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

Jun 19, 2021

Favorite Frugal, Easy Baking Mix & Biscuit Recipes, Home Office Re-Boot/New Job! Fun Summer/ 4th of July Decor


Favorite Frugal/ Easy Baking Mix & Biscuit Recipes-
Given food prices going up and the need for simpler foods, (that you can modify) here a couple things I've used! In the course of my reorganizing some of my office things I was looking at my cookbooks. I also had a few printouts from some older blogs, one that is now defunct, Lazy J Bar C Farm. Years ago I printed out her Baking Mix, which was basically the recipe above posted on Mother Earth News. I did modify the recipe using half whole wheat pastry flour so it wasn't all unbleached, for a little bit more nutritional value. It's basically like Bisquick but cheaper, homemade and fresher.  You can use this in all kinds of recipes! You can make biscuits, cookies etc. Sadly Candy's blog is no longer accessible, as had a huge Norton block that red flagged it as a dangerous website. I very rarely see that with Norton so I did not open the site. Here's few recipes from the author Candy that you can make with the mix, ones I had printed and kept-

Cheesy Biscuit Sticks-
2 cup Baking Mix, 1/4 cup cold butter cut into small pieces, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 3/4 cup grated cheese (I liked Cheddar) , three quarter cup buttermilk. Preheat oven to 425°, place baking mix, butter and cayenne pepper in a bowl and cut in butter. Stir in grated cheese. Make a well in the center and add buttermilk all at once. Stir together until a soft dough forms. Turned out onto a well floured surface. Dust the top with additional flour. Need gently 8 to 10 times. Pat dough into a rectangle about 12"by 8" and about half and inch thick. Cut into sticks separate and place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

And another one-
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.
2 cups Baking Mix,, half a pound (two sticks butter) softened, one and a half cups of granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon of molasses, two eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla,  one teaspoon cinnamon, three cups old fashioned oats, 1 cup raisins. Heat oven to 350 degrees, be together wet ingredients and butter, add eggs and vanilla beat well. Add baking mix and cinnamon, mix well. Stir in oats and raisins mix well. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet, bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet, remove to wire rack to cool completely, makes about 4 dozen cookies.

You can really play around with that basic recipe! 

And another fave are these amazing biscuits! 

Again you can modify with WW pastry flour, tender and oh so flaky! Another great recipe here Beyond Easy Beer Bread, great with soup or leftovers! 

Home Office Re-Boot/New Job!
Well, I quit my job! I am so happy! I was bored to the extreme, in a great job market (huge shortage of workers here) and I had a great tool belt so to speak. I decided to target an industry that I already had a lot of experience in. I applied with a couple very large organizations and did a Zoom job interview, a first. I accepted an offer with a group whose vibe I really like. Thursday was my last day on my old job (was told to work in the office) and ironically the A/C was glitchy, again. I kept thinking I was the only one who was HOT until I started seeing all the IM's, "I'm melting!", etc.  It was 80 degrees inside and dead air. Glad I won't be working there again! It was an old retrofitted building, always had AC/heating issues. Ant then there was leadership, no comment. Will simply say I found myself in a dead end job after promises of growth were made. I took Friday off since my PTO is getting cashed out. Time for a 3 day weekend!!!

I decided to deep clean the home office and reorganize a bit with the new job starting. When I started working from home last year I never thought it would last this long! My new job will start off working from home and may start working in the office in the fall. They have pushed that out a couple times already, so time will tell. First thing I did, of course, was turn in all my old equipment to my previous employer. After that I decided to get everything up on the desk. Dave and I pulled it out and vacuumed-

 I had a printer on a canning rack that I decided to move. That went onto the top of our little cabinet-

We had a file tote in the corner for paperwork. I decided to get it out. When we moved the file tote out I was able to put the two space heaters we had in that corner. One was one that I bought for the office for the winter, since I'm on two outside walls. The other was one we bought for a grandson River, but his parents have a new furnace so they didn't need it. They were going to donate it so I asked for it! I figured it would be nice in our kitchen in place of our noisy space fan heater-

Nice parking space, clean 

We had a filing tote in the corner of the room, which I realize we could put the contents of in the kitchen. Basically I had a filing drawer full of cookbooks in the kitchen at our desk. I realized that I can put my cookbooks under the kitchen counter I can get to them and see them. This cart previously had Covid supplies, masks, sanitizer, etc. Then I filed the paperwork in the kitchen cabinet drawer-

Cookbooks, many thrifted, some homemade, on wheels! 

New home for files, good location! 

All better, space for new canned goods coming soon! 

Some fun decor, love my faux barn door

Fun calendar

I wiped off the desk really well, now nice and clean. I'll be bringing home new equipment Monday. Still have my fun decorative stuff on the walls. The space is much more organized, clean and less cluttered. A nice space to start a new job in! Excited!!!

Fun Summer/ 4th of July Decor-
With all the job hunting changes I didn't get much up til this week! Here's a look around!

Dining room shelf

Nice pops of yellow! I made the topiary

Made the chunky flag

My fave basin on the coffee table, easy! 

I added a few flags outside, that's it! Off to the mountains tomorrow for the day, for Father's Day! 

Jun 15, 2021

Independence Days Challenge, Trying Natural Dental Care Products

Lots of eggs = bread pudding!

Independence Days Challenge-
Crazy weather lately, warm then cold. One day was 48 in the morning, was 103 degrees a few days before that! Sunday was 100. Now another cooler front coming. Here's a little snapshot of things here-

1. Plant Something- Some perennials (pollinators), grasses and annuals near the new gate/fence-

Collard seeds in the bare area in front of the windmill

I started a lot of seeds this Spring inside in the grow light shelf unit- 

With 2 kinds of cukes, squash, Milkweed, Rainbow Echinacea (died so started seeds outside in a pot), Rainbow Zinnias, Marigolds.  Bought some others to fill in-

I put those Nasturtiums  in a planter with a windmill, since Lady Bird (First Lady Johnson) was from Texas. I thought she'd like it! I really admire her work, she founded the National Wildflower Research Center More info also here- Ladybird Wildflowers

Lady Bird Nasturtiums from seed

We bought some 2 kinds peppers, Italian and Sweet Banana. Two kinds of cukes, slicing and Lemon. A tomato, in honor of Dave's lovely German mother Bette- "German Queen", a heritage variety. Never tried it! Start some collards from seeds, Swiss Chard from seed maybe-

Peppers and a tomato

"German Queen"

We planted a row of strawberries the first time we've tried this so far they look healthy now that they're out from under the grow light . I bought three strawberry plants that were from a heritage variety. Two of them died so I am hoping that the survivor will send out some runners, and we will be able to keep them going. I filled in with a local berry. 

With a lot of projects recently we are behind in planting the summer veggie garden. The weather was also pretty crazy too! Normally we would have everything planted before the 1st of June. We still have lots of room and we'll be buying the rest of the tomatoes soon. We're definitely having an issue with our maple tree, it's needing to be pruned more, way too much shade on the sunny area. In the spring will bite the bullet and have it pruned back some more-

Too much shade

 2. Harvest Something- Lots and lots of eggs! Chives and butter lettuce. Averaging 3 eggs per day. I made the bread pudding (above) with Challah bread, bittersweet chocolate chips and walnuts.  Oh man it was so delish!!! Creamy, crunchy and chocolate, what's not to love? 

3. Preserve/Store Something- Not yet, but peach, apple and pear trees are loaded this year! Hoping for more bumper tomato crops! 




I was able to find some generic canning lids online at a pretty decent price. The U of Utah came out saying if you buy an off-brand check the seal every few months. I found some Kerr kids, not much over normal price online. I found some jars for sale at one of our local stores. They told me they had "lots and lots" and I got there, and there were four boxes, not "lots and lots"! I bought 2 boxes of one Qt. jars. Ironically I read that sometimes it's cheaper to just buy new jars than just the lids! These were $10.00 a box. 
4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep- Just the usual Costco things lately. We had bought some curtains at Ikea a while back which were too long. So I measured, trimmed, hemmed and ironed them (3xs!). Then I realized they were really, really wrinkled still.  I had pre-washed them too. So I did research and  I bought a steamer! Great idea that worked really well and did not cost that much. At Costco got more Wild Brine fermented kraut, Turmeric (great for arthritis for me), TP.  Bought 2 big gallon pots of Basil for $6.00 at a local feed store. Split them up into 10 BIG plants.  The other were $4.00 for 1 plant! We finally used up all of our frozen pesto. Will make more this summer. 

Lots of Basil! 
5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe- Working on the eggs. Will be making an angel food cake to go with some fresh berries. Nothing else that I can think of. 
6. Build Community Food Systems- A bit too early for farmer's market, but have been giving a neighbor some eggs.
7. Recycle/Re-Use- Dave scored some free yellow Irises, variety unknown, neighbor had a "free" sign with 2 big bags, Dave brought them home-

He planted them around the front yard for spring. Hopefully they'll survive. We re-used some fence posts we took down from our 6' high fence post repairs, and re-used the shorter sections for the new garden fence gate-

Last year I bought this French style hose reel at a thrift store for $8.00 story here Day Trip-

I had the idea to have upper section cut off or upcycle it some how. I finally remembered, we got it out and Dave cut it for me with a Sawzall blade. I laid the one piece on top of the pipe, will glue and paint to cover the rub marks. Some nice yard art with a French flair!  

8. Skill Up- Learned about how to plant Irises. Haven't grown them before. Interesting reading here on low seed germination rates!  5 Acres and A Dream A New Paradigm for Gardening & Seed Saving Fascinating since I thought I was the only one seeing this. 
9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something- The bees! Last post talked about our bee rescue! We heard they are doing well, queen is laying eggs, happy to have helped! We need bees if we want to eat. I should add- I know some are allergic to bees and may not feel the same way. That can be very scary.  And hoping my teeth will strengthen, more below. 

Trying Natural Dental Care Products-
After recently having a tooth pulled I was looking for something to strengthen my teeth. It's not an issues if you're 20, but for those of us who are bit older, we start thinking about keeping all our teeth! I also recently started using a spare Water Pic. Dave had gotten the kit at Costco which came with a travel size kit (see above).  Since our "master bathroom" is a 1/2 bath I didn't want to use the full size version. I realized I could use the small one! Works great!


I have been using some great products already, like a Sonic Care toothbrush. I 've had mine for about 15 years or more. They last forever, just replace the heads every 3 months or so. We get our packs of replacement heads at Costco, since they sell by a 6-pack, much cheaper. The newer units are MUCH more expensive and wireless, which I have zero interest in buying! Luckily you can still buy the ones we use, works great and much, much cheaper! Amazon links or you can buy locally-


I heard about these products and tried them. Here's my review so far, using for a month or more. I tried the paste first, with my Sonic Care turned off. Just used it like a regular toothbrush. It's a paste, just dip your brush. It is thick, not much flavor at first. The more I used it the saltier it got, sea salt being an ingredient. I spit well, rinsed with water and my teeth were clean and shiny!

 I did follow up with my regular paste to cancel the leftover taste. I think some people add essential oils to this. I might do more research. I used the re-mineralizing rinse next. Very mild flavor, the label warned it might be strong-

Used this next, okay, not needing the detox as much (hopefully!). My gums are super healthy, more worried about my teeth.

The kit I bought is out of stock, but this is the closest, comes with the tooth powder instead of the mouth wash, or you can buy individually. 


I do floss daily, I love little dental pics, easy to keep in the car, on the desk, by my couch, cheap and effective!

Jun 4, 2021

Emergency Bee Evac! Garden ReHab Phase 4 Fencing, Coop Rehab 2.0

Emergency Bee Evac! 
I love bees, always have, always will! When I came out mid-afternoon Wednesday, into the back garden, I noticed there was something all over some fence boards. When I looked at it for a minute I realized it was moving and it was covered with bees!

I called Dave right away to see if there was a beekeeper who could come and collect the swarm safely and keep them. Luckily we had two bee keepers come over, one was a master, one an apprentice. They came over and removed the swarm gently and safely. Took them several hours, luckily we haven't planted the veggies yet so they had plenty of room to work. They said we were the nicest people they've ever worked with and will bring us some honey from their other hives! We had to give them some money even though they refused at first, because they were in 95-degree heat, cooking trying to save these bees. It was 103 yesterday, record heat!!! Apparently they were looking for a new hive and were Italian bees which I have never heard of. It all ended up very well. The swarm and the queen found a new home and all is well in their bee world! Maybe someday I can have my own hives! They removed several fence boards and put the hive box (not sure waht it's called?) in the easement. They found the queen in the grass behind the fence, and got her safely into the new hive box thingy-

Bulk of the bees on the back of the boards

Still swarming a bit

New hive box mostly full

By 9 pm Dave got the fence boards up back up.  We let the hens out of the coop and the hive box got picked up after dark. Good outcome! 

Garden ReHab Phase 4 Fencing-
The garden fencing had been around for about 10 years and basically works as a separation between the chicken run/coop and the main backyard garden. When we first built that we used a lot of recycled wood and new chicken wire. With all the weathering it was getting pretty dilapidated, so we decided to do something about it. Dave priced panel fencing and new 4' x 4's. As everybody knows by now lumber prices have really skyrocketed. When I was looking for a gate to go with with the potential new wooden fence I saw a gate and got me thinking. Started wondering what the pricing would be for metal fencing instead? Something that would be really durable but didn't need to be heavy since it's basically just keeps the chicken out. It won't have any big heavy dogs jumping on it or kids climbing on it. Dave and I picked out the design we liked and he went to Home Depot and priced it-

$50.00 for 3 panels, about 3' x 4'

Turned out to only be about $50 more than what we were going to do, but it was much much less labor.  It will probably last longer since it's powder coated and certainly looks nicer. Total was about $250.00.  Here's the before old fence shots-

Hens in the shade area with the mister, nice and cool!

So here's what we did-  temporarily fenced the hens into the shade area with access to the coop-

I helped Dave pull the old fencing out and we made a pile-

We saved some of the chicken wire in case we need some. Dave cut up the wood and it went into the compost bin to be composted by the county. Chicken wire went to recycling. We started with the section closest to the coop-

We leveled as we went (lots to level!) and otherwise was pretty easy! Add the stakes and go on-

Photos From Home Depot

We had some leftover 4x4's that we were able to use to brace the gate. Dave turned one panel into a gate but it was a bit wobbly. A post on either side, worked great! 

Gate made by attaching hinges and a clip

The rest of the sections-

Attached to fence with clip

I will add another ornamental grass to the right of the gate, veggies coming this weekend! 

Shade area, attached to the coop on the left

We added some scrap 2x4's to prevent digging

Attached to the coop with washers and screws

Temporary gate clip, fence attached to post

Again attached to fence

We LOVE it, should last for years to come!!! The yard looks really empty but we will fix that soon! 

Coop Rehab 2.0-
Last week we got the coop pretty well rehabbed. We realized after we put the door up and it was pretty awkward getting in and out. It opened on the right. Dave thought he could go ahead and rotate the door and flip it around, which he did. I went ahead and pulled off the screen panel and replaced the screen with new-

big hole

tools makes it easy!

New screen up, glass cleaned

Dave thought it would be a good idea to put a screen protector up and it was. This weekend one of our grandsons started heading toward the coop and pushed on the screen protector! Great idea!
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