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Sunday, September 25, 2016

HAPPY HAPPY FALL!

Hello dear friends!  Good-bye Summer,  hello Fall!  The first thing I spy every morning upon awakening  is the lacy bronze-gold foliage of the neighbor's tree and it fills my heart with joy.  There's so much beauty this time of year, I can scarcely take it all in.  I dare anyone not to feel happy at the sight of pumpkins!  Even our strays, Binks and Hissy can't resist them.
My flower box is their favorite sunning spot, so I guess I can save money on the mums I usually plant there this Fall.  Even lowly old mushrooms seem magical this time of year.
It's fun to imagine that there are real-life fairies living within the ring. 

SOMETIMES IT'S BETTER TO SPEND MONEY

We had the chimney sweep out this week, another important step in battening down the hatches.
Ran said that he would watch him and learn how to do it himself, but after watching the sweep climb up the ladder leaning against the chimney on our very steep roof, he decided there is such a thing as being too frugal.  It's not very thrifty to save $130 on a chimney sweep only to pay out thousands of dollars in hospital bills when you fall off the roof! This is one thing we'll gladly leave to the professionals.

GARDENING

As October approaches we are finally pulling up the last of the tomato plants.  I suppose we might get a few more tomatoes, but the truth of the matter is we are sick of them, I can't think of one more thing to can  and we have had tomatoes in one form or another every day since July.  We also harvested the pumpkins and yanked their vines.  And look at the beautiful harvest of Concord grapes!
Almost a full bushel.  Harvesting grapes is such a joy, they  smell like Autumn.  I'd advice anyone that owns even the smallest plot of land to plant a few vines in a sunny spot.  You really don't need much land, and just a few posts strung with some heavy gauge wire.  When we lived on a much smaller piece of land, we trained them to grow up a trellis.  Just a few vines yields enough for several jars of jam and juice. 
I made juice and Ran made wine.  I use a steam extractor to make my juice, but a simple method that I used to use, is to make it the Amish way.

Amish Grape Juice

Stem and clean grapes.  Place 1C. of grapes and 1/2C. of sugar into clean sterilized quart jars.  Pour boiling water over both, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.  Wipe the jar's rim. Place prepared lids and caps on jars.  Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

We also harvested and dried more peppers.  I love how drying peppers concentrates their flavor.  And they look beautiful sitting on the shelf!
We also dried some herbs and replaced last year's.

MORE THINGS TO MAKE WITH FREE PALLETS

Speaking of herbs, look at the cute spice cabinet Ran made from some pallets made from hardwood and a piece of scrap lumber.  The trim was purchased at an estate sale for 50 cents. The paint was left over from another project.


The HL hinges and latch were purchased ages ago at a garage sale.  We bought a large box of circa 1940 wrought iron hardware in their original packaging for $5 and have been using them ever since.  Ran has used them to build many cupboards and even the kitchen cabinets.  All for the price of just a few knobs at the hardware store.  I adore my clever Buffalo Bill look-alike!
We also needed a gate to keep the grandpuppies in the man cave when babysat them, so he used some pallets to make that.  There's no end to the uses of the free wood!

SPICES FOR VEGANS

Writing of spice cabinets, reminded me that I wanted to do a post about veganism.  I was a vegan for several years and still make at least half of our meals that way.  Not buying meat is a real money-saver and it probably pays dividends in the health department.   A lot of my vegan recipes are ethnic foods and require different spices than the usual  sage, thyme, parsley, etc.  Here's some I'd suggest for the beginner vegan:

turmeric,
garam masala
coriander
a good curry powder
cumin
ginger
chili powder
cilantro

I like to experiment with making bean patties, using chick peas adding a combination of those spices.  Just plain sauteed vegetables with some curry powdered for flavor, served over rice is a quick and healthy meatless meal, particularly if you use brown rice.  And have you ever tasted roasted chick peas?  Make a nice healthy alternative to chips. 

BAKING FROM THE PANTRY

Well, I couldn't let September escape without posting at least one apple recipe, could I?  Here's one for a quick muffin, that uses pantry staples:

Apple Oat Muffins

1 1/2C. flour
1 C. oatmeal
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 eggs
1 C. milk (I use buttermilk)
2 tbsp. oil
1 1/2C. apples, unpeeled and chopped

Combine flour, oatmeal, brown sugar,salt, baking powder and spices.  Set aside.

In another bowl beat together  eggs, milk and oil.  Stir into dry ingredients until just moistened.  Fold in chopped apples.

Portion into 12 greased muffin cups.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Muffins make a great breakfast-on-the-go and they also make a simple meal of soup a little extra special. 

THRIFTY THINGS WE DID THIS WEEK

Harvest grapes, tomatoes, pumpkins, peppers and herbs.

Dried peppers and herbs.

Canned grape juice.

Made a spice cupboard from free pallet wood.

Mailed in a rebate from Mennards.

Made a gate from pallet wood.

Purchased sugar and spices in bulk from the bulk food store.  Enough to last the year. Pure organic cane sugar is $40 for 50 pounds.  And their spices are a fraction of the price of store-bought ones.

One the way back from dropping the grandbabies off, we stopped into a thrift store to stretch our legs and I found a beautiful tweed jacket for $1.97 (it was half-off because a button was loose and dangling)  and a Scottish made cashmere scarf for $1.76.  Both in like-new condition.  I've been looking for such a jacket for ages.

Decorated the house for Fall with items I already had and twigs from the yard.
It always amazes me how by simply rearranging the furniture and a few tweaks, this house looks completely different each season.


Our neighbor, Connie, gave Ran a bunch of black walnut lumber free for hauling it away.

I still cooked a lot from garden produce: a middle-eastern pepper stew, chili  and scalloped potatoes.

That's about it.  I really need to write down these thrifty things daily because I always forget by Sunday.  I hope you all are enjoying these last days of September.  Hope to meet you here again in October! Until then go outside and enjoy the show!

Hugs
Jane








 









45 comments:

  1. Hi Jane, who is married to Buffalo Bill! Whoa, that's uncanny. Can he shoot? jk
    Speaking of veganism, I've never been one, but as we get older Goodman and I are both wanting less and less meat at meals which I think is a Godsend in light of the prices in the stores. Some of our favorite meals are absent of meat and not missed a bit these days.

    Love your pic of harvested pumpkins, etc. Love your cabinet in the one pic with the beautifully arranged twigs. And what a nice job your husband did on the spice cabinet. You and he are such a talented and frugal team.

    And we are so glad the summer of 2016 is finally behind us, too. It's been a scorcher here in Tenn.
    Have a great week!
    Toni

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    1. Hi Toni! Yes, he's a very good shot, I don't know if he shoots as well as Buffalo Bill, but he's pretty good.

      Isn't it funny how as we get older, we discover we want less? I used to a major sweet tooth, but now I find myself saying, "That's too sweet for me" just like my mother used to do. It drove me crazy!

      The twigs are from our corkscrew willow, which we planted just to have twigs for Fall decorations.

      It sure was a scorcher here too. It's so nice to finally turn off the fans and air conditioner. Still warm for Fall, but at least livable. I bet Tennessee is starting looking beautiful as get farther into Fall. Have a great week also!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  2. Your home is just so cozy. And that spice cabinet! It's beautiful. You and your hubby are so clever!

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    1. Thanks Isabella! And thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  3. Hello Jane, I enlarged your photos so I could get a better look at your pretty home, your home is just gorgeous and looks like it should be in a magazine. I'm glad you shared the indoor shots.
    I think I say every week that your Ran is amazing, using all that low cost vintage hardware really makes his pieces look so special. Thrifty is good too!
    Smart choice to not do the risky roof work yourself.
    I hope to make your apple muffin recipe this week. My dad is having nose surgery and I will be helping with meals and such, thankfully my brother will be doing all the driving to the hospital and staying overnight with them.

    Have a great week and enjoy your pretty autumn.

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    1. Hi Rhonda! Just finished a prayer that your father's surgery goes smoothly and is successful. It's a wonderful that you have a brother that is willing to help.

      Thanks for the lovely compliment! I wasn't going to include the picture in the post because it was already loaded with pictures, but now I'm glad I did. I'm nosey, I enjoy seeing what other bloggers' homes look like, so I think it's only fair that they get a glimpse of mine from time to time! Hope you get a chance to enjoy Autumn this week!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  4. I think it's adorable that the strays have volunteered to be part of your fall display. Folks are going to wonder how you trained them to lounge there!

    Your husband's cabinet is beautiful--he's a talented fellow.

    Fall is my favorite time of year, too!

    I just love your blog--you make the ordinary magical and I love hearing about life at the top of "the mitten." I'm from Wisconsin and attended MTU, so Michigan has a special place in my heart and memories. :^)

    Sue

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    1. Wasn't that nice of them, Sue? And they it's a great place to keep watch for their nemesis, Georgie. He's too short to see that high up. Very clever kittens!

      I'm glad you have happy memories of Michigan. I lived in Wisconsin for a decade, Twin Lakes near Lake Geneva. Some of the rustic roads were just beautiful. Reminded me that we used to go for a drive down Bray Rd. in October hoping to catch a glimpse of the Bray Rd. Beast! Hope you are enjoying the Fall weather!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  5. The kitties are sooo cute! Happy Fall ♥

    summerdaisycottage.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi Summer! Yes, they are cute! Which is why we now have four cats. Ha!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  6. Love, love, love the spice cabinet! While it is too stinking hot here still in GA the mornings are cooler and the humidity is less. There is a change in the air- my husband thinks I am just hopeful. : ) Hugs, Angela

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    1. Thanks Angela! It's still pretty warm here too. By now we are usually using the furnace and wearing a light winter coat. At least you are getting some relief from the humidity. Hasn't it been terrible lately? Hope you get some Fall-like weather soon!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  7. What a wonderful post filled with fall shots, sweet kitties and a great picture of your hubby. I don't know that I've ever seen him before. And always, it is a treat to see inside your lovely home, and the great projects your Ran has made, and to read your thrifty ways and recipes too.

    Have a great week. Still hot and humid down here in s.e. FL

    Love & hugs ~ FlowerLady

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    1. Hello Rainey! Hoping you get some cooler weather soon. This summer has sure been a real barn burner.

      Hugs
      Jane

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  8. Happy Fall!!
    I do love all the pictures! Your kitties are so cute in the window box. I have a Hissy too, I think something is wrong with his vocal cords as he can't meow loudly. Your home is beautiful, and I love the spice cabinet. So nice seeing a picture of your talented Buffalo Bill. When do we get to see a picture of Jane?
    Thanks for the recipe. My son loves muffins so I will be making them when I get some apples.
    I go for a checkup next week, so would appreciate any prayers. It has been 13 years since I was diagnosed with cancer, and my children were 3 & 5 at the time. Something feels off now, so I am scared. :(

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    1. Oh dear Kathy! Of course I'll keep you in my prayers and I hope anyone who reads this comment will do so also.

      Hissy just hissed at us for the first three months of her life, then one day she decided we weren't so bad after all. Now she's the sweetest natured cat you could ever hope to find.

      Somewhere on this blog there are several pictures of me, but I hate getting my picture taken, so don't expect any soon. We always joke that I'll be one of those ninety year old ladies with her high school graduation picture in her obituary. The most recent one available.

      Please keep me updated on your checkup. I'll be praying for you!

      Extra hugs for courage!
      Jane

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    2. Please be assured of my prayers as well Kathy.
      Sincerely,
      Dana

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    3. Thank you dear Jane and Dana for your kindness and prayers. It means a lot to me, and I am feeling more at peace.

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    4. It's good to read that you are feeling more hopeful, Kathy. Remember the power of prayer can move mountains!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  9. Hi Jane!
    Those apple muffins are going in the rotation as soon as I do some apple picking this week. Its been glorious here in New Hampshire: crisp, sunny and dry. We even had a frost last night! I put blankets and flannel sheets on the beds and broke out the wrist warmers. I wish I could say last week was as thrifty as the week before but I got sucker punched by the bad cold my daughter had and missed 3.5 days of work at one job (covered by sick time) and two days at one of my other jobs (unpaid.) I also did a little too much impulse buying along with the MANY boxes of tissues I kept returning to the store to get. But, God willing, this week will be better. I did manage a few thrifty habits like cooking all meals from scratch, using up leftovers and hanging laundry to dry so I'll take comfort in that. And I'm glad to be finishing up a wool wrap I've been knitting. Anything to keep from turning the heat on too soon!
    God bless,
    Dana

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    1. Hope you are the mend Dana! I've been taking zinc lozenges trying to ward of a cold here. Those grandchildren are little cold spreaders.

      I didn't know that you lived in New Hampshire! In my opinion it is the prettiest state in the union. Lucky you to be getting some nice crisp Autumn days. It's still in the lower 60s here. I'm dying to wear sweaters and tights.

      It's hard to be thrifty when you're ill. It just saps all your energy. Congratulations on what you did accomplish. I'm not sure I would have been up to cooking from scratch if I was ill. Happy Fall and speedy recovery.
      Hugs
      Jane
      PS: Thanks for praying for Kathy!!

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  10. Debbie from the U.P.September 26, 2016 at 7:13 PM

    Love the spice cabinet, too! My husband made a nice one that we had to leave in another house. I do miss it!
    Prayers for Kathy as well.

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    1. Hi Debbie! A handy husband is better than a rich one, I always say. Too bad you had to leave the cabinet, so many things get left behind in moves. Thank you for the prayers for Kathy. Hopefully her checkup will turn out OK. What's the weather like up North? Still unseasonably warm here.

      Hugs
      Jane

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  11. Hi Jane! I love your Fall decor, especially the cute little strays. They know where they are loved and cherished. :) That spice cabinet that Ran made is beautiful, he is one talented guy! I have never had any luck growing grapes here and I wish I did because there is nothing better than home canned grape juice. I remember making it one year just as you described. :) Those muffins look so good, I will have to try making them. Be blessed my friend!

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    1. Hi Debbie! Yes, they are certainly the most stray cats. Yesterday the little black one, Binks, followed e on my walk. I had to turn around and take him back home and distract him with a piece of muffin so I could sneak off. He eve followed me right up on the neighbor's porch. He's like a lovesick school boy!

      Too bad you didn't have any luck growing grapes. Their scent in the Fall is worth it. That combined with the apples in the orchard, smells better than any perfume, in my opinion. Did I mention I love Fall? Ha! Hope you have a joy-filled week!

      HUgs
      Jane

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  12. Hi Jane! Thank you for the muffin recipe. I always try to find anything new "apple related" this time of year because of our apple tree abundance and after making it I put the recipe as a keeper. It was really good.

    I think we had our last hot day for the year here in the northwest yesterday (81 degrees)before it heads down into the 60's and I'm secretly glad with the change of the season. I love the fall and I guess I am tired of canning tomatoes and green beans. They just kept on coming. I definitely share your feeling on tomatoes at this moment. I'm really ready for the plants to be pulled up. It was an odd gardening year for me. Some of my standbys like carrots did not do as well as usual but my smaller early girl tomatoes ended up beefsteak size. I guess you can never predict the year at the time of planting.

    I'm impressed with your thrift store finds. I didn't do so well on my own spending on clothing this week. I needed a new blouse to go with what I thought was the best suit to wear for a work situation and ended up at a department store as my last resort solution. What I ended up with was on sale but still more than I wanted to spend. I always notice the best of frugality comes with planning ahead. My frugal wheels come off when I get tired and don't plan. Have a great week! Sharon

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    1. Glad you liked the recipe, Sharon. They are nice and wholesome and easy on the budget.

      Wasn't this a strange year for the garden? Our potatoes didn't come, so we planted more, then one day they all came up. We have lots of potatoes, so expect lots of potato recipes! Our onions, which are usually a dependable crop, didn't produce much. But on the other hand, we had more peaches and peppers than we know what to do with.

      Sometimes, you just have to go into the dreaded department stores. I go so rarely, that I'm always shocked at the prices. The other day I saw a pretty top in a catalog and Ran said I should buy it, but then I thought of all the clothes I could buy at our thrift store for the money, and thought better of it.

      I completely understand about being tired and not planning ahead. When I'm really frazzled, it's so easy to just grab a pound of hamburger from the grocery store and take the easy way out for dinner. That's why I try to have ready-made meals like soups, chili, and meatballs canned, so I can just heat and eat! Hope you get your Fall weather!


      Hugs
      Jane

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  13. Oh I love autumn! I know it is the season before the rest - but for me it is refreshing. Autumn in PA is the main reason I never will move out of state. I am quite excited to try your apple muffins. And if you should need to re-home those sweet kitties we have a vacancy (just kidding - well kind of!)
    Have a wonderful week!

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    1. I wish I could ship them off to you, Jen. They really deserve an indoor home, unfortunately both my son and I are allergic to cats. And then there's Georgie. The little black one, Binks, is the most loving animal I've ever seen. Many of the neighbors are smitten with him.

      Hope your Fall is beautiful. The leaves haven't changed colors yet, but there's hints of it!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  14. howdy Jane! such pretty pictures! Like you, I am so ready and eager for October! Wow, look at those amazing grapes! I have never grown grapes, and may next year since you showed it. Was glad to see you'd stopped by--most everybody agreed that the flowers were spider lilies or spider flowers. Sounds like some great finds at the thrift store--I am going this week, can't wait! Happy Wednesday my friend!

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    1. There's not much to growing grapes, Debbi, I think muscadines grow well down your way.

      Spider lilies. Guess the name fits them. They look very exotic.

      Happy thrifting!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  15. Your fall decorating is beautiful and the kittens are adorable! We are finally getting some cooler weather and rain (Virginia). It has been a really hot, muggy and dry summer where I live. Autumn is my favorite time of the year and I am enjoying each day fully. So nice to be outside and not sweating. I have printed your muffin recipe and will be making it soon. I keep muffins in the freezer and take out a couple several times a week for a quick breakfast. Can't wait to try this new recipe. With the ingredients it contains, it has to be good. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Glad you are getting some relief from the heat, Shirley! Autumn is my favorite season, also.

      That's a good idea about freezing the muffins. I'm finding that a standard batch is just too much for us. It's a nice simple recipe and especially tasty if you pick a nice tart apple variety. You can substitute other fruits for the apples, too. I like that it has oatmeal for added fiber. Hope your Fall is beautiful!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  16. You survived the sitting! Yay! I love the cupboard! And, yes, he is a BB look alike! :) Your grapes are lovely. I make my juice as the Amish and it is so good! Have you tried grape pie? Delish! Looks like another wonderful week at the boarding house!

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    1. Just barely, Matty! This old gray mare just aint what she used to be! I used to make grape pie, but it is incredibly rich, isn't it? As a matter of fact, I was thinking of baking a tart size one today. Maybe some small tarts to freeze for Christmas? On my old blog I had the recipe. DRat for deleting it! Now I have to hunt down the recipe. Is it starting to feel like Fall down your way?

      Hugs
      Jane

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  17. I love this time of year! Your right I too feel it's time to get ready for winter! I'm so glad that your husband decided to have the chimney sweep come! I think you both will breath easier. Jane I remember your grape pie and I was always going to make it. Hope you find your recipe!

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    1. Hi Vickie! Made a few grape tarts. Didn't have enough grapes for a pie. We're using up the last bits and pieces of the garden. Here's the recipe for the pie:

      Concord Grape Pie

      Unbaked pie shell
      4 1/2 C. Concord grapes
      1 C. sugar
      1/4 C. flour
      2 tsp. lemon juice
      1/4 tsp. salt
      streusal (recipe follows)

      Wash grapes and remove skins by pinching at end opposite stem. Reserve skins

      Place pulp in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook a few minutes until pulp is soft. Push pulp through a strainer to remove the seeds.

      Combine the pulp and skins. Stir in the flour, sugar, salt and lemon juice. Pour into the crust. Top with streusel and bake at 425 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until the fruit begins to bubble.

      Streusel:

      combine 1/2 C. oatmeal,, 1/2 C. brown sugar, 1/4 C. flour, 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Cut in 1/4 C. butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over the pie.

      Ddi you have fun on your outing? Hope the weather cooperated with you. It rained all day here.

      HUgs
      Jane

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  18. Im so glad you enjoyed the post, and Im so glad it's now OCTOBER! Happy weekend!

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    1. Happy weekend to you too, Debbi!

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  19. Your house looks so pretty! Thanks for the recipe. We love muffins!

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    1. Thanks Angela! Hope you enjoy the muffins!

      HUgs
      Jane

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  20. Hello Jane and Ran,. I hopped to you from Lorraine over at Plum Cottage. Your blog, recipes, canning, bottling, jam making, we are almost self sufficient, but maybe not quite as much as you. The bulk buying is not quite so good down here, but when I do, it is such a good feeling on the pocket. Hair cutting? I have cut Hugh's hair for over 49 years!!! and still use the same electric hair clippers. We bought them the same timeas a tricycle for our older daughter, and they were almost the same price in 1967!!! I'll add you to my blog list and can send you some wonderful recipes. Either so yummy and decadent, or still tasty and healthy. Cheers from Jean in New Zealand.

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    1. Hello Jean from New Zealand! Nice to meet you! Those must have been some dandy hair clippers. I used to cut my husband's (he has long hair now that he wears in a queue, in honor of his ancestors) and all four of my sons. Can't fathom the money we must have saved in doing that. But I never had any clippers last that long!

      I'm always happy to have you all share any thing you wish, including recipes. I like to think of this blog as a community and all are welcome to write whatever they like. Think of it as a forum.

      Hugs
      Jane

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  21. Love your husband's spice cabinet! The hinges really make it. Will show my husband so he'll be inspired. Lovely grapes. We moved, so I didn't get to harvest mine. Oh, they are just "possum grapes" and are sour as all get out, but they make great jelly.
    Enjoy your autumn weather!
    Blessings,
    Leslie

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    1. Good evening Leslie! It's pretty amazing the things that can be made with free pallet wood isn't it? Wish I would have known about it at a younger age. The money I could have saved. I bet if someone wanted to put some effort into it, they could make some of these smaller pieces and sell them for a decent profit.

      I actually prefer the wild grapes for making jam. That sweet and sour is especially nice. The Concords are nice though for juice and I'd hate to squeeze the pulp from the skin to get enough to make a pie of the wild ones!

      Hugs
      Jane

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