Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cellar Finds!

Do you know what's in your cellar..basement...shed...barn??

I don't have a clue! First you need to understand that we don't have a basement. We have an old 'Dorothy of Oz' cellar. Until 2 years ago, the only way to access it was from the outside, lifting the old Bilco doors, and going down the old concrete (and cobweb filled) stairs, then entering via an old door.

We had someone put a trap door with steps leading down from one of the bedrooms. So even with easier access - I just avoid at all costs going down into that dingy dungeon where there is still a large area of dirt floor where the former coal furnace sat.

Yesterday I got it in my head that I wanted to find some canning jars. I need them for future DIY's I want to try, and just have never been one to save glass jars - whoa is me! Who knew that along with the ice cream maker, counter top mixer, bread maker, and boxes of mason jars I sold in a garage sale; someday I would want ALL of those things back! NOW, a saver I will become.

Anyway, taking my spouse by the hand, I led the way to a few of our local thrift shops. Here are my finds from the day:
pretty nice, right? Especially the one gallon container with pour spout that Dusty found!

We were home about an hour or so when she asked me if we had gotten rid of the canning jars that were on a shelf in the cellar. I am almost ashamed to admit that I spend so little time down there that I never knew about them! So this morning I decided it was time to bundle up in my spider protective gear, and go take a look.  This is what I found!
Now I am the proud owner of 15 glass bottles! I also found the plant starter tray, that led right into remembering a tin of various seeds a friend gave me back in March! 

I started digging through that after I dug it out of a storage closet, and have a plethora of vegetable, flower, and herb seeds to play with! The find of the day?? The lemon cucumber seeds! I love them, and have not found any in a long time. Now I can see if any of them have life left!

Well, the moral of this story? Do NOT throw anything away, or have a garage sale, because 2 years later you will want it back!

If you have areas in, under or around your home that you have not been into for a while, GO check them out! Amazing the things you may find.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Excitement Builds...

Spring is approaching!

I have great hopes that spring will arrive a little early this year. Maybe it's due to the fact that winter came hard and fast, or maybe it's only because I am so eager to begin my outdoor homesteading.

As I've said in my previous posts, we are getting four chickens! Most hatcheries I have looked at will only ship a minimum of 15, if you are looking for less you can purchase as few as 3 here, if you are unable to find any near you.

The original plan was to build onto the back of an existing small shed, but that plan has changed. We have decided it makes more sense to simply use the shed! I want to get it ready today of course, does need a new roof, and a few modifications first. Darn!! I want those chicks now!

Since I have to wait for better outside conditions, I've been spending my time looking at gardening books. I do believe I am going to try at least one raised bed, and a south facing wall along the garage of vertical planting.

I've also been busy working inside making my fermented drinks! That probably sounds awful to you, but they are very tasty! My personal favorite is like a homemade soda, and so easy to make. More on that in a bit.

I made yogurt! This is my very first batch and I made it in my crockpot!

I found the recipe at Live Simply and it was super EASY.  The only thing I've added to it, is to take 4 layers of cheesecloth and place it in a strainer, over a deep bowl. Then I poured the yogurt into it and strained out the whey before I put the yogurt into containers and put it in the refrigerator! It makes it a bit thicker, like Greek yogurt.  It took no time at all to make, I did it last night and this morning it was done.

The flavor is wonderful...very mild, not really tangy at all. I understand the longer it sits, the tangier it becomes. Mine sat for about 10 hours.

If you don't own a crockpot, you can place your bowl on a heating pad set at the lowest temperature, cover it with 2 towels, and leave it overnight!

Just a little ps. here. I just had a bowl of the yogurt after it sat in the refrigerator for several hours. I am so pleased! Thick and smooth and absolutely delish. I added a spoonful of maple butter to it and it was like eating a dessert! 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Loving Life, Getting Things Done

Being the world's greatest procrastinator is a tough job. But for the past several years, I've been able to handle it.

After slowly but surely recovering from a major depressive disorder that began around the time of 9/11 and ended in the summer of 2012, I discovered that there was an awful lot of work that never got done while my mind was absent. 

About that same time I started working again. (I had been unable to during that horrendous period) I convinced myself I was too tired in the evenings to do much about getting it all done, but Dusty and I partnered up and little by little over a period of months, we managed to scrub, organize and de clutter every room within the house. 3 years ago, we hired someone to redo our bathroom, new walls, sink, walk in shower, the works. I volunteered to do the final coat of compound and sanding so we could save a few dollars.

Well folks...I finally started doing that yesterday! In preparation for my adventure as a homesteader, gardener, chicken keeper, and DIYer; I decided to Get Things Done.

It's going to take a few weeks, now that I see how badly the first coat of compound was done, but I felt so satisfied after doing 2 hours of scraping and sanding. From now on, it will no longer be "Why do today what I can put off until tomorrow"! 

Now I've been eating paleo for a little over 2 months now, and everyday I sit at my computer and look for delicious sounding recipes. I've gathered a few haven't done a thing with them ... Today I finally got to make the healthy Greek yogurt recipe from Eliza Cross, found on her blog at Happy Simple Living - Another accomplishment!

Probably the thing that give me the most satisfaction today is the fact that I fixed the hem in my kitchen curtains that has needed doing for several months now. (blush)

Anyway, I've decided that life is way too short, and I've missed so much of it in years past because I was unable to function, that I will procrastinate NO more! 

Come spring we need to build our coop for our future chickens, and put in a garden...I will have all of the inside things done first!

Just on an end note - I have also been sewing again! This is something I was very good at and enjoyed immensely in my youth and am picking back up again now that I have my very own sewing craft table again!
 I have had for a few years an Etsy shop: MargoRoseVintage  where I've been selling vintage jewelry and household items that I received after my Mom's death a couple years ago. I am seriously thinking of doing some smaller chicken items... What do you think?

Well, signing off now... time to check my yogurt and think about bed where I can lay awake for a few hours getting excited by life, and by getting things done.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year of New Beginnings!

Happy New Year everyone!

I thought today I would share a bit about where we live and what I hope to get accomplished this year. First some history:

We live in the middle of an upstate city on a corner double lot, in what has been home to Dusty's family since 1940. This old homestead started out as a farmhouse before the area was converted into neighborhoods. My in laws were very much an entrepreneurial family.
                            This view shows the side where the store was

The house was converted from a large single home to a home with an upstairs apartment, and a grocery store attached to the corner side. That later became a small restaurant, where ice cream made in the factory on the other side of the house, was served. Today that factory is a 2 car garage. When we first took over the home 14 years ago, there was a small enclosed room off the living room that I turned into a grooming shop. Prior to that, the room had been a cobblers shop and then a small bedroom. We have since removed a wall and enlarged our living room. We still have a rental unit upstairs.

So that brings me to my desire to homestead here where our ancestors gather, and the goals we have set for the coming year.

The first and foremost goal is chickens! There is a small shed attached to the side of the garage that we need to do some repair on, and then we plan to build an attached chicken coop to the back side of it. That will shelter our future 4 chickens on two sides against what can be severely cold and windy weather here. In my research about chickens, I have found several great sites with information, such as this page from Ever Growing Farm, and, of course, the chicks. California Hatchery will allow you to purchase a minimum of 3 chicks.

Second on my list is to build at least one large raised garden bed. I want to grow, harvest and preserve our food. There are several reasons behind this, most importantly because I want to know our food is healthy and not full of insecticides. In preparation for my garden, I have been searching seed companies. Harris Seeds is local to me and offers online mail orders. Check them out for organic, treated or untreated seeds, veggies, herbs and flowers. 

All of this brings me to my final big goal of the year: Learning how to can, pickle, ferment and store all the food!  I did some canning in my youth with my mom, but will need to relearn this since that was ages ago.

In keeping with a first on the first, this morning I put together my first batch of Kombucha, and my first batch of water kefir. I can't wait to see how they turn out!
As I speak about kombucha, which is a fermented tea, I wonder what kinds of tea you drink?

Click Here to read more!
The above article from Food Babe may make you think twice about drinking any non-organic brands!

Wishing you all there is in the New Year!