Life on a little urban homestead in the making, with ideas for self-sufficiency, Permaculture, DIYing, organic gardening, food preservation, chicken keeping, cookery, crafts, thrifting and more...

Dec 8, 2019

Independence Days Challenge, Homemade Berry Syrups

Independence Days Challenge-
Winter is here for sure! Storms coming thru again, colder and Christmas lights are up outside. Even the coop has holiday lights! Today I'm working on winter decor inside the house. Tree will go up next weekend. I like to start with winter decor, then add Christmas decor. Later I'll put away Christmas goodies and leave out winter thru January. Nice to bring nature inside! I love snowmen and greenery!!!

1. Plant Something-
Nope, it's winter.

2. Harvest Something-
I harvested the last of the Italian parsley, oregano, thyme, and hopefully the Rosemary will survive the winter. No eggs right now, I think our older hens may be done. New chicks next spring!

3. Preserve/Store Something-
I made 2 batches of berry syrups, Service Berry and Choke Cherry, more detailed information below. 

Nice to have a full freezer, lots of produce from the garden is there and ready to use.

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep-
I got a great deal on a 22-pound turkey for Thanksgiving, made a big pot of turkey noodle soup after that large meal-

We stocked up on batteries from Costco and other basics. Had to look at a new computer as Windows 7 won't be supported after January for doing our banking and taxes. Got a great deal on a 17" HP laptop with Win 10, Office and Norton after doing tons of research-

                                                                     Info here -

Dave and I will share and can plug it into both our PC setup as a hard drive. I need to backup more photos, mostly from this blog, and speed up my PC.

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe-
I want to a new restaurant for my birthday last week that serve spicy Cajun and Southern Seafood called Hook and Reel. I had my first crawdads! Also had some snow crab legs which were delish. I had bought a big box of Ikea crispy oatmeal cookies with dark chocolate and also a box of the plain crispy oatmeal cookies in Sept. The choc/oatmeal were amazing!!! Then I found quite a few recipe on how to make them from scratch. I realized I had a whole big box of the plain crispy oatmeal cookies. What to do? Melt semi sweet chocolate and spread between the cookies, let cool and enjoy!

6. Build Community Food Systems-
Not doing that right now

7. Recycle/Re-Use-
I took a unused bathroom hand towels we had and transformed it into wash cloths. Sadly Ikea has discontinued my fave apple green bath towel color in the the last year or two. Since the rest of the set was doing ok, I just needed better washcloths. They are in really bad shape from the hard water. I used an old wash cloth for a model and sewed them up! Problem solved for free!!!

Nice and new hand towel

Wash cloth rough and yucky

Rough cut wash cloths

Trimmed more square, hemmed and sewn!

I hit a thrift store yesterday, got Dave a brand new insulated large lunch bag, a like-new blue and white reversible snowflake runner for the dining table, 4 jumbo white snowflakes for outside, a juice pitcher, and a like new Etcha Sketch for Grand kids, total $17.00!

8. Skill Up-
Learned quite a bit about my older Mazda. Started making an odd sound, son in law was able to diagnose, loose tension rod. Will get fixed this week, hopefully a low cost fix.  Super reliable cars! I was glad we spent $5.00 to join the online and do car research before buying. You can cancel the next month, after you buy your big ticket item.

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something-
Washed the winter quilt I bought at a thrift store last month. I realized it had a tunnel for a rod after I brought it home. Dave picked up a dowel for me, and he cut it to size, I added some cord and hung it up, before-


Homemade Berry Syrups-
Our cool, wet spring seemed to really push our Service berries and Choke cherries into major production this year. We harvested them, then froze them. I was so busy I wanted to wait until fall and then make syrups.

Service berries

Choke cherries

I basically washed and froze them, thawed, washed again. Here's what I did:

I put each batch in my enameled pot, barley covered with water, mashed the Service Berries, strained and brought to a simmer with sugar (recipes online). With the Choke Cherries, simmer til soft, rub thru a fine mesh.

Mashed Service berries

Straining Choke Cherries

Boiled sugar and Service berries

Mashing Choke Cherries

Boilng Choke Cherry juice with sugar

I cooled both bacths and put in my new Ikea bottle with stoppers I bought in Sept. I really love the Choke Cherry syrup, somewhat citrusy, like the jams. Service berries are pretty bland however. Next time I think I'd bake with them instead. Total haul-

Nov 27, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Happy Thanksgiving to all! We'll be staying home since we rarely travel for Thanksgiving, which is fine with me. I've never been a fan of traveling for the holidays since so many things can go wrong weather-wise. Our first snow came this morning, about a half an inch here in the valley, nothing like they're having to the East, with blizzards! We have had severe winds up to 55 miles an hour. More snow maybe later this week. Living in the Northwest I've seen it all from snow to very, very icy conditions. So we'll be home with family relaxing on Thanksgiving! Anya is ready for some turkey. I decided this year to take today off for a vacation day, so I can do food prep and kind of relax! Here's a peek of a few of the things that are around the little homestead for Thanksgiving-

My fave thrifted embroidered piece

Mama Pea blogger gifted me with her mini quilt!

On the table tomorrow will be a nice big roasted turkey and all the trimmings.  Our two married girls will be here with their families! I'm really grateful for so many things and that's why Thanksgiving is really my favorite holiday of the year. It's not about buying or giving stuff. It's about being grateful for what you have. And I am.

Nov 22, 2019

First Snow Is On The Way!!!

First Snow Is On The Way!!!
Yes it is, happy dance! Luckily we're not travelling so life is good! Looking forward to some time off next week with family.

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