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!


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A year of endings

Happy New Year to all of you!

This has been a life changing year for me. I've seen many endings and all of them have been good.

I've suffered from depression and hypothyroidism for 10+ years, I've steadily put on weight and had an incredible lack of energy. This past fall I discovered how to regain my health!

After my diagnosis of diabetes in October, I discovered what it means to eat Paleo and took back my body. Initially the diagnosis felt like the end of the world, but it has proven to be the blessing I needed to regain my life.

I went to see a specialist yesterday. He is an Endocrinologist and head of the Diabetes Unit at our local hospital. I had to wait 2 months to see him but it was worth the wait.  After 2 months on my new food lifestyle, he was so impressed with my health, that he said, "I have no words of wisdom for you, just keep doing whatever you are doing."  

In 2 months time, my hypothyroid is normal, he could detect NO evidence of it in his exam! I have LOST 20 pounds! I have massive amounts of energy, wake up on my own every morning feeling rested and energized, and even more important to me, I have not had one moment of that sluggish, no spark to life, feeling of depression. I have an enthusiasm and a joy for life that I can't remember ever feeling.

Over the last 50 to 60 years, our options for obtaining food completely changed from those of our parents and grandparents. With the introduction of large chain grocery stores, the small neighborhood butcher shops and grocers, who got most of their meat and produce from local farmers, slowly went out of business, and big corporations took over. They supply us with everything a person could imagine in the form of processed foods, unhealthy antibiotic filled, and grain fed meat, along with produce bathed in poisonous insecticides.

The good news was, people could stop growing their own produce, stop harvesting, stop canning, stop fertilizing the earth with hard work and sweat... and just go to the store!

So, what does it mean to eat Paleo? For me it simply means taking control of my own well being, and not depending on a government to make my food choices any longer.

Once I found out about the Paleo lifestyle and began to expand my reading, I discovered there is an entire life style changing movement going on! Who knew?! Certainly not me in my brain fogged world! People have gone back to homesteading!  They grow their own produce, have relearned lost talents like canning, fermentation, pickling, and cold storage in order to save it all. They have whatever farm animals they can, and learn how to care for, and eventually use as nourishment, and products (ie: skin care, soaps, etc), what they can from them.

With all of this year's endings for me... I now have a goal for the new year. We have already started our homestead on paper, and in our heads. Sadly, we have to wait for winter to be over before we can begin the outside portions of this new and very exciting life! This too, has certainly proved to be the ultimate blessing, as it's given me much more time to learn, explore, and pass on the knowledge I am gaining.

Health and Peace in the New Year!  See you there...

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Second Chance Homestead

Hi, I'm Margo and I live in Upstate New York, in the middle of the city of Rochester. I just wanted to introduce myself and tell you the story of how I came to create the Second Chance Homestead.

Some people have called me stubborn (my mom, my spouse, yep... even my kids) but I'm not really. I just need to learn things the hard way! I grew up with a dietitian posing as my mother and we had totally balanced meals for every dinner, salad included. I have always been a lover of all foods that are not really good for you... yes, I mean salad. I also mean vegetables, multi grain 'super foods', etc. I love bread, potatoes, pasta and of course dessert!
This past October was a difficult month for me. Leading up, throughout the summer I found I had less and less energy, needed a nap every evening after work, and couldn't get enough to drink. Now, when I tell you that the last 3 weeks in October I couldn't drink enough... it was a wicked thirst!

I will tell you that I diagnosed myself, but my spouse will tell you a different story. 
Right - I didn't want to hear what she had to say, so once again I went the hard way.
I wasn't able to see my doctor until the last week of the month, so I consulted my local pharmacy. I was given a blood glucose testing kit, and my first result was a very abnormal 470! For those that don't know, normal glucose runs around 80 to 125. When I saw my doctor on 10/29 he told me I was highly diabetic. For those in the know, my A1C was an astonishing 10.

The first thing I did was cry, the second thing was to realize that I was scared to death. I went straight from there to total panic, because I had NO clue what to eat!

I'm a huge believer in posting just about anything on facebook - eek - so I began telling anyone that cared to read about it.

My cousin kept responding but all she would say was: "Eat Paleo"  Well! I've never heard of Paleo, didn't know where to buy it, or if I could even find it, how to cook it! 
Being the wise person I am, I finally asked her, and I ended up reading  The Paleo Solution It has changed my life and led me onto a path that is giving me a second chance to live life not only to its fullest, but in an entirely different way then this city girl has ever lived before.

Our home has seen many lifestyles in it's 100+ years, it's housed a grocery store, restaurant, cobbler, ice cream factory, and most recently a dog grooming shop. But it has never seen what is about to happen...

I hope you will join me as I learn how to build a chicken coop to house the 4 chickens --that I know nothing about, but have always thought would be fun to have - we plan to purchase in the spring, along with the raised garden beds I hope to create so I can grow, and somehow, preserve our own vegetables.

These things along with fermented foods and drinks (what??..eww she said at first), a greener lifestyle, and if I can talk my darling into it, a goat, should all prove to be a wild ride for this simple city grandma of 3. My family will never believe this!

A BIG shout out to Melissa at Ever Growing Farm for her thoughtful kindness in directing me to the correct blog site for a beginner, and sharing needed info on blogger etiquette!