~ from my home to yours, living the Working Pantry lifestyle ~ surviving today's economy ~ a can-do spirit and attitude ~

Monday, February 26, 2024

A Journal of My Days 2024: 2/26

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 …

(picture:  One of our roosters was cutting loose in a hearty cock-a-doodle-do!!!)

In the Vegetable Garden:  We got our potatoes (Red Pontiac) planted!!!  I also planted some peas (Little Marvel), leeks, beets and staked my claim on a row in the row garden for flowers.  A row of flowers in the vegetable garden will help bring in pollinators, supply us with cut flowers and just simply add beauty to the garden area.

In the Kitchen:   I made more sourdough crackers, hoagie style buns and regular hamburger buns out of my old-fashioned sourdough starter.  I seasoned the crackers with sage and garlic this time and hubby said he really liked the taste of them.  Next week I'll have to make a bigger batch!  We had meatball subs over the weekend with the hoagie style buns.  I individually
wrapped and froze the hamburger buns for future use.  (Pictured are the buns that I froze.)

Hubby mentioned to me that a partial jug of milk we had in the refrigerator was beginning to taste old.  I was not about to let that milk go to ruin, so I pulled some frozen bananas out of the freezer and baked up a couple of loaves of banana bread followed by a large squash casserole.  With both of these I used up the milk in question and got ahead with some weekend cooking as well.

I have to admit that intentionally staying out of the grocery store has sparked a streak of creativity in me, I'm eager to see what I can make with what I have on hand!

In the Pantry:  I harvested young, fresh spring parsley on Monday of this week and after chopping and giving it a good wash, I laid it out on a pan by the wood stove and let the heat from it dry it naturally.  Once it was dried, I crumbled it with my hands and jarred it.  This is the second herb I’ve been able to start harvesting and preserving this year.

Also, this week I decided to start focusing on what was in the freezer part of our pantry that needed to be used and or rotated out making room for this year's harvest.  The first thing I spotted was unsweetened frozen crushed strawberries from last year.  Strawberry season will be upon on in just a few weeks (they're already blooming ... the saying around here is, 30 days from bloom to strawberry) so I need to get what's left of last year's berries used and rotated out.  I started with using some of the berries in the kefir smoothie I have daily.  Over the next several weeks and until this year's berries are ready for harvesting, I'll be pouring over 'strawberry' recipes to find more ways to use them up.  I'm thinking a strawberry bundt cake individually sliced and wrapped in the freezer would be really good to have on hand when gardening season gets in full swing for those times when we want a sweet treat but don't have time to stop and cook one.

That's another thing I want to do is to get ahead with some freezer meals or components of meals for the busy gardening, harvesting and preserving season that's in the not-too-distant future for us!

Health/Fitness:  I'm looking forward to the first day of March when I'll do an overall assessment of where I'm at in my fitness and health journey.  As you know if you've been following along for any length of time, this month I transitioned from counting calories to full on intermittent fasting.  I had to go slow with the transition as I've been counting calories for almost 4 years.  I lost close to 70 pounds counting calories, so I didn't take changing what was working for me lightly.   My monthly overall assessment of where I'm at in my health and fitness journey will tell me what tweaking needs to be done, if any and if I'm on the right track.  Any fitness and or health journey is a lifelong one that has lots of twists and turns.  My change from counting calories to intermittent fasting is one of those turns for me.

Bargain and/or Loss Leader Shopping:  No shopping again this week!  We're on a roll!

From my Sewing Nook:   I took a fall Sunday night at church and have been on light restrictions this week, which meant I had time to sew!  I worked on stitching up some cloth jar covers and got a bit more done on the Log Cabind Christmas quilt my sister and I have been working on long distance via technology for several weeks.  (Our well saga put me behind, my sister has finished all her blocks and is putting her top together.  I'll get caught up though, I made some nice progress this week!   LOL, slow and steady seems to be my mantra so far this year!)

What I’m Reading:  I started two new books this week.  One a friend let me borrow, The Englisch Daughter by Cindy Woodsmall and one from the reading app Libby titled Homegrown Herbs by Tammi Hartung.    Homegrown Herbs has such good information in it that I'll probably be adding it to our library sometime in the future.

Bible Study:  I completed and posted lesson 19 in our ladies Bible study on Esther.  It can be found HERE.

Continuing Education and Skills:  my skill focus this month has been all things sourdough (the old-fashioned method and potato flake method) and I've learned a lot!  I'm really starting to feel comfortable with both methods which was the goal.

In the Herb Garden:  last week I shared that I had gotten my herbs seeds out and was making a plan for what to plant.  In that planning, I asked myself the following questions: (1) what health issues do I want to address with herbs, (2) what spice mixes do I want to make, and (3) what culinary herbs do I need for cooking purposes?  After having answered all three of these questions, here is a partial list of herbs I've decided I'll be planting this year … as of right now:

calendula (the heat from previous years finally wiped out my calendula so I'm starting over again with this herb.)

self-heal (this is a new one for me)

hops (this is another new one for me)

(I already have several herbs growing, so won’t list those.  This list is of the ones I'm in the process of starting seeds for or will be direct sowing as soon as it’s time.)

In the Flower Garden:  I started gathering all my flower seeds together to see what I have to work with.  I'm also looking through books and rose catalogs for inspiration and ideas for planting.  This book by Mary Alice Yoder is just lovely for that purpose.  I purchased it at a Mennonite store a while back and it's my go to for flower planting inspiration. 

We’re going to start ending each week with a frugal quote to hopefully help us in our ‘hunkering down, laser-focused’ frugal journey, here’s this week’s … make it a goal/challenge to see how little money you can spend and still meet your needs.

That’s it for this week, what has your week looked 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. It is so amazing to me that there are places where people are already plating garden! And harvesting. Strawberry season here in IN isn't until May - it just always amazes how different zones are. I love it.

  2. Good morning, Patsi. As I type I'm enjoying a cup of decaf and watching the beautiful sunrise. So sorry about the fall and pray that you're recovering quickly. I love Cindy Woodsmall's books and am finishing up the third in final book of a trilogy The Amish of Spring Grove The buns look delicious.

    It was an interesting week here to say the least. We decluttered more of the garage and took things to the rescue mission. Because of our hunkering down savings and some excess left over in the grocery budget we were able to take advantage of a grass fed, grass finished, rib steak sale that our new Amish market was having. It was an unbelievable price and we did stock quite a few steaks. One of my daughters who lives out of state is now one of the worship leaders at her church and through the miracle of technology we were able to see her leading and singing through their live stream. It was such a blessing.

    We made more homemade fertilizer for the garden and how have many bags to be tilled in and some to share with a few friends. I worked quit a bit in the craft room with a "Roaring Twenties" stamp and die set that I had in my stash and used the new skills that I learned on youtube when it comes to water coloring. More feedsack towels got worked on for Christmas gifts as I will be pairing them with dried herbs from our garden as gifts.
    Wishing all a blessed week. Cookie

    1. Cookie, I am recovering, my back, right knee and right wrist took the most impact, but they are better than they were. It just slowed me down a bit, that's all.

      I love it when being frugal allows us to take advantage of those great sales, we do the same type of things.

      Have you shared your homemade fertilizer with me?

      You've been busy and have lots to show for it! Way to go!

    2. Patsi, it is the fertilizer we make with the food cycler. I then add powder epsom salts to it.

    3. Cookie, I thought it might be, but you have such good ideas that I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing out on anything! Thank you.

  3. Patsi, those sourdough buns look so good I can taste them. Colton was just mentioning homemade crackers the other day. Once things settle down a little around here, I need to get my wheat berries out and start experimenting.

    We stayed away from the grocery store this week, except for one last minute stop on our way to some friends' house who had invited us over for supper. I didn't have enough notice to prepare something to contribute (they didn't ask me to, but I thought I should), so I bought chips and dip, which were on sale and I know they love. It was a hit.

    I bought another pack of seed trays so the boys could plant some seeds. When I bought my seeds, they really wanted to use some of their spending money to buy some too. It makes me happy that they wanted to buy seeds, of all things! I let them choose their own, making sure their choices were suitable to our area. John has cosmos and marigolds coming up so far, and James has cherry tomatoes. Seeing these come up has created lots of excitement. The trays came in a two pack, so I took one and planted more herbs. I have thyme, chamomile, catnip, and hollyhocks coming up, all of which can be used medicinally.

    As you know, we also bought the rest of our livestock. Everyone has settled in and is getting along very well. Colton has been building them a shed from salvaged materials. I love the way it looks. I will share more about that in the next hunkering down report.

    Colton received a phone call this week from a woman he used to work with years ago. Sadly, her health has gotten to where she can't take care of her small farm. She is selling off her animals and a lot of the contents of her house so she can move into a smaller home. She called Colton because she has a lot of preparedness items and wants us to have first choice. I am praying we can exercise wisdom and discernment in what to purchase and bring into our home (and what not to). I am grateful for her kindness and the opportunity, yet I also don't want to go overboard.

    1. Kelsey, what an amazing week! Love it that your little ones are interested in planting their own seeds, you're wise to let them do it.

      I hope you will share what preparedness items you come away with, what a blessing!

  4. Such an inspiring post to end the month and start the week, Patsy. I could use a little inspiration!

    Just a quick note about seeds. I was able to purchase a collection of 35 herb seed packets from Gardener's Basics company on a flash sale for less than $20; what I don't use will become part of the Library's seed exchange. My tip is to watch seed company websites for flash sales with free shipping. Alternatively (and it will vary from store to store), our nearest Dollar General had a display of Fordhook Heirloom vegetable seeds at $1 each on Saturday. Buy something small that you need--1/2 gallon of milk, for example--to get a $5 off $25 coupon for the upcoming Saturday and get all the seeds you need for $20 (or less). Hope that helps someone.

    1. Elise, there's a Dollar General store a few miles up the road, I'll have to pop in there to see what they have. Thanks for the tip!

  5. I'm so sorry to hear that you fell. I hope you are on the mend and did not reinjure your wrist. Keeping up with milk is a task for sure with only two in the house. I have a bunch of 24 ounce tubs of strawberries in the freezer that were 50 cents each at the salvage store and now they need to be used. The grandchildren can demolish one with waffles when they come but I have too many.

    I have been looking for split chicken breasts for months and the stores didn't even have any so I was happy to get some on sale last week. Hubby picked up a rotisserie chicken at Sam's and that will help with meals for several days. Yesterday I was able to get some food prepped and in the fridge to feed us for a few days.

    One thing I have really been thinking about and convicted of last week is the need for those of us who know how to run our homes and manage food and meals and the budget to teach those around us one on one. I am praying for that because God knows who. I have seen a disturbing trend on social media and on some blogs to almost make fun of those who do not have these basic skills. Along with that has been some making fun of those who try to impart those basic skills through YouTube, etc. Twenty-seven years ago my then neighbor came home to be a stay at home Mom and one week into that my door bell rang and there she was with two sobbing toddlers and tears streaming down her face. She came begging me to teach her how to be home because she had no knowledge in that area. Yes she was a chemist who had excelled in her career but having that degree and being smart had not prepared her at all for the new job she had undertaken. What if I had told her that she was smart enough to figure that out by herself? That is the attitude I am seeing and it is just not helpful.

    1. Lana, I've had the same on my heart and in my prayers. There are even seniors in our area who--after long, well paying careers--are at a loss about basics. It's why Patsy's focus this year ties in with my own goal of learning new-to-me things (canning) and dusting off some old ones (gardening), knowing their may be failures, to go forward with compassion, empathy and understanding. The church we're joining has its own food bank. Beyond donations/volunteering, the Lord may provide a way for me to show someone how to make the most whatever they take home? And how to best augment that with EBT or Medicare food programs? I so appreciate everyone's willingness here to share ideas of all kinds, challenges faced, and non-judgmental support, all with positive encouragement. And patience. Today I read the parable of the vineyard workers (Matt. 20). So very fitting! --Elise

    2. Thank you for this. I will pray for both of us to know who or what to do.

    3. Lana, I agree. Right now I'm seeing so many young people who have no idea of how to manage a home nor how to do the very basic things within it. If they can't buy it they are totally lost! I've been praying for a way to reach a younger audience, though I know that many of my skills are considered 'old fashioned' at best.

    4. Lana, thank you, unfortunately, I did reinjure my wrist, but it's not near as bad as before. I just need to rest it a bit more for a while.

      It's funny that you should mention helping others learn how to do basic homemaking and home running skills. I have been in prayer about the very same thing! I feel like my avenue to do this is through my writing but wouldn't oppose one on one teaching either.

    5. Patsy, Christopher's Tissue and Bone if you have it.

      One of the most rewarding periods of my life was the two years I spent mentoring my neighbor.

    6. Lana, I have some, thank you.

      I pray you find someone else to mentor, how blessed they will be. One more thing, isn't it amazing how God set this whole mentoring/blessing thing up. We are blessed when we pour ourselves out for others ... blessings for the mentor and mentee. Only God!

  6. Patsy, you can make strawberry topping to go over ice cream, or French toast. Similar to canning strawberry jam, but it is looser, no, or very little pectin needed.

    1. We love strawberry cobbler in our home. Terri @bluehousejournal

    2. Strawberry topping is a definite yes!

    3. Terri, strawberry cobbler sounds good too!