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, 2018

Prepping The House, Cars & Coop For Winter, Affiliate Earnings Reveal!

Coming soon!

Prepping The House, Cars & Coop For Winter-
With winter just around the corner next week we are wrapping up the prepping phase for winter.
We have temperatures dropping 20 degrees tomorrow night, with lows in the low 30's, highs in the low 50's. It's supposed to be around 70 today.

In our winter prep we include both of our cars. Recently they have both been waxed, much needed. We added new wiper blades (Costco's great deal!), I put in a car size spare blanket, ice scraper/snow sweep. It does snow here on occasion. Good to do early when the weather is nice. Dave cleaned up his work bench in the garage today. No big projects looming, that we know of.

With the house we've been re-caulking windows. Dave had rinsed off some spider webs on a window in the summer and I found there was actually some water on the inside of the window sill. Not a good idea. We installed new windows about 10+  years ago, since the old ones were pretty well toast. To say this house had little insulation when we bought it(attic and windows) is an understatement! We both caulked the new windows really well. After 10 years it was time for a refresh and so Dave re-did all the windows again. No ladders for me with a brace on my arm! Caulking keeps the cold weather and helps the house stay cooler in the summer. We already put the vegetable garden to bed. Sad looking but that's it, just an empty space. We added more compost to the cold frame to break down over the winter. It's kind of cute that one of the annual flowers that went into the compost pile is actually still alive!

One of the things I always do is clean off and cover up our garden work bench with clear plastic to protect it from the elements. We store the tools in the garage for easy access if we need them. I repainted the bench early this summer since the wood stain was pretty well shot. We bought it right after we bought this house since the deck was fairly small, but we needed some kind of work space. It's held up really well, it just needed a fresh coat of paint. We already closed the foundation vents. New furnace filters, extra batteries, and water jugs. I'll empty the rain barrel soon since it freezes.

For the coop Dave already added the lower window to cover up the bottom portion of the coop. It got spattered with mud during our 1" record rain fall recently, so he cleaned it up today, here's the before shot, no after sorry-

It replaces the hardware cloth in the winter. Late tomorrow, or weather depending, I'm going to cover the screen top of the coop main door-

We'd had a couple of cold nights and didn't have any clear plastic on hand so David covered it with a black garbage bag. I took that down when the weather warmed up again, since the weather has been crazy! We use the deep litter method in the coop and it worked amazingly well. David cleaned the coop out a two weeks ago, the pine shavings/poo went to the city compost. They finally added compost totes to our garbage service this year and it's been great! We have built up the soil level so much over 10 to 12 years that we can't really add a whole lot more to it. So we either give the pine shavings away to our kids or it goes in the compost tote. I touched up the paint today on the coop since there was a few spots that needed it. Luckily we had some paint left, since it was the old house trim color. I still like it!



This is possibly the last weekend of real warm weather, as far as I can tell. Time for these kinds of outside jobs, so we get them done fast. Dave mowed and stored the hoses, covered the water spigots with their styrofoam caps. In the next day or two we will lay out the big industrial, exterior extension cord that we use to power the coop, including the heated water and the two lights. We have a reptile light that we use on the upper part of the coop for a little extra heat when it's really really cold. We also have infrared heat lamp that's hardwired in. I don't really use either of those until it's in the low 20's, or lower. We always add extra pine shavings when it gets really cold and that seems to help quite a bit. I am proud to say that none of my chickens have ever had major frostbite over all the winter's that we have kept them. They can go out in the cold weather and there's enough ventilation to keep them healthy. They all seem to deal with the cold very well. We will put up the "sun room" (to photo) when it gets colder, for extra space in the rain and snow. All made from recycled materials and custom built by Dave to fit onto the coop. I'll keep an eye on the forecast. In a year or two we may need to re-build the coop. Time will tell. When you design your own coop (after tons of research) there's always things that can be tweaked.

Affiliate Earnings Reveal!
I was reading an article today that some "Instagrammers" now call themselves "Bloggers", but don't have an actual blog. They post photos with a few sentences on Instagram. Not much writing involved. Sometimes it's about making money and that's all. I know there are some bloggers who are young, competitive, have no families and work 24/7 at a job and they blog. They make quite a bit of $, but I just can't do that. I sit at a computer all day at work and don't want to do that at home. My eyes object as well. This post today took several hours, for instance, not counting photos and editing. I read this post today and it is a FASCINATING read The Dark Side Of Blogging

If you've been following this blog for a while you have probably seen my Amazon affiliate statement and the various items that you can click through, and buy to help support this blog. I get a tiny percentage. It's been really interesting to see what did, and didn't happen, with Amazon. If you look below you can see what my total earnings have been for the last 90 days, and well, it's pretty pathetic-

Yep, $1.72. They owe me about $10.00, but won't pay me til it hits $20.00. Nice. Ironically I actually have made more through product click-through at Hometalk. I was actually shocked when I got an email saying that I had earned $57.00. It was my first payment. It works like this- people read my DIY projects on Hometalk. When I list specific items, like my back splash material in my kitchen, they can go to the bottom of the post, then buy that item. That goes as a credit towards me and eventually I can make some money doing that. It was actually pretty funny when I got an email from them saying that I had earned money. I thought it was a scam, but it wasn't. Here's a screenshot from Paypal-

I have posted 11 DIY projects, taking about an hour each. So, it's been an interesting experiment. Since I basically don't get any income from this blog I've been writing for years, maybe there's hope. Do you make any money off your blog?

Oct 24, 2018

Independence Days Challenge

Independence Days Challenge-
It's been just gorgeous fall weather with a touch of winter in the air. The days are getting a little bit cooler this week in the mid-60s going down to low 30s at night for next week. It maybe a cold Halloween! Neighbor kitty Poesy found a nice spot yesterday by our raised bed-

Then gorgeous skies, with orange clouds-

We've been doing lots of miscellaneous things and thought this would be a good post to catch them all up. So here we go...

1. Plant Something-
As usual we do not do fall plantings, but I did buy a nice purple Mum for the front porch!

2. Harvest Something-.
We had already harvested the last of the tomatoes and they are ripening nicely on the counter. The weather has been so mild I was holding off harvesting the last of my herbs. My herb box has a nice big rosemary plant in it, lemon thyme and oregano. Will harvest soon. No eggs.

3. Preserve/Store Something-
We decided to stock up on a few things when we were out grocery shopping. I bought a nice big 20 Lb. bag of rolled oats. We'll use it for ourselves and also for a treat in the winter for our chickens, great deal! I stored some outside and the rest in big gallon glass jars in the pantry. We've been freezing the tomatoes as they ripen on the counter. We bought some extra dry goods when we saw a really great deals. Things like egg noodles, granola bars, and clearance-price gourmet breads. I also bought a bottle of dark red wine since I want to make some beef stew soon. Nothing like beef stew on a really cold night! Will be stocking up on a few more things at Costco soon, since I do not go near that store until after the holidays. It's really nice to see that our freezer in the garage is actually just about completely full! It was about half-full this summer after we'd used up last year's veggies, fruits and meats. Now we have more fruits, veggies and lots of other yummy things. I do need to stock up on some meats soon, will watch for good deals.

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep-
We did get a good deal at the local Ace Hardware for wild bird food, good to keep for emergencies for chickens as well as feeding the local wildlife. $10 for 20 Lbs is a great deal so we got two! Bought some heavy, clear plastic to enclose the main coop door, and cover our work bench on the back deck. Got a few decor items including this, $7.00, keeping with my Scandinavian holiday goodies!

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe-
I have a new recipe I saw that I'm going to try soon, tangy red pepper sauce over pork chops. Looks great! Would work on others things as well, it's here - Roasted Red Pepper Vinegar Sauce

Roasted Red Pepper-Vinegar Sauce
Roasted red peppers add sweetness to this sauce, and hot cherry peppers bring some heat. Garlic, tangy vinegar, briny anchovies, and a generous amount of olive oil round out the flavors. This sauce is an excellent accompaniment to lean meats such as pork chops or chicken breast.

¾ cup jarred roasted red peppers, rinsed and patted dry
2 jarred hot cherry peppers, stems removed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons dried rosemary, lightly crushed
2 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry
½ teaspoon Salt
teaspoon pepper
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar  (Red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar can be substituted for the            white wine vinegar, if desired.)

Instructions, Serves 4, makes about 1 Cup-

Pulse red peppers, cherry peppers, garlic, rosemary, anchovies, salt, and pepper in food processor until finely chopped, 15 to 20 pulses. Add water and vinegar and pulse briefly to combine. Transfer mixture to medium bowl and add water and vinegar. Add ⅓  cup extra-virgin olive oil, tablespoons minced fresh parsley, slowly whisk in oil until fully incorporated. Stir in parsley.

6. Build Community Food Systems-
Waiting for the hens to start laying to sell some excess eggs. The 2 older ones molted, big time, and the 2 younger ones are close to laying. 

7. Recycle/Re-Use-
We've been cleaning out closets again and donating more things. I recycled some things inside the house recently when I redid our guest bedroom with more of a French country feel-

8. Skill Up-
I have been studying local politics more lately since we have a big election coming up. While the powers-that-be keep a pretty good stranglehold on things it's still good to vote.

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something-
My hand is doing well, still in the brace for 3 more weeks. I'll switch to a small brace and then wean off. Learning to mouse left handed has been hard. I'm so glad we're not buried at work! We were having some issues with our Subaru Outback and took it to the dealer. It turned out that the battery and battery cables were under warranty and that was the problem. Free replacements! It was also running a little bit odd, they asked where we bought our gas and Dave usually buys it at Costco. They told him not to buy gas ever again at Costco and here is why- when you sell a high volume of gasoline you're constantly putting in more gasoline into the pump tanks. Residue and grit in the gas never has a chance to settle, so it winds up in your fuel lines. They said they bought a gallon or two and ran it through a coffee filter. They said It was full of tons of grit and debris. Good to know! Since two of our fruit trees have a fungus I bought some Copper Fungicide spray. It kills the fungus naturally and will save our trees. I forgot to spray last fall and our poor peach and pear trees suffered. No more! Just waiting for all the leaves to fall off in another week or two.

Oct 19, 2018

We Lost Pru

Pru on the Left

We Lost Pru-
I had a pretty stressful week this week going back to work full-time after my hand surgery but I survived. It's frustrating mousing on the computer with your left hand when you're a righty! I had kind of a weird experience leaving my work building today which I won't get into here, but pretty odd. I went out to dinner by myself since Dave had to work late, really relaxed and had a nice meal.  I went home and was giving Anya the cat some love and looked out the back yard window. My black hen was in the yard laying down. Sometimes they take dust baths and kind of doze off or just hang out. From what I could see she was not moving at all, not a good sign. I hustled out and my beautiful Pru was cold and very dead. She was quite a bit bigger than in the photo above, pretty well full grown and a beautiful black Australorp. The only thing I could see was that her neck appeared to be broken, and she had a pretty major wound on her side. I suspect it was a hawk attack. That's kind of odd if it was a hawk, that it didn't eat more? I'm not sure if there's a possibility that the four hens drove off a hawk or maybe it was an immature hawk? I don't know, which is a little frustrating but regardless we lost her. One less hen but what can you do? Sigh...

Oct 14, 2018

My No-Budget French Country Bedroom Makeover, Basil Harvest/Pesto Time!

My No-Budget French Country Bedroom Makeover-
Recovering from hand surgery has been kind of challenging, and I was glad I was home for the week.  I'm grateful my work benefits include extended sick leave. Sometimes you see a lot of things that need to get done, but you can't do them yourself so they just have to wait. Dave has been really great with picking up the slack, but he's been working all week. I kept looking at our spare bedroom and realized I could do something, even with one good hand. I had painted the bedroom several years ago into a very white yellow, still love that color so I was not about to repaint that! It had turned into a bit of a storage area-

Baby themed art/mobile

Baby stuff

More stuff

Sometimes you think you know what you're going to need and then needs change. That was the case with our spare bedroom, that we turned into sort of a grand baby nursery. I was looking at the space the last couple of weeks and realized we really weren't babysitting that much anymore. Time for the baby decor to be reorganized or given away. We wanted to keep the crib, the books, the toys, etc. I really like French Country/farm decor and have so many fun pieces, mostly thrifted. I decided it was time to redo the bedroom. My challenge to myself was to do without spending any money. I could re-do it since many of the items in the bedroom could either be donated, given away or stored elsewhere. That would give me more of a clean slate to work from. Since we had bought a new queen comforter cover from Ikea I decided to re-use the old one on the twin bed. The ticking fabric would be a nice neutral accent, went from bright blue comforter to white/blue ticking-

I wanted to keep the existing wire bookcase as it has nice lines and is a good size. I empted it out, then sorted and refilled-

Removed the prints and exercise machine


Donated machine we never use, we may get a used treadmill we can leave out

Stored prints

My sewing machine stays in the room since that's a good place for it-

The corner of the room with all of the baby gear was downsized-

We didn't need tiny blankets anymore, just kept the larger napping blankets and moved them. I hung up some prints that I have been storing and that gave the room a definite more adult look. So I'll probably tweak it more overtime. For now I really like it and will continue to see what works for all of us!

Basil Harvest/Pesto Time!
Winter is definitely on the horizon since we had our first hard freeze yesterday! I had the basil plants on the deck covered up with plastic the last two days, but it was time to harvest. Since I am still using primarily one hand Dave and I set up a pesto making station tonight after dinner. One sinkful-

I used my favorite recipe and we made a nice big batch using this recipe Rosie's Pesto. We did the one plant that was really large and got 6 jars out of that batch. We ran out of fresh lemon juice so I will buy some more today and we can finish up the other batch. It smells amazing in the kitchen, like garlic and fresh basil! This freezes so well if you haven't ever tried it I'd really encourage you to make some. Freezing in the small batches works great so you can use it for pastas, or smear it on roasting chicken. That's one of my personal favorites! It's also great on broiled Italian bread. Bon appetit!

Oct 9, 2018

Thrifting Scores, Hand Surgery Progress

Thrifting Scores-
It's 45 degrees and pouring rain today, clearing a bit now. Good day to be inside! First snow for the mountains is due!!! UPDATE**** We had almost 1" of rain, and set a new record!***
The geraniums are inside now, Basil outside will be pesto this weekend. A branch came down today so the tree guy is coming tomorrow for a bid to trim our huge maple and apple trees. It's much cheaper for pruning in the fall, after the leaves are off. We'll shoot for next month probably.  

We've found some great deals in the last couple weeks at various thrift stores and on eBay. I also took 2 bags to donate and a box of household items. I found a little wooden sign, above, for $5 at Goodwill, also found the two hanging Day of the Dead colorful signs for a buck each-

At the thrift store in McCall I found these brand new Born sandals, $5.00 saving them for next summer-

We went out Sunday since I was bored out of my gourd being at home for 3 days. We went to a different Goodwill and I found a nice, deep, embossed turkey serving platter, $6 which now has ripening green tomatoes on it.  I asked Dave to harvest them before it rained and hit the 30's-

I also found a DVD at one of my favorite movies The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and a new Land's End fleece textured top, great for winter.

On eBay I found an LED European-style star string of lights. I haven't a plugged them in yet since I had to order a European to US current converter. The cord is basically clear so you really just see the stars. I've been looking for these for years after I'd seen them online.

I'll post a photo once I get the converter and have it plugged in. The converter was 3 bucks and the lights were 10 so it was a pretty good deal all in all. The lights also have box w/3 settings- steady, slow flash or fast flash. I'll use them in the kitchen.

 Hand Surgery Progress-
I had my hand surgery Friday morning and so far so good. Dave has taken great care of me! Having anesthesia is always a really strange thing because it makes you feel pretty loopy. They start off of Valium to relax you and then I had Versed which made the lights on the ceiling move around in an interesting fashion. After that I went into surgery with a "heavy sedation" instead of "full anesthesia". Next thing I knew I woke up and was all done. I had breakfast when I got home and took some medication and went to sleep for a few hours since I was really groggy. By that evening I felt pretty alert but pain medication always makes you feel a little off as well. I slept couple of times during the day, but made it through the yesterday without any naps, which is good. I'm off my pain meds, just using Aleve and Turmeric. I'm keeping my hand elevated and iced or it really swells up. It's pretty awkward being right-handed and having to use my left hand for everything but I'm getting used to it. I will be off this week and go back next Monday.  This Thursday I'll get my next brace which is much better, more use of my fingers, probably like my last one-

So I'm going to be doing a lot of reading at home this week and catching up on movies.

Oct 3, 2018

Winter Is Coming, Potato Growing Experiment Results, Autumn Decor, Hand Surgery AGAIN

Winter Is Coming-
I wish I had a funny way of saying Game of Throne's winter is coming. Anyway we're getting some 30 degree weather here in the next week or so and finally some decent rain! Exciting news because it has been dry for months and months and months and months. We've been slowly getting the house ready for the cooler weather, closing up the foundation vents, cleaning out the veggie garden of the last of the tomatoes and peppers. That opened up the garden more for the hens, so they're happy!

I asked Dave to take down our 3 bird houses so we could clean them before winter. One was so full of yellow jacket nests that he had to spray it, so it had to go in the garbage. Luckily we have lots of used cedar boards and we can make a new one in the spring. He put the one back up, and the other birdhouse needed a little retrofitting. This tall birdhouse we bartered for at a landscaping and rock facility. I called ahead of time and said we were removing a lot of gravel, if we brought some in could we barter for something else and they said sure! So for some pea gravel we didn't need we got a really cool birdhouse. The problem started up when they squirrels decided to enlarge the hole so that the birds wouldn't use it.

I asked Dave to remove the front piece with the hole and replace it with a fresh piece of cedar. He went ahead and reconfigured the hole to be much smaller so that the small birds will start using it. We also moved it to the backyard where it has more open space around it-

I love the vintage ceramic door knob!

Potato Growing Experiment Results-
This is just my favorite time of year since it is so much cooler when you're doing gardening! It was 48 degrees this weekend in the a.m. We've moved down into the 70s and that's pretty typical this time of year. I documented are potato growing experiment in a couple of different posts-
Growing Potatoes In Garbage Cans and Potato Progress

I had wanted to try growing potatoes in garbage cans since our ground space was a little bit limited by other growing stuff. Basically we watered really well a couple of times a week over the summer and things didn't seem to be growing well from what we could tell. We didn't really get a lot of potato flowers that other people mention just a couple of really small ones. Of course in the bottom of the garbage can its impossible to tell what is going on down there. So we decided decided to harvest some this weekend and see where things were at. The small blue tote had red potatoes and the two taller black ones had Yukon golds. Since the potatoes were free we only had to buy potting soil which was recommended and with her hard soil not a bad idea. Then we did spend less than $10 on the blue tote so it was a minimal investment money-wise. I had fresh potatoes a few years ago for the first time and they are so much different than what you buy in the grocery store! Much more creamy and tender. So I decided we should unearth any potatoes in the blue tote first and so it was easiest to move with the handles and that's where we found... one lone little red tater (see above).

Dave opened up the other two totes tonight, nothing! Since the potatoes were gifted it could be they were all dudes. Well, it looked good in the tote! We may buy some seed potatoes next year and try again...

Autumn Decor-
Last weekend I put out our Autumn decor. I like to have seasonal things out to mark the changes of the year. I bought a few pumpkins and got out the rest of my table top and shelf decor unpacked. Dave got some free corn stalks for the front from a local community garden. There was a big sign- FREE STALKS!

I had my nice old vintage Basin and I bought a couple of bags of pumpkin fillers in pastel colors to transition since it was too early but these things out last month. I'm not the kind of person who likes putting orange pumpkins out when it's 90 degrees in September! I went ahead and added a small pumpkin in the middle now that I'm switching over to the traditional fall colors. Here's a little tour of some things we have up inside the house-

I made the cotton metal planter myself!

Outside we have a little fall mat by the front door, a little flag and when is closer to Halloween will put up decorations outside the house. That's always fun for the trick-or-treaters.

Hand Surgery, Again-
Boy did I clean the house last week! Because... it's that time again. About 2 years ago I had surgery on my left thumb since the bone at the base of the thumb was really worn. Severe arthritis. I was in continual pain and losing my grip strength. It was a quite a recovery for several months, wearing different braces, but now my left thumb is pain-free and I have my grip strength back. Now it's time for my right hand. I probably won't be blogging much after this for a week or so until I get the initial big, honking brace off, I have to wear this for the first week-

Then I'll be fitted with a smaller black, adjustable one for 2 months. Basically (spoiler alert don't read ahead if you have a sensitive stomach) they make an incision at the base of the thumb and take out the square metacarpal bone that is all worn. Then they basically suture the heck out of it so the upper piece of my thumb has something to rest on that won't cause pain. I do a couple months with a big wrist/forearm brace to keep the thumb stationary. Then I go to a smaller mini split, then start doing OT to stretch my thumb/hand/fingers. My hand surgeon did a great job the first time and it actually wasn't that expensive relatively speaking. Thanks god for insurance! I'll be home all next week from work watching Netflix and DVDs with Anya the cat. Send some good energy my way, thanks!

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