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...

Dec 31, 2012

Counting Blessings, New Chicken Tree, Bits & Pieces

Count Your Blessings- Amy Grant & CeCe Winans 
Counting Blessings-
This time of year is always a reflective time for me. I don't do "resolutions", since I've found that doesn't work for me. I do look at what does/did work and keep my options open. To me it's a more positive tack. I found, for instance, getting focused on the BIG picture works better for me than sweating the minutiae of things. I can be be OCD, so I have to remind myself of that. I've looked at what I wanted to include in my life: like eating healthier, stressing less at work, letting go of some my kid's stupid (to me) decisions, appreciating my hubby more :) Worrying less about my various health issues- do more holistic stuff and get over it. I hear people who talk non-stop about how sick they are all the time. To me that just reinforces it, IMO. Reliving all your bad health issues is living in it, ALL THE TIME. I choose not to do that. I try to put my various health issues (I won't bore you with the details) into perspective- I have excellent insurance, live in a city with lots of resources, and have the income to buy supplements, etc. to keep myself band-aided together. So, I'm counting my blessings!

Chicken Tree

New "Chicken Tree"-
Kat from Rose Prairie Quilts Chicken Ornaments very generously gifted me with four crocheted chickens! She even matched my flock! I sent her a little something in return :) Here's my "chicken tree", with some of the original decorations when I bought it, her chickens, some farmy fabric I bought, and the lights. There's a rooster next to it too! I love it!
Little red hens for my Hampshire girls and Rhode Island Red 

Black and white hen for my Barred Rock

I added fabric, little toys, and wooden folk art stuff

    Dave loved it too! He found a rooster clock out today ($3.00) while donating some items, it goes perfect on the wall next to the china cabinet with the tree-

Bits and Pieces-
Here's a few odds and ends from life recently:

***I want the Handheld Pies book, the stuff inside looked great delish! I found it at Joann's Fabrics, but will look for a used copy-

***We went on saw the movie The Hobbit- An Unexpected Journey, with a gift certificate from work- 2 thumbs way, way up! Martin Freeman was wonderful as Bilbo, a brilliant job. I loved him in The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy and Sherlock                  

***For those of you PIGZ lovers Joann's had this fabric!

  ***I decided to display our Christmas Cards this way this year, I liked it!

***I finally found spots for these 2 items I got thrifting, Dave installed both of these today

We keep our summer hats here by the front door, wood with a ceramic inlay

***Girls enjoying a snack, still in the 20's, no melting yet. They LOVE their sun room in this COLD weather

***I LOVE this song and video- 93 Million Miles by Jason Mraz. I love his new sound!

              You can always come back home...

Dec 26, 2012

The Goose That Quacked, Wonderful Quote, Hoppin' John For New Years, Snow, The New Chicken

The Goose That Quacked-
You know what to do when the best laid plans of mice and men go awry? You adjust. After seeing local goose prices at $5.00 lb., with most of them 10 lbs. on up, I changed tactics. Time for duck! Smaller, but much more reasonable. Since it was just for the two of us, I knew one five-pounder would be fine. I found a nice recipe- Roast Duck With Plum Sauce. Since I had a big jar of plum "butter" (from Walmart's European food section) I used it instead of the whole plums. It was delicious! Meat was very tender, juicy and the sauce came out perfect-

Stuffed with fresh oranges and onion

I served it with plum sauce, mashed Yukon golds, and sauteed fresh spinach. I will do this again for sure! I remembered something about using duck grease, so I did a little research. It is used like butter for flavoring for roasting veggies, etc. It gives it a wonderful flavor. I strained mine after it cooled, and into the fridge it went. I read it's actually sold as a VERY expensive ingredient in French cooking. I guess it always pays to do your research! I have about 1/2 a cup. I'll report back how the flavor is....

Wonderful Wordsworth Quote-
I heard a quote tonight  in "A River Runs Through It" that I hadn't heard for years. It is part of a William Wordsworth poem called "Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood"-

Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give 

Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

Hoppin' John For New Years-
I found a simple recipe for Hoppin' John, a traditional southern dish. With all the rich holiday foods, I wanted to do something simple and hearty. I didn't know it's traditionally served for New Years- Hoppin' John Customs

I used brown rice to serve with it, and followed this basic recipe-

4 cups frozen black eyed peas
enough water to cover
16 ozs. chopped bacon
2 large yellow onions
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. thyme
salt/pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
green onions for garnish

Put all ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil, then simmer for at least one hour. Stir once in a while, and add more water as needed. When nice and hot, remove bay leaf and serve over hot rice. Garnish with green onions. Next time I will try adding a little more heat and some tomatoes.

We had a late white Christmas, with the snow starting about 8 p.m. or so. This morning the girls woke up to about an inch of white stuff, and wouldn't come out of the sun room-

there was much discussion about what the heck it was

They all stayed in until late afternoon, then came out and stretched their legs after it melted a bit

The New Chicken-
Dave got me the cutest chicken wind chime for Christmas!!!

I'll put it out tomorrow once the deck is safer

Anya had to explore her new toy- a kitchen step ladder!

Dec 22, 2012

Welcoming The Return Of the Light, Country Thrifting Finds, Snow's On The Way, New Blog I'm Following

Welcoming The Return Of the Light-
In honor of the llonger days now that the Solstice has passed, here are some winter "lights" photos I took, nothing fancy, since I used my cell phone camera :) Some are from the local Gardens a Glow at the local Idaho Botanical Garden. It's really grown over the years. I also got some shots in the neighborhood lat night. The one house was really covered in lights!-

Country Thrifting Finds!-
Wow, did I score today! I found this adorable 2' high country Christmas tree for my kitchen, for $2.00! Pre-decorated and the lights even work. In the box!

Kathleen from Roseprairiequilts  is going to make me some chickens for it, so I'll adapt the tree. 
Thanks Kat! Here's the Pattern for Chicken Ornaments for you crocheters out there.

                A little Halloween cat for next year, and another gingerbread girl for my kitchen counter.
    I also find a really nice purple fuzzy Coldwater Creek sweater, cool.

Snow's On The Way-
It was almost 50 this morning and really windy! Now the temp is really dropping, with 30 degrees colder tonight in the forecast. We may get some snow down here (in the valley) for the next 3-5 days!!! Maybe a white Christmas! I love snow!!! Sigh, wish I lived in Minnesota or Wisconsin, near the north woods areas. I'd have to buy studded tires and a snow blower, but hey, I'd do it! I tell Dave if he goes first, I'm so outta here! I'd move either into the mountains nearby, or do a major re-location to somewhere greener, with trees and snow....


New Blog I'm Following-
The new blog I'm following is Lilfishstudios, what great art work she does! And I love her Fit For A Woodland Princess thrifting re-do! Gorgeous!!! I really like these ornaments too, very natural, how cute-

Dec 21, 2012

Happy Solstice! Simplifying Christmas Gifting, Decorations, Your Dark Days Challenge?

Happy Solstice!

Happy Solstice!-
I go to a simple Winter Solstice event every year at the local Unitarian church that is very reflective about how this last year went, and the hopes for the next year. It's all done by candle light and so very peaceful. I think everyone should stop this time of year and look at their lives, instead of the mad dashing to buy stuff. So Happy Winter Solstice! We're still here!

Simplifying Christmas Gifting-
I've moved more and more into a voluntary simplicity mode in my life as I have gotten older, and wiser :)  I also have really gotten burned out on the crass commercialisation of Christmas. I used to work retail and I know what an illusion "sales" really are. I find it ironic that a supposedly Christian country focuses on shopping and not worship. Maybe I'm in the minority? I told all our adult girls that they would get home-made gifts and stocking stuffers this year, and that was it. They were fine with it. They are having their own tough times paying their student loans and being under-employed. My husband's family always did a gift exchange after the kids were 18, that way no one had to buy gifts for everyone, just one gift. Made sense to me! We're also trying to take the emphasis off gift giving and more spending time together. And it's pretty much cash only. While there's not as much under the tree, it so much more relaxing. I got things I know they'll really love, and it takes the pressure off.

I finally got everything out last weekend and put things up. The last thing was- fresh greens! We use a fake tree, but I always like some fresh pine greens in the house. I bought some at a local tree vendor. I scattered them thru the living room and dining room. Here's a few of may favorite decorations, with greens, as well as some of my ornaments. I made the little nest with the birds-

Your Dark Days Challenge?
Please feel free to post your recipes, and ideas here! I'll be doing another meal after next week.

Snow's coming, yeah!!!

Dec 18, 2012

I Have This Stuck In My Head

                    I just love this acapella version, so even if you're not an RF fan, give it a listen...

Dec 16, 2012

Christmas Is Coming, The Goose is Getting Fat!

Christmas Is Coming, The Goose is Getting Fat!-
With the Solstice and Christmas coming soon, I'm finally getting in the holiday mood. I haven't been sleeping well lately and have been just really tired everyday. I'm doing better now! I deep cleaned the house yesterday to get ready to put up our (fake) tree today. We both have some allergies, and it's more sustainable too, so why not? We got a nice big tree thrifting a couple of years ago, for $3.00, yes $3.00! It has 3 parts, goes together fast and it's re-useable. Stores in the garage in it's btree bag we got 2 weeks ago nicely. I bought some fresh piney greens this afternoon for that fresh smell. I like to stash those here and there around the house. I will, in fact, (don't tell the hubby) be making a roasted goose for Christmas. I made one years ago, and it's so easy! With all the goose grease involved, there's 0 basting, just roast it up! Add some fruit and veggies and bring it on!


Birthday Dinner For My Daughter-
It was my daughter Michelle's 26th birthday yesterday, how time flies! She asked me to make Coq au Vin for dinner. It's basically chicken cooked in dark red wine and other yummies. Since I worked Friday I didn't do the overnight soak. I subbed with bacon, and dried herbs. We could find any fresh pearl onions at the store, so I used frozen with peas. The fresh mushrooms were wonderful. It came out spectacular!!! I used a 3 year- old bottle of a good Cabernet I had stashed. The meat fell off the bone, and just melted in your mouth. I served with crusty, hot french bread. Michelle's boyfriend raved about it :)  Meal well done. I'll take pictures of the next batch soon.

Afternoon Snack-
My fave tea, Darjeeling, with a touch of milk and sugar, and a biscotti. Nice afternoon snack on a cold, gray day. Darjeeling has a wonderful, slightly nutty flavor. An ex-employer (British) introduced me to it. Thanks Monica!

Winter coop tonite, the snow just started!

Dec 12, 2012

First Dark Days Challenge Meal

First Dark Days Challenge Meal-
Well, this one was pretty easy. I did the same dinner as the one this summer Easy French Style Baked Eggs with my own eggs, home grown (last batch sadly) collard greens, local butter, and bread from a local French bakery (oh la la!). Very tasty and healthy, except for the cream and butter maybe. Also great on a cold winter's night :)  Nothing like melted cheese to spruce up ANYTHING!

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