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...

Mar 26, 2017

Spring Clean Up Has Begun, Frugal Beef Roast, Bye Bye Homegrown Apples!

Spring Clean Up Has Begun-
With the warmer weather and rain things are really greening up and growing! Time to ditch the flannel sheets, move the heavy winter clothes out of the closet, and more mild clothing in. There's always debris from all the winter storms, dead branches, etc. We had some damage from the heavy snow, but I don't see any big losses. I'm getting over a bronchitis bug, that I was able to manage reasonably well. Only 9 days from onset and about done! I did lots of essential oils, homeopathic cough stuff, etc. Dave started on the yard work yesterday, mowing and getting debris out in the front. I've had to force myself to say inside and do other things, but I did pull a few weeds for the hens! My cough is almost gone, but my stamina isn't quite 100% yet.  Dave trimmed the berries for me today and did some pruning in the backyard. The berries above look much better! My poor chicken sign took a major hit, and the resin disc on the right-

I will bring it in, reassemble, repair and repaint. Glue the disc back together. 

Lots of perennials are coming up, looking good-

Frugal Beef Roast-
On a certain level I've never been a big fan of crock pot cooking for big cuts of meat. Sometimes things look mushy or don't have good color. No baby food looking meat for me, with added canned stuff and high salt. This is my second bottom beef roast for $10.00 on sale! I thawed it for this weekend. I liked the idea of searing the meat in the skillet FIRST. I did that on my last Italian style beef roast and it worked great! I tried this recipe today- Slow Cooker Roast Beef W/Red Wine Sauce  Ditto the browning first-

Then in the crock pot with the liquids. I used a dry Chianti we had. I did add a little Worcestershire sauce for extra flavor.

In the pool

Almost done!

 I added some Yukon Gold potatoes in the last hour. I sauteed about 3 cups of fresh mushrooms with a little butter and flour. I added that to the pot once the meat was done. I did not remove the veggies per the recipe. We ate all that healthy goodness! Reruns will include French dip sandwiches later in the week, yum! For the $10.00 beef I basically just bought beef broth, a baguette and cheese. Lots of food there! The house smells great too. Perfect dinner on a cooler, sprinkly/rainy day like this afternoon.

Bye, Bye Homegrown Apples!
I was down to my last three jars of home canned apples slices from 2015. SAD. What to do? A cobbler with apples and blueberries! I have made this several times and is a great go-to recipe. From  Love it!

Double batch!

My pantry rack is basically pretty empty this year. I'm hoping for a good apple harvest this year. Maybe some peaches to can as well? Lots of empty jars to fill...

Mar 19, 2017

More Thrifting Scores! Spring Has Sprung Indoors, Smothered Pork Chops with Mushrooms

More Thrifting Scores!
While out and about I hit Target and the Goodwill store again, score! I got the two 10" round galvanized signs for $3.00 at Target. Will add the colored one to to my yard art, the other for inside. I got the Apples sign at Goodwill for $3.00. Perfect for my Autumn decor. I also found this new galvanized tub for a flowers/herbs on my deck, $7.00. Just need to drill some holes for drainage, and spray with some poly-

I had been looking on eBay for a used L.L. Bean canvas tote for my stuff I take to work. Way too high and not washable. In the winter I take a big tote with heavy gloves, scarf, hat, and shoes (when I'm wearing snow boots).  I needed something smaller for warmer weather, and this fit the bill at $3.00. Light canvas, and sturdy- 

Love the almost batik print

Dave got an off-brand, small table saw, was $80.00 at a thrift store, got it for $47.00! He was wearing green, discount! We had $20.00 on our rewards card, double score!! Work great. Now we can do some wood projects without Dave cutting his arm off using the skill saw...

I spotted the goodies above while at Target. The bunny with the gold inner ears is about identical to my thrifted, chalk-painted one from last year-

I like my ears plain thank you!

My Mama Pea Giveaway Quilt Win!

Spring Has Sprung Indoors-
It has been very mild this last week, pushing 70 degrees! Dave trimmed back our ornamental grasses since things are sprouting up. Chickens are loving the weather! It's been raining off and on the last few days, brings lots of worms up. Dave deep cleaned the coop today, and back filled with some soil to level off the bottom. We thought about putting in a wood floor, but in this climate the heavy clay soil works fine. The girls can dust bathe in even the snowiest of weather. We put about 5" of pine shavings on top, the "deep litter" method. Shavings were recycled into the garden. After Dave dug up the dirt the hens were in hog heaven out in the garden. Freshly turned soil!!!

While things are greening up outdoors, it was time to put away my St. Patrick's day decor. I brought out some of my Spring things, not time for Easter yet...

My mini greenhouse with the flower pot/bird and driftwood on our coffee table

Smothered Pork Chops with Mushrooms-
We had pork chops for dinner tonite, with asparagus and buttermilk biscuits. I wish I'd had some mushrooms to do this- Looks great!!! I like to try new recipes so I don't get so bored.

Mar 11, 2017

Spring? Thrifting, Upcycled Dough Bowl, Farm-Style Pie Sign

After the Snowmaggeddon we went thru this winter, I never thought spring would come! After some mild weather and rain it appears it has-

Chives are up

Rhubarb too


ground cover


I let the chickens out this afternoon into the main backyard since it was about 60. They ran out the gate at a high rate of speed!

Spotted some wild bird food
They had a blast digging thru the wet soil

Grass is greening up

Our neighbor's cat (Princess) Posie, was watching the birds

Our (Empress) Anya, however took a nap on her favorite blankie, love her!

I went to Goodwill today with some donations. While I was there I bought five pairs of pants for Grand baby River, marked down 1/2 price, score!

He's getting big, and we babysat last night, what fun!!!

I also found a candle holder buried on a shelf. I had plans for that!

I also bought a small terracotta pot with faux blue flowers for my kitchen window sill, $1.99-

 All about $13.00. Score!

Upcycled Dough Bow
I saw this bowl/candle holder at Goodwill for $3.99. When I spotted it what I saw was a dough bowl. It just needed some deconstructing. It is a heavy resin, whitewashed wood look. I tried to remove the screws at the base of the candle holders. No luck. I thought to look underneath the fabric on the bottom- 


I removed the fabric and both the nuts with a small wench. Now it's ready to fill with some natural elements or vintage goodies, and the 2 holes won't show. So for $3.99 I'm happy. Someday I may get an expensive, wood vintage one, but this will do for now.

Farm-Style Pie Sign-
I had seen this farm-style sign all over the internet and Pinterest for a few years. I could never find one in the Cost Plus stores sadly. I wouldn't pay a lot of shipping for a $15.00 item, so I gave up. I went there to buy some teas today while I was in the area. They have a awesome collection of Twining's teas and great prices. While I was looking for something else I spotted the sign at their store! I couldn't believe it! I need to decide where to put it in the kitchen or dining area. I love the simple lettering and shabby, distressed edges-

I also found some more Slap Ya Mama Cajun sauce from my post 2 weeks ago, 1/2 price! I bought 4 jars., and 2 boxes of their Cajun rice/beans mix. Checking out the clerk asked me if I had a coupon and I said no. She said "I have one" and gave me 30% off everything! My $14.99 pie sign was $10.00. Score! Teas and food items discounted too. I HAD A GREAT SHOPPING DAY! 

Mar 4, 2017

Independence Days Challenge!!!

Independence Days Challenge!!!
I haven't done one of these for a while and decided it's good to re-visit! So here's the most recent I can think of...

1. Plant Something-
Wrong time of year for us, not quite spring. Starting to look for some seeds for summer! I read about Melrose Peppers used in Italian cooking, sounds like time to try those-

 2. Harvest Something-
Just eggs, but at least they're laying pretty well thru the winter. The hens are happy now that the snow is all gone, and the garden has dried out.

3. Preserve/Store Something-
Nothing right now. I need to make some fermented cabbage soon.

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep-
I bought a beef roast,1/2 off last week. I went back the next day and bought two more. They're in the freezer waiting for another roasting. Bought some used items on eBay. I had maxed out my out-of-pocket on my medical this year, so I got a generic Epi-type pen since it was free. :) Saved my $100's of dollars on the co-pay by getting before my deductible rolled over. Dave got a $25.00 big box gift card from our neighbor, for shoveling ALL of her snow. She'd had shoulder surgery. Getting some free home items today, furnace filter, etc.

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe-
I made this last week, Chicago-Style Italian Chicago beef sandwiches- 

The roast lasted for several more sandwich dinners. I used the last of the roast last night with roasted potatoes and carrots. Yummy. At Cost Plus World Market I bought some SlapYaMama Etouffee Sauce for a belated Mardis Gras. I used it with shrimp for tonight's dinner, the sauce was spicy with a nice smoky flavor-

Served with french bread

I'm not a fan of coffeee but bought it on a whim. It's decaf, Dave likes it and it's not nearly as bitter as regular coffee! I may start drinking it too. I'll try frying up some homemade beignets (square donuts basically) and them try for a snack. It's a nice mix with very simple ingredients. I've REALLY enjoyed the series A Chef's Life on PBS with Chef Vivian Howard and want to try some of her recipes, Recipes I want to try her Sausage Stewed Cabbage next. I love her think-outside-the-box mentality and humility. What a great woman!!!

6. Build Community Food Systems-
Doing 1/2 day babysitting for our one grandchild on Saturdays, so we may have Mom and Dad help us put it our garden this summer. Or share some harvest :)

7. Recycle/Re-Use-
Bought used items on eBay, and I'm still cleaning out closets. Buying more thrifted clothing for the grand babies, they grow so fast! I'm watching a few more things on eBay.

8. Skill Up-
More baby re-orienting, things have changed. Who knew the womb was so loud! Babies can sleep thru loud activities now, like vacuuming.

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something-
I can see, after the massive snow this winter, a lot of pruning to do soon. Hopefully our garden didn't suffer to much! I think we may have lost some drubs due to the extreme cold, but time will tell. I have some nice, large Ikea bath towels that are holding up well after 2 years. The hems are coming off a bit, so I will use my sewing machine to fix those. Easy! I'm hoping a huge amount of our local small birds didn't die during the long, heavy snowstorms so I am putting out food now on a regular basis. Nice to see some of them back!

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