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Sunday, October 30, 2016


Hello dear friends!  Didn't October just fly by?   I've been puttering about here trading out the orange and gold decor for more muted colors, transitioning into an early winter scheme, since some parts of our state have had snow, I think it's time to really  get serious about making things cozy.  Ran and Jamie were busy this week splitting and stacking wood as we purchased a couple more cords from the village.   As always, it's been a pretty quiet week here, if you are looking for excitement, you've come to the wrong place!  Each passing year I crave more and more serenity in my life.  For me, a thrilling day is finding a great deal at the grocery store or discovering a new spot to forage.  Or coming up with a clever way to use leftovers.


A few posts back, Leslie mentioned getting excited about discovering a new place to purchase groceries inexpensively.  Leslie and I think alike!  A few months back we found an Amish-run scratch and dent grocery outlet.  Not only is it an adventure because it takes us down some roads lined with Amish farms that is like stepping back in time,  but the store itself is like a wonderland to me.  You just never know what you will find.  This week we purchased lasagna noodles at fifty cents a pound and some K-cups (we have a Keurig but mainly use it to have a quick source of boiling water) ten cups for $1.75.  I'm wary of the canned goods, but some things such as pasta, coffee, tea and sugar are certainly fine with us if they are slightly beyond their expiration date. I guess our palates are not that refined.  They also had apples for thirty cents a pound, fresh picked from the orchard next door.

I remember in my younger days before the discovery of scratch and dent  and bulk food stores, I used to  buy the Sunday paper and study the sales and coupons like they were a treasure map;  making menus that took advantage of what was cheap, mapping out my route so that I could do my shopping in the least amount of trips to conserve gasoline and time.  I get as much thrill from the hunt  of a good bargain as I would  on any safari.

What fun it is to go outside and forage for pinecones  and twigs to decorate  our home.
What a thrill it is to find the perfect something  at a garage sale or thrift store that speaks directly to your heart.  All the ironstone and pewter in my china cupboard was purchased for less than one dollar each.  The penny rug was made from woolen casts off.   Even the cupboard was a garage sale find that we repainted to look more colonial (it was baby blue when we got it).

 We  can't help feeling tenderhearted towards our little cottage when someone compliments us on how pretty it is; everything except the mattresses has been either purchased from thrift or garage sales or Ran has made, often using scrap lumber and thrifted hardware.  Goodness!  Even the house itself was a bargain.  We searched the internet for several years until we found a Dutch Gambrel type house within our very small (under $60,000) budget.  It was a wreck when we bought it, so much that it had been on the market for years, which all the more pleases us now that strangers stop to take pictures of "the cute little gray house".  There's such a joy in reviving something that everyone else could not see the potential in.  

The anticipation in waiting until you find that perfect item within your budget is better than Christmas!  I cannot explain how pleasing it is too find the perfect sweater than goes with all your skirts at the thrift store or a brand-new-with-tags-still-on-it cashmere sweater from Bloomingdales,  for the same price of $3.47, as the ugly Barbie pink and turquoise one from K-Mart.  I always say that when it comes to the thrift store it costs the same price to dress well as it does to dress cheaply.

Could Starbucks serve up a better cup of coffee than this?
I doubt it could be as cozy as our own, served in a pretty Villeroy and Boch thrifted cup and saucer with some nice homemade toast sitting beside the fire.  All this to say, go out and make each day your best.   Live richly and savor every moment. You can either find thriftiness a dreary chore or you can find it an awesome adventure.  I vote for adventure!


Another thing that brings me much joy is using up my yarn stash to make Christmas presents.  I knitted these  little slippers and a hat this week.
The hat pattern can be found in the Winter 2015 edition of Love of Knitting magazine and the slipper are a free pattern that can be found here.  I also finished this scarf:
Can you believe that it's been sitting in the bottom of my workbasket for two years?  I only had twelve rows to knit to finish it!  It's the same pattern that I wrote about way back here.


I also knitted these two dishcloths:

The yarn came from a cotton sweater that I unraveled.  It has pretty lavender specks in it that reminds me of some beautiful handmade writing paper I had a lifetime ago when people use to send letters.  Unfortunately, the sweater didn't work out for me.  Aren't cotton sweaters the worst?  They're so heavy and by the end of the day they are so stretched out the sleeves are practically dragging on the ground.  So I was thrilled to re-purpose the yarn for dishcloths.  The directions on how to unravel and re-purpose sweaters for the yarn is in the same link as the scarf above.

Anyhow, here's a quick and easy pattern to make the dishcloths:

Cast on 5 stitches.
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: K 3, YO, K 2
Row 3: K3, YO, K3
Row 4: K3, YO, K to the end of row
Repeat row 4 until your diagonal is as wide as you like. Now decrease:
 K2, K2 tog, YO, K2 tog, K to end of row.
Repeat last row until 5 stitches remain. Bind off. Weave in loose ends.

The size of the needles and the number of rows depends on what type of cotton yarn you use.  I would suggest that you use the size of needles that is suggested on the yarn's label and just eyeball the width.  It is a dishcloth after all!

I think some of these dishcloths will make a nice hostess gift when combined with some homemade soap and tied up with some red and white kitchen twine.   Maybe a handmade apron too?


Well!  I couldn't let October pass without posting one pumpkin recipe could I? Here's a recipe for a pumpkin coffeecake that's quick to make up:

Pumpkin Coffee Cake
1 3/4 C. biscuit baking mix
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. sugar
1/4 C. butter (1/2 a stick)
2 eggs
1 C. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves

Combine all the ingredients and beat for 3 minutes.  Spread batter into a well-greased 8" pan.  Sprinkle streusel over top of batter.
1/2 C. coconut
1/2 C. chopped pecans
1/4 C. biscuit baking mix
1/4 C. brown sugar
2 tbsp. butter, melted
Combine until moistened.

Bake cake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.


I know that "biscuit baking mix" or as we call it around here, Bisquick, may not be a pantry staple but it does come in handy from time to time.  I used to make a lot of those "impossible" pies; as in cheeseburger impossible pie, lasagna impossible pie, etc.  It made for a quick meal, I will not lie.  But did you know that you can make your own Bisquick from items you already have in your pantry?

Homemade Bisquick Mix

6 C. flour
3 tbsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. salt
1 C. shortening

Stir together dry ingredients in a large bowl until well combines.  Cut in the shortening until it resembles fine crumbs.  Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to four months.

The beauty of making your own is that you can control the ingredients, i.e.: non-aluminum baking powder, sea salt, better quality flour and shortening.  Plus you don't get any of the ingredients that you don't want like non-caking compounds.


Bought half a bushel apples from the Amish store for 30 cents a pound.

Bought 2 more cords of wood from the village for heating.

Knitted two Christmas presents from the yarn stash.

Finished a scarf .  One less work-in-progress.

Ran carved a pipe from some scraps of black walnut.  What will he think of next?

Turned down the thermostat and wore sweaters and slippers and heated the house via the woodstove.

Made some delicious pumpkin chili from our own pumpkins.  This was so filling we only needed to eat one meal on the days I served it.

Played card in the evening for entertainment.

Our neighbor gave us a bag of cat food to help support the strays.

Gathered some twigs, rosehips and pinecones for decorations.

Hung our laundry on racks inside to dry.

Baked a large batch of baked beans that also heated the house while the oven was going.  (We always leave the oven door ajar after baking - free heat)

Well, that's another week at the old Zempel boarding house!

From ye ghoolies and ye ghosties,
and ye long leggedy beesties
And things a'go bumpe in ye night, 
 Good Lourde delyver us .

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Hello dear friends!  Hope this post finds you all content and cozy!   It's starting to get pretty out there.
Just some pictures of our little corner of the world.  The Fall foliage hasn't reached its peak yet. How can anyone not love Autumn?


Soups and stews are synonymous with cooler weather.    There's nothing as cozy as a nice bowl of soup.  As many of you that read this blog and particularly the comments may have surmised, I hate to cook.  That is why I love soup; make one big pot and you're good for three days.  Plus it's thrifty and depending upon what you make it with, low in calories and healthy.  As my pastor  told me years ago when we were going through a rough financial patch, "you can always add more water to the soup".  What else can you make that can feed a dozen people on less than a pound of meat and fill them up? 

Some of the thriftiest cuts of meat can be used to flavor your soup; soup bones, ham hocks, bacon ends and pieces,  chicken legs and thighs (29 cents a pound this week) and of course, leftovers.  When Ran and I were first married, we had a grocery budget of $17.50 a week.  One of our thriftiest meals was a simple soup made with the smoky sausage links that you find near the hot dogs at the grocery store.  One small package  was used  for two  batches of soup and we always kept out two to have with eggs.  I think they cost under one dollar back then.  You really don't need a lot of meat to flavor your soup.  A little goes a long way.  Many times I make the soup completely  meatless and just use those smoked peppers and salts to give them a nice smoky flavor.  As a matter of fact, I just made a meatless  soup this week with vegetables from our root cellar and pantry.   One of my "secret" ingredients to make flavorful vegetable soup is Margaret Holmes seasoned lima beans which makes a quick soup.  Just saute up some onions, celery and garlic, add some potatoes,corn and carrots and maybe  a can of tomatoes and a can of these beans and of course water.  That's it.  I don't even add any more salt and pepper. 

I always have celery, onions, garlic and potatoes in my pantry.  They are staples for practically everything I make.  And they are the usually the cheapest things in the produce aisle.  Here's a list of items for a good soup pantry:

cans of tomatoes (fire-roasted are especially nice)
those jars of instant bouillon  (preferably low sodium) in various flavors. Tomato bouillon gives a richness to both chicken and beef soups. They just add flavor to a flat tasting soup.
Cans of broth
Dry beans
Smoked salt and pepper


Bone broth has become quite trendy.  Of course, homemade broth is always better than store bought and it certainly is easy enough to do.  To make bone broth you simply roast meat bones in the oven for several hours.  Once the bones have roasted and gotten good and brown and caramelized, scrape the bones into a large pot.  Add some hot water to the roasting pan and  deglaze it.  Put this water into the pot with the bones, along with a carrot, onion and a stalk of celery. And more water, of course. Also add a tablespoon of vinegar as this leaches the calcium out of the bones.  Add any herbs or seasonings you may like. Bring to a boil then simmer until a nice rich broth develops.  Strain and cull any meat from the bones and add to the broth. 


Noodles really make a filling soup. Homemade ones cost a fraction of  the cheapest ones you can find in the stores and they are easy to make.  Here's how:

In a bowl  beat together:

1 egg
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. milk

Stir into egg mixture:

1 C. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder

to form a dough.  Roll out on a lightly floured surface to desired thickness.

Cut into strips and hang on a dowel suspended between to cans or jars  until they are dry or use fresh.
It really isn't rocket science!


We planted garlic this week.

Garlic is one of those self-propitiating  crops. Once you have planted it, you simply save a few bulbs for the following year, separate them into cloves and plant them in the fall.  We always lay down a liberal amount of wood ashes in our rows before planting.  Garlic  and onions love wood ashes.

We also harvested our bird house gourds and tied them to the beams in our basement to dry. 
Once the begin to dry you have to monitor them for mold.  Every once in a while, washing them down with a solution of bleach and water.  The must have a very dry place to cure and can't be exposed to frost.  Last year we put a basket of them out for sale at our garage sale and the all sold.  Only later did I realize that I hadn't saved any for myself! 


I finished a pair of  Apothecary Cuffs , a free pattern that can be found here using some yarn from my stash.  I knitted them on smaller needles than the pattern called for  because I thought the were too big to be practical.
It's a quick weekend knit and has an interesting way to attach the cabled border to the cuff.  Enough of a challenge to make them interesting.  The yarn has an interesting story behind it.  Here's an excerpt from Pinetree Garden Seeds that explains it:

We continue to offer Peace Fleece worsted weight wool yarn in a variety of colors. Peace Fleece, located in Maine, is not your typical yarn company. In 1985, a local sheep farmer had a mission to foster peace between the Soviet Union and the American people.  The family began spinning yarn with a combination of the two countries’ wool to cultivate cultural understanding, fair trade, and provide a truly beautiful and unique yarn.  The owner continues to search for farmers who are willing to set aside historic enmities in exchange for new opportunities. 

Kind of neat, huh?  I have a lot of Russian readers, as a matter of fact, on any given day, I'll have more Russian readers than Americans.  I just want you all to know that in spite of what  our leaders our saying, I have no dispute with you wonderful people and I am sure you feel likewise.  Seems that our leaders are leading us down a path and we are at a lost for what to do.  Now more than ever, I hope everyone is praying for peace.   Amen!


Planted garlic from our own bulbs.

Made a kimono from a too-large thrifted skirt I had. (have to wait until I can get to the big city to find the trim for it)

Made a big pot of soup and ate from it for three days. Cost was under a dollar for the entire pot.

Harvested the birdhouse gourds.

Began knitting some Christmas gifts.

Ran made some cutting boards for gifts from some left over maple he had from the countertop project.

Watched The Good Fairy on YouTube for free. One of my favorite movies.  I love Margaret Sullavan.

Listened to some old time radio programs on YouTube.

Heated  the house with wood.  No furnace usage yet!

Made homemade noodles  and dried them for the soup pantry.

So that's it for another week at the old Zempel boarding house!  I hope you all have a beautiful week. I leave you with peace.  And hugs!


Sunday, October 16, 2016


Hello dear friends!  Can you believe that we have already reached the mid point of October?  Tempus Fugit!  The Harvest Moon was so hauntingly beautiful last night, with it's streaks of clouds.  It looked just like a vintage Halloween postcard and it was so close to the Earth that I felt I could walk across the fields and reach out and touch it.  It gave me a cozy feeling just to see it.

Which leads me to what I want to say today, that fine living has nothing to do with your bank balance, life is what you make it.  The other day I noticed a twig of a money plant that had blown into my yard, now I'm sure many would just view it as just another thing that needed to be raked up, but to me it made a beautiful centerpiece for the dining room table.
I think the silver of the pods complimented the pewter of the jug wonderfully.  To me it is lovelier than a bouquet of those dyed carnations that you find in the stores.  And you certainly can't argue with the price!  Many have accused me of having too many silly romantic notions, but I'd rather live life with my head in the clouds than feeling angry and deprived all the time.   You may be having a very frugal meal of waste not, want not soup but  it can be a wonderful dining experience if you serve it by candlelight and in pretty thrifted bowls and maybe some nice music playing in the background.   Instead of paper napkins or worse yet, paper towels, pretty napkins can be made from cast off cotton clothing.  Plus think of all the money you'll save with reusable napkins. As  matter of fact, when the thrift stores have their semi-annual clearance sales when everything is 95% off (around 17 cents an item) I look for pretty patterned shirts just to have for little projects such as this and to make patchwork pieces with.  Woolen pieces can be made into pretty rugs and mats and let's not forget warm woolen quilts.  I have no patience for people that are always whining about how unpleasant life is just because they are poor.  All the better excuse to use your creativity.  How dull life would be if you had everything handed to you on a silver platter!

And whilst I'm on the subject, it seems a lot of people these days just have no sense of self-respect or dignity. Almost daily I spot someone out in public in their pajamas.  When did that happen? It may seem shallow, but I'm sure they'd feel better about themselves and the world, if they would take the time to comb their hair and put on clothes, preferably clean and pressed.  Did you ever notice that most of those people are grumpy?

"The way we dress affects the way we think, the way we feel, the way we act, and the way others react to us."
~Judith Rasband~

   I'm pretty sure that you can buy clothes just as cheaply as pajamas, especially at the thrift stores. . If I had my druthers and could only buy one set of clothes, I'd buy clothes and sleep in them not vice versus. Wouldn't you?  At one point of my life we could only afford very few things and I think I only had about three changes of clothes, but I still managed to get dressed every day in something that was clean and pressed.  It's really not that hard, unless you are homeless.  And I've met some homeless people that are better dressed than some of the people wandering around in their pajamas.

Thoughtful Gifts

The holidays will soon be upon us and so will the mad gift giving spree.  I have a sister who always spends a king's ransom on presents then complains about how in debt she went for the remainder of the year.  If she spends $100 on one person than she has to spend the equal amount on everyone else, lest they think she is showing favoritism.  Even if the person is a baby and doesn't  have a clue of the cost of things.  I've watched her buying just plain junk so that the gift will tally up to the same amount as the others.  It's just plain madness! All the emphasis is on the cash value rather than what a gift should be; a thoughtful gesture given because you wanted to make someone happy.  This week my oldest had a birthday (can't believe my baby is 37!) and while I could have given him a shirt or tie,  instead I gave him something that only I could.  A tin of his favorite childhood cookies with a message that he didn't have to share with anyone unless he wanted to. He got a kick out it, and told his wife "my mom says I don't have to share" (she was very supportive and told him she'd eat the pumpkin donuts instead :))  This may seem like a very miserly gift to some, but I assure you that he is quite affluent and anything that he may have wanted that could be purchased, he would have bought for himself anyway, so why squander money just to say I "bought" something?

I did go the extra mile and used mini Reese's Pieces and those mini peanut butter cups to make the cookies festive, lest you think I'm a complete cheapskate!  Here's the recipe, just in case:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 C. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 C. butter
1 C. peanut butter
1C. sugar
1 C. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 C. chocolate chips

Cream together butter and peanut butter.  Beat in sugars.  Add eggs, beat well.
Stir in flour, baking soda and salt until well blended.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets.
Bake at 325 degrees for 10-15 minutes until they are done.
Hint:  I always slightly underbake my cookies for a softer cookie.


The butcher had turkey breasts on sale this week for $1.19/ lb. so I canned up nine pounds. I can mine by cutting the raw meat into cubes, then taking the carcass and make a broth by adding the carcass, celery, carrots, onions, garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, salt and pepper to the pot.  I cold pack the raw meat in the broth.  When cold packing meat always start with the water in the canner  just being hot but not boiling or the jars may crack.   Process at 10 pounds of pressure for 90 minutes. I find the broth makes for a much more flavorful  canned good.


Canned 9 pounds of turkey.

Cooked one 4 pound turkey and ate the leftovers the next day, made a pot pie for another day (2 days worth of meals), made a quart of broth from the carcass for soup for several days and culled the meat from the carcass to be frozen for turkey burritos.  Less than $5 for 6 days of meals.

Harvested pears from our trees.

Baked cookies for a birthday gift.

Used a found branch for a money plant for a floral arrangement.

Darned a hole in some black tights.

Bought a Pendleton blanket at a church rummage sale for $1!  I also found 8 skeins of mohair for $3 and a pretty kilim rug type vest made for the Smithsonian Institute for $1.50.

Melted some of the candles that I bought this past Summer at garage sales into pretty teacups that I purchased for as little as a dime at garage sales to make some pretty tuck-in gifts for the holidays. You can purchase pre-made wicks at craft stores.

We stopped at the bulk food store on the way down to see my son and purchased a 2 pound bag of deli ends and pieces.  There were some salami type pieces that I cut into cubes to have with cheese and crackers.  Plus lots of  lunchmeat. $1.49/lb.

Also bought baking powder in bulk.  A lot cheaper than those little cans of it, and aluminum free.

So far we haven't had to use the furnace.  We did have a fire in the morning twice to warm the house.

So that's it for tis week at the old Zempel boarding house.  Always remember that life is what you make it.  Have fun and live well!


Sunday, October 9, 2016


Hello dear friends!  I hope this post finds you all safe and dry.  We went from people asking, "is it hot enough for you?" to "do you think it's going to snow?" all in a twenty-four hour period.  Tonight we will probably  have a fire, it's a very chilly in the house as we speak.  I'm sitting here wrapped up in quilts with tights and sweaters on.  It will take some getting used to the cooler weather that's for sure!  I tried to find something Fallish to photograph but the leaves haven't changed yet, the best I could do is a picture of some of our Japanese maples, which is kind of cheating since they are red all year round.
The leaves on the grape vines are starting to turn a pretty wine-y color. 
Befitting of a vineyard, don't you think?


A comment made by Dana last week, reminded me of the phrase "passive saving", a term I believe Amy  Dacyczyn of Tightwad Gazette coined.  So much of our savings comes from what we don't do.  I'm always slightly amused by thrift blogs that begin with what they spent money on for the week.  I recently discovered that there's an entire genre of YouTube videos on thrift  and dollar store hauls.  I guess one man's thrift is another man's folly.  When I post about thrifty things I did this week, it is often hard to come up with anything because most of my savings is in what I didn't do, i.e.; I didn't go out to eat, I didn't  spend any money on gas because I didn't go anywhere, I didn't go grocery shopping. etc' ..  In other words the easiest way to save money is not to spend it in the first place.  Not to say that all spending is bad. Hey, no one enjoys a good thrift "haul" more than I, but if it becomes something to just spend money on, where's the savings?  When something is a great buy, it is better to spend the money now, rather than pay more for it later.  This week I intend to buy some turkeys to can because they are on sale for about half the price I usually see them.  And if I ever find a great deal on butter, I intend on stocking up.  Ditto for ham. The clothes I bought at the thrift store last spring on the great end-of -the-season sale for seventeen cents  and put away are nice to where now, rather than paying regular prices.  When it comes to spending I guess you have to ask yourself, "Is it thrift or is it entertainment?", then decide if it is worth it.  I dare say, yours truly included, that shopping can be  a form of amusement.


It was time to for the semi-annual switching of the wardrobe here.  Our house has very limited closet space so, we must pack our clothes away in the attic and bring them out each season (we really only have two, Winter and Summer).  Just seeing everything laid out and taking stock of what I do have is enough to put the brakes on any clothes spending.  Where did I get so many scarves?  Every time  I'm at a garage or estate sale and spot a pretty scarf, I buy it, after all they usually cost less than a dollar, but now I've discovered I have an entire bin of scarves and shawls.  Not to mention all that I've knitted with left over yarn.  I needn't look at another scarf for at least a decade.  I'd encourage anyone that's a recreational shopper to lay out all their clothes on their bed and take a good look.  Get rid of all the things that you never wear, all the unflattering things, all the things that are not "you", the things that don't "go"with anything and the things that are too big or too small.  What you'll probably end up with is a nice basic wardrobe.  Figure out from what remains why you never have anything to wear.  Perhaps it is because you don't have the right shoes to wear with your pants or maybe your missing an entire category of clothes.  I discovered that while I have plenty of skirts and sweaters I have very few tops to put underneath those sweaters.  Make a list of what you need and then don't even venture into the aisles of things you don't need (like the scarves).  Personally, what I discovered is that I tend to wear the same three or four skirts and rarely wear the others.   I discovered that having some tops and bottoms in just basic colors is enough.  To add interest I have a wardrobe of vests and scarves.  The vest can tone down a too wild print or add a little pizzazz to boring basics.  Ditto for scarves and shawl.  But then again, I dress very strangely, so I'm not sure anyone would take my advice. Ha!  I was Bohemian before it was a style trend,  it's  definitely not for wallflowers.  I've noticed that most the ladies in my area wear either jean or yoga pants and tee shirts.  Ah well!  At my age I can be eccentric.  I wish more people had the courage to be who they truly want to be. What a fun colorful world it would be!  Why do we have to take something as silly as fashion so seriously? I think it's one of the reasons Halloween is so popular, it's the one day out of the year when you can truly express yourself in the way you dress.  For me, every day is dress up day.


OK, so enough of that prattle.  Last week I wrote about my Australian Butter squashes, they were delicious, but they're a lot of squash for three people, particularly  when two of those three are not overly fond of squash.  So I had some of the puree left over which I made into these wonderful biscuits;
Squash Biscuits

2 C. flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 C. cold butter
1 C. pureed squash
2 tsp. honey
1-4 tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt.  Cut in the butter until it is a coarse crumb.

Mix honey into squash puree and stir into flour mixture.  Add enough milk to form a soft dough.  Use alight hand and don't overwork the dough, just enough to combine the ingredients well.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a square approximately 1/2 inch thick.  Cut into biscuits. Place close together on a greased baking sheet. (placing biscuits close together forces the biscuits to rise up instead of spread out) Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until the biscuits are lightly browned.

Ran and Jamie love these biscuits served the "southern" way with some butter and brown sugar while they are hot out of the oven.  They do taste almost like a pumpkin cinnamon roll that way.


We foraged for hops, red clover and red raspberry leaves this week.  The hops are growing up the wall on an abandoned building near by and the clover is in the vacant lot a few houses down.  The raspberry leaves come from our neighbor's humongous  raspberry patch.  We dried all of these plants and ground them, along with lavender and  bay leaves to make a sort of incense that we burn for those times when we can't sleep. Hops  and lavender are also good to make a pillow from.  This is an herbal remedy so please do not write to tell me that you are allergic or have some other health reason why you can't use it.  As with all herbal remedies, do your own research and use with caution.  What works for us, may not work for you.


Carrying on with the same vein of not taking things too seriously, I thought I'd share with you the "lovely" selfies I took for this post.  I was trying to get a picture of my hat that I just finished.

Too high!

Too low and I have cracker crumbs on my lips.

   Then there were a bunch of pictures of the wall, up my nose, the ceiling and the floor.  I guess Kim Kardashian is smarter than she looks.  What a horrible life it must be to earn your keep by taking selfies!   Anyhow, the hat is an easy pattern from The Gentle Art of Knitting that knits up quick.  I used a ball of yarn from my stash. One more down a million more to go! I used size 4 needles instead of size 5 because I have a smaller hat size, but it's not as slouchy as I'd like, so next time I'll use the smaller needles for the rim and switch to the larger ones for the crown.  And I won't take any selfies!


Ran made some spoons from the black walnut our neighbor gave us.
They will be part of our Christmas presents this year.

Made sauerkraut  from our $1.49 cabbage. (about 8 pounds )

We made a big pot of red beans and rice and ate that for three days.  Making a big pot of food and not cooking again for three days is my style.  Did I ever confide in you that I hate to cook?

Our neighbor was cleaning out her garage and gave us a bunch of nails and screws that she no longer used.

Foraged for hops, red raspberry leaves and red clover.

Made the aforementioned herbs into a remedy for sleeplessness.

Attended our local farmers market and visited with a lot of people for entertainment.

Another neighbor gave us a gallon of soon to be expired milk for the strays.  They are becoming a neighborhood project.

Started knitting a Christmas present from my never-ending yarn stash.

Basically just passively saved by spending a quiet week at home.

So that's it for this week at the old Zempel boarding house.  I truly hope you all are well and safe.   There's so  much bad news in the world right now, we must remain confident that this too will pass. I hope you enjoyed my bit of  fluff today.  I thought after last week's seriousness, I would just post something light-hearted. Here's a hug for courage!


Sunday, October 2, 2016


Hello dear friends!  Happy October!   This is my second attempt at writing this post, I was fairly far along  in writing it, when my finger slipped and hit a button and the entire thing disappeared!  Did anyone else's blog list disappear this week?  Oh  my computer woes!  Anywhoo, we're having a beautiful Autumn day today.  It's what I call a Benediction day, you can feel God's face shining down on you and giving you peace. 

And peace is what I need, as I read about what is going on in the world economic-wise.  As of October 1st, the Chinese Yuan is now a reserve currency.  (If you are unaware of the significance of this, you can read my post about the meaning of the petro or reserve currency  which explains it pretty easily.)  Deutsche Bank is teetering.   Just before the elections in November, the Federal Reserve will vote on and probably raise the interest rate and many of you recall that the stock market dropped like a stone the last time they tried to raise it forcing them to rescind the action.  And oh yes, we've been riding the biggest bubble of all, the stock market bubble, for far too long, which will make the tech and housing bubbles look like child's play in comparison.  All of which makes for a rather gloomy forecast for the near future. Just saying, that it doesn't hurt to have some bags of beans and rice stocked in the pantry and some cash hid under the mattress.  You'll have to decide for yourself what to do, but I do know that no one was ever hurt from having some extra food stashed away.  You can always eat if nothing happens.

Recently a comment left by Sharon, reminded me that I have lived through a major recession before.  It's funny how time has dimmed the memories of those worries and fears. In the late 70s and early 80s when Ran and I were just starting out, unemployment was high, inflation was even higher and if  we were going through an oil embargo, that significantly raised the cost of living.  If you were fortunate to have a job, it was likely that your wages were frozen and even if you did get a 3% raise it didn't keep up with inflation.  So basically each year you were getting poorer, unless you had lots of money in the bank, then you could earn 13% interest on your savings account, unfortunately we and many people didn't have any savings.  I remember friends that were lucky enough to have both spouses working, spent their money like it was water, because next year the same money would  buy 20% less. It was a fearful and hedonistic time back then, depending upon which side of the ledger your fortunes fell.

Yet through all the gloom, it was one of the happiest times of my life.  So much of what I learned about thrift stems from that period.  I have to laugh now at some of the measures I took to put food on the table back then.  I remember making a soup with one pork chop.  I boiled the meat to make the broth, added the vegetables, then took the meat out and reused it to make another batch.  Now that is extreme tightwaddery!  And I won't mention the many, many meals of potato pancakes. When times are really hard, there are only three main concerns for your money; food, shelter and transportation to work.  And I dare say, many times food was given up in favor of gasoline and rent.

So what's to be done about hard times?   First give up everything but the essentials.  You know, you really don't need a fancy schmancy phone.  I still manage to communicate with others with my cheap little pay-as-you-go phone and MagicJack.  You can still create happy memories for the children without spending money on vacations and elaborate  parties.  You don't need cable TV.  I live without it, and still manage to know what's going on in the world. When you get down to just the basics, figure out how to cut down on them.  Right now, I'd be scouring the thrift stores and estate sales looking for good woolen blankets, so I could cut my heating bill this winter.  I'd stock up on beans, rice, potatoes and flour.  I'd be searching the internet for recipes for meals made from inexpensive ingredients.  Oh!   And by the way, when you find those recipes, copy them.  Who knows if you'll be able to afford the internet in the future.  Back in the day, I made a simple notebook of recipes from the pantry, culled from sources such as the Grit and Cappers (back when they were good magazines), old church cookbooks, and family  and friends.  I still turn to that booklet when the budget is tight.  Many of the recipes that I write in my Recipes From the Pantry posts are pulled from those pages. Use the internet while you have it, to learn how to do things for yourself, such as; haircutting,  sewing, food storage, foraging etc.  YouTube is a gold mine, there are so many tutorials on it.

But most importantly, strengthen your faith.  To quote Abraham Lincoln, "I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day."  The best lesson I learned from that time period was, as a Christian, I was to live in this world and not be of it.  I'm sure the other major faiths have a similar outlook.   That is why I can be content and joyful, in adversity.  Things such as a big house, fashion, the latest gadget, a new car, etc. are only ephemeral things,  my treasure is not in this life.  This is going to sound very strange, but from a very young age, I felt that when it comes to thriftiness, God has whispered in my ear and told me to pay attention.  That is why, since my first memories, I have been studying how people lived through hard times.  When older family members spoke of the Great Depression, I listened.  I read novels such as The Grapes of Wrath and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn like textbooks, studying how the characters survived.  I've read and still prefer to read biographies and autobiographies of people that suffered through wars and famines.  And pioneer tales also.  Anything to squeeze one more bit of knowledge out of the pages.  And I can tell you the two main concerns were always food and shelter.  So if the economy takes a tumble that would be my main focus.  Just always remember others have lived through times of trouble and you are just as strong as they are, you'll get through them also.


Even in the hardest of times, there is joy.  Hard times can either bring people closer or pull them apart.  One of the ways to draw family closer is by creating your own traditions. We have a few Autumn traditions here, one is that we get out our Fall decorated mugs.  They are just cheap mugs that we bought at the dollar store, but every year we look forward to the first cool day, to bring out the Fall mugs.   The other tradition is that we hold our own Oktoberfest on the first Sunday in October.  I always serve Alsatian pork roast made form our homemade sauerkraut and dress the table in our finest.  Pork is always cheap this time of year.  I bought a lovely sirloin roast from Aldi's for $1.99 a pound.  Never having bought meat from them before, I was impressed.  It was one of the most tender roasts I've ever had.
The carrots, onions, herbs and potatoes  all come from our garden, so it is also a true harvest  and thrifty meal.


As a side dish we had one of our Australian Butter squashes.  This is a new variety to us this year and we'll definitely be growing them next year.  They are a squash-haters squash,  very mildly flavored.  Except for leeks and some flowers, our vegetable garden is now put to bed for the winter.  While out cleaning and tilling, Ran discovered  a cluster of grapes that I had missed when I was harvesting them for juice.  It was just enough to make three little grape tarts, which we had for dessert.  I wrote the recipe in a reply to Vickie, but thought you might like to have it also:

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.


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.


Made vegetarian chili from the last of the tomatoes and peppers before we pulled them.  This made a huge pot, enough for three days of meals.  And it cost us nothing as everything came from the garden.

Ran cut Jamie's hair.

Our friend Mary brought us a bunch of fruit.  Has anyone heard of cotton candy grapes?  They were wonderfully sweet.

A thrift store in the area had a sale on all their clothing for 99 cents.  I found several skirts and a few tops to put away for next Summer, which I really needed.  My Summer clothes are deplorable.

Bought a 10 pound head of cabbage for $1.49.  The price was the same no matter what size of head you picked, so I picked the biggest.  Will make sauerkraut from it this week.

Made up some spaghetti sauce from the last culled tomatoes.  Froze it as there wasn't enough to bother canning.

Saved the seeds from the Australian Butter Squash.

Started knitting a hat from my never ending yarn stash.  I'm hoping it will be enough, otherwise I'm going to have to get creative!

Made grape tarts from the last of  the Concords.

Ran made some spoons from the free black walnut wood our neighbor gave us.

So that's it for another week at the old Zempel boarding house!   I hope that you all have a wonderful golden Fall week!