Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Town House Homestead Tuesday

It was bee tending time again this past Sunday. The weather finally allowed good conditions to inspect the hive. These bees are strong and working hard. They are building and have filled most of the supers with lots of honey. There are five stacked here and another is soon to be added until the owner arrives back in the country to harvest the honey. 

On the way home from tending the bees we stopped at a co-workers garage sale. She had posted pictures on line and I was in need of planters and any pots because of all the newly donated plants and cuttings people have given us to brighten up our new home, and of course indoor herbs. 

This is the collection I came home with. Not too bad for $23. These are very good heavy pots and one pot was marked $28. I think I did well.

This is my kitchen herb garden so far. I have added a jar of Rosemary to root and will plant is as soon as it does. I have also started a new pot of Basil because the Japanese beetles liked it as much as I did if not more, killing it completely. 

After the garage sale we hit up a thrift store and found some vintage items, The cupcake mold we got at the garage sale. There were a couple of linens, Vera scarves, holiday cookie cutters, yes more plant saucers, Tupperware items and a stacking Santa. 

My daughter rescued this wonderful chair from the trash. Why anyone would throw something this great away is beyond us. I washed it all up and got years of dirt off it and she continued the challenge.

She simply unbolted the four bolts and is giving it a coat of spray paint to change it from an off white to a bright white for my office in the closet. Total cost will be about $6 for the paint and a few minutes of work. The chrome legs just need a little more washing, but are in excellent vintage condition.

This gray rolling file cart she also rescued from the trash. I spent two afternoons scrubbing and peeling all the years of dust, dirt, coffee and tape from it and today I started to spray paint it a hammered bronze color. I will use this as a planter. Once again, why can't people see beyond the box and make something new out of things? So glad we have space to have up cycled things now. So, that's what's new at the Town House Homestead this week. Thank you for stopping by and have a great week.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Town House Homestead Tuesday

The new house is really beginning to feel like home. It's been three months and the changes are looking good. The work list is getting shorter and the urgent structural problems are getting fixed and not turning out as bad as it could be. I had this big idea that I was going to have this great big beautiful garden and would be canning and preserving at this time, but that was quickly put on the back burner and I am still using the farm markets. I did, however, get a few vegetables planted in pots and they are growing well. Except for the pepper plant that was eaten. 

Here are my three pots/buckets of container tomatoes that are just over the moon happy and doing quite well. As you can see they are loaded with tomatoes.

I have been growing string beans in containers and starting them a couple of weeks apart so they will continue to produce for us. I also have two surviving carnival pepper plants. These I bring into the breezeway every night to keep them from being consumed by whatever country critter feels hungry. I also have spinach growing in the breezeway and many herbs. It's a glimmer of hope for the large garden that may start next year. 

We had a few appointments last week and in between we did a little thrift shopping. Here we found a mid century modern candle stand, a Wilhold sewing box and a vegetable strainer.

There are always books we enjoy. We needed a napkin holder and of course more Christmas decorations. We also found Halloween ice cube molds and the Tupperware freezer pop mold. Most items were in the 49 to 99 cent range. A couple were a bit more.

This is a set of Tupperware canisters that did not have covers. I wanted the large one for my cooking utensils, but I only needed the next to smallest one. We will find covers. It always happens.

Last, but not least we found a Pyrex round opal baking dish. Always great to find Pyrex for less than two dollars. We got the floppy disc file to hold seed packets that are getting a little out of control. I'm sure we will need more, but for now one will do and they are abundant at thrift stores and who couldn't use another plant hanger. A nice sturdy metal one for all the plants that are rooting and will need homes shortly. Well, that's what's new at the new town house homestead this week.We hope you all have a great week and thank you for stopping by. 

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Town House Homestead Tuesday

I sure hope that everyone had a great 4th of July holiday. We sure did. It was work and relaxation with friends and family and a small cookout under the gazebo. Should I say that I am smiling? Life as been overwhelming here at the new town house homestead. As everyone knows, to bring a piece of land back up to par requires long hours of hard work. This past weekend we received help from still another neighbor. 

If you remember the first two weekends we were here required a lot of tree removal. The result was this pile of logs and brush. As May passed by and then June the grass took over. I realized that putting a larger garden in this year was really out of the question and cutting up the wood to store was being put further and further on the back burner. Until...

This neighbor, and may I say a fine gentleman, and his help came to clear the wood. He lives two houses away and they like to sit around a fire and enjoy family and friends and time in their pool. We met him for the first time Saturday evening and at nine Sunday morning they were there with all they needed to cut the wood and haul it away. All we provided was electricity for his chain saw and weed trimmer. 

They removed the grass and kept cutting away and we were glad someone could use the wood and was willing to work hard getting it out. 

They worked for four hours and left to go share time with their family and company. Before leaving however Scott explained that he'd be back the next morning (July 4th) to finish up. By this he meant he would remove all the old garden fence and posts and cut the grass down to a manageable level. Here is the last barrel of wood he hauled away. 

This is the beautiful cleared future garden spot as of this morning. There's lots to be done. There's some weed guard down under some of the grass and it needs to be raked well, but for now we will be able to keep working and prepping it for next summer's vegetables. We feel so blessed to have such wonderful neighbors and this experience is new to us. I gave them each a pint of home made triple berry syrup and they went on to enjoy their holiday.

My daughter is once again tending bee's this summer. We went and checked out the hive and it is thriving beyond belief. This is an awesome thing to see a strong hive at work. In a couple of months they have filled two supers and built the third to fill with honey/brood. You can see how busy they have been. 

She inspected the hive and saw that it was growing at a fast pace. She was going to add one super to the hive, but because of the activity she added two new ones. When she goes back in a few weeks to check on them again she expects to see more honey and good activity. They were flying strong and I was impressed with the speed and accuracy of the bees. 

From my herb garden this week I was able to harvest a good variety for drying. I have winter savory, sweet marjoram, basil and thyme. I wasn't expecting anything to grow or to be able to plant a garden this year after the tree episode, but the containers with tomatoes are doing well and the containers with peppers are also thriving. I've planted bush beans in pots and spinach. I will be able to harvest some spinach in a couple of days and I started another pot for when the other is depleted. Not a lot, but enough for a couple of meals and that's something. That's what's new at the new town house homestead this week. Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful week. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Town House Homestead Tuesday

Well, I just don't know where to begin. This past week here has been a giant step forward. I'm almost sure I'll forget to mention something that got done. It's been very dry here with little rain and the temperatures have been in the nineties. We haven't had to mow the lawn since Memorial day weekend. This left plenty of time  to do other things. This past Saturday was an extraordinary day. It was a ten hour long work day. It started at 9:30 a.m., but we had been up much earlier than that. Family came with a full Jeep of work equipment and plants along with things for the house and before we knew it construction began. Or should I say deconstruction.

My daughter's God parents came in full force to put a new roof on the Gazebo. It had Cedar shingles and was covered in moss and infested with ants so it really needed to go. He installed an architectural, twenty year asphalt shingle in a pewter gray. My daughter's choice, but met with his approval. 

He had buckets of mixed nails and the sorting began. Of course we did it wrong and had to start all over, but it all worked out in the end.

This is me using the hammer while they went to purchase the shingles, removing an old gate that was on the gazebo. 

At the same time that the gazebo was getting an update this lovely husband and wife team were tilling the front gardens. She is a former co-worker of my daughters and they now have a landscaping business. Can you feel the heat?

Before any one arrived and the night before, my daughter and I removed the cardboard, lumber and stones we had put down to kill the overgrowth.

This is what they had to begin with and they did an awesome job.

These are just some of the plants that people have given to us along with my container tomatoes and peppers that seem to be quite happy. I even have flowers on the tomatoes. 

This is how it looks right now after two and a half hours of raking and fine cleaning it and putting in plants. We are not done yet, but it's on it's way. 

We have lots of friendly critters here as well. The ground hogs not so much, but these guys can stay.

Here is the gazebo with the new roof and yes, it is a peaceful setting. Eventually she will power wash it and stain it a dark gray, but for now at least we will be dry if we want to sit out.

On a final note, we all had to eat so I got my camping table out with my little grill and we officially had our first cookout. That made it feel like home and with all the help and love we are receiving it can be nothing but home. Thank you so much everyone for everything. If I forgot anything I apologize and will recognize it in a later blog. Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful week. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Town House Homestead Tuesday

So by now everyone knows that my daughter bought her first home which is a 1958 ranch, but as she calls it, her "Mid Century Modern" treasure. It was a foreclosure that a real estate investment company flipped and did what we call the "got by with just enough" work to sell it kind of job. Not bad and it's a solid home and she can go from here and make it hers. Before the former owner passed away he purchased the kitchen cabinets and they didn't really spend a fortune flipping it. Basically they purchased the counter tops and tile, did some work on the bathroom and finished the hardwood floors. The ground work for her to build on. We were also looking for the right piece of land to work with and she considers this perfect.This past weekend we spent more time unpacking.

We unpacked about ten boxes all filled with vintage Pyrex. They were packed well as you can see and nothing broke in the move.

We welcomed Michael Blaine to our home this weekend. He's a former student worker of my daughter's and is finishing up working for his big move to New York City in August. He volunteered to help unpack and settle the Pyrex into it's new home. Thank you so much Michael. It was a pleasure meeting you and making pizza for you. The wall behind the green table will be painted yellow as an accent wall and she would like to find a vintage table, but for now the green one works.

She collects shelves also. Here is what her mid century modern collection looks like in the new kitchen. The old with the new is working even better than I thought it would. She chose to put her Aqua collection on one side of the kitchen and the "Verde" collection on the other.

On the counter and in the lower cupboards are the odds and end pieces that I use on a daily basis to bake and cook with. For the first time in two months since we've been here it actually feels like home. Maybe that's what happens once the kitchen is settled and you can do what you need to do and find what you need to find. 

It wouldn't be her kitchen without a chalkboard. She found a black frame that someone at the college was throwing away and brought it home. She taped off the area  for the chalkboard paint and four coats later it was done. She mounted the frame and there you have it, perfect for over my recipe book shelf. 

We're continuing to reclaim the yard. This is the west side of the garage which is a hill. It's annoying to get the push mower up there and mow it so we had another co-worker of my daughter offer all the day lilies she wanted and we've begun to replant them. They will not only take over and be pretty, but our neighbors will have something besides grass to look at.

These birds hung off the deck at the townhouse. I spray painted the holder, which is an indoor wall hanger for candles, washed up the birds and hung it on the side of the garage above the lilies. A small amount of Gorilla glue holds the birds on. When the heat dies back we'll go out and finish putting the rest of the lilies in the ground. That's the very latest from the new town house homestead and thank you for stopping by. Have a wonderful week. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Town House Homestead Tuesday

Well like most people with a good size piece of suburban property we are finding lots of work to do and discovering something new every week. The tree that blossomed we are quite sure is an apple tree. Not sure of it's health and what it will produce, but we have some fruit forming and we can only wait and see. 

We have come to expect this daily phenomenon. For some reason the property across the street from us is the landing zone for ducks. When the weather is wet and the rain just keeps coming and coming there could be sixty to one hundred ducks just sitting on the lawn. If it's not raining every evening at the same time, approximately 7:30 pm, they begin descending on the lawn. We haven't figured out if they just come because the woman puts out buckets of bird seed, or if it's a natural event, but it's just that yard. They only go to that yard. It's actually funny watching people watching the ducks.

This beauty is called "Devil's Paintbrush" and is growing wild in the lawn. It is a pretty daisy type flower of orange and yellow, but is intrusive and banned actually in some states. It hasn't really become a problem here for us so we are just  leaving it alone and mowing as usual. The only way to get rid of the plant is to dig it out so when it is an issue we'll do that. For now we'll just enjoy the flowers.

This is called a "False Dandelion" because it's similar in looks, but not quite a Dandelion. The yard is showing us many new things and we are so in love with living with land. It's only half an acre, but boy what we are discovering. 

So now for the update on the Lilac adventure. The Lilac oil came out good and the extract seems to be a good result also. As far as baking directly with the Lilac blossoms, I don't think I'll be doing that again. I will try using the Lilac extract next. My favorite of all the trials was the lilac sugar. After I let it set and removed the blossoms I had sugared blossoms that were great just for eating. My biggest success was the Lilac jelly. I had put the blossoms to steep in boiling water and was supposed to use them the next day. However, I got busy and it was two days later that I got to it and it is absolutely amazing. It was so good on home made toasted bread and it is such a luxury. It only made three and a half cups so next year I will know what I will concentrate on with the Lilacs. If you ever get the opportunity to make some, let it steep a bit longer and then sit back and treat yourself to something special. This is the recipe I used, but I went gently on the lemon. I didn't have a fresh lemon so I used three teaspoons of real lemon from the bottle. Good luck and thank you for stopping by for a visit. I'll see you again soon.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Town House Homestead "?" Wednesday

Okay I'm going to admit that I am thrown off by the holiday. It's not Tuesday. The weekend for us was mostly work and prepping for this Saturday's final move. We are ready. Work included mowing, edging, trimming, cutting, and cleaning this half acre of land, more unpacking, and getting some plants in. 

Yesterday a couple more packages arrived. Mostly items we haven't been able to find at local stores, including the "big box" stores, and yes a couple of treats. This package was especially interesting. It looked like the Godfather had delivered a detached leg. It was wrapped in a giant gray poly bag and taped for shipping. 

Inside the package was this wonderful new tool. I have named it the "scissor stick". It trims grass and weeds in hard places, and if like me your hip and knees are aging, you need a "scissor stick".  A co-worker of my daughter's told her of this tool. We played with it for a few minutes last evening and it is great. What's even better is that it reduces our carbon footprint, because we really don't have to have one of those noisy dirty weed trimmers or blower. Simply cut and rake and it's done. 

This is how the "scissor stick" works. Happy, happy, happy that we were introduced to this tool and if anyone knows the actual name for this tool I'd love to know, but for know if we ask each other for the tool we can chuckle and know what is being asked for.

Back when times were better for me I'd search flea markets and yard sales for unique pieces that I could use for planters. This piece is an old steamer that I spent $2 for, and when I was downsizing for economic reasons, a place for it and the dream to make it a planter was passed on to my sister-in-law. On her first visit here at the new Town House Homestead, when she came to see if my daughter, her God Child had done okay with the purchase of her home and land, she brought this to me all glued together. The cover has been inverted to hold the miniature garden she made and all I had to do was spray paint it and set in the plant. She even bought me the paint. The delicate plants are starting to hang over the sides which was what I wanted them to do. 

Still another of my daughter's co-workers had her husband build her a garden planter out of a pallet. With my actual in ground garden not going to be ready until some fall planting and next springs planting, my daughter asked if he would make one for me. She came to see the house and they both surprised me with it. I have it behind the garage and have put my herbs in it with some spinach. I have planted more since this picture and the spinach is now sprouting. It's an awesome idea and space saving. It also gave me that chance to have some garden and not kill myself digging through the clay earth.

Because the tilling will come slowly, the seedlings I had started were dying off. Yesterday, after grabbing as many planters and buckets as I could from the apartment, I managed to plant three tomato plants and the strongest peppers. Four of them. A sweet variety called carnival blend. I don't mind container gardening for now and I'm hoping that the country critters won't bother them. 

I discovered some well established chive plants in the garden that was already here and the flowers were opening. I harvested the chives and flowers for some holiday cooking and started a new jar of chive vinegar for summer salads. We're still looking and learning about this piece of land and we're hoping the one tree in the yard that bloomed last week is some kind of apple and is healthy. That's whats new here at the new Town House Homestead. Stay tuned because there's plenty more where this came from and if you should wonder if we are happy, the answer is yes, even with all the work it feels like home.Thank you for visiting and have a great week.