sunday drives, maple syrup, dominoes

Sunday Drives, Maple Syrup, and Dominoes

Sunday Drives, Maple Syrup, and Dominoes

Chocolate Box Cottage Diary, Volume 2

Week 25: June 25, 2022

Amid rapidly rising costs of everything from food to gas to electricity, we are watching a domino effect take place. Everything affects everything else.

If we were ever lulled into a sense of mistaken identity, thinking that luxuries were necessities, well, it’s time to wake up.

Every household has decisions to make about how to handle the string of dominoes that intersects with its budget. Sam and I have been having just such a conversation.

We do not have it all figured out, and we anticipate that the times we live in will require ongoing adjustments.

Let me tell you about two small changes we have made. I hope they will spark creative thinking in your house.

Texas Longhorn

The first, inspired by a Texas longhorn that meandered through our yard, is that we are swapping Sunday drives for Sunday strolls. We didn’t do this weekly, but Sam and I used to enjoy the occasional Sunday drive. We would hop in the truck and, without a clear destination in mind, drive around the mountains and see what there was to see: forest, waterfalls, lake, river, wildlife. Sunday drives were always spontaneous and we always came home feeling filled by nature.

We can get that same feeling by taking a stroll or going for a bike ride, so forthwith Sunday drives have been replaced with exercise – not a bad trade! We are fortunate to be in good health and able to do so.

homemade maple syrup

The second small change involves maple syrup. The rear bottle is our last bottle of real maple syrup.

When the price went from $4.99 on sale to unavailable, to $12, I decided not to buy it. I am going back to making homemade “maple” syrup for cheap.

Cooking from scratch at home is a potent weapon in the homemaker’s arsenal. The pictures below give you a peek into what we ate this week.

A good countertop spiralizer like the now-discontinued Inspiralizer transforms zucchini into elbow macaroni shapes. Bonus: its’ gluten-free! Add your favorite pasta salad ingredients like olives, grape tomatoes, cheese, and a zesty vinaigrette and you’ve got a great salad.

Coconut Battered Rock Fish in the pan and on the plate. So good with homemade kraut, melon salsa, and the Spiralized Zucchini Pasta Salad mentioned above.

For Father’s Day, a favorite dessert for Sam: Marble Bundt Cake. It doesn’t last long at our house! Peanut Sponge Bars are thinly frosted and given a sprinkle of chopped peanuts. YUM. PS. Find a beautiful, heirloom quality Bundt pan here.

homemade fruit leather

I have been turning last year’s fruit in the freezer into fruit leather.

I am loving these charming labels designed by JES. I bought them from her shop on Etsy! She has many more labels available for canisters, herbal and beauty preparations, canning jars, more. Such a simple way to add a note of grace to your kitchen, pantry, home-canned goods, and gifts!

You’ve baked a big batch of homemade bread…now here’s how to wrap it up and freeze it for best quality.

Appreciating the roses, despite the thorns, and summerizing my workspace for the day.

Puttering with flowers is free. Calendulas grow freely in our vegetable garden and their cheerful blooms glow like sunshine. I dry whole flower heads on trays in my Excalibur dehydrator at 95 F.

Last week’s mint harvest, dried and jarred. Last year’s leftover mint is bagged and added to the top of the jar to be used first. Work continues in the Apothecary Garden. An island was planted with Zloty Lan chamomile, Watermelon Heaven California poppies, and Pink dandelions, with a pawpaw tree grown from seed in the center.

Chicken math strikes again! Sam stopped by the feed store to exchange a bad bag of rabbit feed…and came home with 9 more chicks instead! Five Rhode Island Reds + 4 Colorpacks (what on earth are those?) added to 9 Sapphires – 1 dead = ?

I’m learning the uses and benefits of wild plants like wild edible sweet peas and more on our homestead property. A never-ending educational adventure.

I would like to hear what types of swaps you are making in order to make ends meet. I hope we can inspire each other to make the best of things, turning sacrifices into upgrades.

Blessings,

Michele

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