Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Townhouse Homestead Tuesday

Tuesday seems to roll around quickly lately. I seem to find a lot to do in a weeks time. The universe has been quite generous lately and the weather can't decide weather to finish summer or start fall. 
I managed to transplant my rosemary and sage into the ground. They grew to be very healthy in the hanging baskets. They look like foliage plants in the garden so I don't think that management will take them out. I harvested plenty for the winter months and made all kinds of goodies so I'm happy with my yield. Who knows at the rate they are still growing I may get some more from the plants before winter sets in. I did propagate the rosemary and have a beginner plant that has survived to grow inside. Fingers crossed. 

This was my first attempt at making my own rose water. The apartment I am in came with a rose bush. Not the healthiest when we moved in, but with a little bit of TLC and some green thumb it yielded some nice flowers. I harvested the flowers to make rose water. It was an easy project, but took a couple of hours and a gallon size bag of ice cubes. I got a little over one cup of rose water for my efforts.

The test of how good it came out will be when I make icing through the holidays. I'll let you know.

Like I said the universe has been more than generous this year. One of my daughters former co-workers asked if we would like some grapes. Of course we said yes. In the past I've received enough to make a grape crisp or a small pie. Well surprise, surprise. I received about a peck maybe more of concord grapes. I couldn't have been more excited (stressed) about what to do with so many. It all began early one morning and three hours later I had 14 cups of grape juice. I couldn't stand much longer so I put it in the refrigerator for the following day when I could organize the process. 

The final results of this wonderful gift was 19 cups of grape jelly, plus a little in a dish for my sandwiches/English muffins this week, and 4 cups of pie filling to use for pie or grape crisp. Thank goodness I have teenage grandsons that have healthy appetites and of course it's wonderful for gift giving. 

Oranges were on Savingstar.com this week and it is the time of year that I like to pick up Cara Cara oranges. They are pink inside and so wonderful. I got enough to make some beautiful orange marmalade. I saved a small sample to tase and wow was it awesome. I now have eight cups of devine marmalade. Needless to say it's been a busy week, but the aroma's in my little townhouse have been outstanding. I have a wonderful variety of jellies and jams to go with my peanut butter and I couldn't be happier. So grateful for mother earths bounty. 

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Thrift finds.

It's been a while since I've posted any of our thrift finds. So much fun doing other things and just plain doing less thrift picking.

Lately we have been getting a few items that we find for ourselves. Here are two Kokeshi dolls my daughter will add to her collection, a yellow bath towel, Tupperware Popsicle molds along with a vintage sheet and some tart pans. 

We're finding fewer and fewer pieces of good Pyrex, but this one came home with us along with a miniature Tupperware juicer, egg separator and grater. This is a stacking set that has a small cup and cover. Still more Tupperware measuring cups, a hand held grater along with a flower shaped cookie cutter for those lovely lemon lavender short bread cookies.

Here's a collection of some of the Vera scarfs we've found on recent adventures. It's a nice variety of colors and shapes.

The vintage ice cube trays are wonderful. They don't make them like they used too. The muffin tin will be added to my collection of mini tins, the hooks are to improve storage in a closet and the wonderful vintage plastic letter/mail organizer has found a place on the wall near the door to take care of business. I just love vintage organizers.

Last but not least are some fun Christmas napkins and fabric, yes that is a suction cup handle for the shower. As I'm maturing these little safety items are helping. We found some quilting magazines that we enjoy looking at, story books and greeting cards. There's so much stuff out there to rummage through and we do have a great time doing it. We usually find something, but it's not until I take the pictures and post to my blog that I realize the wonderful finds we acquire. 

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend. I'm off to check out my bread that is rising and maybe do a little weekend house work. 

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Townhouse Homestead Tuesday

This little townhouse of ours has been a very busy place this summer. We have learned new things, tried new foods, and although we have one of the smallest kitchens going we have canned and preserved and made the most of what we've grown ourselves, purchased at the farmer's markets and received as gifts.

Ready for this past weekends celebrations were home made Kosher dill pickle spears. These were a gift from some one who doesn't even know me, but got word that I would use them. Three quarts of heaven, well two because we ate into one, are in the pantry for the upcoming year.

The second gift of cucumbers were made into Bread and Butter pickles. I received this fine slicing machine complete with a protective glove for Christmas last year and finally used it. There are now four pints of these yummy goodies in the pantry. The most exciting thing to me about receiving these gifts was the fact that the person who gave them to me became inspired to make her own and discovered that she could do it. 

While I was searching for new recipes I discovered some that required espresso powder. I thought that most recipes just called for ground coffee. Not true. I searched for information on where to buy it, but the price was so high and I began to search for how to make it. Lo and behold it was easier than ever. Just make a pot of espresso in your regular coffee pot, dry the used grounds, a spin through the spice mill and there you have it. Espresso powder. I didn't need it right away so I put it on the list of future investments and went about other homestead activities. Not a week later while on an expedition through Targets, out of curiosity, I started pricing espresso coffee. A little high, but from a 10 oz bag I could make as much espresso powder as I "wanted" not what I "needed". The universe saw my want and there it was...espresso coffee marked clearance. $1.83 for a 10 oz vacuum sealed bag. We took all three that still had their seal and now have it in our pantry. I made two pots of espresso and dried the grounds and put them through the spice mill and I now have a nice bottle of powder to cook with. I also came across a bottle of Red Wine Vinegar marked down on the clearance shelf to $.98. This has been added to the cooking pantry also. 

At the farmer's markets we acquired blueberries, cherries and black berries. I put up a batch of blueberry jam, blueberry syrup for pancakes and cherry jam. I made black berry butter and froze the remainder for the next project which will be triple berry syrup. A favorite around here.

While I was out watering my "covert" container garden I spotted what may be a sweet potato. I felt the soil and it didn't quite feel like there were any in there, but there is still growing time for them and I will be patient until I get the sign that it's time to harvest. I am getting excited and hopeful that there will be some there. So all in all it's been busy and I know a lot of you are also. I keep going and working and it does pay off. I like to add what I get free to my posts when there are some so here they are.

A case of 24 bottles of water, a bag of TGI Fridays snacks and two boxes of Domino brown sugar. One was a gift from that cookie monster friend who doesn't want me to stop baking. 
Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope everyone has a wonderful week and is grateful for their blessings. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thursday's Threads

The term threads today means something so different from what I've known it for. Today it's a line of continuing conversation on a social media page. Okay, I can see the comparison. For now though I'm using threads to mean the products made with thread on a sewing machine.

These elegant and fun pillows are made from vintage reclaimed linens and new cotton fabrics. The bright colors are stunning and Super Mario is such a delight. It was made from a reclaimed T-shirt and has found new life.

What would any woman do without handbags. Some of the more recent bags include a red shoulder boho bag, a shoulder messenger bag and a smaller handbag/grocery bag. The brown floral is corduroy and very durable.

Who wouldn't want to be wrapped in these bright colored scarfs also produced from reclaimed linens and fabrics. The unique diamond shape gives them such excitement and they are so warm.

Continuing to use up all those fabric scraps and pieces lead to the beautifully quilted table size brown and orange quilt, which can be used for a doll also, and the baby size scrappy quilt. No these items weren't made in a week, but over time and just needed to be shared. I hope the term thread means something different to you now. To me it means creativity and letting the thread do the work to make beautiful home made items.
Have a wonderful week and thank you for stopping by. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Townhouse Homestead Tuesday

Everyone is saying that summer is winding down. In some ways it is, but there's so much more left. I think we measure summer by school vacations. Long after the kids go back to school there is still plenty to do. I still have harvesting, canning, cooking, and garden clean up ahead. After that the holidays slip in there so quickly and then there we are planning for next spring and suffering from garden fever. 
It's been busy here as it has been on farms across this great country. I  may only have a small container garden, but the farm markets are bursting at the seams with the wonders of nature. 

One of my favorite items to can is apricot jam. Our favorite meal around here is apricot ginger chicken. I got a great price at the farm market and I now have a nine cup supply to get us through the winter. I failed at dehydrating apricots. I admit to using too much citric acid and from now on will stick to jam.

I harvested peppermint. This was quite a bit for something that is growing in a pot on the deck. I made peppermint extract and dried leaves for tea. I am going to propagate a new plant and hope I can have fresh mint through the winter. Wish me luck. I'm going to do this with some spearmint also.

I got a few cloves of garlic. This was planted in defiance because we are not allowed to grow (farm) here at the townhouse. I was honest with them and told them I planted it to keep the mice away. LOL It has a bit longer to cure and then I will wash it and store it. My transplanted chives also produced an abundant crop for me and I have added chive butter and chopped chives to the freezer.

My daughters once every so often will take me to Niblack foods. It's a store with all the great stuff that I can't make for myself right now.  All organic products of course. I stay away because the bill can get quite high, but on this trip we got some saffron rice, a sesame snack, quinoa, raw sunflower seeds, pine nuts and coconut oil. I harvested a large bunch of basil and used the pine nuts to make my pesto for winter. I freeze it in ice cube trays. I propagated a new plant that I have inside now for use through winter. I hope I can keep it alive. I am going to make sunflower bread with the sunflower seeds. It came highly recommended with strawberry butter. Sounds like it would be great for a cool Saturday morning.

Every where I went in July it was Christmas. My Christmas gift to us in July was home made almond biscotti. I had made biscotti before, but it was a total fail, but I tried again with a simple recipe this time and now I can't wait to make my lemon lavender biscotti for the holidays with our great lavender harvest.

I have been baking my own bread this summer and this was two loafs of french bread that I must say was out of this world as just a slice of bread, but topped with home made basil pesto, tomato and mozzarella cheese and broiled was a beautifully light summer dinner. I'm amazed at how little pesto is required to make something so delicious.

For this coming week I have more harvesting to do. I see my rose bush is blossoming again and I want to make rose water for cooking. My sage is running away in its hanging basket and I need to harvest it. I am going to put it in the ground so that next year it may be ready sooner. I'm also going to put the rosemary in the ground. It's not farming or putting in a garden, it is a small pleasure from mother earth. 

Thank you everyone for stopping by. I'm having a wonderful summer and I hope you all are too. Have a wonderful week and happy harvest.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Townhouse Homestead Tuesday

We are enjoying the herbs from the garden and making them ready for the upcoming winter months when we won't have fresh. Getting herbs to grow inside is hard here because we have little to no light or room for it. This week has been a busy one. 

We harvested the lavender and dried it. We have a good solid cup of buds to use for cooking and adding to whatever we want. Two of the plants were new and one is older and we think for the size of the plants we did well. Double last years harvest. Not bad for the room we are allowed for plants. We have a pint of lavender simple syrup brewing for iced tea and lemonade this summer. A little goes a long way. 

I harvested the spearmint for a batch of mint jelly. I liked the jelly, but can't wait to work with my peppermint.

My green onions have been so abundant that I cut some of them to freeze in oil for those wonderful winter vegetables. I also have a cup chopped in a jar in the refrigerator to use now. I also made herb butters. I made basil butter; basil, lemon and garlic butter along with parsley butter. These have been frozen for winter use.

This morning I harvested Rosemary and Sage. From this I will make more butters and oils for winter storage. I can't wait to have sage and pepper butter on my sweet potatoes. I have a lot left to the plants, so having fresh for a while is wonderful.

Bread making this week included one loaf and six rolls. More than enough for two for the week. 

This past Sunday we spent some time with a dear friend who had come home from California for a visit. It was a dish to pass event at an outdoor park and I made this bread pudding to take. I made it from this pinterest recipe http://www.pinterest.com/pin/461970874250028516/. The only change I made to this recipe was to include the cinnamon with the sugar and flour so it mixed through the pudding instead of being sprinkled on top. I also used a homemade sweet bread, that was a pinterest fail as far as a sandwich bread, and it was delicious in the pudding. Needless to say not one raisin came home in the dirty dish.

There's been plenty to do for our simple townhouse homestead lifestyle including making a new supply of laundry detergent. Starting next Monday the landlords are doing inspections of selected units and I so hope it's not ours. We will spend this weekend hiding a few things and making sure we are within the rules. I am keeping things neat and organized so they cannot find issues. I'm also trying hard to understand why we pay so much money to rent and live under these conditions but this too shall change. We are determined, but need to change at a pace that doesn't end up being a big mistake. That's what's new at the townhouse homestead this week and thank you for stopping by. Have a wonderful week.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Townhouse Homestead Tuesday

Things move along quickly when you're having fun. Did I say that? I always feel busy, but some how it's not all fun. Plenty is though and I'm enjoying my labor.

This past week my daughter baked lemon lavender shortbread cookies. They were beyond awesome. We've harvested a new crop of lavender to dry and use and there's plenty more to come. 

Do you recognize it? The new to us green Cinderella Pyrex bowl found thrifting earlier. I put it to use making up my corn bread mix for the up coming chili season. It's all stored in Ball jars along with the extra corn meal. Some is in the pantry for instant use. 

Since the holiday was celebrated quietly and there was just two of us and we didn't need a lot, we only had one dessert of  red, white and blue cookies after the turkey burgers, corn on the cob and roasted rosemary potatoes. 

The container gardening is going well. I am getting a good harvest of herbs and the sweet potatoes are getting larger every day. 

The peppermint is getting ready for me to dry the leaves for my winter supply of tea. I have peppermint simple syrup blending for my ice tea. 

I always love the freebies and have decided to share them this week. I'm always trying to save on my groceries and use some coupons, but a few programs allow you to get cash back on items other than a lot of processed foods. This includes fruit and vegetables which you never see coupons for. This past week Savingstar.com had free Morton salt. All you do is request the item and when you purchase the item with any of your registered grocery or drugstore cards they credit your account with the full purchase price or the coupon offer price. To save more you can use regular manufacturers coupons at the store to purchase the item if one is available. It takes a few minutes, but it's worth it when that cash becomes available. I got one box of salt and the other was a surprise from a friend who likes my baking. It's already saved in the canning jars I found thrifting earlier and I recycled the salt container tops to put on my canning jars for future use. This idea I found on Pinterest.com.

Savingstar had a free offer for a Hershey chocolate bar and it has been put aside for that dreaded, overwhelming desire for chocolate. Yes, I can resist until then.

It's been a busy week here at the townhouse. I've had sewing for income to keep me busy and cleaning, photographing and editing pictures of items to list on the store and the regular life that keeps us hopping. I was blessed last week with a day long visit with my grandsons and this week I will get to spend time with my granddaughter. They grow so fast and I cherish every minute with them. Thank you for stopping by and I wish everyone a wonderful week.