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...

Jun 30, 2018

Easy DIY Red White & Blue Rags Balls, Vietnamese Pork Chops w/Cucumber Radish Salad, Planter Turned Salt Container, Harvesting Lavender

Easy DIY Red White & Blue Rags Balls-
Summer is really here, 90's and now 80's, and cool at night. The chicks have the garden to roam in today, but are staying close to their area. The hens are more interested in their food, figures! Getting ready for the 4th of July I started putting our things out, and remembered a project I had seen a year or two ago Super Easy Rag Balls. I decided to make some and went to Jo-Ann's Fabric for some styrofoam balls and fabrics. I didn't really see fabrics that I liked. I started thinking it made more sense to just get something with generic red/white/blue and leave out for the summer. Since I have an old white enameled basin with a red rim I thought it made sense to put the balls in it. It's fun to use the basin on our coffee table in the living room. It's a simple thing to change decor-wise.  I started looking for just red and blue fabrics, then found this red check fabric-

Then I found this dark blue fabric with the antique style world map print-

I thought the dark blue and red would look really cute together. I bought one yard of each, half price, for a total of about $11. I bought two different sizes of styrofoam balls, the large ones were about $2. The small ones came in a six pack for about $5. I already have some straight pins from selling and some Liquid Nails glue. Basically you just tear one-inch strips, leaving he edges raw, start the first strip with a pin, cover it and just keep going around until there's no styrofoam showing. Each ball used a few pins and then I finished the end of the last strip with a small dot of liquid nails-

You could put these in a glass bowl, basket or other places. I really like them! It was a really easy project to do while you're watching television. Just snip, tear, rinse and repeat. I put them in the basin and wanted something taller in the center so I used an old, red, miniature oil lamp. I might use something else, still thinking! I also have about 1/3 of a yard of both fabrics left so I will use that up  somewhere else!

Vietnamese Pork Chops w/Cucumber Radish Salad-
I found this recipe years ago from It's really easy to make the marinade that you use the pork chops. You make the salad dressing easily ahead of time. Since our radishes didn't do as well as I hoped for in our cold frame, probably from lack of light, we wound up with some really nice tall organic radish greens. They worked great for the salad and it has tons and tons of flavor! We used our own Basil as well. The chops came out super juicy and delish.

Planter Turned Salt Well-
When I went to Jo-Ann's Fabrics they had lots of beachy summer things marked down $70%. When I saw this it really reminded me of a lot of the very over-priced salt containers I have seen-

While it was intended to be a hanging planter I decide to use it for salt! I just removed the string, washed and and filled with the salt I always keep by my stove. For a whopping total of $4 I have a nice ceramic glazed salt well-

Harvesting Lavender-
I love lavender and have a few plants in our yards. While I didn't harvest this quite in it's prime, it's still gorgeous to me! I harvested most of this plant today, to bundle and dry, and leave around the house. Here's the plant last week-

The bees were actively pollinating while I harvested, and I did promise them to leave some. And I did.

Jun 27, 2018

Project Weekend, Chicks New Condo & Integrating To The Flock

Project Weekend-
It's been an interesting week weather-wise and finally the rain seems to be behind us. It was 93 today! Dave was out of town all last week for some business training so I was taking care of the garden, the chicks, the cat, the house by myself for 5 days. I must say I did enjoy some down time. There's always watering to do since the weather seems to have warmed up and dried out. This weekend was a LOT of projects to do, luckily none of them were too involved. Lot of watering the garden since it was in the mid-eighties, very dry and windy. Then there was weeding, deadheading, pruning, spreading compost, cleaning the coop, and some indoor projects. The veggie garden is dong great including 3 totes of potatoes full with vines! We have large giant Marconi Peppers already on the vine. They're are really great Italian pepper I grew for the first time last summer that turn dark red and have a wonderful mild Smoky flavor-

They're great for grilling or adding to any kind of Italian food. We have lots of green tomatoes, flowers on the lemon cucumbers and slicing cucumber, flowers on the zucchini, and tiny hot


Thorn less Blackberries 


Peppers mixed in flower bed

Shade area for the hens

Cool on a hot day

Love our huge maple tree!

Chicks New Condo & Integrating To The Flock-
This weekend the weather finally cooperated enough to move the chicks outside during the day. With crazy weather, rain and colder temperatures than usual they were inside longer than I had anticipated. I did take them out in the evenings, putting them into an old outdoor playpen on top of a tarp on the deck-

Nice view!

From L- Annie White Plymouth, Pru Black Australorp, Sarah New Hampshire Red

They got some fresh air and got used to being outside. Saturday Dave notched a little area of the garden and it became the temporary chick condo for one week-

He added a little roof for shade from scrap wood, covered gaps

I added a towel for more shade late in the day

Pine shavings in back for a nice nap area

Nice view of garden with hen and chicks

Rosie looking for bugs
Happy chicks

Previously we had some small chicks I integrated into to the flock New Chick Housing I did find out that system works pretty well. The idea is that you have the chicks in an adjacent area to the full-size hens. They can all see each other, but not get to each other. You have a separate space with food/water and we did put bird netting on the top.  The little chicks have figured out how to fly! It's also to keep out any possible hawks. We made sure there were no gaps in the fencing and tightened down the bird netting with some leftover pavers. The chicks really enjoy being out during the day and the first two evenings we brought them back inside. They're just getting too big for the box so the last night they spent their first night outside. We moved their box into the coop on the floor and covered it with scrap chicken wire so the two larger hens could not get to them. It's better to be safe and make sure everything is okay than wind up with two dead or injured chicks in the morning. We brought them out this morning and they had a great day and we'll keep them in the coop separated until Saturday. The plan man is to double-check the whole chicken run area for gaps, and then release the chicks and sit back and watch. I did this last time and there was no drama and everything went well! In the the evening it's just a matter of making sure they all get into the coop. After some time goes by they'll all be the same size!

Jun 17, 2018

Would My Grandparents Be Happy?

Laura and Arminius

Would My Grandparents Be Happy?
Yesterday Dave and I were talking at breakfast, eating some of our wonderful eggs and an English muffin. I mentioned that my Grandmother Marguerite always told me to either use butter or jam, but not both, on my toast. I think she thought that was wasteful. I only grew up knowing one set of Grandparents, my Dad's, because the others passed away when I was very young. My Mom's parents met me after I was born, but I was very young when they died. I don't have any direct memories of them.

My mom had told me a lot about them, including the stories of the wonderful gardens they grew out in Nebraska. How grandma Laura raised Rhode Island Red chickens and preserved foods. They had their root cellar and they survived the depression. She also told me how they escaped tornado's by going into the wet, cellar full of toads. She told me about what a hard worker her mother was and that my grandmother was always a tough, but caring woman. I have two wonderful quilts of hers and think about what it must have been like for her to sit there and make those out in the middle of nowhere Nebraska, in the dark. I'm not sure when electricity went into the rural areas of Nebraska, in the 1930s? I visualize her using kerosene lamps or candles to sew by.

My grandfather Arminius was a mechanic who worked on trucks, tractors and cars and they would barter his repair services for things they didn't have. They would get roasting chickens, bread, fresh milk, etc., in exchange for his services. My mom said during the depression that she drank coffee instead of milk as a kid because they didn't always have that. I have great photos in my head of my grandparents and their girls in Nebraska in this house-
Nebraska home, I'd love to go there someday

Pete and Marguerite

The grandparents on my Dad's side I spent lots of time with. They also raised two children during the depression and my grandmother Marguerite was a wonderful cook, baker, seamstress, knitter, crocheter and made tatting. She sewed me wonderful clothes and knitted me lovely sweaters. When I was young they were living in southern California and that was a great climate to grow things in. While living in the city of Pomona, named after the goddess of plenty, they grew quite a bit of things on their city lot. Ironically they had a Little Homestead in Pomona of sorts. I remember the three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath house very well. Lawn in the front, in back lots more! They had an avocado tree, a lemon and a lime tree, plum tree, a kumquat tree, trellises with concord grapes, and strawberries. I don't remember them ever growing any vegetables however. I remember my grandmother making homemade grape pies, canning home-grown grape juice, grape jam, and I think she made plum and Kumquat jams. I'm not quite sure whose idea it was to have all of the fruit trees because I don't know if those were there before they bought the house. I suspect on some level having fruit trees in the backyard was a nod to wanting to be more self-sufficient, having surviving the depression, but that is just a guess.

I know my grandfather Pete was an avid gardener and loved working in the yard. I think some of that may have been to avoid my grandmother, who is not the nicest person. As an adult I would jokingly call her the iron fist in the velvet glove without the glove!My grandfather Alva (he went by Pete) was the opposite, really a sweetheart. He jokingly used to call me microbe or peanut!

So... I think that they would be proud of me with what we're doing here, and if they were alive they would probably be doing something similar. I can see them having chickens, preserving foods, and fixing lots of things themselves. I hope they would be proud of me for the lifestyle I have. While I didn't do it for them I think that they would appreciate it. I hope so.

Jun 10, 2018

Garden & Chicks Update, Potato Progress, Cell Phone Deal/Insurance, Farm Fresh Decor

Garden & Chicks Update-
We have had more of the same wacky weather, temps swinging like a pendulum here! In the 80s's all week, then wind hit bringing a cold front, temp dropped 20 degrees this weekend. 45 this morning, brrr. We've been trying trying to figure out when to plant some things, and that can be a little bit challenging. I had planned on putting the chicks out this weekend for a while, but the weather was just too cold.  transferred them from the laundry basket that we had them in for one week to a larger box last weekend. It works out really well since they have plenty of room, with nice pine shavings. Today I took them out, then I took the box outside and pitched it all into the compost pile. Hopefully next weekend the weather is supposed to warm up, we can move them out into a temporary coop for a while and see how they do. I plan on putting them out this week for few hours in the warm evenings. We have an outdoor playpen that we got at a thrift store years ago. It's really fun to see chicks go outside for the first time and explore! Here's the 2 boxes I put together for their temporary digs, and added chicken wire on top-

busy exploring!

It's amazing how fast they grow in 2 weeks! Feathers coming in, getting taller-

Our hens were in trouble last week. Due to a too-low gap in fencing, they got in and completely ravaged our lemon cukes. Dave was in a huff and went shopping and came back with a few. He also bought taller chicken wire. Next night he stopped somewhere else on the way home. He bought some on sale tomatoes, more lemon cukes and some peppers. I think we're set for now! Lots of berries on the vine, and first blossoms on squash/slicing cukes. Now we just need some warm, stable weather!

waeting out the rain, again

My flower seeds are coming up,flowers blooming, and the rain has really helped with that! Warm and wet, perfect for plant growth.

Potato Progress-
Our free potatoes seeds planted in the trash cans are doing really well! After having some torrential downpours I thought maybe they would rot in the totes, but they had pretty good drainage. We planted them in a light, fluffy organic potting soil and Dave had drilled lots of holes, so that helped. We've been adding soil once or twice a week as the green start to come up. I'll be really curious to see when we can dig the first potatoes.

Cell Phone Deal/Insurance-
I had an interesting experience last week. My old Galaxy 6 phone wouldn't hold a charge over several days so I could tell it was on its way out. I had insurance on the phone for several years and knew there would be a copay to replace it. I called my service provider ATT (work discount) and asked about the co-pay.  To make a long story short I paid $112 copay for an $800 new Galaxy 8 Active phone. Yes, retail about $800.00, geez! The guy in the store was really shocked that I got such a good deal. He was really helpful transferring all the data from the one phone to the other. It's a heavier phone with really long battery life and tons of storage. I thought it was kind of funny that being a homesteader of sorts I wound up with a military grade phone! It has little rubber bumpers on each corner and actual screws on the frame on the outside. I did order a couple of inexpensive covers as the back is a little bit slippery. It's great to know that it is waterproof, dust proof, sand proof, etc. It'll be nice for blogging since I can now take photos on my phone and upload them to my photo editor on my computer. I used to be able to do that but the plug-in port died a year or so ago. I was able to wirelessly charge the phone but I couldn't transfer any photos directly to my computer. I could upload them to Facebook and transfer them from there, but that was kind of a pain. So insurance may be a good idea for some people and with AT&T the co-pay goes down over time, it's not fixed. Even with the premium for the insurance of about $10 per month for the last 2 years, and the copay, I still wound up with a heck of a deal. I could have potentially bought a phone off of eBay, Amazon or some other website but I was wary of doing that. So,just a thought- if you're thinking about getting a new phone, slap a little insurance on it!

Farm Fresh Decor-
I finally hung up my Farm Fresh wall art, and I love it! Up close it looks like an original piece of art. I love the colors and size, perfect over my little side table. It's made of wood, 13.5" long x 24" tall x 0.62" thick, less than $20.00! More info here-


Jun 3, 2018

Blogger Changes and Anonymous Comments

Blogger Changes and Anonymous Comments-
I just wanted to update readers here as Google is changing some of the Blogger features. That is something I will be unable to modify. Typically I get emails alerting me when someone has made a comment, unless it is anonymous. I can go in quickly and answer any questions, or comments. Be aware that any anonymous comments here go into a spam folder. Typically I only check that periodically since there's nothing to tell me that anything is there. I went through the folder this morning and 99% of it was spam and there were a few actual comments. In the future if you want to make sure I see your comment please use some kind of log in. Otherwise it will go to spam central. I'll add a note on the home page as well. I don't want anyone to think I'm ignoring them! I love comments!!! So far I haven't detected any changes of any features on the blog. I've been trying to find the notification again that I received about the changes, but if I remember correctly some of those won't affect this blog. Some bloggers use features that I simply don't and so that's a moot point. So please let me know if you do see something odd that I may need to adjust. Thanks!!!
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