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

May 3, 2015

Straw Bale Gardening, Independence Days Challenge Origin

Straw Bale Gardening-

Special thanks to Katleen at  for the post about strawbale gardeing! I had never heard of it before, but it makes sense. Here's a link for the author's background, book and more- . Here's a free PDF from WSU link- How To.pdf  They use other things than organic blood meal. We will be demoing a large, decaying shed and gardening on hard, packed, dead dirt. A great solution! I'll post here if we do that...

Independence Days Challenge Origin-
Aubrey posted a couple of questions here about who is doing the Independence Days Challenge besides me? I honestly don't know anymore except for a few random folks. last did one in 2013 that I could find. That got me thinking about the originator (as far as I know) Sharon Astyk, author of  Independence Days- A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage & Preservation. It really lays out some wonderful ideas that ID Days Challenge is all about. She also has a blog- Days Challenge with the actual challenge posted. She wrote this WONDERFUL book Making Home- Adapting Our Homes & Our Lives To Settle in Place  This book is all about thinking outside the box and starting small. I highly recommend all her books and blog. Here's an early post that got me started from Fullfreezer.blogspot and my own- Independence Days Challenge Ideas   I have an idea for ID Days Challenge. More later :)

Apr 30, 2015

Happy May Day! Excellent Article- What I Wish Everyone Knew About Working In A High-Needs School

Happy May Day!

Excellent Article- What I Wish Everyone Knew About Working In A High-Needs School-
I stumbled onto this article earlier this week. As I read it I said to myself, "yes, yes, yes, yes". Been there done that, as a librarian. Working in an elementary, high poverty "Title One" school is quite an experience. While the system is not perfect by any means, there are still exceptionally hard-working, bright, creative teachers out there. It's good to get a look inside their jobs for some perspective. Here's the article in total, please read it-

Apr 26, 2015

Pacific Ocean "Blob" Changing Weather Patterns, Independence Days, Slow Clothing Movement, Master Bedroom Makeover

Pacific Ocean "Blob" Changing Weather Patterns-
I knew some of the ocean water off the west coast was too warm, but I didn't realize it was so MASSIVE. I read this- New Warm Phase & Consequences Dramatic? and watched this Pacific Oceans Blob Concerns Scientists Video. Some animals and fish going too far north will really mess with the food chain/web. With continued weather issues & climate change that may really contribute to even more devastating issues like drought, fires and the ability to grow food. Glad I don't live in affected areas, but it may trickle down to the rest of us with food prices, etc....

Independence Days-
Here's a round up of what we've been up to...

1. Plant Something- Starting seeds today in mini greenhouse, as the weather has been really up and down. Today it's 56 and REALLY windy! Supposed to be 85 Tues./Wed.!!! CRAZY! Veggies, herbs and flowers. Planted 4 new thorn less blackberries. Hens picked off some leaves, will move fencing back a bit so they can't reach the plants. Lesson learned.  

2. Harvest Something- Eggs and tons of compost. We've been having too much compost with the deep litter method so may start having to give some away, soil level is getting too high.

3. Preserve/Store Something- Made brined Meyer lemons. Let the freezer run low for the new fridge switch and defrosting. I will work on filling it up again. Just in time for sales on BBQ meats, like chicken and ribs :)

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep- Got a great deal on some new art for the house, cool weather veggies and perennials, organic toasted coconut chips for smoothies. Bought a mandolin for slicing veggies thin for fermenting, etc.

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe- Made some lamb burgers with tzatziki sauce, hadn't had for years, awesome! Saw some new recipes here, Ian after I saw his show on PBS last night, looks good! Lots of great veggie recipes :)

6. Build Community Food Systems- Still selling eggs weekly to a co-worker.

7. Recycle/Re-Use- Donated old Venetian blinds to the Habitat Store yesterday, spread tons of compost last 2 weeks. Loaned tools to friend. Going to sell my bike, too heavy, may buy new/used one. I need something lighter for my aging bones.

8. Skill Up- Learned hot to use a mandolin without slicing my fingers off :)

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something- Will buy some new blades for our Sazall tool. Bark dust for yard, seed some grassy areas that are worn. Lots of little jobs.

Both photos from

Slow Clothing Movement-
Like a lot of people I know a bit about sustainability, but when it comes to clothes, not so much. While I do lots of thrifting and shop on eBay for used items, I still buy some things new. I was listening to this and I totally get it-  For some people the reality right now is they won't buy $35.00 tee shirts because that might be food on the table, but you have to start somewhere. I like the idea of "chain" stores that would market these kinds of things, to bring the prices down. Or make your own clothes! Thrifting is still a big part of the equation with TONS of clothing out there, literally, that can be re-used, including vintage clothes that are very well made. It's good to think about. I just got a new work blouse from Goodwill yesterday for $4.00, like new!

Master Bedroom Makeover-
I'm slowly starting to re-do our master bedroom.  I'll also do a much-needed repaint of the kitchen and possibly the living room. Paint is really worn after 10+ years. After summer break starts I'm going to paint the bedroom a very white gray. I liked the way it came out on our master bath remodel. Now it's a peach, a bit too dark. We had old, cheap blinds that came with the house-

I started with our new curtains from Ikea, replacing them for $14.99 (for 2) and I LOVE the birds! I stumbled onto them and bought a cafe rod for $5.00 to go inside the insulated curtains. We have privacy now and lets in more light. I washed them and now just need to hem them a bit. With 5+ more weeks of school I'm letting it go for now. I am SO READY for summer. Too much turmoil at work...

Love the birds!

I also bought a set of 5"tile prints" on stretched canvas for above the bed, from Tile Prints  5 for $39.00, a pretty good deal! Since I'm going for white with blue accents I thought this would be a nice shot of color! I may re-position them a bit, the grid might need to be a little wider? I have a few more blue things I'll add soon...

Neighbor Posey making friends with Anya thru the screen! Really nice kitty...

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