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 26, 2020

Early Spring? Independence Days Challenge

Early Spring
The weather has warmed up a bit, 42 today and poured rain all day long. The forecast is for the 50's this next week, with 57 by Saturday!!! Too warm, too soon. I saw some shoots coming up in the front yard as well. Hopefully this is temporary, otherwise bodes badly for fire season. We'll out away our winter decor next week, no snow on the horizon! Bye bye snowmen and pine cones...

Independence Days Challenge-
Here's what we've been up to....

1. Plant Something- Too early for out in the garden, but the flowers are doing great! They just keep blooming!

 2. Harvest Something- Nope. I miss having our own eggs, we'll get chicks in the spring...

 3. Preserve/Store Something- Got some great local artisan loaves of bread, froze them.

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep- Stocked up on supplements at Costco. Got my headlights re-coated at the dealer, bright again and much cheaper than new lamp covers. 

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe- We've been working on our amazing home canned organic peaches! They are so good! I made this recipe a few years ago, usually for the holidays, also great for a rainy day. I used whole wheat pastry flour for a little healthier version Cranberry Cornmeal Torte -

I hadn't made an Italian meatloaf in a while either so tried this new recipe Delicious Italian Meatloaf I added more seasoning, extra garlic, etc. Recipe seemed too bland to me, came out great after I tweaked it! Served with homemade pesto on whole grain Italian bread, pesto potatoes and green salad-

Made a homemade Chinese New Year dinner, Orange Chicken (Trader Joe's) fresh pea pods, Kim Chee, noodles with sesame. Add a big pot of Jasmine Green tea, perfect-

Used my new Ikea tea cups, love the patterns and four for $10.00!

For a quick dessert- Tart lemon sticky pudding with a little cream from a local health food store, microwave (shudder the thought) for 1 minute and all done. Don't hate me, I was too busy to bake!

6. Build Community Food Systems- Not right now.

7. Recycle/Re-Use- A few years ago a I bought the sweater below on eBay. It's an Eddie Bauer Legends vintage wool sweater. They made them for both men and women in wool, with gorgeous classic designs. I always get compliments when I wear it!  

Last week I found another on eBay! Only $12.00 and gorgeous basket weave. A little too big, but that's okay. It was a little stinky when it arrived, so for $4.00 I took it to the dry cleaners, all better. Great sweaters, if you want to love the Legends, eBay does have them off and on.

Also from eBay, a Columbia purse, $8.00, to replace my old one I've had for years. They have a pretty water proof lining, great for rain and snow days. Not too big, washable. 

From Goodwill, $4.00, large metal basket lined with moss, flowers, perfect for Spring! I really like the flowers color combo-

I also got a like-new Puma long sleeve light base layer top for under the wool sweaters, new kitty toy and food bowl for Anya.

Dave got a free, heavy steel bookcase when his boss was purging old stuff out of their office. Great fit for the bedroom with Grand kids toys. When the weather warms up I will take outside and give it a fresh coat of paint. Works great otherwise! He also got a 4 drawer steel file cabinet. We'll probably use it for small paint storage in the garage.

8. Skill Up-
I'm really excited to have started beginning Tai Chi classes thru our local Parks and Rec Dept. I took two classes so far and it great. It's really affordable thru Parks and Rec. Stretches, strengthens, improves balance and it's so relaxing! I go twice a week after work, and can see sticking with this long term. The instructor does Intermediate classes and beyond, we will see how it goes. Dave learning how to make some new styles of birdhouses with recycled materials. Photos coming soon. 

 9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something-
Will re-paint my snow man before I put him away from winter. It's taken a beating, was thrifted, and I will keep it looking good!

Jan 19, 2020

My Favorite Things From 2019, Belated Holiday Desserts

Expanded front flower bed

My Favorite Things From 2019-
I didn't know quite where to start with this so I decided to go backwards through some photos to give me some ideas...

Early in the year I decided to transfer out of my job to another position within the same company. It was good in the short-term, as a good learning experience. For a variety of reasons I won't get into it has not been a good fit for me, so I am keeping my options open. That is one of the advantages of working for a large corporation!

I had a really great year as far as my health, not needing any surgery, or major dental work, for a change! Between having had multiple foot surgeries for bone spurs, gold crowns falling out, two thumb surgeries, a few other odds and ends,  I was ready for a break.

We've continued working on growing more of our own foods and preserving them. Got a great harvest from our peach tree, apple tree and a small pear tree. Rhubarb galore from our neighbor, bless her.

Sadly we did lose two of our hens to a local dog from what we can tell. We will be adding some more chicks to the flock early this summer, and shored up our perimeter. More eggs by fall hopefully!

We bought a new dishwasher which was awesome! Ours wasn't doing very well and was beyond repair and old. So we got our new made-in-America Bosch. Bosch brand used to be very expensive since they were made in Germany and shipped over, now they're made here. It's super quiet, got a great deal and does a great job!

We had some really pretty snow in February right around Valentine's Day which was a nice treat!

I continued on working and making different kinds of craft items, repainting things, and updating things sustainably, with thrifting, eBaying and generally frugally when possible.

Got rid of more stuff via selling things on eBay, and lots of donations, bought some more thrifted items instead of new-

In March Dave trimmed the Apple tree back by about a third, which was really helpful-

We started our herb box in April and I bought a really nice lavender topiary. The topiary has wintered over successfully under for wraps four layers of row covers-

In June we started moving toward a little bit more of a plant-based diet which has been somewhat hit and miss with the holidays. Started back up last with with Cuban black beans and brown rice! When I follow that kind of eating I feel better, already lost a size and 1/2, much less inflammation in my body, better labs-

Jack fruit tacos

In May Dave built some new tomato cages he designed, which resulted in a bumper crop of tomatoes last summer!!!

I rehabbed a somewhat dilapidated, neglected wind vane and made it look all shiny and new! Got cheap at a yard sale-

 Now on top of the coop!

We had a really wet spring and our perennial flowers just went crazy with growth,  lots and lots of blooms, it was a beautiful sight-

Had a busy summer with gardening and lots of other activities, in July we went to a local Lavender Festival which was gorgeous!

It was sad that we lost a major branch off of our front yard Peach tree, but luckily the tree is has survived so far after Dave's repair job, will thin more this year!

During summer harvest I canned lots of peaches (2 kinds), froze green beans, tomatoes, bell peppers. We had our first ears of corn which was okay,  but not as juicy as I would have liked-

Made new recipes, like stuffed Italian Marconi peppers- 

We went to our local Idaho State Historical Museum which has been totally remodeled a few years ago. They had great displays and this antique chicken pitcher was one of my favorites!

In late September we rented a house on the Oregon coast and split it with her two girls families and Arthur daughters boyfriend. We had a great time and the weather wasn't too bad. To see a fun local Coastal museum-

I made each of the girls a memory jar from the trip, as Christmas gifts! We brought home sand from the beach, seaweed, drift wood and shells-

In October we totally redid our small master bathroom, after living here 12 years. It's really a half bath. It came out great with new flooring, Ikea cabinet/counter/sink, Ikea faucet, new toilet, new TP holder, new glass knobs for the lower cabinet, fresh paint and calm, coastal accessories. Gained floor space with a shallower cabinet footprint-

Already had the Ikea medicine cabinet from the year before

Re-used thrifted rack-

November was pretty quiet and then we had a late Thanksgiving which morphed right into December and the winter holidays. It was busy but fun. November was when I also made my first two batches of homegrown Berry syrups-

Went to McCall for our anniversary-

Flew to Portland the weekend after Christmas, to see Dave's family at the annual Oliver Christmas party. Wished we'd stayed longer to see some of the sights, but had to go back to work! 

Mt. Hood from the air

Photo from Annabel Langbein Chocolate Cake website

Belated Holiday Desserts-
Sorry I didn't post these sooner! My two faves for the holidays, or whenever. The link above has the recipe for the  gluten free chocolate almond cake. The next one is for my British tea cake type dessert- Willamsburg Queen's cake, the currants and orange REALLY make this cake unusual. Keeps for over a week.

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