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...

Nov 27, 2023

Gratitude, Winter Is Here/Food Preps

Gratitude -
I was going to do a "what I'm thankful for" post but didn't have time to get that done before Thanksgiving. So, while belated, here are some things I am EXTREMELY grateful for:

Surgery: One of the things I'm most grateful for right now is coming through some back surgery, solved a lot of chronic pain issues for the last year. I had two options, got two different opinions. The first doctor barely looked at Dave and I, rattled off a lot of statistics. Not a good fit. Second doctor, at a totally different practice, looked at us, answered Dave and my questions, outlined everything really well. Chose that procedure. Much shorter recovery time, surgery went well, I had immediate pain relief about 90% plus. I'm getting better each day! I've been off work the last two weeks, one more week off work then next week will start working half-time at home. Will gradually increase my hours till the end of the year and then back in the office in January. I am very grateful that I was already set up to work from home! My boss and my co-worker have been really supportive. Dave's such an incredible hard worker, and went above and beyond caring for me the 1st week after surgery. We had our 30th anniversary in this time frame! We were able to go out to dinner and relax.

New Tires: Dave took my Mazda in for a oil change and turned out the tires were really low, which was kind of a shock to us. We had about 20,000 miles onto 70,000 mile tires. Dave talked to them and since that was the place we bought the tires from they gave us a big credit towards new tires. They said they had problems with this make and model. We got brand new tires this weekend, huge discount. We also got a different brand so hopefully we won't go through this again. It was good timing getting the replaced going into WINTER since we're just starting to get some snow in the area. Nothing at our house yet, buT due this week!

Dave's Pal: Dave was thrilled that a longtime childhood friend Bob moved to our area. I had met him before, great guy. I am really happy they can spend some time together and hang out. We had him over for a simple Thanksgiving dinner, since he moved here three days before and didn't know anyone in the area. It was lovely! Really enjoyed my newer "buffet", after removing the computer in the kitchen last year, worked great for serving turkey day foods! Sorry no food shots-

Roasted some leftover pumpkins from the house for the girls-

Still wondering what they are?


Winter Is Here/Food Preps-
The cold weather has finally come! We had 18° weather last week, with our first snow forecast down in the valley for late this week. This is a time of year I stock up on certain things. We did take down all of the Autumn/Thanksgiving decor this weekend. I don't have any Advent/Christmas stuff up quite yet. I like to take a breather between the two. I did put my first holiday decor up, my favorite vintage jar with a little red berries on the kitchen window. We did make a run to Trader Joe's and I bought one of their nice small fresh candle wreaths that I actually hang on the kitchen wall. Bought some live red berries, some evergreen branches, an amaryllis and a few food items. Before surgery I totally forgot to buy some amaryllis bulbs last month. We went to Costco a while back and I needed some unbleached flour. I do try to do as much whole grain and I have tons of whole wheat/whole wheat pastry flour. At Costco they had a large bag of all purpose flour for eight bucks, much cheaper than at the grocery store so I bought a bag. I think it was 15 lb? 

I bought some wheat berries from the LDS Food Store online. Storage Basically you can set up a new account if you are not a member, which I am not, and when you set up your profile there's a checkbox where you CHECK "I am not a member".  I got a really great deal on six cans of hard wheat berries for about $45. I think shipping was about $7? Took about 2 weeks but I'm really happy to have the wheat berries on hand. I think next year is going to be really really ugly for the wheat market in the US for the consumer. Really great thing is berries keep a long time in a cool, dry area in those cans. They do also sell other dehydrated things like carrots, potatoes, onions, beans, oats. I thought they had a really good customer service with shipping in a fairly timely manner. Also went thru my pantry, got out some of my stash of coffee beans. Bought more teas, cereals. Washed and sorted our winter hats and gloves. Using those already!
Here's a peek at our garden-random gorgeous fall colors here at our homestead- 

Our Oak Leaf Hydrangea

Backyard mound garden

Dave got the sun room up on the coop two weeks ago-

Bonnie enjoying the winter sun-

I had some scrap faux Ikea sheepskin (cut out a circle for Bonnie's kitty perch top)-

I thought I could winterize my little bench!

Just cut a curve and draped!

Sep 23, 2023

Harvest Time! September is National Preparedness Month, Warranty Success With A Twist

Harvest Time! 
It's been busy, busy busy!!! Harvest time is always great (and) way too much at once. Our Redhaven peach tree was delayed this year because of our wacky late spring early summer weather and started ripening around the same time as the pears. Usually our Red Haven peaches are ripe in July well ahead of the other fruit trees. We froze, baked and canned some, gave some to my kiddos. Froze these on a cookie sheet, then vacuum sealed in bags for later-

Apples are done now, gave away some to both my daughters and their in-laws. I put canning on hold this year as I just don't have the time and some medical stuff going on. Also working a lot of overtime at work. Since we have quite a bit left over from the last two years we're good. We have lots of fresh apples stashed in both of our refrigerators which will last for months. They are delish! As a twist we have pretty much decided to actually cut down our apple tree. It is way too big and is producing way too much fruit for us. It was a tough decision in some ways but the right thing to do. Dave has a friend who's going to take the tree down for the firewood and in the spring we'll find a nice dwarf apple tree to put in its place. I canned peaches, pears got to ripe too fast with the heat so I didn't can any. Did baking and we are ate lots fresh! Pear crisp-

Tomatoes are coming in like crazy, finally! Our favorite variety this summer is the Black Prince tomato, a Russian variety, sweet and really delicate flavor! Smaller but amazing, will plant again-

Lots and lots on the vine too. I frozen some, have eaten fresh and used some of our bumper of crop cherry tomatoes to roast and pack in olive oil. They will keep well in the fridge through the winter. Elliott Homestead has some really good videos on Youtube for food prepping. I used her recipe for the cherry tomatoes. She has another recipe for sun-dried tomatoes (in the oven) and again packed in olive oil. I made those too-

Freezing, used vacuum bags after this part

Roma's "sun dried" in the oven

Packed in Olive oil
In the fridge for winter

Fresh with our Basil and cukes! 

Swiss chard grew really well in a in a box this summer! The chickens love it so I give them some as treats-

Kind of so-so on our new little garden bed with radishes, carrots, and green onions. I think it's just been the weather since they've been getting plenty of water-

I bought really fresh, nice pickling cucumbers at a local farmstead to ferment again this year. One jar went to each of my daughters and the rest for me-

Made my 1st Chimichurri, came out great with my stored frozen roast and local roasted potatoes!


Eggs are in good production since Luna started laying again!
We're ready for Autumn!

Bonnie enjoying the ending summer light-

September is National Preparedness Month-
Speaking of storing and preserving food! September is National Preparedness Month (again). I can't say strongly enough I think things are going to get much much worse over the next few years before they get better. If you or your loved ones, or someone you know, is the type to thank everything will be okay they will be in for a very rude awakening. I HOPE I AM WRONG. I'm not trying to be negative, just realistic, and for those who are able to listen- store up extra foods, water, cash, fuel you know the drill. You can look back on my preparedness posts here or Google September National Preparedness Month for all kinds of resources in your area. Don't forget your pets and don't forget over the counter supplements, syrups, pain relief, etc. What if you had a bad cough and couldn't find cough syrup anywhere? Not a good scenario, but if you have a couple of extra bottle stashed along with other kinds of first aid supplies your set. Winter is coming and we've already seen the bizarre international weather events. This is the new normal. Just a good reminder to not rely on anybody to help you, EVER.

Warranty Success With A Twist-
I blogged a while back about how I found a used Stanley travel mug with (it turned out) a broken lid-

I replaced the lid which wound up leaking sadly. I called the Stanley customer service number which was an overseas call center. That was pretty well a nightmare. I looked on their website and anything over 30 days was NOT covered by warranty, shocked! I had bought the lid and stored it for quite a few months before I used it. I started thinking about a work-around. I went on to Amazon's website looked up the Stanley flask/mug that was similar and posted a question, since I couldn't post a comment. Mentioned that they had terrible customer service and was there a local phone number? Within 24 hours I got an email from Stanley to go to their website and fill out a form, which I did. I got a response within about 2 days asking for a photo of the bottom of the cup and a video showing the leak, which I did. Within a few days I was told that the lid is out of stock, but that they were going to send me a replacement. Not a replacement LID, which was what I asked for, but a full replacement mug/flask. They let me choose which of two colors, I went with Rose Quartz (almost Copper), so now I have a brand new Stanley travel mug/flask and lid that works! Item here- Stanley1913 Mug I will save the old one, just won't use in a bag, etc. Pretty funny, I spent $3.00 for the thrifted item, $10 for a new lid and I wound up getting a free, more expensive new flask. Always pays to be creative and think about your options. 

Aug 12, 2023

What Are Synchronized Crop Failures?

What Are Synchronized Crop Failures?
I thought I'd share this since this video has such a good description and explanation of what synchronized crop failure really is. Great for us non-scientists. I really appreciate this YouTuber, City Prepper, because he does such a good job with data, science and is a-political. Watch the whole thing, might be good information if you want to make some changes. I really like the idea of food pivots. He has tons of great info and a free newsletter with lots of useful info-


Here's his website  I rarely endorse anyone (no fee paid), but he has very professional work and very informative. Better to get ready now than later... 


Jul 25, 2023

100 + Degree Heat and Independence Days Challenge

100 Degree Heat and Independence Days Challenge- 
Like other parts of the country it's been very very hot here lately! It was 106 or 107 last week. At this point we're just trying to keep our garden/yard and our chickens alive. We're very lucky that we have excellent air conditioning and a very low water bill compared to other parts of Boise in the surrounding area. We're part of a very small water district and so no matter how much water we use the bill is the same. Having said that we do try to remind ourselves that we need to mulch as much as possible as we live in a high desert. Some people just worry about their bill and not how much is in the water table. Luckily we did have a wet spring so hopefully it's not as bad as usual. Hoping for some relief on the way! Some summer decor is up, nice and cheery-

Beach table

Our lovely daughter Tami gifted us with a gorgeous crystal paper weight from her recent Oregon Coast vacation, Moon Jellyfish-
Here's what we've been up to here at the Little Homestead...

Independence Days Challenge
1. Plant Something-

Too hot this time of year just keeping things alive. Garden is looking good though!


2. Harvest Something-

About one egg a day. New veggies coming along-


Radishes, a few carrots and green onions from seed, added new soil
 Swiss Chard and herbs-

Been getting a good amount of cucumbers,  mostly lemon. Starting to get some decent sized green cucumbers for slicing. It's been too hot for the tomatoes to set fruit, but there are a few small tomatoes. Peppers are coming along as well, no squash yet. One of our chickens Luna has not been laying for about the last month. Really odd to only be getting about one egg per day. Debbie still looks slower, but is hanging in there. The vet I took her to months ago said she had a mass and had a lot of edema. She seems to be holding her own! I'm surprised she's lasted this long. I definitely don't want to lose two chickens! Luna looks pretty healthy and seems okay otherwise so I increased her, and the flock's, protein content by getting them some dried meal worm mixed treats. They love them! Hopefully egg production will start up again. This is why I dehydrated lots of eggs last year when we have a over abundant supply. We use a mister in their shade area to keep them cooler, cheap and effective, also water down their run daily and cool treats like cuke slices-

3. Preserve/Store Something-

As always with food prices been watching for good deals. Found some really good deals at Trader Joe's recently. One of my favorite quick fast/work dinners is Trader Joe's non-cured pepperoni pizza. I top with whatever vegetables we have at home like olives, peppers, onions and then bake. It's a quick dinner for the two of us. Four good slices (for two of us) for $5.00.  Serve with some veggies or salad. Lots of apples, pears, and peaches on the trees will be doing lots of canning this year! I haven't made my chunky applesauce in a few years so will be making some this year-



Pollinators helping out-

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

Working off of our freezer, used a pork roast to make for pulled pork, etc. Went to the Grocery Outlet, got some great deals: organic cereals, canned chicken chili, baking mixes, fresh fruit and I even bought a Jade plant! For six bucks it was really healthy and will live a long time. Bought replacement pair of sneakers on Amazon for 30% off. I bought some used books/DVDs on eBay and a few other things for the house. Working on using it more of the freezer foods including some fruits and vegetables. Got some items at Costco-

$8.00, for 2 dinners plus extras 

Great for pasta, lasts a long time!


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

Bought some Asian noodles and tofu at a local Asian store and made stir fry! Use lots of fresh ginger, Hoisin sauce and vegetables. On the noodles did Tamari sauce and sesame oil. Topped with sesame seeds, excellent!


6. Build Community Food Systems-

Haven't made it out to the local farmstead place yet, a little bit early. It's also quite a lot of gas to drive out to Caldwell, so putting that on hold for now to keep our expenses down. No eggs to give away right now.


7. Recycle/Re-Use-

Went through my clothes  and craft closet. Donated some decorative things for the house that I just don't really use anymore. Sold my old Peugeot bike for $175.00! Dave's old one is for sale too. We bought two newer used ones, much easier to ride. Went to Goodwill and found some great stuff recently! Bought some used music CD's on eBay as well as a couple of tops. We went to two different Goodwill stores and found some really great deals. I got mugs that match my earlier one (except gray) and a really fun French Chateau clock that I repaired. The top of had a hole. Got a fun snowy yard sign that's folk art looking for winter. Got some sidewalk chalk for the grand kids. Stopped at Hobby Lobby and got a nice welcome sign, summer clearance priced-


$3.00 for two

 Goes with my previous thrifted blue ones!
Mini farm animals to go with thrifted toy barn, $1.00, grand kids love it!
Ripley putting the animals away!
Cute thrifted clock, $6.00
Hole on the top

Used light weight spackle, took 3 times to fill

 colored with a black magic marker, all done!
works great! 
 Gravy boat with dish, $3.00
 Beachy shadow box $3.00


Thrifted sign $3.00, about 12" x 8"

Clearance from Hobby Lobby, $6.00 for front door 

Painted last month's thrifted Fleur de lis a flat cream, will distress soon, maybe. 

Some of our bird houses were shot, so Dave got out some spare lumber and built some new ones-
 The local birds love this size-

New recycled roofs, bought at yard sales. Will paint with leftover house paint and decorate. More soon!

8. Skill Up-

Still learning lots about my new-er job and doing well. Excellent benefits working for the Federal government! A bit of a bureaucracy however but that's the way it is.

 9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something-

We have our blue towels from Ikea that we really like. We went through the second time where the set of towels is in pretty good shape but the washcloths were getting really scratchy. Because we have really hard water and the washcloths are wet most of the time they get pretty icky and discolored after a while. Since I had a hand towel I had not used yet as part of the set I decided to make two washcloths. I basically measure them out against an existing washcloth hand them on the sewing machine and added a loop to one of them. Much softer and thicker! And didn't cost anything-


Old washcloth as a pattern

Sorry, already in use!

I have been debating for years washing one, or both, of my Grandmother's Depression Era quilts. One was in much worse shape than the other so I decided to wash the better one first. The main problem with it is the edging was pretty well shot. We have a setting on our washer that's called Deep Water that basically fills the whole washer up. We rarely use this setting, but I decided to use it for the quilt. I read when washing really old quilts to wash them, then stretch them out on the grass in the sun to dry. You wouldn't want to do this right after you mowed however! So I washed it and dried it and wow what a difference, used warm water, mild soap and Clorox 2-


 Bow Tie quilt

I don't think I'd washed it in about 20 years or more, was afraid to. I started thinking about what grandma would think and she probably would think that I should watch the other one too! So I did. The one in better shape I think I'm going to go ahead and buy some binding for her and do the edges-


The one that's more worn I may go ahead and try to buy some matching fabric for some of the squares that are pretty well beat up and replacing those. Time will tell but I'd like to preserve them as best as possible. All clean #2!


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