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...

Jul 28, 2019

Independence Days Challenge

Independence Days Challenge-
We finally hit 100 degrees in the last week! All the  turf, flowers and veggie beds are very well-mulched, but now it's water, water, water. Here's an update of what we've been up to...

1. Plant Something- 
I have killed all the Bee Balms I've ever planted, for some unknown reason. I just bought two, half priced, and planted them. Hopefully at least one will survive! I put one in the front yard flower bed, and one in a pot on the back deck, pot on the right-

2. Harvest Something- 
Tons of eggs, 3-4 per day! I've been giving some to our kiddos.  Picked our first green beans, Black Berries, small tomatoes, 1st batch of Chokecherries, harvested about 2 cups, lots more coming soon!  Still getting good growth on the kale, and the collard greens in the raised bed-

The thorn-less blackberries are huge this year!

Herb box doing well, pretty soon I'll make some pesto to freeze-

3. Preserve/Store Something-
Freezing the Chokecherries to make jelly later when it's cooler-

I had a "duh" moment a while back- I read somewhere to just freeze berries and make jellies in the winter, when it's cooler. So that's the plan. Apples and peaches coming along well, not too many pears for some reason. Corn is almost as high as an elephant's eye! It is looking great!

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep-
Bought several clearance boxes of 1 gallon Ziploc plastic bags for freezing some of the fruits and veggies. Bought some extra boxes of teabags to stash for later. 

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe-
Mama Pea from shared her recipe for shortcake, which I made, delish and easy! 

Shortcake Recipe:
2 cups all-purpose flour - I used WW Pastry flour
2 TBL sugar
1 TBL baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
 ½ cup butter
1 beaten egg
2/3 cup milk
1 TBL sugar, sprinkled on top- my idea
6 cups fresh strawberries, sliced¼ cup sugar. 1 cup whipping cream w/ 2 tablespoons sugar

Stir together strawberries and ¼ cup sugar, set aside.  For shortcake, thoroughly stir together flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder and salt.  Cut in  the ½ cup butter til mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Combine beaten egg, milk and add all at once to dry ingredients and stir just to moisten. Spread dough (it will be very thick) in a well-greased 8" round baking pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes.  Then cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and split into 2 layers.  Lift top off carefully. Whip cream with 2 tablespoons sugar and spoon whipped cream and berries between layers and over top. With 2 of us, I left whole and served in a triangle wedge, then split drizzled with cream. The cake is plain and should keep the rest of the week.

New shrimp recipe I tried was this Sweet Chili Garlic Shrimp .  I made for dinner tonight, it's a winner! I love the garlic and I used a little Cayenne since I didn't have the second hot sauce on hand.  I served with brown Jasmine rice and raw snow peapods. I could doing this with chicken or fish as well.

6. Build Community Food Systems-
No farmer's markets yet, too early for potatoes and other veggies we like. Dave got about 5 lbs. of free cherries from a co-worker. We shared with our kiddos.

7. Recycle/Re-Use-
Donated old clothes and highchair to charity. Bought like-new used slacks on eBay. Got a DVD for a movie from the library to watch. I LOVE libraries! At Goodwill I found a tall pretty Lighthouse for my beach table (sorry no pics) today, $4.00.

8. Skill Up- 
Interesting reading about how some outsiders want to try and join the Amish. Very complicated situation it seems, but fascinating reading Can An Outsider Ever Truly Become Amish?

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something-
I was happy to see that my previously bug infested Mugo Pine has really recovered nicely. New green needles galore!

Jul 16, 2019

The Other Side of Amazon Prime

Photo from

The Other Side of Amazon Prime-
To be honest we all like a good deal. And we all buy stuff. One of the things I try to look at more and more over time is what I'm buying, and WHY. With a recent big deal of Amazon Prime days, coupled with watching the news, here are a few ideas that the mainstream media does not promote. As we all know Amazon has put a lot of companies out of business and that's part of the supposedly free market system. And they are very, very convenient, which is great for people who don't want to think a whole lot about how they actually shop. So here's a few different things I thought of that I will list. In no particular order....

Why do you pay a fee to buy stuff? Prime membership always cracked me up.

How many things to buy on Amazon that you could probably find locally and support local businesses assuming that you need something new?

How many things could you buy used or recycled, through various venues, instead of buying something new on Amazon? Maybe get free on Craigslist? Or barter?

How many things could you restore/reuse instead of buying something new on Amazon? Like our wheelbarrow we re-painted and added new hardware to-

How many things could you find online through smaller companies, they have just as many deals and the same products, that you could support instead?

How much stuff do you really need? To me that's really the biggest question. Good ideas, and maybe some answers here-

And how much of your old stuff winds up in a landfill?

Where are you going to store all your store when you run of of room?

It's been on and off in the news for quite a while about how dangerous, and punitive it is, working for Amazon. Not drinking water on the job, because then your count goes down when you use the bathroom. (See the article at the for more information). When I started seeing their trucks around town on the weekends I just sort of shook my head. They're catering to people who want instant gratification, all the time, for everything. This country has no patience and no deep thinking sometimes. How about simplify?

Homesteading to me harkens back to older times, when we were more self-sufficient and made do with a lot less. I had to laugh when I watched the movie Red Sparrow. There was a section in the beginning when a Russian teacher is instructing her class of spies-in-the making, that Americans are addicted to their shopping and their social media. I almost burst out laughing the theater. How true, how true. But I think it really hit the nail on the head for me for how the country is moving. I see that speed shopping encourages people to become so lazy that they don't want to drive anywhere, to buy anything, and or even get out of the car. Some people simply want to press some buttons on a device. It's mindless and it's promoting a scary future in this country... There is hope though, book stores are making a comeback!!! So here's some ideas-

Jul 13, 2019

Easy, Frugal Lemon & Yellow Decor For Summer, Florida Now Allows Growing Veggies In Front Yards, Re-Creating American Hero Sandwich

Easy, Frugal Lemon & Yellow Decor For Summer-
Summer is here, since it was 99 degrees yesterday! We had an unusual thunderstorm last night, which brought heavy rain for and hour or so. What a relief!!! Years ago I found this great post on a old, abandoned blog, I saw her photo-

I spied a mini-lemon garland! I'd never had seen those before. I looked for them and last year finally found some. This winter, when it was really gray, I stumbled onto some really cute living room and kitchen decor with lemons and lots of yellow. It really got me thinking about adding some brightness in the kitchen and dining room. I already had some things with lemons on them so I just got a few other things to go with them...

I found some really cute ceramic lemons from Target for a dollar each, on two different trips, and bought six total. Love them!

Then I found this Michel Design Works really gorgeous tea towel on eBay for $8. Love the yellows,  flowers and the bird. It's called Tranquility-

I had an old blue Ball jar with small lemons, sits on the counter

I already had the lemon topiary I made out of a existing blue ceramic pot, using twigs, moss and faux lemons

Originally I had wanted to buy a blue Keurig coffee maker off of QVC. Years ago they had a really great deal, but they were out and so I bought a yellow one. It's grown on me overtime! I also found a thrifted cute little coffee bean container, to add a little more yellow.

Finally I had a really pretty French country ceramic breadbox, and put my jar of yellow Polenta out on the counter, in front of a French country tray. Maybe this will inspire you to add some sunny yellow to your home!!! Or go make some lemonade! Stay cool my friends...

Florida Now Allows Growing Veggie In Front Yards-
It's great to see someone beat city hall, or in this case, the state. Love these people and their tenacity! Click on link above for full story. Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Smart Governor.

Re-Creating American Hero Sandwich-
Recently on our Baker City road trip I had an American Hero sandwich. I tried-recreating it at home, not the best photo, sorry. I used Ciabatta bread since I had it on hand, instead of their amazing Focaccia bread. Basically here it is-

Sliced Roast beef, Pepperoni slices, sharp cheddar cheese slices, Horseradish mixed with sour cream. You could add lettuce and tomato, etc. Obviously this is not plant based! Slice bread into a rectangle, mix sour cream and pure horseradish to taste, you want it hot, but not blistering. Layer meats and cheese, I served with chips and veggies. You could really play with this recipe and add olives, change the meats, etc. Nice dinner for a hot night!

Jul 9, 2019

Lavender Festival, Independence Days Challenge, Road Trip

Lavender Festival-
Every year I always miss the Lavender Festival outside of Boise at This time I was smart and marked it on my calendar extra early! It's really a fun place to go, lots of arts and crafts for sale, some food/ drinks, and lots of U-Pick lavenders of several different varieties. I wasn't really sure if I wanted to pick lavender because I already had some at home so I decided to pass on that. I did take lots of photos of bees which was great. I have never seen so many bees in a small area before!!!  I thought the Lavender Festival area would be bigger, but they do a good job with the space they have. It's not like France where you see hills and hills covered with lavender. Instead it was probably about a half an acre of solid lavender, about 8 varieties. They rent the space for weddings, photo shoots, etc. Here's some photos of what I saw, but it didn't take any pictures of the crowds so as not to invade people's space. Check for bees in the photos!

Melissa white Lavender, great scent!

There were a couple of vendors in beautiful tents that had some really cute, but overpriced for me, lavender-oriented items. Way too much for my budget, but I did find this Pewter Revere candy dish with feet for $5. I didn't really care about the black spots but it did Shine up quite a bit more with silver polish

Independence Days Challenge-

1. Plant Something
We have all our veggies and things planted so far so I think we're probably done for now. I will buy more Cilantro if I can find it since the bugs ate mine.

2. Harvest Something- Eggs!!! Lavender, but I left some for the bees, more lavender mini-bunches in both bathrooms-

Got our first summer berries- raspberries/blackberries, and cherry tomatoes. Picked first Marconi pepper, supposed to be red, but harvested early-

3. Preserve/Store Something-
Dave harvested our neighbor's Rhubarb that she hates! Washed and laid out on baking sheets to freezer, got several Qts. The peach tree is really loaded so we should start harvesting peaches in about two to three weeks, maybe. Dave harvested the last of the Service berries, about a 1/2 Qt. The full total is about 2.5 gallons! That's crazy!!!

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep-
Leaving freezer space for fruit from trees and tomatoes. Got 2 really fun, heavy paper buntings on eBay, $5.00 each!

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe-
I saw Jamie Oliver last night on PBS with a recipe I have to try-  Only 5 ingredients, quick flat bread, with mango chutney, cooked eggs, red chili, yogurt! Looks great!

Chutney for the above from Cost Plus. I'll make some homemade peach chutney to can this summer-

Found a fun Greek, vegan food also at Cost Plus-

For the rhubarb I tried this new recipe Rhubarb Coffee Cake  It came out great, nice and moist. With my new cookbook from our plant-based diet classes, my new fave is here-

I used spinach instead of Arugula and used ready to eat, roasted canned red bell peppers. It's FABULOUS!!! I added our fresh tomatoes, and you could switch things up. Use raisins instead of figs, etc. The dressing would be good on shrimp too-

6. Build Community Food Systems-
Haven't been any farmers markets yet for what I want. Waiting for some peaches and apples of different varieties to come into season.

7. Recycle/Re-Use-
Dave mixed last summer's potting soil with manure and compost to lighten it up. Potato seeds failed so we recycled. Donated misc. household stuff and toddler toys. Grandsons are getting too big! 

8. Skill Up-
Learned all about how to clean pewter! And there are 3 different kinds of pewter, who knew!

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something-
Mixed up the potting soil and cleaned up the pewter.

Road Trip-
Dave and I both decided we wanted to get out of the town for the day on the 4th of July. Sadly we both had to work on the 5th so there was no 4 day weekend for us. We decided to go to Baker City, Oregon since it's only a short 2 hour/easy drive. Since is higher in elevation it's about 10 degrees cooler, and there has lots of fun things to do. There was no way we were going to stay until midnight to watch fireworks, get up to go to work in the morning after driving all the way back. So we had breakfast and then hit the road and had a nice lunch at one of our favorite places AJ's Corner Brick Bar and Grill-

It has lots of sandwiches, burgers and brews. They had one of the best sandwiches I've ever had, an American Hero. It had homemade focaccia bread, roast beef, sharp cheddar cheese, pepperoni, and horseradish in sour cream. The bread was really light and toasty, not heavy and you really got some of the spiciness from the ingredients. I'm going to make this at home, I know, not plant-based! We hit a small flea market outside town, way up in the mountains. Gorgeous drive, but prices too high. Hit a storage unit sale outside Baker, then stupidly realized neither of us had much cash, they didn't take plastic, and we didn't have a check.  Oh well, live and learn. We got home about 6 p.m., had dinner and watched some of the fireworks on TV before we conked out. Sadly one of our neighbors decided to do his annual way too loud, very illegal, fireworks sharing. He does the big booming, deep rumble ones. I don't know what time I fell asleep, but it woke up Dave up at 2 a.m. Luckily it was slow at work on the 5th.  I'd love to find out who it is and turn them in to the cops, but I don't know that they would actually do anything. If you're going to do all that noise all hours of the day and night, go out in the middle of nowhere, that's my motto.

Jul 2, 2019

Too Many Eggs = Citrus Angel Food Cake! Harvesting of The Purple

Too Many Eggs = Angel Food Cake!
I had so many eggs today, about 3 dozen I got busy! First I hard boiled 12 eggs, then I made my favorite Citrus Angel Food Cake recipe-

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

I added 1 TSP teaspoon pure orange extract, since I like it like that. You could do lemon or lime as well. I have subbed honey when I was out of orange juice concentrate.

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 Orange juice concentrate, 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, 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, DO NOT BEAT. (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. Great with fresh fruit!

Harvesting Purple-
As I've mentioned before we had a really wet April and May this year.  All of our perennials have done really well because of that. This lavender I planted in the backyard years ago just really exploded with blossoms this year! The bees have been loving it as well, so when I decided to harvest some I decided to leave some for them-

Little bee in the middle

I got a really nice bouquet of fresh English lavender, will dry it for inside while the rest stays outside. Gotta give the bees some food!

Dave harvested another one gallon of Service berries! They're going into the freezer for later projects. I planted Service berries because they're indigenous to Idaho, and the rain really helped them go to town this year. I think there may be about one more gallon left on the plant but we will see. One of the great things I love about Permaculture, and growing your own food, is it we hardly ever even fertilize the plants. We just work on having healthy soil, the rest seems to usually take care of itself! Except for the crappy clay soil, that is!

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