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Sunday, July 31, 2016


Hello dear friends!  You won't believe it!  We finally received some rain!   Can't tell you how exciting it was to see wet pavement when we awoke.  I'm sure the plants must feel the same way.  It's been a very strange year garden-wise; everything was so slow to germinate and now everything is ahead of schedule.  At this rate, we'll have everything harvested by the beginning of September.  Our phlox and stargazer lilies are in bloom at the moment.
They usually don't bloom until mid-August.  And look how big and orange our pumpkins are getting!
We harvested our garlic this week, which never happened this early before.
Ran made these lovely drying trays from pallets and a window screen we found in someone's garbage when we were out for a walk. We're more observant  when out on Sunday night aka garbage day eve. I tell you garbage day is like Christmas to us!  We found so many incredible things over the years, from antique doors,windows and lighting fixtures to furniture.   Early in our marriage we found a wonderful old headboard that we used for many years. We did shabby chic before shabby chic was a style.  People throw out some amazing things, just for the sake of getting something new, I think.  That's why creativity is the best superpower a person can have.  What a pleasure it is to make something from nothing.  Speaking of, one of the projects I'm currently working on, is making a crazy quilt shawl.
I got the idea from an old movie I was watching.  I thought it was a shawl, but it turned out the character actually had a crazy quilt wrapped about her.  No matter.  A shawl sounded like a fun idea.  It's a slow process.  Whenever someone gives me a present tied in a silk ribbon, I add it to the shawl.  Sometimes I find old stained linens at garage sales for a dime and remove the lace and add it.  There's old ties in there, too. I even reused the chintz pocket of an old threadbare jacket.  Whenever I'm bored I get out the many skeins of floss that I've collected and do some fancy stitching on the seams.  When will I finish?  I don't know, just enjoying the process.

One work-in-progress is fine but two drives me to distraction.  So I am diligently working on finishing my knitted shawl.  I had hoped have had it finished this week to show you, but canning got in the way.
I canned sweet pickle relish, jalapeno peppers and my somewhat famous oven roasted spaghetti sauce (judging upon the number of readers of that post).  Also made up a couple bottles of garlic-dill vinegar.  See the bottle on the left-hand side?  That was a tequila bottle that some party-goer had thrown out in our yard last week.   It's a dandy bottle that looks a lot like an old apothecary jar.  I'm a major bottle collector. Whenever someone gifts me with an expensive store-bought jam or condiment, I'm typically more pleased with the jar then the contents.  On the rare occasions when I need to buy something from the store, such as artichoke hearts and maraschino cherries, I  buy the one that comes in the most interesting jar even if it cost a few extra pennies.  I use them for my homemade  herbal concoction and  mixtures.  So how's that for crazy?

In last week's comments, we were brainstorming on ideas to use up zucchini.  I forgot one of our favorites, mock crab cakes.  It's an old recipe that's been around for a while.  If you don't think of them as actual crab cakes and just a pleasant meatless meal, I think you'll be happier with them.  Here's how I make mine:


Zucchini Crab Cakes

2 medium zucchinis
1/2 tsp. salt
 1 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 C. bread crumbs (I use Italian seasoned ones)
1 1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning (or any other seafood seasoning)
1 egg
1/2 tsp. pepper
dash of hot pepper sauce (optional)
oil for frying

Shred the zucchini.  Place the shredded zucchini in a colander and stir in the salt.  Let stand for one-half an hour to drain out the water.  Take your zucchini and place it in a tea towel and squeeze out the excess water.  You should end up with  about 2-3 C. of zucchini.  Stir in the remaining ingredients except the oil and form into patties.  Fry patties in the oil until golden brown.  Serve with tartar sauce.

I do so love reading your comments and suggestions.  One person asked how she subscribe to Hope and Thrift, so now there's a link at the top of the page for doing that.  I think that's the correct term, "link".  I 'm terribly ill-equipped to write a blog, I'm afraid.  I never learned  how to link back when blogger didn't make it easy for you and my pictures sometimes don't appear where I want them to go.  It took my son and husband to get the "subscribe" button up there on the page after I made a mess of it.  I never would have been able to, that's for sure.  That's  why all your suggestions on how to make this blog better are appreciated.  I do truly love to read your comments also.  So if you have a suggestion, an idea, a question, or just want to stop by to say hello,  you are most welcome to do so. 


Harvested garlic

Harvested peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, green beans,  blueberries, raspberries and zucchinis.

Canned sweet pickle relish, jalapenos and spaghetti sauce.

Saved the seeds from the tomatoes for next year's garden.

All of our meals this week came from the garden and pantry.

Baked our own bread to make panzanella  Delicious!

Received a rebate for some dog medicine.

Bought some pantry  staples such as brown sugar, bread flour and rennet in bulk at the bulk food store.

Bought coffee and tea and the scratch and dent Amish store for a few dollars.  What a blessing that store is to us!

Dried our clothes out on the line. One thing a hot dry summer is good for.

Well, that's about it for this week.  I hope you all will have a terrific week!


Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Hello dear friends!  Sorry I've been absent lately, between gardening and canning and working on some personal goals, there simply aren't enough hours in a day.  Missed you all. 


This has been a very dry summer.  And hot!  But it hasn't deterred the garden any, thanks to Ran's never ending watering.  Going to hate to see  our water bill.  Those free little raspberry canes I wrote about earlier have really produced and we picked, ate and froze several quarts  and still managed to have enough to make up half a dozen jars of jelly.  Now we are moving on to the blueberries, with blackberries soon to follow.  And would you believe it?  We already are picking tomatoes!  For years we have been crossbreeding a special tomato that is a mixture of German Strawberry and Opalka.  Each year we pick the earliest ripening, meatiest and largest to save the seeds from, and it looks like it's paying off!   It appears the garlic can be harvested early this year too. We finally got through the cauliflower, which is a blessing as we were running out of ideas on what to do with them.  And of course there's zucchini.  Isn't there always?


Canning must be done in spite of the heat.  That's life!  I canned several half-pints of zucchini relish, raspberry jelly, and some broth from some lamb that was in the freezer.
There was a great sale on pork loins, so I canned nine pints of that.  We are freezing berries and peas as they ripen.  Our freezer is full.


Which brings me to my main point, that of  organization and planning; two things a  person needs to win at the thrift game.  I have several old family friends that love to can; every year they can hundreds of jars of green beans, tomatoes and pickles.  Hundreds, not dozens.  And a quick peruse of their pantry shelves will find jars that are at least a decade old that haven't been touched.  To my thrifty way of thinking it is folly to can when you already have more than enough on your shelves at the present.  You always must allow extra  just in case you have a bad year and your garden doesn't produce, but such excess is just wasting valuable time and energy.   Personally, I've had to toss jars of jams that just weren't being used, and I know the temptation to can because you don't want to waste anything.  But what good does it do to have jars just sitting on the shelves , wasting space and gathering dust?    Really, how many jars of pickles does a family eat in one year?   Each spring I take stock of our pantry and note what we are getting low on, and what we eat and don't and plan my garden accordingly.   Some things, I've discovered will never be eaten unless I make a concerted effort to use them, such as eggplant, so I'm not going to can that anymore.  I try to figure out how many times a month we eat certain things an plan accordingly.  For instance, in the fall and winter I know we go through at least one jar of carrots a week, so each month that equals 4 time the months of October through April, which is 7; therefore 4X7=28 jars of carrots, plus a few extra, just in case.  We only eat green beans about once a month, so I only need a dozen.  During the cold months we can go through several jars of those little half and quarter pints of jams and jellies a week, as toast with jam is one of our favorite thrifty snacks, so I keep a good supply and try to have a lot of varieties, but sometimes I get carried away.  How I hate to throw out old canned goods!  I know that the extension office has done research on home canned goods and discovered that even after decades they are still safe to eat if prepared  and stored properly, but psychologically,  I don't think I could eat anything that is over three years old.  That's my limit.

Been thinking about planning ahead recently because someone that stopped at our garage sale made the comment it was too hot to think about winter clothes when looking at some we had for sale.  Well then, he can pay higher prices for them come winter!  Such nonsense!   It's been in the nineties here, but that didn't keep me from buying a like-new Eddie Bauer down coat for $4.  I know I'll need it come November.  I'd much rather pay garage sale prices now and store it away, then pay higher prices in season.  There's so much children's clothing at these sales and most of it's like-new.  I swear children now days must wear their clothes only once.  A wise mother would buy now, while clothes are under a dollar, which is a far better price then even the cheapest of thrift stores or bargain centers, and store different sizes for when her children grow into them.  It's easy enough to keep a box marked with the sizes in the attic.  Planning ahead saves us a lot of money.  Whenever we go to an estate sale, we always head for the workshop, where we can buy lightbulbs, nails, screws, etc for pennies on the dollars.  We know we are going to use them eventually.  At one estate sale I bought enough lightbulbs to last us a lifetime for $3.  For almost a decade now, whenever a light burns out, I simply go up to the attic, rather than drive to the store.  How much does a pack of  lightbulbs cost?  Plus it's a lot more convenient.  At the beginning of garage sale season, we make a list of things to be on the lookout for, and it's amazing how many of those things we find. Organizing and planning ahead has saved us a boatload of money over the years!


Bought firewood from the village. Because we are loyal customers, they gave us almost an entire cord free!

Canned relish, jelly and pork.

Froze berries and peas.

Harvest peas, the last of the cauliflower, raspberries, blueberries, peppers, zucchinis, and tomatoes from the garden.

Made and canned broth from a lamb shank that was given to us.

Saved the seeds from our tomatoes for next year's garden.

Made all of our meals from garden produce and pantry items. In other words, didn't buy any groceries.

Received a $15 rebate from the vet's office.

Bought some clothes for less than a dollar at garage sales for the winter.

Used an offer for free shipping to purchase some things to be put away for Christmas presents from a catalog.

Sewed a purse from fabric from an old jacket that I was going to toss.

Reorganized our attic and found enough things to have a second garage sale.

Well, that's about it for this week!  Sorry if my writing has been spotty lately.  Just not much excitement going on at the moment and I think you can tell that my writing hasn't been up to par in the last few posts.  Hopefully, I'll get some Divine inspiration and have something more interesting to write about soon, but just wanted to post something to let you know that I'm still here! :) Have a good one and stay cool!


Sunday, July 10, 2016


Hello dear friends!  Staying cool?  I won't rub it in by telling you that the weather here has been delightful.  Could do with some rain, but pretty perfect overall.  We've been staying up late to study the stars.  Below are two pictures that my son, Scott, took of the night sky.
  The pictures weren't photo-shopped, that's what the sky  actually looks like.  One of the many reasons I love it here.  These are pictures of our little guest shed that Jamie and Ran built.   I think it looks like a fairy tale illustration, as does the delphiniums and hollyhocks growing by the door.
If you want to have a big impact in your garden, grow hollyhocks.  We have some in the backyard that are over nine feet high.


We're a finally starting to harvest vegetables in the garden and are relying on it for most of our food once again.  Been a bumper year for peas, which I blanch and  freeze because no one likes the canned ones.

So far we've frozen about a gallon of them.  I first freeze them on cookie sheets so they don't stick together before putting them in freezer bags, then it's easy to just portion out as many (or as few) that we need for soups and pot pies.

Other crops that are being gathered are broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, green onions, and soon we'll have zucchinis.  Getting rather tired of cauliflower, but we had this interesting recipe today for cauliflower cheesy bread to use some up.  It was very good and great for those of you that are trying to eat gluten-free.  We served ours with some of our home-canned spaghetti sauce.  It was a hit.


Well, the birds are just taunting us by eating all the cherries on the bottom branches and leaving those that we can't reach at the top.  I finally gave up.  Cherries were on sale for $1.79/ lb, so I bought about 15 pounds and canned 8 pints of cherry juice (it can be diluted to make more)  using my steam juicer.  Once the juice was extracted, I had a lot of mash left over that I couldn't bear to waste, so I plopped it into a jelly bag and extracted enough juice to make six half-pints of cherry jelly.  BTW, cherry juice is very good for inflammation, particularly gout. People always tell me that they wish they knew how to can.  Well, no one taught me.  I learned by reading how-tos and by following the instructions that came with the canners.  How I would have loved to have had YouTube back then!  Just to say, that if you really want to learn something, there's no excuses now days.  Most wishes can be fulfilled by dint of hard work, I've discovered. 

Basic Jelly Recipe

3 1/2 C. fruit juice
5 1/4 C.  sugar
3 Tbsp. pectin

Place fruit juice and pectin in a large pot and bring to a hard boil (a boil that cannot be stirred down)  for 1 minute.  Add the sugar and bring to a hard boil.  Boil an additional 1 minute.  Place in sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Place lids and caps on jars.  Process in water bath for 15 minutes.

Oh!  I almost forgot!  Eggs were 60 cents a dozen, so I bought five dozen and froze them for future baking.  To freeze eggs, you simply whip them up and pour them into ice cube trays and freeze.  Then just pop them out and place in a freezer bag.  When you want to use them for baking (I wouldn't recommend them for eating)  just thaw out and use as you would any egg.  The trays I used were a bit smaller than a large egg, which is ok, because most recipes will work with smaller eggs, or use two  cubes for one jumbo egg. Now I'm all set for eggs for the rest of the year for just three dollars!


After last week's craziness of entertaining family and friends, I'm happy to get back into our thrifty lifestyle (we spent more on going out for ice cream then I spend on two weeks of groceries!).  Rarely do we have a day where there's a monumental savings or a windfall, like buying a scarf for a dollar and selling it for $179, or saving several thousand dollars on a car purchase, but every day we make an effort to save.  It can be as small an effort as using one egg in a cake recipe instead of two, or sitting a while longer in the evening before flipping the light switch on.  I believe it is all those small economies, that in the long run have enabled us to put our children through college without them being indebted to school loans, and retire early.  We definitely  weren't born with a silver spoon in our mouths! Some of the things we did this day to save money were to eat a simple meal from the garden rather then give into the temptation to buy something at the grocery store or go out to eat, open the windows and use a small fan, rather than use the air conditioner, hang our clothes to dry out on the line. (and reuse the wash water for plants), baked two things in the oven at the same time so the house wouldn't be heated twice and use half the electricity.  You get the picture. It the little things in life that have the biggest impact.  Once you start doing them, they become second nature and before you know it, you have built nice little nest egg!  Every day we try to do at least one thing to save a dollar. Some days the savings comes from not giving into the temptation (there's a lot of temptation out there!) to spend money and making do with what we have; mending small holes in nightgowns and work clothes, settling for a meal comprised of pantry and garden items when I'd really rather have fish, walking to the post office when it would be faster and a lot cooler to take the car, etc.  Basically trying to differentiate between a need and a want. I've discovered over the years that thrift and hard work are synonymous.


Canned cherry juice.

Canned cherry jelly from the left over mash.

Frozen about a gallon of peas from the garden.

Bought eggs for 60 cents a dozen and froze them.

Turned off the air conditioner and used a small fan in the window instead.

Harvested cauliflowers, broccoli, lettuce, peas and spinach from the garden.

Cooked over the fire  outside to keep the heat out of the house.

Amused ourselves by star-gazing. 

The usual things of eating from the garden, washing our clothes in the old wringer washer, reusing the water,  hanging the clothes to dry, walking rather than driving, etc.

Well, that's it for another week at the old Zempel boarding house!  I hope that  you all have a delightful week filled with thriftiness!