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Thursday, October 7, 2021

My Week: It’s been a challenge

Hi friends,

It’s been a challenging week for me. (Challenges are good, right?) I am writing this on my phone because my computer finally died. I was able to get an additional year from it that I hadn’t anticipated. So I do feel good about that. And, as fortune would have it, I ordered a replacement a little over a week ago, before the crash. Perhaps you’re aware, there’s currently a situation where container ships carrying goods can’t dock on both east and west coasts, leading to about a 3 week backlog of store inventory that can’t reach customers. Yep, I’m one of those customers. My next computer will be slow in getting to me. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll have it before the end of the month.

Although I dislike the inconvenience, I’m already finding several positives to my situation. One, I’m finally learning how to best do things on my phone. Two, I’m spending far less mindless time online and more time in the garden. And three, this forced me to just take the plunge and buy that new computer. My old one had become a burden to use, and now I’ll have the joy of something that works well.

Back to my week of challenges. We had unseasonably heavy rain last Friday and Saturday. So much so that one of our fig trees began to uproot. Not at all in my plans, but Sunday afternoon I took a saw out to the garden and removed several of the heaviest branches on the leaning side. I’m not really that strong. Hard work. Now again, (working on that theme of finding the positives), this tree has overgrown its spot, so it did need some pruning. I got my work done well before planned.

Friday evening, I did make the sautéed grape leaves with a yogurt, garlic,and dill sauce. Update, while it tasted delicious, the grape leaves seemed tough to me. Maybe this is a dish that would work better with spring or summer grape leaves. Good to know, right? I did make another batch of stuffed grape leaves for our dinners on Monday and Tuesday which were yummy. Those may be our last stuffed grape leaves using fresh leaves this season. A few weeks ago, I froze several bundles of grape leaves to stuff in winter, however.

I pulled up the tomato plants, picking off all of the tiny, marble-sized green tomatoes for a batch of dill relish. I also found some immature cucumbers and zucchini to add to this small batch of relish. 

Thank you kind reader for the suggestion to make root beer beans. On Monday I made a large batch of root beer baked beans, using cooked pinto beans, green peppers, root beer, garlic, onion, ketchup, and salt. These were tasty and a fun way to use that last cup of root beer.

An adorable, but pesky, small red squirrel got into my fall deck garden and dug many things up, including an entire pot of baby lettuces and another full pot of tiny radish seedlings. I feel for the guy. He’s got winter coming up and I sense his nervousness stems from this quickening of approaching cold. He is adorable and I hope he has a stash of pine cones some place. I was able to salvage most of the pots and planters, needing to restart just the 1 pot of lettuces and 1 pot of radishes. I hope there’s still time for these two. I’ve got them in the portable greenhouse, so even with cold temps beginning next week, they may do okay and provide some baby greens.

I also began some radish seeds under lights indoors. I’m using the bottom halves of plastic 1-gallon milk jugs for “pots” as their square shape means I can fit more in the tray under the lights. I planted the seeds thickly for greens not roots.

I’m in the process of picking all of the green, unripe figs this week. The temps are expected to get chilly next week, so I am working as fast as I can in the garden right now. Most of the figs best suited for preserving unripe are on the second fig tree. This tree is also overgrown for its space. I am pruning this tree as I harvest. I’ve discovered that this is actually an easy way to harvest the figs- take off a branch then twist the green figs off.  This year, I’m turning all of these figs into sweet whole fig preserves. So far, I’ve canned just over 2 gallons of whole figs. My family doesn’t seem to enjoy the figs whole, so I’m planning on trying a fig purée in spice bread and as a sauce on gingerbread in the coming weeks. I love Alice’s (our friend here in the comments) saying with her own family— “I’ll get you to eat this one way or another.”! I’m going to take that approach with all of these preserved figs. When I finish harvesting all of the green figs, I’ll move on to the crabapples. Those will hold another week, even with cold overnight temps.

Yesterday, I planted next season’s garlic. Friendly,cute, but pesky squirrel would just love to dig those up. So I covered the patch with a piece of insect cloth, held down along all sides with stones. I hope this keeps him out of the garlic patch until they can put on spring growth.

I brought in all but the last pumpkin from the pumpkin patch. Some of these are still partially green. They’ll slowly finish orange-ing up over the next few weeks. I had a total of 8 pumpkins this year. The last 1 may or may not reach a stage of enough-ripeness to harvest before cold. I’m checking on it daily. Tonight will be the first night of the season with a low temp in the 30’s. Finger’s crossed my last one will mature this next week. Otherwise, who here has used a green pumpkin in cooking? Recipes? Ideas? Growing pumpkins is such a joy. These are my “babies”. When I need a good dose of cheer, I wander out to the pumpkin patch.

The bunnies continue to delight as well as vex me. So adorable, but they’ve had one too many snacks in the garden this week. I’ve been waiting for this one — they found the tall pots of carrots. They just been munching on the green tops, so I’m okay with them for now.

While this post may sound like all I’ve done is harvest, preserve and plant, I also took some time to put up fall decorations. The pot at the top of the page is my fall color by the kitchen door. I stuck several stems of faux flowers into the dirt, added a Dollar Tree autumn whirligig, and a DT mini pumpkin. I try to find new ways each year to display my holiday collections of decorative items. We all go in and out the kitchen door daily, so hopefully this will be cheery and it didn’t cost me anything to make this year.

And that was my week. How was your week? What were some of the highlights? If you garden, are you nearly done with your harvest? Was it a good, fair, or poor year for your garden?

Wishing you a lovely October weekend!

Cheap & Cheerful Menu post in this link.


  1. In the Little House series, Ma uses a green pumpkin to make a surprise pie for Pa when he comes home from hunting. I remembered it when I read your question. It is in the book The Long Winter. I just checked it.

    1. Hi friend,
      Yes, I remember that story! Hmmm, maybe I’ll give the pie a shot. Thank you for the suggestion. This last pumpkin was unexpected, so I see it as a bonus. You know, at the beginning of this pandemic, I reread The Long Winter as inspiration to deal with dwindling supplies. Thanks again for your suggestion!

  2. I'm very impressed that you wrote this on your phone. It seems my fat fingers are always hitting the wrong key slowing me down when I try to write something. After being around a lot of squirrels for years, I didn't realize that they ate pinecones. Maybe that's because that I've always lived where there have been abundant acorns and walnuts? I'm going to pay more attention because we have several pinecone trees.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      The note pad on the phone is much easier type on than on Blogger’s draft. Copy and paste is still kind of finicky. But with patience I’m able to make it work. I do find it difficult to proofread on the phone’s tiny screen. So autocorrect may have twisted some of my thoughts in the posts. Sorry about that!
      Yeah, not a lot of oak trees in my area. Squirrels pick apart the pine cones for their seeds. They also go after small berries on a couple of woody shrubs. Someone in the neighborhood feeds the peanuts in the shell. When planting the garlic, I came across a couple of whole peanuts hidden for winter in the dirt. The squirrels are awfully entertaining to watch, only sometimes a nuisance.

  3. Ha! I just was thinking about The Long Winter and I notice someone else mentioned that above. Another blog I enjoy mentions this and how to do it:

    1. Hi Cat,
      Thank you for that link. I’ll check out Mavis’s instructions. This reminds me of Ritz cracker’s Mock Apple Pie. I never tried it but remember seeing recipes in ads from my mother’s magazines. I always wanted to try it and see for myself if it was like apple pie.
      Thanks for the upvote on the suggestion. A pie may be that last pumpkin’s fate.

  4. Lili, your comments re: whole fig preserves reminded me of all the fig preserves my grandmother and great aunt (who I'm name for) made so many years ago. Fig preserves and crabapple jelly. Yum. Sweet memories of my cousin and myself eating umpteen pieces of buttered toast in the morning with those toppings. Brandy, of the Prudent Homemaker, makes a fig sauce that she uses on pork. I made it one time and it was tasty though I only had a handful of figs so mine wasn't as thick as her photo. But you might try that, or to reimagine some of what you've already made as that condiment on a savory dish along with your gingerbread. Here in NC, pork seems to be the one meat that has been on special of late.

    I think squirrels eat the nuts inside the pinecones so they would probably be big fans of pesto! LOL. Have a good weekend all! Lynn from NC Outer Banks

    My computer has died as well so I'm also on the hunt. I am able to use a work laptop off hours to make up until I replace mine. I too am impressed you did your entries on a phone. My text messages are sometimes barely understandable with auto correct!

    I had planned to resow lettuce and spinach last weekend in the late afternoon since our temps are still mid to upper 80s with humidity. I got distracted when our son called late and then I prepared dinner, cleaned up etc. The next morning I found my seed packets torn open by some kind of wildlife and half eaten! They left me a few to try and plant, so that's on the agenda for today or tomorrow. I DID make sure the remainder of the seeds were safely inside this time.

    1. Hi Lynn,
      Oh no! At least you had a few seeds left. Whatever critters they were were probably pleasantly surprised to find a tasty packet of seeds. When we’ve taken lunch to the beach we have to keep an eye on our food, because the seagulls swoop in quickly to nab anything not guarded. So I imagined it was a bird who got to your seeds.
      Good luck finding the computer you want. I’m glad you can borrow a work one in the interim.
      I thought about using the fig preserves puréed as a sauce with or on chicken, adding ginger and soy sauce, like an Asian plum sauce. So I’m glad you mentioned using it on pork. That gives me the idea that it could work well with savory foods.
      Have a wonderful weekend, Lynn!

  5. My sister told me a guy there dug three 5 gallon buckets of black walnuts out of his truck engine that a squirrel had stashed for winter. Squirrels are very entertaining this time of year. They are so busy burying nuts they will never come back for. We don’t have squirrels here, but I grew up in iowa and we sure had them there.

    Sorry about your computer. Hopefully your new one arrives on time. My computer died a few years ago. I meant to replace it, but just never did. I have gotten used to using my iPad for everything. I might buy a computer some day because the iPad isn’t ideal for everything.

    1. Hi Diane,
      Wow, that's a lot of walnuts! That guy must've been so surprised!
      Thank you. I'm sorry to hear about your computer woes, as well. I've heard from others that tablets just don't have the functionality of full computers. Good luck making that decision on whether or not to replace your old computer.
      Have a wonderful weekend, Diane!

  6. We are apparently a well-read group of Little House fans, since that came to mind for me, as well. Keep us posted on how you use your pumpkin.

    Our computer is s-l-o-w and we've been waiting for the latest Windows 11 to come out before we buy a new one (we are part of what is probably a dying breed of people who purchase a desktop rather than a laptop--my husband thinks the desktops last longer and are therefore a more frugal purchase). It's definitely problematic and I hope we can get a replacement soon. Hubby has been scouting out options. It feels like we are in a very expensive season of life right now--we had to have our septic lines cleaned out a couple of weeks ago due to water not draining (the downside of having large trees is that the roots seek out water sources), hubby's phone wasn't going to survive the 5G situation so he had to buy a new one, we had to purchase a new vehicle .... those are the moments when I am thankful we try to live frugally. I can't imagine not having some emergency funds--I think the anxiety would be horrible. Anyway, I hope you successfully locate what you need in a computer, Lili, and soon! Thanks for going to the work of keeping up your blog--I probably would have skipped it this week. :)

  7. Hi Kris,
    I'm so sorry to hear about your high expenses right now. I agree completely. Your current situation especially would be so stressful without emergency savings. I hope all of the repairs and new purchases work out just fine for you.
    Yeah, that's interesting how we're all familiar with the Little House stories. Perhaps there's an overlap in our mindsets and knowledge of how people once lived. I will be sure to let you know how the pie goes, if that's what happened with this one pumpkin straggler.
    Enjoy your weekend, Kris!

  8. We had problems with a chipmunk and a squirrel this summer eating all the bird feeder seeds. We had to stop feeding for a few weeks to a sickness that was worrying and I just stopped putting the feeder out. In the next couple of weeks we'll put the feeder back up and hope especially the squirrel is gone. In two days he would empty the feeder.


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