Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

Yes, I have it bad.  Mother Nature seems to want to be mean, although I have to remember it is only March, and the northeast is not a place for early outdoor planting. It's been a time for planning and preparation. I think winter gardening outside would be rough for me. So it's not in the plan for now.

We were snow bound for two full days, and there really wasn't much else we could do besides plan for spring, and dream about gardens and bees. Thank you winter storm Stella. Some drifts were four feet deep. I know because the vent to the gas furnace was blocked and I had to shovel my way (45 foot path) to the side of the house to dig it out so we would have heat. 

Finally at dusk on the second day of Stella, the sun made a momentary break through the clouds before setting. The plowing and the clean up took another day, and the snow is still on the ground, but not as deep. It's spring according to the calendar, but winter will take it's time as usual leaving the northeast. I'll be ready when it does.

Most of my seedlings are doing well. Some require more heat than the basement is providing, but when the breezeway is warmer I'll move them to full sun. I have twenty tomato seedlings that have come up. Five different varieties of them. I also have onions doing well. The rest are flowers for the bees. 

This is our neighborhood hawk. Last year she had two offspring. It was wonderful watching the fledglings learn the skills they needed to survive, but at the same time, if I wanted chickens in the future, they are one more threat to their survival. The same morning I photographed this hawk, the deer were walking through the yard looking for food. Hard to believe we are located 3/4 of a mile behind a very busy mall and long business strip. We have seen it all, and noted everything, so we can try and protect any gardens and the bees. This will be a challenge for sure.

Plants are taking over the inside of the house. I have found that any space will do. This is the kitchen table today. Yesterday it had more plants on it, but I potted them and gave them new homes.

I have them hanging off shelves too. Some are mending and trying to survive because they are delicate and are special needs plants.

They are on the kitchen counter and the window sills too. Any flat surface has become fair game for my plants.

This is the end table next to the sofa. The miniature daffodils will eventually go to the new garden outside, but they have given us a splash of spring, and made being inside pleasant.

The best location for my plants is this beautiful south facing picture window in the living room. If you give me a table and a bright window I will fill it with love and life. It's kept me going through the harder winter days. I can't wait to see the outdoor gardens come to life. I worked hard on them last year, after all the tilling and prepping. I know it will be a couple of years before they are well established, but a little progress and color will be better than all the overgrowth. That's what's been happening at the Town House Homestead. Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful week. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

Like most weeks I never know how much I get done until I upload my pictures and actually see it. We all have our ordinary household chores to do, but for some of us who enjoy gardening, farming, and all that, "being a little more self sufficient includes", may do a few extraordinary things. This week the new cooking "thing" was sweet potatoes. I always have frozen sweet potatoes on hand, but we are trying to eat better and are including them more in our snacks and cooking. I've made chips before, but always in the oven and I was never satisfied. I received a mandolin to slice vegetables and went to work slicing them up and put them in the dehydrator this time. I liked them better and might add cinnamon to the next round. I also played with a quiche crust made from sliced sweet potatoes. This was incredibly awesome. Easier than pie crust and much more delicious. Winner, winner! 

I did a bit of sewing this week. My younger daughter asked if I could turn this vintage Snoopy curtain into a lap quilt and this is the result. Simple, warm, and cozy. She took it home yesterday. 

My eldest daughter received a vintage canister that quickly became the newest addition to her microwave cart for her studio. It just fit on the bottom shelf. It's for decoration only. I hope she feels better soon and can get back to her creations.

My seedlings are doing great. If all of them come up however, I may be in trouble. I will have to find places to put them outside where the deer can't get them and they aren't close to the bees. So many critters to deal with, but challenges are what life's all about. These are marigolds, onions, and one lonely sunflower.

This past week we had a horrible wind storm. Winds were recorded up to 83 mph and many people lost power. Most is back today thank goodness. With this heavy snow storm today, being without power would have added more stress to people's lives they weren't prepared for. Heard of a few nasty tempers flying about and was so glad we have plenty on hand. We were lucky and didn't lose power, but are ready to at least survive for a while. This was a very large piece of blowing metal coming down the road towards the house. Fortunately it blew in another direction and got caught up in the fence.

I received birthday presents yesterday. It's not until this weekend, but my daughter's both surprised me. I received a Costco cart and now I have one of my own. I will be able to use it to move things around the house easier. My knees and hip are not the best any more, so this will allow me to move things without making several trips. I wonder if the creator of these carts ever thought they'd be used to transport groceries from the garage to the kitchen via a breezeway, and would make life easier for us. This one will be inside and I want to paint it bright yellow. It was originally black and has been spray painted a couple of times, so there's plenty of work to do before I can re paint it. I also received a yellow ware bowl, a collectible Waeschersbach shamrock mug, a little man to brew my tea, two butterfly coloring books, and colored pencils. Both of my girls know me well. 

That's what's been happening around here this past week. I have lots more going on and can't wait to tell you about it. The next six weeks are going to busy getting ready for the bees, so many new pictures and tales will be coming. Thank you for stopping by and stay safe if you're experiencing bad weather. Stay warm too and I'll see you again soon. 

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

I wish this could be a longer post today, but the activity around here preparing for Spring, has kept me doing just the ordinary stuff. My daughter was able to return to work today, but still will need to be slow and careful so her back will continue to mend. We have a lot more work to do to prepare the hive for the soon to be here bees, and we hope that that can start this coming week. One minute at a time.

I was able to afford another light for my germination shelf and it is already up and working. I am so ready to be outside all day, but the weather has been so mixed up lately. 

Seedlings are starting to pop their little heads through the soil and they seem so happy. I love nature and it's wonders. Every morning is a new sight. These are calendula seedlings. I have a good amount of flower seeds working. Along with the calendula I have butterfly milkweed, chamomile, marigolds, and sun flowers. If these grow well they will be in the pollinating garden surrounding the newly installed hive. 

I have some container tomatoes started also. I will be using containers again this summer for some vegetables because the food garden will come as we keep growing. I also have green onions, crimson forest bunch onions (red bunch onions), and shallots also getting their groove on. These can be put in the pollinating garden this year. There's lots to be moved to this new garden from around the yard too. We will continue to be busy I think. I hope to start some peppers and other tomato varieties so that I have at least one of each so we don't get bored with tomatoes. 

To end this short post I am sharing some more green. I hung my holiday kitchen apron and pot holders up this weekend. It's reminding me that I need to get to some more sewing, and get a few more projects done. So, love life and enjoy it. Do some simple gardening and brighten your life and those around you. Be cheery. That's what's been happening at the new Town House Homestead. Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful week. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

Spring has been popping her pretty little head around here lately. Temperatures in the mid sixties for several days, then back to the mid twenties and snow overnight, only to melt the next day. The flower beds are starting to show off all the life we planted last year along with a few new surprises. Bulbs that were probably tilled to the surface and will now grow well again. We just can't wait to see how it blooms. Of course there's all the new work outside to be planned for this spring reaching the top of the agenda lately too. My daughter is recovering from a couple of herniated discs, but surgery is probably not necessary. Yay! So grateful. It's still been busy for me, and with the help of Emily we keep moving forward.

The germination shelf in the basement got it's first light attached this week. I could not believe the simplicity of this task. I'll be ready to attach a second in the near future if finances permit. This has been a life long dream for me to have a place to start my seeds and be able to garden.

This happened just yesterday. To my surprise. I had tossed this pot of flat leaf parsley in a pile of pots last fall. I harvested all that I could and didn't have time to dump it outside before cold and snow arrived. I headed out to find pots to clean for spring, and there was the pot of five parsley plants starting new growth. I re potted them and  hope they grow, so I'll be able to cross parsley off my list of seeds to start. Who knew?

Here's the parsley and a small pot of basil under the new lights. They stood up straight as if they were as excited as I was that spring is almost here. 

This is a pot of garlic started from some that had begun to grow in Emily's refrigerator. I tossed it into a pot to see what would happen, and they are starting to emerge. There are eight of the largest healthiest cloves in this pot.

Outside on the other hand, I have about 34 cloves of garlic doing their thing. I put these in the front flower beds late last fall, because the back yard garden is still in the dream state. For this year the only new garden will be the pollination garden for around the bees, and I'll put in a few small items like onions and herbs. Baby steps, but we've only been here for ten months and have accomplished so much. 

I canned clementines and oranges this month. Not without one disaster as you can see, but one pint out of twenty four isn't horrible. I've been quite fortunate not to have many jars break, and since I buy second hand it could have had a crack I didn't see. 

I'm fermenting more garlic in honey. this is a quart jar, one third full and it's bubbling away on the counter. I cook with it and just chew a sweet clove when I'm feeling a little under the weather. This has a ways to go before it's ready, but there's a few cloves left in the pantry.

This is the second bag of vegetable scraps that will be boiled into stock shortly and canned. Once it's canned I have ready made soup. Just open a quart, add a bag of mixed vegetables and some noodles and in less than twenty minutes dinner is on the table with a slice of home made bread. Yes, I manage to stay busy. That's what's been happening at the Town House Homestead. Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful week. 

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

It is so nice to be able to retreat to blog posting and get away from so much media frenzy, hate, and lies. These girls live without television, but we are constantly bombarded with it on other devices of our choice. We are where we are and have what we have not because of any politicians, but because of hard work and determination, obeying the law, paying taxes, and sharing with all who come and help. No one has ever left without a meal to go, a full belly, or something to help them get ahead too. So, moving forward and speaking of hard work, yes we did more this past week. It's getting harder because we are tired and hurting a bit more, nursing injuries, and sleeping less but in the end it all pays off. 

Again with help from Emily, she and I finished more painting in the basement and have set the germination shelf in place. Next step will be the lighting and then we can start our seeds. What you can't see clearly in this picture is the closet organizer being installed beyond this shelf. It's still a work in progress. My daughter got it free with her Amazon points and it will be used for more storage. Extra parts will be moved around and used elsewhere. This part of the basement is moving out of it's dungeon stage slowly, but the end result will be pollinating flowers, herbs and some vegetable plants. The reward for hard work.

I needed to get a few items at the grocers and after that we took the time to do some indoor walking through a couple of thrift stores. It was too snowy and icy to walk outside. I found close to three dozen more canning jars to add to my "jar" bank account. There are four different sizes and it was orange tag day so quite a few were 50% off. None cost more than $.99.

I continued cooking and baking from scratch. Yesterday's bread was so good and I calculated the price per loaf at $.35 and a little kneading. I also know that I can pronounce all the ingredients. So, here's to all who are working hard to be successful. I hope that this blog is more than an encouragement to you. Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful week.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

I have garden fever. Okay? There I admitted it. I know I am not alone and that's even better. This has led to more renovations and a big step forward almost a year earlier than we expected. 

The hive in the living room is now two medium supers taller and the paint or stain is next. We believe we have everything we need now to get the girls in April and start a strong colony. Here's hoping any way. 

Our friends Richard and Karen provided me with a ride to pick up a large shelf unit a week ago. The larger shelves were reduced in price and I needed to act so that we could get one step closer to having a good place to germinate my seeds. I put off a canning project to be able to purchase this shelf, but that's on the agenda for February now.

Emily came by this past Sunday to help put it together with me. We inherited a shop light in the rafters of the garage and she helped me get that down so that in the up coming week or two we can test it to see if it works. Shop lights will be hung from the shelves to provide the light I need for my seeds. I'm sure this is not new to many of you out there. Just having the space to do it is exciting for me.

This is the start of the fourth space/laundry room area in the basement. It wasn't even going to be thought about for a few months if not longer, but the universe is leading the way. I started painting the wall bright white to reflect the light for the germination shelves. There are electrical outlets already wired and a couple of months ago we found a water line run to this part of the basement for a future wash tub. We shopped through all of our electrical collection we had and found hanging lights to illuminate this dark corner so we could work. I have a ways to go, but it will be done soon enough to set the shelf against this painted wall and we've once again utilized more space. This has been an amazing nine month journey. First seeds will be for the pollination garden to be planted around the bees. Our goal is to give mother nature back some of her wild, and rid our corner of the planet of some useless grass. I have a small glimmer of hope that we can start with some vegetables too and start a community garden, but for now only time and income will tell. That's what's been happening here at the new Town House Homestead. Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful week. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

Sharing the past.

So, recently I was asked to locate some family pictures for my younger daughter. This is a very difficult request because I have boxes, and I mean literally boxes, of unpacked photo albums and loose pictures. I'll keep looking because I know what she requested must be here some where. I've found many recent pictures, but I came across some very old pictures that left me thinking, wondering, and dreaming. 

These are two black and white snapshots taken in May of 1950. It's of my dad and seated on the hood of the truck is my half sister. I wondered if it was my mom taking the pictures, but I will never know. This man dug his own foundation and poured his own cement to build his own house. I don't think we'd ever do it this way today, but did I mention truck? Dreaming!  Now, I wasn't even a twinkle in any one's eye at this point, but oh that truck. Oh to talk to him about it today. I was never raised around my half sister and she was quite a few years older than me. Contacts were lost and the stories I suppose with them. Only pictures remain now.

This is the house completed. I see a cement patio to the left and a stone walk leading to it. This house was never completed on the interior. A new 1950's ranch was built for my mother that was no more than 300 ft. away, and not like this house, that was torn down to make way for progress, her house is still there. As a child I remember this house storing my dad's lumber hoard and whatever he could get in there. It was on a one acre lot of land and to the left in this photo he kept a very large garden that by today's standards made us self sufficient. Growing up I remember working in the garden and eating all the vegetables we wanted. There was a large oak tree to the north of the garden and I remember harvesting concord grapes that had intertwined through the branches. It's been fun walking down memory lane even though I wasn't there for some of it. 

This is a picture of me at four years of age in 1956, dressed in my jeans, and it looks like it may have been around the Christmas holidays. Notice the vintage metal cabinets and behind me is my mother's mangle iron that she used on a regular basis. I sure would love to have one in good condition today with all the vintage fabric we iron.

I guess that farm girl has always been a part of my life. I found this one and only picture of my chicken coop. My dad built the coop and I see here the door is open so I may have been cleaning it. Maybe I'll have chickens again, but it's not on the priority list for now. This may be where the desire comes from. Never to late to have a chicken for a pet. I know my chickens were used for meat, and I don't remember how many or how long I kept chickens. I think we all should look over old photos every so often. We should be grateful for how wonderfully we live and how we become the people we are. This was by no means my life raising my own family, but I can only look forward and do what I can now. It's been fun looking at the past and seeing what's ahead. That's what's been happening at the Town House Homestead. Thank you for stopping by and have a great week. Please make some memories.