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

Feb 23, 2013

How To Save BIG $ On A New Camera- Family Swap



How To Save BIG $ On A New Camera: Do a Family Swap!-
My one daughter with a bachelor' degree in Fine Art/Photography recently got a new job at a local, high end camera store. Oh boy, it was time for her to buy a new camera she had waited for! Since she had lots of lenses she bought a DSLR camera body online. Much cheaper and it worked well for her. She was going to sell her higher end Canon DSLR, but Dave and I made her an offer. It was a win-win since she owed us some $$$ for a college loan. So, Dave got her "old" camera, better than what he had, and he went out and bought a macro and telephoto lens (great deal). He can do more things now with his photography blog, and saved a bundle! Then- I got Dave's old Olympus DSLR camera. What fun, more things I can do! From a voluntary simplicity angle it really works too- something that can be reused, taken care of and appreciated. I went from this small Olympus, pretty limited use, point-and-shoot 6 - 63 mm -


 to this big boy: 14 - 42 mm and a telephoto with a 40-150 mm!  



Luckily I had taken photography classes way back in my 20's, so some of this is coming back. It's great to have much more flexibility in shooting. I really love photography, since I've always been a visual person. The only downsize, for me, is there's no macro lens available. Farther down the line we might get another Canon body and share lenses, a good way to save more $. We're all happy! Here's to family swapping!

Here's some test pictures I took today, after a sleet/snow storm blew thru early this morning, lots of blue sky!

Mom- where's the snacks?

Girls enjoying the sun, this was shot from our deck, the telephoto really made a big difference

Love the blue sky, windy and cold

Road trip to Idaho City for Dave's birthday lunch last weekend-
I love the cute, old gingerbread on the building

Looking west from Idaho City, an old silver mining town



Feb 18, 2013

The "Ikea Effect", What To Eat Sheets, What's With The Weather?


My Ikea Effect Girls

The "Ikea Effect-
This morning I read Terry's post- The Ikea Effect, over at her blog. Excellent post! Interesting ideas and not a big surprise to me. It's the basic idea that when you invest some time and labor into something, it's of more value to you than something you didn't invest that in. Like setting up an Ikea furniture item. You could just buy something and bring it home, OR you could put it together yourself! "Hey, look what I did!" I found the original article Terry linked Ikea Effect-When Labor Leads to Love fascinating. It stated the idea that  adding an egg to a cake mix made it more "homemade". The buyers rejected the original cake mixes where you just added water as too "easy". Nothing invested. Bad Mommy. I thought of my little urban homestead and how much more I value what I grow and harvest than anything I could ever buy. That's MY blood, sweat and tears out there pal. The manure I dig in, my chickens I help keep safe, happy and healthy, the fruit trees I buy and we plant. All the blisters, sunburn, aches and pains. All those things are a PROCESS, it never ends. Trees die, get it removed, plant a new one. Needs change, adapt and thrive, or die (metaphorically speaking). It's easy to think "we're done" sometimes in life, but it really never does end. Or, you can choose that. We start off with little things, cultivate them, learn and try more. When I became a Master Gardner thru the University of Idaho extension years ago I never dreamed I'd be where I am now- growing more and more food each year, keeping chickens, canning, drying, and pantrying (is that a word?). You never know where your love of something will take you. I love nature so much, of course I'd  wind up being a Master Gardener. A homesteader on a little city lot? I never thought of it as an "official" urban homesteading thing until years later. Sometimes you just do things and later find out it's a trend :)  Hmmm...


                          

What To Eat Sheets-
I found this great little pads of sheets at Cost Plus, $6.00. Cute idea- a list for each day, where you'll eat, what to plan for each meal and/or snacks. Kind of a fun tool I'll try. When you work full time, it's easy to come home tired and go out too much, or not make something from scratch, FAST, because you planned ahead. I made some baking mix the other day, to keep on hand for biscuits, for instance. I can have them in the oven in under 10 minutes! Hot and fresh, and I added whole grain to the mix for a healthier mix.

Girls getting out of the cold wind into their sun room

What's With The Weather?-
The last couple of days were like spring! In the mid 50's, holy moly! I washed my rear windows, cleaned up the garage a bit, and today I went and vacuumed out my car and cleaned it up. It's forecast for snow off and on the next week- high's in the 30's/lows 20's. Just pick a season already!!! It's really blowing now and you can feel the temp drop. We still have a little snow in the shadows by the back fence, but the chickens have LOVED being outside, digging in the dirt again. Happy chickens, but now they're going into the sun room for a warm up break...





Feb 16, 2013

Dark Days Meal, Independence Days Challenge, Baking Mix



Dark Days Meal-
For my Dark Days dinner tonite I bought locally made pizza dough at a small, independent place, used my homegrown basil in my homemade pesto I froze last summer. I added goat and mozz cheese, kalamata olives, fresh flat leaf parsley and oregano. It was awesome! I went heavy on the pesto and that really did it. Yummy!

Banana/raisin bread from free bananas


Independence Days-

1. Plant Something- Nothing til spring

2. Harvest Something- 3 eggs a day! Love the new light in the coop, really helped egg production.

3. Preserve/Store Something- Made pickled eggs, freezing more breads and dinner items. Made more baking mix. Keep adding things to pantry as we use them up.

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep- Bought lots of almond milk 1/2 price at the Grocery Outlet, bought local pizza dough, bought some work clothes, shoes, purse.

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipes- Made my 1st pesto pizza. Got free bananas from work again, made more banana bread, this time with raisins added. Eating out of the freezer more too. Made several batches of buttermilk biscuits from the mix.

6. Build Community Food Systems- Started selling eggs at work again, $3.50 a dozen.

7. Recycle/Re-Use- Scraps to the girls, taking old magazines to work, cleaning out clothing closets.

8. Skill Up- Learned about redoing my work clothing wardrobe with minimal outlay. Learned about different kinds of leather, and how cats can be fed properly to avoid renal problems. learned how to get rid of ants fast, when they showed up in the bathrooms after a rapid snow melt. What fun.

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something- Got a great used purse on eBay, excellent leather. Washed my windows today since it was 50 degrees! I can see out of them now!

Before- dirty windows from prevailing, westerly storms and birds flying into the glass

Yucky

After! I love my Windex kit with the pole, scrubber and pads, fast and easy! Took 5 minutes!

Girls enjoying the sun

Baking Mix-
I recently had a hankering for some buttermilk biscuits and remembered I had some Baking Mix I'd made from Candy's website. I just added buttermilk and butter and wa la-
I served them up with some homemade peach jam. I also served some homemade/homegrown 
Chokecherry jelly. WOW! It reminded me of lingon berries. Tart, but sweet and citrusy.

I ran out of the mix so made up some more today, this time I used 1/2 WW pastry flour 
and 1/2 unbleached flour-


The 5 lbs. of the mix fit perfectly in my big, old glass jar. Cheaper and much healthier than store bought mix. Candy has LOTS of recipes on her website to make all kinds of things with this- Baking Mix Recipes

Lunch- homemade pickled eggs & onions, fish and rye crackers, practically Swedish!

Anya showing the box who's boss-





Feb 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

                       


Yes, I will have an actual blog POST this weekend! Life's been busy at the Little Homestead! See ya soon!

Feb 10, 2013

Happy Chinese New Year!


                       

Happy Chinese New Year, May Yours be Happy, Healthy and Prosperous!


Feb 2, 2013

Happy Half-Way Day & Groundhog's Day, Thrifting, Pantry Closet Update

Anya's ready too!

Happy Half-Way Day & Groundhog's Day-
I read today that we're at the "cross-quarters" of the seasons, Imbolc . Half way between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. It feels like it a bit here- finally thawed a bit, the snow's melting and Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today, predicting an early spring. We'll see if he's right! I hope he is. WAY TOO COLD lately. I'm ready for spring.

Famous Phil
Thrifting- I de-winterized the inside of the house today- took done all the winter decor, deep cleaned and reorganized. Then I added some RED! I knew I needed a few more things though. I don't own a lot of Valentine's Day stuff. It gets to be just too much. Some I added some other things that are red. I found some Chinese New Year (Feb. 10th this year) at the local Asian foods store- 

                                            Red money envelopes for gift giving and a red tassel            

A Happy New Year and Prosperity banner
                                         Chineses new year A4 Snake3 Chinese New Year 2013 Resources
                                    I found some great items today at the Craft Warehouse and Goodwill-

$1.00 (90% off)  for the star and $4.00 for the gnome at the C.W.

                   A whopping 28 cents, a Pier One item, ha! At G.W. I love the color of the peppers

greenery at G.W., $3.00

Old Navy scarf, $1.00 G.W.

Brand new Ikea jars, 99 cents each. GW. I may use them for ointments or salves

White pips, 99 cents, also G.W.

Here's how I used some of these:
Before: de-winterized and ready for something

After: all spruced up with some pink and red

Chicken wire basket-all red flowers and white pips

A few of my normal reddish things out now- polka dots, rooster and blender

something red in the main hall

something red in the living room- I used a SW rug for a table runner for some fun!

Pantry Closet Update-
I set out over a year and a half ago to start a working pantry closet. Working means I use the food and then replace it, on a fairly regular basis. With limited kitchen cabinets it was a logical idea. It's much more of a process than I thought it would be, however. Turning a spare bedroom closet into a closet full of shelving was the easy part. Dave about had a coronary when I started buying quite a bit of extra food to get the pantry going. Then it's a matter of figuring out - 
*what to buy
*how much to buy
*will you actually eat it?
*emergency only foods/drinks- what to buy?
*misc.- all the stuff you'll think of later, like paper plates for emergency use.
*storing freebies?

Freezing & other food storage ideas: I will add, buying a medium-sized chest freezer was also a great idea! We did that last spring, when we bought a freezer after doing a bit of research. We got ours at Costco. I have REALLY saved a lot of money by buying things in season and freezing for later- peppers, berries, etc. Things when they are cheap- chicken in the summer for barbecuing, bulk bacon, anything on sale. I learned to double bag the meats, squeeze out the excess air. I used some chicken from last summer this week, and it was perfect! No freezer burn.

You can also store other things without freezing. I also stock up on vacuum-packaged like broths, soups and items like this-

                                           

Here's my recently reorganized pantry closet-



I try to keep things together in sections- veggies, fruits, juices, baking supplies,
proteins, grains, sugars

I try to have a good mix of dried beans, but also some canned for work nights.

I also store my big kitchen items, like the huge mixing bowl (for canning) and small appliances 
I don't use that much. The big silver bag has a big bag of unbleached flour with oxygen packets inside.

The girls- finally out in the main yard, digging for bugs, long since frozen...



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