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 27, 2021

Independence Days Challenge


Independence Days Challenge-
There's a big winter storm coming in. I saw the forecast for the Sierra Nevada mountains:
6'-7' of snow and up to 90 mph winds! CRAZY!!! Stormy, but no snow here, but quite a bit in the mountains, up to a foot or more. We're having high winds, very cold then now up to 48! It's been very gray and I am ready for either some snow or springtime!

Too early to plant out here though the ground still really cold and hard. So here's what we've been up to lately! We've been busy-

1. Plant Something-

Too early but I'm thinking about starting some seeds soon.


2. Harvest Something-

We've been getting a nice steady supply of fresh eggs from our new hens! I have been giving my kids some of the extras. They are so good!!! 

3. Preserve/Store Something-

Bought some local Artisan breads at the grocery outlet and froze them. Stocked up on some cheese's and fish. 


4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep-

Save quite a bit of money buying our new electric tea kettle instead of replacing our Keurig. We are using up the Keurig pods up by putting the contents in a mesh coffee filter inside a bamboo tea strainer. Dave does drink coffee so he's working on those. I'm strictly black tea! I bought him some fresh beans today! Cost Plus had a nice selection. 


5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe-

I have a new Irish fish stew recipe I'm going to dry along with some Irish soda bread. I made some Irish soda bread with currants recently but we'll make the more traditional with raisins. I bought a new cookbook on Irish cooking that looks really great! I got a low-cost used copy on eBay-

I'm also going through some recipes through a library book that I got on cooking in the Alps-

I decided to buy some British tea treats for something and different. I had been eating a granola bar mid-morning on work days and got really bored, plus they are so overpriced. Not that enthused to make my won. I thought tea biscuits might be up my alley! Here's my first batch. I bought some Green/Jasmine tea (couldn't find locally) great with Asian food! 

The Hob Nobs are addictive! The Highland Oat Crackers great with a little cheese. Mega Creams cookies are really nice. The "world famous" Eccles Cakes, stuffed with raisins and currants, were disappointing. Off taste, may try and make my own version. 

The second batch of treats I found at Cost Plus World Market today. I bought more biscuits, mustard, and made in Britain beans in a light tomato sauce. It's a traditional food, canned beans in tomato sauce, and many people serve them on toast for breakfast! It seems to be a tradition from WWII during food rationing, for protein. They're not the U.S. barbeque beans with a lot of sugar. Will report back on the flavor. I found Maldon's Welsh sea salt, after I saw this on a travel show this morning, crazy find! 

I decided to start doing more whole grain baking lately. It's getting hard to find some whole grain Italian Breads and we're trying to eat less processed foods. I found some recent recipes so we'll try those and share the ones that come out well!


6. Build Community Food Systems-

Nothing yet too early for farmers markets.


7. Recycle/Re-Use-

I went through our holiday things and donated quite a bit. Also donated some extra kitchen decor, bedding and a few other things. Bought several things on eBay and at local thrift stores. With covid I have not been going to thrift stores nearly as often. In my last post you can see all the cool thrift store items I got recently Thrifting Scores x 3!


8. Skill Up-

I learned recently about the history of the Union Jack Flag in the United Kingdom-

Info here

I'm part Scotch-Irish and had recently been looking into making some traditional British foods and snacks. I hope to go to the UK someday and see everything!!!


9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something-

I have a house plant that really needed a new pot and some fresh soil since it was failing after about 10 years-

For a couple bucks I bought a new pot and a fresh bag of potting soil. I replanted it and put it in the kitchen where we get a little bit more sunlight-

I also bought another plant and pot at the same time. Now in my office-

Another plant I bought a while back I finally transplanted into a fun steel pot I bought it Ikea months and months ago. It's nice to have a couple of plants in my home office! 

I read that having plants in the workplace actually increase your productivity by up to 15%. Wow I should tell my boss how exciting! I am so bored with my work I cannot even begin to tell you. I'm hoping to be cross-trained soon because my brain is just bored and my work is too repetitive. 

Pretty soon we will be doing some dormant oil spray on our organic apple tree. Then we will do some Copper spray on our organic Peach tree to limit the rust disease. 

With our first Covid stimulus check I had bought some insulated curtains for my office.  I realized I needed to tie them back otherwise it was a little too closed. I just use some string at the time and kind of forgot about it. I finally bought some minimal burlap looking ribbon, goes with the fabric okay. I bought a couple of cup hooks and put those in to have something a little bit nicer than push pins. A pretty cheap upgrade-

At the same time I also bought some cranberry colored ribbon to replace the string on my Christmas quilt's rod. Already packed away so you'll see it next year. I found at a thrift store, added a rod on the top and hung it-

Jan 18, 2021

Kitchen Counter Re-Do/ Reorganizing The Kitchen , Thrifting Scores X 3, Using Winter Stores



Kitchen Counter Re-Do/ Reorganizing The Kitchen-
I had been wanting to clean and declutter the counter in the kitchen for a bit. With four day weekend (took 2 days vacation) it was the perfect time! With the new tea kettle and Keurig being retired it was also a time to look at the function of the area.  Our kitchen is not that big, with a built-in dining area. Basically sink with counter on both sides, then range with small counter on one side. That's it! We do have a built in desk that came with the house. I'd love to remove it and replace with a buffet, maybe some day. Anyway here's one of the before shots-

Before- Keurig and Too much stuff

Not too bad

First I took everything off each section, and cleaned the backsplash and counter-

Behind the toaster

Used very hot water, Dawn and Bartender's Friend

Spatters on backsplash-

Crud behind the faucet and sink-

A sponge did not do the job, but Bartender's Friend and a toothbrush did!

All clean! I put back the counter items and the new tea kettle (works great!)-

I took down the command hook

I moved the DIY topiary to the area by the fridge, liked it better there

Two new thrifted items added (see below) 

I liked this as is, it's shallow decor and doesn't use up that much space-

Next I cleaned out my big kitchen drawer, before shot-

Vacuumed the drawer, had donations and trash. All organized and easy to find things now! I bagged all the cookie cutters, stacked the strainers and biscuit cutters-

Next I took out the items below the china hutch and stored where they needed to go-

All better! 

None of this cost anything! I can't tell you how may articles, posts and Youtube videos tells you to buy all this stuff to do this job. Not needed! I have stored a few of the small decorative items. I may donate or put back. Will let some time pass and see if I miss them...

Roseville mixing bowl

Thrifting Scores X 3-
I hit three thrift stores in 3 days. I just needed to go browse! Last trip I found this Roseville Friendship pattern mixing bow. Not sure how old it is but it's in perfect shape! $15.00, my splurge. I couldn't date it exactly by research, but I love the craftsmanship!!! I saw a few of this size on eBay and Etsy for about $35.00 or so (without shipping) . I did have an odd interaction going out of the thrift store with a woman I didn't know. She came outside the door and said in a loud voice do you have my Roseville Bowl. I didn't know who she was I didn't know if there was going to be a problem and I just said oh I don't know. I went ahead and put it in the backseat of my car and close the door and she said oh yeah that was my Roseville Bowl. Then she walked off. Day was behind her and looked at me and I looked at him and got in the car. I told him what she said and he said oh you know he she works there. She had on a uniform best which I didn't notice. I don't know if she had her eye on it was going to buy it but apparently she had to say something so what can you do? There can be some interesting people in thrift stores sometimes so sometimes playing dumb is best route I guess

It's on my counter for now-

Another trip I scored some really cute holiday decor, $15.00 total-

Wall hanger

Fun winter wood wall decor

2 trees, how cute!

I donated my other large one the Keurig was on, I may mount to the wall, maybe

Basket for our crackers in the cupboard

Fits perfect! 

Another trip- this made my laugh so I bought it, $1.00, love the frame! If I ditch the print I could re-use-

For Life curved teapot, new these sell for $35.00, got for $3.00! Great for smaller pots of tea, has a nice silicone seal on the lid, doesn't drip. I found out after buying it they sell all kinds of really cool tea pots, love their designs.

Nice with silicone lid seal, full of biscotti's for winter

I forgot to add this to my last technology update. One of my kids kindly loaned me her CD player/radio when I started working from home last March. I knew I'd be bored to death with nothing to listen to!  Before Christmas she wanted it back. I looked around and found this for $45.00 at Target-. 

It has FM radio, CD player, wireless to tunes/podcasts off my phone and a head set jack. Works great and it's much smaller! 

Using Winter Stores-
It's so satisfying to bring out some of my home stored foods! This one meal I served- homemade Chow Chow, fermented pickles, home grown organic canned peaches, sale bought chicken breasts. These pickles I have to say are the BEST ever!!! Probably since I finally found some local pickling cukes that were freshly harvested. So crunchy! I also bought the chicken, 1/2 off during summer season. Froze, thawed and roasted with Trader Joe's Honey Aleppo Pepper Sauce with honey. Tangy and slightly sweet it was okay, next time I'd use BBQ sauce instead, too bland for me. I served with brown rice- 

Jan 13, 2021

Updating Technology On A Budget, Winter Project Time


New Wind Anemometer

Updating Technology On A Budget-
Recently we did some updates of some of our technology, on a budget of course! Our TV was getting a bit old and it always had terrible sound. It was a great deal seven or eight years ago but it was time for something bigger with our aging eyes. We looked around for a while and I had always told Dave I wanted to get something with some decent speakers since I love music! For my birthday in December Dave bought me /us  a new TV! We wanted one that fitted in our existing entertainment center since we didn't want anything too big. I'm not a fan of huge huge televisions. Maybe if I sat around all day and have nothing to do but watch programs, but hey, I have other things to do! We got a great deal at Costco and got a perfect size. It's a Roku Smart TV, and since we already had a Roku stick on the old TV and account it was easy to transition over to it. The sound is amazing!

We donated our old TV, hopefully someone will give it a new home! 

For a Christmas present Dave got me something I have wanted for quite a while. Being the Weather geek that I am Dave got me a La Crosse wireless weather station with an anemometer (solar powered)  or wind measuring device. It's on the top of our house's garage peak! Pretty easy install, works great!   

It has a really bright LCD tablet that's easy to read. He also got this at Costco apparently. Truly accurate which is nice and I'm always watching the winds because we can have some pretty severe wind gusts here. That can affect our chickens and the coop and whatever we happen to be growing at the time. It's nice to have the app on the phone too, part of the set up process, which was pretty easy.  

Our Keurig coffee maker was on its last legs. We wanted to be more environmentally friendly and David said he really preferred French press coffee anyway. I did some research on electric teaa kettles on You can sometimes find their test results for free. If you ever have to buy a car I highly recommend spending the $5 a month subscribe for 1 month and do some research. We've been super happy with our Mazda hatchback after doing research and buying one. It's 11 years old and has had hardly any problems of all, super reliable. Anyway I did some research and I we bought an electric tea kettle. Some of them are glass, which makes me a little bit wary, if you drop it's dead!  So I went with Consumer Report recommended as a best buy-

It's funny some of the most expensive models out there had poor testing results...

Some winter kitchen decor

Winter Project Time-
I decided to take a four-day weekend and work on some projects this week. One of them is deep cleaning my kitchen counter, back splash, my spices, and re-organizing part of my kitchen drawers. Some painting too, reveal coming soon! Good things to do when it's winter! It's been cold, but then we had two days where it was in the low 50's! Almost felt like spring, but back down to the 30's tonight. 

Dave and I will also be cleaning the coop this weekend replacing the old deep litter Pine shavings with fresh. This method works so well I cannot even tell you! No smell, biodegrades/composts and I only have to clean off the top roosting area about once a week in the winter. In the summer I do it two or three times a week. A bale is about $9.00 locally, with some leftover. We do about 4"-5" in the winter-

Debbie on the right, Sunny on the left

Sunny says what's up!

Next going to hit a couple thrift stores on Friday when I'm off look for a couple things. I've been trying to find a simple nice wood twin headboard for our spare bedroom where our grandsons stay. It doesn't have one, want to dress it up a little bit. I'll look to see if there's something cute that I can either rehab or retrofit. If not we make break down and build one-

I bought this online from Ikea several months ago, a Moppe Mini storage chest, Birch plywood, 16 ½" x7" x 12 5/8 "-

I had plans for it, but kept changing my mind! I finally found the perfect thing to finish it. It's bare wood and I wanted some kind of finish. Will post it when it's done! 

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