~ from my home to yours, living the Working Pantry lifestyle ~

Monday, February 12, 2024

A Journal of My Days 2024: 2/12

The theme for this year is “Laser focused, hunkered down and spending as little money as possible.” 

Let’s see how we did this week …

In the Garden:  Hubby borrowed a friend's tractor and disked up our row garden.  In return we're sharing bunching onion plants with him as he hasn't been able to find any in our area.  We've been growing them for years and have plenty to share.

I've started making a list of things we want to plant this year with the list of things we want to preserve in mind.

I'm also making a 'herbal tea garden' planting list too.  I've spent some time this week looking at different herbal tea recipes, been collecting them in fact.  I'll pull from these recipes the herbs I need to grow in order to be able to make these teas.

Here are a few 'tea' herbs I have on my 'growing' list thus far:


raspberry (leaves)






lemon balm


Do you have any favorite herbal teas or tea blends?

I finished getting all the gardening containers that had to be moved during our well saga back in place.  Next, I really have to make a decision about where to plant my in-ground herb garden and then the first phase of this year's gardening plan will be completed.

Bargain and/or Loss Leader Shopping:  None this week!  We did a little bit of grocery shopping, but it was for basics such as milk and bread.  We also purchased a few non-basic items that hubby wanted for super bowl snacks.  I'm not a super bowl fan, but he is, and we have always done snacks.  He really wanted to not forgo this little 'treat' this year and if it is important to him, it's important to me.  So, we made it happen!

Let me clarify something, I watch the super bowl with my hubby because he wants me to, I'm just not a football fan.  I watch the commercials and sometimes the half-time show depending on the performance. 

I listen to and wait for him to say such things as 'did you see that, watch this, they'll do a replay,' and other similar comments.  The rest of the time, I usually work on a hand sewing project or do some writing.  It's our super bowl yearly routine and yes, we both enjoy it!

In the Kitchen:   I got out some of my dehydrated sourdough starter and worked on rehydrating it all week.

It will be ready to start baking with on Monday and I've got a sourdough baking day planned.

And yes, I will be using the discard in some of that baking as well.

From my Sewing Nook:  hanging my head in shame, but I didn't touch the sewing machine again this week!  Warmer weather (we got up to the mid 70's this week) means I have less time for inside doings. Right now, I'm spending as much time as possible outside working on yard and garden prepping.  

I think I'm going to need to bring back my 'at least 15 minutes of sewing a day' challenge!

In the Pantry:  My preserving day this week was on Tuesday, and I tackled the remains of that 50 lb box of potatoes my hubby got on a great sale several weeks ago.  Some of the potatoes where beginning to start sprouting which was my signal that it was time to get to preserving.  Using my food chopper, I washed, scrubbed and chopped up about 30 potatoes and canned them as country style hash browns.

I left about 15 of the best-looking ones for fresh eating purposes, hence, in reality, we're still working on that box of potatoes.

Health/Fitness:  I've been doing so good on my intermittent fasting, but I took Sunday off because of the above-mentioned super bowl event and snacks.

It was planned so I don't feel like I fell off the wagon.  I restarted my fasting window as soon as the super bowl was over.

I have to tell you that intermittent fasting is making a difference in my energy levels and the way I feel for the better and yes, I have lost a few pounds as well.  I would have never believed it if I weren't experiencing it.  I have a dear friend who is my fasting buddy, and it is helping me stay inspired.  It's good to have someone to share my ups and downs with who is going through the same or similar experiences.  We both started unbeknownst to each other, one day apart from each other!

Herbs:  I harvested the first nettles of the year.  I washed them up and placed them on a flat baking pan and then placed the pan near the wood stove.  In about 24 hours, they were dry.  I then crumbled them up, strained out the stems and started the first nettles jar for 2024.  

Picture on the right: nettles freshly washed and ready for the drying to begin.

Picture on the left:  nettles dried and crumbled.

Yep, that's all that big pan made!  I'll be repeating this process a lot this year!  

I use nettles in various herbal remedies and teas, as well as powdering and adding to smoothies.

What I’m Reading:  A friend brought me a couple Amish books to read from her collection and I'm starting on those:   The Preacher's Daughter by Patricia Johns and Lydia's Charm by Wanda Brunstetter.

Bible Study:  I completed and posted lesson 17 in our ladies Bible study on Esther.  It can be found HERE.

Continuing Education and Skills:  I'm focused on learning as much as I can about growing and making my own herbal teas.  In fact, I'm learning as much as I can as quickly as I can about herbs in general, especially the medical aspect of them.

That’s it for this week, what did your week look like?

until next time,

mrs. patsi @ A Working Pantry

She looketh well to the ways of her household … Proverbs 31:27 

Sharing 44 years' experience of frugal, prudent living and pantry building 

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  1. I so enjoy your posts and appreciate the great ideas

  2. Good morning, Patsi. We had a bit of warm weather here also and took advantage of it by going for long walks. It was great to be out in the sunshine. That ended yesterday and snow and rain are in the forecast for today and tomorrow. I love reading about all that you can and preserve. Not being able to consume canned food anymore because of a medical issue, reading what you are doing inspires me to keep my freezer full with premade meals. I have a load of potatoes now that will be baked, made into twice bakd potatoes and frozen for future use. I was so happy to read how well you're doing with intermittant fasting. We've been doing it for about five years now and it certainly is a game changer.

    I had to smile, as I do pretty much the same thing that you do while watching football games with my husband. I spent the time with him but embroidered on the feedsack kitchen towels I've been working on and did a few crossword puzzles. His comments matched the comments made by your husband. It must be a male thing. As far as herbal teas go, my favorite is ginger tea. It has so many wonderful aspects to it. It's great for digestion and inflammation. I drink a few cups daily. However instead of drying the ginger I slice it up into chunks and freeze it. My accomplishments this past week were few. Post office on Tuesday and mailed out all the valentines, birthday and anniversary cards, cleaned up my craftroom from all the activity in it, did some new exercises to strentgthen my core, all the usual fluffing and dusting. Watched some Youtube videos and learned a few new skills., hubs and I took inventory of gardening supplies and containers. What I'm currently reading along with "All That She Carried" is an Amish novel series by Cindy Woodsmall. I'm on the second book in the series. Have a blessed day. Cookie

    1. Cookie, intermittent fasting is becoming a game changer for me as well. I recently talked to a retired nurse about it, and she told me that with what she knew about the human body it made so much sense to her.

      On the ginger tea, do you just drop the frozen ginger into hot or cold water?

      Which Amish Series by Cindy Woodsmall are you reading? She is one of my favorite Amish writers.

      Your card came today, it is beautiful, hubby commented again about your talent and ability in card making. Thank you!

    2. Patsi, I'm on Book 2 of "The Amish of Summer Grove". For the ginger tea I just take a chunk out of the freezer and let it slightly defrost to become cutable. I then dice it up and pour boiling water over it and cover the cup and let it step until it's strong enough for my liking. I keep that diced up ginger in the cup and add more boiling water to it and let it steep somemore for the other cups. The ginger tea works better as an analgesic for me than tumeric. Glad the card came on time and you are so very welcome. Thank your hubby for me too. Cookie

    3. Cookie, thank you. One more question ... do you drink ginger tea during your fasting window?

    4. Patsi, I haven't had it during my fasting window but it is one of the teas that won't break the fast.Being s creature of habit my go to in the morning is a much of organic decaf coffee.Cookie

    5. Cookie, thank you, I'm not a coffee drinker, so I'm on a hunt for the herbal teas that won't break the fast.

  3. Patsy, Do you have voles in your yard? Here they ate the roots off all my herbs and it was sad to lose some that I had grown for many years but once they found them they were all gone in one season. Chamomile tea is a staple for me. I often drink it in the evenings and it really helps me settle down and sleep well.

    I did not consider myself a football fan until we had two Clemson kids and DIL. Now we never miss a game and I have learned to enjoy watching. That game last night was a good one! No special snacks here . Only some leftover Christmas cookies from the freezer and tea. Really it is because I did not plan.

    I removed the band from a flannel sheet that was coming apart and re-hemmed it so we can keep using it. That was my sewing.
    Only perishables from the grocery store. The ads have not had anything worth buying here.
    We had some appointments so had to grab two meals out but only spent $15 total.
    I kept up with my scripture writing.
    I am reading a Nora Roberts mystery but I am starting to have bad dreams about it so I may just ditch it. But, I want to know who did it!

    One thing that makes me really happy is that we have not gone back to TV watching after coming home from the lake. In fact the longer we go the sillier it all seems if we turn it on.

    1. Lana, we've had vols and chipmunks feasting in our yard. A friend told us that either ExLax or chewing gum will get rid of them. We put the stuff in the holes that were dug. It worked great. Cookie

    2. Cookie, does that repel them or, you know..."eliminate" them permanently? I am still waging war on gophers here and I never want to see them again lol.

    3. We trapped hundreds of voles one summer. Our extension office told us that for every one we trapped there were dozens more. It is a battle you cannot win once they move in. Hubby used mouse traps and had to reset them every morning before work. After awhile he was disgusted with emptying the traps and started throwing them into the woods. About a month later ha found a pile of cleaned off traps behind our fence. We have always wondered which wild animal cleaned the traps and returned them for more.

    4. It eliminates them as the ExLax and gum will eliminate those who take a bite. They can't digest the gum and so it eliminates them that way and the ExLax, well it's a laxative and it works to eliminate them that way. You may have to do it again if there's evidence that a new generat For something larger like gophers we've used 4 parts castor oil to 1 part dishwashing liquid in a gallon of water and soaked the tunnels and entrances to the tunnels. We've also had good luck using peppermint oil. This repels them but doesn't let them meet their demise. Unfortunately something poisonous would have to be used to do that and I wouldn't want to use anything like that with children and pets around. Cookie

    5. Lana, yes, we have voles, which is another reason we do a lot of gardening in containers and raised beds. When we put our raised beds together, we put a sheet of 1/4 inch hardware cloth on the bottom of all of them before we filled them. This has kept the voles out of our raised beds and thus far, they have not bothered our containers.

      I try to be careful about the books I read, I don't think I've read any Nora Roberts books, but any book that is causing me to have bad dreams or nightmares is out of here! Just not going to do that to myself.

      I'm not a big TV watcher, but hubby is. When he's not home, I have it off or silenced so I don't have to hear it. Don't get me wrong I enjoy good TV, but that is getting harder and harder to find.

  4. Wow, Patsy! I'm so impressed. And I mean that sincerely. Great job on the potatoes. I'm going to have to learn how to do that, because few (if any) stores around here sell frozen Southern Hash Browns and they're so doggone convenient for soups, stews and the like.

    I used to grow a LOT of herbs. Where we lived at the time--central coast of CA--meant rosemary and lavender were year round shrubs. No die back. I also grew chamomile, various mints, thorn less raspberries, chives, various basil, oregano, parsley, cilantro, thyme and more. All of the herbs loved the slightly sandy soil enriched with compost. No other fertilizer needed. I had 40-some old/antique roses in that yard, too. Couldn't get any tomatoes to set fruit. Beans struggled. Corn did great, as did summer squash. The only tea I made from herbs was chamomile for bedtime. Thyme and rosemary are natural "antibiotics" and "antifungals". Rosemary also helped our youngest son's asthma; he always had a sprig of it tied to the headboard of his bed. I'd use dried lavender in muslin pouches as shoe fresheners. Bay leaves--we had several Bay Laurel bushes that I planted and grew to 10 ft. high--were tucked into dresser drawers to ward off moths and earwigs. I'll be very interested to read about your herb adventures! Most are actually repellent to deer, rabbits, etc.

    Anyway, sorry to go on. It was a quiet, frugal week for us outside of the $$ of oral surgery on Friday. --Elise

    1. Elise, that's a lot of good herb information, thank you! I'm really interested in Rosemary's effect on asthma. I'm going to research that more. Thank you!

  5. I love that you participate in your hubby's interests even if they are not your own. Spending that time together would be enough of a draw for me- add in snacks and I couldn't refuse 😂

    This week, we got our deer cut up. The best parts were canned and the rest was frozen to be ground when we get the opportunity. We saved the bones for broth. I have flash frozen them and just need to bag them up.

    I am harvesting nettle as well. Our backyard is almost solid nettle this time of year, so I was able to harvest a large basket. This is spread out on a large table to dry. I am not bothering to clean it, as this will be for the chickens. I read that dried nettle improves egg production and quality. It does the same with milk production in dairy animals. I will harvest until it either dies off or I get a feed sack full. I also have some growing in the garden (where the animals don't potty) that I will harvest for our own consumption.

    I have a very large list of herbs I'd like to grow. I already have spearmint, which I love as a tea or in iced water. I'd like to get a hibiscus this year. Sometimes our nursery has chocolate mint, which I imagine would make a delicious tea. If they have a stevia plant, I will get that as well. I just recently learned that blackberry leaves are edible. It is the only kind of berry we can grow in our area, so I want to plant some of those too. I could go on...

    We learned this week that Colton's school job (his side job) will end in March of this year. We knew it might be a possibility if the contract didn't renew (it was part of a covid relief program), but the agency was pushing for it to continue so we thought it might. We prepared nonetheless, and I'm glad we did. I never factored that income into the budget- it all went to savings or home improvements- so our lifestyle will not change very much, but the knowledge that it isn't there will be in the back of my mind and, no doubt, warrant a greater amount of caution when it comes to spending.

    1. Kelsey, would you mind sharing how you grind the frozen venison? There's a meat shop about 30 minutes from us that sells deer, elk, etc. meat. I've thought about buying some ground venison in the near future to see how Hubs likes it. My grandfather always had the scraps made into sausage. Ground meat sounds more cost effective. Grandpa also often had the hides made into children's sized coats or jackets, hats and whatnot. One neighbor is now raising meat rabbits. They're the same neighbors who have chickens and goats. I'll be buying eggs from her from here on out ($5 per dozen isn't bad for fresh eggs), goat cheese and will try cooking up a rabbit. It's been many years since I've done that.

      Sorry to hear about the loss of the side job, but glad you're well prepared for it. --Elise

    2. Elise, we use an electric meat grinder to grind our venison. Before we bought the grinder, we used the grinding attachment for our Kitchen-Aid mixer, but with the volume that we process, it proved too much for the mixer to handle. The grinder was a good investment considering the majority of the meat we eat throughout the year is venison that Colton harvests. It more than paid for itself in the first year.

      We don't typically freeze the meat before grinding, but we had to this time as we just didn't have the time to process it all at once with Colton's work schedule. It is already cut up- we will just partially thaw it before running it through the grinder.

      I am glad you have a neighbor that can supply you with quality meat and eggs. We are getting dairy sheep next month, and we had planned on getting pigs at a later date, but the opportunity has presented itself to get pigs sooner at a discounted price, so we will be picking them up on Saturday. This should supply us with all the meat we need, unless we want beef every now and then. In that case, our neighbor raises grass-fed beef and has already expressed an interest in our pork and raw milk. She is like-minded, so I see some bartering happening in the future if all goes well.

    3. I forgot to mention that getting venison from the meat shop to test it out first is a good idea. Some people think it has a wild, "game-y" taste. I can tell it has a different taste than beef, but it is my "normal" since venison is what I was raised on and have eaten my whole life. Fun fact: one of the recent winners of the cooking competition show, Masterchef Kids, is from our county. Her winning dish was fried venison, which apparently blew the judges away. Fried venison is a common household dish in our area, and yes, it is delicious.

    4. Oh cool on the MasterChef Kid. I remember her!

    5. Thank you, Kelsey. Pigs! How exciting! And dairy sheep, too! You'll soon be all set up. :-D

    6. Kelsey, how wise you are for handling your husband's 'extra work' paychecks the way you did. When hubby is able to pick up extra work, we handle it the same way.

      I have grown stevia here before. I had a hard time getting the seeds to germinate but once they did, it was an easy grow for our hot and humid weather.

  6. A favorite tea blend this winter has been homegrown nettles, lemon balm and spearmint. I'm glad my husband isn't into sports, but the way you and your husband negotiate the Super Bowl sounds like a good thing.

    1. Laurie, I'll have to try that herb tea blend, thank you!

  7. dried blackberry leaves make great tea, also mullein. Dee in NC

    1. Dee, if our blackberry brambles come back this spring, I'll give this blend a try. Thank you.

  8. We watched the SB. We’re both big sports fans plus I’m a fan of the Chiefs❤️

    1. Lee Ann, It didn't matter who won to me, but it was a good game.

  9. Patsy, may I ask what intermittent fasting program you're using? I've just started looking into the idea as I need to lose some weight due to health issues. Sounds like a productive week, too!

    1. Jill, if you don't mind my jumping in, there are different types of intermittent fasting, but it generally means going several hours w/o anything other than water, coffee, tea, etc. Hub's uncle lost 70 lbs. and cleared up several health issues by eating only one meal per day. We do something different. Neither of us has ever been much of a morning eater, so we have a light meal we call brunch at around noon, then a regular dinner. We might have a small snack of fruit or crackers with cheese or PB, or a handful of nuts in the late afternoon, as our dinner happens at about 7 pm. Both of us are diabetic. No issues. We've both been losing weight slowly. Our A1C numbers are great (5.9 and 6.5), and our blood pressure is excellent. It's worked so well for us that Hubs can now go off of Trulicity shots once per week. Check with your doctor, but you can probably find an intermittent fasting plan that works for you. --Elise

    2. Jill, in a nutshell, Intermittent fasting is having 2 'windows' in your day every 24 hours. The window where you eat and the window where you don't eat. You get to decide how long each window is. I am currently doing an 18/6 meaning that I don't eat for 18 straight hours and eat my meals in a 6-hour window. (I started with a 12/12 window and worked my way up to where I'm at now. My ultimate goal is a 20/4 ratio, but I'm baby stepping my way there.) During my non-eating hours I drink only water, some can drink herbal teas and it not mess up their clean fast and I plan to that try out that route as soon as I get a little more experience under my belt. A clean fast is only drinking liquids that won't spike your insulin which includes water, unsweetened black tea and plain black coffee. Like I said, from my research some are able to add some herbal teas without spiking their insulin. Go to your library and check out books by Gin Stevens on intermittent fasting. She explains the science behind it along with so much more, which helps to understand what's happening in our bodies when we fast. Also, check Youtube for Dr. Jason Fung. He explains it so much better than I can and has a tremendous amount of info on his channel. I hope this helps. I lost my weight by counting calories, I wish I had known about intermittent fasting then, I would have chosen that plan over counting calories. I am in the process of switching over now. Good luck!

  10. Thank you Patsy and Elise for the intermittent fasting information. I will be doing further research on this and appreciate all the info and references. Best wishes to you all! Jill