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...

Sep 30, 2012

Blogversary Giveaway Winner Is..., Veggie Garden Review For Next Year

The 200th Post Blogversary Giveaway Winner Is...-
 Charlotte of My Moody Farm! Charlotte- I couldn't find a link to contact you, so please contact ME with a shipping address. Thanks to all with your comments. I'll do another giveaway when I reach 75 followers, so send some friends here :)

Veggie Garden Review For Next Year-
I'm reviewing things and ready for winter.  It was so incredibly HOT here and I got so sick of watering, and the really late harvest. The new plan- no grape/cherry tomatoes/eggplants, as they took to long to fruit, and little harvest. They were also too tall and rangy. Did great with the other tomatoes- paste, yellow and medium varieties. Planted too many hot peppers, plant more tomatoes next year. No more cabbage, took to long and ate up space, but did well with the collard greens, they are awesome! It's good to review what worked and what didn't for better use of space next year....

Sep 26, 2012

Independence Days Challenge, Early Fall In The Garden, 200th Post Blogversary Giveaway!

Vintage WW1 Poster

Independence Days Challenge-

It's been a busy/tiring couple of weeks, but I have gotten some things done, so here's the breakdown:

1. Plant Something- Just some new pansies in my north window box.

2. Harvest Something- Finally! tomatoes, peppers, herbs, collard greens, rhubarb, eggplants, eggs, compost, basil for pesto.

3. Preserve/Store Something- Dried herbs, froze peppers, made 6 qts. applesauce, froze more pesto, rain barrels got some water from the rain.

4. Manage Reserves- Get A Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep- Got some free apples, stocking up on all kinds of things for winter- canned soups (for those sick-icky days), batteries, teas, tea biscuits, cat litter from Costco, cat food, and misc. bath stuff. 

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipes- Made new kinds of pizzas with the tomatoes.

6. Build Community Food Systems- Will start selling extra eggs next week, had to raise my price with feed bills going up.

7. Recycle/Re-Use- Still pulling out older clothes to take in, composting, going thru old fall decor to donate.

8. Skill Up- Getting better at preserving food in general, took care of my first case of egg bound chicken (warm bath did it!), and sour crop. I feel special :)  All that online research pays off!

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something- Getting out the used winter clothes I bought in the spring. Doing some minor repairs and they're good to go, sewing buttons, etc. clothes. I had Dave prune our fruit tree branchs growing over the roof for better air-flow and to reduce winter damage.

Early Fall In The Garden-

Volunteer mystery baby pumpkin

Tomatoes still ripening

Cabbage heads still coming along

Basil just keeps growing

Fall color showing up on my Red Twig Dogwood

One of the girls on bug patrol, sun low in the sky this evening


200th Blogversary Giveaway!-

So here's my little fall giveaway- a cute felt basket filled with: Anna's Ginger Thins from Sweden, 1 box Bigelow Ginger Snappish Ginger Herb Tea (no caffeine) and 1 box Chinese Oolong tea & some Almond Chocolate Biscottis. Perfect for a cool fall day! To enter post something in the comments below about your favorite no-work fall pastime (with a link or your email). I'll pick a random winner and send it off to you! Good luck!

Sep 24, 2012

It Rained!!! Peppers & Cost Plus Grain Medley

It Rained!!!
The first rain we've had since early July came in yesterday afternoon! Steady rain for a couple of hours and much cooler. Flannel shirt, jeans and hot tea instead of shorts. We only got about 1/10th of an inch of rain, but it really cleared up the smoke. Bluer skies today, about 70, what a relief!

Peppers & Cost Plus Grain Medley-
This year was the first time I've gotten some nice bell peppers. I harvested the above early for some homemade black bean chili. I found this nice looking grain and pasta medley at Cost Plus for $3.00, so I'm going to try it with some veggies, cheese, and maybe some bacon :)

Sep 22, 2012

Small Space Solutions, Applesauce, Fall & Giveaway On Hold

compact desk closed up

Small Space Solutions-

Some great ideas I stumbled onto Small office fits in a box

compact desk

FUSION Table and 4 chairs IKEA The chair backs are shaped to the corners of the table, to save space when the chairs are pushed up against the table.
And here's the Ikea Fusion table and chairs  The chairs fit flush against the table for a compact use of floor space!


After buying farmer's market apples, and getting more from a friend, I made applesauce. Since I didn't really have enough to can I decided to make some to freeze. All my apples made 6 quarts plus a little more. Just apples, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of salt! I cored, cut in 1/4s and cooked with about 1/2 covered in water, bring to a simmer and turn to low, still once in a while. I leave the skins on for the fiber and nutrients. Mine is more dense and chunky than store-bought and so much better! With no apples from our tree this year I didn't buy a huge amount to can like last year. Oh well....

We're still suffering with terrible smoke here. Even worse the last four days, as a closer fire is blazing. It's so sickening too- a volunteer fire fighter is charged with starting the fire. He confessed and said he wanted to "impress his Dad", another fire fighter. He has a target on his back now I'm guessing. He's 18. What an imbecile. On the good side, the leaves are starting to change, days are cooler. We're all praying for a heavy rainstorm and/or snow in the mountains to stop the fires. I've lived here for more than 15 years and have never seen a fire season like this. It's been a month and a 1/2 , (I think, who remembers?) since we had normal blue skies. Send some rain...

Giveaway On Hold-
Due to some health issues I have put the giveaway on hold for now. But when I'm feeling better I'll get it up!

Sep 15, 2012

Today's Harvest, Flowers Bounce-Back

This Weeks Harvest-
I haven't been blogging much since I'm back to work. With huge tech issues district-wide I have been more mentally exhausted than usual!  I'm thru the worst,  I hope :) Now that the weather has finally gotten out of the 90's, the days are shortening, and the veggies are finally getting ripe more quickly. I think the shorter days help get the veggies out of the survival mode, well that's my theory anyway. I'm also getting three eggs almost every day! My two New Hampshires are turning into good layers. Above is today's harvest- mini eggplants (smaller than I thought they'd be), peppers, tomatoes. I love the yellow heirloom ones, colorful!  I also have some gorgeous bell peppers almost ready to pick, just waiting for them to be a bit bigger. I love sauteed fresh garden veggies with garlic and olive oil on pasta... yum. More tomatoes waiting to ripen, and you can see where I clipped off excess foliage to ripen faster, a good trick-

Bloomers Bounce-Back-
Now that the weather is settling into almost fall-ish all the bloomers are having a bounce-back, they re-blooming and setting more flowers! My nasturtiums in the veggie garden above.

 My purple fountain grass is finally get seed heads! I love the look of this...

       Roses in the front, should have snapped this a couple of days ago, oh well...

in the front yard

Anya waiting for Mommy...

Sep 9, 2012

200th Post Blogiversary Coming Soon! More Peach Jam

200th Post Blogversary Coming Soon!-
Wow, it's hard to believe I'm almost to 200 posts! Geez, who would have thought? It's been a real learning curve, with questions for myself like-
what do people want to know?
is this boring? (I hope not)
does anyone go "gee what's Nancy in Boise up to now?" (inquiring minds want to know)

Well, if nothing else it's a fun virtual diary of sorts. I do leave certain personal things out for privacy sake. I firmly believe that many people may regret (later) posting things when it comes to too much honesty. I save that for family and close personal friends. So............. Interesting fact- I've had over 4,000 visitors from all over the world between April 22nd and today! WOW. Check out the cluster map near the bottom of the page.

I will be doing another special something. I don't know what it will be for, as I'm still thinking. Maybe something homemade ;)  We'll see. Two more posts then I'll do an "official" special something with the format. Check back soon!

More Peach Jam-
I bought some more wonderful peaches (and apples) at the farmer's market yesterday. I got a 1/2 peaches and 1/2 apples (big!) mixed box for $15.00, picked Thurs./Fri. The peaches are dusty in this shot not bruised, they were perfect-

The market will be open for another month, but not with all the vendors. I decided to make more peach jam, with a better, lower sugar recipe. The first recipe in June (?) was too sweet for me (even after reducing the sugar), so I found this one Easy Low Sugar Peach Jam. I love jam because it's so FAST! My total (not all in pic) was 16 jars, 6 spiced the rest non-spiced. Much better flavor with less sugar! I heard pinging all afternoon. I made a wonderful apple cobbler with about 1/3 the apples, saving the rest for something else.

Sep 5, 2012

New Food Prep Item- Table Cream, Cooling Off

New Food Prep Item- Table Cream-

I'm currently reading The Storm Gourmet- A Guide to Creating Extraordinary Meals Without Electricity from the library. I was looking for "outside the box" cooking ideas. One of the items she kept mentioning was "table cream". I did some research, thinking it was more of a tropical item. It's used a lot in Mexican cooking for things like flan, or other desserts. It's basically unsweetened, canned light cream. It got me thinking of all the "what ifs"-
no milk at the stores, water it down.
no cream "        "        use it instead.
no half and half  "              "
and whatever else you can think of?

And there's no refrigeration needed until after it's opened. It was about $1.18 here at WalMart for a 7 1/2 ounce can. There's info on the label. I bought several and added it to my pantry.

The ingredients on the label are- light cream, carrageenan, sodium alginate, disodium phosphate, sodium citrate. Product of Mexico
I'll do a taste test soon and tell you what I think. Some said it's richer tasting than cream, and a cross between sour cream and cream...

 Another new item I found in the "imported" food section: plum butter, looks good! It's from Bosnia, and the small sample I tasted had a very nice flavor. Smooth and silky. Just sugar, plums, citric acid, pectin.

Cooling Off-
It's finally cooling off more. 80's this week, 70's next week. The horrible forest fire smoke is dissipating finally. Hoping for some much needed rain soon. At least the sky is blue again, with just a little haze...

Sep 3, 2012

Canning Rhubarb Sauce, Independence Days, Garden Prepping for Fall

My favorite summer dish-
homegrown organic tomatoes, basil and local cukes with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sea salt!

Canning 4 Kinds Rhubarb Sauce-
With 3 days off work (for those w/jobs outside the farm/home) I had planned on doing some canning. I harvested the last of my rhubarb today, my neighbor's freebies, and all totaled I had about 11 lbs.! Woho!

I had planned on doing more rhubarb sauce since Dave likes it. I like it too, so why not? It's tart, but sweetened with other fruit and some sugar, it's good! A nice side dish with pork, chicken, with toast, whatever. My "recipe" is posted from the spring-

2 cups 1" chunks rhubarb
2 cups strawberries, cut in 1/2
1/4 water
1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar: depends on the ripeness of the berries. You could use agave nectar, honey, whatever.
pinch salt
Bring to a simmer, stirring once in a while, until it starts to break down, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit. Stir once in a while as it cools. I canned mine, but you could freeze.

I bought local plums yesterday at the farmer's market, and some gorgeous apples, peaches, bell peppers & lemon cukes-

All for $15.00

I used up last weeks table grapes from our friends farm-

the Farmer's Market plums and the strawberries I got at the grocery store-

So I have 3 combos with my totals-

6 Qts. strawberry/rhubarb sauce
2 Qts.and 1 pint plum/rhubarb sauce, gorgeous color!
2 Qts. grape/rhubarb sauce.

That should last the til next spring or so. I'm hoping to get apples from the same place as the grapes in Oct. to make applesauce. We loved ours from our tree last year! Our apple harvest is poor this year, so I use what I can get. No apples? Use rhubarb.

  I'm hearing pinging!!!

Independence Days-

1. Plant Something- Done for the time being with the veggies, planted a new evergreen shrub.

2. Harvest Something- Eggs, tomatoes (wonderful!), rhubarb, basil, thyme, rosemary, chives, jalapenos, a few blackberries. Eggplants almost ready!

3. Preserve Something- I got out my old food dehydrator and dried, several squashes, all my jalapenos, 3 big bell peppers. Froze more bell peppers. Canned today. Tonight I also received free watermelon, several bell peppers, greens beans from our friends, again! I'll probably dry more of the new squash and peppers.

4. Manage Reserves- Get A Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep- Got good deals at the local Farmer's Market, neighbors freebies she doesn't want, bought chicken feed before needed since it's going up. Bought 3 more LED yard lights clearance at Target. All their garden stuff is clearance priced.

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipes- Made new kinds of rhubarb sauce. Eating the tomatoes as I pick them. Wish I had enough to can. I saw some lamb summer sausage yesterday at the Farmer's Market, may buy some next Sat., when we go back.

6. Build Community Food Systems- Buying from friends, Farmer's Market, freebies from neighbor.

7. Recycle/Re-Use- Same old, scraps to chickens, composting.

8. Skill Up- Learned about new kinds of mouse traps! We have some in the garage and I DON'T want them in the house. I baited the garage and the back deck, where we've seen them or their droppings. Reading Storm Gourmet with interesting recipes for cooking without power. Interesting timing with hurricane Issac.

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something- Washed up food dehydrator, starting to use again. Added more bark mulch to part of the back yard to keep the plants happy over the winter. Fixing up rain barrels, pruned the berry vines. I was trying to figure out WHY our tomatoes were so much taller and more prolific this year, then I remembered we pruned the maple tree back when it was thinned, for better light in the garden, duh. It sure worked! The tomatoes below are about 5' high!

Garden Prepping for Fall-
It's finally cooling off! It's so much nicer to do outside work in the 80's. In the next week or so it's forecast to start lowering to the 70's! I did alot of pruning back the berry vines, raked, added the new LED solar lights, planted a new evergreen shrub where one died, fixed up the little pond a bit. Dave did some of the same in the front yard today. Fall will be coming soon, so I try to do a little each weekend so it's not so overwhelming when the weather gets to the first hard freeze. Added a HUGE amount of rhubarb leaves to the compost today, big LEAVES! They reminded me of elephant ears.

                                  Anya cuddling her favorite fuzzy blankie late in the evening

Sep 1, 2012

Your Privacy- Is It Extinct?

Your Privacy- Is It Extinct?-
If you still think you have a reasonable amount of privacy in your life... New York Times "The Program" - the documentary's producer Poitras has personal experience that is illustrative of some of what is going on:

“To those who understand state surveillance as an abstraction, I will try to describe a little about how it has affected me. The United States apparently placed me on a “watch-list” in 2006 after I completed a film about the Iraq war. I have been detained at the border more than 40 times. Once, in 2011, when I was stopped at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and asserted my First Amendment right not to answer questions about my work, the border agent replied, “If you don’t answer our questions, we’ll find our answers on your electronics.” As a filmmaker and journalist entrusted to protect the people who share information with me, it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to work in the United States. Although I take every effort to secure my material, I know the N.S.A. has technical abilities that are nearly impossible to defend against if you are targeted.”


How Privacy Went Extinct in 10 Years in America, - The article says, in part:
“Today’s surveillance and tracking systems can (in principle) integrate infinite amounts of information: your location and identity via GPS and face recognition technology; video feeds from the cameras located down the street or across the globe; records from any and all databases; electronic communications like voice and emails. It’s all in the processors and the sky's the limit.”

Now think of where this might be in 10 years? And if you thought no one could eavesdrop on your cell phone conversation if it's turned off, think again... even if you have nothing to hide, isn't this a violation of our rights? You betcha.
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