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...

Oct 27, 2015

Winter is In The Air! Thrifting, Homemade Apple Vinegar

Winter is In The Air!
All of a sudden we've hit the 30's at night! Leaves are falling faster, and some trees are bare. Last weekend I put on the heavy comforter. Soon it will be flannel sheets! I love this time of year, since we may get snow soon. If you've followed me a while you know I LOVE SNOW!!! Yeah baby, I could live in Minnesota, or any of those other snowy states. This is the time of year the veggies are also winding down. We picked all the ripe tomatoes Sat. and I made a big pot of spaghetti sauce Sunday, with lots of Italian sausage- 

Time for more hot teas, soups and chilis :) I also love Halloween!

Our entryway ready for the little spookies

My fave garland for outside, hat do you love about this time of year?

Last weekend I found these 2 little Delft porcelain guys for 99 cents each. I've accidentally started a little collection :)

Homemade Apple Vinegar-
My vinegar is finally ready after 2 months. It's light and made from our own organic apples. Bottled in a thrifted bottle with cork, $1.99. Smells great!

Oct 17, 2015

Smoke-Filled Skies Again, Lessons Learned From My Tomatoes, Anya's New Throne, My Local Dinners

All photos from

Smoke-Filled Skies Again-
Sadly with the extreme dryness up in the mountain and hills, a hunter accidentally stared a fire last week. It was just outside Boise, and spread really fast.The news is reporting that alcohol may have been involved. GREAT. It was horrendous timing as most of the fire resources were spent or gone. Most of the summer firefighters weren't available and money was already spent in the terrible Soda fire, on of the largest in America. We've had terrible smoke here in Boise the last week, yesterday was "purple air quality". Really bad, think China :( Some people at work wearing dust masks inside the last 2 days, as we were all really congested, stuffy, and hacking. Several people went home Monday, while I was training in another building. Glad I missed that, as mine had better air filtration. I have asthma so I really feel for people with respiratory issues worse than mine. Good news- major rain is on the way! The fire is 60% contained, and about 8 square miles. Cooler this next week too. I postponed any major yard work with the smoke, but Dave got some done yesterday on his "vacation" day.

Fire just above the foothills, Boise below

Lessons Learned From My Tomatoes-
I've typically planted 2 long rows of tomatoes side by side, east to west. This year I really realized that was a BIG mistake. The ones in the back of the row didn't get as much sun as usual. Next year I will go to single rows, more spread out. Dave and I ripped out the monster yellow cherry tomato plant today, to get more sun in there, before the cold weather. We've had a nice supply so far, and I loved the heart-shaped one I picked 2 days ago above :)

After Dave and I harvested the yellow babies, yanked it up, and I trimmed the rest back, you can see some room!

Headed for salsa!

more room

and more tomatoes!

Yes, it's raining!!! YEAH!!!

You are disturbing the Empress

Anya's New Throne-
I promised Empress Anya that after I got my new job I would buy her a new throne, and I did :) I wanted purple (a royal color) but found this in pink and with leopard spots. She likes to look out, and sleep, by the dining room sliding glass doors. The bed floor is much thicker and the sides taller. Nice and cozy in cold weather. She using it already! Her old one was gray and much cheaper/thinner-

 Not adequate for an Empress! So I think she's set...

My Local Dinners-
Ah there's nothing like my own eggs as French-Baked eggs for dinner, with my fresh herbs! Add some Dave's K.B. rolls and mixed garden veggies, with a little cheese and it's all good!

My own lemon cukes, basil, and tomatoes!

There's no better way to eat...

Oct 11, 2015

Independence Days

Independence Days-
While I started a new job recently I'm sill focusing on thing around the homestead. Dave went out of town for the weekend, which was a nice quiet break for me. He had a brother weekend with his 4 brothers, great fun for them! Quiet for me :) It was 90 yesterday, and 70 today. Gorgeous and clear blue skies. Days much shorter, nights cooler and leaves falling. So here's a recent run down...

1. Plant Something- Done for the year.

2. Harvest Something- Veggies, herbs and tons of eggs! I'll make a bread pudding soon.

3. Preserve/Store Something- Filtered out my homemade, homegrown organic apple vinegar. Smells great!

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep- Froze some more peanut power bars I got at the grocery outlet, whole grain rolls, cheeses, restocked canned goods. Got rid of my icky used plastic bags for lunches for work and bought this, a lot nicer and functional!
$7.99 at Target, insulated and washable

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe- Still eating garden veggies. Made a new pre-packaged (Christmas gift) veggie pasta soup. I made it tonite, with added chopped ham, was excellent with a little Asiago cheese on top. 

6. Build Community Food Systems- I may see if someone at work wants to buy eggs soon. I'm giving them to my kids for now. Bought some local corn stalks and pumpkins from a local veggie stand.

7. Recycle/Re-Use- Got rid of some clothes for donations, bought a like-new shirt off eBay. Took some of my old personal desk things from my old job to my new one. I'm in the process of decorating my cubicle. More on that later:) We can do Halloween decor, oh fun! I always missed that at school, a big no-no. Giving the hens lots of leftover fruits, veggies and dry bread. 

8. Skill Up- Learning all about my new job! Who knew insurance could be so exciting :) Also going to a benefits orientation tomorrow, lots of cool programs. Saving lots on my new benefits! I get free "life flight" on a chopper if I get into a sticky situation in the middle of nowhere. Could be handy!

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something- Spread lots of compost recently onto our new veggie area. It's breaking down nicely. The soil was really dead. Next year it will be very productive!

Happy Fall!

Oct 4, 2015

More Veggies, New Job

More Veggies-
This is the time of year we get a good supply of veggies from the garden. Tomatoes, several peppers, squash, lemon cukes, herbs. I made the pizza above with bell peppers, gypsy peppers and 4 kinds of tomatoes. The dough is from a local pizza place. No sauce, just a little EVOO, cheese and herbs. That was a good one! I made some fresh salsa yesterday, with cilantro, red onion, tomatoes and salsa peppers. Great on top of open faced tostadas! I'm going out today to cut the non-producing vines way back, to get more sun to the existing tomatoes. It's been in the 70's, with 40 at night, days are getting much shorter. I like to speed up the ripening as I'm able to. High 70's next week. Leave are changing! We had a big rain storm a couple night ago, so everything is just SO GREEN! Girls still laying 3 eggs per day. We'll clean the coop next month for the winter. I hope we get some serious snow in the mountains, as we had a terrible fire season this year :(

New Job-
I love my new job. I wanted to start with that. I have shifted out of a elementary librarian job after 10 years, which I loved, into a large hospital/medical corporation. It was a very strategic move for me. There was also a lot of "luck" involved, but I believe we also make our own. I applied twice a week for  about 6 weeks, into a few targeted positions. Hired! I thought a lot about what to post here, about WHY I resigned. I guess it just came down to I wasn't happy. I felt marginalized (just extra help here!), ignored and not listened to. When schools are allowed to shut down their libraries once a week, especially in a high poverty school, I'm done. I'm very proud of the work I did there- getting kids excited to read, supporting all the staff, and bringing in about $40,000 in grants. Yeah! I went from a very hostile, negative work environment to a really positive, relaxed one. Sadly a principal can make, or break, a school. While many of the staff were very supportive of me they knew not to argue with admin. School politics sadly. I haven't seen that where I am now. I was also working in a very old building, in need of a major remodel/rebuild, very dusty and dirty. Schools are also at the mercy of their districts, and districts at the mercy of the legislature. That can make for a uneasiness when looking at your potential future job security. The medical field is always growing, a good business to be in.

Where I am now everyone helps each other, the playing field seems level. I am doing customer service in rehab for patients, getting them the help they need. My team is small, about 8 people, really friendly and funny. Jokes galore during the day. It about quality, not quantity, and so there's not a big emphasis on sheer speed. Works for me! Much better organization, amazing benefits, and working year round now will boost my income a lot. It's a win win win situation, happy dance! I'm also in a much newer building, much better for my allergies :) Very dust free, huge windows, short commute, free hot beverages, nice cafeteria. It's just like night and day. So, that's the scoop! I look forward to going to work now. Still in the training phase, but it's all making sense. I good with tech, so it's a good fit and easy transition! There's room for growth, lots of support for employees and a supportive environment.

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