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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sweet Briar Cottage Journal: In The Valley Of Love and Delight

Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
~Simple Gifts - Traditional Shaker Hymn~

 Hello dear friends!   Happy first day of summer!  Guess what I'm doing right now?  Waiting for my  granddaughter Violet to be born.  Our daughter-in-law is at the hospital tonight.  One of the greatest joys of my life is seeing what amazing fathers my sons have become.  I was very young when I had my first, just twenty, and I know I made a lot of mistakes along the way in rearing them, but I must have done something right to make them such caring and loving fathers
Another thing I am inordinately proud of is my beautiful foxglove growing in the herb garden!   Usually my foxgloves are puny and anemic looking but  this one I started from seeds I gathered on a walk is so robust, almost as tall as I am! 
We made a discovery this year.  In our attempts to keep the groundhogs from eating our Cheddar cauliflower, Ran made a little enclosure for them out of old storm windows and chicken wire for the top.  Well!  That made a nice little hothouse for them and we harvested a nice big head today.
Look at that beauty!    The other cauliflowers that we planted in the garden haven't even formed a head yet. Now my mind is turning.  Maybe next year we can get a jump start on tomatoes.  What if I found enough old windows in the trash to line the entire inside of my garden fence?  Could I plant and harvest earlier?  Maybe I could use the idea to protect my finicky roses?  Who knows where this will end up. 
We also harvested some strawberries.  Tomorrow we will have some buttermilk pancakes with diced strawberries instead of our usual  blueberries. Yum! Store bought strawberries can not compete with  homegrown ones picked and eaten in the garden still warm from the sun.  If I have enough, I will probably can some in a light syrup.  I've sliced and dried them before.  The reconstitute nicely.  

Stealth Health

Speaking of drying food, we dried a bunch of spinach and kale this week. Once they are dry we grind them in an old coffee grinder and it makes a nice powder.  You can use the powder in soups, smoothies and stews,  but another way to use it, is to add it to meatloaf and meatballs.  This is what we call "stealth health"  because you may not like the taste of these veggies, but you never notice it in meatloaf and such.  Anything to add more nutrition!

A Fun Day

On Saturday we held a garage sale.   The weather was perfect and we had so much fun!  It seems that people just want to talk and talk.  I  think we all are becoming more isolated as a society.  People don't go outside and talk to their neighbors anymore, they sit inside and watch TV.  I really feel that TV has been one of the reasons for the downfall of society.  So, when people have a chance to have a conversation and a willing ear, well, they talk!  Everyone was so pleasant, except for one man who grumbled about the skimpy offerings (it was late and we had sold everything) and called our dog fat!   To go about with such a sour disposition all the time.  Well all you can do is laugh!  Every day you have the option of "taking joy"  or being unhappy.  Being unhappy and miserable won't change your circumstances but being joyful can!

We all are down here in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars
~Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan~

Most things were sold for a quarter, but we still managed to make a nice profit and at the end of the day all we had left were two small boxes of books and a bag of clothes for the Salvation Army drop box.   And people went away happy with getting a deal.  One lady said she looks forward to coming to our sale every year!  Oh dear!  I may have started a tradition.
A Thrifty Experiment

Well, I've prattled on and haven't really given you any thrifty tips. This one is way out there, and I don't think many of you will do it, but here it goes, anyway.  When we had our boiler problems, we noticed that our water stayed hot for three days, so we started thinking, what if we turned off the electrical switch to the boiler every other day? So that's what we did.  It's causing us to rethink how we use water.  I've retrained myself to turn the cold tap rather than the hot, when running water  to fill pots and for baking.  Also by being deliberately conscious of the amount of hot water we are using,  we broke the bad habits of letting the water run on full throttle when brushing our teeth and washing up.  Time will tell if we save on the electric and water bill.  But it proves that you can teach an old dog a new trick!

Natural Health

I just received an e-mail from our congresswoman that she is working on a bill to ban microbeads in facial scrubs.  The small "beads"  are just that, plastic beads, and they are too small to be filter out of our water system.  But they sure cause a lot of trouble with our eco-system. Who would have thunk it?!  So I'm experimenting with some natural scrubs that are biodegradeable.  Once I get one I like, I'll let you know.

Thrifty Things We Did This Week
We didn't do much this week because the garage sale  took up most of our time, but we did manage to harvest lettuce, beet greens, spinach, kale, strawberries and cauliflower from the garden.
Dry some herbs and kale.
Foraged purslane.
Baked bread
Watch some free movies on Xfinity's free weekend.

And as usual, hang the laundry and eat from the garden and pantry.

Sorry if there wasn't much information this week, garage sales are exhausting!  Hope everyone has a lovely week  and hope to see you the next!



  1. Great post! Congrats on the arrival of your new little granddaughter Violet. By now she's probably enjoying lots of love from family. Her name is lovely.

    Glad you've been having great successes with your gardens and your yard sale.

    Have a wonderful week ~ FlowerLady

    1. Hi Rainey! Little Violet was born just a few hours ago (5:02 AM) . Thanks for the well wishes. Hope you have a nice week and lovely weather. Remember not to overdo it!


  2. Hi Jane! Congratulations! What a beautiful name, Violet. Your yard sale weather looks beautiful. And your foxglove! White is my new favorite color. That cauliflower is big. Come to think of it, I remember old-time gardens (while growing up) having old windows used.

    I just ate some left-over buttermilk pancakes for lunch. So true about strawberries. Now I never can bring myself to buy them out of season and not local.

    Hopefully not too many people use facial scrubs with beads. They should try salt or sugar scrubs. I feel my lye soap cleans so squeaky clean, that I don't need scrubs.

    I've sung that song in church. Didn't realize it was a Shaker song! Somewhere I heard using the cold water, and not the water out of the hot water tank, is healthier.
    Have a great day! Andrea

    1. Thanks Andrea! They just sent me the sweetest family picture.

      I love the idea of a white garden. If I can get more of these foxgloves to grow, I'd be a happy camper.

      I'm afraid I was one of those people that used those scrubs with microbeads! Never knew that they were plastic. Always assumed they were some sort of fruit kernels or something. Because of my hypothyroidism my skin always feels like it needs to be exfoliated. Well, I should have found a more natural solution anyhow.

      Hope you are having lovely weather. We're supposed to get some storms, not that it's anything new!


  3. What a lovely long and interesting post. First of all wow, your foxgloves are amazing. I just have three little diddely ones outside my kitchen window. Nothing to compare and the cheddar cauliflower looks lovely. That variety is new to me.Good to hear about your homemade mini hothouse. We had exactly the same conversation about building one out of salvadged windows this weekend. Our garden isn't big enough for a greenhouse with everything else and my husband loves to grow chilli peppers. So we decided that we would go on the hunt for frames to make one too. I'm glad that your yard sale was so successful. It's good to recycle your things to new homes.
    Thanks for all your thrifty advice. I may have an exfoliating recipe for a kind of face pack with gram(chickpea) flour. I'll see if I can find it for you.
    Hope you escape the storms.

  4. ps...I forgot the main thing that I wanted to say. Congratulations on the baby to be. I hope that by now that you have your sweet little new granddaughter in your cuddle and that mum and baby are well. What a sweet name Violet is. On of my sisters has just phoned this afternoon to say that she's just become a grandmother for the first time too. Lots of lovely summer babies.
    Enjoy yours.

    1. Thank you Deb! She was born early Monday morning and she's beautiful. We are waiting for them to come home before descending upon them. Can't wait! A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on. Congratulations on becoming a great-aunt!

  5. dear jane,
    congratulation to your little new granddaughter violet.sweet name!!
    love your foxgloves.....
    thanks for the intersting post with many informationen for me.
    wish you a nice restweek,
    love and a big hugs,

    1. Thanks Regina! We just visited her yesterday. What a little peanut! Hope you have a nice weekend


  6. Hi Jane, first congratulations on your new grandbaby. My youngest is eight months now, a baby girl. I have nine altogether, with the oldest being twin boys at nineteen years old. I planted a fox glove this year, I sure pray it does well. I think yours is beautiful. I know of the work in having garage sales. I've had many, but just to much work for me now so I give to charity or sale all for one money. Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving such a sweet comment. I hope you visit often........blessings

    1. Hi Shelley! Thank you! I hope this is the last garage sale we'll need to have, it is a lot of work. All the rooms cluttered up while working on it, drives me crazy. I honestly think I might be mildly OCD. Really enjoyed your down to earth blog!


  7. Sounds like a lovely week to me! The 21st was our anniversary! Terrific things happen on the Solstice! :)

    About your hot water... we heat with a water stove. We found that we could remove our hot water heater and add a split to the house hot water line. The first month we saved over $30 for just the two of us! (Honestly, we don't have a dishwasher and I wash my laundry in cold water...) Ultimately, the water heater was removed and sold for scrap metal! Win-win! I wonder if you could do that with a boiler??

  8. Congratulations on your anniversary, Matty! Little Violet was born on the 22nd and is doing great.

    We just got our natural gas bill. it was $19. Ten dollars for the gas and nine for the various taxes and fees that they tack on. I always wanted to live off the grid and am just experimenting with different ways to beat the utility companies and to see how little energy we can use. For me, this is fun, but then, I always was a bit odd. Ha!

    Have a lovely weekend!


  9. ✿゚。ه
    Muito bonito seu jardim!

    Ótimo domingo! Boa semana!
    ❤❤ه° ·.

  10. I love having garage sales, it is such a fun way to meet neighbors and other interesting people, they are definitely a lot of work though. :) That cauliflower is impressive, how fun to find it growing that well, it is one of my favorite veggies.