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Sunday, November 8, 2015


Hello dear friends!   Hope this post finds you all safe and sound.  We experienced a true Indian Summer this week, when the temperatures reached into the 70s.  We even had to sleep with the windows open.  Strange weather for November! The next day it was so cold and chilly that my light winter coat wasn't  warm enough. We  even spotted a few snowflakes.   I think we are finally settling down to what is normal weather for this time of year, thank goodness!    Winter weather is one of the reasons I live where I do.


We had the simplest of meals today for lunch, vegetable soup and biscuits.   Vegetable soup is certainly easy on the pocketbook and quick too.  I always start with a base of onions, carrots and potatoes; the most inexpensive vegetables you can buy.  Then I add a can (or in my case,jar) of tomatoes.  Next I add a bean for protein, any old type will do; kidney, pinto, Great Northern, etc, but my favorite is the good old lima bean.   After that I add whatever on the pantry shelf needs using up, this week it was a can of corn that was nearing it's expiration date. For seasoning, I add some minced garlic and some smoked pepper and salt.  I find that what we miss most in vegan foods is the smoky flavor, so by using smoked salt and pepper, we don't miss the meat at all. And there you have it, vegetable soup!   To make the meal feel more special, I made an herb butter for the biscuits.  Serve your humble meals in pretty serving dishes and your family will feel like they're royalty.  How you serve your meals  is just as important as what you serve, in your contentment, I've found.  You can eat a can of soup right out of the pan or over the kitchen sink and feel "I'm poor" or you can serve it in a pretty bowl by candlelight and feel privileged and content.  An added plus to sitting down to a table properly set is that it slows you down, you have conversations, and you feel fuller with less. 


I knitted another baby sweater from the pattern in the last post.  This time in red with a hood and a pompom on top.
I used Patons Classic Wool in Bright Red (the picture is a little washed out).  I think it turned out pretty cute.  I also knitted these  socks
I'm not too happy with how they turned out and don't think they are gift-giving worthy.  The yarn was too soft for the cables to really stand out, I think.  Oh well!   They are warm and soft.  Good for winter.   I really liked the pattern so I'm trying them again in a different yarn.  If a first you don't succeed ......


Now is the time to mulch your berries.  We take advantage of the many leaves and just run them over with the lawn mower with the bagger attachment.  Then we place them around the strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.  Free mulch!   I never rake the leaves from the flower garden.   It adds another layer of insulation.   Plus it's the lazy man's way of doing things.   By the time we can rake them out in the spring, many have composted adding nutrients to the soil.   Gardening can be as easy or as hard as you make it.


Just as Capote's sherry-eyed cousin Sook  knew it in her bones it was time to make the fruitcakes, we know there's a day here, too. And that day was this past Friday.   Many of you, I'm sure think fruitcake is plain old nasty, but Ran and I look forward to having a slice in the evening throughout December.   I even receive requests for them from my mother and sister.  You have to start in November to have a proper fruitcake for December, they need time for the flavors to develop.  My recipe differs from the traditional ones, it doesn't have the spices or gummy green citron in it.   It's a variation on a fruit and nut cake that was quite popular in our hometown for weddings way back in the 1960s.
We like to have ours with cherry preserves, Ann of Green Gables style.


2 C. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 C. butter, softened
1 C. sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. coconut extract
1/2 tsp. orange extract
1/2 tsp. brandy extract
1/2 C. orange juice
1/2 C. maraschino cherries, chopped
1/2 C. candied pineapple, diced fine
1 C. golden raisins
1 C. nuts, chopped

Combine 1 1/2 C. flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside
Toss cherries, pineapple, coconut, raisins and nuts with the remaining 1/2 C. flour.  Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar together.  Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in extracts. Mix well.
Stir in flour mixture alternately with the orange juice. Mix well.
Fold in the fruit and nut mixture.
Pack into a well greased and floured Turk's head mold or a large loaf pan.
Bake at 250 degrees for 2 hours or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.
Once cool, wrap in tin foil and store in a cool dry place. (Like a refrigerator).
  Wait several weeks before slicing for the best flavor.

You can also sprinkle a little rum over the top before storing if you are so inclined.

I make a batch in those small loaf pans.  You have to adjust the time for smaller pans.  Check after 45 minutes for doneness.


There's plenty of free activities this time of year to enjoy.   Local churches offer free concerts and for a small sum there's many harvest suppers being offered. Almost every weekend until the middle of December there's a craft fair to attend.   All the small villages offer holiday open houses, cookie walks, and tree-lighting ceremonies.  So you see, even us peasants can have fun this time of year!   There's no excuse to stay at home and be bored!


  Once a week we stop into our local grocery store and check out the reduced for quick sale meat, and that determines what we eat for the week.  So far we had hamburg at $1.89 /lb. that was very good.  We made hamburgers, which are a rare treat for us, and meatloaf.  Another time they had those  seasoned pork loin roasts, which we used for sandwiches.  One week, there wasn't anything too good, so we just used what we had in the pantry


I rescued an old skirt from the rag bag.  I was going to use it for the wool because it had a small pin prick moth hole, but instead darned the hole.  It's the pretty plum one you can see the edge of in the picture of the socks.  I love it.  It's very vintage and the wool is such good quality.  And it's a circle skirt so it has just the right amount of swishy-ness. And I only paid $2 for it!


We ate out of the pantry and freezer.
We're still hanging our laundry outside. Can you believe it?
We still haven't used the furnace, relying on wood to heat the house.  Maybe we'll make it to Dec. 1st!
Knitted Christmas presents from my yarn stash.
Attended a holiday open house at our local Ben Franklin store.  They had a sale of 20% off everything, so I bought supplies for knitting and sewing.
Sewed a curtain valance from two tea towels that I bought at the open house sale.
Used leaves for free ground cover.
Watched several old movies for free on YouTube.  We're rewatching The Edwardian Farm.
Rescued an old skirt from the rag bag.
Just enjoyed the company of my husband and son.  I'm so glad just to have a home and people that love me to share it with!

Here's hoping that you all have the loveliest week ahead of you!



  1. Thanks for sharing your week. I did send a skirt to the rag-bag and it quickly was used in my son's new quilt! I'm trying to finish this quilt before the really cold weather sets in.

    Your knitting is gorgeous! So glad for you that you have people in your life who appreciate homemade items. Only my children appreciate such items. They see it as being tailor made just for them. ;)
    I, too, compost my leaves directly on the garden.

    Thanks for sharing the fruitcake recipe. Can't wait to try it. We are making lots of applesauce and dried apples at our house. I know my family will love a fruit cake made with natural dried fruit.


    1. Hi Leslie! Usually my skirts are sent to the rag bag rather than from it, too. But I just couldn't cut into this one. Best of luck with finishing your quilt. Sometimes a deadline is the push you need to finish these big projects.

      Ha! I don't know if anyone appreciates my knitting,, but that's what they are getting. I learned long ago that my mother and sisters think handknit gifts are an insult, so I never knit for them. If it doesn't have a fancy label on it, forget it. I guess it's OK if it's handknit by slave labor in China though.

      Wasn't it a year for apples? Everyone has more apples than they can deal with this year. Even the deer are getting very choosy about which ones they'll eat. They've been checking out my Rhode Island Greening for windfalls but completely ignore the Wolf Rivers. You are wise to preserve some for next year, because you can bet the farm on it, that next year apples will be scarce.


  2. Good Morning Jane! First, I just want to make myself clear - I love your attitude! You don't spend your time lamenting the lack of a million spendable $$ when you could spend the time making and doing. That's the story of my own life, too, and I admit I like this type of story far better than the have-it-all through money stories.

    The little sweater is so cute, especially with the pom-pom on top. Love the socks, too! The want of knitting socks is the very reason I persevered through learning to knit. Hand-knit socks are true luxury in my book. * I guess it's OK if it's handknit by slave labor in China though." *snickers* so true.

    We eat fruitcake, too, but like you, I don't put the groady stuff in the mix. It's no wonder those usual ones get passed around year after year. lol Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    I am so low on everyday skirts I'm having to wear them a couple of days in a row. Our thrift stores are usually ransacked by the time I get there. I do need to sew the boxes full of fabric I have. *sigh* I'd much rather be knitting or crocheting.

    Have a lovely and wonderfully thrifty week!

    1. Hi Toni! Glad to finally learn your name! I'm also more interested in stories that involve pluck and creativity than the richy richy stories, but the popularity of such shows as The Kardashians and the Housewives Of TV programs, I fear we are in the minority. I could never figure out what was so interesting about watching people spend gobs of money foolishly.

      That sweater pattern is so easy. If you need to knit a baby present, I would highly recommend it.

      We are fortunate that we live near one of the best thrift stores around. It's run by an organization that gives jobs to the mentally impaired and thr truly poor people. For some reason they get the best clothes. And their prices are fantastic. Skirts are only $2. I think I'm the only one besides some Mennonite gals that buy skirts around here. This fall I bought two beautiful woolen ones with the Orvis label. I just like skirts better than pants, don't you? To me, pants just aren't comfortable and never have been no matter what my size is.

      Hope you have the nicest week ahead!


  3. Hello Jane, I am enjoying your blog very much. I've been scrolling back and reading your previous posts as I have time.

    I just love the red hooded sweater. My grandmother was a knitter and she made red hooded sweaters for me, my 2 brothers and my 2 cousins. I think they were about the only outer garments any of wore in in our preschool years. She put gold buttons on all of ours. She never added pompoms but I know if she had thought of it, she would of.
    She also made the same red sweaters for my 3 children in their preschool years.
    I expect your grandchild will enjoy the red sweater as much as we all did.
    Thanks for the journey down memory lane :)

    1. Hi Rhonda! Hope you enjoy the past posts!

      Something about a red sweater on a wee one is just adorable. Sounds like you have some wonderful memories of your grandmother. My step-grandmother always knitted us mittens for Christmas. We got to select the color. They were always special.

      Have a happy!


  4. Hi Jane! You cover so much in one post! First of all, the red sweater is so cute! And I think your socks are very nice! We just traveled up to western Pa. to look at homes on lake in a gated community and decided it didn't feel the spot for us to retire. (So we are still brainstorming). But they had a very nice craft show in their ski lodge and it was wonderful! Fun! And on the way home, we could see Amish farms with their laundry out on a line!

    I just got done mulching some leaves and I am sore and tired right now. Your being a homemaker is what makes your meals great! It is a full-time job and yet I am amazed how many women don't know what to do at home! I love fruitcake!! (I know that is rare..ha). I think fruitcake was the proper cake in England a while back for weddings. Fruit was not to be had years ago during the winter, and it was quite a treat to use preserved fruit in baking. We used to have a Strawbridges Department Store that sold the best fruitcake. But once I got a grocery store brand and it was maybe some people only taste that and get a bad impression of fruitcake. I did make it once from scratch (with rum).

    Well, back to house cleaning! Andrea

    1. How exciting to be looking for a retirement home Andrea! I'm confident that you'll find the perfect spot. Bet there was some amazing crafts at that show. The one we went to was quite dreadful (lots of tacky things like beer bottle salt and pepper shakers), but Ran and I felt better about our talents after attending it! Ha!

      I like the dark fruitcakes too. But the family doesn't care for them. We had and elderly friend that made the best one. Gosh! I miss the old family Christmases with neighbors and friends contributing their finest. I think fruitcake has just gotten a bad reputation and the younger generation doesn't usually like anything that's so old-fashioned. Too bad Mad Men didn't make it trendy along with the 60s wardrobe!

      Happy cleaning!

  5. hi jane,
    on sunday we have had a very sunny and warm day with 20 degress.
    i like soups! last week i served a creamy potatoe soup with homemade bread.i think more soup days on the way.
    the red sweater is beautiful,the socks too. you are a very good knitter. i watched the edwardian farm,too.
    have a nice week,
    love and hugs regina

    1. Hi Regina! I think there's more soup days on the way here too. Just like the old saying, "You can always add more water to the pot", they're a great way to stretch the budget and so nice as the cooler weather prevails. There's no finer meal than a bowl of soup and homemade bread served with love!

      Glad you're back to blogging!


  6. Love the sweet jacket and the socks! They are lovely! I enjoy your weekly posts! They help me think of ways I can save and do better with my resources. Thanks for this, Jane! I am still knitting, knitting, knitting for babies here! I love the pattern you sent me! Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Matty! I hope you'll get a chance to use the pattern. I think you'll enjoy it. An easy weekend project, even for old plodding fingers such as mine!



  7. Ah, yes...the weather has been very weird here! I too am glad its getting back to normal, although normal for up here is usually a bit of snow by now. I honestly am looking forward to seeing the white stuff...but I'll deny saying that come February!
    My feet are very long and narrow so it's hard to find a shoe that fits comfortably..I have a pair of sneakers that I just love and cannot find a pair to replace them anywhere, so I have decided to get some black mesh and repair where the toe has a hole in it. I think that is something that our generation has lost, the creativity and ingenuity that comes from necessity...something that our parents and grandparents had.
    Have a great week and God bless!

    1. Hi Lisa! I heard that some Native Americans had observed that there was something off with the earth's axis and the weather would be about a month behind. Seems to be holding true around here. Hope it doesn't hold true for next spring!

      I'm old enough to remember when the five and dimes used to sell a kit for patching your shoes. We used to live across the street from a man that was a cobbler by trade. He had quite a business repairing shoes. Back in the old days, when shoes were made from leather and expensive. Now days I suppose people just go out and buy another pair of cheap shoes and toss the old ones. I have narrow feet too. It' hard to find socks that stay put. They're never snug enough! I'm constantly readjusting them. The heel always works it's way to the front. That's why I like tights!


  8. That story is one of my favourites. I love fruit cake too and have my christmas cake baking in the oven now!. Oh I can smell go and check it's ok!
    Keep warm and well fed.