Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Townhouse Homestead Tuesday

It's another week later and I've turned another year older. Birthdays get to be just another day when you get older, but you learn to be grateful for them and appreciate time. I was taken out to dinner twice which was a great treat. I really don't need fancy food so we had special burgers and desserts for my official birthday dinner. I bought myself some circular knitting needles so I could make hats from leftover yarn and was given a canning jar cookie cutter complete with sprinkles. 

Work at the townhouse homestead this week meant using the uncooked cabbage and carrots left from the St. Patrick's day meal. I used some of it to make coleslaw. This is canned coleslaw and is so good. I put it up in half pint jars because it's just me who eats it and I get two servings from each jar. The remaining carrots I dehydrated.

I have what I call my micro mini farm kitchen here at the townhouse, but if I hadn't told you how small it was you wouldn't have known. Doesn't every farm kitchen look this busy?

This week I also got a head start on my soups for the end of cold weather now and for the upcoming winter. I know, I know. It will be warm soon. Anything I can get done now will make time for other canning and dehydrating projects later and as long as I can vacuum seal it, it will keep. I made one pint of onion soup mix, two quarts of chicken rice soup mix in which I used my dehydrated peas and carrots, and I made six half pints of bean and rice soup mix. I'm hoping that I can get to a point where a rotating meal plan works. I'm prepping ingredients and building new recipes. 

Recipes here for what I made:

I'm trying hard to let people know through my blog that living frugal can be done even in small spaces. Storage is an issue, but we seem to overcome that too. Food preparation takes little time and keeps things simple if you think it out. We're eating better and are building a good variety along with having fun trying new recipes. I hope everyone has a wonderful week and thank you for stopping by.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thursday Threads

Textile crafts have always been my favorite way to have fun and be creative. I've tried paper crafts, painting crafts, glue, wood, and other types of creativity, but I always come back to textiles.

I taught myself how to knit socks this year and yesterday I completed my second pair. I'm not perfect yet, but I'm feeling more confident. I have more yarns to keep going for quite a while and am excited to know I can have what I want and need more than what manufacturers think I need. I also started a pair of mittens and they are still a work in progress, but with a couple more hours of time I will have them finished. It feels great to be using the yarns that have been sitting and waiting to be made into the projects intended. 

My daughter made this up cycled tote bag from her collection of vintage bed sheets. She uses a lot of the reclaimed linens for projects like this. She added a doily and made ribbon and yo yo flowers to embellish it.

She also finished this large granny square afghan this week. I love the aqua and white. This may be donated to a hospital charity. That's what's been keeping us busy here at the "Craft Zone" these past couple of weeks in our spare time. I can't even begin to tell you the ideas that float around in our heads and wonder if there will ever be time to do all that we would love to do.

Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Townhouse Homestead Tuesday

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone. 

I grew up just south of Irish Catholic Boston and this is not what we had for St. Patrick's Day. My corned beef is in the slow cooker, but I miss the lamb from my childhood. This tradition was adopted from my marriage and it still hangs in there. Don't get me wrong I like corned beef and cabbage I was just remembering my past. It will be a great dinner and will include brownie sundaes for dessert.

The weather is the same here in upstate NY as it was in MA this time of year. As you can see the snow is going, going, but not gone and today they are predicting rain changing to an icy mix. Normal for this neck of the woods.

As for the townhouse homestead it is getting on time to start a few tomato seeds. Not much room for growing them and really not allowed so it will only be a few. I am taking this time in between to dehydrate vegetables. Yesterday it was peas and corn and tomorrow it will be carrots. I will add these to soup and rice mixes that I will store this summer for next winter and as you can see I have a ways to go. Not a lot going on here and it feels good because I can get to my other projects that have been sitting and waiting to get done. I know it's not a farm with animals and a large garden, but it's our homestead and we do stay busy. 

Thanks for taking the time to visit and have a wonderful week.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Thrift finds and more great economics.

The snow is starting to melt here in the northeast. The mile high mounds of snow and the ice formed on the roofs are causing flooding and leaking all over the place. To escape on Saturday after all the errands were done we stopped at a thrift store. Findings were slim, but our wants have become slim. We narrowed it down to what we can use.

My daughter makes the purchases and she is addicted to fabric, but so am I and we found a few we could use. There was a gray and green bed sheet, an aqua floral sheet, tan and purple corduroy, a vintage red tone stripe and best of all for the grand total of $1.99 a bed skirt with some wonderful off white 100% cotton. 

We found a deep wire basket that once attached to the back of a door with Command Hooks will hold light weight winter hats and mitten. Also found were two more canning jars at $.29 each, a bag with four boxes of new magic birthday candles, several mini metal buckets that will help with my garden and 20 spools of 100% Egyptian cotton thread. There were several books added this week also. Gardening books we always took out of the library, but now they are growing on the shelf and books to make us more knowledgeable about the little things we can do.

We had two more $10 off a $10 purchase coupons this week. Scott bath tissue is $12.99 for the 20 roll package and combined with a $1 manufacturer's coupon I got it for $1.99 and tax. The second coupon we put towards a $13 package of packing tape so we had it for shipping and packing things up. Lastly a york peppermint pattie free from Savingstar.com last weekend. Not a bad haul for a little bit of work.

Thanks for visiting and have a wonderful week. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Townhouse Homestead Tuesday

This past week has been a busy one. I've been listing items on eBay for my daughter. Sales have been better than we thought so all that shipping has to get done. I'm getting ready to start some tomato seeds soon. Still a bit early for our zone. In the meantime I've been making very good use of my second hand vacuum sealer. I live what I call "My Canning Jar Life". We stopped using a lot of disposable plastic bags, however, I do use vacuum seal bags. These can be reused. Another step towards being green. I started vacuum sealing our grocery investment in jars over a year ago and it's paying off in many ways. 

This is our expensive purchase of non fat dry milk, sold in a box, but will keep for quite a while in quart jars. This is why when we see jars at thrift stores we get them. I also use oxygen absorbers in the jars.

I store everything and make use of everything. I make bread crumbs and croutons out of leftover bread, pudding, cornbread mix, pasta and oatmeal to list a few. I even make my cookie mixes ahead of time and vacuum seal them for future use and yes, I vacuum seal candy in jars. Empty spaghetti sauce jars work well also. As a matter of fact any jar with a cover that has a rubber seal inside can be reused with the vacuum sealer. The benefit to us for doing this is that we don't have to spend more money on smaller amounts. We can take advantage of larger sizes and sales. Living in an apartment situation you never know about the critters so it protects our investment and the best part is that we are eating better because we can have a wonderful variety of food ingredients and spices available all the time. So at this point in time my new to me older version of a vacuum sealer purchased on line has more than earned it's keep and still will. 

So on to the socks that I promised myself to learn how to knit this year. Here they are. One for each foot. This challenge to myself was not without a few attempts. I did end up pulling them out in several areas several times, but I got them done, figured out how to make them the correct size for my feet and now I can work on more and move on to the next challenge of making cheese. There's a saying going on here that was actually a comment made by a supervisor at my daughter's place of employment. My daughter was talking about using scraps of fabric to make quilts with another co worker and up cycling items not wasting anything and this supervisor heard the conversation and quickly voiced "like the depression". The saying has stuck because I guess the depression is on a lot of people's minds. My socks are made of second hand yarn, "like the depression". 

Thank you for stopping by and think like you can do anything and you will. Have a wonderful week.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Thrift finds and some freebies.

We have a favorite place we like to visit when we need sewing or craft supplies but we don't go to often because it can get quite costly with all the wonderful finds. It's called Craft Bits 'n Pieces and it's in Fairport NY. We went on a recent Saturday because we had things we wished to donate. This is a second hand shop where people donate their unused craft supplies and they resell them to the public to support their senior citizens. Well, they couldn't take our donations because we were unaware that you now needed to make an appointment because they don't have enough volunteers to accept them and run the store. If I lived closer I would volunteer, but I am to far away to help.

This is a very very small amount to leave there with. We usually find so many pieces of fabric that we fill a bag, but we've been very selective about what we are buying. Yes, my daughter even found a new hair clip and at .25 for a package of double fold bias tape we got those too.

Besides going to make a donation the most important reason was to see what we could get for thread. This is what we found and the prices were .25 to .50 a spool. We usually select specific colors, but this time we took whatever we thought we would use. The thread rack in the back was purchased at Savers for $1.99 after we shopped at Craft bits. We had the donations in the trunk and needed to unload them somewhere and we got a discount card for making the donations.

For thrift finds there were crocheted coasters (Craft bits), canning jars ranging in price from .29 to .99 and amazingly two pillar candles for .99 each. They always seem to mark them at $3 to $4 each.

We found this brand new Kay Dee linen owl print towel, a lime green Pyrex pie plate, along with an aqua coffee mug and vintage towels and linens. The vintage deer with her fawns is plastic but looks so nice on our shelf.

Part one of our freebie economics, my daughter has been cutting down fabrics and sewing, creating lots of extra pieces and scraps. She has a friend at work who also loves to sew and she takes these scraps to her to use and enjoy. Well one day a week ago she took a bag to her and we've been excited to get a little more out to be used and shared, but the universe on the very same day showed up. Another co worker arrived in her office with a large box of fabric. This is the bundle she brought home, but she shared about one third of it with the other co worker. We were happy because they were solids and not prints so we could use it to back sewing projects. 

The freebies from grocery apps included two boxes of baking soda and two boxes of brown sugar. Due to the weather and not needing to many of the offers this is all we've done lately. I'm sure there will be lots more in the future to share.

Thank you for stopping by and have a great week. 

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.