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...

Oct 30, 2011

Nature Winding Down, Falconry, & Baseball

Nature is Winding Down- The days are so short now, the leaves finally starting to fall and winter is in the air. 60-ish today, but it's not going to last. High in the 50's then low 40's by Friday, with lows in the 20's. BRRR. Our tree in front of our house finally changed colors! It took a while, and 3 days later all the leaves are on the ground. We put all our backyard stuff in the shed prepping for the weather change. Kind of battening down the hatches. After seeing the big October snow storm back east the last two days, makes me glad I pay attention and watch the weather. Some people just don't. Sometimes they pay for that. I have been cleaning and filling my oil lamps for winter too. I like to keep them in case of outages and they add a nice ambiance-

I inherited one of the little oil lamps from my beloved aunt, and found an exact match (except for the chimney) on eBay! They're from the victorian era.

Next weekend we will get the chicken sun room set up and the girls tucked in, weather permitting. It will be fun to see how they use their new digs. Only one laying still, I think the other two may wait til spring. Time will tell...

Falconry Display Today- Every year the internationally famous Peregrine Fund World Center For Birds of Prey does an "October Flights" display. My husband is a regular volunteer there, and I have "bird sat" some of the birds for public display, and cleaned cages. Today was a great way to see the birds out flying on a beautiful fall day-

All the birds flown are unable to be in the wild, due to imprinting on people. Many were found abandoned or were part of a breeding program, and would not survive in the wild. Here's a nice shot in their garden pond area- 

World Series Baseball-  I'm not a big sports fan, with too much commercialism, a general lack of ethics and the "tits sell beer" mentality. And don't ask me about the BSU Broncos- I am SO sick of the team. Being in the wrong league, it's win, win, win. Give them some bigger teams, well it wouldn't be pretty. BUT I do follow the World Series every year, just the finals. It's great to watch the two best baseball best teams in the U.S. play each other! When I watched last Thursday's Game 6, well, it was the best game I ever saw. Ever. Sheer perfection, edge of seat tension til the last second. Wow!

Congrats to the Cardinals!!! 

Oct 23, 2011

Passing On The Liebster Award

I was so bad, I never got around to passing on the Liebster award I received from Lazyjbarcfarm Blog last month. I was so surprised after only having joined the blogging word late this summer! And I have no idea why my font isn't right! I thought the template would fix it. God I love software :(
"Liebster" is a German word meaning dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.  The Liebster is awarded to spotlight up to coming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers.

Now I'm passing it on, by...  

***Thanking the giver, and linked it back to them

***Below are my top 5 picks, I've left them a comment on their blogs

***I copied and pasted the award on my blog
*** I hope that my followers will promote this kindness to other bloggers out there, spread the cheer! have fun with it! 

Here's my "Top 5" is who I awarded this kind thought to, for all kinds of reasons, like inspiring and helping me, a total stranger, and not in any particular order. It was a short selection process, since I don't really follow that many blogs- Blog  She helped me learn to bake bread right!  She really got me inspired to blog!  - There's so much there!!!

Oct 22, 2011

Cooking & Fall Projects

Happy Autumn!
I love comfort food this time of year. This was great last week on a cold, fall night- Paprika Tomatoes

I posted the recipe a while back, great with homegrown tomatoes, fresh eggs, and a baguette! I also served it with some fresh, organic green beans from a friend, they were BIG!

This time of year it's "beat the clock". 65 and sunny, cold this morning, colors really showing in the trees. We put up our halloween decorations outside, cleaned up the garage, swept it out, and re-organized. Deep cleaning the yards, front and back. Once the cold hits, it's no fun doing that. Since it's supposed to be down in the 30's at night next week, we're finishing up the chicken "sun room". Only spent about $20.00 with all recycled materials. We will take down in the spring and store. Here's most of it erected today-

 We'll add pine shavings and a couple of small straw bales I got last week for $2.00. I'm sure they'll love their new playroom!

Oct 16, 2011

Thrifty Items and Grandma's Quilt's Up

Thrift Items- Someone asked a good question on the thread I started at MJF message board about thrifting, "What's Your Latest Find?":  how do you keep your purchases in check? Here's my answer-

 I keep my purchases in check by being REALLY selective about what I buy. I don't get into the pack rat mode, or like to over decorate. Some people have collections (some seen in MJF magazine) that would make me feel claustrophobic. Ever inch covered with something. I clean out my closets and decorations every year or so. I come from more of a voluntary simplicity mode. When we downsized our home after our 3 kids went off to college, I had to really purge things. It was actually a relief to have so much less. We actually are starting to have empty garage shelves, I love it! I try to remember that I own my stuff, my stuff doesn't own me. I also have sold things of value on eBay and made money, so I scored twice!
Here's my summer thrift store score, when I was thinking ahead  of cozying up on the couch in the winter-

The sage green, and deep blue go great with the couch and the rest of the room, $1.50 each for two.

I picked this up yesterday for $2.00 my spare bedroom-

Grandma's Quilt- Dave, my husband, kindly put up a rod I got yesterday at a discount store ($4.00) to display my Grandma's quilt. Looks great! I think Grandma would be happy it's around in the new millennium...

Oct 14, 2011

Fall Prim Design and Fall Colors

My Fall Prim Design- I love to look on eBay at Prim stuff, but so much of it is way overpriced, IMO. I saw something like this last year, but I made my own. I think it looks cute on my kitchen counter in the fall-

I found lots of great, inexpensive components. I bought the wooden hanging tray, berry sprays, and the silicone bulb candleabra. I painted it rusty to look more "prim". Just sponged on black acrylic craft paint, dabbled on umber after that. I found most of the items here, great website! 
By the way, no they're not paying me, I just really like their stuff. They have fast shipping, and good prices!

Fall Colors- Trees are starting to change and I always love my fall asters-

Tomorrow I'll be pulling up our summer veggie garden, deep cleaning the coop, and getting ready to set up our winter sun room on it. What fun!!!

Peanut Butter Tip- I heard this morning that peanut butter will probably go up about 30%-50% in the next month or so. It's due to a really bad harvest in the U.S. Stock up now folks!!!

Oct 8, 2011

Garden Clean Up & Chicken Sun Room Install

Garden Cleanup- The sun finally came out, but still pretty cool, in the mid-50's. I spent quite a bit of time just cutting back the berries vines. Always love those thorns coming thru my gloves and shirt sleeve, ow. I'm happy we had such a great harvest though. Picked the last of the tomatoes and peppers. I will start tearing them out for composting tomorrow. Sad I never got any eggplants or lemon cukes. Oh well, there's always next year! You gotta be optimistic when you're a gardener, right?

Chicken Sun Room Addition- After the heavy snow that stayed on the ground last winter, and bitter cold (0 degrees) I decided we needed to add a "sun room" to the coop. Something we can dis-assemble in the spring, remove and store. It will add more light and room for the girls to stretch their legs. I got the idea here: Sun Room I love their website by the way!

 We started buying some materials yesterday and today, mostly recycled. My husband Dave is in the building process today, since the weather is decent. He designed the front, main screened wall to fit with a shower door, thinking we could add one later, for winter. We got a perfect fit yesterday, for free. Instead of covering the area with plastic (even clear is somewhat opaque) it will have nice, clear glass. Dual-pane to boot! I LOVE recycling!!!
Our sun room in progress-

Once it's installed and I paint the wood, it should look pretty good, and be nice and sturdy for the winter. We're adding an emergency door, in case one of the girls gets sick or injured. Always gotta have access. It will almost double the square footage and be nice and sunny. I'll post more photos when it's done...

Oct 7, 2011

What Will The Winter Bring?

What Will The Winter Bring?
I saw this morning that Roseprairiequilts- What about this winter? had some interesting, common weather predictors listed. I had been thinking the other day about the Farmers Almanac too and how, in the "old days" people had been more in touch with their local weather patterns. The old "I feel it in my bones, storm's coming", or me, I try to pay attention to what the squirrels are doing. If they seem to be burying nuts early in the summer, usually seems to be a bad winter, more stormy and snowy. Boise used to have very dry winters, and cold and sunny, snow in the hills and mountains, nothing down here. The last several years have been getting more heavy snow storms here (which I love personally), and it's on the ground longer. Also colder, we had some 0 degree days for a week or more last winter. I personally think, from what I've read, that it's tied into climate change- more N.W. storms and more severe. The snow is great for the ski areas, but tough on the city- not enough snow equipment, and people don't know how to drive in it. They won't slow down, and think that 4-wheel drive is a miracle and somehow levitates them. We see more suvs upside down in the news, and off the road than regular cars. I keep waiting for people to wise up and slow down, and leave early. Bad winters are another good reason to keep my pantry stocked!

Oct 6, 2011

What A Difference a Day Makes!

Wow, it's COLD today! High of 45. Holy gaucamole! Pouring rain again most of today, windy, and snow starting up in the mountains. I put the girls out today in the rain soaked garden after work, since it had actually stopped for a while. They were digging for worms like mad! The fence boards were really soaked from the rain, leaves starting to fall. I miss my fireplace at my last house, it would have been a great night for a fire! Made some chicken cacciatore for dinner tonite, nice and hot! Time to start getting out the warmer clothes from the extra closet... brrrrrrrrrr......... but I love it! Let it snow!!!! I love snow...

Last year, end of November- a snow day at work, that was fun!

And I still love this song-

Oct 5, 2011

Autumn Rain...

Autumn Rain- Ah, it finally rained! Actually poured most of the day. I wore a flannel blouse to work for a change, and we're getting out the winter jammies for tonite. The chickens were in all day, so I gave them some rolled oats, their favorite treat. Then I collected the one egg, sigh. Hopefully the other two will start laying soon, and earn their keep! Here's my rain-soaked fall flag by our front door tonite-

Pretty soon it'll be time for some ghoulish decor outside!!!! I loved this-

from here-  Kind of blingy and different!!!

What a Great Idea!- Pies Baked in Mason Jars!!! -  or call them..."Cutie Pies"

Just an FYI- I find it EXTREMELY frustrating that I can't respond to a comment on my own blog, and get error messages repeatedly. Blogger needs to work on some bugs evidently. According to google I'm not the only one :(

Oct 2, 2011

Fall Fare- Turkey Salisbury and White Bean Mash

After a marathon day of house cleaning, grocery shopping, car washing and yard work, I made some simple comfort food for dinner. With a big rain storm coming in soon, it was beat the clock, yeah rain!!! It was a new recipe I tried from Better Homes & Gardens, and it was great! I doubled the mushrooms, cause I like em! I served it with a green salad with homegrown tomatoes and the buttermilk herb dressing I made yesterday. Lighter than the old version and more Italian,with the tuscan-style white beans with thyme. The fresh lemon juice was perfect in it. I just love mushrooms in the fall....

Recipe Here - Turkey Salisbury Steaks with White Bean Mash

And a chicken update- here's Ellie, called "chicken with thyme":

And Buffy-   both not quite laying yet, but soon!

Oct 1, 2011

Out With The Old, In With the New, More Recipes!

Out With The Old, In With the New-
Well, it had to happen sometime, sigh. I had a beautiful loaf of w.w. oat bread rising late last Sunday afternoon, when, bam, oven died. And not the OVEN, but the "microprocessor" that runs it. Since we had bought the house 5 years or so ago, with the electric, glass-topped, double oven in it, I used it happily. The double oven was really handy during the holidays, and big baking ventures. We priced the replacement unit and then got sticker shock $525.00- $600.00+ ouch. Since the oven was getting older it didn't make much sense to us to fix it. We opted to buy a new one, with a single oven, for less than the PART. I wished we could have gotten a gas range, but the plumbing fees wouldn't have made it cost effective. It was delivered this morning, and the old one went to oven heaven. Happy retirement for you my friend! I'm happy we had an account with a big box store to cover the purchase, 12 months no interest. We could swing that. I wished we could have bought a good, used one but we needed a reliable stove...At least the new one has some storage below, a bonus for me, with our smaller kitchen!

More Recipes-
From Mennonite Girls Can Cook
Buttermilk Herb Dressing-
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh Parsley chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt (NO!) Too salty already IMO
  • pepper to taste
  1. Blend mayonnaise and buttermilk in a jar or shaker
  2. Add fresh herbs. salt and pepper
  3. Shake or blend well.
  4. Store in refrigerator until needed.
I doubled the recipe, and I found it needed NO salt, and it was a little too mayo tasting for me. So I doubled the buttermilk, 1 tablespoon of sugar to taste, and 50% more garlic. Great! In the fridge, chilling for tonite.

Great Sardini Spread Recipe-
A couple of years ago I was looking for some recipes made with sardines, since they're so healthy and I like them. THIS recipe is NOT fishy tasting, you gotta taste it! It's an Italian recipe I found online, and I modified it a bit. I think it was from a restaurant in Seattle. Pretty simple, make it and serve on top of a slice of broiled, crispy baguette bread. Great for lunch!

Start with a can of large sardine in tomato sauce, usually found in the mexican cooking section in our grocery store.
1- 15 oz can (or 2 small cans) tomato sauce packed sardines
1 cup diced green, stuffed olives
1 cup diced kalamata olives
3 tablespoons mayo, mixed with 2-3 tablespoons blackened fish seasoning (to taste, it's spicy)
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 chopped flat leaf parsley.

Drain sardine liquid into mixing bowl with mayo mixture. De-bone sardines, easy to do since they're big, usually just the spine bone. Put in bowl, add olives, onion and parsley. Toss till mixed. Broil slices of baguette with a little olive oil (or plain), top with spread, enjoy! Great on that crunchy bread. The original recipe called for cherry tomatoes, which I left out, since I can't buy local off season, and I added the parsley, cause I love it! You could add diced celery, roasted red peppers, etc. as you like. Best served after it sits overnight...

Got A Lot Of Eggs And Tomatoes? Do I Have a Recipe For You!!! 
I found this recipe last summer when I had tons of eggs, it's great! Easy to make and excellent with a hot, crisp baguette or other European dinner bread. And heart healthy to boot!

Paprika Tomatoes with Poached Eggs (Shakshouka)- from

                          Paprika Tomatoes with Poached Eggs (Shakshouka)
Time: 45 minutes. Traditionally, cooks in Tunisia and Israel use a lot of olive oil when making this one-pan tomato and egg dinner, but this lighter version still has enough to help free the tomatoes' lycopene. YIELD: Serves 2
  • TOTAL:45 Minutes
  • COURSE: Breakfast/Brunch, Main Dishes
  • Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons hot or sweet Spanish or Hungarian paprika
  • About 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 large poblano chile, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 to 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 4 large eggs
  • Freshly ground black pepper


1. Put coriander, cumin, paprika, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a mortar and pound until crushed; or seal in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Add garlic and pound into a paste. Set aside.
2. In a 10-in. frying pan over medium heat, cook chile in 1 tbsp. oil, stirring often, until well browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Add spice mixture and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in 3/4 cup water, then tomatoes. Cook, turning tomatoes occasionally, until softened, 10 to 20 minutes; add more water, 1/4 cup at a time, if mixture starts to get dry (you should see juices around tomatoes).
3. With a wooden spoon, make 4 depressions in tomato mixture and crack an egg into each. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until eggs are set but yolks are still runny, about 5 minutes.
4. If you like, drizzle the shakshouka with 1 tbsp. oil, then scoop onto plates and serve with crusty bread.

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