Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Townhouse Homestead Tuesday

One of my challenges to myself for 2015 was to learn how to knit socks. The brain is getting there. I made my practice sock and started a "real" sock. Before committing to the socks and the use of small size double pointed needles I needed to get back into the knitting frame of mind. My knitting in the round project was a simple hat.

I found my years old, hand written mitten pattern and I will make myself mittens and an ascot style scarf to go with my hat. The time I have to knit is when all the work is done at the end of the day, of course when I'm tired and don't want to think, but it came back to me.

I've become motivated to finish the cardigan sweater that was started quite a while ago, but the motivation comes from all the altered clothing ideas that I've been seeing on line. I have crochet reclaimed trims that I want to add to make it unique. The bag of red yarn are factory ends that was given to me to make myself more socks and speaking of socks...

here's where I am with them. I am ready to start decreasing the toe. It isn't perfect, but it's a sock and it's for me to wear in my boots. This is a Mary Maxim yarn that I got a few years ago that I kept to work with my spool. I have a few different colors so after I make the solid colors I will start by making mismatched socks because I'm a big fan of them.

This townhouse homesteader has been busy doing other things too. The canning of meat that we find on sale along with the canning of my soups so I can make a large batch and not lose it and just learning to can things I've never done before. Thirteen months ago I made sour milk chocolate cake out of some milk that didn't quite curdle, but was at that almost turned point. I baked it in pint size wide mouth jars. I've done this many times with banana bread and I knew it could be done with cakes, but it was new to me. The jars are still well sealed and I ate it this week and I am still alive. I wouldn't give this as gifts unless I put a short expiration date on it, but it is something to consider if you bake from scratch and can't eat it fast enough or need smaller helpings. Yes I can freeze it, but I only have an apartment size freezer for now and loafs of breads and baked goods waste what little  space I have in the freezer. 

Once I figure out and get the socks accomplished it's on to making simple cheeses. That's the second challenge for 2015. I only had two. So thank you for stopping by to visit and I hope everyone has a wonderful week.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Thursdays Threads

She's been busy sewing up the remnants and scraps into new projects. My daughter has a collection of vintage sheets that some people would die for. She's been collecting for years. We sew everything we can with them and just enjoy looking at the stash some days. It's our therapy.

This is a lovely springtime table runner, quilted and backed with white cotton.

Quilted coasters.

Purses and purse accessories.

Curtains to hide things.

And just recently children's tote bags.

This is just some of the creativity that keeps us sane. Seeing the scraps made into something functional is our motivation.
Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful weekend. 

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Thrift finds

January and February have been busier than usual thrift months. We've been on a quest to find canning jars and when we have we've either purchased them or followed them according to tag colors and sale dates. 50% off is always better. We've been lucky enough that they've been on the shelf still when we go back as much as a week later. That to me is the universe saying they were meant to be ours.

It seems that more have been available in January than in past months and we've wondered if it's because everyone was donating at the end of the year to get taxable donations. These are more that we added to our stash and we've found all sizes. The two aqua Mikasa bowls were an extra because they match my daughter's set she has been building.

Another Saturday stop yielded us four dozen more jars including a brand new case of old stock eight ounce jars with lids. Again it was a nice variety of sizes.

Living in a small townhouse apartment doesn't actually give you a lot of room for storage, but my daughter used a target gift card she received for Christmas and bought a shelf that fit in an empty corner. It was perfect for all the jars, crock pot and some of her collectible Pyrex. She made the curtain from a vintage "thrifted" sheet to match her color scheme for the dining area. She says she has enough to add a border to a table cloth she wants to make. I have a good supply of jars to keep me going for a while and yes, I've already used some.

There were other thrift finds too. Candle making supplies, Wilton silicon molds for her soaps and lotions, books on herbs and aromatherapy, double pointed knitting needles, Popsicle molds, fabric, vintage sheets, Vera scarfs and a vintage roll of whimsical kitchen wall paper.

Books had taken a way back seat for the two of us. We both enjoy reading and we had resorted to using the library because storage space for books was scarce. However we have rekindled our love of owning a few good books and started picking up those we can use or read and move on, but some will stay on the shelves here. My younger daughter took me to a book sale and I came home with only 10 books because I was quite choosy. I also have a difficult time carrying heavy items so I limited my selections. My favorite find has been the American Woman Cook Book from the Culinary Arts Institute that was printed in 1938. Found at Good Will for $3.98, but purchase at 50% off. It is a complete encyclopedia for the time. I am enjoying it so much, but I haven't tried any recipes yet.

This cutie is a hand made ceramic. The painting was so wonderfully done and yes he was a thrift store find. His face just spoke to my daughter and his color pallet matched her decor so home he came and sits lovingly on her shelf. I think this may be the first in a new collection of Gnomes.

I say that because of this. She has a vintage shelf with collected and thrift store Angels and several other thrifted collections around the townhouse. The wooden Angels on the bottom are hanging from the shelf and the sign says "Angels Gather Here". Yes they do and it's so wonderful to have simple "small" collections to brighten up our home. 

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Townhouse Homestead Tuesday

January is over and WOW what a whirlwind of growth and busy. A few days into February and it we're still going. 

Early in the month I found two cloves of garlic that decided to start growing. I was surprised because this is from what I harvested in 2014. I took a minute and then quickly put them into pots to see where they would go. Well here's the progress. They are 13 inches tall today and still going. 

I continued to learn new bread recipes and doing more with the dough. We are eating less bread so I'm baking bread every two weeks and finding myself using the old bread for croutons and bread crumbs. I store them vacuum sealed in jars and haven't lost any yet. So far croutons have stayed fresh for a month and some are still going longer.

I found a Rival Crock-Pot at the thrift store for 50% off, final cost to us was $4.49. Brought it home, cleaned it up and made a batch of Buffalo pulled chicken. It works great and is smaller than the one I had and takes up less room on the counter.

This was an attempt at Buffalo pulled chicken Stromboli. It was good, but I wanted better. I used a pizza dough for it and I thought it was a bit to hard.

This is the second attempt and I was happier with this one. I used a french bread dough that I let rise for a bit and baked at a lower temperature for a few minutes longer than a loaf of bread. I was excited that this fed six people. 

The canning continues. I added quite a few pints of chicken broth. I have an amount of jars that I'd like to have on hand that I'm working on. I also added more beef broth and as the year progresses I hope to add more. The picture on the right is all chicken. My daughter purchased a ten pound bag of chicken leg quarters for the grand price of $6.90 last week. At $.69 a pound I had to make it work. I boiled  them and took the meat off the bone. Total nine cups of meat. I filled three pint jars of chicken and seven pints of chicken broth. I made three cups of Buffalo pulled chicken. From it I made the Stromboli and put up one pint. I think I got more than most people would get from chicken legs and I figured it out with the future soups and meals to be about $.29 a serving. This does not include any breads, pot pie crusts, noodles, rice or vegetables that would be added, but that would probably increase the price to about $.43 a serving. I am pleased.

Finally the sock. This is as far as I'm going with my practice sock. I'm pretty sure I know how to weave the toe. It's a misfit I know, but I needed to do it large enough to visually see how it worked and I used large size needles and didn't change them as the directions said and I'm sure I can try now with smaller needles. I got the two sets I needed in the smaller sizes on sale with a Christmas gift card this week and will be figuring out my gauge and starting with more scrap yarn until I get it to where I need it to be. One goal met for 2015.
Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful week. I'll see you all again soon.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Townhouse Homestead Tuesday

This is going to be one of my shortest posts, but I tend to create a lot of stuff to do for myself and getting my pictures taken and edited is taking to much time. So here's the update. One of the new goals (I only made two) that I wanted to achieve for 2015 was to learn how to knit socks. I'm a veteran knitter so I thought since I've knit just about everything else why not try socks. I hadn't knit with four needles in at least a decade if not longer so I was happy when it came right back to me. I don't know how it will be when I get to a smaller size needle.

I am working with a larger needle and medium weight yarn so I can see how it's done and let it sink in as a pattern. So far so good. I got the leg portion done and now on to the heel. This is the part I totally had never done before. The pattern I am using is one that starts with the cuff and works to the toe.

This is where I am today. After three attempts, I figured out how to "turn the heel" and I have picked up all the stitches I need and am ready to begin the foot part. It is a matter of following the pattern and decreasing to form the gusset and then on to the foot. The weight of this yarn means I will have a nice comfy wear around the house pair of socks. Hopefully I can get back to this over the upcoming weekend, but I'm feeling good about knitting more socks. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Thrift finds and "freebie economics"

This past weekend after a pleasant visit to the library and finding a few good knitting books to check out my daughter stopped at a thrift store we hadn't visited in a while. Something told her to take a few minutes and go look around. She struck gold with the blue tags making merchandise 50% off. She filled the cart with as many canning products as she could find. There were 33 various sized jars, four boxes of rims and lids, and five boxes of just lids. The pink tags were not 50% off but still a good price. I know some are old stock with all the BPA stuff in them, but I've been canning with these for about 40 years so any damage is probably already done if any. I will continue to take my chances at this point.

As you can see it was quite a find. There were more jars but those were left behind. At full price we'll let some one else find them. She also found a vintage new in package donut cutter. Now I know there are two already in the stash here some where, but it's hers and it's new and what can I say? That was all she purchased thrifting this week and as you can see by my prior post I have already filled 17 of those jars and it wasn't like there weren't any other fabulous items she could have purchased, but she chose to leave them behind. As she said they were wants not needs.

Moving on to our freebie economics she also cashed out her Walmart rewards money. This is an app that gives you money on an e-gift card if the price is lower at another store than it is at Walmart. She accumulated $26.53 and she purchased two cases of pint size jars and two packages of lids. All free just for a little bit of time on her fancy phone. LOL I give her a hard time because I live without a phone but I believe it was worth the time. 

The other freebie this week was a box of 42 boxes. Yes boxes. They are card or stationery boxes that some one at work gifted my daughter. They are 4x6x2 inches in size with a lovely clear cover. Can you see the small canning jars of home made jam and home made biscotti packaged in them for gifts all wrapped with beautiful ribbon? Anything for that matter would look lovely in them. Even some home sewn, knit or crochet gifts. Every little bit helps and we just keep on going and sharing. Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful week.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Townhouse Homestead Tuesday

This week was a shop at home week. Although we did pick up some groceries for my daughters lunches and things to cook with we are shopping at home first. It's becoming a waste not want not kind of life we are living but with the high cost of "everything" these days how can a person not become frugal. In doing so I think we are eating better and eating a better variety of good food. 

This is turkey noodle soup made of turkey and stock from Thanksgiving. I used no yolk noodles to make it a bit healthier and I have control of the salt and yes that is a home made roll. I like knowing what's in my food even though it's not always easy these days.

Over the weekend we had breakfast for dinner. From scratch home made waffles with home made triple berry syrup. Oh such a luxury.

I had a large bag of clean vegetable scraps in the freezer that needed to be boiled down for stock. With my new pressure caner I could now can it and not use my valuable freezer space. I knew I wouldn't have enough jars to fill the caner so I got to work preparing potatoes too. The clean potato skins were added to the stock pot. I had a great abundance of them because I bartered for them over the holidays for a sewing project. I also had a small amount of beef stock taking up space in the freezer that I knew I could cook down a bit and also put it up.

In the end I had seven pints of vegetable stock, two pints of beef stock and eight pints of potatoes. There was one pint of vegetable stock that wouldn't fit in the caner, so it will be vegetable soup one night this week.

This is a jar of ground dried orange peels. I have been working hard at including fresh fruit in our diets, but since I can't compost in the apartment I am always searching for uses for my scraps. These I will add to some soups and smoothies or make a citrus tea. I added some to sugar and made citrus sugar for my friends to add to their tea. In a special bottle it would make a lovely gift. 
I am enjoying my frugal life, having less yet having more.
Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful week. I hope I'm inspiring you to be frugal and thank you for inspiring me to live better.