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...

Apr 8, 2018

Meaty Pasta Sauce, DIY Flagstone Pond Edging, Read Your Pet Food Labels, Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Meaty Pasta Sauce W/ Home Grown Tomatoes-
A week or two ago I was taking the last of my frozen peaches out of the freezer I realized I had some homegrown tomatoes left! I didn't know that! When I froze our organic tomatoes I also added some chopped red and green Italian peppers-

That was great since I wanted to do another batch of a very meaty pasta sauce for multiple dinners. Yesterday I thawed them, drained them (tons of juice!) and started sauteing a couple of tubes of New York-style Italian sausage. To that I added a chopped onion, several cloves of fresh garlic, herbs and the tomatoes. I also added a couple large cans of tomato sauce since I needed something with more thick liquid with all of that meat. I cooked that down for several hours and it came out great! Since I didn't completely crush the meat there were mini meatballs mixed in! I served on top of rigatoni pasta with some fresh basil topped with some shredded fresh cheese. I haven't some french bread and salad and it was awesome! After a very rainy day it was nice to have a nice, hot , hearty meal.

I also took down my Easter decor and left up my Spring things-

Daffodils already mean Spring!

More rain this afternoon-

DIY Flagstone Pond Edging-
For several years we have thought about putting a new edging around our little recycled pond that we had built in the backyard. We got the pond liner at a yard sale really cheap, bought a new pump and a few different nozzles at a thrift store. We used to river rock that we had scavenged originally but I really like the look of the flat flagstone. One of the things about river stone is that a didn't really cover the black plastic edging of the pond, sort of defeating the purpose of having it look natural.  One of the other problems with River Rock what it was continually fall into the pond,  fall backwards into the shrubs, and was basically unstable-

 I'd seen tons of photo online with flagstone edging where it covers the plastic so all you see is a stone and the water. Dave and I went to Home Depot yesterday and surprisingly they didn't have any in stock. Luckily there was a Lowe's not too far from here so we drove there. It is been really windy all day, had rain in the morning, so I check the weather before we left. I took my rain jacket and told Dave he should probably take his, which he didn't. It started sprinkling while we were at Home Depot and turned into a torrential downpour going to Lowe's. Thunder and lighting oh my! It was an absolute monster storm the whole time we were there but we did find some Flagstone. Nice sized pieces for about $8 each- Natural Patio Stone. We bought 12 pieces, for about $100.00.  David had measured about how many square feet we would need-

And big bags of potting soil, $2.00 each!

By the time we left we were both pretty soaked, but that was okay. Dave wore a hoodie, was soaked and I was soaked from the knees down to my socks. We did have to change clothes, but the afternoon turned out to be fairly dry. I found a video on YouTube that had real simple and easy directions about how to edge the flagstone as needed-

He removed the river stone first and leveled the area little bit-

He started doing a dry lay out of the stone. The dry layout lets you see where the potential pieces should go and what you might need to adjust-

Lots of square corners

Many of the pieces were square/rectangular, and we wanted to soften those up a bit, so the video was perfect. Dave set up a little work area and went to work-

Bucket to catch the odd pieces brilliant!

He took his hammer to most of the edges to curve a little bit and fit them. All in all the whole project took about 3 hours of labor, but it looks awesome! 

Thanks Dave!

The stone will last for years and years, and are a great investment. We store leftover river stone for other projects in the yard, and had a little bit of extra flagstone that we will use somewhere else-

I think it's always better to have a little bit left over that's running out. It will look even better when we add the water lettuce plants and we bark dust!

Read Your Pet Food Labels-
For a while on your wonderful cat Anya had had some stomach problems, and had gone to the vet a few times. For a variety reasons I decided to take a look at what the ingredients of the Science Diet cat food that she had been on. It's advertised veterinarians recommend this diet most! I was kind of surprised when I started really looking at the ingredients how many fillers there were in the food-

I want around Pet Smart where we buy our food with my cell phone and took a few photos of the ingredients to compare. I was also looking at the prices and if it was a standard food that they usually carried. I was kind of surprised to see that Blue Buffalo, a food that advertises itself as very healthy, was actually a bit cheaper than what I had been buying. A lot less fillers, also included vegetables, other nutrients, and other ingredients that were pretty healthy-

Short of making your own pet food from scratch it can be challenging to find an affordable pet food that's healthy. And affordable can be a relative term. So I decided to post the two pictures of the ingredient labels just as a comparison. Whenever you see anything that says pulp that is filler, anything that basically is some kind of a ground up ingredients is usually junk. I switched to Blue Buffalo and she seemed to really like it and so far her stomach is fine, so time will tell. Just a reminder to read the labels since you may be able to get something that's healthier that's actually cheaper!

                                                               Click here for more info

Strawberry/Rhubarb Crumble-
With our rhubarb coming up in the garden it reminded me that I have some in our freezer. I bought some strawberries and decided to make a strawberry rhubarb crumble. It's one of our favorite spring desserts because it's sweet and tart and super healthy. I decided to try this recipe since I've had tried a few others. With this I did not use the vanilla pod and used walnuts. Yummy on a cool Spring day since the temperature dropped 10 degrees. Try it! Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble


Mama Pea said...

Wow, the new pond edging really spiffs up the whole display! Very natural looking, too, which I'm sure you were going for with the river rock first. Even though the flagstone cost more than the river rock (!), as you say, it will last forever and is a good investment.

My rhubarb is still under snow, and I'm always so hungry for it when it's ready in the spring. I still have three bags of mixed up rhubarb pie filling in the freezer. Better get going on those pdq!

Nancy @ Little Homestead In Boise said...

Thanks Mama! Looks great and we love the sound in the summer. the cobbler came out perfect :) Start baking!

Rain said...

Hi Nancy :) The pasta sauce looks heavenly, what a nice surprise to find tomatoes! I have only a few cans left and I'm hoarding them like they were gold lol...your pond looks great, Dave did a great job. I'm a fan of flagstone as well. We've watched a lot of "Ask This Old House" online and they have really great tutorials about how to use/install them.

The pet food...I'm struggling with this one. We currently have the 5 dogs and 3 cats. I would LOVE to make their food but my gosh it's expensive to get all of their need met. I hate all the day though I want to try to afford homemade pet food. I recently ordered a few books on holistic pet care and hope to get some tips.

Nancy @ Little Homestead In Boise said...

Thanks and the tomatoes were great find! Yes pet food can be challenging for sure and labor intensive but at least you know what's in there

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