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Thursday, February 23, 2023

Thrifty Thursday

 Hello dear friends!  We are shoveling out from our snow "storm" today.  Why is any measurable amount of snow considered a storm these days?  Afterall, we live in Michigan, it's winter, we should expect snow in February.  Our son and family that lives downstate are without electricity, but they are prepared with a backup generator and a wood pellet stove, so no harm there.  Most of the people that live in this neck of the woods, know enough to be prepared for such things, it's just common sense.  Which leads me to a dilemma; what to write about for Thrifty Thursday.  I assume that you all have common sense too, and much of being thrifty is just common sense.  So many of the YouTube "thrift and prepping" channels have such nonsense, such as how to wash your hair without running water or how to hang your laundry on the line.  Well, I assume you know how to do those things or if you don't, you'd figure it out pretty quickly on your own, after all it doesn't take a Philadelphia lawyer.  To me, it is kind of insulting to think people are so dull that they need instructions on such things.

The other thing that bothers me about many of these channels is their clickbait like "I saved $1000 a week, and you can too!" Then proceed to show you something they purchased on sale or used for fifty dollars, then show you the retail price from some fancy-schmancy catalog.  No, they didn't save a thousand dollars, they spent fifty.  Unless it is something you are truly in need of, say a refrigerator because yours went kaput and the food is spoiling, you are just spending money.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good thrift store buy as much as the next person, but I am not under any illusion that no matter how cheap the thing is, it is still spending money.  The biggest thrift tip I can give anyone is to learn the difference between a "want' and a "need". 

Practicing what we preach is hard though.  Ran and I have been trying to practice that we will eat only what the good Lord provides for us.  He does a pretty good job of it, too. Our small bit of land provides us with all the fruit and vegetables we need and Ran, an avid fisherman, catches enough fish to supply us with all the meat our little family needs.  Technically, about all we really need to purchase is flour and oil and a bit of sugar.  And this year we are tapping our maples, which if we needed to, could be done on a larger scale to provide us with a sugar source.  It would be meager, but enough to bake a loaf of bread every few days.  Our friend Shane supplies us with honey also, and neighbor Anna's son, Tyler, gives us eggs in return for plowing her out and helping her till her garden in the spring and fall, so we are provided for. But yet, on payday, we still go to the store and buy groceries.  This month the only thing on our shopping list that we need is salt, but of course, if there's a good buy on something else, you know I'm going to pick it up.  Lately our little Amish cheese factory has been selling it's ends and pieces for $1.68 a pound, so we've been restocking our cheese "cave".  Is cheese a need or a want?  I suppose with our German, Swiss and Dutch ancestery, it's a need. Ha! Well, we'll just justify it by saying cheese is our source of calcium.  Coffee is a luxury I need to remind myself.

Speaking of which, we love history, so are always experimenting with what the early settlers did to get by, so we collected, dried and roasted dandelion root for a substitute for coffee.  It looked like coffee and had a pleasant smell while roasting, but at the end of the day, I would rather go without rather than drink that.  But then I don't like tea so don't let me dissuade you from trying it. It tasted like a very earthy green tea to me, so if that is something you think you would like, there's plenty of dandelions out there, so enjoy!  

Well, in spite of getting snow yesterday, we have begun our gardening.  Last year we had very good success with our onions, as a matter of fact we still have a bushel in the root cellar.  The one thing we figured out is that you have to start them very early, much earlier than the seed packets instruct and instead of going under the grow lights, they grow stronger just by being in our south-facing windows. We are also starting some gourds this week.  Each year I attempt to grow a different kind of gourd.  Last year it was luffas.  I only managed to harvest one!  So much for the idea of growing free scrubbies!  I'll have to stick to my old standby of using the netting from store-bought turkeys and hams for pot scrubbers.  


I've been cleaning out my bookshelves and came across a few books that are wonderful resources for prepping and living the thrifty lifestyle. The First one is The Home Workplace, a compilation of how-tos put out by the Organic Gardening and Farming Magazine. It has all sorts of information on how to build structures for self-sufficiency. The other book is, How To Do Things, published by the Farm Journal.  What a gem!  Everything from how to garden and build things, to how to raise livestock and process them.  Even has ideas for how to have fun without modern conveniences.  Love that book!

A YouTube channel I really enjoy is Three Rivers Homestead.  Her thought process is very similar to how I come up with meal planning and watching that sweet mama working with her children in the kitchen reminds me very much of my life when my children were youngsters.


Pumpkin Cake

1 C. pureed pumpkin

1/2 C. applesauce

1 C. sugar (I used a bit less because my home-canned applesauce was already sweetened)

2 eggs

1 C. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. cloves

 1/2 C. raisins or nuts (or both) optional

Combine wet ingredients.  Then stir in the dry ingredients.  Fold in the nuts or raisins if using them. Pour into a greased 8-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until done.  This cake is particularly good with a bit of cream cheese frosting.

This cake is a dense, what I call, country cake.  Kind of akin to a quick bread. Growing up, my mother always baked cakes from mixes and used that canned frosting.  Blechhh!  So, I never really liked cake until I started baking these country cakes.  But if you enjoy those chiffon-type or angel food style cakes, this recipe may not be for you.

So that is it for another Thrifty Thursday.  This is the time of year when there isn't much excitement going on.  Oh!  Did you hear about the "UFO" that they shot down over Lake Huron?  That was probably less than fifty miles from us as the crow flies.  We had a good laugh over it until we found out that the first time they took a shot at it, they missed!  That missile could have landed in our front yard.  And it's not very reassuring that our missile defense system can't even shoot down something hovering over a lake on the first attempt.  I tease Ran that he better not go trolling for salmon this spring, his luck he'll snag that missile lying at the bottom of the lake.  I guess that's where it is, they never did say if the recovered it, or the strange octagonal object they were shooting down.  So I guess we did have some "excitement" around here.  Anyway, whatever will be, will be.  Here's hoping your days are filled only with the fun sort of excitement.!



Saturday, February 11, 2023

Winter is a Joyous Season

 Hello dear friends!  I hope this post finds you all fit as a fiddle and right as rain!  I'm sitting by the fire today and just enjoying having some leisurely time before Spring returns and all the busyness that it entails comes once again.  We had a bit of snow recently and it was so welcome as the whiteness brightened the house after so many days of grayness.  I've lived in eight decades so far, yet the thrill of snowfall has never left me.  Well, to be truthful, I don't remember much of the 1950s or how I felt about them, except for some home movies of my father pulling me on a sled. But I wasn't crying, so I must have enjoyed it. Ha! I never understood why people hate winter so much, but then I grew up much further north than where I live now and winter was part of our lives for a good seven months of the year, so I guess it was just part of my DNA. Winter is the time of year when I can work on creative endeavors and spend time pipe dreaming.  Do you ever pipe dream?  My big lifetime fantasy has always been to live in a 200-year-old log cabin off-grid in the middle of a forest.  Unfortunately, I have never been able to live anywhere I could make such a dream come true as my husband's career always led us to areas where such things didn't exist and if they did, we never had the funds to make it happen, but I always managed to make home as close to that as possible. And it's probably just as well.  I was poking around on Zillow the other day, just to see what sort of land I could afford and all the plots of land in middle of forests had shots from trail cams of the wildlife in the area.  I don't think I want to live where bobcats are just outside my door!  And seeing how much damage a few deer can do to a garden, I can only imagine how much more an elk or moose would do!  I guess village life is the right fit for me, even if I detest the small-town politicking that goes on.  But I still continue to imagine myself into that cabin, even if it is just a pipe dream.  Jesus says that the Father has prepared a place in Heaven for us that is many mansions, but I hope He allows me just one little humble cabin in the woods.  Minus the bobcats!

Anway, if you stuck with me through that rambling nonsense, I did manage to do some productive things this month.  Someone once asked me where I store my canning equipment and I replied I don't.  It is ever-present.  This past week I got around to canning all my remaining winter squashes.

Had been putting that chore off as long as I could.  Squashes certainly are hard on the hands.  BTW, I've mentioned this before, but these Butterscotch squashes (seeds are available from Pinetree Gardens) will make a squash lover out of anyone.  They are remarkable sweet, better than any pumpkin.  Every time I roast one up, I'm astounded by their flavor!

I also baked some date nut bread.  For some reason, in my mind dates and winter are intertwined.  Probably because the only time we ate any was at Christmas when my mother baked the best date pinwheel cookies ever. Anway, these little quick breads are a nice change from our usual oatmeal for breakfast, especially if you spread them with a dab of cream cheese. Rather than bake one big loaf, I bake two small loaves and freeze one. When I bake pies, I try to bake a few small tarts from the scraps of pie crust and filling and freeze them also.  Then when we have a nice assortment of such things squirreled away, we bring them out and have ourselves a proper Victorian tea. It is one of the ways we bring a bit of gentility to our humble little life.

Speaking of gentility, I have never understood the idea that some things are "too good" for us mere common folks.  The other day my friend brought over a can of beer to drink while she chatted with us, (she's a hoot!) and I asked her if she would like a glass.  "Oh no" she said, "that's too good for me."  What a glass is too good for you?  Well, Ran got out one of his pilsners for her anyhow, and she was tickled to be treated so royally. Ha!  The glass cost an entire quarter from the thrift store!  Another neighbor stopped by as we were sitting down to lunch, we asked her to join us, as she asked, "do you live like this always?".  We were confused about what she was talking about, then she explained, "you know, with tablecloths and napkins and china and silverware." Just because you are poor doesn't mean you have to live poorly. Real plates cost probably less than a package of paper plates when you buy them from a thrift store.  And they are reusable too! Ditto for cloth napkins.  And you even make them from fabric scraps from the old scrapbag.  How many things do you have sitting in cupboards and closets that you are saving for special occasions?  Get them out and use them!  Life goes by so quickly; every day is a special occasion!  Live life richly, you are worth it!

Speaking of scrapbags, this month I'm treating myself to some fun little projects after December's "slogfest" of finishing up big and boring projects.

A small, quilted piece that's pattern came from a thrift store.  Just to prove to you all, that I can make something other than a four-patch quilt. Ha! Here's a closer look:
The pattern came as a kit from a quilt shop and had a price tag of $25!  I paid a dollar for it at the thrift store, and I still had to rob Peter to pay Paul, to finish it.  I would have been really disappointed if I had paid that much for the kit.  Anyway, it brings a bit of brightness to the winter decor without screaming Christmas.  The house always looks a bit empty after the holidays.

Here's a closer look at my crazy quilt slippers.

I might have the world record for postponing a project.  When I looked at the envelope for the pattern it was postmarked 1990!  I always get around to my projects even if it takes me over thirty years!  It was a fun project once I got around to sewing them.  Wonder why I put them off so long? And it used up lots of those itty-bitty scraps of the Civil War repro fabrics I couldn't bear to toss and lots of scraps of vintage lace.  That little woolwork project came from a pattern I tore out of magazine from the 90s also.  I changed the colors to make it look it more prim.  The original pattern was done in pinks and purples. Blech!  

And rather than buy Ran a Valentine, I made him this sampler:

I had all the floss on hand, and I just used a scrap of linen that came from the thrift store (of course). It reads, "Come sit down...Just me & You".  One of the ways we live richly is just to sit down together with a cup of coffee in a pretty teacup and talk.  You'd be surprised at how much two people that have just been sitting and talking for half a century have to discuss. Well, this blog and the comments you make is my way of sitting down, just me and you, and talking. I enjoy our little "banter" and perhaps someday we will all meet in my little cabin in the woods and we can sit down and have a real conversation.  Until then, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.  I always respond.  Hope you have a lovely and "rich" week!