Small Visitors & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Monday morning, before the rains of Isaias arrived, I picked the garden.  In addition to the vegetables, I cut a good amount of basil to freeze for winter use.  As the weather was cooling off, I thought it would be a good day to can, and canned summer squash first, then noodle beans.  I strained the stevia extract I made on Saturday.  It's not as sweet as store bought, but it doesn't take much, so I will just add more drops as needed.  While the canner was going, I went through a pile of magazines.  Some will be shared with a friend; the rest will be brought to the library to share when they open again.  After supper, I chopped the basil, put it in ice cube trays and covered with water.  When I need some this winter, I can just add a cube or two to the pot.  Thyme was harvested, and dried for winter use.  We ended up getting between 2 1/4 & 2 1/2" of rain from Isaias, and temps lowered to the upper 80's for a few days.  Both are welcome.  Last week, I found a fairy egg, which has me believing one of the spring chicks is a hen, which I'd been thinking.  Even though she is a huge hen, she doesn't have quite the comb that the boys do.  Hooray for that.  Now, what to do with those two boys.  

I read about a challenge, called "Every Little Bit Counts", the idea being to put something up every day, even if it's just drying a few greens for smoothies.  This year especially, it seems wise.  Are you doing anything different, as far as preserving foods this year?  Along with walnuts, I enjoyed our blueberries and first figs in oatmeal twice.  Two meals worth of butter beans were blanched and frozen.  I weeded and thinned the carrots, and used the thinnings with ghee, local honey and basil for a dinner.  A friend mentioned eggplant and potatoes not long ago, which I'd never had.  I found a recipe for eggplant, potatoes & tomatoes, which was good, but took a good hour of prep time for me, rather than the promised 20 minutes.  I'll look for a new recipe.  I was looking forward to a few bunches of concord grapes this year.  They'd begun ripening, and when I went out one morning, I saw many missing grapes.  McNibs has been eating them where they fall underneath the plants (I know dogs are not to eat grapes, but he does it every year, and it doesn't seem to harm him), so it may have been him that actually plucked them off the plants, as when I went out that evening after canning all day, most of the rest were gone, so that pretty much rules out a possum or raccoon.  The grapes are next to a patch of elderberries, which the birds love to hang out in, so maybe they were at least partly to blame.  Oh well, there's always next year. 

A goal was to have at least 52 quarts of tomatoes on the shelf by end of summer, one for each week of the coming year.  I just barely achieved that on Wednesday.  We've had years when there was little to none to put up, only some for fresh eating, so if I can put even more up, I'll be thankful.  Quite a few of the tomato plants are dead or dying, and none set fruit recently, with temps in the 90's.  I'm hoping now that it's cooling off, some of the plants will get a second wind.  We have to keep McNibs out of the garden, or he will help himself to tomatoes too.  Guinness comes in with me each morning when I'm picking, and both get a cherry tomato.  We've got several little melons on the vine, and one that's 8" long.  A pan of egg shells was crushed, and added to the compost bin.  When we picked our first round of corn, there were quite a few tiny ears, 2-3" long.  We didn't want to mess with them for fresh eating, but the Seneca Sunrise corn we're growing is also said to make nutty, sweet cornmeal.  I pulled and shucked those ears, and they're finishing drying in the house.  

I went to town on Friday, picked up a book at the library, ran a few errands and got groceries.  More jasmine rice and black beans were bought at Aldi's, helping us stock up a bit more.  I decided to run into Marshall's for the first time this year.  Besides getting some more of the honey I've enjoyed from there, I bought a few little things for J and the pups for Christmas, my first holiday shopping.  As rarely as I'm going into anything but grocery stores, I thought I should get these items while there.  I also found a lovely rose colored linen shirt on clearance there for $10.  I found yeast at Food Lion, with a few other items, and got a $5 reward off my purchase.  Daisy recently spoke about a watermelon experiment she tried, to keep it fresh longer.  I tried it too, and it works really well.  The garden is slowing down.  The summer squash plants are dying, except for the tromboncino.  The noodle beans and cucumbers are still going strong, and I'm harvesting a few apples, figs and the first hazelnuts.

There are nine lettuce growing, from the seeds I planted a few weeks ago.  I sowed more seeds.  The peppers are finally beginning to ripen.  I juiced 6 quarts of small and cherry tomatoes, which I plan to can early next week.  I recanned several jars that didn't seal the first time.  Two tomatoes didn't seal again.  I should have thrown away the lids the first time, I suppose.  One jar was used in pasta sauce for a dinner.  I plan to use the other in soup.  I harvested basil and oregano to use in our sauce.  Elderberries were gathered and cleaned, and another pint of tincture was started.  I'll probably leave the rest for the birds.  Laundry was hung on the line to dry.  I went through Brandy's website for an amazon purchase, and through swagbucks for 2% back for a couple of items for the business.  A bouquet was gathered for the house.  

There were several little visitors last week.  The tiny, green moth was rescued from the bathroom.  Just about every day, I see a praying mantis on one of the butterfly bushes, while I'm checking for Japanese beetles.  Thankfully, their numbers are dwindling.  We shared cucumbers, beans and a tomato with our son.  I added a shirt to the donate pile.  Last week, I had major issues with my computer.  It took many hours to fix, but it seems to be working OK now.  Our new gas oven isn't adjusted properly.  The last time I tried to use it, there were flames shooting up.  Folks from the gas company are coming out to work on it.  2020 has surely been an interesting year so far.  Be well, and have a lovely week.