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 29, 2013

Wood Five-Drawer Apple Rack Idea

Wood Five-Drawer Apple Rack Idea-
This is a great idea (while very overpriced) and I'm sure is something similar to what people have used in their cellars for cold storage. I'm sure they also used something bigger too. It's here Wood Drawer Apple Rack I could see doing this in cedar since it's naturally bug proof, or even using pallet wood (if free of chemicals).

Sep 28, 2013

British Cream Scones Recipe, Independence Days, Remnants of Pacific Typhoon Pabuk Heading Our Way

Cream Scones Recipes
I was wanting to make some scones from scratch, with the cooler weather coming. I found this recipe- Best Scones, but decided to go with this one- British Cream Scones. I'll try the other one soon. I have read that scones with cream are the lightest, and most moist. I also read that if you grate the cold butter it mixes much better. It did, what a good idea! I used my new handy, dandy scone cutters I got this summer- RSVP Round Scone Cutters  They come in multiple sizes for mini party scones, etc.  I used the big one today.

These were the BEST scones I have ever eaten, hands down. Flaky, light, airy little puffs. WOW. And the 500 degree oven was perfect. This was actually pretty fast too- I had the dough ready in less than 15 minutes.

Cream Scones Recipe
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
5 1/2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract- I used pure orange extract instead, since I like citrus. I would use more next time, and add some dried cranberries
1 egg mixed with 2 teaspoons milk for the glaze- I used cream 

Begin by preheating your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and set a rack in the top position of your oven. In a large bowl, sift the flour, then whisk in the sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter pieces and rub them in until the mixture looks like corn meal. In another bowl combine and whisk together the cream, egg and vanilla. Make a well (my note), then gently combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir them together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and pat it down until it’s about 1/2 an inch thick. Using a 2 1/2″ biscuit cutter, cut the dough into rounds and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Push together the scraps, pat them down and repeat the process until all the dough is used. Handle as little as possible (my note).

Whisk the egg and milk together, and brush it onto the tops of the scones. (I used cream) Bake 8-10 minutes until they’re lightly browned on top.

Mine with lemon curd, OMG! 

Dave's with strawberry preserves, yummy!

Independence Days

1. Plant Something- Nothing, but today we bark dusted 2 flower bed strips we planted with new perennials this year. Should protect them from the winter cold, hopefully. I'm hoping for a snowy winter! Snow day!!!

2. Harvest Something- The usual- warm weather veggies, eggs, compost. Will cut all the basil in the next 2 days, before it freezes, and make pesto to freeze.

3. Preserve/Store Something- Froze some breads. Pesto soon.

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep- Adding more cold weather goodies to the pantry, beans, etc. for soups. We bought a new card table for the holidays, $25 at Staples, best deal in town.

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe- Tried the new scone recipe. WOW.

6. Build Community Food Systems- Got free veggies, mostly tomatoes, from work. Made more salsa. Not selling eggs right now, the girls are LAZY! I think we need to turn on the light in the coop, and extend their hours a bit.

7. Recycle/Re-Use- Food scraps to the girls, rest to compost/\.

8. Skill Up- Learned about British style scones.

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something- Cleaned out some closets, got some of my winter stuff out. Doing some repairs. Winter's coming!

Remnants of Pacific Typhoon, Pabuk Heading Our Way-
We may see some high winds and possible record rainfall totals soon. Hitting us tonite and tomorrow. It's pouring in Portland and Seattle. Chickens are tucked in and spread the bark dust in the garden. Mild right now, 69 and cloudy.

Sep 26, 2013

First Fall, Now Winter! Danish Apple Pastry Bar

Bogus Basin Ski Resort, Courtesy of KTVB 2 days ago

First Fall, Now Winter!
Like the old saying goes- wait a minute and the weather will change. Summer/fall was here and now we seem to be heading into fall/winter weather. Local forecasters are calling for a "normal" winter (what's that?) instead of a El Nino or La Nina. That means possibly snow at the slopes for a Thanksgiving opening. We haven't seen that in years and years! We've been in the mid-40's the last couple of nights, with our first big fall storm system blowing thru. Lots of wind and rain. Green but chilly and wet. I've had to put the chickens in early a couple of time so they didn't get soaked. Bogus Basin and some of the mountains are now getting their first snowfall. Wow, and I still have tons of green tomatoes! 70's are forecast for the weekend, and more next week. I'm not quite ready to put the garden to bed yet, so hopefully it won't get too cold too fast. I still have tons of basil to make into pesto (round 2). Winter jammies are in the dryer, for my first wear this fall. Don't need the heavy comforter yet, but soon. Ah summer, missing you a bit already. But NOT the 90's!!!

Danish Apple Pastry Bars-                                                                              
Lats weekend I tried this recipe- Danish Pastry Apple Bars Great recipe. The recipe called foe 10 apples which made a pretty thick pastry. I think I'd go with 8 next time. I added extra cinnamon and a little squeeze of lemon juice. This is definitely more of a low sugar recipe, which I like. You really taste the apples! I used butter instead of shortening, and the pastry crust was so flaky! Warning- do not cut into bars until completely cool! Still tasty but fell apart.

Sep 21, 2013

Celtic Festival & Highland Games, Independence Days Challenge, Fall Is Coming!

                                                          Scottish Hammer Throw, 16 lbs.
Celtic Festival & Highland Games-
Being part Scotch and Irish I love bagpipes, and things Celtic. Every year I seem to miss the local Celtic Festival and Highland game.  Luckily I got a postcard and marked it on the calendar! I mean- who can't love a man in a kilt throwing telephone poles? These are called Heavy Sports.

Scottish Stone Put, 16-22 lbs.

Turning The Caber, pick up, then throw & flip it over

We wandered around and listened to several live bands and watched the dancers. I bought tea and scones to take home from-

 I had English style fish and chips, wonderful! Made to order, cod, thin crust, great fries. From a local food truck -

Dave had a Scottish beer, not bad considering I don't like beer. I bought a lovely traditional Scottish pin made of pewter and glass beads-

Lots of dancers, some with wigs that almost fell off. Pretty funny!

        The famous Boise Highlanders marching band, wonderful formation and music!

A wee one with her foam sword, too cute! The photo doesn't do her justice

While there was no Haggis for sale, here's a recipe if you're strong of heart and bowels!

1. Plant Something-

2. Harvest Something-
Eggs, compost, collard greens, kale, lemon cukes, tomatoes, peppers, yellow squash, eggplants, basil, herbs. Cooling of but veggies still going well.

3. Preserve/Store Something-
Canned goods for fall. Wine for a nice special something.

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep-
Did a little inventory of the freezer, to see what's there. Helps with menu planning. Stocked up on supplements and vitamins at Costco.

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe-
Bought a local Papa Murphy's pepperoni pizza, then took it home slathered it with my fresh basil, tomatoes, and goat cheese. OMG, it was wonderful! Had leftover roast beef, so I used it for hot sandwiches, grilled with cheese and horseradish. Delish!

6. Build Community Food Systems-
Selling eggs, got some free melon from a friend. Bought some homemade tamales from a woman who sells them at our office. I got pork, pretty good, made traditionally from scratch.

7. Recycle/Re-Use-
Got some free software from a pal. Did more thrifting today. Bought a new cotton fall sweater, and a like-new, blue cast iron oval dutch oven. It has a World Market stamp on it. $6.00 at a thrift store. About $65.00 online. Kind of matches my round one! A knock off of this Le Creuset-

8. Skill Up-
Learned how to alter wedding dress straps! Went to a local wine shop with my daughter to expose her to some choices for her wedding. I learned some things myself while there.  I bought a bottle of an Australian wine- Nugan Estate Pinot Noir 2010 for a nice dinner. The sales lady raved about it, and not bad at $14.00 a bottle. I'll save it for our anniversary maybe. I used to be a bit of a mini wine connoisseur in my 20's then along came marriage, kids and I lost interest. Didn't have the disposable income either. I'd like to start having a glass once in a while, maybe. I know from personal experience it's way too easy to start self medicating with alcohol. A close family member was a severe alcoholic, and so I rarely drink. Learned about Scottish heavy sports, oh my!

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something-
Learning how to re-do some work related paper work.

Fall Is Coming!
Finally! We hit the mid 40's the last 2 mornings. Go out the polar fleece jacket, and put an extra blanket on the bed. Getting some fall work clothes out of the spare bedroom closet. Starting into high's in the 60's with rain off and on. They're talking about the first mountain snows too. Nice yesterday, mid-80's. High 70's today, then 60's tomorrow. What a relief. Time to drag out some fall decor and get ready....

Sep 16, 2013

Independence Days Challenge

1. Plant Something-
Purple asters for a open spot in the garden, pansies for my kitchen window box. Got some crocuses too, as I love those in the early spring! Bought bark mulch for the same area to protect over the winter.

2. Harvest Something-
Eggs, compost, collard greens, lemon cukes, tomatoes, 4 kinds of peppers, yellow squash, eggplants, basil, herbs. Soon I'll make more pesto for the freezer!

Last weeks' Harvest

3. Preserve/Store Something-
Froze more gourmet breads and cheap wild-caught salmon. I personally HATE farmed fish, it's always mushy.

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep-
Went to Costco- bought healthy, frozen goodies for fast, work-night dinners, goat cheese, Romano (my go-to hard cheese), got Dave jeans, and some OTC meds. Bought some 1/2 price protein shakes mix at the pharmacy, good for my protein intake. It's helping heal my foot up! Subbing discount protein bars for chocolate at work, helps me get less tired at the end of the day. I bought a nice pot roast and made a great dinner.

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe-
Made some of our garden harvest into a sauteed veggie combo with garlic, capers, olive oil, over whole grain spaghetti with goat cheese. Divine!!! Made more salsa. Eating more peppers than ever! I saw something and with Fall rolling around I'm up for a new apple dessert! Danish Pastry Apple Bars I read to keep it authentic glaze with fresh lemon juice and powdered sugar. 

6. Build Community Food Systems-
Selling eggs. 

7. Recycle/Re-Use-
Compost, bought some used clothing items at thrift stores- two shirts, one pair of slacks, and a stove top tea kettle. Both rain barrels are full!!! 85 gallons of free water :)  We're looking into expanding our compost pile and to re-using some free lumber. We need to go to a 3 bin system.

8. Skill Up-
How to properly cook a roast beef! Garlic Lovers Roast Beef, modified with garlic powder and lots of Montreal steak spice. Wonderful! Sorry, no photos, as they were blurry.

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something-
Will bark dust some perennials to protect over the winter. Caught back a LOT of overgrown tomato plant branches. They were non-fruit bearing and blocking the light for the green ones.

Sep 15, 2013

Sudden Death Syndrome & My Hen, More Rain & Mudslides, Thrifting, Mushrooms?

R.I.P. Little Blackie

Sudden Death Syndrome & My Hen-
Last week Dave found one of our hens dead. What was so strange was that she looked healthy, was eating, and foraging one hour before. She'd also laid an egg that day. Dave checked on the girls, we had dinner, he went back out one hour later and she was gone. I checked her body- no wounds, no blood, nothing I could easily spot. Maybe she ate a nail or something else and she quickly bled out internally? I can't fathom what happened. The other two girls are fine. I always feel so guilty when I lose a hen- like I've been careless, lazy, or stupid. I googled some things and came up with this- while it seems to affect young male birds, it certainly fit the bill:

Sudden Death Syndrome (acute death syndrome, flips, flip overs)-
Chickens and turkeys that die of sudden death syndrome are most often found lying on their backs with their legs and necks extended, although, occasionally, they are positioned on their front side. Other than convulsions observed immediately before death, affected birds do not appear to be sick prior to dying.  The affected birds are usually large, and are most often males.

Sudden death syndrome is a cardiovascular disorder caused by a heart arrhythmia, meaning the birds die of a heart attack.  Mortality can occur in birds as early as one week of age, and normally peaks around three weeks of age.  A fast rate of growth is the major causative factor.  The methods described earlier in this section to slow growth rate will help to reduce the number of birds dying from this condition.

While the articles helped I still couldn't find an answer to all the questions. It gave me a bit of relief thinking maybe there was just some kind of genetic or congenital problem? It's too late in the season to buy a couple of chicks, so we'll do that in the spring. She was a great chicken, happy and gentle....

                                                           Photos from
More Rain & Mudslides-
Several storms have blown thru the last few days. While we've had nothing like Colorado had, we had some mudslides. Many local areas, including a main highway last night, had sudden mudslides and road washouts. It rained heavily last night north of us, but we just had lots of thunder and lightning. It's supposed to cool down to the 70's this coming week and I'm hoping we're going down into a cooling trend. While I've loved the recent rain, it been in the 80's/90's and it just too humid! I felt like I was in the deep south yesterday working in the garden.

Storm clouds over our house, but no rain

While I didn't get out as much as usual this summer due to my foot surgery, I'm catching up a bit now! After our third electric tea kettle died in three years we decided to go back to a regular stove top one. While the electric ones are much faster and use less energy, they only last a couple of years. I make iced tea year round and Dave uses a french press for coffee. The night ours died I remembered I have seen a Revere Ware kettle at Goodwill the day before. The next day I went back after work and it was still there! Nice stainless steel and copper bottom. It was $3.00! It's nice and clean and works great! I also found two brand new top and bottoms for work. I also bought some cheap crocus bulbs to plant next month in our backyard for spring. I also got a beautiful aster to fill in where an annual had died-

With lots of rain, and heat, we had a batch of mushrooms sprout in our backyard. Any ideas as to what they kind they are???

Sep 10, 2013

Rain! Independence Days, The One Important Thing Preppers Seem to Forget, Balloons Over Boise

All green here

Sorry, no photos! We had a torrential downpour last week, and it rained so hard we had flooded gutters. I had just gotten home from work and got the chickens in about one minute before the flood gates opened. Lighting was really intense and thunder rattled the windows. We lost power for an hour. We broke a record for rain during this time of year. Dave and I had watched the weather and we decided he'd pick all the nectarines the weekend before the storms hit. We stored them in single layers in the kitchen. The temp dropped 10 degrees overnight and the sky's been so blue since then! No smoke. Still warm here, 87 today, but it feels like we're inching towards Fall. I'm ready! I've been really busy with getting back to work, and moving kids stored furniture out finally. What a relief to have some space back! Now I can set up my sewing machine again...

Independence Days-

1. Plant Something-
All done.

2. Harvest Something-
Eggs, compost, collard greens, all the nectarines, lemon cukes, tomatoes, 4 kinds of peppers, yellow squash, green beans, eggplants, basil, herbs.

 3. Preserve/Store Something-
  Froze some tomatoes. Froze most of the nectarines, canned some. Total: 6 gallons frozen, 3 Qts. canned. Good harvest this year! I also made an "emergency cobbler" in a huge lasagna pan-

Lots and lots of nectarines!

tossing in some fruit fresh to prevent browning before freezing

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep-
Added some more "gourmet on the cheap" (grocery outlet)  breads to the freezer for the winter. Bought more canned goods for the pantry.

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe-
Made homemade pizza with tomatoes, fresh mozz and fresh basil, wonderful! I used a local dough I bought on the way home. We ate French-style baked eggs for another dinner. Those are so simple and so good!

 6. Build Community Food Systems-
Got free veggies, including tomatoes, from work and made salsa and froze some. Selling eggs again.

 7. Recycle/Re-Use-
Compost. We had our two dining chairs recovered. I would have done it myself but I don't do welting. The guy also tightened the straps underneath and stabilized the frame, which was a bit wobbly. I got them used years ago for $40.00 each. Turns out they're worth about $400.00 each new! It's the cut out and framing on the backs. Very detailed. I tried to match the original Ikat fabric but couldn't find it. We went with a French country style fabric. Our kitchen can be a bit dark so it's nice and bright! And it has stain repellent sprayed on!

                                         "Before" shot, with holes, worn and faded

"After" shot! Clean and nice and stable 

8. Skill Up-
Learned some new tech skills at work. My boss is getting me a tablet, oh boy!

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something-
Dining chairs. Trying to decide if we should have our two living room chair re-covered or not. Pretty spendy but cheaper than a new chair. That I might try myself....

The One Important Thing Preppers Seem to Forget-
One word- atmosphere. I keep seeing all these website and lists of things to prep for when the zombies come, or the grid's down. Food, fual, ammo, guns. Nobody's talking about the one thing we must have- an atmosphere to live in!!! If methane (see article below) keeping releasing at the rate it is we'll be in very big trouble. SOON. Methane is percolating from under thawing ice packs, rising up and entering the atmosphere. In the photo above a scientist is alighting methane from under the snow pack. They're called "ice grenades", as they're so explosive. Great way to toast a hot dog, but not our planet. From the article:

If the temperature of the planet continues to rise massive quantities of the gas could be released into the atmosphere with potentially deadly effects from Usually I Catch on Fire

Ice grenades rising under the ice, coming soon to an atmosphere near you!  

Balloons Over Boise!
This time of year there's always a hot air balloon festival in Boise. Here's some shots from my cellphone in my car (not while I was driving) around town last week-

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