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...

Apr 15, 2023

82 Degrees & More Snowy Weather! Two Home Office Rehabs, Mini Grow Light System Hack


 82 Degrees & More Snowy Weather!
We have had really crazy weather here lately! One afternoon it was 82 degrees and sunny, within 3 days it was 32 and snowing! This is a more wacky Spring than we usually have here. Hens are laying great! Fresh eggs galore is so satisfying for us. The good news is the garden is greening up with the days longer-

Bonnie enjoys the sunny spots in the house-

"Before" shot original home office

Two Home Office Rehabs-
With my new job, and an earlier shift, my first day of work I drove in the pouring rain and dark. Not fun. Luckily it's daylight now, and I will be starting to do hybrid work in a few weeks. We added a new larger desk to our home office and relocated our other small existing desk. Here's the before and after on that! (Before shot above)

Originally when I applied for my new job it was listed as no remote work, 100% in the office. Between the time I was hired and the time it was posted things changed. I was very happy to find out I would be doing part-time remote/office work. It's really nice not to have a full time commute and be able to work from home some of the time. Lots of little things you can do in between working from home like moving sprinklers, running a load of laundry, etc. We were in the dilemma of what to do since we moved our personal home office stuff into the bedroom office. Now with that area being a kitchen buffet-

We opt to use a laptop with a monitor/keyboard/mouse at home. We decided to move the small existing desk into the other spare bedroom and set up our home office there. We donated my sewing machine cabinet and put my sewing machine in the craft closet- 


That made room for the small desk to go into that bedroom. Good excuse to deep clean! We deep cleaned that area, always hard to miss the dust bunnies behind the furniture-

Old desk, ready for when I start working remote

So next- what kind of desk was I going to use to work from on? We looked around and I really wanted to get something that would be more like a piece of furniture. Eventually when I retire we won't need two desks so I figured we'd buy something nice that we could keep long-term. We didn't want to spend too much money so I looked around and finally settled on a desk from Costco. It was $200.00 off, ordered it online and had it delivered within a week. The thing that really sold me on the desk was it was mahogany hardwood construction. I wanted something really stable that was not going to get wobbly or weaken over time. I did shop around quite a bit and we didn't want cheap MDF, etc. Dave and I got started-

Look at the Mahogany grain!!! WOW

Dave and I put the new desk together and it looks great! We're keeping our home set up for now. We'll move our gear to the other bedroom when I start working from home. We didn't spend any money for this except for the new desk, $300.00. I really like the distressed farm style! If we ever decide to move the personal workstation into the living room it would be a nice fit.

Bonnie approves! 

I used some leftover fabric from my kitchen buffet, so I sewed up a curtain with velcro on the top. Conceals a food storage bookcase, dresses it up!


Mini Grow Light System Hack-
I wanted to start some seeds and we were going to set up our grow light system in our extra bedroom. It's worked really well before. I decided this year, based on last couple years, that I really didn't need to start quite as much. I suddenly had the brilliant idea that instead of using the whole 6' tall grow light rack, with multiple shelves, that I could just downsize it. I decided to put it on top of our buffet in the dining room. So Dave set up just one rack for me-
Lettuce seedlings to thin
Basil from the grocery store to go outside

 It's over the waterproof counter and there's power there. Easy to keep an eye on and I can start plenty of cucumbers, squashes, herbs and flowers there. Because our growing season can be kind of unpredictable here in the summer we really prefer to buy tomato starts. They get off to a quicker growth pattern. I know not everybody does that but it works for us. I just moved a few things around and I added my wooden organizer that I and the seeds are in close proximity for the gardening season. Now I just need to keep the cat out! Will fill the rest of the pots this weekend. Lettuce will go outside in pots. I have given up growing in the garden area.


Mar 19, 2023

Independence Days Challenge


Independence Days Challenge-
Here's what's been going on! It's finally warming up, grass is getting a bit green. Hopefully no more snow!!!
1. Plant Something- Getting ready to plant some lettuce starts in a little pot inside just to get something green growing. We've relocated a few things, trying to find room to put up our grow light rack to start some early vegetables. Otherwise too cold outside! After multiple mini snow storms we finally got into the 50s. Happy dance!

2. Harvest Something- Chives are up in the garden. So happy the girls have started laying! We have almost two and a half dozen eggs so far. It appears only two out of the three but that is another story listed below. I could be wrong on that, with two laying brown eggs and one white. Once we get three eggs a day we're good!

3. Preserve/Store Something- Bought some deeply discounted artisan breads and stashed those in the freezer. Keeping an eye on canned goods, etc. and stockpiling those. Found some good deals on some Augason Farms Butter powder on Amazon. Got a #10 can for $19.00 on sale. Got three freeze-dried entrees from Mountain House, nice to have on hand.

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep-
Clearance priced wild bird food, clearance price winter clothes, and  several used Dvds and books from eBay. My food processor died, found a good deal online. My most recent read, highly recommended, this would make a GREAT movie!!!

 5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe- Working on trying some new Mediterranean diet recipes with some new and used cookbooks I was able to find. Another used book, while very heavy on the dairy (for us) great recipes!-


6. Build Community Food Systems- Not at this time. 
7. Recycle/Re-Use-
Dave has been cleaning up and reorganizing our garage. He needed to reorganize some specific areas. We were able to donate quite a few things and get them out of the garage. We're trying to create more workspace, with two cars and limited storage. It's much better, but a work in progress. I have the new kitchen "buffet area" (previous computer desk) done, with mostly thrifted items! I went for a Mediterranean feel, just waiting on buying some butcher block for the new top!

8. Skill Up- I got a new job. Much higher pay, better benefits. My old job was a sinking ship and no one seemed to care. That gets really frustrating when you're trying to do the job right! I will be working part-time in the office and part-time at home, which is a nice bonus. Originally it was supposed to be fulltime in the office. Saves gas and the commute time! Kitty Bonnie will be happy.

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something-
Saved the life of our hen Debbie. I looked at one day a couple months ago, when it was really bitter cold, and she was standing there with her tail down looking pretty sad. Didn't know what was going on so I brought her in right away, got her warmed up. When I was handling her I realized she was really, really thin. I thought maybe she was egg-bound since the other two had started laying. I gave her a warm bath and blew her dry. 

She almost fell asleep! I waited a day or so nothing happened. So I did my first vent inspection and found no egg. She did have a hard little rubbery yellow thing attached to her tail feathers. I don't remember now what it was called, but it sounded like she might have a bacterial infection. Luckily I had some poultry antibiotics on hand and gave her several doses over the course of a couple of days. I also gave her food that she would eat, loves cat food apparently! So I tried to get her hydrated and eating, inside where it was wzrm. A double laundry basket worked great! With my work schedule I finally decided to put her back out with her flock. I would go out three times a day and give her some canned chicken, tuna, with water and oats, etc. She seemed like she got her appetite back. Within a week or two she started perking up and moving around more. She seems to have recovered completely, from what I can tell. She's eating, looks normal but not sure if laying yet? I'm really happy she pulled through and we'll see how things go from here. She's only two or three years old so she should have a long life ahead of her. Long live Debbie, named after Debbie the Space Chicken from Lost in Space-

Mar 11, 2023

Thinking Outside The Box About Retirement- Five Ways to Prep for Retirement That Don't Include a Bank Account


Thinking Outside The Box About Retirement- Five Ways to Prep for Retirement That Don't Include a Bank Account -
When I am thinking about when I can "retire" I think about a lot of things besides money. When I saw this blog post, by one of my favorite bloggers, I knew I had to share it!!! Please read and let me know what you think? She sums it all up quite nicely. Thanks Wendy!!!  Five Ways to Prep for Retirement that Don't Include a Bank Account    (link fixed)

Feb 15, 2023

I Spoke Too Soon!

I Spoke Too Soon! 
I went out today to give the hens some dried meal worms and found two eggs! The Spring laying has commenced!!! I guess the extra light and protein helped. Happy to have our own again, this is really part of our Permaculture lifestyle.

Feb 14, 2023

Waiting on Eggs, Spring Around The Corner? New Chairs! Happy Valentine's Day


Waiting on Eggs- 
My three lovely hens have been on strike since October or so. No eggs, nothing, nada. This is normal in the shorter months of the year and when they are molting. I decided that even though the days are longer to start turning on a regular light in the coop for an extra two/three hours a day. I'm also giving them some extra protein treats in hope that this will stimulate their hormones to start laying eggs. I told them the other day they need to start earning their keep! So far nothing, but I'm sure the eggs will start popping out soon!
Miss Sunny

Spring Around The Corner?
Spring is around the corner, and Dave has started doing a little pruning here and there. Then we got an inch or so of snow last night! Very icy drive to work, but pretty! All roads melted by the afternoon-

Our apple tree survived the winter snap we had in October!!! Happy dance!  We've seen a lot of trees that don't drop all their leaves die from this kind of thing. Food prices being what they are we are looking at adding some beds in the front yard for annual vegetables. We wanted to look nice so we will do some kind of integrated landscaping with it. We always try to remember that our neighbors have to look at our yard every day and curb appeal is a great part of being a good neighbor! Nobody wants to look at a junked front yard. I have seen some people who put gardens in their front yard that are pretty untidy and look just messy. We like to have things like natural but organized. Too early to plant the summer vegetables so I may start up my grow lights and start some other cool weather veggies. I bought a small windowsill planter to start some lettuces in...
Bonnie approved

 New Chairs! 
We decided to bite the bullet and buy two new chairs for our living room. We had had our two other overstuffed chairs for almost 15 years. I had re-stuffed them, added foam and bought new covers. They were just at the point though of really sagging, so it was time to replace. We wanted to buy two Flexsteel chairs but it was just way out of our budget. We love our Flexsteel couch, worht every penny! We opted for a brand that was a little below that but super durable frame, etc. We found a style that we liked, chose the fabric and ordered two of them. They were supposed to take up to about 3 months but only took about 5 weeks! Nice surprise. They're really super supportive and really like the slightly smaller footprint and clean lines. Great reading chairs. In a smaller house you don't want to have too much furniture in your living room. That can make it look even smaller. It's always nice to have some open space for the eye. We opted to spend extra money to have a fabric treatment done. We did that on our couch and it's really paid for itself. Even if you get something a little oily on the fabric a wet clean cold cloth will take it right off. Good investment! We are thinking about having our couch reupholstered at some point to update it a bit. For now we'll leave as is, but we will probably have to get new foam cores in the cushions since they are getting a little squishy. The store we bought the couch at recommended that and that makes sense after 10 years or so.

Happy Valentine's Day


Feb 4, 2023

Saving Money On Meat & More! Dining Room Refresh- DIY Reupholstered Chairs & Paint


 Saving Money On Meat And More!-
As we all know grocery prices get higher and higher. While we don't eat meat everyday we do eat some. I was recently at a Fred Meyer grocery store. I browsed around and stumbled onto some huge 9 lb. pork roasts. They were $24.00 each. I read down on the sticker at the bottom (we are members of the Savings Club) the roasts were $8.00 each. That's about $1 a pound! 

I decided to buy two for that price! When I got home I cut both of them in half. I created two boneless roasts and two bone-in. I used my Food Saver bags and froze three of them. I roasted one of them with the bone in, low and slow with herbs. The meat came out fabulous! Very juicy and tender. I served one meal with fresh veggies. Another meal with roasted yams. A third meal I did shredded pork with barbecue sauce and Memphis style coleslaw on top, WONDERFUL! Recipe here Memphis Style Coleslaw-

What a deal! Good reminder to keep your eyes open when shopping and try different stores. I have heard recently there is getting to be a shortage of Baking Powder. Buy some! It's cheap and can be used for all kinds of baked goods. This is a really great preparedness item. 

I love Starbuck's Strawberry Acai Refresher, but they are just too expensive. I found a copycat recipe and made my own! Pretty close! Recipe here Copycat StrawberryAcai Refresher

First you simmer white grape juice and strawberries to create a base concentrate, then strain to get the berry juice-

Last I added the powders listed on the recipe, stir and refrigerate. It keeps for about two weeks. You use 1/2 concentrate and 1/2 water. I found some freeze-dried strawberries at Trader Joe's for $3.00 and I topped with those just like Starbuck's (a little darker), but much cheaper! I bought the powders listed on the recipe. Those will last a LONG time and you could use in smoothies. You could play with this recipe and use other fruits if desired. Fresh strawberries here are terrible so I bought frozen. Worked great!

I bought two totes of organic mushrooms at Costco, will dehydrate most of them for storage, $5.00 for a 24 oz-

Not to forget pets, bought a big back of cat food for Bonnie to go in a tote with oxygen absorbers. I still have two extra bags of chicken feed.  Now if they would just start laying!!! Should be any day....

Dining Room Refresh- DIY Reupholstered Chairs & Paint- 
Years ago I bought two used French style chairs for the dining table. The fabric was worn so I had them reupholstered for about $40.00 each. Over the years they got food stains, shampooed them and spot treated them I could never get them really clean-

They were just past the point of no return. I saw YouTube video on how to reupholster these kinds of chairs. I knew that I could do it myself and save a ton of money! I looked around for fabrics, did not want to do plaid/stripes since it has to really aligned to look good. I stumbled onto some denim fabric with embroidered dragonflies at the checkout stand at the local fabric store-

I had planned on getting just plain navy blue playing upholstery fabric. When I saw this fabric I knew this was the right one! To start I used a blow dryer to soften up the glue stick material that the upholsterer had used to attach the trim and removed all of that-

Next I cut out large pieces of fabric to cover the chairs and ironed it. I read it's really important always iron it before you start stretching it to get it really flat. Dave helped me in a few spots and I stapled it around really well. I did this on top of a card table, helped a lot to have it UP-
So clean!

I was not able to find any trim locally so ordered some on Amazon in Navy. I wish I had gone a little bit lighter on the color but it's really hard to see on a computer. After I got everything upholstered, I trimmed off the excess, and then hot glued it all the way around with the trim. It looks so much better! 

Clean and will last for quite a few years. Not perfect but works for me. The total for the fabric was about $25, the trim was about $8.00, I have some fabric and trim left over. I might do some kind of a fun pillow for the summer.

I started thinking that I wanted to repaint my little shelving unit that hangs on our dining room wall. It was a deep blue. With the new chair and buffet fabric it was a lot of blue. I had seen the PBS new series All Creatures Great and Small and loved the green accents in the kitchen. I also liked the green paint on my antique wood-handled kitchen utensils-



PBS All Creatures Great and Small Kitchen shot

It's called French green or Antique green. Previously I had used spray paint but was not able to find this color anywhere. I settled on a large bottle of craft paint at Hobby Lobby, about $6 each. I bought some new foam brushes, wide ones worked really well for the two big shelves. I knew it would take two coats especially on the metal side pieces. I love the color! I wish I could have found chalk paint in this color, but it does have a satin finish which I like. Took two coats-


I finished my thrifted shadow box with the WWII chicken print. I added broken egg shells, wheat and Lavender-

Says "I am a brave little WWII hen, don't eat much but produce a lot"
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