Hello dear friends! Well, we made it through January. February is such a frigid month here, thank goodness it's a short one! It's a good month for staying inside and keeping house.
Wednesday was one of those perfect Winter days. The wind was mild, the sun was shining, the snow sparkled like diamond dust, it was the perfect day for pruning in the orchard. February is a great month for it, as the cold keeps the sap from running and the bare limbs make it possible to see the shape off the trees. We prune away any branches that cross, those that have been damaged, and the ones that ruin the shape.
The cut limbs are saved for kindling. And some, such as the evergreens, are piled back in an area that we call the Fen. It's a habitat for all sorts of creatures. The birds love it, and the cutest little gray fox has taken up residence there. Wild grapes grow there, and I guess foxes love them. I know the birds do! Next windless day (the wind has been wicked lately) we'll prune the grape and blackberry vines.
In between running, we have been cooking and baking more than usual. This week I made Andrea's pagache with leftover mashed potatoes to serve with our meal of a hearty salad. Oh! speaking of salads, Rhonda, had the wonderful tip of squeezing out all the air of packaging that your lettuce comes in, to keep it fresher longer. Works great and such a simple thing to do! Now we won't have to make so many trips to the store for our green leafies. Sometimes something so obvious is the thing you never think of, it seems.
Cheesy Ham Chowder that's the sort of thing guys like. I kind of bristled at all the not-so-good-for-you ingredients, but every once in a while, you just have to let things go. We eat pretty healthily 90% of the time, so it doesn't do too much damage to let yourself go every once in a great while.
As old pensioners now, we get paid once a month, so the beginning of the month is a big grocery shopping day for us. We spent just over $80, with plenty of money left over for fresh vegetables for the remainder of the month. One thing we did was stock up on peanut butter, as our Mennards had all natural peanut butter on sale. It's hard to find peanut butter without hydrogenated oil in it. So $20 went to stocking up on peanut butter. I don't think it helps to write about my shopping haul, because unless you live in my area, what good does it do for you to know that I bought ground round for $1.78/ lb. ? But it is interesting to see what other people buy, I admit. I love to watch grocery hauls on YouTube, I don't know why. But one very educational grocery haul video I saw this week, was dear Marqueta's video. So much good information on healthy eating. Thanks to her information, I'm now eating cilantro on a regular basis.
What is about being cooped up inside that makes you want to remodel your home? Winter is a great time to do all those little projects that you never have time for when warm weather beckons you outside. This week Ran painted the ceilings in the hallway and bathroom. Next up the stairwell. The pantry was cleaned and organized. I've been going through my wardrobe and getting rid of a lot of things and reorganizing our lone closet. I also re-arranged the living room, or as it is becoming, Ran's guitar room. Finding a place for seven guitars is a challenge in a tiny house. I donated all my VHS tapes, some of the titles were rare and hadn't been made into DVD format, but I don't watch them because I don't have a TV anymore (I do watch DVDs occasionally on a small portable DVD player). That freed up two shelves on our bookcase. Sometimes, it seems that our house is too small, but we discover that it's really just a matter of us having too many things. I'd rather get rid of things than pay to heat a larger house, or pay the taxes on one, so I can have those things. We have a rule, for every one thing that comes into this house, two must go out.
On My Mind
I've been pondering lately, is it possible to be too frugal? I think the answer is yes. If being frugal means you comprise on safety by using old dangerous tools, or avoid getting health care that you need for the sake of saving a few bucks. If your frugality saps you and your family of all the joy in life. And if it compromises your dignity. A while back I was standing behind an elderly lady in the store and when her total was tallied up, she began to make a scene about being old and not being able to afford food. I might have felt sorry for her and paid for her items, but a quick peruse of her cart noted that she was buying cookies, cakes, chips, beer, etc., hardly a healthy thing in there. I'm sorry, but if people don't want to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, I don't feel bad for them. She did make such a scene that the man behind me did pay for her groceries. Another time, when my son worked in a grocery store a woman came in a returned a can of deodorant because it didn't work. Now, spray cans of deodorant hadn't even been on the market for decades, but again, the woman made such a scene that the manager gave her a 50 cent refund. I wonder if the 50 cents was worth losing her dignity over? Another man in a village we used to live in was known by all the bank employees as the moocher that came in and indulged in the free coffee and doughnuts they had setting out for the customers every morning. Is dignity an outdated concept? And I hate to say a lot of bloggers seem to take advantage of others with their sob stories. Reminds me of that old TV show Queen for a Day, where the contestants would try to outdo each other with tales of their hardships to win a prize. Some of the people were probably truly desperate, but now days with so many social programs, why do people humiliate themselves in such a way in the times we live in? I know pride goes before the fall, but sometimes I think society has lowered its standards too much. What do you think?
Thrifty Things We Did This Week
I forgot to mention last week that Toni sent me a skein of the loveliest wool as a thank you for some gloves I sent her. I got the better end of that deal!
Made some homemade imitation maple syrup.
Stocked up on peanut butter while on sale.
Bought ground round for $1.78 / lb. Can you believe how cheap beef has gotten? Proably should have bought more and canned some, but was being lazy.
Saved some money on our taxes by some things our tax accountant did. It was well-worth the money to hire a professional.
Bought paint for our ceilings and stairwell, at a hardware salvage store for $10/ gallon.
Ran cut Jamie's hair.
Wove some potholders to tuck away for Christmas.
Used up the last of the apples that we picked and root cellared last Fall.
Saved the limbs from pruning to use as kindling wood.
Picked up some more pallets for firewood.
So that's it for this week at the old Zempel board house. I hope that February is treating you well. Have a perfect week!