Life on a little urban homestead in the making, with ideas for self-sufficiency, DIYing, organic gardening, food preservation, chicken keeping, cookery, crafts, thrifting, vintage stuff, and more...
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Jun 24, 2019

Harvesting Service (Saskatoon) Berries, Thrifting Scores! Goats On Patrol


Harvesting Service (Saskatoon) Berries
Having two nearly recording-breaking months of rain, April and May, made for a huge amount of service berries! Dave harvested about 1 gallon so far. I bagged them in 4 - 1 Qt bags to freeze. I found lots of recipes online, you can check out my Pinterest food page, if interested (link on the right). Lots of info here Saskatoonberryinstitute.org too about the berries and benefits. There's probably several more Qts. out there. I plan on making syrup to can for sure! Maybe some mini tarts. Time will tell!


Travelog Anti-Theft Bag, $4.00

Thrifting Scores!
I stopped by Goodwill Saturday and really scored! I found 1 new, and 1 like-new, pair of expensive work slacks, perfect! $5.00 each. Then I found all of this- 


Tonka loader and recycled plastic fire truck, $3.00 each, for grandsons

New planter, $1.00, new metal cup, $1.00, 2 new non-stick cake pans $1.50 each, pitcher $4.00

Love the detail on the pitcher, new, very summery!

New corn stalk yard art, $4.00

Great in the backyard!




Goats On Patrol-
Every year the County brings in a large flock of goats on my route to work. They put up electric fencing and go to work. The weeds were about 3' - 4' high when they started. They've made good progress in the last week. I smile as I drive by every morning on the way to work! I took these photos while Dave was driving so I didn't run off the road. Wish I'd have gotten better photos, but there's no where to park. They have water and plenty of shade, and only in the 70's this week. Its a pretty great job they do, and no herbicides! They're used around Boise in different areas and it's a great program!!!


Jun 21, 2019

Happy Summer Solstice!!! Here Comes The Sun

Image from Telegraph.co.uk

Happy Summer Solstice!!!
I woke up to 42 degrees this morning, but yes, it's the longest day of the year!  Here's how it all work!


Image from Indystar.com

And for a little entertainment- James Taylor did a tribute to the famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma, whom he had recorded this cover with on Yo-Yo Ma's 2008 album Songs Of Joy & Peace. This video is from when he was awarded the  Presidential Medal of Freedom. Just lovely and a very different take than the original! If you look close you can see actress Anne Hathaway moved to tears! 



Jun 18, 2019

Finishing Planting The Veggies & Flowers, Victoria Sponge Cake with Strawberries & Coconut Cream, Pasta & Peas


Finishing Planting The Veggies & Flowers
I think summer is finally here! I bought the last of our veggies this weekend to plant. I bought a Japanese Itchiban eggplant, three small pots of lemon cucumbers to help out with the ones that are a little bit sick from the bad weather. I bought two red  and 2 green bell peppers, several basil and some flowers for the pots-



My baby Basils ready to plant in a pot

 My Nasturtiums I started from seed have doing really great, they're just not flowering yet-


Unless I see a really great deal into next month or two for leftover tomatoes at the local nurseries I think we're pretty well done. The corn, beans, and small decorative pumpkins we started from seed are doing great-


Dave already harvested (he's taller!) 2 Qts. of Service Berries, many more to come. They loved the wet spring. I may make jam, or some small tarts, or both. Nothing like growing your own food!


More flowers from the front yard-

Spirea

Pollinator, but can't remember which one!

Yarrow

Red Hot Poker, almost 40 blooms, crazy with the wet weather too!
  
First berries, Red Twig Dogwood, not edible sadly

Sea Thrift

Roses



Victoria Sponge Cake with Strawberries & Coconut Cream
I always wanted to make a Victoria sponge cake with fresh strawberries. There are a lot of recipes out there, but many are with UK measurements which doesn't work very well for me. I finally found a recipe and decided to try it and was really disappointed. Both cakes fell, which is ever happened to me before in my life. I'm not posting the recipe here since it was not a good one apparently. I realized after the fact that 375° was just too hot for cakes, that should have been cooler with a longer bake time. I did try microwaving the one that was still pretty warm for several minutes to see if it would hopefully cook the batter in the center. When website suggested if your cake fails in the middle or falls in the middle to simply serve it in slices or in a cup with the other ingredients. The second cake came out nice and moist. Disappointing for a Father's Day dessert. Sad, will try a different recipe next time. No More Cake Fails ideas here.

This was a success though, making coconut cream! Since Dave can't do dairy I decided to make this for the cake. Basically I followed the directions on the can-
refrigerate overnight (I put in the freezer for 1 hour or so). Spoon out the solid thick cream. I put in as mixing bowl, added 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1 TBS powdered sugar and whipped. It was very stiff. I added more of the milk liquid until it got to the right consistency. I used two cans of this which was perfect for the cake-


It was nice and fluffy and didn't soak the cake the way cream would. I could see adding lemon extract, etc. next time for another flavor.




Pasta & Peas-
One thing I learned from a more plant-based diet is peas are packed with protein! Who knew! I thought they were pure carbs and felt guilty eating them. I added some to whole grain pasta, and topped with an egg. Add some Parmesan cheese and it's what for dinner!




Jun 10, 2019

Finally Some Warm Weather! Independence Days Challenge


Finally Some Warm Weather!
After a cold end of the week, and weekend, it's finally warming up again. Hopefully for good! It was 39 degrees Friday night and only hit low 70's yesterday. Low 80's today, and we're going to hit the mid 80's most of next week. The veggie garden should start to take off more! The yarden, front and back is so green!







Independence Days Challenge-
Here's what we've been up to!

1. Plant Something- Have been trying to harden off my baby Basil's and squash, but just too cold. Will start again this week.

2. Harvest Something- Lots of eggs and herbs! Herbs have just gone nuts-


Kale and collard greens are ready and mixed lettuces. The cooler, wet weather was great for them!


My Spanish lavender is loving it's spot, going thru a second bloom!


3. Preserve/Store Something- I froze 1/2 of my baking yesterday. Last weekend I made Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies with whole wheat pasty flour and froze some. Canning will start in another month or so when our early ripening peaches come in. We should have a good harvest! Then we'll have apples and pears. Our Choke Cherry and Service berries bushes are loaded. I'll make Choke Cherry jelly and save up the Service berries and freeze. Once I have enough I'l make jams or maybe a fruit bread.

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep- Got a great deal on nuts, whole grain pitas, organic cereals and jams yesterday at Costco. Scored a nice, cheap office desk chair as well. Bought some bulk Falafel mix, much cheaper than buying in a box. We're lucky we have a Winco five minutes from our home, with all Bob's Red Mills in their huge bulk section. I found some Reebok sneakers 1/2 off on their website, with $7.00 shipping. A steal! I have to take care of my feet.

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe- I had some left-over homemade applesauce and over-ripe bananas. What to do? Make a new recipe Banana Applesauce Oatmeal Bread It's basically no fat, except the egg. I also added about 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, and left out the honey. I'll freeze 1/2 for later.




We've been eating a lot more produce and grains with moving towards a more plant-based diet. Still eating some meats, but pretty much eliminated most white flour/sugar. More on that later...

6. Build Community Food Systems- Too early for the farmer's market yet.

7. Recycle/Re-Use- Dave went looking for used angle iron, but found commercial shelf brackets. The 2" x 4"s he had on our homemade compost sifter was way too heavy. He had a friend spot weld it to the metal sifter. It's much lighter and easier for him to use. This was his idea, by the way, sifting compost!

8. Skill Up-  I've learned a TON about Permaculture from the book Paradise Lot. It has given me lots of ideas, from Nitrogen-fixing trees to planting more less-common fruits and veggies. Great info and very easy to understand, compared to other complicated Permaculture books.



9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something- Me! I joined a gym with Dave, new by our house, and only $10.00 month. I'm working on building up walking distance, doing upper body work and general strengthening. Getting some regular, systematic exercise is what I really need. Something I can track and measure, and gauge as to how I'm doing. It will be hot soon, and this will be great when it's 110 outside! I did a full hour yesterday, and I'm proud of myself.


Jun 6, 2019

Well It Was Warm!!! Classic Waldorf Salad Recipe



Well It Was Warm!!!
Just when you start getting used to what seemed like early summer, BAM, Mother Nature smacks you upside the head! It's been in the mid-80s the last few days and really nice. Today a storm front started coming through dropping the temperature 15 degrees over several hours. We have really severe gusting winds, and it looked like a dust storm in downtown Boise late this afternoon. When I was sitting at home tonite I heard a loud thud on the top of the roof and thought here we go!  I went outside to see how big the branch was that got blown off the tree, and luckily it was a little one, no damage done. While I don't mind a little rain and cool weather it seems like it's really hard getting the summer garden started. But that's the breaks and I certainly don't want to complain too much after seeing what's happened in the midwest. The low tonight is supposed to be 49° and the low tomorrow night is supposed to be 40. I'll be putting an extra blanket back on the bed and wearing my winter jammies again, even though it's supposed to be summer. The good news is it's supposed to warm up back up to the 80's next week so this should be a temporary glitch on the weather map so to speak. Here's hoping for summer finally! And slap me when I complain it's too HOT!




Classic Waldorf Salad Recipe-
I had a pot luck to go to and decided to bring this classic old recipe! It's a easy dish, just a lot of knife work. Goes well with anything, keeps well. What more could you ask? My Mom always made it with crushed pineapple instead of grapes, so that's another version! Simplyrecipes.com

May 30, 2019

Rain, Rain and More Rain! Paradise Lot Book Review


Rain, Rain and More Rain!
We have been getting so much rain in the last 3 weeks it's not even funny! Update *** The local news station announced this is the fourth wettest May ever, along with the 4th wettest April ever! *** Having said that, this in no way compares to the terrible flooding and tornadoes in the mid-West and East. So sorry for them! Everything is super saturated from the last couple of days-




Everything is so lush and green! We have had to put quite a bit on hold as far as planting veggies, etc. We have been able to work around some of it. The wheelbarrow in the backyard,  with the bark dust, had to wait because of the weather. My perennials are really loving all the rain, however, and everything is really blooming, very lush and green. It's been in the low 70s the last couple of days and it's supposed to hit the 80s this weekend. Hopefully after that it should be dry for at least a week. Hooray!


More tonight! There's thunder and lightning right now!




Paradise Lot Book Review-
I stumbled onto this book and got a copy from the library to read. What a find!!! These two men worked together to transform an empty tenth-of-an-acre lot on the east coast in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The lot was barren ground, had poor compacted soil, with broken concrete, etc. They turned it into an incredible, productive, beautiful Permaculture garden. I got so many edible gardening ideas from this book (that I'm not even done with) that I bought a copy. There are all kinds of perennials that have edible leaves that I had never even heard of! I'm really may go off and do some unusual things with our garden now that I have more interesting ideas. The photos will definitely tell the story, but I highly advise the book as well! Just a real gem. As a side note, they also did this with free, used, scavenged, foraged and bartered items. On a micro budget!


Before backyard, photos from Paradiselotblog


A few years later


Read it!

                                                                                                 







May 22, 2019

Making Those Tough Gardening & Homesteading Decisions, Urban Permaculture Inspiring Videos!


Making Those Tough Gardening & Homesteading Decisions-
Sometimes in gardening, and urban homesteading, you have to make tough decisions. If you have a  homestead in a rural area with a lot of acreage sometimes those tough decisions are different kinds of decisions. In a small urban Homestead, on a small city lot, we have limited space and have to grow what is useful and productive. Sometimes things get moved around, sometimes things get discontinued, like giant monster tomatoes that took 3 months to ripen! I was looking on the north side of our house this weekend and noticed our Mugo pine looked really really sick. I found out the insects that were there were European Pine Sawfly larvae. The bad news is they eat the needles, but the good news is they will grow back. The other bad news is if you don't treat the shrub, theoretically you could lose it. I've never used insecticidal sprays before of any kind, so this time I decided to make an exception. Luckily the tree had nothing growing around it, especially anything edible or where anyone walks.  I did some research and went ahead and bought a small spray bottle of Sevin, which is basically a neurotoxin bug spray. I doused the Mugo Pine and all the little Sawtooth larvae started falling off.

All gone

The good news is hopefully I'll never have to do this again! I think the unusually wet April that we had may have contributed to this since I've never seen this before anywhere. It was the fourth wettest April on record ever. Too much rain. Still raining this last week, with temps in the 50's and 40's at night. Put the heavier bedding back on the bed and got out my winter PJ's!

Rhubarb before shot, with potato bin

The next decision was to tear out our rhubarb patch. I had tried growing rhubarb in three different places on our lot and just didn't have much luck. This last location was sunny, with some shade, and it would grow really well but then it would never turn red. Since our neighbor next door hates rhubarb, and has a huge plant and let's us take it, it really didn't make sense to use valuable garden space for that. Dave ripped it up and it went into the compost bin for the city. I very successfully grown squash in that spot so we will probably plant either squash or pumpkins. It will also allow some more room for the raspberries to spread.  Here in a small urban space when room is at a premium you just have to make those tough decisions of what you can grow versus what you want to grow. After shot-






Urban Permaculture Inspiring Videos!
These are Urban Permaculture based, but you will see tons of flexible ideas you can use anywhere! We don't live in the "suburbs" but many urban (or rural) areas can take these ideas and run with them. I got this book from an inter-library loan, so many amazing ideas


Author David Holmgren is based in Australia, and many of these videos are from there as well. If you go to Youtube and search Permaculture Tours, there lots to watch. Here's some sample I really loved!