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...

Feb 21, 2015

Independence Days, Thrifting Score!

Independence Days-
Well, I'd be the first to admit I've been lazy about posting about this! But I have been doing it, really. So without further ado...

1. Plant Something- 
Just a couple houseplants, too early (and wacky!) here.

2. Harvest Something- 
Just eggs and chives :) LOTS of eggs, 3 every day!!! Good girls...

3. Preserve/Store Something- 
Fermenting water kefir every few days. I need to make more veggies...

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep- 
Got a good deal (1/2 off) on homeopathic flu remedies. I'm actually working on the Pantry Challenge still, using up frozen, canned and pantry foods. I've really saved a lot of $$$, and we need to defrost the freezer! Our washer finally died, after 15 years, and 1000's of loads! We got a nice, new scratched/dinged front loading washer at Sears outlet, saved about $150.00 anywhere else on a cheap model. This one was 1/2 off, for $599. with a 1-day sale with 6% off which covered sales tax. We looked at repairing our old one, but it would be more costly than a replacement. We also noticed how much FASTER the spin is, as the clothes are coming out much DRYER. Yeah for saving on the power bill drying the clothes! We got it on Valentine's Day. How romantic :) I should have put a big heart on it for the photo-

Got a great deal on the little desk for the bedroom office. $69.00 here Realspace Limble Computer Desk It's nice and sturdy!

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe- 
Made the Italian Chickpea Farinata, and have been eating lots of Kale salads with grapes and blue cheese. I found a local food coop down the street a while back, but never went it. They sell Non-GMO oats from Montana and I bought a loaf of their bread. Amazing! Moist and great stuff, with no wheat. I'm cutting WAY back on my wheat, more about that later... Started using Hemp protein powder in fruit smoothies. Hope I don't have to pee in a bottle for work!  Also started using some coconut oil, great in smoothies too. Making a big omelet for dinner tonite. 

6. Build Community Food Systems- 
Still selling eggs to a co-worker, $3.50 a Dz., so the girls are earning their keep and then some :)

7. Recycle/Re-Use- 
We donated some leftover items from our home office re-do to our daughter, and the rest to a charity. Moved some things around too. I did a separate thrifting post below since I had such a great score today! I have a few things for eBay I will sell. Too much great stuff I just don't wear much. We put out the old washer for the recycling guy, but the steel thieves took it first. Oh well, not worth much anyway...

8. Skill Up- 
Learning some new recipes. And LOTS about how much we should be saving to "retire". Fascinating, yawn... And I put a book truck together, all alone, with an Allen wrench. I feel so special.

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something- 
I'm going to re-paint our bedroom over spring break. The crisp, white bathroom paint of our DIY remodel inspired me to go with a much lighter wall color (peach now), some blue or green accents, and some new blinds. Someday we 'd like a new bedroom set. Maybe something decorated like this-

But that's not all!!!

I had to go to a dental appointment this morning and knew Goodwill was in the area :) Of course I had to drop in! I got some fun deals!!!

I found these 2 two in a plastic bag for $1.50 and they're from The Netherlands (Holland)! My daughter went there and brought me back a similar wooden shoe version. Now I have a little set! I LOVE blue and white patterns.

When I saw the mark when I got home I was thrilled! Delfts (if the mark is genuine) is a world-famous ceramic maker Delftware, and I recognized the name. The piece is either a salt cellar or a wall mounted vase. It's triangular and flat on the back with a hole on the top for hanging. Anyone else guess? I think it may be fairly old, but I can't find anything online on the markings... Got the Serendipity DVD for $2.00, love that movie, charming and sweet~~~

Classic windmill by the water motif

Nice little stainless steel cheese slicer

Fun washboard/key hanger $2.00. I may take off the flowers and do something else with it? I also got 2 brand new Coldwater Creek sweaters, gorgeous. I also found a brand- new retro, lightweight blouse/jacket I'll save for summer. Everything was $20.00!!!

At my last stop, Shopko, I found these drinking jars. I saw them last summer, $20.00 EACH and passed. $1.99 today, so I got 2! Score! I may go back and get a few more, great for yard work and a summer gatherings. I LOVE the Mason Jar/pie pan fluted edges, and they're BPA free...

Feb 19, 2015

Home Office Makeover Part 2, New Italian Wheat-Free Food, Spring Plants/Snow Coming, Dave's Cat Nook

New desk and chair

Home Office Makeover Part 2-
I posted a while back how Dave's new chair turned into an office re-do. We both knew we needed to clean it up and reorganize it. With the all kids gone a spare bedroom is  Dave office, which is nice! The computer I use is in the kitchen/dining area, on a built in (former owner) desk. Works great! So we bought the small, new desk (above) for Dave. We moved the furniture, since hubby wanted to see out the window. We ditched a few things to donations, and our daughter adopted and loved the old used desk & chair, so it was a win-win. Carpet shampooing is up next when summer hits. Here's the "after"...

Reorganized for now, hoping for a big hutch in the future. Look at all those sad, empty jars! No apples last year :( No applesauce, apple butter, sigh...

Nice and compact storage

New Italian Wheat Free Food- 
I found this Chickpea Farinata mix a while back at the Grocery Outlet and made some last night. You bake in a preheated pan (500 degrees!) and it comes out light and fluffy, almost like a pancake. High protein too. Next time I'll use some rosemary and cheese, and maybe pancetta on top :) You could make it from scratch as it's just chickpea flour, olive oil and salt. I did some salt and pepper on top...

With herbs de Provence spiced chicken breasts

Baked in my cast iron

Served with my kale, blue cheese and grape salad, yum!

Spring Plants/Snow Coming-
After the brutal winter back eaet we've been basking in the low 60's and now 50's, but the times they're changing, a bit. Snow/rain is in the forecast for Sat. night, with the 20's at night. Ugh, I fear my poor plants and trees will suffer. My flowers are coming up, for criminy's sake!!!

Chives are up

More crocuses...

Dave's Cat Nook-
Anya loves to cuddle Dave on her fave red blanket. It's thick, polar fleece and has a velvety feel. Must be nice on her paws :) Anyway, Dave got some gift certificates and combined with some cash and bought a Nook reader. He loves it, as he's a big reader! Kitty has rubbed it, pawed it, pushed it, but finally gave up the other night and cuddled with Dave in his nest with his leg crossed. Poor cat is SO abused, and jealous of a piece of plastic!

Feb 12, 2015

Front Yard Food Production & Re-Sale Value, What Month Is This? Thrifting

Front Yard Food Production & Re-Sale Value-
When you own your own house, in an urban setting, re-sale value is always in the back of your mind. Unless you plan to live there forever, it's a concern. All of the improvements we've done so far (except the coop/back veggie garden) improves the value of our home- bathroom remodel, new windows, doors, furnace/AC, deck, appliances, etc. We know if we ever sell we'll hopefully attract some who wants a similar lifestyle. If not, they can plant sod and tear down the coop. That's the reality of it. Last summer I saw a gorgeous front yard that had incorporated raised beds, and they camouflaged them with gorgeous shrubs and trellises. No one wants to look at a dead/empty yard in the winter. With strategic placement of evergreen shrubs, and fencing, Dave and I think we'll do it. We already added a replacement picket fence on the front side yard, as the old fencing (front and back) was 25 years old and shot when we bought the house. We'll use primarily recycled lumber and start beds this spring. A nice mix of veggies, and flowers. I prefer perennials, no seeds and they always come back. You can also divide them and share with friends! Here's a peek at our front yard, with lots of potentials space for raised (or not) beds, trellises, etc. We're thinking of adding more cedar picket fencing along the front, the same design as the side. I'd like some winter interest when the beds are empty, so maybe a fence inside the existing flower beds on the front, with more shrubs added behind it? We would leave some turf as some green space and just mow the in between areas...

Lots of space

Here's a few ideas I like that could work with some modifications- Vegetables Front Yard -

                                              From- Lawn Garden  "After photo"

Great transformation here too, with slide show on link of before and after From Grass To Garden

WOW!!! Too much for me personally, since we may sell some day. Do you live in an urban area and do front yard food production?

What Month Is This?
It was 60 this weekend, so I let the girls out :)

They found lots of bugs!

Anya crying to get out. Sorry house kitty!

I really scored this weekend at Goodwill! I bought the cutest wood birdhouse (above) for $3.99! The door is even hinged and opens!

I love the roof detail! Glass beads...

I also found a perfect Sakura Debbie Mumm teapot, $5.00. Her ceramic home items are pretty expensive in stores. This will replace my very old blue one, maybe off to one of my girls! Her website has some really cute desktop wallpapers here  I LOVE this one-

"Winter Garden"

I also scored a real birch bark log for a Yule log! I've been looking forever!!! I will remove all the cheap plastic stuff next winter and add some nicer greenery. $1.99! It even has legs!

I also scored 2 really nice, like-new blouses on eBay, 1 LL Bean, 1 Columbia Sportswear...

Feb 7, 2015

Home Office Makeover Pt.1, What's With The Weather? Queso Fundido Recipe, Ready For Heart Day :)

Home Office Makeover Pt.1-
Well, it started with a chair... It's Dave's birthday today, and I decided to buy him a new, home office chair. Out running errands I gave him the option of choosing one with me, or I would choose. So... we bought a nice, new black one. While we were at the store (O.Max) and I saw a nice, small desk. We had a large thrifted one (above) that was really too big for the space. So, we bought it. These 2 photos are the "before pictures". It's stuffed in with the canning cabinet, various storage, backpacks, and a hodge podge of  other "stuff". Time to clean! The "after" pics will be posted in the next week!!! Stay tuned...

What's With The Weather?
It was 65 today, what the heck??? We raked leaves, I put the rest of generic winter stuff away, and had the garage wide open. We did some maintenance on the coop (some more fresh litter), and Dave raked. What month is this, May? I really hope this doesn't mess up our shrubs and perennials. Lots of rain headed this way, avalanches in the mountains and flooding. BUT the sun was FINALLY out and BLUE SKIES! After weeks of fog, inversion and clouds I LOVED IT! But it's worrisome....

Queso Fundido Recipe-
After seeing this on the Pantry Challenge at I decided to try it. Verdict? Too greasy for us. I will try a modified, different version with ground turkey and 1/2 the cheese. But the idea is good- spicy meat with melted cheese, on warm tortillas, cilantro and salsa. What's not to love? I served it with Trader Joe's Green Hatch Chili Salsa (wonderful!) and Red Salsa. Yummy.

Ready For Heart Day :)
After taking down the rest of the generic winter stuff, I put up some fun things for Valentine's Day. I bought the heart above 75% off last year, the week after VD. It's a fun thing to do, buy now, use later. I also found this for $3.50 at Goodwill last year and saved it for Spring (even though we're not there yet!)-

Adds some pink!

A little something in the kitchen...

Feb 1, 2015

Pantry Challenge, Kale Grape Blue Cheese Salad, Scandinavian Heart Flip, Where's Winter???


Pantry Challenge-
I've really saved some $$$ the last 2 weeks doing this. I'm making my way thru the freezer, and my grocery cart was pretty empty today- mostly dairy, fruits, veggies. I made some shrimp jambalaya last week (lots of leftovers), baked some frozen chicken. I made another pizza. Yesterday Dave was gone for dinner so I did grab a bag of shrimp at the store and had a giant shrimp cocktail for dinner. Yummy, with leftover home-made extra spicy sauce. I dug out a package (one of my rare boxed mixes) of a Krusteaz blueberry muffin mix. I added cinnamon, nutmeg, and almond extract. I will say- if you want to make muffins or scones their mixes are wonderful! Really great quality, but I wish they'd make some whole grain versions. Tonite I made Cuban-Style Black Beans & Rice with canned beans, veggies, lime, and rice I had on hand. Very healthy and filling! I did add extra Chili powder, some Cumin and Thyme. I always double or triple the batch we like it some much. Just add lime wedge, cilantro. Sour cream if you like!

Sorry, we ate the salad too fast to get a pic, maybe next time :)

Kale, Grape, & Blue Cheese Salad-
I found a couple versions of this and modified it to make my own recipe. Here's how I made my new kale salad recipe-
Take 1 bunch of fresh kale, wash, strip off ribs. Rip into a large bowl, drizzle with 1 TBL. olive oil, and sprinkle 1 TSP. of salt. Massage well and really work the kale for about 1 minute. It will soften and be sort of silky. Add 2 TBL. red wine vinegar, fresh pepper, and toss well. Mix in red grapes and crumbled blue cheese, about 1/4 each. Toss well. You could sub bacon for the cheese of use other sweet fruits.  It was really awesome!!! It's a keeper!

Scandinavian Heart Flip-
With my love of folk art, and Scandinavian country decor, I decided to do something to bring the outdoors in. I had a $5.00 off a $10.00 purchase at Jo-Ann's fabrics. Easy shopping to do. I walked around Jo-Ann's til I had a Eureka! moment. Here's what I bought, 1/2 off, with a coupon-

I couldn't find a plain twig heart so I decided to use it as a form. I bought moss "ribbon" (who knew?)-


I used a wire cutter and scissors to remove the plastic pips and ribbon-

All ready

I then wrapped the moss and secured it with a little wire-

Some of the moss fuzzies fell off, so I used some spray adhesive to cover some of the exposed twigs with the green fuzz. I wanted it to look rustic and not too perfect. I trimmed down some left-over burlap for a ribbon and hung it up. It was a bit too long, so I just overlapped it-  I love it! Total cost $6.00! I re-used the pips into my ivy-

In the same mode- I found a nice Scan-style frame the other day I had stored. I printed out an antique map of Scandinavia and framed it. Maybe it will help me get there sooner :)

It's on my list of things to go and see the Fjords of Norway and visit Sweden-

From A World Heritage Site

Sweden, on the coast, from

Maple tree should be naked!

Where's Winter???
It was 47 and sunny yesterday. A bit of rain today and almost 50 today. Our back maple tree looks like the shot above. What wrong with this picture? The tree should be bare! We had a mild Oct., 8 in November with 9" of snow, then the leaves never fell off the trees. They're still falling.

Bizarre weather coming next week, in the 50's! What the heck! While I'm glad we don't get the storms they do back east, we need some cold weather, or my garden will suffer~~~ Wishing for snow ;)
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