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...

Jul 29, 2014

Goodbye Fiona/I Mean Fred, Homemade Non-Toxic Ant Spray, Tons Of Blackberries!!! Not So Much Chokecherries

What a nice couple

Goodbye Fiona- I Mean Fred-
Well you know how it goes- the hatchery gave me two pullets, and one's a roo. When I saw the larger comb and wattles developing I knew I was in trouble. Sad thing is he's a really sweet little guy, loved to cuddle, easy to handle and loves treats. I REALLY want to keep him, but no roos in the city. He also tried mounting one of the girls, Gwyn, last night. Ew, I'm done. I've already cried over this, but it's the way it is. I placed a posting in Backyard Chickens, but no one would take him. So last night he went on Craigslist. I hate to do it, but I don't have much recourse. He's just starting to get some amber and light brown in his feathers, and should be quite handsome! I'd really like him to go into a small flock, and for someone to keep him. Here's hoping... Lesson learned, no more "feather sexed" birds for me :(  Glad I bought four total, 3 different breeds. I was hoping to get my flock up to six laying eggs, but I'll wait until next spring...

Homemade Non-Toxic Ant Spray-
After seeing a small line of ants coming in near my back sliding glass door near my kitchen I panicked. I do NOT want ants in the house! I did some research and made a quick batch of homemade spray. I used the following, and put in a 1 Qt. empty spray bottle-
mix 1/2 water to 1/2 vinegar,
add 2 squirts of dish washing soap
Shake well. Spray well on all visible ants. Kills 'em good, drowning the guys, not too much odor. I also put out some indoor traps, but I was able to get the majority of the with this spray. Cheap and effective....

Tons Of Blackberries!!!-
The last 2 years we had a light harvest on our organic blackberries. This year, score! I picked 1 Qt. last night and they were dead ripe. All gone today :) Superb with good vanilla ice cream and on cereal. We can get quite a lot from a small area. We have 2 rows, about 4' high and 4' long, about 2 ' apart. There's another good Qt. there now, so I'll pick more tomorrow. I love to bake with them, and freeze some for winter baking. They are SO sweet! Worth all the scratches. I did minimize the scratches by trimming off any empty canes, with zero fruit. Makes it much easier... Yum, yum...

Not So Much Chokecherries-
This year I got a pretty small batch of chokecherries. I picked about 2 cups, which yielded about 4 1/2 of my small, mini jars. These jars are great for really small batches. I just water can them on the stove top. The flavor is the best jelly I've ever had and it's a very unique flavor. Everyone who's tried it, and most have never had it, love it. It's tart and citrusy. As sour as the cherries are, you still add lemon juice to the recipe. It seems counter-intuitive, but it works. Luckily I have several jars from last year! Dave and I did a major trim of it this weekend, hopefully that will boost production. Also trimmed the lilac that was creating too much shade for it. I never know what creates a "good" year or "bad", ah well....

Jul 28, 2014

Tangy Goat Cheese Dressing, Are You An Apocaloptimist? Great Off-Grid Video, Fast No-Heat Fridge Pickles

Tangy Goat Cheese Dressing-
I'm a big fan of buttermilk and I'm always on the lookout for salad dressing recipes. I've never found a really great "ranch" dressing blend, but I did find this. It has goat cheese and buttermilk, what a combo!!! I saw this on PBS Ediblefeast show, but can't find it online. I took some rough notes when I saw it channel surfing, and modified it slightly. It comes out really THICK! This made 1 QT. exactly. and here it is-

10 oz. goat cheese (1 Costco log)
2 cups buttermilk (I used low fat)
2 TBS fresh Tarragon, minced
1 TBS dried tarragon
2 cloves minced fresh garlic (I used 1 TSP. garlic powder)
2 TBL. olive oil
3 TBL. red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
You could also add other fresh herbs, basil would be nice!

Put goat cheese in medium sized mixing bowl. Chop tarragon and mix with oil, in a small bowl. Crush it into the oil. Mix vinegar with oil, and dried tarragon, and add to the cheese. I used a large spoon to break up the big chunks. Add the buttermilk and use a whisk to slowly mix the dressing. I went up and down with the whisk to break up the cheese more, then just whisked it until it was smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let sit in the fridge a bit before serving. It's very tangy and smooth, nice on a chilled salad!

Are You An Apocaloptimist -
Someone who knows it's all going to sh**, but still thinks it will turn out OK. Example below:

"It" most commonly refers to the environment, or humanity, but could be other things as well.

Guy 1: "The environment is being degraded at an unparalleled rate, we're literally destroying ourselves... but, it'll probably turn out OK. If we fail, the planet will likely heal itself in our absence."

Guy 2: "Man, he's such an apocaloptimist."  From

 Great Off Grid Video-
This guy has incorporated so many brilliant ideas! Like turning a new freezer into a fridge, awesome!!!

Fast No-Heat Fridge Pickles-
I've recently moved away a bit from just canning pickles, to fermenting. Still waiting on those. I do like making fridge pickles, except for the heating of the brine. Why heat up the kitchen? Last night I stumbled on to some really fresh, big pickling cukes, so I bought some. I found this recipe Quick Refrigerator Pickles and decided to try it. I did use classic pickling spice instead of just 2 spices. I also added 1 tsp. of black tea leaves for crunch, 1 bay leaf, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. It was SO much FASTER! I had 4 QTs. done in 15 minutes and the kitchen is cool! I'll let you know how the flavor is in a week :)  If I can wait that long!!! They smell divine.  I'll be trying this recipe next Refrigerator Pickled Cauliflower, Carrots, You-Name-It, photo below. I love other pickled veggies, especially carrot and cauliflower...

Jul 25, 2014

Throwback Thursday- A Day Late! Our Front Yard National Wildlife Federation Habitat

Throwback Thursday- A Day Late, Our Front Yard National Wildlife Federation Habitat-
Happily my daughter and I had an impromptu dinner last night, which sadly made for a late Throw Back Thursday. It was worth it :) After doing a lot of searching Dave and I realized we didn't have a photo of the lot, front and back, when we bought the house. I'm a Master Gardener, so I looked at it as a blank canvas. Here's a description for you to visualize...

The front was turf, no trees, only 2 shrubs over by the fence to the right. NOTHING ELSE. Empty beds, just dirt. The fencing was also falling over, so we replaced that front and back. Dave and I build it together:) We have planted everything else in 7 years. Most if the first 2. Now there are....

Three fruit trees, shrubs, perennial flowers, herbs, ground covers, grasses, berries, cherries, and medicinal plants. We also planted a Sumac tree, a memorial for Dave's Mom. I learned later that I can make wonderful lemonade from the berries. You can also dry them for lemony seasoning for fish, etc. Who knew?

I intentionally planted lots of pollinators. We qualified here, as did our last house, as a National Wildlife Federation Backyard Habitat. Info here if you're interested Garden For Wildlife We received a nice plaque :) We do this not for the plaque but for the way we like to live- support nature when we can, and produce some of our own food.

This was a barren, gravel, RV parking spot, on the other side of the drive way. It now has flowers, grasses, Service Berries, Choke Cherries, a lilac, and more. Dave built the nice cedar mail box post, as it was rotting-

Here's some color from our front yard-

Can you see the bees???

Jul 23, 2014

Great Thrifting Finds & Lamp Re-Do, Fermenting Pickle Recipe To Can, A Proper Summer Steak

Great Thrifting Finds & Lamp Re-Do-
We really scored in the last week! I found the lamp fixture above for $12.00 at the Habitat Store. It's $230.00 new! I knew when I saw it it was high end, based on the materials and design. It was like new, and I added the ivy to soften the metal a bit. I like the lighter finish. Dave got it up in about 15 minutes. I love it!

New lamp, naked

Old fixture we replaced, we'll be selling or donating

I also discovered there's one particular thrift store that had a whole section of antiques and vintage stuff. I'll be going back!!! Here's our other scores-

Craftsman tool chest $67.00. WOW, these are $400+ new. We're selling it on Craigslist :)

Rusty, HEAVY steel pot rack, $1.50 (half off $3.00!) 
Dark green frames we'll use for some of Dave's prints, $4.00 each

Vintage-y, floral scarf $2.00. Old Brownie Camera (works!) $5.00, my daughter can get me some film :)

Old WW2 German gas mask canister, reselling on Craigslist, then eBay if needed

Vintage 1940's/50's apron, faded but I love it, $5.00. I'll display in the house somewhere... 

Fermenting Pickle Recipe to Can-
I've never heard of "canning" fermented pickles, but here's a recipe if any one's interested- Garlic Pickles Recipe- Ferment Then Can  My fermenting is going well, bubbles are bubbling!!!

A Proper Summer Steak-
Dave's been wanting me to grill up something, anything! I stumbled on some nice sirloin steaks today, 2 for $6.00. While we rarely eat beef, once in a while I want a steak! I followed a simple recipe- rub with olive oil (or canola), a little salt and pepper, then grill. I fired up the charcoal barbecue, and got it nice and hot. They sizzled, then I stood back and enjoyed the show. I  used a meat thermometer to watch the temp, and they were a nice medium when done. I added some roasted "steakhouse" taters from the oven with olive oil and salt. I bought them at Costco- purple, yellow and dark tan. I added my homemade corn relish, and green salad to round it out. We have a fresh, organic strawberry parfait I whipped up for dessert. Got the berries at Costco too. Just crushed vanilla wafers, whipping cream and it's dessert! Wow, I'm full!

Jul 21, 2014

My Firsts- Corn Relish & Fermenting, A Flock You Have To See!

My First- Corn Relish-
I finally decided to make some corn relish. I'd read about it for a while, but never had it. I might have tried it somewhere years ago, but I don't remember. I used use all fresh veggies, except the corn. I went with canned, horrors! I used the basic recipe online, and added 2 jalapenos. Smelled good as it simmered! I will be just refrigerating this batch, might can some another time... It was great with spicy, buttermilk-soaked fried chicken! Slightly spicy, and very tangy...

My First- Fermenting- I bought a 1/2 gallon fermenting jar kit, with an airlock lid, to get me started fermenting. I know you don't need one, but I was buying water kefir grains anyway, so what the hay. I bought mine here- The photo is incorrect and shows a 1 gallon, not the 1/2. I used their recipe and modified it a bit, and here we go!

You can see the ceramic weighting ring, keeps things submerged. 

Ready to go!

The airlock releases the gas.

I had more cukes than I needed so I used a recipe here for simple fermenting Myhumblekitchen and made 2 jars the old fashioned way, burping required. I thought I'll do a taste test when they're all done!

Grow baby grow! They're in a dark, cool place doing their thing...
How adorable!

A Flock You Have To See!
I saw these on Bornambitous-Bornimaginative, and they are so dang cute! She always has great photos of her kids and her place. She's doing a giveaway, so check them out! They come with a nest box, egg, and birth certificate. For those discriminating flock owners :)

Jul 20, 2014

Flour Sack Dresses & Aprons, Rural Life in The 30's and 40's

Flour Sack Dresses & Aprons-
I've been reading up on more vintage style aprons. I knew that old flour sacks were saved before and after the Depression and used for clothing. It explained why some clothes were cut the way they were. They didn't buy yardage, so they had to piece things together. Great photos and info here and vintage-style new patterns for sale Candleonthehill.

Child's dress

All matchy matchy :)

New Depression Era style from Countryliving

Feed the chickens!

Rural Life in The 30's and 40's-
What a great find here!!! The photographs are in amazing condition, really fascinating look at the past. Easy to read and broken up into sections-

Cooking on a wood burning cook stove

Making something good, with junior under the table! Looks like a pressure canner on the right of the table

making clothes

growing food

Jul 19, 2014

Hey You Idahoans! Handsome Young Man Needs New Home

My hubbies photo

Hey You Idahoans! Handsome Young Man Needs Home-
I know a few of my readers are from my area, so I thought I'd post this. Well you know how it goes- the hatchery gave me 2 pullets, and 1's a roo. Here's Fiona, or Fred, as we now call him. He's a really sweet little guy, about 3/4 months or so old. I bought in in early May, I think he was 2-3 weeks old. He's easy to handle and loves treats. He growing well and very healthy. I REALLY want to keep him, but no roos in the city. My birds are very clean and well cared for in a large urban coop with run. He's just starting to get some amber and light brown in his feathers, and should be quite handsome! I'd really like him to go into a small flock, and for someone to keep him. So if you are looking for a 4H project, a nice boy for your hens, please contact me and we will set up a pick up. No dinner chickens here please. Adults will have different color variations, but will tend to be white/brown/tan. Please email if you have any questions? He's ready for pick up any time... Thanks, Nancy

Jul 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday

I remember using these, now it's this-

I wonder what my Grandparents would think???

Jul 16, 2014

Fire Season Has Started, Vintage Farm Fashion, Cute Retro Aprons!

This morning, taken with my cell camera

Fire Season Has Started-
Sadly I knew this was coming. Every year we have forest fires, but it varies in the severity. This winter was pretty dry, never good for fire season. I hope for a really heavy snow pack every year. I noticed smoke last night, and woke up to more. The top photos was taken down the street towards our foothills, which you can barely see. There are fires in Oregon, with smoke drifting here too. Quite a few are now burning in the local Boise National Forest. I hope they get contained quickly. Droughts make for a very tough summer of fire fighting...

Farm dresses from The Country Farm Home

Vintage Farm Fashion-
I stumbled on to this great site Vintage Farm Fashion  I grew up with a Grandma who wore house dresses and/or aprons constantly. Not the frilly retro 50's/60's ones you see now, but the real thing- longer, simple, for actual cooking, baking and wiping of hands. Most were homemade sewn. Great stuff on that site! Another nice photo of some vintage aprons below. It gets me itching to get some patterns and sew some! Very similar to what my Grandma wore...

Cute Retro Aprons!-
And now for something modern! I went to a little farmer's market out in Eagle, not too far from Boise. I found this cute little stand that sells aprons! They have great designs! Their website is here Apronsbybella  Now if they sold some 1920-30's style I might buy one :)

She's got her apron on too!

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