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 29, 2012

Free Homesteading Wreath Makeover, 3 DIY Exterior Makeovers For Your House Under $50!

Free Homesteading Wreath Makeover-
When I was at the Crafts Warehouse recently I saw this and thought it was really cute-

(I had to blur the middle since it had an inventory sign on it)

I had an old spring wreath I wanted to re-do anyway, here's my old one-

I removed the flowers, saved those for another project. I left on the ivy, used some leftover burlap and cut strips, pinned them together (not long enough), and wrapped. I also used a Carhartt's for Women bandanna I got free last year. It was just in a drawer and I liked the homesteady, whimsy of it! I kept the colors pretty neutral since I'm going to be re-painting my front door. Here's my version, which took me about 15 minutes for the whole process-

I need to tweak the spacing a little now that I see the photo...

$50 DIY Makeover For Front Of Your House-
I was watching Rachael Ray last week (I never watch this stuff) and they had the host of Curb Appeal on (love that show!). He had 3 ways you can makeover the front of your house for $50 or less. I had been wanting to change our front door color since it's in the shade and it's so dark all year long. After watching this, and browsing a paint store with Dave, we're going to go from the dark sage green (above by wreath) to an orangey/red. I'm inspired! We had the other 2 ideas in good shape already-

* Change the numbers on your house of your street address to something stylish, to match the style of your house!
* Paint your front door
* Add something personal near the front entrance- a yard decoration, etc.

Jun 28, 2012

Freezing & Storing Your Grains, Great Western Movie Hats (for Women Too!)

Freezing and Storing Your Grains -
There's nothing worse than wasting money, and time, when you buy something new that's contaminated. Years ago I read about all the microscopic bugs and larvae that are in packaged store-bought grains, that you can't actually see.  It's gross, I know. There's nothing more frustrating than going to bake and pulling out a bag of flour and finding it full of weevils. EW! I got into the habit of sticking anything I buy grain-wise into the freezer for several days as soon as I got it home from the store. Kills any tiny stuff in there. The freezer method has worked great for me for years, so I'll stick with what I do. I always take the grains, like whole oats, cornmeal, flours, out of the original containers right away, and then freeze them. After freezing I put them either in glass jars, or Rubbermaid-type containers with a good sealing snap-on lid. I was reading about oven canning grains, but I don't have enough room for all those jars.

Here's an article with some more tips and ideas on storage- Get Rid of Weevils

Great Western Movie Hats-
Ever since I saw the original True Grit movie, I wanted a cool western/prairie hat. Not the fabric kind with bows, but a working ranch/farm woman's hat! I stumbled onto this article and swooned when I saw the new True Grit hat- I want one!!! It's made by Stetson- The Austral. Didn't see the movie yet. Very similar to the original- Great Western Movie Hats Time to go get the DVD :)

Jun 27, 2012

Painting Day! Crafts & Vintage Display, Independence Days, Anya

Painting Day!
I had planned on doing a lot of sewing yesterday, but when I heard on the weather forecast that it was going to be 70, I thought nope- time to paint! I touched up the back of the house, the coop, garden fencing and the garden gate. It was great painting when it was so mild, instead of 100 degrees like last year, whew! It all looks so much better. Here's the coop, post-painting, with my newly installed egg sign Dave found for a couple of bucks at a yard sale-

Crafts and Vintage Display-
I stumbled on this blog when I was researching ways to use up scrap 2 x 4s-
 Flags and More Flags  I'm going to make the chunky flag since I have all the paint and burlap-   


She has great other crafting ideas, like using chalk paint on thrift store finds-
Chalk Paint Thrift Store Furniture Re-Do  I don't know if she sells her stuff, but she does a beautiful job! I may need to break down and buy some Annie Sloan chalk paint and wax. Spendy, but it sounds like a little can go a long way, and I have a couple of tables to re-hab. My finished flag wall hanging. I may still sand it down a bit-

My vintage cookie cutters I attached to an unfinished pine board ($2.00) and mounted above my cupboards over my oven. Nice small display in my small kitchen :) Just a little Liquid Nails (I LOVE that stuff!) on the inside of the cutters, then let sit overnight. I sealed the board first with some clear poly spray.

Great Idea! Now if I only had a vintage shredder!

 Independence Days-
1. Plant Something- Two new kinds of green beans, one Italian, by the side of the house. Hopefully no chicken damage! Also Calendula and California Poppies in my hot, sunny patch in the front yard. Calendula can make a good tincture for sore muscles! And they re-seed every year.

2. Harvest Something- Eggs, chives, Raspberries and Western Serviceberries (I need to post a photo). They're native to Idaho and are similar to blueberries. Yummy! Tomatoes soon and blackberries. The greens in the raised bed are almost ready, lettuce in the cold frame is so

3. Preserve Something- Froze several lbs. of rhubarb from my neighbor. Yeah, that's awesome!

 4. Store Something- More bread in freezer, cheeses from the grocery outlet (what a deal!), staying on top of the pantry.

5. Manage Reserves- Get A Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep- More grocery outlet stuff, crafting supplies. I got a few birthday items for someone soon:)

6. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipes- Using our berries in desserts. Going thru my cookbooks again. Doing more scratch cooking/baking now that I'm home.

7. Build Community Food Systems- Harvested more rhubarb.

8. Recycle/Re-Use- Composting, Dave's bringing more free scrap lumber home. Will use some for crafts or building projects. Got out old craft paints and using up what's leftover. Touching up with spackle and paint inside the house, mostly worn areas. Next summer I'll paint the whole kitchen!

9. Skill Up- Getting better at crafts, will get into more needlework and crocheting soon.

10. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something- Repainted exterior parts of house, coop and fencing to preserve wood. Tomorrow is sewing day, since I have a big pile to alter. The bedroom's a mess and I want to get it all put away!

Anya napping on her kitty blankie that Simply Cats gave us to go with her :)
She loves it! What's she dreaming about???

                                 Making pies for soldiers, WW1 Europe

Jun 26, 2012

Homesteading- Health, Debt and The Long Haul


You have to love health insurance, if you have it. It sure beats the alternative! I recently had an eye exam, and am getting new sunglasses. Total (with inner eye photo extra)- $79.00, and that's with no-line bifocals. I pay $7.00 a month for the vision coverage. It pays for itself yearly. Ditto my "free" dental coverage- my checkup is in a week, never any charge, even if they have work to do. I broke off part of a front tooth a few years back- repaired, and tweaked twice, no charge. I have been losing weight, with my free visits to the dietitian, thru our employee assistance program, also free to me. The weight loss, I want to clarify, was not to look better and fit into some "attractive" perception of society. It was to feel better and protect my long-term health. I think of it as a homesteading act, of sorts. Stronger, leaner, & healthier. I also use my medical insurance wisely and try to avoid meds, and doctor visits when I can. I started using vitamin D several years ago to prevent colds/infections. It's now being touted as possibly helping with allergies, MS, Parkinson's, cancers and a host of other things. It's also a natural anti-depressant. And it's cheap! Who wouldn't want to take this stuff??? I take 2000 IUs a day, and 4-5000 if I feel something coming on. Anyway, protect your health while you can because....


Debt- Inter/National and Personal-
Watch the international news a bit and you hear a lot. Then you need to get out of the "mainstream" news, and dig deeper. I've been doing urban homesteading since before it was called that. We've made a lot of changes over the last several years, in terms of frugality, paying off debt, and starting a serious pantry. We also started really prioritizing our home improvements, etc. While I would love to move to a more rural area, we are here right now, so that's the way it is. Dave won't consider moving, so... I do what I can here.
I think we're in for some kind of crash, again, maybe in banking, big pharma, and/or the continued de-valuation of the U.S. dollar. China has been dumping millions of U.S. currency and I don't think they're done. It may get ugly too, as many are "sheeple" and never look at the bigger picture. Many just get caught up in their own little personal sphere and never look up and out. That's ok, if you want to play the game that way. The PTB (powers that be), and I don't mean the political parties or their reps (that's another much longer post), sit back and move the pieces on the board at specific times. There is never any randomness to it. It just seems that way at the time. That's my opinion.


The Long Haul-
I don't have a picture in my head of what that will look like, at least in the U.S. I do see this however- more massive weather-related damage, more fires, more floods. And people won't learn- "let's just rebuild, sure it's a hurricane area, but FEMA will bail us out." Good luck. People will continue to rack up massive debt in their quest to impress others, and bolster their self esteem- "sure let's get an iPad, but how will I pay for..." The newest clothes, toys, gadgets, and cars. Buy the 8 year old a cell phone, sure, why not? Give someone a pet they can't afford, because you love them. Great idea. Overbuy your home, and don't downsize when you should. Kids have moved out- of course you need that 5 bedroom house for their once a year visit :)  Play it that way, for now.


I think we all need to learn as much as we can, try to help those who want to change, and let go of those who won't. Those may even be family members. Tough decisions, and you can't make people change. They have to want to, and some have to reach the BOTTOM before they will. In addiction, there's the "moment of clarity"- this doesn't work anymore, I'm done. No more excuses, I'm through. As a society, and part of the planetary system (eco and otherwise), we may have to reach the bottom before we can wake up, and start over...


Please no wild comments, this is just my view. I will answer any questions that I can...


Spicy Fried (Not Greasy!) Chicken Recipe, Keeping Your Flock Cool, Vintage Brooder Heater


Amazing Spicy Fried (Not Greasy!) Chicken Recipe-
I found this book years ago at a discount store, what a find! Then I made the Southern-Exposed Fried Chicken recipe. OMG! I loved it, kids loved it, everybody loved it! It's the seasoning, and the soaking in buttermilk that does it. You fry it, then finish it off on the oven. When I was in my 20's I traveled thru the South briefly and had hot, spicy fried chicken. Nothing like the bland stuff I was used to. Trust me you'll love it, if not, hey someone will! I couldn't find this online, so I scanned the recipe-



You can vary it with the heat- I add a little more cayenne, and thyme- about 2 teaspoons. He has other great recipes, and the book can be found (used) pretty cheap online. I love his smothered chicken too! I serve with either homemade slaw/salad, and cornbread/biscuits, iced tea (sweet if you like), and you're all set! We have some fruit clafouti (like a cobbler with a yogurt batter) leftover for dessert. Ah, the good life... Another recipe- I found this on Kat's blog- Cake in A Cup What a great idea! Sometimes you just need a quick fix, and a whole cake is too much for 2 sometimes. In the heat of summer a quick microwave and bam- it's dessert! I may try something like vanilla for the berries we have ripening. I can't wait til the blackberries ripen, because we'll have another huge crop this summer! Just a few raspberries now...

Keeping Your Flock Cool in The Heat-
When I started thinking about starting an urban flock one of the big considerations was the weather here- very cold in the winter, very hot in the summer. And dry, as we're high desert here, and it's normal to have stretches in the 90's/100's. While the coop has good ventilation, I also bought a ready-to-use misting device (about $6.00 at Home Depot) that has a twisted, flexible section. I just attach it to the hose, turn on and attach it to the fence. It uses very little water. I use it right next to the coop late in the afternoon, and at night. During the day, when they're in their run/garden area, they get crushed ice in an old pie pan several times a day, in the waterer trough, and lots of cold water, in multiple waterers. They also love cold, wet veggies- cukes, especially! I make sure they also have lots of shade, including my new pergola. I water under it every day to keep it damp. I also water the area around the coop for evaporation every day/evening. Here's some other good ideas you could use-  How to Keep Your Flock Cool

Vintage Brooder Heater-
This is a nice kerosene brooder heater, in excellent condition. Has lots of brass detailing, and I got for $10.00 at a yard sale! Works great for extra heat (not in coop) in emergencies. A little step back into the past. I imagine all the little chicks it kept warm :)

And The Winner Is....

After checking to see who entered correctly (some of you forgot to add your link back to me), my hubby picked a random letter winner and the winner IS....

Susan, at the e-i-e-i-omg blog! Congrats!!!

Please email me your shipping address, with zip. I will get it off to you tomorrow, enjoy!!!


Jun 25, 2012

Are Some of Us Fruitcakes? Recycled Screen Project, Odds & Ends

Are Some of Us/Homesteaders Viewed as Fruitcakes?-
I was thinking the other day about how out-of-step some of us are, compared to modern, "mainstream" society, when it comes to living a different kind of life. A more thoughtful life. Some people might think we're a little off upstairs. There are things I do, for instance, that come automatically- turn off the lights when I leave a room, recycle, think of ways to produce and store more foods, look at someones garbage pile :)  Here's a classic example- we were driving past a recycling center this week when I asked Dave to pull a U turn and go back. I told him there was a metal plant stand sticking out of the metal bin. Dave went back, and I got out. It was rusted beyond a simple fix up (I don't weld) so I passed. Now some people might thinks that just low class, low brow weird behavior. Some might think "whatever", others "that's stealing". Well, technically....
Well anyway, watch the Jimmy Buffett video for a good laugh. I might be viewed as weird by some, and I like it that way :) 

Recycled Screen Project/Cabinet-
This spring I bought an old, vintage screen at a flea market, for $3.00-

I knew I could do something with this. I finally settled on asking Dave to build a cedar, "culled" wood cabinet of sorts, for our deck. It would add more storage, and get rid of our ugly white plastic shelf  (left over from the first pantry closet attempt)-

 I thought we could put our various barbecue and gardening stuff in it. It would age nicely, with the cedar top and sides. I asked Dave to leave the back open since it's up against the house, but he had to stabilize it. Since the wood was "culled", misshapen, split, etc., it was only about $5.00. Pretty cheap! For this kind of project I just wanted to keep the price down and be creative. This gave me the idea for the "box" Pallet Cabinet  Our cedar box became the body-

I love the old chippy paint! I'll add a knob soon. Total project cost: about $8.00!!!


               002 - Copy
                                            Head Board House Number

Odds and Ends-
I thought this was a great idea! Now if I just had a rural place to stick it!

Patriotic Decor
Barn Wood Flag, how cute! Allthingsthrifty   And by the same person, see the advent calendar below-


Barn Wood Advent Calendar What a great idea! I wish I'd seen this when my kids were still at home, I'd have made one! I might do a mini-version....

My little .49 cent wire hanger I found thrifting was perfect to display some of my new, vintage kitchen goodies-

In a small kitchen it can be hard to display things and not look cluttered!

Jun 22, 2012

One Year Blogging Giveaway!

It's A Giveaway!

Tomorrow, Saturday June 23rd, is my one year blogiversary! Holy cow. To celebrate, I'm offering a fun basket for my followers and readers-
It includes:

*A fun basket to hang- decorate!
*An olive oil soap with lavender- relax!
*2 nice, big kitchen tools- cook!
*a giant clothes pin with two different wall papers on either side-organize!
(back is a French Fleur-de-lis)

***Postage will be included in the Continental U.S. only. If you're willing to pay for shipping outside that area we can do that thru PayPal***

Here's what I ask in return-
*Please use the tool on the top right side- "Click here to enter"
*Please add a link on your blog back here
*Add a comment here with your email or blog so I can contact you.
*Entries closes midnight, end of Monday, the 26th.
*Limit one entry per person/blog

Thanks! I will post the randomly drawn winner's name on Tuesday, the 27th.

Since I always hope to win somewhere else, and haven't so far, I thought- what the heck, I'll do my own!
Good Luck!!!


Jun 21, 2012

Thrifting, Quilt Pattern? Possessed Cat, Surprise (Don't Tell Anyone!)

Thrifting- I forgot to add the picture above from my last trip. $1.50 and fits in my dining room vintage motif great! I may distress the frame edging, maybe. I also got a new summer purse, quilt, shoes, and small wire hanging display for my vintage kitchen stuff collection.

I love my Land's End shoes (durable & comfortable brand), looks like they were never worn, but I'm OCD, so I put in some liners anyway, cool and comfy, and $4.00! I could wear these to work with slacks and who would know ;) Ha ha!
People are work would probably be shocked at home many thrift items I wear to work (like I care?). It's "business casual"- no jeans, slacks, blouses, sweaters, etc. I always load up during the summer when I have time to really go looking.

I was wanting a new summer quilt and this jumped out at me today, nice and bright, goes great with the rest of the room. It's like new, but does anyone know what the pattern is called? It's a fuzzy navy on the other side. I washed it and it's on our bed, a little oversized but I like it that way. It almost reminds me of a nautical motif...

Possessed Cat- It's all coming back to me now- having a cat. We lost Tinkerbell (no, I didn't name her) several years ago. Anya is our first cat since then. All those odd, funny things that cats are known for, are coming back, like:

rolling in catnip, over and over again

taking a bath, then rolling some more

drinking out of non-cat water containers!

It is the water pitcher on our dining table from dinner, ew. I'll put out a ceramic bowl tomorrow. I guess she doesn't like plastic!

playing inside of, and laying on, paper bags

Ah Anya, I remember it all now! Have I only had her for a week today? But she's a great cat, sweet and very affectionate. And look at those eyes :)  She's a keeper...

Surprise- Make sure and come back on Sat. I have a BIG surprise. It's a give.............

Happy Summer Solstice!

Thrifting Finds, Crafting Finished and Veggie Garden Progress

Thrifting Finds and Crafting Finished-
I had a great day thrifting today! I got 2 new pairs of jeans, a expensive chambray blouse, fake flowers, a Swedish bird candelabra (with rosemaling painting), vintage kitchen items and a mini-rake. Total today, $23.00! I wanted to finish up a craft project with my cream re-painted wood container and so I used some of today's mixed items, see above. Close up of the vintagey stuff I got for it-
The rolling pin was .50 cents! Flowers .79, mini rake was a buck
Pastry cutter was a buck :)  Ironically I had just bought a bunch of vintage green kitchen items. Then I spotted the red cutter today and thought it would be nice and bright with the flowers, etc.!

I may add something on the front, haven't decided yet. The "before" below had been painted dark and had a fall motif. I like the re-do, fits better in my kitchen. Since it's the wood is cream, I can rotate some seasonal items in it...

The Swedish bird candelabra, similar to other other find a while back.

I went to a "vintage store", really over-priced and most of them reproductions made with barn wood, paint distressing, etc. Not my thing. The I saw this and HAD to have it!

A measuring spoon set!!! How cute! $10.00 well spent :)
Cute idea I saw at a crafting store. I re-touched the inventory sign in the middle, sorry it's blurry. I may make one!

Veggie Garden Progress- I have finally finished the veggie garden, as far as planting any more starts. I filled in today with 2 more tomatoes, and an Anaheim pepper, all 1/2 price in a gallon pot! I just started seeds today for 2 kinds of bush beans, one Italian. I'll plant those in a few days after they soak. Then, I'm done, no more room at the inn :)  I'm hoping to have enough tomatoes to can, we'll see how the harvest does...

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