Life on a little urban homestead in the making, with ideas for self-sufficiency, food preservation, thrifting,
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Nov 21, 2017

Some Practical, Healthy & Fun Homesteading Gifts!

Homemade Cheese!

Some Practical, Healthy & Fun Homesteading Gifts!
When you're homesteading, whether in the city or country, we can look at gifts from a different lens. "Oh look at that great shovel! Wow, what great seeds! Hey that compost is great" So, if you need some fun ideas for holiday/birthday/house warming gifts, etc. here's a few great ideas that any homesteader can use!

First- I can’t tell you how convenient a hands-free headlamp is! I borrowed Dave's biking headlamp during a camping trip, then it dawned on me to use it in the coop! You might need to work in a barn or other outbuilding with no light. Going running, walking, or skiing? Maybe with gloves or mittens on? Do you need to work in your garage, or do first aid in a way that requires both hands? You do NOT want to be holding a flashlight in your mouth at that time. In a power outage this could be really helpful in an emergency! Here's a great deal and it's rechargeable. Gotta love that. Or you can just sneak up on your kids and scare the heck out of them!

Now- Even more Ball Book ways to preserve your own foods! New and updated with tons of fresh ideas, including Lacto Fermentation. The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving: Over 350 of the Best Canned, Jammed, Pickled, and Preserved Recipes I will be adding this to my canning book shelf!

Speaking of food preservation! I wish they sold these a few years back! For those of you who want to use your own canning jars for fermenting, this is for you! All those great probiotics are so good for your gut! With an airlock to prevent mold and contamination, you just add produce to any wide mouth Mason jar, add brine, attach top and set it on your counter! Easy to disassemble and clean- FARMcurious Mold Free Fermenting Kit Set of 2

And last, but not least, CHEESE! With high prices and easy cheese-making kits for beginners, why not make your OWN? This kit contains all the ingredients (except milk & cream) that you need to make 100's of cheeses using both cow, goat and sheep milk. Use farm fresh raw or store bought pasteurized! Includes recipes for Mozzarella, Burrata, Ricotta, Monterey Jack, Feta, Chèvre/Goat Cheese, Cheese Curds, Cream Cheese, Butter, Cultured Butter, Quesa Blanco, Quesa Fresca and Marscapone!! Includes spices to flavor your homemade cheese and butter! Or get creative and add your own! So get started in an easy straightforward way- Standing Stone Farms Ultimate Cheese Making Kit                                                     

Nov 19, 2017

How I Got Started With The Independence Days Challenge, Little Winter Preps

How I Got Started With The Independence Days Challenge-
I was wondering recently when I first started doing my IDC posts? After digging a bit I found it was back in 2012! I was looking at my Sharon Astyk books Adapting Our Homes and Our Lives to Settle in Place (Mother Earth News Books for Wiser Living) and Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage & Preservation , have read these books several times, and they still inspire me! There are so MANY great ideas on doing what you can, where you are! Links are on my side bar for more info. Since life is a process I find the ideas can be adapted over time really well. With variations in space, money you can invest, time you have they're great resources. My original post is here 2012 Independence Days Challenge Ideas and to think it was 5 years ago, how time flies!  I still love looking at this list and thinking about what we've done, and what we still need to work on. I did modify it a bit after reading how some other websites re-worded it just a bit, but you get the idea-

1. Plant Something-

2. Harvest Something-

3. Preserve/Store Something-

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep-

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe-

6. Build Community Food Systems-

7. Recycle/Re-Use-

8. Skill Up-

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something-

I really loved following Sharon's blog, but then she went on to other things. So if you need some inspiration to start with where you are already living, or want to try some other things, buy her books!

Last Winter's Snowmageddon

Little Winter Preps-
With winter settling in, I have been doing some random preparedness tasks like-
making sure ice scrapers and fleece travel blankets are in the cars, air pressure checked in the tires, new wipers as needed, antifreeze checked, chicken water heater plugged in in the coop. Dave put the sun room for the coop back together for the winter.  We didn't last year, and it snowed, several feet! It's ready now-

Flashlights in the cars with fresh batteries, new rechargeable batteries in the solar garden lights.
I just ordered one of these FLOUREON Portable Solar Battery Charger only $16.99! Can charge 2 devices at a time, great idea! Having a couple of these is a good idea. While you may not have cell service, you can still access important info stored on your phone, tablet or other device. Amazing how expensive these used to be compared to now-

Nov 16, 2017

Grandma's Quilts

Grandma's Quilts-
I was thinking recently about my materal Grandma's quilts. She made these during the Depression out of flour sacks and scrap fabric. What a beautiful job she did, all by hand. She created a work of art to keep her children warm and would probably be surprised it is hanging on my wall as a piece of art-

Nov 11, 2017

Easy Frugal Vegetarian Chili, Telepathic Chickens- No Eggs Mean New Chicks!

Easy Frugal Vegetarian Chili-
Yes, winter is here! With our coldest week so far I was ready for a big pot of chili! Over the years I stopped using meat since this is cheaper AND healthier. I made a big pot today-

I use- 
6 cans Light Red Kidney beans, 2 Lg bell peppers diced, 2 can diced tomatoes, 2 yellow onions diced, 3 cups of my own diced tomatoes, 2 cans water. I used about 4 TBL Chili powder (to taste heat-wise), 1 Tsp. Thyme, 2 Tsp. Garlic powder, about 1 TBL Cumin, and salt to taste. Basically put everything in a pot, cook for a few hours until nice and tasty. Adjust spices, or type of beans, as needed. I added more Chili powder near the end. Serve with any kind of toppings you like- sour cream, avocado, grated cheese, diced onions, cilantro, tortilla strips, you name it! We went with a little cheese. Cilantro or diced green onions would be nice too. Freezes great!

The leaves have really been falling, and Dave moved the yards today, composting the leaves-

Grand baby Oliver watching the leaves fall 
Squirrels and birds have been out eating the bird food

Telepathic Chickens- No Eggs Mean New Chicks!
I started this post earlier this week, then my telepathic chickens laid 4 eggs in the last 3 days! Go figure, they read my mind:) They haven't laid in weeks and weeks, even with extra protein. They're getting a little older, and at least one has been molting. Anyway, there WILL be more chicks in the spring/summer next year. So... 
After our three hens have laid really well for years, it seems they are done. It's been store bought eggs lately. On the bright side, that mean new chicks! I will get three again, early next summer to add to the flock. Last time it went really well integrating the new birds, so I'm confident I can do it again. It's always so much fun getting new chicks! You get to think about breeds and then a trip to the local hatchery. We go to Dunlap Hatchery in Caldwell (outside Boise) since they are really reliable with sexing the chicks (gender), the breeds are correctly labeled, and they're really healthy. Since we only buy pullets (female chicks) it's important that they're sexed correctly. We don't want any roosters. Here's our two fluffy balls from a few years back, and the Grand kids will love the new ones! We ALWAYS keep our other older hens. They eat bugs, weeds and keep an eye on things. I have integrated flocks before and can do it again.

Living room visit

How cute!

I'm leaning towards breeds we've had before Black/Gold Sex links and maybe something different. List of breeds we can choose from here Laying Breeds Then we'll make our fun run, pick up the chicks. So exciting! We set up in indoor mini brooder holding area. We use a laundry basket to start, lined with paper towels. Next we graduate to a long cardboard box with pine shavings. I've never been fan of indoor heat lamps, although we've used them. They can be a real fire hazard, but I finally found a solution that has good reviews and seems to work. I was excited to find out about a the Chick Heating Pad, 9" by 12", good indoors or out, chew proof, low energy use-

Our last flock (one was a little rooster we re-homed), SO CUTE!!!

Nov 4, 2017

Amazing Cheap DIY Shoe Repair! Winter Is Here & The Last Roses, Cheap Reads For You Reading Fans

Amazing Cheap DIY Shoe Repair! 
This spring I bought these really cute shoes on eBay. I love Haflinger shoes, but they are VERY expensive, made in Germany. I love the fact you can resole them. The other 2 like-news pairs I have I also bought on eBay. The eBay photos showed some discoloring on the soles. When they arrived the darker part was sort of brittle, like they been exposed to heat? I decided to keep them, and stashed until this fall. I wore them for the first time last week, and over the course of the day they developed hairline cracks on the discolored area. The hard part was also slippery on bare floors, a safety issue-

What to do? Since the shoes were actually new (perfect otherwise) I called a local shoe repair store. I tried twice to find them, but couldn't. I stumbled onto a product that was a DIY shoe repair. After reading a LOT of reviews I thought I'd try it. I bought this Shoe Goo for $6.00 at a local fabric store, and boy does it work!!!

I read the directions very carefully. Use in a WELL ventilated area, and clean the soles. I used a craft stick, like a tongue depressor, and worked on a thin coat. I basically did a pea sized blob and applied, like frosting a cake. I bought the clear. All the reviews said go thin, then build up. I worked out in our garage-

I let cure (as directed) for a couple days. I found one tiny crack I missed so I will go over that. I only used 1/4 or so of one tube, so I have leftover Goo. So far love it! I wore them today, no more slippery soles. All in all I HIGHLY recommend this. People also use it for waterproofing things, so it's a flexible product. You can read reviews online.

I also discovered another great, low cost product! While I was on Amazon, buying Dave a refill for his electric razor (cheaper than blades) I found this Bench Scraper-

 Great for the holiday season for cleaning up cookie dough too!

I bought the marine blue, like a teal

I had been seeing these for a while on cooking shows. Great for chopping and moving fruits, veggies, pastry, etc. Most of the ones I saw were WAY over my budget. I just needed to stop leaving a trail of food on my kitchen floor! You know how you chop, scoop things up in you hands, walk to the stove, leaving a trail? That's me, multiple times. So I bought one, and it's great! They come in multiple colors, perfect! It sits by my sink now, ready to grab. No more food trails!

Winter Is Here & The Last Roses-
Winter is here! It was 32 this morning, with lots of snow in the foothills. Today we added more pine shavings to the coop, bought and put out more wild bird food, cleaned off the last of the flower pots on the deck. Last night it was 45 degrees and pouring rain. I went out and clipped our last roses-

Covered with rain drops

I trimmed them a bit and put in a Mason jar-

The smell is heavenly!

With tons of leaves on the ground, some pretty golden brown Ground Doves landed on the deck today. Usually when I see them they are a soft gray. I think they were a bit baffled about where to go, where's the ground? With a think layer of leaves, where to go?


still thinking...

Friend/mate came, they flew over to the raised bed

Grand baby River dropped by this morning, all rosy cheeked. He loved looking out at the falling leaves- 

Love the tie

Seeing the dogs behind the fence

Mr. River man!

Cheap Reads For You Reading Fans-
Winter is a great time to read! I stumbled on a great deal today if you're a big reader Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial For reading, or book listening on various devices. You can get all kinds of books, then just cancel at 30 days if you wish. Check it out! $3.00 is a great deal!

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