More Green and Thrifty


Two weeks ago my lovely friend Monique flew away to visit family on the Gold Coast, and she left me a bag of groceries that would have otherwise gone off in the fridge. So this week has been a game of What Can I Do With What I Have Been Gifted? I wish I had taken a photo of the ingredients before I greedily ate them up, but we all know that forward planning and organisation is not my thing. However, I did manage to find ways to almost everything I was gifted, and I am very pleased about that. And this is how you can tell true friends - they are the ones who know it's okay to give you the last last centimetre of goat's cheese in the jar, and the last two centimetres of beet sauerkraut. Monique's parting words: I just know you will find a use for the last two millimetres of goat's cheese flavoured oil in the bottom of the jar. Well, of course I did, in fact I made it my priority. 

Most of the ingredients I was gifted were vegies, and I started in on them right away. Most of the pumpkin and one sad beet went right into the oven to be roasted, along with a couple of potatoes from my friend Carla's flower farm. You need to grow potatoes on a flower farm because you cannot live on dahlias (although they are edible..). I used the goat's cheese oil to roast the veg, and some rosemary from the garden. I ate this for dinner along with a bunch of white beans I had been cooking in the crockpot. 

Roast vegie bowl with white beans and Ngaio Marsh mystery audio book for dinner

Then I made a dozen little eggy muffins with eggs from Carla's chickens, and cream cheese, the last scoop of goat's cheese from the bottom of the jar, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and half a leek from Monique. Plus, I threw in some cubes of the roast pumpkin. These were very yummy and I ate a couple every day for lunch until they were gone. Then I put some soup on. The rest of the pumpkin, half a left-over sweet potato from my own stores, potatoes from Carla, old carrots from the bottom of the fridge, some cabbage Paul gave me a couple of weeks ago and a bunch of parsley and a capsicum from Monique. Also more beans from the crockpot. Doing pretty well, but not finished yet. Some apples from Monique's apple tree and some overripe pears in the fruit bowl turned into stewed fruit for my porridge, and I added three mushrooms from Monique to the lamb shank stew I made for Red. Whew. Nearly done. Lastly I dried a sprig of basil from Monique's garden to add to my home-dried basil stash. 

Eggy muffins made with gifted left-overs

I am feeling very fortunate that so many of my calories these last couple of weeks have come from what would in some households have been composted before catching a flight out of town. Here's to friends who hate food waste as much as I do, and who know that I will value every scrap:) 

Sadly, Mon brought covid back home with her, a gift from her daughter, because it's nearly Mother's Day, right? So I made her Nourishing Soup with a lot of hearty veg and lentils.

In further thrifty news I have been working my way through the mending basket. I have four, count them, four baskets of mending ranged around my loungeroom on top of cupboards. I have accumulated all these over the years, because I hate throwing anything out, but not quite got to the actual mending bit.. When The Girl came back to visit at Christmas she helped me to rescue about five shirts, but then the momentum left me, until this week when I took a deep breath and pulled down the first basket. It is quite a large basket. I have made one pile of sewing that requires me getting the machine out. That may happen sometime during the winter. And with the help of audio books I have been slowly making my way through the rest of the basket. I am about halfway through the hand mending. In one basket, mind you. As of now I have rescued four pairs of socks, one pair of jeans, a thermal top and one pair of yoga pants (all darning), and a tank top and a pair of undies that just needed seams sewn back up. I am so happy with myself! These are clothes that without repairs would have ended up in landfill, and I have given them a second life, and given myself a heap of clothes back. I still have three and half mending baskets to go. Think of all the clothes I will have at the end of that!

Darning my merino thermal top and bamboo socks with embroidery thread. Both these items were hand-me-downs and now they are living an extra life:)

It is cold in the evenings now and I have started lighting the fire. I am using some logs I collected two years ago when I was still doing gardening work, from a client who was pruning a bunch of trees, birch, willow and oak. I stored them under the deck and now they are dry I have been sawing them into foot lengths with my little red chainsaw. I now have a couple of week's worth of logs stored in my shed. I will need a lot more, but right now I have free heat:)

And it is winter garden time. Actually, it is a bit late, as usual, but I have grown a lot of winter veg from seed and am throwing them in the ground as fast as they are ready. Snow peas, broad beans, lettuce, spinach. The kale I planted form seed got eaten up by evil cabbage moths, so I had to buy a punnet. But even so, it is pretty good value to spend three dollars for eight kale plants which will see me all through the winter, the gardening gods willing. I paid three dollars last week for a bag of baby kale which will last me for one week. It really is cheaper to grow your own.

Snow peas before planting and then planted in their blackbird-proof cage. Snow pea jail, but it is for their own good..

This week has been about pumpkins. I never grow pumpkins because I think they take up too much garden space, but this year a butternut pumpkin grew out of the compost I spread on the garden in spring, and it grew up the bean trellis, all by itself, and now I am going to plant pumpkins in front of the trellis every year. It was the most beautiful pumpkin, and I saved its seeds, by scooping them out, rinsing them in a sieve and drying them on paper towel.

And then the lovely Carla presented me with a pumpkin, also from the flower farm. 

And just to prove that Carla grows something other than vegetables on her flower farm, here are photos I took when I was helping with deadheading one day:



And not a pumpkin to be seen...

A couple of last things - in the Feng Shui post I promised Kate a photo of all the shiny things I hang in my window to catch the sun, and here it is:

All of these were hand-made by Red, except the angel which I bought from a craft market many years ago.

Last thing, a reader asked about home-made cleaners in the last post. Here are links to the bathroom cleaner I use, and I know I've posted my general purpose spray recipe but can't find it, so here is the Miracle Spray recipe that I use, and here are the rave reviews of it and suggestions of how to use it. Just use any washing soda, the brand is not important. I get mine from the bulk food shop. This is such a cheap and effective spray!

As always, tell me about your green and thrifty projects. Your stories give much inspiration to us all.


Anonymous said…
Always is so good to have a new post from you! Last week we gathered as a family at the beach. My spirit is still full from spending time with my daughters, and my 6 year old grandson. My spirit is full. I will be implementing lots of thrifty meals, doing lots of my own yard work (which I normally do anyway with few exceptions), and mending worn clothes to save money. I've decided this vacation is a must every year for all of our mental and physical health, so I am starting to save now.
Tomatoes are producing well. It's so wonderful to walk out to the garden and pick vegetables and prepare food with!
Be well, my friend.
simplelife said…
I love posts like this one Jo, I don’t know many (maybe none really) people in my real life who live this way to this extent. Sometimes I feel like the odd one out, it’s nice to know that I’m not.
Thanks for the pic of all your pretty suncatchers, I do have 1 in my dining space even though the angle of the sun never actually hits it I think I’m going to collect some more and hang them anyway, you are right they are cheerful.
I love the feeling I get when I find ways to use up all the soggy, sad bits hanging around the fridge and pantry and actually make something really tasty. The only downside is I can never repeat it.
Cheers Kate.
Jo said…
Patricia, it is even easier to be thrifty when there is a specific goal in mind. And what a grand goal, and I am so glad that you had a splendid vacation. Florida must be the perfect climate for tomatoes if you are getting them already. It really is getting very expensive to buy fresh produce here in Australia, and I've heard it is the same in the US, so each and every home-grown tomato is a significant saving nowadays.

Kate, you are so right about Fridge Soup! Never the same twice. Sometimes that is a good thing, although mostly it turns out ok. If I am ever doubtful about the mix of odd veg when making the soup I add a teaspoon of tikka masala curry paste to the onion when I'm sauteeing it, and add lentils and claim it is dhal.
Treaders said…
You know she's a true friend who understands you when she basically says "I have this used Q-tip but I only used one end and would you like it" don't you! Well done on getting to that sewing. I'm actually president of our sewing club (but haven't been for quite some time since Macron introduced vaccine mandatesfor such clubs) and I know I have to set to and use up my stash of beautiful fabric. So onwards and upwards it is. Oh, and I hope mom is doing ok!
Anonymous said…
Joy to wake up & find a new post to read with my morning cuppa. Is that one of Grandma Hazel’s butter knives in the eggy tart pictures? HB
simplelife said…
Dhal… that is genius Jo. Thanks for the tip.
Cheers Kate
Deborah said…
Clever use of Monique's munificence! Food gifts are such a nice surprise. My neighbours have started sharing their lemons and I love it! Do you think I can pick the kumquats outside and empty house For Sale? They really add something to marmalade.

Uncomfortable about the amount of clothing in land fill so thought I would try turning the collars on a few of my husband's shirts. I remember my Grandmother and Mother doing this but the stitches are so tiny! Probably time to buy a stronger pair of magnifying glasses. Mending is so satisfying.

I have planted snow peas in a cage! We have peckish river rats who are sure I grow veg for them. My solution is a frame with mesh; so unattractive, so essential.

Hope you and Paul are well and feel settled.

Jo said…
Anna, true friends are the ones where you don't have to worry about being socially acceptable:) re your stash, what plans do you have? I am wondering if the grandson is maybe giving you some bright ideas for projects?
Monique is feeling much better now, but here is my experience, not personal experience, but anecdotal, I am seeing people not bouncing back from covid, but having symptoms going on for some weeks. Paul still has a cough hanging about.

Hannah, it absolutely is! I have quite the collection. Let me know if you want any and I'll post some to you:) xx

Kate, it is extraordinary what you can get away with by adding curry paste, calling it dhal and serving it over rice:)

Deborah, when my current house was for sale the apricot tree was dripping with apricots and my neighbour rang the real estate agent to ask if he could pick them, and was given permission, so worth a try (it wasn't until after apricot season was over that I bought it, so without him the whole crop would have gone to waste). So I say, it's worth a try!
I remember my own granny turning collars on my grandpa's shirts! She used the sewing machine though. Have you tried it that way? I think that is brilliant and enterprising of you! I have taken collars out of shirts before, which gives them a grandpa collar, an effect I quite like. My granny also used to turn sheets when they got thin in the middle, outside in with a French seam. My granny was a queen of thrift, and so was yours by the sound of it:)
Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

It is a truth universally acknowledged that every girl needs a little red chainsaw. And don't get me wrong I'm serious too, I think it is awesome that you have such a beast. They're such a useful tool and Sandra has access to many such chain cutting tools here - only sensible given that firewood is our only source of heating fuel. Why the sharpening of such devices is my job remains a mystery. Of course the largest chainsaw is mine alone, a man cannot share everything with his lady! It does make the sensitive person wonder how warm all our respective houses would be without such useful machines? Probably a mite chilly if I had to hazard a guess.

Your meals look very tasty. Respect.

Hope Paul is recovering and sending best wishes to you two.


sustainablemum said…
How wonderful to be given a bag of veg and the contents of someone's fridge before they go away. We used to do this with our neighbour who sadly died last year so not sure who we will give it to now!

I am glad to read that someone else has a very large mending pile, I have one of these too! It is very satisfying to work your way through it isn't it, but like you I always put it off!
GretchenJoanna said…
The gardening news and pictures are delicious to all my senses. A truly beautiful butternut. I had to buy some starts yesterday because... I don't know why, but my own starts started and then the tomatoes and eggplant in particular didn't go anywhere. I hope the zinnias and the little pumpkins will take off once I get them in the ground. I saved seeds from the sweetest pumpkins I ate last year, which were small ones that I bought for decorations.
Jo said…
Chris, It would certainly have required much more muscle power back in the day to get the wood in.. I do love that little chainsaw although I really only cut limb wood with it, but limb wood is very handy on a fire to get the big logs crackling along.

Gretchen Joanna, I have discovered that transplanting tomatoes from their little starter pots into slightly bigger ones, and feeding them weekly with liquid fertiliser is key. Sometimes I think I can get away without transplanting them into bigger pots, but I am only deluding myself...
followthatchild said…
I am a Montessori kindy teacher and the children are bringing in lots of mandarins. We collect the skins in a jar and pour in vinegar. After two weeks we put it into spray bottles and the children use it to wipe the tables clean and to clean the windows and mirrors.
Jo said…
followthatchild, that is brilliant! I have kind of half paid attention to the whole vinegar/citrus skin thing, but not enough to realise how simple it is. Thank you for your very clear, one sentence instruction. I will use my bag of oranges this week to whip some up. I bet your classroom smells divine:)
Mary said…
Jo, I humbly bow to your inspiring green and thrifty skills. I wish I had some "Nourishing Soup" in my freezer, and your visible mending is nothing short of lovely. I also have heaps of things waiting to be mended someday.
Blueberry said…
The bowl of veggies looks great. The price for the kale plants is a bargain hope the cabbage moths just go away. Take Care
Jo said…
Mary, I think we should start a mending club and we can all commit to mending something each week. i haven't touched my mending basket since this post!

Blueberry, I am pleased to say the cabbage moth menace is slowing down with the cooler weather. All the kale is planted out and still intact..
Jo said…
Sustainable Mum, somehow blogger ate your comment and I just now found it in the innards and posted it up. I agree it is very good to have mutual gifting circles, and hope you find a like-minded neighbour again soon. As for the mending pile, well, see my new post. We are going to get it done!

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