Life on a little urban homestead in the making, with ideas for self-sufficiency, food preservation, thrifting, cookery,
gardening, crafts, vintage stuff, and more...

Apr 18, 2015

Hail and 75 Degrees, Cool Weather Crops, New Fridge, Homesteading Kitchen Gadgets

Hail and 75 Degrees-
We've had really unstable weather this last week. We had hail/corn snow Tuesday night and really gusty winds, 55 mph maybe? The hail was blowing at a 45 degree angle it was so windy! Luckily the hens all knew to go into the coop, where they were well protected. Good girls! The garden seemed ok thru it all. I'm pretty good at judging wind. Forecast was 45+ so we got it. It scared Anya, and I took some photos. Boy the clouds were black! 70's today and up to 77 next week. It was really windy all day, and Dave did a marathon of yard work. With the heavy rain last Sat. we skipped the work Sunday, just too wet. He also took off the bottom window on the lower part of the coop, and swapped their screen on. More fresh air with the warmer days. Sping is really here!

Cool Weather Crops-
I found some nice packs of curly kale, red Russian kale (yummy) and collard greens Thursday so I bought some. Last year they were hard to find as I waited too long. Ready to plant tomorrow. I already planted something else kid of fun-

Wind spinner from Target

New Fridge-
I LOVE our new fridge!!! By most accounts if the most exciting thing in your life recently is a appliance purchase I guess I do lead a rather boring life! After doing a lot of research (found out later it's recommended at Consumer Report)  we had it delivered. Here's what we did to prep-

Two nights before delivery we loaded all our freezer items into our chest freezer. I had been emptying it since we had to defrost it. First times in 3 years! Same night we put all the non-critical fridge items in coolers (without ice) since it was 30 at night and they were in the garage. Mostly condiments, fruits, and veggies.

One night before we loaded critical items, meats, dairy, etc., into our mini fridge in the garage, the old college one from the girls. That system worked great!

The delivery went smooth, it fit, and it's SO BRIGHT! Two LED lights on top and bottom. Really spacious, and nice little ice maker. Next a new counter and then the kitchen is basically done. I'll be painting the kitchen this summer, since it needs it after 10 years. I hope we can demo the counter, then I can paint, then a new counter, and I'll do the back splash. Like many people we try to do things as we can. If we'd had tons of money we could have done it all the first year. Instead we paid as we went, got a used sink from Habitat, etc., etc...

Bright and lots of adjustable shelving!

Tons of door storage

Nice ice maker

We'll move some of our frozen goods in tomorrow from the chest freezer

Homesteading Kitchen Gadgets-
I have been making lots of foods with very thinly sliced cabbage. I realized how long it was taking me to slice things, and I couldn't get them very consistent. I want to start making sauerkraut and more Curtido, so I thought MANDOLIN! I did some research and found a nice, adjustable mandolin at Target today. It holds the vegetable very safely and you can hook it over a bowl or use flat.Very sharp and a good $20.00 investment-

 Later I found a Ball Mason jar infuser-

I can make teas, tinctures, etc. I foresee lots of cool, refreshing fruit drink/tea combos this summer. $5.99. 

Oh, free recipes!

Apr 12, 2015

More Wacky Weather, Sunday Stuff

Sunny skies today

More Wacky Weather-
I've always found April weather to be much more unstable than March, especially this year. It's like a constant battle between winter and spring. It was almost 70 Friday, but in the 40's/50's yesterday and rainy. Today blue skies, and 60-ish, maybe. Tomorrow 75! Then back down 30 degrees, then back to the 40's. Wacky. We have really needed the rain. The air is really fresh and everything is soaked. No sprinklers needed yet! I've been holding off on starting seeds outside with 30's at night. My seed starting trays are ready to go though. I might start some in the next week, just the cool weather veggies. 

Our new baby :)
Sunday Stuff-
We're saying good bye to our faithful fridge that was here when we bought the house 10+ years ago. Bye! It's been making random noises, and the water coming out smelled like sulfur lately. We found out the water holding tank is probably contaminated, and we could replace it for $50. We thought about it and decided to just get a new fridge. The new one has the freezer on the bottom, pulls open, with an ice maker (hot here!). It's nice and REALLY bright inside and I have come to HATE side by sides. A real waste of space in my opinion. This has more cubic ft. for less than a side by side, and cheaper. It's coming Wed. Oh boy! I've been cleaning out the fridge and freezer. Here's our new baby from, where we also got an extra 10% off that day. It was the best deal in town for us.

Garden and chicken-wise, Dave pulled down the coop sun room today, stored it for next year, and the girls are loving having more open space. The sun room is great in the winter with the cold and rain. Yesterday they loved the nice dry extra interior space. Now today, more room! Within and hour or so they had tilled the pine shavings in already, good girls. We also replaced the heated winter waterer with the summer one.

I need to prune my blackberries as they had a really hard, tough winter-

My new neighbor, Posey! Looking in my kitchen sliding door-

I'd seen her in the backyard a few times. I found out today she belongs to the renter behind us. She's a big love button when I go outside, so I gave her a few kitty treats. Shhh, don't tell :)

We're replacing our damaged laminate counter in the kitchen soon and upgrading to a solid surface. I'm not a fan of granite, but I like quartz but Dave doesn't like stone. I don't know why, sigh. I just want something low maintenance and durable. So I'm looking at Corian or something similar, in a light gray. Something like this-

A bit darker than our cabinets, we have a lighter cherry. I will do the back splash, and we may be able to do our last small bathroom counter too. I LOVE the idea of under counter sinks. stays clean and looks great! Just wipe down.

I love our silver leaf maple, but what a mess EVERY spring. This stuff falls everywhere!

My Russian sage survived behind the coop all winter :)

Apr 5, 2015

Spring Has Sprung! Food Storage Re-Do, Preserving Meyer Lemons In Brine

Spring Has Sprung!
Things have really taken off here! Apples, pears, and nectarine blossoms, berry bushes, perennials, herbs and flowers are all coming up-

Apple blossoms

Apple tree 



Our new berry row has really taken off, Raspberries and Marionberries

girls loved finding worms after the rain!

lemon balm


Dave did a huge amount of yard work (again!) yesterday while I was laid up with a painful lower back. After resting it was much better last night and today. While I was looking at all the fruit tree blossoms this week I thought one things- canning!!! I really missed having zero apples last year, no pies, no applesauce, etc. Our little pear tree has really done well. Last year, it's first full season, we had about 8 or 10 pears. Dave's Mom canned tons of pears when he was a kid, so I look forward to do that too. And pear crisps, and pear butter, and... :) Tons of nectarines too, again. The blackberries need a good pruning next weekend, lots of dead branches as usual. We woke up to a drenched yard and wet fences, got some much-needed rain last night. All day today was sunny, rainy and cold. More on the way, yeah!!! It was odd to see most of the foothills covered in snow today, a welcome sight. More on the way, snow/rain tomorrow morning and the next day. In the next week or 2 I will start some seeds, depending on the weather-

New seed starting shelves ready to fill, bolted to fence

My only hope with this early spring has been I hope the fruit tree ripen BEFORE I go back to school. Every year a week or 2 AFTER school starts canning starts. I hope this time it'd a bit earlier by a few weeks...

The new!

Food Storage Re-Do-
I had an area in our spare bedroom for canned food storage, canning supplies and odd kitchen appliances. We used these, both thrifted-

the old

After doing a lot of research from Craigslist, to thrifted, to new wood hutches we finally came up with this, a chrome shelving unit from Homedepot for $99.00 -

Dave and I put it together pretty easily, and he secured it to the wall. It's nice that the shelves are adjustable, so if needs change it can change too. It's 48" wide, 72" high and 18" deep. Lots of room! I will play with adding some more baskets maybe, but the main things is for a lot of canned goods. I dumped a lot of the old jams we never used, etc. The dresser was demo'd as it was broken, and the smaller cart will go to one of our girls or donation.

Anya got exhausted watching and had to take a break :)

Preserving Meyer Lemons In Brine-
After seeing some organic Meyer lemons in the store today I bought five. I had seen some recipes for preserving them ranging from salty to salt w/oil. I wanted some with a sugar/salt type brine and found this recipe- Preserved Lemons It was pretty simple, I followed the brine recipe, but skipped the turmeric and coriander seeds and did 3 cloves, and added a bit of allspice. I was looking for something more tangy, less Mediterranean or Middle Eastern. The kitchen smells divine! BE WARNED- when you slice into hot lemons hold them over the pot, or keep them in the pot, as they will expel lots of boiling juice! Don't burn yourself.

lemons simmering

Ready for the fridge, after I topped off the brine

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