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...

Jan 27, 2019

It Pays To Shop Around! Bye Bye Winter Decor & Garden Surprise, Roasted Pork Tenderloin & Potsticker Salad

It Pays To Shop Around!
Just when things are going reasonably well the dishwasher started flooding the kitchen. We didn't realize our dishwasher was actually about 12 years old! We had noticed more food was getting into the sprayer arms over the last year or so. We would clean them out and they would just clog again. We were really cleaning the dishes ahead of time too. A few nights last week we walked in and found water on the floor in front of the dishwasher. After doing some research, and asking about a local repair shop, it was past that point of no return. I have joked with Dave that if he passes away first I would ditch the dishwasher. I'd have a carpenter put in some really nice light colored shelves, something like this, no link back on Pinterest sadly-

We decided to join Consumer Reports online for $7 a month. It's a great way to do a lot of research if you're going to make a major purchase. You can just cancel your subscription after the one month. We didn't know much about newer dishwashers and how energy-efficient they are! You can run a 1/2 load and use very little water and power. That's great since we were running ours every other day. They newer ones have light sensors in them that can read how dirty the water is at the start of the cycle. It then adjusts the water and length of the cycle. Amazing!

We looked at three different big box stores online and then went to a local furniture place that also sells appliances. Years ago I had seen Bosch dishwashers but they were really, really expensive since they were imported from Germany. I didn't know that at some point they started manufacturing them in the U.S.! The short version- after doing a lot of price checking, checking features and reliability was we bought a Bosch dishwasher. We also got free no interest financing for 12 months. We will just pay a little each month and then be done. We brought home the dishwasher (in stock too!)  yesterday and Dave installed it in two hours-

Anya approved

Tons of sound insulation!!!

We ran it this morning and it's incredibly quiet which is a bonus. I was so used to the loud noises that I kept thinking the new one wasn't on, ha ha. I did have my dishwasher cover on the old dishwasher, but the magnetic part won't stick on the new one bummer...

All in all the installation only took a couple of hours, we bought from a local store which supported them, made in the USA and got a great price, $485.00. Win win! Big box stores DON'T always have the best prices and NOTHING in stock. So remember to shop around!!!

Bye Bye Winter Decor-
In some ways I'm just not ready to say goodbye to Winter yet! I just love snow and we haven't had hardly any this year. I know that may sound crazy if you live back east with blizzards in 20 degree below weather. But in the high desert that we live in here snow is a rarity, usually. I decided to go ahead and pack up all the winter decor yesterday and it's all back out in the garage. I had deep cleaned our barn wood living room bookcase and lightened it up. I added some lighter Swedish Ivy and the new topiary I made. I also added a few Valentine's Day things around the house even though it's not quite February, but it will be next weekend!

My sweet daughter Tami gifted me with a chicken from Cost Plus, love it!

Fave thrifted vase

When I was outside this morning I was really shocked to see some green things coming up in the front yard!

Asian Poppy

Lamb's Ear

Misc ground cover

Shasta Daisies


I know we've been having mild weather, but this was kind of crazy in January. I hope we don't have any really hard freezes anytime soon. We have another mild week this week in the forecast, upper 40's. It always makes me really nervous when the perennials come up too early because February and March can still have bitter bitter cold weather. We've actually had a relatively mild winter, although we did have some very cold temperatures in November. While I love spring and seeing everything green up, it's always a dangerous kind of time if it happens too early. Time will tell...

Roasted Pork Tenderloin & Potsticker Salad-
I decided to buy a couple of pork tenderloin roasts after I saw an amazing price for two at Costco! I froze one for later. I wasn't sure about the best way to roast one so I tried recipe here . Since I don't buy pre-packaged Italian spice mix I just used basil, oregano and thyme. It came out super tender and juicy-

 I was also I decided to make it my favorite pot sticker salad I hadn't made it quite while. I used chicken and vegetable pot stickers, also from Costco, and followed this recipe for the dressing and salad The dressing really makes this dish, with the fresh lemon juice adding the tang.

Jan 19, 2019

Crazy Weather and Cobbler, Nice Freebies and Finds!

Crazy Weather And Cobbler-
I woke up this morning to a soaked yard and fences. We have had just really crazy weather lately! We had a little bit of snow a few days ago, that melted and turned to just dry weather. Next we had almost 50 degree weather for 2 days. Last night a big rain storm blew in, with more rain in the forecast, but mild. The good news is there should be quite a bit of snow up in the mountains which we really need. The hens are really producing, with more than 2 dozen eggs in the fridge! Giving some to my daughter today. The chickens are glad the sun room is up. It's a nice dry space for them during the wetter weather. They take dust baths, hang out and chat about whatever chickens chat about. We haven't had a many big winter storms blowing in so far. That's never good for upcoming fire season. I will probably bring in my to let it snow signs this weekend since I don't think it's going to happen! I'll be putting away our winter decor next weekend, and get ready for Valentine's Day. It's just around the corner which always seems to get me ready for Spring. I guess it's just the bright red? What's the weather doing where you are? With the cold, wet weather (45 today) I decided to use some of my home grown, home canned apples and make Nancy's appleblueberry cobbler -

Nice Finds!
Here's a few great deals, and freebies, I've gotten lately! I had noticed the Subaru seemed to have some squeaking gone on in the engine, like a slipping belt. I mentioned it to Dave a few times and he told me he didn't hear anything. Our son-in-law listened and confirmed my squeak. At the dealership it turned out the was a "service bulletin" out for the belt. They installed a new one for free and now no drama down the road. Score! It's not a "recall", but close enough. I wish they would inform people of service bulletins. I can only guess it's too much trouble and they would be giving away a lot of service time and parts.

I recently found a new (to me) British series on Netflix on gardening in small spaces - Big Dreams, Small Spaces We still have some odd areas on the lot that are hard to garden on, lack of sun, etc. I'm hoping this will give me some ideas, since Spring is around the corner! Some of the ideas are for planting edibles, so curious to get ideas for that too.

Next when I purged a lot of my clothes I found a new pair of jeans I had altered. They were still a little too big thru the waist. I had taken them in, but not enough, and had sat them aside. They got buried in the closet. Still too big but I fired up the sewing machine and all fixed!

I bought more faux Swedish ivy online that I couldn't find locally, and found this, a Victorian Chicken Plate-

It's heavy and very textured if you see the photo above. Just gorgeous. About 12" x 12". It's now hanging in my dining room "window".


We did a mini road trip to our favorite little diner two weekends ago. It had been sold and all the cool vintage collections were gone-

Loved the green painted handles! 

Cool green Australian (owner told me) pie safe

Food was still great, but kind of sad about the decor. The space was more open, less cluttered and the theme they went with was mountain decor-

I really liked the fish, canoe, tree and duck!

I asked the waitress where they got some of their things and she told me all kinds of places and  I had never heard of them, but Dave had. It's like Amazon on steroids for decor, etc. Great prices, relatively speaking as well. I decided I could buy a few NEW things for a change. (FYI, just sharing my finds, no fees being paid.) On the first page of the online catalog I saw a small goat figure !!! Swoon! I always wanted real goats, but have to go with the fake ones. I bought two figures, shipped and on their way, they also have cows, sheep and pigs!

Nice finish

I like table runners, not a table cloth or place mat fan. Runner are easy to wash and rotate. I found this chicken themed 72" table runner, $6.00, bought 2 matching towels, so cute! Perfect for some red for Valentine's day and summer-

And another chicken item, small mini windvane, $9.00, (what can I say I love chicken stuff). I may polyurethane this and put it outside, not sure yet-

I got 2 things for Christmas for next time, great after holiday sales, a 60" x 102" fabric tablecloth, big enough for our dining table with the leaf in, $10.00. I can use it for our big family get-togethers and use into January too- 

I LOVE this reindeer, it came yesterday, soft and sweet, $14.00.The antlers light up, or you could leave them off. Very soft fabric and the legs unscrew for easy storage. It looks even better in person! I may sew a button on the nose...

A while back I got a small sample glass cleaning cloth at Ace Hardware. It's fabric, uses no chemicals just water and it did a great job! Worked on the computer monitors, windows, TV. Just wet, wring out and use. Dry as needed. It's scent-free and should last quite a while, 2 pack here-


Jan 8, 2019

Independence Days Challenge

Independence Days Challenge-
For a variety of reasons I decided not to do the "year in review" post. It's labor intensive, although educational for me. We didn't do any huge home improvements, more little things. We will do a major front yard re-do next spring. The county is widening our front street in December and we will dig up as much as we can this fall to relocate until spring. We're losing about 2' - 3' of our front yard
 garden. Luckily since most are perennials they should be okay. So here's a list of recent things we've been up to! I watched a few episodes of Marie Kondo's Netflix series. It inspired me to get rid of more stuff. She's the author of 

She really does have some great ideas especially around "sentimental items".  So here we go...

1. Plant Something- Frozen ground here, nope!

2. Harvest Something- Lots of eggs, happy dance!!! Averaging about 2-4 per day. Hens are doing great this winter, with the "sun room" up-

Sarah left and Ellie right

Rosie left, Annie right, her head was on the ground for bird food!

3. Preserve/Store Something- Have been freezing various foods/breads/etc.  Need to make some fermented foods soon.

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep- Have been using some coupons for wild bird food, bought some meats on sale, doing flexible cooking based on availability. Buying groceries with a open mind is a great way to save money. Look and see what's a great deal and cook around that. I got a great deal on chicken quarters so I bought those instead of breasts w/ribs. Roasted those with some homemade pesto from the freezer-

Got this fun farm item from a store going out of business, $5.00, I think I'll do a little dry brush paint on it...

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe- Will get into freezer more and do some baking with frozen fruits. Have homegrown tomatoes, local peaches, rhubarb and organic blueberries/strawberries. Also need to work on my own canned apple slices-

6. Build Community Food Systems- Had a co-worker inquire about buying extra eggs, so will talk to her about that soon. I used to sell my extra eggs for $3.00 dz. May have to boost that?

7. Recycle/Re-Use- Donating a bit of my "work wardrobe" and other clothes this week. Total- four garbage bags. I changed jobs from an office setting with patients to a setting where everyone wears jeans, no public in-person interactions. I bought two new pair of jeans this weekend as mine were a bit too ratty for work. Great for around the house (thrifted) but needed some actual NEW ones! Got a good deal locally. Fun reminder on good aspects of de-cluttering/donating-

Keyboard at work too small for me so taking an old one from here to work. Free fix. 
I cleaned out 2 of my kitchen desk "junk" drawer of misc. stuff for donations and trash-





Anya reused some hot air coming out of the space heater-

8. Skill Up- Bought some heavy denim needles for my sewing machine. Since it's a "heavy duty" machine I forgot to add needles to the equation. Duh. Broken needles and a tune-up later, lesson learned. 

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something- Dave built the new coop ramp on the left as the other one was falling apart, used recycled cedar boards-

Jan 6, 2019

Easy Decor Using Log Slices, Winter Indoors After the Holidays

Easy Decor Using Log Slices-
I first saw wood slices years ago, used primarily for wood burning. Two years ago I saw really beautiful, natural centerpieces, mostly from Germany, for Advent on Pinterest. Here's a few examples, no links sadly-

Lots of layering, love it

Simple and sweet

What fun!

Lots of colors and texture

Recently I saw this-

It got me thinking I could use wood slices for all kinds of decor! Here's some things I put together, with a wood slice from Michael's for $10.00-

Topiary and Swedish ivy

Little oil lamp

Red pips and birds

 I added this to my little winter bench, using a thicker slice for $5.00, adding more texture-

If you need something different go buy a slice and play with it!!! I can see all kinds of possibilities using what I already have!

Winter Indoors After the Holidays-
I'm hoping for real snow tonite!!! Storm on the way, sick of the brown frozen city. Snow please. I always start in early December putting out fun winter decor. My daughter gave me a nice compliment recently. She said "you always do a great job bringing nature inside". I loved it! I start with winter, my Yule shelf and the Advent ring. Closer to mid December I add Santa's and the Christmas tree. Around New Years we take down the tree and the rest of Christmas stuff. I like to leave up winter items until closer to the end of January. Here's our transitional goodies we have out now-

Snowmen with sparkly cotton balls and min swag

Snowman and birch wreath

Winter pick with chickens

Kitchen window

Winter birds in entryway

More snowmen

Light on the two topiaries with sparkly birds

Pine cone pots in living room

Side table living room


Back hallway

Apples over kitchen window

More apples over dining room sliding door

Dining room "window"

Coffee table, put away red runner for my DIY burlap runner

Dome by my computer

Snowman mug 

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