper temperature.  All of our equipment comes from garage sales.  Ran made the mold from scrap lumber.
The fancy molds came from a thrift store.  We also use rain water that we collect in washtubs around the yard.  Just be sure to strain it before using.  At the end of the day, it cost about $15 for ten pounds of  pure non-paraban soap.  I priced non-paraban soap in the store recently and they were asking over three dollars for one bar, so I think it pays to make your own.  Now, my grandparents made their own lye from wood ashes.  I haven't become that adventurous yet, but who knows? maybe one day.  In their day, soap cost nothing to make because they rendered their own lard from the hogs they butchered and made their own lye.  We really need to study the old ways of days gone by, people didn't waste anything.

Start Small

People always tell me that they want to be thrifty and simplify their life, like we do, but I always caution them to start small.  Just as when you learn to cook, you don't start out making a seven course meal or when you learn to knit, you start with a dishcloth or a simple garter stitch scarf before moving on to socks and mittens, lest you become discouraged by the whole thing. Becoming frugal is best done in small steps.  I'm always reading about "no-spending" challenges on other blogs.  While the concept sounds good, what do you learn from it?  As soon as the challenge is over, the people go back to spending.  Hurrah!  We can spend again!  It's better to take baby steps and master them, then move on to the next lesson.  First set up a budget, a realistic budget, live within it a while, then cut back some more.  Become comfortable with less and cut back some more.  Learn a skill, such as soap making, master it, then move on to another skill that is needed for self-sufficiency. One day you'll discover that you are a maven of thrift.

Quote of the Week

"The meaning of life is to find your gift.   The purpose of life is to give it away."
~William Shakespeare~

Don't Buy It, Make It

I've been canning a lot of chili this year from fresh tomatoes, peppers, and onions from the garden.  If you have never tasted chili made with all fresh ingredients, you are missing out!  You can make our own chili powder, and it's especially economical because we dry and use our own herbs.  We make our own paprika by drying paprika peppers in the dehydrator, then grinding them into a powder, ditto for garlic  and onion powder.  Here's the recipe for homemade chili powder:

Chili Powder

1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp.  oregano
2 Tbsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. onion powder

Combine.  It's a matter of taste on how much you use, I'd say start with about a tablespoonful then add more if you like your chili spicier. Save the rest for another day.  I've found that add just a bit of sugar to chili really makes the flavors pop.  Canned chili can have a flat flavor, but is easily remedied by adding more chili powder or taco seasoning when you open the jars.

Thrifty Things We Did This Week

Canned apples.
Built a pantry in the upstairs landing.
Refinished a chair that we purchased at a garage sale for $5.
Bought the stripper to refinish the chair at the the thrift store for $1.50 a quart.
Ate out of the garden.
Mended a pair of Ran's jeans.
Dried tomatoes and peppers.
Harvested tomatoes, peppers, broccoli (we never cut them down, the offshoots have produced quite a bit of broccoli) and blackberries.
Worked on a penny rug with wool purchased from thrifted wool.
Got rid of our cable since the "free" offer ended.
Planted saved seeds from the hollyhocks.
Neighbor Sandy gave us four yucca plants that we will be passing along to our daughter-in-law.

Hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead!

Monday, August 17, 2015


Hello dear friends!  Sorry about the delay in posting.  In spite of it being the quintessential summer's day with blue skies and a gentle wind, the internet kept skipping in and out.  After reentering my passwords  several times, I became frustrated with the whole thing and just gave up.  Technology is a thorn in my side.

So here's a bouquet of brown-eyed-Susans as an apology.


I think sometimes it may seem that I romanticize my life.  To be sure, not everything is always rosy as some may think.  For instance,  in the past couple of months  we have spent over one-third of our yearly income on unexpected repairs.  When we retired, we thought we would mitigate these costs by buying a top-of-the-line new furnace and a new car, but fortune had other ideas, and the furnace required a major repair when it was hit by a power surge and the car is a lemon that requires the wheel bearings to be replaced  every few months.  Our savings are dwindling quickly.  Fortunately we had a savings account set up for the unexpected.  Just didn't expect so much "unexpected"  all at once! Ha! So for us, gardening and canning is not just a nice little hobby, it's the insurance that keeps the wolves from the door.  But I'm not complaining, in spite of it all, I'd rather live like this than have a big fat paycheck.  There is such serenity and delight in each new day, it surely offsets any inconveniences that we may encounter from lack of funds.

So I thought I'd show you what a typical day for us entails.  Ran awoke early and dug the remainder of the potato patch before the heat became too unbearable. 
We ended up with about 150 pounds of potatoes this year.  Not bad for a small plot.  Then the potatoes were sorted through and washed, the smallish ones and those that were pierced by the fork were set aside to be canned another day.

I had a quick wash up and made the trip to the post office.  When I returned I had  this
and this
waiting for me to can.  The tomatoes are producing about a bushel a day now.  Today I started canning at 9:30 AM and didn't finish until 6:30 PM.  At the end of the day we had 15 pints of chili and 16 jars of ketchup canned up. Yesterday I canned 8 pints of spaghetti sauce.

A whole tableful of food.  By the way, those orange things in the graniteware bowl are Turkish eggplants.  Aren't they pretty?

While the chili was in the pressure canner, Ran washed and seeded the peppers and I diced them.  I have a new device called a Vidalia  Chop Wizard, that is a tiki-tacky seen-on-TV device, but it really makes it a quick chore to dice up veggies for canning; can't wait to use it for relish.  The peppers went into the dehydrator.

While I was busy in the kitchen, Ran took advantage of the hot and windy day to wash some more of our heavier rugs.  It felt like a clothes dryer outside so they dried fast.
By 7:00 PM we finally sat down to a meal of corn on the cob (the first of the season from our garden) and fresh tomatoes.  No finer meal could be served to a king.

In between the busyness,  I stepped outside to feel the breeze and to observe the little Ruby Crowned Kinglet  that has taken over the back yard.  She really does rule the roost.  We all tip-toe around her lest she get annoyed and flee.  For such a teeny tiny bird, she has such bravery ; she gets right up to the stray cats and squawks to keep them away from her nest.  Such a courageous little mother!    And that is a typical August day for two pauper retirees. Perfect!


We are drying raspberry and sage leaves.  When combined and made into a tea they make a good astringent  for sore throats and  gums.  I never get canker sores but it probably works for them also.


Whenever I go to garage sales, I always pick up quirky little things to re-purpose.  This is a wind chime that I call "An Ode to Wm. Rogers Silverplate" :
All the pieces were picked up for  a quarter or less, except for the teapot, which I bought for a few dollars at an estate sale (it had a dent).  The crystals were from an old chandelier and I used some beads from a broken necklace and some old earrings.  I need to find a better place to hang it, somewhere that catches the sun.  It's  really big, about five feet tall.  I used fishing line to tie it all together.  It's very snickety as we like to call off-beat quirky things.  Snickety is my style.  Too-cheerful  and conventional things make me uncomfortable! I don't even like certain flowers because they are too perfect looking.


Lest you think we are dull boys with all work and no play, on Friday we ventured out on the annual garage sale trail that runs along the coast of Lake Huron.   We found mostly practical things, like knitting needles in sizes I didn't have, an awl for Ran's leather working, and a extra extra large black wool coat that I plan on making into a Maggie Bonanomi-type quilt this winter.  Most of our finds cost under a dollar; our one big splurge being this tin wahstub that cost $20:
 It has such a pretty shape. I love beautiful tools.  You should see my gardening tools that I've amassed over the years.  My motto is, "beauty costs the same as ugly when thrifting".  It just feels better to use a vintage trowel with a beautifully turned wooden handle rather than a plastic one.  It's those type of little things that make everyday magical.


We packed a lunch to bring along while out on our "hunt".  I wanted to have bring some peach cobbler along but didn't want to deal with forks and dishes, so I came up with this recipe for Peach Cobbler Bars, using a crumble recipe and my peach cobbler filling.

Peach Cobbler Bars

Peach Filling

3 C. peaches, peeled and diced
1/2 C. sugar
1/4 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg


1 1/2 C. flour
1/2 C. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
a pinch of salt and nutmeg
1/2 C, butter, softened
1 egg

Combine the filling ingredients and set aside.
Combine the dry ingredients  for the crumble.
Cut in the butter until soft crumbs form.  Stir in the egg.
Pat half of the cobbler mixture into a lightly greased  8" pan.
Top with the peach mixture.
Crumble the rest of the cobbler mixture over the top of the peaches.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until the cobbler starts to turn a light brown and the peaches begin to bubble.

Harvested the rest of the potatoes and broccoli.
Harvested peppers, tomatoes, and corn.
Dried peppers, raspberry leaves and sage.
Made a wind chime from "found" objects.
Canned 8 pints of spaghetti sauce, 15 pints of chili, and 16 jars of ketchup.
Bought some tools at garage sales.
Brought our own brown bag lunch on our roadtrip.
Washed more rugs, the washtub method way.
Ate almost exclusively from the garden.
Hung the laundry on the line.
Started knitting a scarf from my yarn stash.

Well that's it for this week.  Hope you all have the loveliest week ahead of you filled with joy and delight!



There will be a delay in posting this week, perhaps tomorrow.  The internet has been on the fritz all day.   Hopefully it will stay on long enough to get this posted!  Have a happy!

Sunday, August 9, 2015


Hello dear friends!  Can you believe we are already one week into August?  Hope this week has been a cooler one for you.  We finally are having some nice temperatures.  If you close your eyes and face north, you can almost imagine it is autumn.


This time of year is a busy one at Sweet Briar Cottage.  This week I canned 13 pints of beans, 20 quarter-pints of jalapenos,  7 half-pints of maple-vanilla-peach jam and 8 quarts of peaches.

There's nothing like jars of peaches in the pantry to say "home".  By the way, I saw a jar of  Amish canned peaches in the store the other day - $6!  I'd have to be pretty desperate for a jar of peaches  to pay that price!  Altogether, my peaches cost about $1.50 a quart, and they are all-organic and  non-gmo.  That's why it's good to learn to can.

We also started a crock of sauerkraut.  The directions for making it are here.  We didn't grow our own cabbage because we can buy a ten pound head for $1.40 at a local vegetable stand.  Two heads are all the cabbage we need and it costs about the same as a packet of seeds.  Takes up less space in the garden also.  Which reminds me, someone asked why I don't raise chickens.  Our village  has an ordinance against it, but it just isn't cost effective for us.  By the time you buy the feed and house a small flock, and they don't lay too much during our harsh winters, those eggs are getting expensive.  It helps that I can buy free-range  ones just outside of the village limits for $2 a dozen.  We use less than a dozen a month.  You always have to weigh the benefits when being thrifty. Of course, chickens do give the place atmosphere, so if they ever change the ordinance, neighbor Tom has offered to split the costs with us.


In the garden, we are harvesting our first tomatoes!   If you have ever tasted an heirloom variety picked fresh from the garden, still warm from the sun, you will understand why the tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable.  So wonderful!   So sweet! Every year I fret over them.  Will they ripen before the first frost?   This has been such a strange year; we are already digging potatoes, but the corn is still puny and I'm not sure  the pumpkins will ripen this year before a heavy frost.  I don't ever remember things growing so tall, either.  The hollyhocks have to be at least ten feet tall, and the sunflowers too.  The lilies come up to my shoulders and we have to beat back the black-eyed Susans.  On the other hand the corn is floundering and the Concord grapes are just hard little green pebbles.  Gardening!   It's always feast or famine, that's why it's so important to preserve what you can; you never know when you'll get more!


 We save most of the seeds from our garden, as many are rare heirloom varieties.  It helps keep the costs of gardening down.  This week we are collecting the seeds from our tomatoes.  Each year we select the earliest, most perfect, sweetest,  meatiest ones; traits we are trying to breed into them   The textbook way to save tomato seeds is to cut open the tomato, scoop out the seeds, place in a jar of water, stirring a couple times a day, let the pulp ferment at room temperature for a couple day, the seeds drop to the bottom, pour off the pulp, repeat this procedure until the seeds are clean, spread the seeds on a paper towel to dry.  However, I've found it is easier to put the seeds in a fine mesh sieve and wash the pulp off under running cold water, then just plop the seeds onto a porcelain plate to dry, scrape them off the plate when they are dry and store.

Our dear friend, Mary, gave us a bunch of ferns from her garden.
Which we planted on the north side of our shed.  An instant garden!   Georgie likes to pretend he is an ancient canine, living in the wild among them.
Silly dog!  But I do understand, every time I can, sew or light an oil lamp; I feel an ancient pull connecting me to my ancestors.  It gives me peace.  One of the best things you can do for your soul, is to turn off all the technology and reconnect to the earth and the natural rhythms of life.  There's scientific proof that WiFi and electrical lines interfere with a good nights sleep and others that having your bare feet touch the bare earth is beneficial to your health.  Who knows?  Maybe we all need to return to our primeval  roots.

"Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still they say. Watch and listen.  You are the result of the love of thousands."
~ Linda Hogan, Native American Writer~


One old-fashioned thing we are doing this week, is cleaning  all our room-sized rugs.  Just like the old washerwomen  of days past, we fill tubs (modern-day storage bins work also) with soapy water, throw in the rugs and stomp on them with our feet, like we are making wine.  In another tub, we rinse them.  Then we lay them over clothes lines, bushes and this make-do (two sawhorses and the garden table) for our very heavy braided wool rug.

A few days in the hot sun, and they are dry.  You'd burn out the motor of your washing machine with these old rugs , they are so heavy, and for what it costs to dry clean them, you might as well throw them out and begin anew.  Make sure you use cold water so the dyes do not bleed.  You have to make hay while the sun shines!  So much to do in summer.


One thing we don't do during the summer, is to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  One of our favorite summertime meals is  Panzanella,  or Italian tomato and bread salad.  Most of the ingredients can be found right in the garden, so it's thrifty too.  And it's vegan!


1/2 C. olive oil
two cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1 loaf of a hard crusty bread (like French) cut into cubes
5 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. black pepper
4 lbs. ripe tomatoes, cut into 1" cubes
2 C. chopped bell peppers
1 small red onion
1 C. basil leaves, torn into pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together 3 tbsp. olive oil, 1 clove garlic, salt, paprika, and red pepper.  Toss bread cubes in mixture.
Spread cubes evenly on a cookie sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until cubes are crisp.  Let cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, remaining 5 tbsp. olive oil, remaining clove of garlic and black pepper.
Add remaining ingredients.  Add bread cubes.  Toss to coat. Serve immediately.

BTW, check the reduced-for quick-sale  shelf of your grocer's bakery for good, cheap bread for this salad.  Since you are toasting it, it doesn't need to be fresh.

Pure bliss!

Most of our meals this week have consisted of freshly dug potatoes, (either roasted or boiled and served with fresh dill and a dab of butter) just picked tomatoes, green beans from the garden and some berries for dessert.  Life is good!


The recent storm has gifted us with some treasures.  There were lots of branches to be gathered for firewood and smaller ones that I am collecting for a Colonial-style stick fence for our garden,  If a person put some effort into it, I'm sure they could gather enough wood to see them through several weeks of heating the house by woodstove.

Another windfall were these plums.
A branch must have broken off the neighbor's tree during the storm and they didn't bother to pick the fruit off the branch before hauling it to the street.  All in all, there were about three pounds of fruit, free for the picking.  Not a blemish on them!  Should make several jars of plum butter. 


I've been seeing a lot of these knitted ruched scarves on Pinterest lately (don't you just love Pinterest?) and I wanted to knit one up.  I found the pattern  in this knitting book  on loan from the library. I used an inexpensive Lion Brand wool in mustard and the pattern really knitted up quickly.  Hint:  I really dislike casting on large amount of stitches (this pattern was over 300) I count and recount but the numbers always come out different each time.  I found that if I place a marker every 50 stitches, it is easier to count the cast-ons. 
"To me a lady is not frilly, flouncy, flippant, frivolous, or fluff-brained, but she is gentle, she is gracious, she is godly, and she is giving.  You and I have the gift of femininity ....the more womanly we are, the more manly men will be and the more God is glorified.  Be women, be only women, be real women in obedience to God."
~Elisabeth Elliot~

My son and daughter-in-law brought the grandbabies for a visit.  That's a picture of son Erik and grandson Felix above, eating ice cream at our favorite parlor, a Victorian general store.  We also spent some time at the beach.  A fun activity for grandparents to play with the grandchildren is buried treasure.  Bring a couple handfuls of change  along.  Encourage the grandkids to look for buried treasure by digging in the sand.  Every once in a while, distract them from the digging and throw some of the change in the hole.  The little ones get quite a kick out of it.  We used to do this with granddaughter Tatianna, but now she is too big to fall for the trick.  Only works for the little ones.  Enjoy them while you can, they grow up so quickly!


Canned peaches, jam, jalapenos and beans.

Saved tomato, hollyhock, spinach, dill and mustard green seeds.

Collected windfall branches and plums.

Harvested tomatoes, summer squash, peppers, beans and herbs from the garden.

Washed our area rugs rather than dry-cleaning them.

Knitted a scarf from a free pattern.

Got more free compost from the village.

Monday, August 3, 2015


Hello dear friends!   Hope you had a pleasant week!  First, I'd like to thank you all for your kind encouragement  in my last post.  I truly do appreciate it.  Just want to let you know that it meant a lot to me.


I had just finished canning potatoes and Ran had just bottled the last of his strawberry-rhubarb wine when the skies got as dark as coal..  Within minutes the electricity went out.  I swear they have a switch at the electrical plant and as soon as we have a storm, they cut the main switch. Anyway, to make a long story short, we were without electricity for the past eighteen hours, which I loved, but others, such as Jamie, were not as thrilled.  It's amazing what you can get done without the distraction of the internet and phones.  Almost completed a scarf I was knitting.  Hopefully it turned out nice, knitting by kerosene lamps, while very quaint and romantic, does have its drawbacks.  But the main lesson to be drawn from this, is be prepared.  Keep some flashlights handy, and have the makings for something to eat that doesn't require heating.  Oh!  And a deck of cards is always nice.  Beats twiddling your thumbs.


This week I canned green beans, pickled peppers (good on sandwiches) and potatoes.  I want to encourage everyone to can, particularly pressure canning.  It's nothing to fear.  It won't explode like in the movies, they have release valves on them.  If you follow the directions precisely, you won't get food poisoning.  I like the  All-American pressure canner because it doesn't have a gasket and they are very well built.  I believe that pressure canning is easier than making jams and pickles in a boiling water bath.   Jams are so fussy with all that skimming of foam and the jelling is sometimes iffy.  But  most vegetables have just to be cleaned, placed in a sterilized jar with a little salt, boiling water poured over them and sealed.  Not a lot of fuss at all.  The general directions for pressure canning are:

Step 1:  Fill the canner with the amount of water required in the manual. (Different canners vary)
Step 2:  Fill the canner with the jars of prepared food.
Step 3:  Put the lid on, tightening the screws alternately.
Step 4:  Vent the steam for 10 minutes.
Step 5: Place the weight on the vent.
Step 6:  Begin timing the process once the weight begins to rock and rattle and the pressure gauge registers 10 pounds (might need 15 pounds of pressure if you live in higher elevations)
Step 7: Adjust the heat so the pressure keeps steady.  All canners have a sweet spot for this.  On my stove it is the 6 mark on the knob.
Step 8:  When you have processed the jars for the time required, remove the canner from the heat.
Step 9:  Allow the pressure to return to zero pounds of pressure. Remove the weight from the vent.
Step 10:  Unscrew the nuts alternately. Open the canner lid away from your face.  Remove the jars.

Sometimes I wish I had a Youtube channel to demonstrate how easy it is, but I'm sure there are already plenty out there.  Use your computer to learn new skills, whether it be canning, knitting,, or how to play the guitar, there's wonderful videos out there.


My New Dawn roses have come back from the dead!

This spring I had to prune them back almost to the ground, after the second dreadful winter in a row. I didn't have much hope for them.  But they are coming back with a vengeance.  Only they are training themselves to grow on the south side of the privet, where they will be protected from the wind off the lake.  They are telling me, "None of this training us up the trellis business, Miss!"   One of the secrets to a bountiful flower garden is to take a  laissez-faire  approach to gardening.  Just let the flowers be what they want to be; if the roses are happier climbing up the bushes, so be it!  If hollyhocks reseed themselves in the iris patch, let them be.  You'd be surprised at the unexpected beauty that will come your way.  But then I am a fan of cottage gardens, those formal ones hold little interest to me.  I call it the Disney effect, when they try to make designs with different colored flowers and have so many annuals.  I like a more natural approach.


This past week we did our light summer pruning.  This is just a light pruning as opposed to the heavier winter/early spring pruning.  The goal is to trim away any weak or broken branches or any branches that cross over each other. You want to prune any densely  limbed younger trees to allow light to reach the inner branches.  This creates sturdier fruiting branches in younger trees. In mature trees trees this  improves fruit size.  Also the  more sparsely branched trees improves the air circulation, reducing the risk of fungus.  Remember this is supposed to be just a little trimming not a  haircut; leave the serious branch removal for the dormant season.


This week there were festivals galore in our area.  We attended the Pointe Aux Barques lighthouse  150th anniversary.

 There were storytellers, musicians, food tents, vendors and you could climb to the top of the tower.
There even was a very small Civil War re-enactment.
My point being, that every area has sources of entertainment.   You don't have to spend bales of money taking your children to those amusement parks, which shall remain unnamed, to give your children  happy memories.  It's a sad commentary on today's society that people equate spending money with having a good time.  When my grown children get together and reminisce about happy times, they speak of camping, or reading under the tree, or the time we stayed up all night watching the meteor shower (BTW, the next meteor shower is the Perseids shower on August 12th).  Never once do the mention the expensive trip we took one summer when we had a windfall.  As an adult, I actually prefer armchair travel, as many times I have traveled to places that looked so enticing in the brochures only to be disappointed.  As Emily Dickinson said,"There is no frigate like a book to take us to lands away ..."  And the advantage is that I can time travel, too!  I have some lovely books on New England by Samuel Chamberlain, that I can imagine myself right into, a world sadly, that is no more.


I read a lot of blogs on thrift, and one thing that strikes me is how many write about buying things.  Sure they got a great discount on whatever it was they were buying, but the still spent money. An old-fashioned concept that you don't hear very often these days is the easiest way to save money is not to spend any.  Of course it doesn't make for a very interesting blog; we didn't drive anywhere so we didn't buy gas, we didn't eat out, we didn't use any coupons because we didn't buy anything, etc.


This week I gathered some mullien leaves to dry. The Foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains Blog has a great post on it.  Also gathering raspberry leaves and sage for medicinal purposes.  I'll write more about that later, as I'm in a crunch for time, as I have to get ready to go to the dentist. 


Canned green beans, potaoes and peppers.

Grated and froze summer squash.

Harvested brocolli, summer squash, potatoes, onions, pepper and green beans.

Collected the seeds from hollyhocks and mustard greens.

Gathered and dried mullien  and raspberry leaves.

Bottled up some strawberry-rhubarb wine.

 Began knitting a scarf from the yarn stash.

Bartered some work for a bag of oats.

Got a truckload of compost for free from the village.

Sorry for the abbreviated post this week. Between the electricity going out and the stupid dentist appointment, time is short.  Will try to make it up to you next week!  Have a lovely week!


Sunday, July 26, 2015


Hello dear friends!  This week there have been signs everywhere to remind me what season I am in.  The Amish neighbor's hayfield, stacked so lovely tells me that summer is waning.
That's something you don't see every day!  Much more romantic than those big ugly round bales that the commercial farmers use.  And if that's not all, the late summer flowers; coneflowers, phlox and brown-eyed Susans, are beginning to bloom.
We harvested about fifty pounds of onions this week and more soon to come. Our stored onions last until late March or early April.  I explained how to root cellar vegetables here.  We also harvested garlic.


Harvest your garlic when the stalks start to yellow and are falling over.  This year it was early.
Step 1:  Cut a piece of twine twice as long as you want your braid to be.
Step 2:  Place a clove of garlic in the center of the loop.  On top of the twine.
Step 3:  Bring the stalk to the back of the loop, behind the right side, back up and over that side and under the twine on the opposite side.  (Like making a figure eight).

Step 4:  Now repeat on the opposite side.
Step 5:  Continue alternating sides until you reach the length you desire. Pushing the stalks downward.
Step 6:  Hang in a cool dry place to allow the cloves to cure and the stalks turn brown.  You can trim the stalks once they are dry, if desired.
We also harvested some blueberries, but we won't have enough to freeze so we bought some locally at $3/ lb and froze them. When we were purchasing them, the clerk waiting on  us  wanted to know what we were going to do with them.  She  never heard of freezing them.  Can you believe it?  How far we have come from the agrarian society we used to be!  
I canned  blueberry-cranberry juice with some of the berries.  I had the cranberries in the freezer from last winter, that I purchased when they were on sale after the holidays.

Wash and stem berries.
Put 2/3 C. cranberries and 1/3 C. blueberries into 1 quart sterilized  jars.
Add 3/4 C. sugar.
Fill jars with boiling water. leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
Place pre-simmered lids on jars. Adjust caps.
Process 15 minutes in boiling water bath.

To use, strain the berries and enjoy.  This juice is quite strong, so I usually add extra water, after opening.   The strained berries can  be used for baking. You  can use this recipe for straight cranberries also, just use 1 cup of cranberries instead of 2/3 C..  I also make grape juice this way, using 1 C. Concord grapes and 1/2 C. sugar.   Easy-peasy!

We also collected the seeds from our lupines and these pretty white hollyhocks: 

I think they look particularly winsome against the gray siding.  I have a spot scoped out right behind my Apothecary Rose for them.  Hopefully, they will be white when they bloom.  You never can tell with hand gathered seeds.


Ran and I were driving out in the country between home and Port Hope, when we spotted some crop circles.
There were two different fields of them, and I'm sure that the farmer is none to pleased with that.  One field is almost completely destroyed.  I would love to see what they look like from above.  What this is a sign of, I don't know!  


Earlier this week, I thought I received a sign that I should stop blogging.  I'm very sensitive and some might say thin-skinned, when it comes to this blog.  I try to make it helpful and hopefully a little amusing at times, so when I lose a follower, it saddens me greatly. I'm always second guessing myself; did I do something wrong? Did I offend someone?  I would hate to think I did.  Losing a follower (I have so few, although I know many more read this blog regularly) was one sign, but I had several others.  But instead of having a knee jerk reaction and pulling my blog, as I have done in the past, I gave myself some time to contemplate what I should do.  I decided, since I have nothing to lose, I should throw caution to the wind and  write what I really think needs to be written, without worrying about whom I may offend, although I know once this is posted, I'll fret over it for the rest of the week!

If you've read this blog for any amount of time, you know that I am Christian, and that is what leads my life,  however, I have no desire to convert others, at least not in the traditional way. I figure you all are adults and have heard the Gospel, and have either rejected it or accepted it. Some of my best friends are non-believing New Age philosophizers. I also have Hindu, Muslims, agnostics, atheists, and even a witch, as friends and relatives.    When it comes to evangelizing, I follow the quote by Madeline L'Engle that is  ever-present on my sideboard:

"We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it."

I pray that one day they will come to the Lord, but I know judging and badgering them, is not going to make it happen. So I just try to set a good example of what I feel a follower of Christ should be; compassionate, generous, joyful and loving.  From time to time, I'll make a comment about my faith that sometimes leads to a discussion,sowing tiny mustard seeds of faith, but I don't hit them over the head with it. It wouldn't work anyway, sometimes I think the judgmental, overbearing, fire-and-brimstone types do more harm than good.  One thing  I do tell them, is that the day that you need to have a RFID chip inserted into your right hand or forehead to access your money, you will know that the Bible is true, as it was predicted over two thousand years ago.   Amazing Kreskin, or Sylvia Browne couldn't make a predication like that!

" He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead so that no one can buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of beast or the number of his name.  This calls for wisdom.  If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number.  His number is 666."
~Revelation 13 16-18 ~

We are already becoming a cashless society and  some countries, such as Sweden, are already moving away from paper money in lieu of government issued debit cards. It isn't such a stretch of the imagination to envision that one day people will readily accept an RFID chip inserted into their hand to eliminate the problems  of stolen debit cards and to make it easy to access financial and health information.  I've already seen advertisements for it. How hard would it be for the powers-that-shouldn't-be to just switch off access to, or erase the history of those that they deem dissidents? Think it would never happen?   You haven't read much history.  If you're interested in learning more about the Revelation of John or eschatology, John Shorey has written a book  that explains it in easy-to-understand language. Anyways, I'll step down from my pulpit now! Ha!


Well, there's  Martin Armstrong's "Cycles", the economists' Hindenburg Omen,  Mark Biltz's Blood Moon prophecy and Johnathon Cahn's Mystery of the Shemitah, to name a few of the many predicting financial collapse and war by this fall.  Some, such as Johnathon Cahn make very compelling arguments.  I guess we will soon find out if they are right.  Personally, I'd prefer to be in the ready just "in case" league, rather than be the proverbial ostrich with my head stuck in the sand league.  In this blog, I have many articles on canning and drying foods, how to garden, setting up a basic pantry and recipes for those staples. There's been tips on staying warm and conserving water. among many other practical and thrifty ideas (and some silly articles, too). There's many blogs that deal with other "hard times" issues, such as, herbal remedies and survival tools.  What I do, is copy the articles and make my own survival handbook.  Make sure you have a hard copy because if times get really rough, you might not have access to a computer, or who knows, it might be censored.  I also own many books that deal with subjects such as natural remedies, canning, trapping,  cooking and preparing wildlife, shelter building, etc.  Yes, I'm a prepper!  Personally, I've gone through too many hard times in my own life, not to be.  I'd rather be prepared and be made fun of, than be unprepared and a burden to someone else.

 Also, and perhaps more importantly, prepare yourself spiritually and mentally for what might come.  However you want to do it, get down to the essence of who you are, then the loss of a job, money, or home will not be such a shock.  Those things do not define you! I really did not mean for this post to be such a "doom and gloom" one, but what kind of friend would I be if I saw trouble coming towards you, and did not give warning?   I could have made veiled hints and daintily danced about the subject, but it's more important that you receive  the information, than it is that I don't look foolish.  But there is hope!  As Anne Frank wrote, " spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.". Get to know your neighbors, form a community of like-minded people.  Whatever you do, don't isolate yourself and fret and worry. Do what you can and have faith that it will all work out.


Harvested the last of the cauliflower and froze it.

Harvested summer squash and broccoli.

Picked blueberries from our garden.

Froze 5 lbs. of blueberries that we purchased at $3/lb.

Harvested some onions and the garlic.

Canned 13 quarts of cranberry-blueberry juice.

Parked the car and didn't drive it for the last couple of days.

Attended three estate sales for amusement.  Bought some neat toasting forks for the campfire for a quarter.

Bought several items of clothing from garage sales for the winter months.

Collected rainwater and used it to water the plants.

Hung the laundry on the line several times.

Ate from the pantry and the garden.

Slept in our shed/guest cottage to stay cool.  Nights are always cool here.

Well, that's it for this week!  I do treasure every comment.  Even you Mr. Spammer.  What you had to say was very interesting.  Maybe next time, if you can fit it in better to the subject at hand, I'll publish it!  Until the next time, may all your days be pleasant!