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...

Aug 31, 2012

Rain Coming, Finally?

Rain coming, finally? Let's hope so.

Sign me,
Smoky and dry in Boise

Aug 28, 2012

Re-Prioritizing & Independence Days Challenge Update

Independence Days Challenge Update-
When I started thinking about what I've been doing I wanted to stress I had been re-prioritizing. Sometimes people blog about what they shop for for their home (decor, collectibles, etc.) and while I have done that too, I've been re-focusing. Buying more "cutesy decor" won't feed your family in a pinch. I've seen food prices rising already. I have been working on not eating out as much, and buying more large bulk items of healthy staples. Buying and storing lots of small bottled waters, marshmallows and junk food won't keep you healthy. I'm looking at- what can I freeze, can, dry, etc.? I dragged out my old dehydrator the other day, scrubbed it, and fired with up with 4 squash! It all adds up-

All the squash in the basket at the top drying

All dried

Dried food takes up much less space- 4 squashes in 1 jar! It took about 5 hours

Time for an update on this:

1. Plant Something- Nurturing the volunteer and mystery squashes/pumpkins. Planted a pear tree in the last 2 weeks.

2. Harvest Something- Eggs, as finally the 2 new girls are laying most days, eggs are getting bigger! Herbs, tomatoes, hot peppers, and compost that was spread over veggie bed 3 days ago. More rhubarb, & collard greens are ready. I may freeze some of the greens. Lemon thyme, rosemary and tarragon.
3. Preserve/Store Something- Dried all my gifted squash for the winter for soups. Froze 6 bell peppers, 4 pints of fresh blueberries, 2 more large packs of chicken parts. Will dry the grapes this weekend, didn't get to them yet. With the 3-day weekend I'm planning on buying some strawberries, maybe local peaches and canning some mixed rhubarb sauce. I'll also do some plain rhubarb sauce. Drying some bunches of lemon thyme, rosemary and tarragon.

4. Manage Reserves- Get A Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep- See above, good deal chicken, veggies, fruit.

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipes- Dried squash for winter to use in soups. Using up various stuff. The refrigerator pickles I made last month came out great, very crunchy!

6. Build Community Food Systems- Working with daughter's boyfriend whose parents own a farm. Will buy more grapes, then apples in Oct. since ours failed this year.
7. Recycle/Re-Use- Cleaned up side yard in back and re-purposed some stuff, stored for later use. Made a temporary chicken hospital out of scrap wood, fencing, etc.

8. Skill Up- Thinking about taking a Spanish class, reading Storm Gourmet from the Library about cooking during power outages and bad weather. Some good ideas!

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something- backyard clean up, salvaged some items like scrap wood.

Drying lemon thyme, rosemary and tarragon

Aug 26, 2012

Finally Heading Towards Fall, 4-Legged Furry Alarm, Great Deals To Preserve, How To Backup Your Blog in 3 Easy Steps

Finally Heading Towards Fall-
We had a wonderful cooler, (81 degrees) smoke-free day yesterday, due to a cool front moving in with a little wind. What a relief! It was in the low 50's last night, also nice to wake up to. For a REAL change I made a pot of hot Irish Breakfast tea for breakfast with some toast and homemade peach jam. That hit the spot!

The day are getting much shorter, and while I still water daily, the garden is making more of a come back from the heat. My nasturtium basket, which had barely bloomed in the heat, is now loaded with flowers! The two young New Hampshire Red hens are both laying fairly consistently now, what a treat! I love having LOTS of eggs! I made a Spanish fritatta 2 days ago with the surplus. Weather-wise I don't envy the folks in Florida bracing for the hurricane, but we still have major smoke to suffer thru, ick. It's been so long with these smoky skies I actually don't remember when they started? Three weeks ago or longer? I actually don't know...

4-Legged Furry Alarm-
We love Anya, our sweet cat we adopted a while back. For some reason, unbeknownst to the rest of the world, she thinks about 5:15 a.m. is a good time to get up. And get US up :(  At bedtime we usually close our bedroom door and she stays out in the rest of the house. About 5:15 every stinking day for the last few weeks she starts meowing REALLY LOUD right outside the bedroom door. I usually get up about 7, Dave 6:45ish. She was de-clawed by the previous owners. While meowing she tries to claw the underside of the bedroom door. Clunk, clunk, clunk. OMG, it drives me insane! Dave usually sleeps thru it :) I joke with him that he'd sleep thru a nuclear blast. I'm not joking however. I have tried leaving her in the room with us, door open, no change. Anyway, so I get up and feed her, problem solved. BUT NO,  back to the meowing and clawing the door 5 minutes later. "Let me in, I need some love!". OMG, so I let her in the bedroom. She goes up and down the bed, repeatedly, while I pet her, eyes shut trying to SLEEP. It's now 6. Off the bed, she's now on my dresser, trying to get up on the window sill. "Get down" I say, clapping my hands. 6:15. She's back on the bed. Will it ever end? Please somebody just shoot me. It's 6:30. So.............

I did some problem-solving and it worked great last night: Cat gets a snack right before my bedtime (I'm most always last). Cat goes into spare bedroom where cat box resides. Cat gets bowl of water. Cat gets Dave's favorite blankie off the main couch. Cat gets carried to and petted there. Cat gets warning to go to sleep or else! I turn off the lights, close the door. I close my door and get in bed. And wait, and wait. No sound, nothing. I wake up 7 hours later! Uninterrupted sleep! Still nothing. Went back to sleep. Dave got up an hour later, I hear cat meows, Dave lets her out, feeds her. I roll over. An hour later (yes, I REALLY needed some major sleep) cat is at door, cat's let in and cuddled. Cat goes to sleep on bed,  all is well.....

then hens start squawking... sometimes like Roseann Rosannadanna said "it's always something..."

Anya trying to eat a paper bag, who knew?

Great Deals To Preserve-
I got some great deals today at the local grocery outlet of peppers (6 for $1.50) and blueberries $2.00 each. Both from Canada, kind of different, but seemed very fresh. I bought 4 lbs. of grapes from my daughter's boyfriend for $1.50 a lb. His parents raise table grapes at their farm outside Boise. I'm going to freeze the peppers & blueberries and dry the grapes. He also gave us some nice squashes, ditto the drying-


How To Backup Your Blog in 3 Easy Steps-
After my recent disaster losing most of my blog photos, I researched how to back up your blogger blog
Very fast and easy. Remember, however, back up on an external drive, in case your computer crashes! You can also back up your design, great idea...

Aug 23, 2012

El Nino Predicted This Winter, Blog Photos Gone- Smart Phone Warning

El Nino Predicted This Winter-
After seeing the first "freeze warning" in eastern Oregon tonite, I was wondering what the long-range forecast was this winter, so I looked it up. After reading El Nino To Bring Cooler Wetter Winter I'm hopeful we'll get some rain/snow this fall/winter to end our horrible fire season and fill up the aquifers. The idea of snow is always fun, since we usually don't get much in Boise. We do have some white stuff every year or so, and I enjoy it like a kid! I also love the rain here as it always greens things up. I am ready for Fall!!!

Blog Photos Gone- Smart Phone Warning-
Being a bit of a techy I do appreciate some aspects of "advanced" technology. Then, sometimes, there's just "too much of a good thing". Most of my photos have disappeared off this blog (when I have WAY to much time on my hands I may try to re-create them). Good news- I didn't actually lose the photos (have them backed up on an external hard drive), just lost them from my blog. Here's how, so you will be be forewarned:

Hubby got a new "smart phone" with our free upgrade. Smart phone has new GMail account attached to our email. Somehow the settings uploaded, thru his email (attached to my blog) ALL MY BLOG PHOTOS, except for a few. When we saw his "gallery" was full on his phone, with over 4,000 photos, we deleted them. THE SMART PHONE (not so smart) DIDN'T TELL US IT WAS DELETING THEM FROM MY BLOG :)  God, I love technology. The next day, I opened my blog. Almost every photo gone. I thought, at first, "Gee maybe there's problem with blogger?". Then I cried. One year of work gone, poof. Then I cried some more. Then I recovered and realized atleast I had all the pics backed up. Then I realized it all had to do with the SMART PHONE. We can't delete his email as my entire blog might be inaccessible, so we adjusted his settings. For now we're okay, and he's logged off his G Mail on his phone. I discovered he was "synced" to Picasa Web and evidently my blog. He's now permanently "unsynced". Sometimes it pays to be a Luddite. Hmmm, there's a hammer nearby and hubby's out watering :)

Aug 22, 2012

Blogger Photos Problems

Sorry to say many of my photos have been wiped somehow. I simply don't have the time to go back and repost. It seems to be working now though! Time to do more security work :)

Aug 20, 2012

Back To Work Today, Garden Update, Flat Iron Steak with Pesto Recipe

My summer "sea table"

Back To Work Today-
Sigh, it's that time- back to my job today, the kids coming back in 1 week. The first two days will be training and meetings, oh JOY! I'll sit there thinking about all the other things I should probably be doing. Oh well. I will be cutting back on my blogging, as I will be busy. I envy people who can afford to stay home full time or are retired. The things I could do year round!!! I'd probably start a business :) The flip side, I think I would be bored staying home all the time. I'd miss the interactions in the business side of things. Being a bit of an over-achiever (so I've often been told) I like the challenge of doing things like writing grants (and getting more than anyone else), planning ahead and doing things "outside the box". I'm hoping the forest fire smoke really subsides before the kids are back, as we have many with asthma and that will be tough- inside recess is never any fun. They need get out with their pals!

"Girls" posing by the raised bed
Garden Update-
I feel like I'm finally starting to catch up to everyone bragging about their big harvest. After daily watering in 90+ degree heat since June (ugh) something better grow dang it! Lettuce pretty well died, but I'm hoping when it cools down it may revive, maybe. Cukes all died. Upon recent inspection, the good news is I have- 5 or 6 mystery pumpkins and squashes are really growing!

I have tons of medium, small and tiny (grape) tomatoes and they're getting ripe, finally! We had 3 last night sliced with a little olive oil, salt and balsamic vinegar. Oh, they were so WONDERFUL! Also, lots of rhubarb ready to harvest (2nd round) and tons of baby bell peppers.

                                                                           little jalapenos

lots of little Japanese eggplants

my cabbages are finally getting heads!

I picked about 10-12 cups of fresh basil- man did I ever make pesto! I will always plant the basil seeds inside in the spring, since I got such a huge harvest. And there's still more left to cut!

 Pesto making "station"

Pesto ready for freezer

I sat some aside and made a Flat Iron Steak With Pesto that night. I used Rosie's recipe (posted before) for the pesto, much healthier. I subbed "London Broil" cut as it was just as good and cheaper. I got 3 good sized steaks for $7.00. Wow, the flavor! It was great with garden tomatoes and multi grain linguine with a little cheese...

Aug 17, 2012

Inspiring Depression Era Stories & Where We Are

Photo Taken Between 1935/1942 via the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information 

Inspiring Depression Era Stories & Where We Are-

Today I read Ohiofarmgirls blog profiling Ohio's Great Depression Story Project What a wonderful project that state did! While I haven't gotten thru all of them, there are some that really stood on for me. Many brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of my Mom's stories of the Depression in rural Nebraska- drinking coffee a child, since there was little milk. Not being able to eat chicken or eggs as an adult, since they raised their own and that's almost all they ate meat-wise. Walking two miles to school in the winter with frostbite, having their hands shoved under the cold water spigot in the one room school house, and hearing their knuckles crack as they thawed. Being the youngest and rarely having anything new, including clothes. There were good stories too- of her Dad bartering his mechanic's services for food they couldn't grow or afford. My Mom said Grandma raised chickens, had a very large garden, canned, baked, sewed, knitted and made quilts. All that NORMAL STUFF. It's sad that I never knew her, since she died when I was a baby. I bought a Rhode Island Red chick (one of my first) as a little tribute to her since she has some back then. She sounded like quite a woman! She always looked old in her photos, even when she was younger. That kind of life would surley do that to you, raising four girls in tough times.

It really put things into perspective about where we are now- how spoiled and self-centered many of us are in America. Many families survived only due to the ongoing help of family and friends, and ingenuity too! Many in this country simply have no interest in learning those skills. That's sad...

I listed these by category-

Clothing store with tailor in doorway, Mexican district, San Antonio, Texas

CLOTHING- "I was in the third grade when the Depression came. I remember it well. There were nine of us. I had no shoes, so my dad made a pair out of cardboard and glued it together. When we ran out of glue and had no money to buy more, we used rubber bands and a paste made with flour and water. When it rained, I was soaked. I had no umbrella, no rubbers and no raincoat, and stayed in school the whole day in wet clothes until I went home." - Gladys Saba Wright, age 89, Richmond Heights

"I remember that my mother took down the white cotton curtains from the back windows of our house in order to make blouses for our school uniforms. She did not have enough spare cash to spend on either the blouses or the material to make them." - Geraldine Stevens, age 85, Worthington

"Our family had a mantra, which was: 'Use it up, wear it out; Make it do, or do without.' We did this with everything. My mother and grandmother were seamstresses, and my mother made nearly all of my clothes, including suits and coats, throughout my college years. My after-school play clothes were frequently made from feed sacks, the patterned, cotton bags that contained the chicken feed my grandparents fed to their chickens. The cloth was durable, quite colorful and survived many washings. I never had to worry that I would find someone else wearing the same clothes I had! My grandmother went a bit farther. Ladies' clothes in those days had long, full skirts (no such things as slacks or pants for women). Once a dress was worn out, the still-good material would be made into a blouse. When the blouse was no longer wearable, it became an apron. When the apron finally was not usable, what was left became a dust rag. My great aunt and many of the women in the small town where they all lived were quilters, and every scrap of material left from the original garment was hand sewed into beautiful patchwork quilts, then quilted during the evening hours when the work of the day had been finished. These, of course, were our winter blankets." - Mary Lou Pollak, age 78, Fairview Park

Anyone know what breed these are???      [Untitled]

FOOD- "My earliest memories of the Great Depression go back to people coming to our door, selling big red delicious apples for five cents each. My father was a minister and five cents was hard to come by. Once in a great while, there would be a spare five cents to purchase one of those delectable apples. It was carefully cut into five pieces and distributed. As a seven-year-old, I wondered if the time would come when I could have a whole apple to myself." - Elinor M. Brown, age 85, Napoleon

"When my husband was about eight or nine years old, his mother sent him to the store to get some soup beans to cook for their supper. He had to walk down a hill that was a little over a mile long. On his way home, the bag in which the beans were broke and the beans spilled onto the ground. When he got home and told his mother what happened, she gave him another container and told him to go back and pick up the beans, so he went back and picked up every bean. Another time, he sat down at the table to eat breakfast and his mother said to him 'I don't know what you are going to eat because we only have some homemade bread and milk.' So she broke up some bread in a bowl with some milk, and that was his breakfast." - Irene Burkhart, about her husband, Lawrence, age 86, Shadyside

"On a normal weekday, they would eat vegetable soup that included pretty much whatever they could scrounge up from the leftover food. They grew their own garden in their back yard, full of green beans, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes and regular potatoes. If they were lucky, they would eat chicken as a specialty on Sundays. Their family owned their own chickens and rabbits. The local grocery would call Grandma's house when the meat came in; that way they could get to the store before it was all gone. Everyone used stamps as the form of money, due to the fact that food and gas were rationed. These stamps bought most of their food for the month. They never went out to eat. Every night, when the boys arrived back home, they would eat with each other at the dinner table." - Meg Denman, sophomore at Madison Comprehensive High School, about her grandmother, Marcella Denman, age 92, Mansfield

"Dad had built a Fruit Cellar in our basement and it was all concrete. This is where the jelly and canned goods were stored. There was always a large sack of flour and a bucket of lard, and my mother would make wonderful bread and rolls, and pies from the apple orchard and the berries we picked. Her pies would have won prizes. Because of my parents ingenuity I don't recall going hungry. Mother was a great cook, and what ever she made was delicious. Bacon was bought in a slab that you would slice off. Somehow, we always had real butter, but it was about 19 cents a pound. Mother made very good salad dressing with a bit of bacon grease, vinegar and a dash of sugar and salt in a skillet. This was poured over leaf lettuce from the garden or dandelions. Lots of people came to our home and ask for apples from our orchard. Mom would always give them some." - Martha Rosella McCabe, age 88, Saint Clairsville

"Mom canned as many things as she could, such as tomatoes, green beans and fruits of various kinds. But the mainstay of our diet during the lean years was a combination of dried beans, cornbread, onions and potatoes of one kind or another. Mom would cut dandelion greens for some added nutrition and cook them in bacon fat with a little vinegar on them." - Wanda Stubbart, age 78, Columbus, Vic Thomas, age 83, Middletown and Kathleen Lambert, age 80, Middletown

    Two boys standing in front of candy store window, street scene, Circleville, Ohio (see general caption)

RECREATION- "Toys were at a premium. We used to find a bushel basket, knock the bottom out of it, nail it up on some garage and that was our basketball net. To play football, we could not afford equipment, so we just played without it." - Raymond J. Mock, age 85, Centerville

"A sled was a sheet of cardboard and McKinley Monument was the best hill. The park to play in was Water Works Park. In the summer, it was Myers Lake Park for the grocery store picnic. Ice cream from Islays was an extra treat once or twice a year in the summer - my Grandmother always bought. The ice man gave us all chunks of ice from his truck. We also had a milk man and a bread man, when we could afford them. We took rides in the car on Sunday afternoon and walked to church every Sunday morning. Watching movies a couple times a year at Dueber Theater was an extra special treat. We played, kick the can, hide and seek, tag, hop scotch, red rover, jump rope, etc. There were a lot of fun times, as everybody shared the same hard times. We kids really didn't know we were poor." - Doris Portmann, age 76, Navarre

"Dad made us some toys and we would spend time at night before bed time playing games. Mom would sit by the kerosene lamp and read letters or stories out of a book for us. They loved us so much. At bed time, she would get bricks out of the oven on cold nights and wrap them in towels and put them in our beds to warm up the bed and keep us warm. There was no heat in our bedroom or insulation in the ceiling, walls or floor, so it got very cold." - Carl Reed, age 76, Malvern

"We entertained ourselves, playing board games, outdoor hide-and-seek type of games, roller skating as fast as we could around the block or listening to radio serials such as 'Don Winslow of the Navy' or 'Jack Armstrong.' We read a lot of books from the library. We learned about the outside world from LIFE magazine, a large glossy format that was a veritable history of memorable photographs. The swimming pool season ticket was $2. Going to a movie cost a dime. There was no air conditioning, but the Ohio Theater was comfortably 'air cooled' with fans blowing across blocks of ice. Broughton's Ice Cream had sodas and sundaes for 12 cents, while an ice cream cone was a nickel. S. S. Kresge was full of wondrous items you could buy for a nickel or dime, many of them now collector's items." - Esther G. Schwartz, age 77, Columbus

"There was an ice house on the corner of Nevada and Parker, and we kids would go there to get free chunks of ice. Sometimes in the summer, we went there and got chips of ice to make our own ice cream. We all took turns grinding it until done, but what a treat it was for us! Our toys were mostly handmade. My brothers made their scooters out of orange crates and wheels, when they could find them. We girls made our own dancing dolls out of hollyhocks. What imaginations! For adult entertainment, Friday nights was usually Pinochle night with the neighbors, at their house or ours. We never had a sitter, so when it was at the neighbors, my brothers watched me. We played games such as hide and seek with a candle lit to find each other - it's a wonder we never started any fires! Also, my brothers made a basketball net over their bedroom door from a box and, having no ball, they used my favorite muff - I hated that!" - Mary Johnson Shank, age 77, Toledo                      
Anyone know what breed these are???

Cost Plus Field Trip, Junktique Shop, Gorgeous Spain

Photo by Amanda Brooks,
Cost Plus World Market Field Trip-
I'm still alive in the smoky hinterlands of Boise, so I ran some errands today. I had a $10.00 off a $40.00 purchase for Cost Plus, so I stopped in. I love their dried, stuffed pastas with cheese or basil pesto. They're great for a quick dinner and cheaper than my discount grocery store, go figure. Here's my $30.00 haul: nutmeg nuts, teas, bow-shaped pastas, some chocolate, crackers and the stuffed pastas. I am happy! I like to add this kind of thing once in a while to my basic food storage. I think there's a difference between eating well and eating cheap. While I go mostly for whole foods, I do buy small amounts of "packaged foods", like the stuffed pastas. By the way, the pasta make a pretty big batch...

Cost Plus had some new items that I loved, because they had CHICKEN WIRE!!! I also loved a few vintagey looking items they had, gave me some ideas of thing to make or re-purpose:

I love one of these for my kitchen corner

Maybe for my bathroom?

Maybe for ???

Only $7.00, but I don't know where I'd put it...

More chicken wire

And these were just too cute- chalk paint with a clothes pin on the back, what a great idea!
I could use these in my herb pots. And no, I don't work for Cost Plus, wish I did.
Think of the employee discount :)

Junktique Shop-
I stopped into a place today that I kept seeing closed. It was open today. Short version, it's a place that's just sort of sitting there. Too overpriced to move, but Grandma won't retire :)  Too bad, I had to leave empty handed. TONS of vintage and antiques and over 4,000 sq.ft.. Maybe someone will wake up and make some sales some day-

Gorgeous Spain-
I've been reading and watching documentaries about Spain the last few years. I found some gorgeous photos of a "hotel" called Trasierra, north of Seville. It was lovingly restored, as you can see. Amanda Brooks is an author, blogger and fashionista (a what?) who has documented her travels recently. Gorgeous photos, so now I REALLY want to go to Spain!  Not in the budget, but I can be inspired :) I love the rooms she took shots of! Now for a virtual tour. Her book and website is I Love Your Style 
How restful, don't you think?

Nice vintage basket collection on the walls

How green and inviting! I love the HUGE flowering vines

I love the simple blue and whites. Love the wood door, great texture

I love this! Notice the little tiled border on the sides next to the white walls?
Little planters, what a nice touch! Talk about meticulous details.

Aug 15, 2012

More Smoke, Wildfires Threaten Idaho towns

            NASA handout satellite image taken on August 13, 2012 shows fires burning in California, Nevada and Oregon. Wildfires roared out of control across the sun-scorched U.S. West on August 15 and threatened to roll into two small towns in Idaho as firefighters managed to partially dampen a monster blaze that has destroyed 60 homes in Washington state. REUTERS-NASA-Jeff Schmaltz-LANCE-EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team-GSFC-Handout
                                      NASA photo showing smoke

More Smoke-
Yesterday was just horrendous here in Boise. The smoke made it look like our city was on fire. It was so smoky, that you could smell it immediately going outside, and you could see it looking down a long street. My asthma has been pretty bad the last week or so, yesterday was not fun. These fires are reportedly not going to get under control until the first SNOW. That's right S N O W. That means October, unless we get some heavy rain before then. I feel for the fire crews (and their families) working in this horrendous heat, pushing 100. We are all so grateful for the work they do. These men and women don't get paid enough, and some die every year. Going out tonite on an errand we could see a HUGE cloud of smoke behind the foothills, looking east, towards one of the big fires. We missed the one fire north of here by 2 hours, on our way back from McCall two weeks ago. Lucky timing for us!

Wildfires Threaten Idaho Towns-
We even made in onto Rueters News, the huge international news conglomerate- Wildfires In The West



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