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. 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

New thrift finds and oh those freebies.

We stopped by a local Savers and Amvets and found a few items plus the townhouse complex had a garage sale. Kind of a flop because out of 200 units maybe a dozen participated. The universe on the other hand thought it would be good to us and send many freebies our way. Counting our blessings.

The only item I found at the garage sale was the Coleman camping lamp. Great price and after new batteries it works wonderful. I'm putting that with my camping gear. At the thrifts I found a 10 inch pot for more peppermint that I am propagating. I would love to dry the leaves and have enough for tea, extract, sugar and syrup. I think I may get plenty off the original plant. I found two wire bail pint size canning jars at 49 cents each, another bread pan for 99 cents and a plastic bag of emergency candles that had a hand held fan with it. That's the blue item between the jars. Unfortunately it was broken and went in the recycle bin, but not before I salvaged the strap for future use. 

Other finds included a green Wilhold sewing box, a NIP yellow daisy queen size sheet, a large green Cinderella Pyrex bowl, a red Pyrex casserole bowl, some small embroidery hoops for small craft projects, straw trivets and a lovely pair of cast iron floral star candle holders. These will probably be spray painted.

Linen finds included a pair of orange poppy curtain panels, a purple and pink floral bed cover and the bright pink is a home made house robe that has lots of yardage to it. Yes the imagination is working.

The freebies from the universe this week were exciting. Different, but we will put it to use or sell it.
First up:

Top left: Many dollars worth of watercolor paper.
Top right: Many more dollars worth of watercolor paper.
Bottom left: A metal cutter, two dollar store mesh strainers and two wooden apples.
Bottom right: Large fold of cotton batting, 25 new wooden blocks, a variety of sponge and paint brushes and a wooden card box.
Next up:

To the left a free clamp on lamp and bubble wrap and to the right more bubble wrap. We have discovered that appliances purchased for the townhouse complex are shipped and sometimes are wrapped in bubble wrap. We picked the recycle bin for it and we put the word out that we'd reuse packing material and it's starting to roll in. Needless to say there was quite a variety in the freebies and quite a lot so when I say we are counting our blessings, believe me. It's been an awesome week here. 

Happy Fourth of July to everyone. Thank you for stopping by.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Townhouse Homestead Tuesday

Wow that was a fast week. To say time flies when you're having fun is not totally the truth. Let's say time flies when your busy. To start from the townhouse this week I've gone back to seriously baking and cooking. Doing what I can to eat better, but still enjoy food and life. I've gone back to baking my own bread. I've tried a lot of new recipes floating around on the Internet, but I'm going back to my good old Betty Crocker recipes I got as a teenager in the sixties. I just like the result, taste and I like the kneading. I know it's easy to let the machine do it, but when you've spent so much time doing something a certain way it's hard to let go.

I like home made bread better for French toast. I can slice it to the thickness I want and when soaking in the egg mixture it holds up better. Doesn't that look yummy? It certainly was.

I also make this ahead and keep it in the refrigerator so my daughter can take it to work for breakfast. I never did this when the kids were younger, but now it works great for her. 

Another task this week was cleaning the recipe files and papers. Over the years I've accumulated so many books, papers and clippings that I could never find what I needed when I needed it. I got a good start, but there is more to do.

This is some of the before. Can't believe I let it get so out of control, but...

look how neat the after is. I found recipes I thought were lost and would never find again and I can now just go to the right spot and get it. I put printed recipes in plastic sleeves to preserve them and can just pull them out of the notebook and wipe clean if they get messy. 

From the sewing and craft room this week I used a few scraps to make a candle cozy for 4th of July decorating. I don't do a lot of decorating any more so I'm keeping it simple with a holiday candle.

Sewing projects listed on the store have already started selling. There were pillows and napkins.

The pink napkins have sold, but the green napkins can be found here:

Well I guess that's why the week flew by. I harvested parsley and basil from the garden this week and dried it for my soup mixes. I also took some clippings of my peppermint plant to start a new one and it's already rooting. Everything is growing nicely. It's small and mostly herbs, but it's my bit of earth. 
Thank you for stopping by and I hope everyone has a wonderful week.

Linking to: We Call It Junkin