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...

Dec 31, 2018

Resting Thru The Holidays, Changing Times Gives Meaning, Cubicle Decor Ideas

Resting Thru The Holidays-
Both Dave and I wound up sick through the holidays. Could have been much worse since we weren't traveling. A few days before Christmas weekend Dave came down with influenza A, fever, chills, terrible cough. I took him to urgent care and they got them fixed up with some Tami flu and a prescription cough suppressant capsule. That stuff is amazing! Once he started sleeping through the night, and on the Tamiflu, he felt much better pretty quickly. His cough is almost gone. Two days later I came down with a Wheezy bronchitis coupled with my asthma is not a good combo. But I got some medication within a couple of days and I'm feeling better and finally sleeping. Not being able to sleep at night because of wheezing is never fun. The good thing was we both had a four-day weekend and I took a lot of naps. I watch Netflix, rested and did as little as possible to get over it quicker. Sadly I started my new job the day after Christmas sick, but I had to go and it was just one of those things. So all-in-all we're feeling better and we're lucky that we were home and able to rest and didn't have any huge commitments. Had a little snow here and there-

Changing Times Gives Meaning-
I didn't know how to title this and maybe it'll make sense I hope. I'm so burnt out with seeing all the shopping days till Christmas, all the sales all the emphasis on buying lots of stuff for other people. We did that when our kids were little sadly, but times change. We now have three adult children and two of them have their own children. After they became adults we did a gift exchange where you just buy one gift for one person and it really took the financial burden off our girls. When the two babies arrived they decided they didn't want to do that either. That was fine and it really has put the focus more on spending time together as a family and just enjoying each other's company. Having a meal together and being able to talk is a rarity since we're all on different schedules with two of my girls working weekends off and on. It's fun babysitting but it's nice to see your adult kids as well! So taking away the whole gift-giving part has really put more than meaning onto spending time together as a family. Dave and exchanged some simple gifts, a new flannel shirt for him and a book. He got me a wireless keyboard/mouse to tidy up my kitchen computer desk area, a splurge! I love it!!!!  I still like to bake for the holidays although I didn't do nearly as much as year since I was sick. I may make some British Cream Scones tomorrow for New Years since I'm in a baking mood now! They're really amazing and good for whatever ails you-

Dave and I started watching the Father Brown Mysteries show on Netflix and I love watching with all these English homes circa 1950 with all their tea accessories. Lots of scones on the show as well as tea cookies, etc. I'd love to go to the UK someday! Speaking of British...

Cubicle Decor Ideas-
One of the fun things about moving into my new job was having a little bit more room to decorate and personalize! When I first worked for my corporation I was in a very, very small triangular shaped cubicle with very little room. Then I moved into a clinic for almost 2 years I had a little bit of room but not a whole lot more. Now I've moved into a brand new, rehabbed state-of-the-art office. It used to be a global engineering firm and I'm on the 7th floor with a spectacular 360-degree view of the city from all sides. When they acquired the older series of buildings they completely remodeled the insides of the office/hall areas. Everything is brand new. I have a beige counter top and small drawer.  I have a really nice pretty deep blue background to decorate on the soft board area. After looking at it I realized that yellow would be a really nice kind of accent color to just brighten it up a little bit. First I re-used a thrifted frame and printed my free yellow Keep Calm sign above! Here's a few things I'm  using, including a wall calendar, I'm old school!

From Costco, bought for the house, but took to work

Bought a mini lemon garland for the house, going to work instead

Mini plant stand from Hobby Lobby, $8.00

Faux lavender also Hobby Lobby, $4.00 

Mini wreath, $1.50 Hobby Lobby

Name cubes my 1st manager made for all of her team

Here's my desk- love the blue!

I may remove the hanging rack, we use very little paper!

 I don't have everything up yet since we worked a short day today and were dismissed early for New Year's Eve. I'll post photos of it when it is done completely but this will give you an idea... Pinterest has TONS of ideas, which was really helpful!

Dec 24, 2018

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas
We just finished a nice ham dinner just the two of us and had dessert. I baked my favorite Cranberry Tart with fresh cranberries and cornmeal, yum!

No snow here, just rain, but Santa is still coming. Dave came down with Influenza A last week and I got hit by normal bronchitis two days later. Lots of homeopathic remedies out for me, essential oils for both of us and Dave on Tamiflu. He felt much better with that, amazing stuff when you need it. I'm feeling much better this afternoon, cough mostly gone. We're having Christmas Day here, then dinner at one of my daughters. Starting a new job Wednesday with my same company, will be nice change I think. Did some baking today, listened to holiday tunes, and took a nap. Not bad all in all! All the presents are wrapped, downsized, (more later about that). Mellow times and off to watch a holiday movie! Happy Holidays to you all!!!

Dec 16, 2018

Update and Reindeer In Our Garage! My Little Swedish Corner

Time for some TLC, rescued reindeer

Update and Reindeer In Our Garage! 
It's been a really crazy last week with lots of holiday and birthday stuff going on. Weather has been really mild, 40's today, snow pretty much melted. Christmas baking will be next weekend. I have to pace myself! All my girls do their own baking, so I just do a couple small batches for us and ones the girls don't make. We stopped doing our family gift exchanges when our girls asked us to stop. It was just too much expense with two new babies. We still do stockings but keep it minimal. For us it's more about the time spent together and less about "stuff". The chickens are laying like crazy, 3-4 eggs every day. What a change from no eggs! I'm giving excess to the kids. Friday I had holiday lunch party/Santa gift exchange at work which was really fun. We all bought gifts for each other and we had a really nice lunch that one of the doctors paid for. Friday night my husband's company paid for a really nice dinner out at a local Brazilian Grill called Tucano's-

The salad bar extends to the right another 50 feet, on both sides!

It's a theme kind of restaurant, not my thing, but it was fun and it certainly had lots of different foods for everybody. They have a massive salad bar that's monstrous with things that you don't usually see in salad bars, like quail eggs. They bring around huge skewers of all different kinds of meat and slice it on your plate. A fun time was had by all and Dave and I got to spend time visiting with some of his co-workers and just relaxing. I did have a bit of an upset tummy yesterday, but some ginger ale and tums took care of that. Maybe a little bit too much rich food? We were gifted with snowman mug with a candle holder from our table-

Last night was my daughter Michelle's birthday and we had a get-together at her house. She asked me to make a specific cake Epicurious Double Chocolate Layer Cake  It has buttermilk and was really delicious! I also made a homemade butter cream frosting that is cooked with egg yolks and has cardamom (sorry no photos). I couldn't find the frosting recipe online since I printed it several years ago. Makes for an unusual flavor since cardamom doesn't taste like anything else. We had a great time there last night but we're really tired at the end of the day. Today is also grandson Oliver's 2nd birthday, another party late today. We found a really fun book for him, a classic. Shhh, can't share here. We did get our Christmas tree up yesterday and are decorating it today. And speaking of Christmas...  I found this cute little guy at Lowe's!

Spice tin

It's funny that I have found some really unique items at Lowe's, of all places. I found Nordic inspired knit balls and Tomtens (trolls). A big box store and really inexpensive!

My car

It's funny having so many reindeer in our garage! Last year at the grocery outlet I found a little reindeer kit really cheap. The antlers go on the back windows and the nose goes on the front and I drive around with a smile on my face. I've seen these around town which is where I got the idea. Just a little fun something that cost me a couple of bucks. 


Dave's boss was throwing the two reindeer top photo in the trash and he snagged them, I'll repair the ears and clean them up. Pretty cute! They just need some love, then we'll put them outside.

My Little Swedish Corner-
After I painted my Ikea step stool with the blanket stripes I found the perfect corner for it. Out of the way when we don't need it. I had bought a small fake tree at Michael's and it fit perfect into my little rustic enameled Ikea steel pot. I put it on top of the step stool, but it needed a little something. When I unpacked my Yule items I found two little Tomtens/gnomes that fit perfect there! I think of it as my little Swedish corner. I need to have my DNA tested someday, I think I'm probably at least part Scandinavian!

Dec 9, 2018

Low Cost Ways To Keep Your Home Warm In The Winter !!! Safer DIY Advent Candle Upgrade, Easy Upcycled Wood Ornaments & Winter Decor

Anya likes to stay warm too!

Low Cost Ways To Keep Your Home Warm-
Winter is here, with more snow on the way! Most of the last storm a week or so ago is gone in back-

If you live in a cold winter climate too you know it can get chilly inside. Here's some tips and tricks I've learned over the years, many of them low cost...

My first suggestion- insulate your windows! Whether you want to buy insulated curtains, or make your own, it makes a huge difference. Some people have used fleece or even blankets. Over the years I slowly bought insulated curtains for our living room, dining room and 2 bedrooms. They made a huge difference!

rubberized coating over heavy cotton

They last forever and go thru the washer easily. I just wash and hang up damp on the rod to dry. They also keep your home cooler in the summer. Similar ones here if you can't find them locally and they come in many styles, sizes and colors-


Caulk your windows periodically. We added new windows 12 years ago. This last summer Dave was hosing down a window and some water came inside! Time to re-caulk. He bought clear, paintable exterior caulk. He did all the windows and doors. It tightens the house up and caulk is cheap.

If you have floor vents invest in some heavy plastic diverters. Having hot air blow up inside your curtains against cold glass is wasteful. Ditto going under furniture. You want the air in the room. Ours were about $3.00 each at a big box store and they have heavy magnets to keep in place- 

Use a small heater for small spaces. Our kitchen tends to be colder with sliding glass doors. I use a space heater to warm up just that room. I only turn it on when I'm in the room, and much cheaper than heating the whole house-

(string is kitty toy)

 You can also add something fuzzy to chairs/couches in colder rooms, like a fleece blanket, or an faux sheepskin (Ikea), like Anya's above. We keep cozy blankets on the couch in the living room as well.

Close/reduce vents in areas you don't need to heat all the time. I closed the vent right by the front door, since it's in a hall. With people going in and out, it's just heat loss.

Keep a clean furnace filter in your furnace. It will pay for itself in efficiency. Get a tuneup if needed. Our furnace in our last house DIED on Christmas Eve in 10 degree weather. That was a very expensive holiday. Now we stay on top of things.

Dress for the weather! Don't wear shorts and tee shirts inside when it 14 degrees outside. You'd be surprised how many people I see who do this!

Whenever you bake/have the oven going prop the door open when it's done and let the heat out.

Drink lots of hot beverages, that will make you feel warmer.

Invest in a warm comforter! Prices have come way down on synthetics over the years and they last for years and years. I bought ours at Ross, a discount store, about 7 years ago and it still going strong. I just wash it once or twice a year and store it off season in spare closet. Down is another option. Duvet covers can be easily washed/updated as needed. Also buy flannel sheets, much warmer than regular cotton-

Our comforter and flannel sheets

Buy some warm pajamas! When it's really cold you don't want to be sleeping in a thin t-shirt, etc. I sleep in polar fleece pajama bottoms and long sleeve t-shirt. There are more ideas online if you want to stay warm and save some $$$!

Safer DIY Advent Candle Upgrade-
Our Advent candle ring I bought for Dave a few years ago needed some love. I bought a ready-made one off-season at a great price. I added berries, pine cones and apples. The apples had developed a cracked finish after all the years -

Excess wax accumulated from candles as well. I added apples because we both love the song Jesus Christ The Apple Tree. Over the years I started thinking the candles weren't that safe. Last year I bought 4 new LED taper candles, 75% off, and stored them. First I unscrewed the bases-

I painted them the same colors as the wax ones we used. I painted each one of the tapers very carefully, mixing my own colors-

I used what I already had!

We use 3 purple and 1 pink, but the tradition varies on colors. I removed the old apples carefully, then hot glued some extra thrifted red apples I had-

I cleaned off the excess wax as best I could, and bought some paint for a second coat. So far we love it! Updated and much safer!

Easy Upcycled Wood Ornaments & Winter Decor-
I putt out my winter decor, we'll do the Christmas tree, Santa's next weekend. When I picked up a few holiday items at Michael's I stumbled onto some white wooden pieces. I immediately thought of Swedish decor with the hearts and birds. I thought I could drill some really tiny holes and turn them into ornaments! I could either put them on our Christmas tree or add them to some of the greenery around the house for something fun and different. So for $0.99 each I bought three birds and three hearts. Basically they're white painted plywood with slightly distressed edges. It's funny that I've always loved old things and somehow they have become "vintage". Anyway I showed them to Dave and he did have a nice small drill bit. So he drilled a hole centered on each piece, then I used Baker's Twine for a little loop to hang them from-

Baker's Twine is awesome stuff if you're not familiar with it! You wrap foods with it, but you can also use it for all kinds of winter crafts-

Simple Ball jar with a bow and candle


And now for some more winter decor here! We don't like to rush into Christmas and the holidays, so here's a peek at some other fun things, this one red and white! My old enamel basin, with a large silvered bird, Nordic knit balls, apples, pinecones and faux snowballs. It's nice on my red and white table runner in our living room-

My fave Yule shelf I always set up in the dining room-

Dining room table area, will add some Christmas goodies next week to replace the large print-

Kitchen window-

New star shaped LED lights, cozy! 

Kitchen counter-

By my kitchen desk-

Snowmen of course! I leave my winter things up thru mid January or so for fun- entryway


New thrifted topiaries with small lights and birds-

I added a little something in the herb box on the deck-

Dave spent a better part of the cold day putting up exterior lights, etc. Looks very festive coming home from work in the dark!!!

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