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...

Aug 29, 2015

Independence Days Challenge

Independence Days Challenge-
I haven't done much of these posts, so here's a bit of a hodge podge of things we're working on...

1. Plant Something- 
Nope, no fall gardens here, too hot. 96 two days ago :(

2. Harvest Something-
1st Patty Pan heritage squashes about ready, lots of apples, big bowl of tomatoes a couple days ago, more coming! Nectarines and pears are getting ready. Our rhubarb also made a come back and is turning pink! Maybe another week or 2...

girls enjoying the garden


Lemon Boy tomatoes
3. Preserve/Store Something-
Canning apple slices, applesauce and apple butter next weekend, Labor Day :) Lots of labor here! Freezing extra meats, whole grain rolls (great with winter soups), muffins and misc. stuff. Stocking up pantry closet of misc. items. Fermenting apple vinegar. I may do a second batch.

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep-
Got some great local peaches and tomatoes last week. Got work clothes clearance priced. Oddly, as always, summer clothes are going off the racks and winter coming in. It's 90 ish so it's summer for me! I refilled some prescriptions a few weeks early before my deductible rolls over in a week. Saved a few hundreds of $$$ on co-pays :) Score!

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe- 
We've been eating lots of fresh apples from our tree! Two desserts done so far, so today I made a new apple muffin recipe, I thought I'd freeze some, fast and simple- I tripled the recipe and it made 16 large muffins. I also  modified it- I used 1/3 each: WW, Oat and Unbleached flours & added fresh ground nutmeg and 1 cup pecans-

I also used this long time fave apple pie recipe modified for a crumb cobbler, it has orange juice! Stephenson's Apple Pie recipe  Everyone LOVES it! Still cooling.

Made the fried fish BLT's from my last post-


6. Build Community Food Systems-
Bought local fruits/veggies, selling extra eggs at work. I also gave my kids apples and eggs.

7. Recycle/Re-Use-
Recycled odds and ends of decor after painting interiors, my daughter adopted a few things this week, ebayed a few more things, box ready for charity.

8. Skill Up- 
Dave learned from his brother the easy way to remove/replace some of our damaged siding, so we can paint in the spring. You cut the nails with a sawzall so as not to damage the adjacent pieces. Worked great!

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something-
Repairing house siding, so we we be in good shape in the spring to paint. Dave was able to also patch some areas with the used siding for smaller areas. Some of the beat up siding fell apart in his hands. This side takes the brunt of the storms-

new siding on the bottom

banged up siding on the top, actually the bottom, oops

new siding up, will paint soon for the winter

Aug 22, 2015

Mary's Amazing Apple Cake! More Smoke and Fires, Organic Local Veggies, Feathered Visitor

I found this recipe years ago in Sunset magazine, and it's a keeper! A dough-like bottom, layer of sliced apples and a topping of butter/sugar/cinnamon. Oh my!!! It's like a coffee cake, but more. Next time I will cut down on the sugar on top, since the apples were sweet enough. Recipe's here- Mary's Apple Cake

Fresh out of the oven

I'll be making this again from, mostly apples and very moist-

French Apple cake

More Smoke and Fires-
We've really been suffering here in Boise with the smoke from multiple fires in Oregon, Idaho and Washington. I feel for those with breathing issues, both adults and children. One the other end are firefighters being killed- 3 Firefighters Killed, put things into perspective. I'm hoping weather will change everywhere and things will calm down...

Organic Local Veggies-
I was driving by a small local veggie stand this morning. I spotted a local peaches sign. U turn! I bought some wonderful organic Elberta peaches and Brandywine tomatoes, time for a BLT! I also will go back, now that I tried them, and get a big box for $20.00. Time for jams!!! As for the tomatoes, I saw this recipe from a while back and I may try it tonite- a fried catfish BLT. More protein and fun!

Feathered Visitor-
We have lots of pretty ground doves that visit our backyard. They're always walking around, flying, eating and drinking. This little guy was VERY different. I found out it's a Ring Neck dove. I walked near it and it didn't fly away. It seemed calm, uninjured and was just curious. Dave and I got to with about a foot and a 1/2 before it flew off, but only a couple of feet. Pretty little thing-

eating some bird food

checking us out

What a cutie!

Aug 15, 2015

Prepping For Winter & Apples! 25 Delicious Ways To Eat Eggs For Dinner

Prepping For Winter & Apples!
Some of the talk out there about possible major economic nasties in the U.S. this fall reminds me to keep focused on preserving and storing foods. Then there's the Godzilla El Nino, and the Idaho Soda Fire, now the largest in the lower 48. I could see the smoke wall Thursday-

When highways get closed down trucks get stopped. Foods don't come in. Hours are not a problem, but days could be. While it's great to have home-grown foods, there are things I can't grow well, or not at all. There there's the basics in life, like TP :) I'm starting to actively fill up my freezer and re-stock my pantry. Rain barrel is pretty full, and I have plenty of kerosene for lamps and heaters. I also have some small propane cans for my  Mr. Heater heater. I always tend to worry about winter heating since we don't have a wood stove YET :)  I'm still working on Dave! I just saw the smaller version, the Little Buddy-

Nice for a smaller space

And now for APPLES!!!- Fruit trees seem to be one of the highest producers of food for the investment. BUT you never know how the weather, etc. will affect them. Great harvest this year! They are organic, and have some wormy spots. I just trim that off. I made my first monster cobbler 2 days ago-

Love the color, they're Pippins

Ready for crumble topping!

bucket #1 ready for slicing

Perfect ones for just plain eating!

Kitchen set up, boiling water and syrup

Today I canned 26 Qts. of light syrup apple slices! I use the Ball Blue Book mostly, works great.  It was only in the low 80's today so not bad outside. I can outside with a steam canner, on a camping cook stove, works great for what I do. I won't can on my glass top stove. I hope to have gas someday. I can do 6 Qts. at a time on my set up-

Cooling on the table

I go back and forth between the kitchen and the deck, a short trip. I used about 1/3 of what's on the tree today. The rest aren't quite ripe, so will wait for the next 2 weekends. I'll make more slices and applesauce! Loving what I did today! This new tool came in handy-

An 8' picker, $18.00

I'm glad we made the investment of our canning rack this spring. I had a sense we'd need it-

More jars coming!

First ones in!

Last of my jars, I may need more! I ran out of lids too :)

My very first apple vinegar brewing away!

What's great about prepping is it saves you money in the long haul, even if there is no crisis. We actually need a lot of rain/snow this winter to normalize things a bit. Time will tell. I'm back to work next Tuesday, oh joy! Too soon for me~~~ 

French Baked Eggs

25 Delicious Ways To Eat Eggs For Dinner-
With lots of fresh eggs it's easy sometimes to forget how many different ways they can be used for dinner! This fun article caught my eye- Delicious Ways to Eat Eggs For Dinner  Enjoy!!!

Aug 12, 2015

It's Apple Harvest Time!!! Upcycled Flour Sifter Topiary, Organizing Craft Supplies

It's Apple Harvest Time!!!
We have a wonderful organic Pippin apple tree. Last spring, 2014, we had it professionally pruned, and had zero apples. Not a surprise. This year we have a BUMPER crop!

Branches bending low with fruit

It's also an early harvest, with the mild wet spring/early summer. Good for me as I go back to work next week! It's been really hot the last few days, and really windy. Apples are on the ground but I can fix that :) Dave will be picking the next few evenings on the orchard ladder, a gift from his previous boss. He was going to throw it away!!! Anyway, since we don't spray the apples have worms holes, but I cut around those and the chickens get the rest. They love the fruit! This week I'll be....

Canning apple slices in a light syrup, faster than sauce! Good for winter dishes like pork chops, cobblers.
Making chunky apple sauce, plain and spiced (think apple pie filling), great with anything!
Making apple butter, make it from the apple sauce in a crock pot. Great on toast, and you name it.
Making my first Apple Cider Vinegar, fermented with good probiotics, yummy! One or 2 gallons. Recipe here- Talesofakitchen
LOTS of apple cobblers!!!

Sifter "before"
Upcycled Flour Sifter Topiary-
I sold some vintage kitchen things on eBay recently and my vintage flour sifter was left over. What to do? I had been thinking about making a living room topiary and then had a "Eureka" moment! Why not a flour sifter topiary? I had some left over dry floral foam, moss and a hot glue gun. I bought a round foam sphere, more moss and one wood dowel, all about $12.00. I added some rocks in the bottom of the sifter for stability, the foam next, then topped with moss. I hot glued on the moss to the ball, let cool.

My funky vintage pan is now my hot glue tray :)

I pressed the ball onto the dowel and glued some twigs from the yard on top of the dowel.

Now it's done! I like it :)

"Before" Picture Crafts, misc. decorative things 

Organizing Craft Supplies- 
I tackled all my various craft supply things, eBay/Craigslist/donation items this summer, since they were scattered around the house. Some people have entire crafting rooms, and put $1,000s of dollars into that. Not me. I gathered everything into my spare bedroom, where the extra storage and sewing machine is. "Before" picture above, but that wasn't all of it :) When I was re-doing my kitchen I pulled out my rolling organizer, fits perfect in the closet, all filled.

Craft paints, brushes, silk flowers, raffia, misc. stuff

Fabrics, patterns, beading supplies organized too

Everything else was either sold, donated or gifted to my kids. It's great to be able to find everything easily, have more room and pull out the cart. It was easy and didn't cost anything!

Aug 9, 2015

New Paint!!! New Little Visitors, Safe Coop Cleanup

New Paint!!!
After 10 years I decided it was time for some fresh paint in the hallway, living room and entry way. After moving college kids in and out, and all the dings/scrapes it was needed. We waited til we saw a 4th of July sale on paint, $10.00 off per gallon. We bought 2 , but needed 3, oh well. Since we decided to go a bit lighter than the current color I bought this, Behr's Golden Nectar. New paint it really is very cheap way to really jazz up your home with some new energy!!! I was going to go with Benjamin Moore paint til I priced it, yikes! Back to Behr, and $10.00 rebates...

Old paint color, B. Moore Straw

It's kind of a cross between yellow and gold/orange. Warm and light. Before we had straw, darker, More of a tan/slightly peach. It shows differently with the various light sources, LED, natural, etc.

painting station, wire rack and covers, Anya checking out

I spread the painting out over 3 days- 1 day for the back hallway with 4 doors and 2 linen closets, a LOT of brushwork! Another day for the entry way. Yesterday I did the living room. We put everything back on the walls today. Looks good, much lighter and brighter!!! I moved some prints around and gave away a few to my one daughter, win-win.

big color difference

Everything back to normal

My favorite Aunt gave me this antique print and frame years ago, looks good against the fresh paint :)
The Angelus By Millet

I saved my new thrifted candle holder and put it up after painting

New Little Visitors-
I have finally been successful in getting hummingbirds to hang around here! I have a teal one and a gray/brown one. My pal told me all about hummingbirds after I saw hers. I bought a couple feeders and change the food every 3-4 days. They come all day, off and on, and are very territorial! Little cutie pies :) I love watching them hang out in the trees and sometimes groom themselves. 

Safe Coop Cleanup-
With all the various things out there- the Hanta virus, Avian flu, and a bit locally The Plague, yes THE PLAGUE, Dave really suited up. We use the wonderful deep litter method, which uses 4"-5" of pine shavings. Composts, no odor, very clean. Dave cleans it out 4 times a year and it's good to protect yourself. Dave created his own Hazmat suit! Afterwards, he showered and I washed it all. Works great! Dave even found 2 dead snakes in the coop! Cool :)  Now our new bean bed is much more mulched, since it was a dead area under the shed. Looking good!

My 3 surviving Italian Bush bean plants

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