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 22, 2020

Smoky Skies, Rural Farmer's Market Haul, Easy/ Cheap Old Monitor To Laptop Fix! Thrifted Galileo Barometer, Chick Update

Smoky Skies-
I've seen the fires in California on the national news and it's just absolutely horrendous. I really feel for all the loss of lives, both human and animal, loss of housing, businesses, wilderness, etc. The smoke has been so bad it's been drifting from California into Nevada and Idaho the last several days. It makes for gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, but is pretty bad otherwise. Early morning yesterday I saw a bright orange red ball in the sky. I wish I could have got a better picture-

It's really exacerbated people who have underlying respiratory issues, like me, with asthma and allergies. But it could be worse at least Idaho isn't on fire the way California is! I hope they get some rain soon.

Rural Farmer's Market Haul-
A few years ago we got some amazing peaches from one of Dave's co-workers. They were from a local farm/orchard and I started thinking about that the other day. They're about a 40-minute drive from here so I called ahead and they had those peaches! They're different because they're a smaller farm so they can really tree-ripen their fruits. We may go back soon for some plums. We drove out today and I bought two crates of peaches. Sorry I don't remember the variety but they're like an Elberta Peach, but much bigger, the size of a SOFTBALL!

Chilling in the bedroom


The peaches I'm going to freeze soon, then over Labor Day weekend (five days off with PTO) I'm going to make some big batches of peach jam. I may also can some peaches. Our poor Peach tree kind of fizzled out this year, so I was happy to buy some local peaches. Sadly none of the fruit I bought today was organic, but what can you do. Hopefully next year will be better. Our pears are ripening so I may have enough to can as well!!!

At the second farm stand we hit on the way back we got several pounds of amazingly fresh pickling cucumbers. Whenever I found them at a grocery store they tend to be mushy and bruised. This time I found some great fresh ones and I'll use these for some fermented pickles. They were muddy when I got them home, so they got a bath and a chill! 

Also got some Gaston's bread, local and amazing! Freezes great and got an apple Danish too, yummy!

We also got several pounds of fresh Gala apples, super crunchy. I've noticed this last year in the winter fall and spring that almost all the apples I had bought in grocery stores were mushy. I tried different stores, I tried different varieties and just didn't have much luck. So when I bought these I bought enough to fill up our crisper probably about five or six pounds. Will keep these for eating apples-

I bought a bag of a dozen ears of sweet corn and some Blackberry pancake syrup. All in all it was a great haul!

Easy/ Cheap Old Monitor To Laptop Fix!
I thought I'd share this in case some of you may be using older computers and need to retro-fit them. My computer I've been using in the kitchen (mostly for blogging) was an older Windows 7. I had a nice size older monitor on it. *** Updated Info*** Here's the basics on the technology redo- there's basically two kinds of monitors, old analog ones with a giant blue plug and pins with screws-

That was what I had. The newer monitors are digital and do not need an adapter. Because my monitor was older and analog there was no way to run it to the laptop without using an adapter. I hope that makes sense? Please post more questions if you need. We bought a Windows 10 laptop this last spring, it was a great deal. We wanted something more secure for banking, etc. I finally decided that I had enough of Windows 7 since it was getting SO SLOW. We thought about what our options were, maybe buying a new digital monitor that would work with the laptop?  We finally realized for $8 we could buy an adapter to use with the analog monitor. A cheap and easy fix!

Basically I backed everything up on our external hard drive first from the old Windows 7 hard drive-

Old hard drive, We're keeping it for now just to make sure I didn't miss anything. 

External hard drive-

Next I went ahead and backed up the external hard drive to the laptop. You could use a thumb drive if you don't have many files or email them to yourself. Then we plugged in the old monitor into the laptop using a HDMI to VGA adapter seen below. The blue analog monitor plug goes into the adapter, and then it plugs into the side of the laptop-

Basically this creates the laptop as your hard drive. You can go into the display/ power settings and set up the laptop so that it "does nothing when you close the screen". This set up gives you lots of flexibility, since we can still use the laptop in other parts of the house. When I work out in the kitchen I can just plug my monitor into the side of the laptop, it's ready to go. Here's the HDMI to VGA adapter-

Plugged in- 

Close the laptop, less distracting for me-

Good tech fix for $8.00!

Thrifted Galileo Barometer-
We stopped at a thrift store the other night and out of the corner of my eye I spotted a Galileo barometer! For five bucks I squealed with delight and practically ran out of there with it. I had one years ago but it got broken and I never replaced it. As soon as I got at home I cleaned all the glass and put it in a safe place and it works! He was invented by Galileo in the 1600 and basically has little balls that are all calibrated to rise or sink depending on me ear temperature. This afternoon said 72° which was about spot-on! Each glass ball has a temperature on it on a metal tag-

More info here Galileo Thermometer

Chick Update-
I'm happy to report all of our "chicks" are doing well and are almost half-size. They're all very healthy and the flock seems to have settled in pretty well with each other. I don't see a whole lot of squabbles anymore. We did have to trim their flight feathers today again because they were flying up on top of our 4-foot fence. If they got over the 4-foot fence into the yard wouldn't really be a huge problem. The problem would be if they got from the 4-foot fence to the 6-foot fence and went over into our neighbor's backyard. They have about four dogs that would kill them. So Dave and I trimmed them again. Later in the day I got some nice photos. I really like having a mixed flock so you can tell all the birds apart. Our older hen Rosie is now molting. Neither of my two older birds have been laying anything for about the last four to six weeks. The good news is with the three younger hens will hopefully start laying around October or November. So here's a look at the girls! You can really see all there individual markings pretty well on these photos. It is hard to get pictures of chickens since they won't stand still!

Luna, the Silver Laced Wyandotte-

Debbie, a Golden Sexlink- 

Sunny, a Brown Leghorn-

Aug 17, 2020

Removing Tomato Foliage For Ripening, Going Back To A DSLR Camera, Sandi's Blackberry Crumb Cake, A Greek Dinner

Removing Tomato Foliage For Ripening-
It's been HOT here, triple digits! 103 yesterday, 101 today, but a storm blew in this evening. It dropped 20+ degrees in three hours. We just water, water. It 's been a tough year for our tomatoes, they're about a month behind. I had the idea last week to cut back the excess foliage to help them ripen faster. We usually do this in Sept/Oct! There's tons of tomatoes, just mostly green. The good news is it's still August so they should ripen soon! These are the "after" shots, visualize green leaves exploding out of the cages!!! 


Going Back To A DSLR Camera-
I started using an SLR (Single Lense Reflex) camera when I was young. The last 10 + years I switched to a point and shoot and it works great for a lot of things. Many people use their phone cameras, but I prefer the real thing. There's so much more you can get right, without having to alter the photos later. Dave gave me his 10 + year old D (Digital) SLR recently and I'm getting reacquainted with it. The photos are much more crisp, work SO much better in mixed, natural lighting. Here's a few samples, some with a macro lense- 

Lovely Anya, faster shutter speed helps here

The shot above is a great example, clear with a blurred background! Natural lighting

Grandson River, great in low lighting

Another example, crisp, great detail, low lighting

I'm still using my point and shoot, but will be migrating away from it. You'll be seeing better photos!

Blackberry Crumb Cake-

Our blackberries really loved our wet May/June! Picking lots, freezing some and did some baking this weekend-

More coming

Since we had so many berries I made my favorite Sandi's Blackberry Crumb Cake  FYI, I don't use a food processor, a pastry cutter works fine. Less clean up time! I subbed WW Pastry flour and walnuts instead of pecans. It's moist and slightly crunchy from the topping! You could use raspberries too, the tartness makes the cake-

A Greek Dinner
I stumbled on some recipes lately and thought I'd try these! Nice for summer time, just wish I'd had fresh tomatoes from the garden. Video here - Diane Kochilas Greek Odyssey Video PBS Eggplant recipe- Garlicky Eggplant  Polenta recipe- Ionian Polenta  The sauce was a bit chunkier than hers but still delish! I made an 11" x 13" pan, leftovers were even better! Next time I think I'd roast the eggplant slices to cut down on the olive oil. Just brush with oil til slightly soft. I also reduced the oil in the polenta. I served with Feta cheese, nice, fresh tasting summer meal! It's a keeper!

Aug 9, 2020

Independence Days Challenge

Independence Days Challenge
Here's what we've been up to! It's been water, water water, at least we're out of the triple digits!

1. Plant Something- Nope, past that time. 

2. Harvest Something- Yellow Gypsy/bell peppers, Lemon cukes, tomatoes, yellow squash, pickling cukes (just eating, not enough to ferment), slicing cukes, Blackberries, no pears yet, small amount of apples soon-  

You can see why they call them "Lemon" cucumbers!

3. Preserve/Store Something- Will be drying some yellow squash. Have been buying low priced chicken parts and freezing. 

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep- Bought some Elderberry syrup to stash for the upcoming flu/Covid season. Buying sale price chicken, sausages. I realized I didn't have a summer twin quilt for our bed. After Grandson River spent the night I got a great deal, $20.00 at Walmart, light teal, basket weave design, but what's that lump?

 Anya burrowed down, taking a nap!

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe- Tonight I made a BBQ Chicken Salad, see recipe below. I bought Orange Poppyseed dressing, used breasts with ribs (more flavor) and used regular bacon. Yummy, sorry no photo! This is from a recipe I saw online and modified- 

Part 1-

Part 2-

6. Build Community Food Systems- Contacted a local peach farm to find out about buying some ripe peaches. I'm looking for some to eat, freeze and make some jams. 

7. Recycle/Re-Use- I deep cleaned/recycled/donated old DVDs, CD cases, and freed up quite a few really nice baskets! My daughter is taking them home to use-

The space freed up in our one entertainment cabinet now has room for our emergency lighting- candles, batteries, oil lamps-

I found this at a thrift store, love it!

Love the basket of eggs on the cork screw tail-

8. Skill Up- Found an easy/cheap way to solve a tech issue, more later ! 

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something- Last year Dave got an old free metal bookcase from work going to the dumpster, we adopted, a good size for the grand kids toy, etc. in our spare bedroom-

It's probably about 40 years old. I decided once the weather warmed up to paint it. Dave had bought some wholesale industrial spray paint (Ford blue) and we had it in our stash. I thought it would work well with our decor. Dave took it outside to paint and set up saw horses for me. I washed it down with Dawn and hot water first, rinsed well-
Two shelves


 I started spraying!

About four cans of spray paint later-

I love it!!! I bought 2 bins at Lakeshore Learning for $8.00 each, great storage-

Dave built some bird houses in the winter, I finally finished this one. He started with used cedar fence boards we had-

  I tried spray paint, not enough coverage-

I bought a small can of white house paint in a sample isze-

 Much better coverage-

I used our blue house trim paint we already had for the accents- 

Ready for some birds!

Re-painted part of my winter snowman sign-

pretty beat up from the weather, was thrifted

Since I can't draw I decided to touch it up, as much as possible-

I went around the buttons

 I realized after closer inspection there had been red cheeks and a mouth, re-painted that as well as I could. Come November I'll buy some red and green Christmas holly fabric to replace the strips that were on the arms. Otherwise all done and ready for winter!

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