The ugly window

Sunshine added a window to the house plans. It might take us some time to get a geothermal system set up, and he needed to make sure we had a window to hold an air conditioner because nobody wants to sweat inside their home in this brutal Texas heat.

Side note: also, I breathe so much more easily when I am in cool air.

The (fugly ass) window he used is one that was salvaged off of some random construction project he worked on somewhere (yay freeganism!), so I’m not pitching too much of a fit over it. The frame that our carpenter built for it is beautiful, and the double paned glass is still sealed so it will function well. I just hate hate hate the white frame and the white faux pane thingies. I prefer plate glass, with an uninterrupted view of what’s on the other side.

Pancho was hearing me whine about how fugly it is and had a brilliant suggestion: shutters. I can put shutters over it so I don’t have to look at the fugly white panes thingies. This is one of many reasons we like Pancho. He has also been to cooking school, which is amazing beyond words since he’s helping me learn new stuff. I digress.

Without further ado, I give you the fugly window.

It’s in our bedroom, of all the damned places to put a fugly window. Gotta get to work on finding some shutters.

Freeganism

One of the perks of my job is the backdoor fruit. One of the perks of living in the buttfuck middle of nowhere is that everybody plants too much shit and we start giving bags and bags of peppers away to random strangers we meet at fourth of July BBQs.

side note: yes, that actually happened. Someone we met at a fourth of July BBQ totally gave us three overstuffed, double bagged plastic sacks filled with various types of peppers. Green bell peppers, jalapenos, and hot banana peppers.

Recently, the boss gave me a quarter bushel of pickling cucumbers and almost an entire bushel of spaghetti squash. There were also some tomatoes and fruits that went out the backdoor over the last week or so.

We also have a pear tree in our backyard and Sunshine recently picked some pears off of it for me because I love pears.

That’s a lot of freegan food to figure out what to do with. I sent my girl Tia a panicked text asking her to please help me figure out how on earth to preserve a bushel of spaghetti squashes. That woman is a fucking wizard at finding simple solutions to my random and complicated problems.

So, on Sunday, while I was sweating my ass off trying to keep the shelves stocked on a mad busy day at the produce stand, Sunshine started baking the spaghetti squashes so we could freeze them. I finished the job on Monday in between rounds of canning.

The bell peppers and spaghetti squash got frozen.

The jalapenos and banana peppers got canned.

The fruit I brought home from work wound up getting combined with the tomatoes in a summer salsa recipe I found in one of my Ball guides to preserving food. I was highly amused that there was a recipe that dealt with a significant portion of the random foods I brought home from work. There is a salsa that has pears, peaches, tomatoes, and peppers.

The rest of the tomatoes got diced and canned. The pickling cucumbers got made into Cajun dill pickles.

freegan cucumbers and tomatoes

Slowly but surely, we are filling up those shelves in the community pantry.

final note: I’m a bit nervous about using that pressure canner. I’ll be spending the next few days doing some research on the damned thing so I don’t blow myself to smithereens. Then, hopefully, we can harvest enough of those ridiculous yard long green beans to put that canner to work.

Stocking up

Recently, Mr B and I had a little pow-wow about ordering up some more jars. We agreed upon an order of pint jars and I ordered them up. I threw in some pickling salt since it was on special.

Then I realized that I was going to need a pressure canner soon to deal with beans and peas. So I asked Mr B if he’d use his Amazon Prime 2 day to get it here quick.

Yesterday, all the things arrived at once. We had more than one delivery truck in the yard bringing us goodies.

The shelves are starting to fill up with supplies and equipment.

Now, I’ve got to get a fall garden planted so I can have a use for that equipment.

Community Pantry

So Mrs B went all in, and started taking over the procurement of supplies right away. She found a good deal on bulk white vinegar for me at Costco or one of those big-box-stores and grabbed 3 giant jugs of the stuff, which is smart since white vinegar is probably the most used liquid in canning.. She also rounded up a lot of the most commonly needed spices that I had been unable to find locally. She also stopped at the local trade days and bought up quite a number of jars for not much cash (I was proud of how good she did).

Last Saturday, Sunshine got Biff and Pancho to clear all of the random bullshit out of the laundry room and take it all to the barn so that Mrs B and I could take over the laundry room and turn it into the community pantry. Mrs B kicked ass at spearheading that herculean effort. I would imagine that more ass will be kicked before it is all said and done, because she confessed to me that organizing was her comforting ritual (kind of like repetition is for me).

Mr B went all in, too. He got up before the ass crack of dawn and carried his ass to the nearest big box home improvement store for some heavy duty shelves to hold lots of jars of jam and pickles and shit. Biff and Pancho put them together and got them arranged the way Mrs B wanted them. I think it looks great so far. Well, except for all the empty shelves, but I’ll take care of that as quickly as I can.

pantry

Look at all that shelving!

white vinegar

When I say she found some mega jugs of white vinegar, I ain’t lying.

crocheted cleaning supplies

I moved all of my crochet dusting mitts and swiffer covers in there for the community to use.

She organized the jars of food I gave her to store in there.

empty jars

We put all of the unused jars in there. Biff was happy to empty them out of his closet.

frugal jars

Look at all those jars she got me!

drawers of labels, markers, papers

She put all of my wax and parchment papers in this drawer unit. The markers and labels are in there too.

Sunshine moved his meat machines in there, and we put all of the sausage and jerky spices in there too. Once the storage compartment those had been living in was empty, Biff quickly moved all of Sunshine’s art supplies from his home into that compartment

It’s nice to not have so much stuff crammed into every possible nook and cranny in our magic bus. A lot of that stuff was for community use anyway, and it was driving me crazy playing all that Tetris day in and day out.

Now, if I could just find a steady supply of the labels I like best for the lids of the canned goods, I’d be a happy camper.

 

Mary Mary Quite Contrary

How does your garden grow?

Well, since you asked…

Thanks to working four days in a row this weekend, things got a little out of control. I have so much food to preserve, and nowhere to put it once I do. I’ve been making jam like mad to try and clear out some of the freezer space so that I can put vegetables in there.

I’ve also got the neighbors bringing me vegetables from their garden, and I’m having to come up with interesting ways to use those, since I am already running out of space to store food.

I suppose it’s better to have this problem than the opposite one of not enough food.

Weekly Progress Report: The Saturday Edition

I’m tired. It’s that time of year, when heat/pollen/dust all work together with my COPD and anemia to leave me really tired. I’ve been doing my best to power through it, and most days I do OK. Some days, I just stay my happy ass on the couch and allow myself the luxury of rest and healing (since my back and hip still haven’t healed from the great septic system debacle because I’m mostly on my own with the fucking garden).

Sunshine got a new compost heap containment fence put up. I took this week’s “backdoor fruit” and put it in there. Now we can let the original compost heap turn into compost so that we can use it in our garden next spring.

As soon as it quits raining, I’ll be using some of the leftover roll of fencing to make trellis for my new beans to cling to for support as they grow.

roll of wire fence for beans

I have beans and things sprouting up all over the place, and they are going to need some support.

We got the tomato plants tied to stakes so that they don’t die under the crushing weight of their fruits like my snap beans are trying to do because they had no support for so long.

staked tomatoes

Yes, I know. Our garden is growing in the middle of a field of grass. Mr B has been too preoccupied with moving dirt to create a place to build a shop, and hasn’t been back to the garden with a tractor since he created the extra rows where we planted beans. I’ve got enough on my plate with work, household chores, and preserving what DOES manage to grow in the middle of that field of grass; I can’t be everything all the time. Maybe after we get the house finished, Sunshine (and perhaps even Biff) can help more with the garden.

We are out of room in the freezers. Thank heaven Mr B’s mom has offered to trade us her large chest freezer for the small one she donated to us a few months ago. Now, if I could just get someone to take the small one to her and bring back the big one, I could get started on some serious reorganization of our already frozen vegetables and blackberries. The situation has gone well past the point of being dire, and is only going to be exacerbated by all of the fruit I’m going to freeze this week to make jelly or syrup or something. Eventually, I’ll be pulling the fruit back out of the freezer; until then, I get to teach myself to play an awesome game of tetris.

It’s been a busy week out here in the middle of buttfuck nowhere. And it looks to stay that way through Thanksgiving at least. I’ll eventually get it all figured out, or get some help, or something. Until then, I’ll do the best I can.