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

Monday, May 13, 2024

A Journal of My Days: 5/13/24

It's been a good week and a busy one!  We really are doing well considering all that's happened!

We're adjusting to hubby's temporary 'restrictions' and moving on with life.  He has four medical appointments this week, after that maybe we will begin to get some answers.

Thank you to all who are lifting us both up in prayers, it means a lot to both of us. He's ready for this season to be over and so am I!

In the meantime, life does indeed go on and I want to talk briefly to you about 'home economies.'

(Picture:  our plum trees are full of plums.)

What do I mean when I say 'home economies?'  I mean all the little and big things we do to stretch our incomes in our homes.

Every time we use something up instead of tossing it, we're stretching our home economies.  Every time we search for and use a less expensive item or way of doing something, we're stretching our home economies.  Every time we settle for the cut of meat that's on sale instead of purchasing the higher priced one we wanted, we're stretching our home economies.  Every time we carefully calculate and consider the best financial decisions for our families and homes, we're stretching our home economies.  

It takes diligence and it's going to look different for each of us, here's what it looked like for us this week ...

Back in early spring I planted English peas, and they were ready to be harvested this week.  

We don't use many of this type peas, but they are great in pot pies, soups and stews so I try to grow enough to meet our needs from year to year.  

After harvesting and shelling the peas, I flash froze them, bagged them up and added them to the freezer part of our pantry.  

When I get ready to use them, I'll open a bag, take out what I need and then reseal the bag.

Speaking of our garden, most everything in our row garden is a bust.  Hubby's health issues came at a time that our row garden needed plowing, weeding and fertilizing.  I just could not do it all and so we chose to let the row garden go.  Our potatoes, beets and storage onions are all a bust and we'll be looking to replace them along with things we did not get planted in time to beat the heat throughout the summer as we have opportunity.

I have been harvesting herbs almost daily and dehydrating them.  My dehydrator is definitely earning it's keep right now!  As I'm working on this post, it's full of pine needles and humming away!

Did you know that pine needles have medicinal properties?  It was one of those things I had heard about, but that was as far as it went.   After talking to a friend this week about pine needles and since we have a pine tree in our yard, I decided it was time I learned what those medicinal properties were.  I'm in the early stages of learning, do you have any knowledge on the medicinal properties of pine needles that you can share!

I'm making a concentrated effort to learn as much about herbs that I can grow or that can be forged near me as possible.  The same is true for other home remedies.  Using castor oil packs on my husband's foot has sped up his recovery and helped with his discomfort.  I'm in the process of making several herbal oils to be used for various ailments and remedies as well.  I'm not discounting modern medicine, it has its place, but if it's something minor that I can treat at home, I want to be prepared to do that if and when a need arises.  No, I am not a doctor, any kind of medical professional, certified herbalist or anything.  I'm just me trying to look after my family the best I can.

(Pictured:  elderberry flowers)

Staying on the topic of herbs and home remedies, I've been working on getting my herbal and home remedies notebook tidied up and organized.  I like to keep it neat and organized and ready to pull off the shelf when needed.  It makes finding what I'm looking for easier and quicker.  Generally, when I need it, I need it then and having it organized means I don't have to waste precious time looking for it.

Hubby was gifted a spiral cut ham at work.  He brought it home, I cooked it, let it cool, and plan to package the slices up into meal size portions and freeze them.  The smaller pieces/chunks will be frozen separately and will be used to go in beans, soups, collards etc.  The smallest of pieces will be chopped up and frozen for use in omelets.  We can't forget the bone; it will be packaged and frozen as well.  What about the broth that came from cooking it, well that was strained and will be frozen for use in soups and stews.  This year, every little bit counts!

Hubby got a phone call last night from a neighbor fisherman friend wanting to know if he wanted some freshly just caught fish.   Hubby said yes, went and got them and then cleaned and dressed them.  There was enough for a meal and enough to freeze for a future meal.  

That's two things (1) ham and (2) fish that God provided for our pantry this week.  Yes, He is going before us and preparing the way.  We are so thankful!

Deuteronomy 31:8 NKJV... And the LordHe is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”

I cooked pork chops in our air-fryer and they were good!  I brushed each chop with olive oil and added seasoning and salt to both sides.  I preheated the air-fryer to 400 degrees and cooked them about 20 minutes each, turning them halfway through.  These were half inch thick chops and rather large in addition.

(pictured:  our broccoli is making some pretty heads)

I planted a small area on one end of our arch-trellised raised bed with cucumbers for us to have to eat on during the summer and I got the last of the tomato plants planted that we grew from seeds.  I harvested more of our carrots this week.  Some underground varmint, hubby says its rats, are feasting on them.  I'm in a race to get them up and out of the ground before whatever it is samples all of them!

Hubby is able to put weight on his foot now, so that's freeing up some of my time that was occupied with taking care of his needs.  Consequently, those carrots are on my list to 'get out of the ground' ASAP!

I need some summer shorts; I wear the knee length version when working in the yard or garden, so I decided to take a pajama pants pattern that fits me and just make them knee-length.  I have plenty of fabric to choose from in my 'sewing pantry' so all I need to do is carve out some time to do it.  Since, I'll be making several pairs, I think I'll cut out and sew them assembling line style.  Will I win any fashion statements with these summer shorts, no, but they will work just fine for home wear!  I'm hoping to get to that this week as our weather is warming up and they will soon be needed!

Hubby and I will be concentrating on doing more 'bargain hunting' this summer than we have in a while.  Since we made the decision to step back from our usual large garden this year, we're looking for other ways to keep our pantry stocked.  Serious bargain hunting is one of the ways we plan to do that.

One more thing:  For those ladies who are following along with our ladies Bible class over on From This Heart of Mine, the introduction to our new study 'Mary of Bethany: Choosing the Better' has been posted HERE.

That’s it for this week, what has your 'home economies' looked like this week? 

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 

My second blog:  From This Heart of Mine, where I share my love for God and His Word through my personal Bibe study.  Physical preparedness is important, but not near as important as spiritual preparedness.  Ladies, join me over at From This Heart of Mine and study God's Word with me.

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  1. I would look to local farmers (in this area Amish and Mennonite) that sell extra produce. The one the grows tomatoes for auction will sell or give me tomaotes if I help clear his green house in the end of season or buy the "wrong" size ones he had. Say something to them NOW as they can set aside what you want to buy.

    1. Chef Owings, thank you for the reminder, getting produce locally is part of our backup plan as is diligently watching loss leader sales at the grocery store for other items.

  2. I have recently read that jelly and syrup can be made from pinecones and have seen articles on the new tips of growth on spruce trees being good for medicinal things. God sure did take care of us - He has given us all we really need. How wonderful on both of the free meat items!
    Have a good week. Prayers for you both.

    1. Cheryl, I'm finding it interesting learning about herbs and plants and how they can benefit us. Yes, God did indeed take care of us. Sadly, though, the knowledge that our great grandparents knew on the subject has been lost and we're having to relearn it all again.

  3. Patsy, that's a lot of GOOD news to start a new week. Well, aside from the potatoes, beets and onions. There's always a fall crop, though, and I look forward to seeing how the Lord provides for you. What a provision with the ham---which will make many, many meals--and fish! Such amazing news of your husband's healing, too. I'll be praying the tests this week reveal a cause and solution for his other health issues.

    I've decided herbs will be my container garden concentration this year. Our late frost date is May 31st according to Flagstaff weather service. As always, I'm grateful to have choices and to keep learning. It ties into your focus of this blog post--"home economies". Whatever our situation is, being able to do something/anything provides a sense of purpose to our daily lives. When something doesn't work out as planned, we learn and grow. By the grace of God new opportunities arise.

    Regarding pine needles, according to Chestnut School of Herbal medicine, you'll want the tender, new growth pine needles (the tips), not dried... "The fresh needles and buds, picked in the springtime, are called “pine tops.” These are boiled in water, and the tea is consumed for fevers, coughs, and colds. The needles are also diuretic, helping to increase urination." So... they're mostly used fresh in as a tea, which is high in vitamin C. Tribal nations used/use it as a tea for congestion. Hope that helps. --Elise

    1. Elise, thank you for the info on pine needles. I will add it to my research notes. I too and focusing on my herbs more this year since gardening as a whole is off the table for now. Thank you for your inspiring and encouraging comment!

  4. Interested in hearing more about the pine needles

  5. I am happy to hear that your Hubby's foot is doing so much better. I have always watched in wonder during those times when we have been 'down' and so blessed to see how the Lord provides. I am sure you will see those amazing provisions as well. and it has already started for you! We are planting nothing but basil. Squirrels will not leave other herbs alone and we just don't have the strength to care for anything else this year.. I am intrigued by the pine needles. I have never heard of that and will be looking forward to learning more.

    I got an excited text from my neighbor this morning asking if we had bought a new van. Nope, not doing that. It's just the rental in our driveway. Body shop has found more damage so we are waiting to know if the insurance is going to cover that or total it. Either way we will be fixing the van we have.

    We are making a real effort to use what we have but also to restock some areas with the Memorial Day sales. We know we use six two pound boxes of frozen burgers in a year so we are watching to buy those and a few condiments. Also a restock on good hot dogs. We did a lot of using up some bits and ends of things last week. Several small amounts of open cheese made the most delicious mac n' cheese and of course it will never be that same taste again. We pointed out an over charge at the grocery store and got four free items. But, we also noticed that some packages are so much smaller that we think we are getting what we are used to until we go to eat it and instead of six servings there were only four. We need to be more watchful of that.

    We talked about the fact that we must be mindful of getting rid of things that we may need because replacing anything now is so expensive. The seat on our big cedar porch swing needs to be replaced so we are going to call the manufacturer and ask if we can buy just what we need. In this case it pays to buy USA made because the company has been helpful that way in the past and that would not happen with a made in China throw away item. We paid more to get a better product in the beginning and it has paid off because we have had the swing and frame for almost ten years.

    Today Hubby is working on getting the screen porch ready for use. If we can sit on our porch and eat our meals in the summer it is even better than eating out to us.

    1. Lana, as you know we too are stepping back from much of our gardening this year due to hubby's health issues. Surprisingly, I am okay with it. I'm learning to listen more carefully to what my body is telling me and to recognize when I need to let something go for a season.

      I hope your van is fixable and that the insurance company will pay to have it fixed. New and used vehicles are so expensive, I would strive to fix it too if at all possible.

      I think you're spot on about being mindful of getting rid of things right now. If you can find a replacement, the quality is likely not as good, and the price is so much more expensive.

      I hope your hubby is successful in getting the screen porch ready for some outdoor eating. Sadly, the heat and humidity and mosquitoes won't allow that for us here!

  6. I'm so glad your husband's foot is improving. What a blessing to receive the ham and fish. I purchased a ham last week, knowing we would get tons of meals from it. The bone is in the freezer for a future pot of beans. I also bought some marked down produce and have been making sure it gets used or cooked before it goes to waste.
    I have had seasons where a garden wasn't possible (at least to the scale I am used to) but God has always provided in other ways. I think of the Proverbs 31 woman who brought her food from afar, and that takes away the pressure of thinking I have to grow everything myself.
    I bought a new dress, but not before mulling over it for a week. I only have about three warm weather outfits for church, and while I really like them, I don't want to wear them out from overuse. I bought my new one on sale, and even though it was actually hard to do in my "hunker down" mindset, I decided I would regret it in the long run if I didn't. I also determined to "shop" my closet and see if I can come up with some new combinations.
    James is potty training and doing very well. I am glad not to be buying diapers anymore.
    My entertainment has been listening to Homemaking Radio on YouTube while I fold laundry (free) and watching the Lark Rise to Candleford series in the evenings, which I found for $2 at the thrift store. It is the entire series, which has been on my wish list, but is $40 on Amazon. The DVDs don't even look like they've been watched. I couldn't believe my find! I canceled the free trials of various streaming services and programs that are about to expire to keep from getting hit by renewal fees. To be honest, I'm glad for them to be gone anyway. Even with wholesome content (which is hard to find), the ads have become extremely inappropriate.
    I am doing my best to cultivate again that feeling of contentment that I felt before we started working on all our projects. I do this by delighting in simple pleasures and by being a good steward of what I already have. I love my family and I enjoy my work.

    1. Kelsey, I've noticed a ramping up of extremely inappropriate commercials on wholesome content TV as well. I'm glad you mentioned this as I've been feeling really convicted about it. We don't have satellite, cable or any kind of streaming services but the inappropriate commercials are even making their way into old timey antenna TV shows as well. Wholesome TV is not wholesome if the commercials are so blatantly inappropriate. Time to look for an alternate. For what it's worth, some Youtube commercials/ads are not so good either.

      My goal for my summer wardrobe is to shop from what I have with, like you, restyling in mind or stitch up what I need. Having said that though, I just bought myself a new dress too, a simple linen black dress for the summer that can be styled many ways. The price was less than $25. It will work well with what I already have and give me more styling options. I'm not a big clothing shopper, but every now and then I do indulge!!!

    2. I agree about the YouTube commercials. I do not watch YouTube if the kids are around because of the ads. One thing about the Homemaking Radio is that you can listen through the lady's blog instead of on YouTube and there are no ads that way. She even says in her videos to exit out of YouTube and go to her site for that reason. I really appreciate that.

      I think you will get a lot of use out of such a versatile dress. It sounds like a wardrobe staple that will give you many options, and that makes it a good investment 😉

  7. Patsy,every part of the English pea vine is edible.
    after harvesting the pea, or before. stir fry, salads ,etc many uses. lots of uses available on the internet. prayers for your husband and you..Dee in NC. also check the leaves and vines of most every veg we can grow lots of info available.

    1. Dee, thank you for those tips and thank you for your prayers!

  8. I've been eating from my pantry and freezer and just building a grocery list until shopping was urgent. If I'm not at the store, I'm not tempted. It's been about 3 weeks since I last shopped. Yesterday I broke down and went, walked out with essentials and also a few cans of what I considered a good buy. The shelves in my store were showing signs of shortages, just like they were a few years back. No small packs of refrigerator biscuits and crescent rolls (small household, they work perfectly), limited options for butter and margarine, open spaces in the pasta aisle, eggs (with a limit due to shortages again), and then in their baked beans section -- huge gaps, and the few remaining store brand options (which I like) still had their regular shelf price tag, where name brand had new tags on the shelf, nearly double in price. So, I believe prices on store brand will likely follow. Since this is an area of my pantry that needs to be filled for the summer months, I grabbed what they had at $1.25/can vs. $2.35 or name brand. I was also unintentionally blessed by Amazon this week. I'd ordered a 3-pack of Lipton Cold Brew Decaf tea bags, since none of my stores carry the decaf ones. They shipped me a case! Since its a food item, no returns. Each box will make roughly 7 pitchers of tea. I've got enough to last for years and will be blessing a couple of friends with some!

    1. Lori, we have been staying out of the grocery stores a lot as well for the same reasons. When we do go, we shop hard for the loss leaders and clearanced items.

      Sounds like you've had blessings come your way this week as well!

  9. Last week , I went into the discount grocery to see what was on clearance and scored big time. I came home with a load of produce for under $10, ground beef for $1.59/pound, country style pork ribs and pork chops for under $2. With the chicken and sausage I put in the freezer, I had 14 meal portions for the two of us and that for under $20 which is major with meat these days. I like to buy a bulk smoked sausage and when they fold it there are crimped sections that have little meat. I thought those would make great pieces for seasoning so I cut those separate from the rest.

    Today I have been processing all the produce. I've roasted tomatillos, broccoli and cauliflower. I set some broccoli aside for a side dish one night this week and the little bits of broccoli and cauliflower have been made into a salad to eat as a side. I plan to process the tomatillos, onion and a jalapeno to make a sauce that I'll freeze to use in future. I will also freeze cauliflower and broccoli that I have roasted. We'll eat some of that tonight as well to go with our supper.

    I had some granola cereal that was recalled. Though we'd eaten one full box (it was FINE), I was sent a compensation of 4 $4 and 3 $1 coupons from the manufacturer that cover several products. Two of those items are on sale this week as a Buy one Get one sale. I plan to buy those if I am not already oversupplied with these products.

    As well my daughter-in-law works in the dairy section of a grocery and has offered me as many boxes of butter that just expired as I could put in the freezer. I told her how many I could store safely and thanked her!

    When transplanting things outdoors, I found onions that were planted last year but didn't do much of anything that had died down and are now growing again. I transplanted those into a separate bed with other carrots and garlic I had planted.

    I chuckled over your reminder of not wasting any food. Today as I was processing the broccoli and cauliflower, I had a couple pieces of stem I was tempted to throw away, but I trimmed them up and USED them.

    1. Terri, I loved reading your comment and saw myself doing the same things as you did even down to the broccoli and cauliflower stems! I do believe we are kindred spirits in this area!!!