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Nov 19, 2018

Anniversary Road Trip, Winter Is Here!

Anniversary Road Trip-
Last year we went to the mountain resort of McCall, Idaho for an overnight trip for anniversary. We enjoyed it so much that we decided to go back this year for our 25th! We drove up Saturday morning and spent the night, came back Sunday afternoon. We stayed a nice little hotel that's right near the lake, which has a nice 5 Star restaurant next door. Weather was great, it was clear and sunny but cold. The room was nice and spacious and had a very deep bathtub which I loved, able to soak up to my neck. McCall is an interesting dichotomy with very wealthy people that live there part time or have mega cabins there. There's also more people like Dave and I who just go up for a day or the weekend. Then you have a lot of service workers, many of whom are seasonal. The ski season hasn't quite started yet, since there's really no snow to speak of. We drove up to Brundage Mountain to see what the ski slopes look like and not for sure-

After we drove back towards town, we drove part way around the lake, but sadly part of the road was closed for construction. We didn't make the normal loop all the way around, but stopped here right after breakfast. Sunday morning. It's a short walk from the hotel-

Payette Lake 

Boats out for the winter

Didn't find anything at the usual thrift store I usually go to. We tried a couple new food places- one for breakfast and one for coffee in the afternoon. We're probably like a lot of people who don't go up there very often, we tend to stay at the restaurants on the main drag. We had lunch at a local brewery place, great burgers, fun decor!

We had a really nice dinner at Rupert's restaurant next door to the hotel. They have some really unique decor!

Big wooden airplane props

I asked her waitress since it was our 25th anniversary if she could take a photo of us. She obliged and also brought out a brownie with a sparkler sticking out of it! Was kind of like a short round sparkler with a spike on the end that they stuck in the brownie. That got every body's attention in the room for sure. Is it cool idea and I couldn't get my camera phone out fast enough since I didn't know if it was going to start a fire! Magnesium flaring up 2 feet, wow! It was really nice and festive and someone else was celebrating a birthday. We watched the sun go down over the lake.

Lots of windows facing the lake

It was definitely colder up there than in Boise. It was 14 degrees yesterday with morning lots of frost! But this sky was beautiful and we had a nice leisurely drive back. We decided to go there again next year and already looking at booking another stay.

Anya is ready for winter

Winter Is Here!
There are few leaves still falling down, but the cold weather is definitely here. We've had some weather in the teens and twenties already.  We're hopefully going to have some serious rain in a few days, as it's been really really dry. There's no snow in the foothills yet, a little unusual but it's early in the winter still. The coop is all prepped for winter except for the sun room. I'm hoping for eggs soon! Someone has been in the nesting box, so that's a good sign. *** UPDATE- we got our first egg today from one of the new hens! Yeah!

The winter bird bath is out, great in the really cold weather-

Gnome is tucked in too

Girls had some free range time today, loved it!

Sarah is getting big!

Our maple tree still has a lot of leaves on it, as well as our apple tree. We just really need some wind or to take care of that. The comforter is on the bed along with flannel sheets, and the new Ikea cover Dave and I got in Salt Lake City. Anya likes to burrow when it colder-

furry paws sticking out

We swapped out our more mild weather clothing for polar fleece, sweatshirts, flannel blouses. Hats and gloves are out and we are getting ready for Thanksgiving. We hosting this year with everyone else bringing some side dishes. With two toddlers here I'm sure it will be busy!

Nov 4, 2018

Worx Electric Leaf Blower Review, More Winter Prep, Thrifting At Target

Worx Electric Leaf Blower Review-
Well it's that time of year when the leaves are falling and it's time to rake them up. A lot of our leaves are already down in the front yard, but we still have our big maple tree in the backyard holding onto some. After I was cleaning up our driveway and back deck I realized I never did a review on our little mini electric leaf blower! After using it for a few years I decided I would share my experiences here if you're interested. I bought it when I was having some back problems, and was having a lot of trouble sweeping the driveway and front sidewalks. I've never liked gas blowers that they tend to be really loud, would be overkill for us and you have to deal with gas/oil mixtures. When I saw this blower I thought it might be a good fit. It turns out I was right! It's lightweight, has a rechargeable lithium battery, and is really easy to use-

Small charger works great

Separate from just blowing leaves you can also use it to clear off your deck/turf, clear out your gutters of dry leaves, and blow leaves out of your flower beds in the spring. You can also blow them IN before winter. So there's actually quite a few things you can use it for. Ours came with the accessory kit to clean car interiors, but you may not need it.  It's just a nice extra feature. If you click on the tab you can see more info on features and accessories that come with it. The battery recharges pretty quickly, snaps right in. It has a simple on/off button, and runs for about 1-2 hours. So if you want something that's lightweight, easy to use, and quieter this is really a nice blower! DO NOT BUY the 20 Volt as that would probably be really under powered. If you click on this link you can also shop for the other versions-

Leaf Covered herb box

More Winter Prep-
With highs in the 40's is forecast for next week, lows in the 20s, winter is right around the corner! Last night I used some of our last counter-ripened tomatoes/jalapenos for salsa. We have a few more left that we will freeze and then we are done with the veggie garden produce. It's really great to be able to slice into a homegrown tomato and have the juice go all over the cutting board! We continued more of our winter prep yesterday since the weather was dry and it was actually pretty mild, 58 degrees. It rained last night and more for today, so we got going while the going was good. I washed my car, cleaned out the inside really well and wiped everything down. Dave did more mowing and raking of leaves to go into the compost pile. We packed up all the Halloween decor, inside and out. More leaves dropping soon-

We went to the local Ace Hardware store with multiple coupons and got some really great deals. We bought a heavy-duty exterior extension cord to power the coop, since the old one died. We also got another outdoor extension cord for heated bird bath. It's in the herb box above and I still need to harvest the Rosemary. It's easy not to notice when those power cords are getting too many dents and dings. Dave always inspects them after we haven't used them in a while. He works in the electrical field. Always better to replace when you need to, and if you can get a great deal, even better. I've also never liked the look of orange power cords laying across the yard, so for the same price we bought dark brown. It just disappears. We packed up all the tools on our garden work bench and I covered it up with plastic for the season-

 I gave it multiple coats of paint this spring so I wanted to protect the new paint job. The top gets the most wear from rain and snow. We always put all the tools in the garage in a bucket where we can still get them. We don't leave them out in the weather all winter. We also got two new heat bulbs, since the 2 pack was so cheap (coupon) to heat up the coop if needed. I have never seen a 2-pack for $10.00. I only use those if its really really low twenties or colder. I'm going to get out some of her homemade frozen pasta sauce tonight and make a big pot of pasta with some salad and French bread. Perfect food going into a cold week. I washed and put out winter comforter out with our new cover from Ikea. I bought a King size since they can run a little small and I like more coverage. We were warm and toasty last night! I stored the quilt and fleece blanket for next spring...

Thrifting At Target-
I haven't been to Target for quite a while and I needed to buy some spray-on water repellent for shoes. I had some that I needed a treat before going into winter. For some odd reason it can be hard to find. While I was there I went through there little dollar store section and found a few fun things. I bought a little fake feather tree fr the house, $1.00, about 6" high-

Also a fun little banner that I'm going to take a work to work that says Be Merry, $3.00

And my sign above that says Good Tidings... It was the last sign that they had and when I turned it over I realized that the hanging hardware was upside down. It was supposed to be $3, but when I got to the checkout register I pointed it out the cashier and he charged me half price! Pretty good deal so I was happy. Just goes to show you can still negotiate a few things here and there. I'll take off the upside down bracket and move it to the correct side. Luckily it had little tiny phillips screws, so I can unscrew them, move to other side. I dropped off more donations to a local thrift store. I decided, in the interest of saving money and Dave's labor, not to replace some of our exterior holiday lights. Some died last year and I appreciate the fact that he does most of the outside work on those. I help with some, but mostly concentrate on the inside. It will be a win-win. Less work and save money. And it will still look great! 

Oct 27, 2018

Prepping The House, Cars & Coop For Winter, Affiliate Earnings Reveal!

Coming soon!

Prepping The House, Cars & Coop For Winter-
With winter just around the corner next week we are wrapping up the prepping phase for winter.
We have temperatures dropping 20 degrees tomorrow night, with lows in the low 30's, highs in the low 50's. It's supposed to be around 70 today.

In our winter prep we include both of our cars. Recently they have both been waxed, much needed. We added new wiper blades (Costco's great deal!), I put in a car size spare blanket, ice scraper/snow sweep. It does snow here on occasion. Good to do early when the weather is nice. Dave cleaned up his work bench in the garage today. No big projects looming, that we know of.

With the house we've been re-caulking windows. Dave had rinsed off some spider webs on a window in the summer and I found there was actually some water on the inside of the window sill. Not a good idea. We installed new windows about 10+  years ago, since the old ones were pretty well toast. To say this house had little insulation when we bought it(attic and windows) is an understatement! We both caulked the new windows really well. After 10 years it was time for a refresh and so Dave re-did all the windows again. No ladders for me with a brace on my arm! Caulking keeps the cold weather and helps the house stay cooler in the summer. We already put the vegetable garden to bed. Sad looking but that's it, just an empty space. We added more compost to the cold frame to break down over the winter. It's kind of cute that one of the annual flowers that went into the compost pile is actually still alive!

One of the things I always do is clean off and cover up our garden work bench with clear plastic to protect it from the elements. We store the tools in the garage for easy access if we need them. I repainted the bench early this summer since the wood stain was pretty well shot. We bought it right after we bought this house since the deck was fairly small, but we needed some kind of work space. It's held up really well, it just needed a fresh coat of paint. We already closed the foundation vents. New furnace filters, extra batteries, and water jugs. I'll empty the rain barrel soon since it freezes.

For the coop Dave already added the lower window to cover up the bottom portion of the coop. It got spattered with mud during our 1" record rain fall recently, so he cleaned it up today, here's the before shot, no after sorry-

It replaces the hardware cloth in the winter. Late tomorrow, or weather depending, I'm going to cover the screen top of the coop main door-

We'd had a couple of cold nights and didn't have any clear plastic on hand so David covered it with a black garbage bag. I took that down when the weather warmed up again, since the weather has been crazy! We use the deep litter method in the coop and it worked amazingly well. David cleaned the coop out a two weeks ago, the pine shavings/poo went to the city compost. They finally added compost totes to our garbage service this year and it's been great! We have built up the soil level so much over 10 to 12 years that we can't really add a whole lot more to it. So we either give the pine shavings away to our kids or it goes in the compost tote. I touched up the paint today on the coop since there was a few spots that needed it. Luckily we had some paint left, since it was the old house trim color. I still like it!



This is possibly the last weekend of real warm weather, as far as I can tell. Time for these kinds of outside jobs, so we get them done fast. Dave mowed and stored the hoses, covered the water spigots with their styrofoam caps. In the next day or two we will lay out the big industrial, exterior extension cord that we use to power the coop, including the heated water and the two lights. We have a reptile light that we use on the upper part of the coop for a little extra heat when it's really really cold. We also have infrared heat lamp that's hardwired in. I don't really use either of those until it's in the low 20's, or lower. We always add extra pine shavings when it gets really cold and that seems to help quite a bit. I am proud to say that none of my chickens have ever had major frostbite over all the winter's that we have kept them. They can go out in the cold weather and there's enough ventilation to keep them healthy. They all seem to deal with the cold very well. We will put up the "sun room" (to photo) when it gets colder, for extra space in the rain and snow. All made from recycled materials and custom built by Dave to fit onto the coop. I'll keep an eye on the forecast. In a year or two we may need to re-build the coop. Time will tell. When you design your own coop (after tons of research) there's always things that can be tweaked.

Affiliate Earnings Reveal!
I was reading an article today that some "Instagrammers" now call themselves "Bloggers", but don't have an actual blog. They post photos with a few sentences on Instagram. Not much writing involved. Sometimes it's about making money and that's all. I know there are some bloggers who are young, competitive, have no families and work 24/7 at a job and they blog. They make quite a bit of $, but I just can't do that. I sit at a computer all day at work and don't want to do that at home. My eyes object as well. This post today took several hours, for instance, not counting photos and editing. I read this post today and it is a FASCINATING read The Dark Side Of Blogging

If you've been following this blog for a while you have probably seen my Amazon affiliate statement and the various items that you can click through, and buy to help support this blog. I get a tiny percentage. It's been really interesting to see what did, and didn't happen, with Amazon. If you look below you can see what my total earnings have been for the last 90 days, and well, it's pretty pathetic-

Yep, $1.72. They owe me about $10.00, but won't pay me til it hits $20.00. Nice. Ironically I actually have made more through product click-through at Hometalk. I was actually shocked when I got an email saying that I had earned $57.00. It was my first payment. It works like this- people read my DIY projects on Hometalk. When I list specific items, like my back splash material in my kitchen, they can go to the bottom of the post, then buy that item. That goes as a credit towards me and eventually I can make some money doing that. It was actually pretty funny when I got an email from them saying that I had earned money. I thought it was a scam, but it wasn't. Here's a screenshot from Paypal-

I have posted 11 DIY projects, taking about an hour each. So, it's been an interesting experiment. Since I basically don't get any income from this blog I've been writing for years, maybe there's hope. Do you make any money off your blog?

Oct 24, 2018

Independence Days Challenge

Independence Days Challenge-
It's been just gorgeous fall weather with a touch of winter in the air. The days are getting a little bit cooler this week in the mid-60s going down to low 30s at night for next week. It maybe a cold Halloween! Neighbor kitty Poesy found a nice spot yesterday by our raised bed-

Then gorgeous skies, with orange clouds-

We've been doing lots of miscellaneous things and thought this would be a good post to catch them all up. So here we go...

1. Plant Something-
As usual we do not do fall plantings, but I did buy a nice purple Mum for the front porch!

2. Harvest Something-.
We had already harvested the last of the tomatoes and they are ripening nicely on the counter. The weather has been so mild I was holding off harvesting the last of my herbs. My herb box has a nice big rosemary plant in it, lemon thyme and oregano. Will harvest soon. No eggs.

3. Preserve/Store Something-
We decided to stock up on a few things when we were out grocery shopping. I bought a nice big 20 Lb. bag of rolled oats. We'll use it for ourselves and also for a treat in the winter for our chickens, great deal! I stored some outside and the rest in big gallon glass jars in the pantry. We've been freezing the tomatoes as they ripen on the counter. We bought some extra dry goods when we saw a really great deals. Things like egg noodles, granola bars, and clearance-price gourmet breads. I also bought a bottle of dark red wine since I want to make some beef stew soon. Nothing like beef stew on a really cold night! Will be stocking up on a few more things at Costco soon, since I do not go near that store until after the holidays. It's really nice to see that our freezer in the garage is actually just about completely full! It was about half-full this summer after we'd used up last year's veggies, fruits and meats. Now we have more fruits, veggies and lots of other yummy things. I do need to stock up on some meats soon, will watch for good deals.

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep-
We did get a good deal at the local Ace Hardware for wild bird food, good to keep for emergencies for chickens as well as feeding the local wildlife. $10 for 20 Lbs is a great deal so we got two! Bought some heavy, clear plastic to enclose the main coop door, and cover our work bench on the back deck. Got a few decor items including this, $7.00, keeping with my Scandinavian holiday goodies!

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe-
I have a new recipe I saw that I'm going to try soon, tangy red pepper sauce over pork chops. Looks great! Would work on others things as well, it's here - Roasted Red Pepper Vinegar Sauce

Roasted Red Pepper-Vinegar Sauce
Roasted red peppers add sweetness to this sauce, and hot cherry peppers bring some heat. Garlic, tangy vinegar, briny anchovies, and a generous amount of olive oil round out the flavors. This sauce is an excellent accompaniment to lean meats such as pork chops or chicken breast.

¾ cup jarred roasted red peppers, rinsed and patted dry
2 jarred hot cherry peppers, stems removed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons dried rosemary, lightly crushed
2 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry
½ teaspoon Salt
teaspoon pepper
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar  (Red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar can be substituted for the            white wine vinegar, if desired.)

Instructions, Serves 4, makes about 1 Cup-

Pulse red peppers, cherry peppers, garlic, rosemary, anchovies, salt, and pepper in food processor until finely chopped, 15 to 20 pulses. Add water and vinegar and pulse briefly to combine. Transfer mixture to medium bowl and add water and vinegar. Add ⅓  cup extra-virgin olive oil, tablespoons minced fresh parsley, slowly whisk in oil until fully incorporated. Stir in parsley.

6. Build Community Food Systems-
Waiting for the hens to start laying to sell some excess eggs. The 2 older ones molted, big time, and the 2 younger ones are close to laying. 

7. Recycle/Re-Use-
We've been cleaning out closets again and donating more things. I recycled some things inside the house recently when I redid our guest bedroom with more of a French country feel-

8. Skill Up-
I have been studying local politics more lately since we have a big election coming up. While the powers-that-be keep a pretty good stranglehold on things it's still good to vote.

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something-
My hand is doing well, still in the brace for 3 more weeks. I'll switch to a small brace and then wean off. Learning to mouse left handed has been hard. I'm so glad we're not buried at work! We were having some issues with our Subaru Outback and took it to the dealer. It turned out that the battery and battery cables were under warranty and that was the problem. Free replacements! It was also running a little bit odd, they asked where we bought our gas and Dave usually buys it at Costco. They told him not to buy gas ever again at Costco and here is why- when you sell a high volume of gasoline you're constantly putting in more gasoline into the pump tanks. Residue and grit in the gas never has a chance to settle, so it winds up in your fuel lines. They said they bought a gallon or two and ran it through a coffee filter. They said It was full of tons of grit and debris. Good to know! Since two of our fruit trees have a fungus I bought some Copper Fungicide spray. It kills the fungus naturally and will save our trees. I forgot to spray last fall and our poor peach and pear trees suffered. No more! Just waiting for all the leaves to fall off in another week or two.

Oct 19, 2018

We Lost Pru

Pru on the Left

We Lost Pru-
I had a pretty stressful week this week going back to work full-time after my hand surgery but I survived. It's frustrating mousing on the computer with your left hand when you're a righty! I had kind of a weird experience leaving my work building today which I won't get into here, but pretty odd. I went out to dinner by myself since Dave had to work late, really relaxed and had a nice meal.  I went home and was giving Anya the cat some love and looked out the back yard window. My black hen was in the yard laying down. Sometimes they take dust baths and kind of doze off or just hang out. From what I could see she was not moving at all, not a good sign. I hustled out and my beautiful Pru was cold and very dead. She was quite a bit bigger than in the photo above, pretty well full grown and a beautiful black Australorp. The only thing I could see was that her neck appeared to be broken, and she had a pretty major wound on her side. I suspect it was a hawk attack. That's kind of odd if it was a hawk, that it didn't eat more? I'm not sure if there's a possibility that the four hens drove off a hawk or maybe it was an immature hawk? I don't know, which is a little frustrating but regardless we lost her. One less hen but what can you do? Sigh...

Oct 14, 2018

My No-Budget French Country Bedroom Makeover, Basil Harvest/Pesto Time!

My No-Budget French Country Bedroom Makeover-
Recovering from hand surgery has been kind of challenging, and I was glad I was home for the week.  I'm grateful my work benefits include extended sick leave. Sometimes you see a lot of things that need to get done, but you can't do them yourself so they just have to wait. Dave has been really great with picking up the slack, but he's been working all week. I kept looking at our spare bedroom and realized I could do something, even with one good hand. I had painted the bedroom several years ago into a very white yellow, still love that color so I was not about to repaint that! It had turned into a bit of a storage area-

Baby themed art/mobile

Baby stuff

More stuff

Sometimes you think you know what you're going to need and then needs change. That was the case with our spare bedroom, that we turned into sort of a grand baby nursery. I was looking at the space the last couple of weeks and realized we really weren't babysitting that much anymore. Time for the baby decor to be reorganized or given away. We wanted to keep the crib, the books, the toys, etc. I really like French Country/farm decor and have so many fun pieces, mostly thrifted. I decided it was time to redo the bedroom. My challenge to myself was to do without spending any money. I could re-do it since many of the items in the bedroom could either be donated, given away or stored elsewhere. That would give me more of a clean slate to work from. Since we had bought a new queen comforter cover from Ikea I decided to re-use the old one on the twin bed. The ticking fabric would be a nice neutral accent, went from bright blue comforter to white/blue ticking-

I wanted to keep the existing wire bookcase as it has nice lines and is a good size. I empted it out, then sorted and refilled-

Removed the prints and exercise machine


Donated machine we never use, we may get a used treadmill we can leave out

Stored prints

My sewing machine stays in the room since that's a good place for it-

The corner of the room with all of the baby gear was downsized-

We didn't need tiny blankets anymore, just kept the larger napping blankets and moved them. I hung up some prints that I have been storing and that gave the room a definite more adult look. So I'll probably tweak it more overtime. For now I really like it and will continue to see what works for all of us!

Basil Harvest/Pesto Time!
Winter is definitely on the horizon since we had our first hard freeze yesterday! I had the basil plants on the deck covered up with plastic the last two days, but it was time to harvest. Since I am still using primarily one hand Dave and I set up a pesto making station tonight after dinner. One sinkful-

I used my favorite recipe and we made a nice big batch using this recipe Rosie's Pesto. We did the one plant that was really large and got 6 jars out of that batch. We ran out of fresh lemon juice so I will buy some more today and we can finish up the other batch. It smells amazing in the kitchen, like garlic and fresh basil! This freezes so well if you haven't ever tried it I'd really encourage you to make some. Freezing in the small batches works great so you can use it for pastas, or smear it on roasting chicken. That's one of my personal favorites! It's also great on broiled Italian bread. Bon appetit!