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. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Town House Homestead Tuesday

Oh boy has it been a twister ride for the last five weeks. More and harder work than we expected and nothing happening fast. Still waiting for things like electrical and the final move which will be June 4th. We are ready to be done. We continue to discover new things with the house, like finding missing window screens, holes the wood chucks dug and a rose bush buried under a few years of leaves. We have windows painted open and windows painted closed. Wouldn't be so bad, but they are painted closed/open on the inside and outside. Really? Any way my favorite discovery was a good patch of chives growing in the tall grass that next year will be my garden. I continue to clear the wood pile, a bag full at a time, so that the garden area will be clear to start preparing. 

This morning I harvested more Lilacs. They are starting to die off, but I am going to keep trying new things for as long as they last. The bushes are huge and have been very generous. Last week I told you about the oil, extract, and sugar. The sugar turned out well. It has a slight floral flavor and we are discovering that Lilacs have a strong aroma, but a mellow taste. The oil will take a bit longer and the extract seems to be working. We used a morter and pestal to crush some of the blossoms and added more of this to the oil and extract. They are continuing their task in a cool dark pantry. 

This is a quart jar on the left filled with two packed cups of Lilac blossoms. On the right the same blossoms are seeping in boiled water so that tomorrow I can attempt some Lilac jelly. I have decided to try things at least once so I know what will work and what won't, and see what we like and what we don't. I'll update you later on the results.

Last week I tried a Lilac muffin recipe that flopped, but was edible any way. This morning I tried again using a basic muffin recipe you can find anywhere. I used the blossoms that were sifted out of the Lilac sugar and another 2/3 cup of fresh blossoms and 1/3 cup crushed blossoms. (crushed in the morter and pestal) Above they are ready to put in the oven.

Twenty two minutes later here you see them fresh from the oven. They have a light hint of Lilac, but I tried them warm so maybe as they cool off they will share some more flavor. Who knew you could do so much with Lilacs. I am keeping a record so that next year when they blossom I will be more ready for them, but I'm glad we took advantage of what's growing at the new Town House homestead. Thank you for stopping by and have a great week. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Town House Homestead Tuesday

Well it's been another exciting week here at the new Town House Homestead. As Spring awakes all the plants that have been neglected for a couple of years are becoming our new discoveries. We had a good idea of what some of the bushes were. Others are still to be identified. The view to the right of our kitchen window shows you one of two Lilac bushes. This is in the back yard, there is another magnificent bush in the front. There was a small tree, possibly a pink dogwood, that had to be removed because it was 90 percent gone. 

Imagine our excitement, and I mean that literally, when we discovered what we could do food wise with Lilacs. Although they play with our allergies heavily, my daughter proceeded to harvest some. It seems a few go a long way. 

Here, she is preparing the buds and blossoms to use for Lilac oil, Lilac extract, and Lilac sugar. It was time consuming, but hopefully we will be rewarded by taking advantage of what the property has to offer. 

Here they are starting to work. It's a matter of watching the length of time that they need to steep and blend. I will update with the results. I did make some Lilac muffins that turned out to be more of a cookie in a cupcake liner than a muffin. They were edible, but didn't really taste of Lilacs. I will be trying again with a recipe of my own for basic muffins and add the Lilac blossoms to it and see how they turn out. Update later.

It has become knowledge to us that this land and the land around has not been chemically treated. We have Dandelions all over the place and we've gained a new respect for them. No fighting nature here. My daughter is steeping Dandelions in oil to prepare a muscle salve. So far things are moving in a positive direction. Lots of work to be done yet to bring the house and the land back to a good point. 

This very healthy rabbit is one of the animals that will be part of the battle for the garden. It doesn't have to worry too much this year because there's plenty of work before anything can go in the ground there any way. Just look how plump it is. 

With Spring also comes the grass. I'm sure the neighbors are pleased that after a few years of downhill for this property, it's finally being taken care off. This was the maiden mow. My daughter was trying to beat the rain and she got the front done to a point of neatness. The back is still waitning. She had never mowed a lawn before, none the less driven a riding mower. This was our four week point here and we both crashed, literally, once the storms moved in. 

Why a photo of coffee you ask? Well this one pound bag of Starbucks coffee and the twelve ounce bag of Gevalia coffee was our big savings of the week. Using coupons and rewards and finding a discounted item these two bags of coffee came to a grand total of $2.04. I can tell you that every cup so far has been perfect. So that's the goings on here at the new Town House Homestead. Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful week. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Town House Homestead Tuesday

Moving is so hard. As of today we are two thirds of the way moved. Last evening we completed the packing and moving of the kitchen, but have not unpacked it. At least it's here now at the house. We've encountered some extra work which we expected. After all the house had been empty for so long, and destroyed, so it's come back will be steady work. The elderly neighbors are so wonderful and happy to have people in the house. They have seen the house from when it was originally built and watched it go through it's decline, and now to see it resurrected. Getting it's face lifted has been a joy to them. 

One immediate issue was two dead trees. After two weekends of cutting away branch by branch it is under control. Not a fun job, but the girls just kept going.

They cut and hauled, and cut more and hauled more, until a large pile is in the garden space. We will get it cut down to manageable pieces for a wood pile to use in the fire pit. 

As of today this is what's standing and I have promised to paint it a rainbow of colors and call it art. 

This coming Thursday the new riding lawn mower will be delivered. The grass is getting high, but until the trees were cleaned up no lawn mowing could be done. We are hoping we got all the branches that were beat down into the grass out. The garden beds in the front of the house are so overgrown with weeds and grass. We took the time to remove as many flower bulbs that came up to replant later, and we put the many packing boxes to work killing the grass and weeds so we can get a fresh start. The landscape timbers and large stones holding the cardboard down were with the shed. I wanted things to happen immediately with the garden, but I see that it's going to take some time and it may be next year before it's beautiful again. 

The third bedroom is going to be used for the sewing room. It's taking time, but is now at least to the point of being usable. The closet in this room will be transformed into an office and my daughter's Etsy shop will be reopened once this is complete and her inventory is moved. All in all not too bad for three weeks. Final move will be around the first week of June and for now we just keep moving along. The electrician will be in this week, along with a plumber, and by this time next week we could have the dryer functioning and be able to take hot showers not warm ones, and the lawn will be mowed. For today I will start making curtains for the windows in the sewing room. Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful week.