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...

Aug 27, 2019

New Tomato Cage Design Success!

New Tomato Cage Design Success!
I first detailed the new tomato cage design Dave and I came up with here Building New Tomato Cages Whether it was a just coincidence or not, we've had incredible success with our new tomato cages! We have had a bumper crop so far, with more on the way. Everything we've done this year has been the same- same fertilizing, same varieties, same watering. The weather may have been a little tiny bit milder than usual, not a lot of weeks in the 100s. They're really easy to build and relatively cheap so if you need a tomato cage design I would highly recommend this one!

Good for cukes too!

Aug 20, 2019

This Is Why We Do Urban Homesteading

This Is Why We Do Urban Homesteading-
Sometimes I'm more philosophical than others, and if you've read my posts you probably recognize those times. This is one of those. It's really easy in the course of life to get caught up in the mundane things. Commuting to your job five days a week, doing laundry, cleaning the house, all the really boring parts of life the rest of the time. Then there's taking care of the chickens-

and then the eggs!

We also tend the garden and see what we can grow here at our little homestead. When we plant things in the spring and early summer there's always a lot of labor involved in that, then watering, fertilizing, weeding, etc. We have planted a ton of perennials as well, and lots of pollinator plants. Now we're getting into the full harvest season! I looked at our corn this weekend and was thrilled to see that some of it was ready to pick! I haven't tried growing any since we've lived here-

Beans at the base

Sweet corn

Saturday night dinner, it was amazing!

There's also: bell peppers, Jalapeno peppers, Gypsy peppers, Giant Italian Marconi peppers, pickling cukes, Lemon cukes, the five different kinds of tomatoes, Itchidai eggplants, kale, collard greens, green beans, Zucchini, two kinds of baby ornamental pumpkins, peaches, apples, pears, Basil, Thyme, Rosemary, Italian Parsley and the blackberries that keep on giving!

Big, tall Basil, pesto time soon to freeze!

Baby pumpkins by the beans-

All homegrown cukes and tomatoes, more Saturday night dinner

Green beans, bacon & onion, another Saturday night dinner dish

It's really amazing when I looked around this morning at exactly how much we have grown here on the small, urban lot. Dave started picking some peaches last weekend but we couldn't really process anything since we had two days of babysitting and it just didn't work. Luckily the Red Haven peaches weren't dead ripe yet, but they were this weekend-

Dave picked all the peaches, about 125 Lbs., all organic and we know exactly what is in them. Compost, water, and a little manure, a tree and that's it! No bugs either!!!

Canning started

Room for peaches

All done, 25 Qts. canned (10 Spiced)  and 10 Qts frozen. I made spiced peaches with clove and cinnamon sticks, should be nice for the holidays! More apples will fill another shelf soon.

Peach crumble

We also have our apple tree which is really loaded and should be ripe in another month or so-

I made a big batch of pasta sauce with our tomatoes last weekend and froze half of it. Dave and I deep cleaned the freezer a week or so ago and it is filling up! Next month we'll be canning and freezing lots of apple products. The pears will be ripe then too, but we just eat them fresh and bake. This is when I'm really glad we have a dishwasher. I've thought in the past if I were by myself I'd pull it out and add shelves with basket. No I don't think so! Look at all those lovely clean jars-

When I look at all the food that we can produce, except for meat proteins, I do feel really blessed. It's been 12 years of taking this lot from turf, a couple of trees and literally nothing else, to our very productive little homestead. It's been a ton of work, financial investment, sacrificing vacations, and yet here we are and we're both so happy. It's also still a work in progress. We want to add more edibles in the front yard- Strawberries, maybe some raised beds, less turf. A lot of people we know wonder why we enjoy spending weekends at home especially in nice weather. Maybe if they took a tour of our homestead they would understand a little more. Next winter, when it's cold outside, we can have our own green beans, canned peaches, and maybe a homegrown apple pie. Then there's all of our wonderful eggs! So while I thought I'd like to live out in the country, I realize (except more room for goats and a beehive) I think this is pretty much it. And I can live with that.

Aug 12, 2019

The Great Sardini Sandwich, Greek Horiatiki Salad, Thrifting Scores! DIY Charging Station

The Great Sardini Sandwich-
Years ago I was trying to find unusual recipes too add more fish to my diet. Loving any Italian food I spotted this recipe here I will tell you right off the bat- THIS DOES NOT TASTE LIKE FISHY SARDINES! I tastes more like an amazing olive Italian Tapenade. I used to hand chop the olives but it was much faster to use my favorite non-electric chopper, with razor sharp blades. Ten pulls and all the olives were chopped! Easy to clean, easy to store and fast, what's not to love?


I used Cajun's Choice Blackened Seasoning that I found locally at the grocery store. Great on chicken as well, I've used it for years! ! I only had some Ciabatta bread on hand, so I broiled it and used that. Amazing!!!

Greek Horiatiki Salad-
I stumbled onto this recipe, and it's a keeper! The green bell pepper really makes it. Try this and you won't be disappointed!

Thrifting Scores!
I stopped by a Goodwill store Saturday and really scored! The hand-stitched  piece above was $2.99, it's 12" x 5". Looks handmade and prim, probably barely used. I'll find a spot for that! Next the cute chicken sign-

Marked "Hobby Lobby" $7.99, got it for $2.99. 

A gorgeous, like-new Crown Stoneware tea pot with built-in filter that's removable, $5.00-

Last I found a gorgeous, made-in-Italy Merino wool lightweight cardigan, perfect for Fall, $5.00! It is so SOFT! Probably really expensive new-

DIY Charging Station-
I was really tired of the mess of devices and cords in the kitchen taking up counter space-

Not safe and messy. I had a Eureka moment looking at my Ikea step stool. I got out the 2 charging cords, plugged them into an extension cord into the wall behind the little pine entertainment center. Problem solved!!! The fan will go away soon, but it's easy to get to. 

Now we're off to pick more peaches!

Aug 7, 2019

Saving Our Peach Tree, Harvesting & Freezing Time, A Short Mountain Adventure

Saving Our Peach Tree-
We planted our Peach tree about 4 years ago. It was pretty sick last year with peach tree rust, but we treated it and it did much better this spring. It really blossomed with the mild wet spring and we were very hopeful. We have lots of peaches and the tree seemed really healthy. We came home last week with a really large branch down on the ground split from another main branch. Pretty sad! Where it's split we could have cut the other part of the branch off , but we would have lost a ton of peaches and fruit. We had had our apple tree hit by a pickup truck when part of the branch was leaning over the easement a few years ago. I remembered that some people had taken washers, big screws and screwed together broken parts of branches hoping that the tree would heal itself and grow back together. I asked Dave to do that and the apple tree is still healthy-

I asked Dave to go ahead and do that for now, to try to get the fruit ripe and then if it didn't heal up we could go ahead and take that one branch down later. So, that's what he did-

We propped up the rest of the branches-

The peaches are just about ripe probably, another week or so. We had our first two that were really great. Lesson learned that in the future we need to really thin the peaches more when they are still small. It's easy to get ahead of yourself and think wow look at all that fruit, instead of what do we need to also preserve the tree. So we will be more careful next spring and we are hopeful that branch will stay together as is? At this point we'll wait and see.... if needed we'll prune it off.

Harvesting & Freezing Time-
This is a time of year when we've started harvesting- tomatoes, two kinds of cucumbers, 4 kinds of peppers, the last of the chokecherries and blackberries. Corn will be ready soon too! We have a really good harvest of our green beans on going as well. I wanted to freeze them, but I wasn't sure if I needed to blanch them. I read this article so I'm going to try this recipe

I'm going to be making lots of different vegetable dishes with our harvested veggies. I am going to be freezing the chokecherries as well. When the peaches get ripe here soon I'm going to be freezing and canning some. We just don't eat that much jam anymore, so I don't know if I'll bother with that, but I can always make some later from the frozen peaches. The peaches freeze really great! I just quarter them, toss them in Fruit Fresh so they don't turn brown, put in a double Ziploc bags and suck all the air out with a straw. They keep great. I'm getting a good Basil harvest soon, time to make and freeze pesto!

A Short Mountain Adventure-
I was really restless to get up in the mountains Saturday, so I told Dave we were going somewhere but didn't tell him where. We drove up to Bogus Basin, which is a small ski area, about 40 minutes from our house. It's about 7,500 feet up. When we got to the top of the open parking I took a side road hoping to find a nice fairly level hiking trail. Most of them turned out to be really steep so I decided to turn around and go back. We decided to take the chairlift at the top and that was where the real adventure started! You could see the start of fire season here with some of the forest fires.

I thought the cell phone towers pretty well ruined the view up there, no escaping technology!

Here is what we found- lots of really beautiful flowers, Lupines, Queen Ann's lace, Junipers, grasses, sage, not sure of the rest...

The rest of it was really fun, walked down a path a ways until it was closed off to let the flowers come back. It's on National Forest land.

I took lots of photos, but to get there you had to take a chair lift, which means we needed to sign a legal disclaimer. I have never seen that anywhere, which was a red flag for me. We got on fine at the bottom of the lift. At the top staff got 2 mountain bikes off the chair lift rack, set aside on the top of the ramp, then two mountains bikers got off ahead of us. They didn't grab their bikes and move, and we had almost nowhere to go (small space)! We almost got knocked down by the lift. The bikers just stood there instead of going down the wood ramp.  Staff didn't stop the lift or yell at them to move. Going down, getting off the lift was jerky and didn't stop very slow to get off, again, had to jump out of the way. Staff needs more safety training, but maybe they don't care since you can't sue them. We're done with that, not going back. Brundage Mountain, by comparison, was safe and much better!
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