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Sunday, October 25, 2015


Hello dear friends!   Hope you are having a glorious week!   The leaves are finally changing and the weather is cool and crisp.  As much as I enjoy visiting other parts of the world via all of your blogs, during this time of the year there is no place on earth I'd rather be than home, sweet home.
A country lane we happened upon when out adventuring.   There's a lot of golden leaves this year.  And yes, that is the true color of our skies.  We used to live in an urban area and the skies always had an orange cast to them. The first thing I noticed  when we moved here was how blue the skies and how bright the stars were.  When was the last time you looked up?


This week we gathered wild rose hips from our favorite foraging spot.  Whew!  It was like Grand Central Station there!   Well, actually there were about ten people, but when you're used to having the place to yourself, it seemed like a horde,  so we got our rosehips and got out as quickly as we could.   Most will go into making rosehip syrup, but I couldn't resist using some to fill a basket.
I also made a wreath, a prickly process if ever there was one,  Ran said it looked like Christmas, so I'll show you that when it get's closer to winter.   Rosehip syrup combined with red rooibos tea is a wonderful way to get your vitamin C, and if you take some at the very onset , will wipe out a cold.. Or at least that is what we have discovered.   Maybe it works because it just tastes healthy!  I'm a firm believer in being responsible for our own health, instead of running to the the doctor's office every time you catch a sniffle. After a while all those antibiotics catch up with you, although, I'll be the first to point out, they do have their place and am profoundly grateful to whomever discovered them!


I finally finished my penny rug that I made using woolens that I picked up during our thrift store's winter clearance sale last year (17 cents a garment).  I didn't follow my own advice and start small when learning a new skill, figuring how hard can it be?   Turned out a little wonky!
It's far from perfect, but as my art teacher told me, "You can see the humanity in the flaws".  Well, in this case, it is a very "human" penny rug!  I was so happy to be finished with it, that I started immediately after on knitting a sweater for granddaughter Violet for Christmas.
She's such a little peanut, that it take no time to knit a sweater for her.  The tweed yarn is a silk and wool blend that I bought at an estate sale.  The buttons came from our Bethesda thrift store.  The ladies cut off buttons from damaged items and card them.   A package of five buttons is only fifty cents.   Whenever I can't find the right buttons in my button box, I always check there first before going to a fabric store.  This  is the pattern I used and an easier pattern probably never existed. It's great for beginners.   I've also knitted this pattern in blue with wooden toggle buttons for the grandsons when they were babies.  Very Paddington Bear-ish.  I'm thinking about knitting a red one with a hood and toggle buttons and a pompom on top,  Little Red Riding Hood style.

Christmas has been on our minds.  When you make your own presents, you have to start early.  We don't really celebrate very much, focusing mainly on the spiritual aspects of the holiday, but we do like to give a small token of affection to friends and family this time of year.   One thing we do enjoy is giving Christmas hampers, filled with cheeses, sausage, homemade cookies, breads and jams.  We needed something to put the goodies in, so Ran has been making these carriers from the free pallet wood.
Right now, I'm using one to display our Long Island Cheese pumpkins.  As Kitty Bartholomew would say, "It's not what you don't have, it's what you do with what you do have."  BTW, do you see our tiny butternut squashes?   For some reason they were stunted.   They're cute but not very practical.  


Our new neighbor asked us to till up her garden area, she said that we could have the raspberry canes at the end of the plot.   We thought that there were only a few canes, but were pleasantly surprised to discover that there were about twenty!
An instant raspberry patch!

We are also experimenting with planting our potatoes in the fall.   Every year we discover a few plants from potatoes we missed when digging them.  So we read up on it, and yes, you can plant potatoes in the fall.  We'll have to see how it goes.  We are saving some of our seed potatoes for the spring, just in case it doesn't work.   Never put all your eggs in one basket! We're always experimenting here.   No one will ever know it all!


A couple of people wanted to know about our phones.   We use a Magic Jack for our home phone.   They used to plug into your computer and would take forever to load onto the computer but now they plug into the modem, so they've eliminated that problem.   It works great for us and you can't beat the cost at less than $3 a month ($33/year when you buy service for 3 years). You can call anywhere in the world with them at no extra charge.  I don't know how well this works, the farthest I've called was Bermuda.  It worked fine there.  We had a problem with ours after we had it for several years, so we called the company and they ran some diagnostics over the phone, discovered the problem and sent us a free replacement part.  We're happy with the company.  We used to have a cell phone, that we carried just for emergencies while traveling.  We got rid of it and bought a pay-as-you-go Tracfone for $15 at the dollar store.  You have to reload the minutes every three month at the cost of $15.  So between the Magic Jack and the TracFone, our phones costs are less than $10 a month.   Of course it's all very low-tech, we don't text or tweet or do any of the other things so many people do now days. We just use it to make a rare phone call.  We also use Skype for talking with the grandchildren. 


Some of the things we do to save money, may seem a bit over-the-top for some of you, such as using a wringer washer and  reusing the gray water, or using a Magic Jack, but all these measures enable us to retire young and live on very little money.   Plus we find them to be fun.  As they say, your money or your life.   You can choose to work for someone else or you can work for yourself, it's up to you.   So many comment, upon hearing that we retired young, that they wish they could do the same, but we have to wonder if they really mean it.   You have to give up a lot of ideas that society has led us to believe is what constitutes happiness and success to live frugally.   An important question to ask yourself before you retire is:

Do you know who you are?

Quick!   Name who won last year's Pulitzer prize?   Or who won the Nobel prize in physics?  Or last year's Oscar?   Can you?   I can't.  And I bet most people can't either.  And this may sound harsh, but most people don't care.  So you see, all the accolades and awards, the letters behind your name, the balance in your bank account, mean very little to anyone else but you.   Don't even think about retiring if it's important to you.  Because once you retire, you will no longer be defined by a job title.  You have to be secure in who you are as a person.   It takes a bit of courage to not have anything define you but your own character.   I often tell the tale of my grandfather, who was a plain dirt farmer.  He never amounted to much, if you consider success in things such as wealth or education.  But when he died the church couldn't contain all the mourners. For decades after his death, people, once learning that I was his granddaughter, would tell me stories of his generosity, kindness, compassion  and courage.  So many books on retirement preparedness focus on budgets and where to live,  and quite frankly, quite a bit of foolishness, but very few point out the mental and spiritual aspects.   Can you be content and fulfilled just being you?


Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.
~Henry David  Thoreau~


Here's a quick meatless (the cost of meat now days is outrageous!) soup that is also hearty enough for a brisk fall day.

Vegetable  Cheese Chowder

2 medium potatoes, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 large stalks of celery, diced
1 tsp. salt
1 3/4 C. water
4 tbsp. melted butter
4 tbsp. flour
1 3/4 C. milk
1 1/2 C. cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can cream-style corn

Cook vegetables in salted water for 15 minutes.  Do not drain.
Blend the melted butter and flour until smooth.  Add milk, stirring over low heat until smooth and thick.  Add cheese and stir until melted
Add corn to undrained vegetables then add to cheese mixture.  Heat but do not boil.

I've made this in my vegan days with soy milk and cheese.   To be honest, I don't care for the taste of vegan cheeses, but if you are accustomed  to the taste, you might like it.   Also, after reading that almost  all soy products in the US are GMO, I prefer to use the real thing, and not worry so much about cholesterol.


Planted a raspberry patch from free canes.
Cleaned out a neighbor's gutters for a bit of cash.
I can't believe it, but it's almost November and we still haven't turned on our furnace!
Heated the house with wood.
Ate from the pantry.
Knitted a sweater for Christmas from wool purchased for $1 at an estate sale.
Mulched the leaves and used them for protection around the bushes.
Made trays for Christmas presents from free pallet wood.
Hung the laundry outside. In October!
Decorated the house with our own pumpkins.
Got a great deal on cheese from the bulk food store,so we bought a bunch and froze it.
Painted a bench with leftover paint.
Foraged for rosehips.  Made a wreath for Christmas from them.
Planted potatoes.

Well that's about it for this week.  Can you believe the next time I post something it will be November?  How time flies when you are having fun!  I hope you all have a blissful week!



  1. Lovely post, Jane. It's always interesting to read about your accomplishments. Love the penny rug and knitted sweater. I have meant to learn rug hooking for years but just haven't yet...maybe this winter will be the time. Your foraged rose hips and free raspberry canes are fabulous. Can't wait to see your harvest from the canes.
    Have a great week!

    1. I want to learn rug hooking also, but the cost has dissuaded me. Those little wool cutting machines are expensive and I can't see investing in one before I know if I going to like it. Wish they had a class somewhere around here. The drawbacks of living in the sticks.

      Our neighbor always lets us pick her raspberries, but I never pick as many as I'd like because I don't want to clean her out! So it will be wonderful to have our own.

      Definitely have decided to knit a little red sweater. Can't wait to dig into my stash and see what I can come up with.

      Hope you have a wonderful week too!


  2. The penny rug is wonderful! What a terrific project! Are you going to make another? That is my test of how well I like something new! LOL The sweater.. oh, dear, so cute! You know that is going in my "to-do" for Jana! Right now I am knitting her the puerperium sweater from Ravelry.

    Most of all, Jane, I love your retirement advice. To be honest, I look at colleagues who are all about their jobs and I have to wonder what they will do when they retire. My life is so full already, I don't know how I manage to work! LOL I love visiting with you! Have a great week!

    1. Hi Matty! Yep! I saw a pretty little doily sized one in gray and beige,so I can I can bumbe through another.

      I'll send you a copy of the pattern. Got to get my money's worth! I'm already excited about knitting a red one. Kind of talked myself into it! Ha!

      I know those type of people too, Matty. Sort of sad that their self-worth is so wrapped up in their jobs. Oh I know about your full life! Did you get your painting finished?


    2. No painting done... to wet... and then cool.. and wet again... Knitting on baby blankets for gifts .. not for the new Miss, yet... I am sending car loads of things to the auction house these days... We are really downsizing for the anticipated move next year -- from 2400 sq. ft. to 1000... should be interesting! Snow yet??

  3. Thanks for your inspiring example! And thank you for your words of wisdom, I so agree. My family and I forage: blackberries, wild plums, elderberries, chanterelle mushrooms, wild mint, sage, and a different species of rose-hips. We are so thankful for how the Lord provides!

    Your penny rug looks great! I'm learning rug-hooking with my wool and flannel stash. Fun and thrifty!

    1. Hi Leslie! Thank you for the kind comment!

      Sounds like you have a wonderful foraging area. For some reason, foraged food just seems to taste better. Maybe because there's no interference with its production.

      Rug hooking looks like fun. Some of the ladies are so talented in that art form. I just read that you can hand cut your wool, so I think I'll give it a try this winter. But I've learned my lesson and will start small!


  4. It looks like the colors are just getting toward peak where you are...We are almost finished here with everything looking very russet in color with some golds here and there...Yes, there was a lot of gold this year, and our beech tree lost more leaves than usual (not sure what that means).
    Love the rug and the sweet baby sweater/jacket...You are very talented, and I agree with your teacher, especially in today's digital age of perfection.There's just something about the hand made (human) craft items that are so much warmer and lovlier!
    God bless you~Lisa

    1. Hi Lisa! The leaves are going fast with all the wind we've been getting. This fall you sure can see all the devastation that the ash borers did. Lots of trees with no leaves. I never realized how much of our woods were ash before. Hope you are keeping warm and cozy. Hasn't this been a mild fall? I just can't believe it!


  5. Hi Jane! I see a lot of golden leaves here also! I love your penny rug. I love the history behind them also! So much to know a lot!

    Your rose hips make a pretty arrangement. Violet will love her comfy sweater. I find it hard to find silk and wool. You have good finds!

    I know that when we retire, we will be on a budget very similar to starting out! I think my best bet is to just not walk into any stores! Also to make a list and only go out for one shopping trip. I was noticing the grocery store has many things I pick up and they only add calories and not nutrition.

    These phone plans are ridiculous! Mine is $70/mo and I pay for my youngest daughters so I can be sure to keep in touch with her at the same price each month as mine. Colleges don't even have land-lines anymore in the dorms.

    Well...I love your posts and look forward to your wisdom, Andrea

    1. Hi Andrea! It seems that everyone just assumes you have smart phones. Man I'm old! When I went to college, all we had was pay phones in the lobby. If someone called and you weren't in, someone would write the message down on a chalkboard. Lots of missed calls back then!

      I see you are having a lovely fall. Maybe we'll be lucky and have a mild winter with El Nino kicking in.


  6. Those trees are beautiful. Autumn is the most beautiful season...They all are in their own way. Love your basket and the rosehips look so lovely. I had promised myself to make syrup from some at the bottom of the garden but the birds got there before me. I suppose they needed them more than me. I'll try to forage some if I can. I'm sure there will be plenty in the hedgerows.
    What lovely gifts and pretty coloured pumpkins. I just have tiny squash too, even tinier than yours but have left them on the vine to see if they get bigger.
    Your graddad sounds like he was a gentle and kind man. A good name is worth then fine gold. I'm sure that you have the same good name in your neighbourhood too.
    Thanks again for sharing all your thrifty ideas and inspiring us to be more thoughtful in how we live our lives.
    Have a happy week,

    1. I agree Debby, autumn is the most beautiful season! Unfortunately, it is also the most short-lived.

      Guess this is our year for pumpkins and squashes. It's always feast or famine when gardening. Can't figure out why they didn't grow. Oh well! They make cute decorations.

      Thank you for the kind words! Hope your week is wonderful!


  7. We have done--and still do--many of the thrifty things you mention--Jim was mostly self-employed through the years and there has always been a need for frugality.
    My mother used to quote a poem about 'October's bright blue weather'--the sky never looks quite that brilliant and clear in other seasons, does it?

    1. Hello Sharon! Now that you mention it, the sky is always its bluest in the fall. Maybe it's because it contrasts with all the colorful foliage.


  8. "So you see, all the accolades and awards, the letters behind your name, the balance in your bank account, mean very little to anyone else but you. Don't even think about retiring if it's important to you. Because once you retire, you will no longer be defined by a job title. You have to be secure in who you are as a person. It takes a bit of courage to not have anything define you but your own character. " masterpiece!! i am copying this to my computer so i will always have it. it goes for more than retirement too (IMO). just life in general.

    1. Thank you for the kind comment! Hope you are having a lovely weekend!


    2. thank you, you too