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Sunday, June 14, 2015

SWEET BRIAR COTTAGE JOURNAL: ODDS AND ENDS

Hello dear friends!  Hope you are enjoying your day!  It's been foggy here, but pleasant. Have to say, this cool weather is not bothering the garden any. The fruit trees are just loaded  and everything looks so lush.  Looks like it will be a bumper crop year!

With a Little Help From My Friends

We finally finished decorating our little guest shed.
This is a salvaged window that we bought at an auction.  I love old windows!   This entire project has been done as frugally as possible and we are thrilled with the results.  We  had a lot of help from friends.  The manager at the Farmer's Co-op helped us minimize costs and even lent us tools to shingle the roof.  A complete stranger lent us scaffolding for the roofing.  Ran's friends and former co-workers  at Rustoleum gave us all the paint and primer for the exterior.  And  a gentleman at an estate sale gave us free lumber that we used for the countertop  in the potting area.
We wanted to have a cozy cabin like feel and were wondering what to do with the walls, when we came up with the idea to use luan  that is used for underlayment on wood floors.  Ran cut strips of leftover wood to give it a board and batten look.  We used salvaged paint from the Habitat for Humanity re-use it center and leftover paint for the walls.  We had fun decorating it from attic treasures and thrifted finds.
Even the pretty quilt was a thrift store find.  The bed is built loft-style and there's room under there for lots of bins.   All in all, it was cheaper to build than one of the pre-fab jobbies. 
We are having fun spending time there.  Whenever we want to go on a vacation, we just have to go to our backyard.   Such a sweet serene little spot!

Foraging

This week we are foraging.  The field next to us is resplendent with red clover.  We use it for skin salves and only use it externally.   Others make a tea with it, but you have to be cautious because it mimics estrogen  (which is why I gave up on soy products) and is also a blood thinner.  But this is a good thing to know, in case the pudding does hit the fan, as many are predicting.  It's always good to  have a working knowledge of herbal remedies.

The other thing we are foraging is purslane.
Purslane has more omega-3 than fish.  And it's free!  You can use it in salads or make a pesto with it.  Or just eat it by itself.  It has a nice pleasant taste.

Patience Is A Virtue When It Comes To Gardening

I love lots of flowers, but let's face it, the prices at nurseries are getting outrageous, so I always start some perennials from seed each year. 
This is a tangle of yellow columbine (Ran says the look like fairy wings), poppies and foxglove that I started last year in my "trying out" garden located at the end  of the herb garden.  If I notice a pretty specimen while out for our daily walk, I   return to collect some of its seeds when  they form seedheads.  We have the prettiest hollyhocks that we collected at  a house down the lane.  I even have a yucca that we started this way.  It doesn't cost anything or harm the plants, so why not give it a try?

Another inexpensive way I furnish my garden is to buy plants from mail order sources.  Not the big-name companies but the little known ones that offer you really cheap small plants.  It might take an extra season for them to develop and bloom, but it's worth it to me in savings.

Don't Buy It Make It

This week we dried garlic and ground it into garlic powder.  I suggest that if you want to do this, it is best to do it outside, unless you really love the smell of garlic.  Also on schedule to be dried this week is spinach and kale, which can be dried in the car.  I wrote a very detailed post about drying vegetables  here.  Once the kale and spinach are dried, we grind them in an old coffee grinder that we keep for this purpose.    The powder is great to add to soups and stews, meatloaf mixtures, or to make smoothies.  Anything to add more nutrition.

Quote Of The Week

Better to be neat and tidy than tight and needy.
~common proverb~

By The Way 

With the recent news about the spread of bird flu and many birds being destroyed, it's a good thing to know all the  ways you can substitute other ingredients for eggs.  I keep a bag of flax seeds in the freezer for this purpose.

Pantry Recipe

The other day we bought a cupcake from a little girl running a cupcake/lemonade stand.  We usually eat fruit based desserts  from fruits from our garden, but it was so good, that I had to go home and bake a cake.   This is my go-to cake recipe.  Just the right size for our little family.  And too big, so we don't feel too  guilty.

Small Chocolate Cake

6 tbsp.  cocoa
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 C. hot water
1 C. flour
1 C. sugar
1/2 tsp.  baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 C. shortening
1/4 C. milk or buttermilk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg

Combine the cocoa, oil and hot water until well blended.

Beat together sugar and shortening until fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Beat in chocolate mixture.

Beat in dry ingredients, adding milk alternately.  Pour batter into a well greased 8 inch square pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes  or until a cake tester comes out clean.
As always, sorry for the poor picture quality.  I am not a food stylist, that's for sure!  BTW, cocoa is a nice  pantry staple,  here's a post I wrote on the subject.

Thrifty Things We Did This Week

Harvested and ate lettuce, spinach, kale and beet greens from our garden.

Foraged red clover and purslane.

Dried garlic and made into garlic powder.

Dried kale and spinach.

Bought some t-shirts for wearing while gardening from a garage sale for 25 cents.

Canned more strawberry nectarine jam.

"Vacationed" at our little shed.

Cleaned out the attic in preparation for holding a garage sale.

Hung the laundry out on the line.

Ate from the garden and pantry.

Well that's it for this week!   Hope to hear from you soon!

Jane








20 comments:

  1. What a sweet little retreat! Taking reservations? What did you frost the cake with? Looks yummy! Angela

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    1. Hi Angela! You are always welcome, although the facilities are a bit rustic.

      The frosting is my buttercream frosting recipe. Just take whatever amount of butter you have left in the butterdish (about 2 tbsp.) a plop of vegetable shortening (again about 2 tbsp) a splash of vanilla and enough Confectioners' sugar to make a frosting so thick it's hard to spread. People are always asking about my frosting recipe. I think the secret is to make it really thick like fudge.

      We topped it with coconut. Tastes like a Mounds candy bar.

      Have a lovely week!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  2. oh how cute. I love that how you use found and reclaimed items. The dark green walls are gorgeous and the patchwork quilt so cosy. Happy times in your sweet little hideaway.
    debx

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  3. Thanks Debby! My dream is to build an entire home from reclaimed items and live off the grid. This is a practice piece. My pictures don't do it justice. The way the light comes through the windows is magical. I'm always well rested when I sleep out there.

    Have a lovely week!
    Jane

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  4. What an idyllic cottage! So pretty. I would just love to go into it and sit and sit! I especially like the yellow shelves and also the windows.

    I have that purslane. So many healthy things around us for the taking. I didn't know it was edible even. Good to know...just in case! That common proverb is so neat...and true.
    Beautiful flowers. The cake looks delicious. Andrea

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Andrea! It was fun to decorate. Since it's a shed, there's no restrictions. I wanted it to look like a gypsy wagon (is that politically correct?).

      Well, now you know about purslane. Take a nibble once and a while. It's good for lowering your cholesterol. Doesn't taste bad either. I much prefer it to cucumbers.

      Have a lovely week ahead and don't let the heat get to you!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  5. Oh Jane, I did not know that I could eat purslane!!! it grows wild in my garden and I was pulling out and threw them in the compost heap! So glad that I could eat it! :0) I take Kale and dry it also. My spinach was eaten completely and I am ready to plant something else in their spot. I'll do a second planting in August for the Autumn :0) Garlic powder is not something I have tried. I try to just use the garlic right away or add it to olive oil and keep it in the fridge.

    I just enjoy your posts so much Jane.... thank you so much for sharing your wisdom dear lady!
    mari

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    1. I knew it was edible, but didn't know until recently how good it was for you, Mari. The Lord provides! I use a lot of fresh garlic, but it's nice to have the powder for convenience. Sometimes I don't like to use the fresh because then my hands smell like it all day. Just can't get the stink washed off sometimes. Hope this week brings you comfort!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  6. Your little shed/get-away-retreat is wonderful!!!!

    Have a great week ~ FlowerLady

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  7. I love how your guest shed turned out, what a fun project! That window is very pretty. :) How interesting about purslane, sounds like a good vegetarian source of Omega 3, I don't eat much fish and can't eat nuts or shellfish, so I am always worried about getting Omega 3, makes me think I should look into other plant sources as well. All your garden produce sounds great, and your flowers look pretty, I love perennials. Hope you are having a great week. :)

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    1. Hi April! Another good source of omega-3 is chia seeds, which are readily available in most grocery stores now days. I'm getting ready for holding a garage sale this weekend. Making me crabby! Ha! It will be nice to have my sewing room back, though. Hope you have a lovely weekend.

      Hugs
      Jane

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  8. dear jane,
    wow...your little guest house is a dream. it looks cosy and welcoming. the patchwork blanket is gorgeous. thanks for the tips!!!love your flowers!!!
    have a nice week,
    hugs and love regina

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Regina! Hope you are doing better. How's June in Germany? Feels more like May here.

      Hugs
      Jane

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  9. Your little cottage is just beautiful. And well done for doing the work yourselves.

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    1. Thank you, Rhonda Jean! It was actually quite a fun project, except for the roofing, Don't think we'll ever do that again, unless the roof is closer to the ground!

      Jane

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  10. Jane! Lovely to visit! How you nest and work! I love your darling cottage! So sweet!

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    Replies
    1. Hello Matty! So good to hear from you again! Hope you plan on writing often. Been a long time!

      Hugs
      Jane

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