Life on a little urban homestead in the making, with ideas for self-sufficiency, food preservation, thrifting, cookery,
gardening, crafts, vintage stuff, and more...

Dec 17, 2014

My "Chicken Tree" & More, Counting Blessings & Gratitude

My Chicken Tree & More-
Last year Kathleen from Roseprairiequilts generously send me some of her crocheted "chickens" she made. They are so danged cute! I had found a pre-lit, small tree at a thrift store, the lights even worked. So I added her chickens, some small ornaments I had, fabric on the bottom and it's done! I put up the rest of our holiday decor and everything looks very festive. Lights everywhere to welcome the shortest night of the year on the 21st solstice. I started some paper white Narcissus for New Years, love them! We also put up our much-downsized tree, it looks great. I really don't miss having to rearrange the whole room for a tree. We bought a very narrow one (thrifted) and gave our adult kids the leftover ornaments for their trees. And then there's my outside "tree"- a branch blew off the tree, and I wanted to hang up my solar light. I decided to stuff it into the corner of the herb box. I added a red metal heart, now it's all ready! Kind of like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, minus the green:)  Kind of Scandinavian almost... Here's a few other things around the house-

Anya in her fortress of solitude :)

Our slim tree

Something a little French :)

Something a little Swedish

2 Farm Aid ornaments I bought last year to support small family farms

Our fallen tree branch in the herb box, right outside our kitchen

My winter things in my wooden kitchen box

My old window transformed with striped burlap wide "ribbon" and hidden lights

One new ball ornament and my old angel from a friend

something Scandinavian

Love the Tomten (gnome) feeding the pig Christmas porridge, and my lucky pig and Julbok (goat)

Counting Blessings/Gratitude-
Years and years ago I did a gratitude journal every day. For several years. Now I count my blessings all year, especially after going thru various job, medical and other stress this year. Yesterday I watched a mother of one of our students start crying after our school put together a huge food/gift box for her family. She was overwhelmed, and so thankful. I saw her crying and told her "happy holidays" and that she had a beautiful baby. I went back into my library and I cried. I remember so clearly being a single Mom with a young child a long time ago. I came home from work on a cold night in December and found the same thing- a huge food box with several gifts for my daughter, and a gift certificate for a ham or turkey. I cried. I still don't know who did that for me, but I was so very grateful. I told my daughter that that story again last night on her 28th birthday, and cried again. There really are angels among us.

I'm having my 2nd cataract surgery the day before Christmas Eve and I'm happy! After looking thru a gray, hazy eye for the last several months I'm ready to see again. I'm also very grateful to have excellent insurance to help pay for it. Santa will come early, oh boy! Dave got a new job and is doing very,very well, so it's all good. Kids are ok too.  Oh, and I LOVE my Empress Anya cat. And my hens who are laying 3 eggs every day!  Thanks too to all my blogging pals and readers, I really am thankful for all the comments all year long!

Amy Grant and CeCe Winans


Dec 12, 2014

Annual Dark Days Challenge, 63 Degrees- In December! My New Fave Things

Annual Dark Days Challenge-
 I read about this in 2012 from a now defunct blog, the Urbanhennery. I do it every year, as best I can. Starting late this year , ah well! Here's how it goes~~~  

The challenge runs from December 1st – April 15.

What’s the Challenge?
Try to cook four meals each month (1 per week) focused on sustainable, organic, and local ingredients. Whatever you can find is fine! Write about it on your blog (if you have one) or here in the comments section. Feel free to link back to me on your blog!

What does local mean?
Traditionally local food challenges call for a 100 mile radius, but winter is more difficult in many climates. If you’re new to eating locally try 150 miles. Typical exceptions are oils, coffee, chocolate and spices (unless you grow your own). 

What if I can’t find every ingredient locally?
If you can’t find every ingredient, or even most ingredients, still try to do what you can. This is just as much about what we learn, the obstacles we find and the decisions we make as it is about cooking with mostly local ingredients. Do what you can, where you can.

What if I don’t have a blog or photos?
You are still welcome to participate! I'll try to post each week. Just you come by each week and add your meal/experiences as a comment. Take photos of what you’ve got, just do your best. No worries, keep it simple...

Dinner tonight- our own fresh eggs (french baked), local bread, spinach-

Yum, yum and so easy!

Last month, 8" of snow, then 4 degrees

63 Degrees- In December!
Yesterday was 61! This morning at 7:00 it was 61! Record high for this month, record snow last month and 4 degrees. What the heck month is this??? Freaky weather, the California "pineapple express" blew thru the last 2 days, windy and way too warm. Now the rain has finally started and temps are dropping, it's 41 right now. Back into the 40's for the high tomorrow and 30's at night. Pick a season already...

My New Fave Things-
Every year I get rid of more decorative things. Some go to our grown girls, the rest to charities. Then I buy a couple new items for something new. In the long haul I'm getting my stuff to much less items overall, and where I want it to be looks-wise. I'm going more and more for natural. I also get a lot of thrifted items, of course :) I like to put out mostly winter things this time of year, that way once the holiday tree is down I'm still good. I LOVE snow and winter! Take the bird above (and one below) new, about $2.00 at Michael's, nice heavy ceramic. I love birds for winter! I got several small things there 1/2 off...

Bird #2
North woods Santa, how cute! Ditto 50% off, $7.00 I think...

North woods table

More birds (Target) and jar lamp ($4.00) from Michael's

Anya posing with my table runner I got last Jan., 80% off online

And last, but SO not least- I found this guy (about 12" high) in a thrift store last night, 1/2 off, for $2.50!!! Like new, what's not to love? I had been looking for something wintry lamp-wise for the top of a barn wood bookcase we have. It's on a timer and comes on at dark. And he has a little bird on his arm :) Love it!!!!

Dec 6, 2014

Advent Wreath Makeover, Getting Ready for The Holidays

Advent Wreath Makeover-
Last year, after Christmas, I bought an Advent wreath for 70% off online. When I received it it had some tacky gold left/plastic leaves and gold balls. Hubby likes Advent, so I decided to upgrade it. I bought some picks for $4.00, and some small purple balls. I had some green paint already and painted the candle holders, and removed the tacky stuff. Baby Jesus don't do tacky! I did like the tiny gold balls and purple bows. 

"before" photos

Picks and balls


Anya's a ham!

I added the picks and purple balls, now it looks much more full and natural. I like it! It shows how personalizing things make it much more meaningful. I added red apples for this old carol, Jesus Christ The Apple Tree that I have always loved. It's based on an old anonymous poem from the 1700's, just very lovely lyrics- 

The tree of life my soul hath seen, laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be compared with Christ the apple tree.

His beauty doth all things excel: by faith I know, but ne'er can tell
The glory which I now can see in Jesus Christ the apple tree.

For happiness I long have sought, and pleasure dearly I have bought:
I missed of all; but now I see 'tis found in Christ the apple tree.

I'm weary with my former toil, here I will sit and rest awhile:
Under the shadow I will be, Of Jesus Christ the apple tree.

This fruit doth make my soul to thrive, it keeps my dying faith alive;
Which makes my soul in haste to be with Jesus Christ the apple tree.

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