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...

Feb 23, 2019

The BBC's Rosemary & Thyme Series, The Secret Language of Flowers

The BBC's Rosemary & Thyme Series-
After Dave and I went through the Father Brown Mysteries series on Netflix I really wanted to try another BBC series. Years ago I had heard about this series on PBS. The two main characters are avid gardeners out solving mysteries. Rosemary Boxer and Laura Thyme are their names. Rosemary drives a beat up 1980 Range Rover, my kind of gal! She fixes it on the side of the road at one point, that was it for me! Love  it. Laura is an ex-police woman/homemaker and Rosemary is a professor of horticulture. They have quite an adventure when they first meet and then become friends. Our local library had the entire set on DVD so I checked it out. We're both really loving the show, with it's charming characters, amazing gardens they film in. They used some of the most beautiful gardens in the UK and Europe, so what's not to love? The two lead actresses have really great chemistry and it's an easy watch. It aired 2003-2006. Very much inspiring for the upcoming spring gardening season. I've already learned a bit watching the show!!! It has a really lovely musical theme in the intro as well-

Recognize the song???

Check it out!

The Secret Language of Flowers-
During an episode of Rosemary and Thyme this custom was mentioned in a fictional book. In that  episode the main character had planted very specific types of flowers in a very specific pattern to communicate something about his lost love. I had heard of this years ago and forgot about it completely! Fascinating!!! Description here-

Did you know the type of flowers you give can speak volumes? 'The Secret Language of Flowers' is a fascinating insight into the Victorian tradition of using flowers to convey secret messages, in a society where feelings often had to be suppressed. Samantha Gray reveals how flowers came by their meanings in folklore and how flowers became the language of courtship, love, friendship, beauty, and more. Discover the meanings of over 50 flowers: how lily of the valley symbolizes the return of happiness, how bluebells stand for constancy and everlasting love, and how daffodils represent high regard and chivalry. With stunning illustrations by artist Sarah Perkins that capture all of the beauty of flowers, this is an exceptionally lovely and fascinating gift book. 


Feb 21, 2019

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!
Four  more inches of the gorgeous white stuff fell yesterday! Another  2" this morning. Yesterday wasn't too bad going to work, but today the commute was really icy. Clear roads tonight after a sunny afternoon, cold tonight, down to 17 degrees. More snow this weekend, then maybe rain next week. I went out after work in the dark and cleared out the exterior coop door for the girls to come out, then cleared off the sun room roof. It's more winter!

Feb 17, 2019

Thrifted Clock Swedish Chalk Paint Re-Do, Upcycled Cake Heart = Ivy Topiary

Thrifted Clock Swedish Chalk Paint Re-Do-
A week or two ago I blogged about the nice wooden clock that I found at Goodwill for $5.00-

When I saw the shape it reminded me of Mora clocks from Sweden with the curvy lines-

The clock was made out of nice heavy wood so it was pretty well made. I did a little research and decided to do a light gray chalk paint. I used the same brand that I used for painting the inside of my china cabinet. The color of the paint is called Yesteryear-

The inside part of the clock that holds the battery and has the face with the hands on the other side was duct taped in. It had four tiny screws, three of which had already snapped off. There was only one screw in place, so I basically gently twisted and the whole piece of plastic was able to come out. First thing I had to do was take it apart and remove the insides since the previous owner had gotten some spray paint on the edges of the glass-

I was able to scrape the glass paint off the glass using a razor and then when cleaned the glass. I put a battery in to make sure that it actually worked, which it did! I thought about replacing the clock face with a different color or style. After seeing the way that the battery pack was attached to the front it wouldn't have really been worth the time and effort to try and retrofit it that.

I would have liked a white clock face with numbers or Roman numerals, rather than the gold, but I decided to live with it. Sometimes when you're retrofitting something you wind up doing more damage than good if you work on it too much!

I used a medium sized craft paint brush and a wide foam brush. The foam brush worked really well for the wide sides since I wanted to minimize brush marks-

I gave the clock two coats of chalk paint with letting it dry really well in between coats-

After everything dried really well I put a really I put the glass in. I put a really small bead of clear liquid nails on the plastic piece and put it into place. I let all of that dry overnight. I put the back on today and set it up. I think it came out great!  The clock was $5 and the paint was $8.00 at Hobby Lobby, total investment was about $6 since I have lots of paint left over. And I LOVE the gray!

Upcycled Cake Heart = Ivy Topiary-
When we did our remodeling on our master bathroom I decided to put a plant there. I found a nice terracotta pot that was slightly whitewashed at Goodwill for a couple dollars and planted an ivy in it-

I looked around for another plant stake like this one but couldn't find one-

Bird stake from a few years ago

The plant has done really well but I wanted to put a heart-shaped topiary frame into the pot. I looked around town but couldn't really find what I was looking for and then I stumbled onto a farm-style rustic cake topper. I found this at Hobby Lobby and suddenly realized I could use it instead-

The first thing I did was rub some cooking oil on the bare wood that was going to be going into the soil to protect it. Next I sat down with the ivy and started very carefully untangling the vines. I lost a few leaves during this process but they will grow back as the plant is healthy-

After I started winding the ivy around the base and up both sides I realized that there were some loose pieces of the vines. I didn't have any thin wire so I used sewing thread in a dark green. I wound it loosely around the heart and the base. It helps see the heart shape and the base isn't quite so bulky. It came out nice, but I will still keep my eye out for a metal one that would be a little bit bigger. Total cost was $6 for the heart shape.

Feb 12, 2019

More Snow, DIY Frugal Fabric Hearts

Snow falling

More Snow-
We did have our forcast snowfall start Friday night, with some of it melting Saturday. More snow came in Saturday night and Sunday we had another inch of fresh snow. Very, very pretty! It melted a bit, then the chickens came out to get some sun and pecked in the muddy dirt. Had a little yesterday, but not much. It was 40 today with rain coming. The mountains have been hit hard, which is good for the water table. Winter is definitely back...

Lovely blue skies!

DIY Frugal Fabric Hearts-
After I recently bought some Prim hearts on Etsy, I was inspired to make some larger ones. Since the basin I have was pretty good-sized I needed more volume. You can see from this photo that I did fill it about halfway with Spanish moss. I got that idea from the photo of the Etsy items that I bought. Her basin was just much smaller. I had some leftover fabrics that I decided to use. I bought some craft stuffing to fill my hearts with. My only purchase was $5.00 for the bag. I used a decorative wall hanging shaped like a heart to be the basic pattern of the two large ones. I had some cream colored burlap that I used first. That was pretty tricky since it's a really loose weave. The first one didn't come out very well shape-wise, so I cut it down smaller. The second one came out better. I had some red and white checked fabric that I decided to make another large heart out of. One of the Pinterest ideas of that I saw was to cut it out stuff it and use pinking shears on the raw edges. So that's what I did!

I cut out the heart with plenty of extra fabric, sewed the heart 90% closed, filled and then hand-stitched the rest. I used my pinking shears and carefully went all the way around the heart. I also did the smaller heart the same way. You could do lots of different shapes and sizes but this was enough to go with my basin. You could even use old jeans, sheets any kind of fabric that you have!

Feb 8, 2019

Winter Storm Arriving

Winter Storm Arriving-
Snow started lightly at 5 pm.m tonite on the way home, with bitter winds. Major storm is moving over us for the next several days. I prepped the coop, got groceries and we're all warm an cozy! More photos coming this weekend once the main storm hits! Looking forward to the white stuff! Growing up in southern California I just never saw any growing up. Several inches is doable here, not several feet. More soon after it hits and the beauty of winter shows it's pretty face.

Feb 5, 2019

Winter Is Back!!!

Winter Is Back!!!
1 1/2" fresh snow last night, with a low of 13 degrees tomorrow night! 

Winter Is Back!!!

Feb 3, 2019

Thrifting Scores! More Winter On The Way? Citrus Angel Food Cake

Thrifting Scores!
It's definitely a good time to go thrifting! Between a lot of people donating right at the end of the year, and the Marie Kondo craze, there are lots of things at thrift stores. I did read the original Marie Kondo book a few years ago, which I liked, but I'm not quite that OCD personally. Now that she's on Netflix a lot of people are talking about it at work, etc. The local news even reported donations are way up right now! Win win. Either way it makes for a lot of great items going into the stores. I was running some errands yesterday right by a Goodwill so I went in. I'm working on a project to reorganize some of my small craft supplies. I have craft supplies stuffed in a closet and it all gets mixed together. I wanted to get some plastic totes that were small. I found three of these perfect size and they're clear, $2-

Then I found a like-new angel food cake baking tin for $3.00 since mine was falling apart. Now that I have lots of eggs so I can start making angel food cakes again, recipe below. I found the great clock above for $5, it reminded me of the curvy Swedish Mora clocks-

It's 15" high and is probably considered a mantel-type clock, battery operated. I may paint it, not sure yet but I will definitely do something with the finish. The nice thing is you can open up the entire clock from the back. Someone did a little bit of spray paint on the glass. It's battery operated and will look nice in the house.

I also found a fun little wooden Valentine's Day item made out of a 2 x 4, for $2-

Perfect for my front entryway

Winter On The Way?
The weather has been very mild lately, actually 54 degrees yesterday! Too warm for this time of year but what can you do? I feel so terrible for all the people back in the Midwest and the East Coast who had such terrible blizzards and Sub-Zero temperatures. I've actually been in that kind of weather in the Dakotas and it was awful. I was in an area once where it was 10 below zero, with 50 mile an hour winds. I don't actually know what the windchill was, but it was bad. Yesterday we had the rain set in, rained all day, woke up to pouring rain again this morning-

soaked maple tree with Poesy the neighbor kitty

Sun is out a bit this afternoon. More in the forecast, then the temperature will drop and go into a rain/snow mix. Hard to tell if it will actually snow here in the valley, but it's really great news to get a lot more snow up in the mountains. We always need that for a water table and snow pack!!!

Grungy Valentine's Day

I was looking on Etsy a few weeks ago to try to find something interesting for Valentine's Day that was affordable. I found this little set of handmade fabric primitive items at  I really love them! They also inspired me to make something of my own along these lines, but larger. Since I have a larger white enameled basin on my coffee table I needed some bigger ones. The basin above is smaller than mine. I have some red and white checked cotton fabric and some cream colored burlap. This week I'm going to cut out some larger hearts, stuff them and put them in the basin with the ones I bought. Photos coming! For $5 at Joann's Fabric I bought a bag of crafter's poly fill which should do the trick-

So basically this will be free craft items out of my recycled fabrics. At Joann's I also found some fun herb stakes! When I tell Dave to go out on the deck and bring me in a hand of thyme he always has to ask me which is which? These should solve that problem, about 6" across. I am going to polyurethane these to make them more weather resistant, $3 each-

And my back-ordered mini-wind vane finally arrived! It was back east stuck in the blizzards-

Love it!

Citrus Angel Cake-
I finally had enough eggs to make this, and a new thrifted pan! The link I had is dead so here's the recipe-

Makes: 12 servings, Prep: 30 minutes, Bake: 40 minutes

Nancy Note- I added 1/2 teaspoon pure orange extract, since I like a more intense flavor. And I only sifted the flour and sugar once, since it's pre-sifted. Came out great!

1 1/2  cups egg whites (10 to 12)
1 1/2  cups sifted powdered sugar
1  cup sifted cake flour or sifted all-purpose flour
1  teaspoon cream of tartar
3  tablespoons frozen juice concentrate (limeade, lemonade, or orange juice), thawed
3/4  cup granulated sugar

Directions- In a covered large bowl, let egg whites stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Sift the powdered sugar and flour together three times; set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Add cream of tartar to egg whites in bowl; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Add juice concentrate. Gradually add granulated sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight).

Sift about one-fourth of the flour mixture over beaten egg white mixture; fold in gently. (If the bowl is too full, transfer mixture to a larger bowl.) Repeat, folding in the remaining flour mixture by fourths. Pour batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan; spread evenly. Bake on the lowest oven rack for 40 to 45 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Immediately invert cake (leave in pan); cool thoroughly. (If the cake has risen higher than the pan, invert it over a jar or bottle so the top of the cake does not touch the counter top.) To serve, loosen side and center from pan with a narrow spatula; remove cake. Using a serrated knife, cut into wedges. You could add a glaze if you like!

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