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 29, 2020

Homesteading Challenges/ Losing A Crop/Variety, Spicy Fried Chicken and Buttermilk Biscuits

Homesteading Challenges/ Losing A Crop/Variety-
Last years I canned 24 Qt's of peaches, baked some, froze some, gave some to the kids-

This year, less than 10 peaches, see photo on top. I think one of the biggest problem was the unstable weather, since we had a night where it was 24 degrees. All the blossoms were on the tree sadly. Really bad combination. This another good reason why it's really good to have some variety in your garden including fruit trees. We also have an apple tree and a pear tree tons of pears and some apples-

There have been years where we've had very little to no apples or just a small amount of pears. Last year tons of peaches! So, if you're thinking about planting fruit trees I highly encourage you to plant a variety of different kinds of fruit, so that you have something. This year we have a massive amount pears, which is awesome, so I will be canning some. We have a moderate to low amount of apples.

Spicy Fried Chicken and Buttermilk Biscuits-
I was thinking the other day about southern cooking and I realized I hadn't made my spicy fried chicken, one of my favorite recipes, for quite a while. Recipe here Spicy Fried Chicken I made homemade ranch dressing with buttermilk and decided to make some buttermilk biscuits since I had some leftover. This is a great recipe really simple from a blog I follow and they have really great flaky layers. I served with homemade apple butter and homemade peach jam. Recipe here as well Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

I did roll them a little bit too thin but they were still delicious! That was spicy chicken was awesome. Soaking it in the buttermilk really makes the difference. I mix the flour and spices, set up next to a cast iron skillet-

Fry on high, 3-5 minutes per side, then into a hot oven (see recipe)-

Looking good!

Jul 22, 2020

Dynamic Decorating & Beachy/ Camping Themes, First Tomatoes!

Dynamic Decorating & Beachy/ Camping Themes-
Years ago I read about the concept" dynamic decorating". The short versions is- move things around once in a while. Sometimes things can get stale around the house. I've always loved bringing nature inside- pumpkins and corn in Autumn, cozy winter decor with snowmen, green things or flowers for Spring, then Summer decor. Since a lot of my decorating goodies were thrifted I don't spend a lot of money. If I get tired of things after a few years I can also donate them. I've seen too many people who buy more and more stuff and it gets to be on the edge of hoarding. When I worked with high poverty families in my school there was a pattern of just buying stuff- the latest technology, more stuff on the walls, floors, ceiling and it all gathered dust. And bills went unpaid. Generational patterns can be hard to break. I tried to teach my kids that. Not too much stuff! 

Negative space, in art, is having something blank for you eyes to rest on. Great idea, and I try and not overdo it. One of the great things about having storage is being to take things down and put other things up for a while. There are things I don't take down, like my favorite antique print my Aunt gifted me with long ago, The Angelus by Millet, hangs over our couch in the living room- 

and a photo of my Grandfather Alva on top of Mt. Hood in Oregon doing military training for WW1. He was the one positive male relationship in my life growing up so he's honored there. It hangs in our main hallway. I re-used the frame from another family member, Dave got the print enlarged and curved with the curved glass frame to fit- 

I've blogged about my general decorating style here My French Scandinavian Country Decor for more photos. Today I got out my beachy themed decor and camping shelf items. I blogged about this idea before, link here DIY Upcycled Thrifted Camping Summer Decor- on my dining room shelves- 

Living room entertainment center- 

Beachy theme starting on kitchen windowsill- 

Love my thrifted seashell frame, glass on both sides, and you can rotate

Beach table in the living room-

I brought out this older print I hadn't used in years. We won in a raffle 20+ years ago, Dave made the frame for me-

 Beach table-

Added my new thrifted lobster! 

Also added two big seashells I got at Goodwill months ago- 

On our living room window I added our memory jar I made last fall from our family vacation to the Oregon coast. I made one for each of my girls as well. Everything was collected from the beach except the beach glass, I added for color- 

First Tomatoes!
I made a simple salad with our two first tomatoes! I added sliced cukes, red onion, our fresh organic Basil and creamy Trader Joe's Feta cheese. Yummy topped with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh ground pepper.  Goes great with anything! We had it with spicy chicken and watermelon. Lots more on the vine and TONS of Lemon Cucumbers, my favorite!!!

Jul 13, 2020

Harvest Time, Modern Thermal & Haybox Cooking History, Graduation, Best Lemon Cake! Landscaping A Narrow Area

Harvest Time-
We've harvested our first peppers, cherry tomatoes and Lavender! Still lots of eggs and herbs.  Love the lavender, and I left some for the bees-  

Made some bundles to bring inside-

Tomatoes are getting ripe!

Yellow squash-

Lots of cucumber blossoms, Lemon cukes and slicing-

Yellow Gypsy peppers- 

Kohlrabi may be going to seed-

Blackberries are LOADED, starting to turn colors-

Pumpkins in the back, row of green beans and Italian peppers in front-

 Modern Thermal & Haybox Cooking History-
I signed up for emails from, a Permaculture organization. They have tons of free information! I read this article Milkwood Thermal Cooking photos courtesy their website. There's a fascinating history going back quite a while, you bring foods to a boil and then put them into a hay filled box. Basically a non-electric, heavily insulated box. Some of the photos show you can make an insulated bag with a lid and use that instead. I may look into buying one of the insulated containers, see below.  I'm pricing styrofoam beads and I might make one instead. Good idea for all kinds of reasons! Bring food to a boil, put into insulated container, walk away, come back later, food is cooked!

Best Lemon Cake! 
I made this for 4th of July, amazing. I've made this for decades, recipe here- East 62nd Street Lemon Cake  I garnished with fresh lemon slices! Keeps well up to a week, very moist and not too sweet.

The chicks have been doing really well outside and have gotten pretty big. After about four or five days being integrated with the big hens they started playing in the coop! I thought that was sign that they were getting comfortable being out there. We still have the little condo set up gives them a separate shadier area, but they're using the coop more and more-

Roosting during the day

Up on the top at night

They were so small when we started out!

Landscaping A Narrow Area-
After we added our new stone walkway this bed basically was empty. We had some ground cover, which died during construction. Dave and I wanted to add something, and I thought about getting something taller to fill the space. It's on the north side of the house and gets some sun late in the day.  I found this photo on Pinterest, from Skinny Conifers for Tight Spaces, which got me thinking- 

So here was our blank slate, we had already bark dusted, and Dave waves! 

We went to Lowe's and found quite a few 50% off plants, scored!  We bought three Emerald and Gold Euonymus (only $4.00 each!), one dwarf English Boxwood, one Green Velvet Boxwood, one Cool As Ice Fescue grass and one Emerald Spreader Yew, the large one is a Juniper, sorry lost the tag! I tried to find a nice assortment of colors, shapes and sizes to go against the light gray house paint. All of these can be pruned if they get too tall- 

We had one leftover plant so we added it to the bed by the coop- 

Hens staying cool in the mister, was 100 degrees!

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