Saturday, November 27, 2010

Worth Dying For?

Black Friday.
Neither hubby nor I went shopping.
I'm doing a no buy Christmas for the most part & hubby is well - he gets into shopping in a frugally morbid type way. I'll explain later lets just say he torments the gift recipient for weeks.
DD#2 rode her bike out to a strip mall with a coupon for 20% off and bought new sneakers with her own money. Pretty proud of her except for the fact that it was snowing, icy, & bitterly cold. Oh yeah and peeps were out acting like fools and there she was on her bike.
Couldn't wait until I could hook her up with a ride. So from now to the day these 'neakers bite the dust they will be known as to die for.
Speaking of to die for here's a clip from channel WIVB 4 Buffalo on a stampede @ Target. It's funny now because as far as has been reported no one was seriously injured. The one guy who has pain written all over his face managed to drag himself over to electronics to find a relative, then go to the ER where they T&R'd.
Yeah it's all fun & games til some one's crushed in the door way of a national discount chain.
No word on if he scored a t.v.

Cyber Monday - hope to score a deal on long johns for myself & the girls, along with a pair of Winter boots for me. Would also like to score a great deal on a Berkly Water Filter.

On a more important note - we were able to spend a very nice Thanksgiving @ my in laws. Brought my Mom who enjoyed meeting her favorite son in law's parents fro the first time. A nice touch was my MIL bought a few plantain bananas which she asked my mother to cook for us. Mom was more than happy to show off cooking up some platanos.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Multi tasking G.A. Way

Prior to our home having a wood stove we dried cloths just like everyone in the hood who didn't have a clothes drier, that is to say we used a ghetto clothes drier a.k.a. a heating duct vent or a radiator. Now we do it the Amish way.
Yeah I know but before everyone get's their stopenfloppers in a knot I'm sitting a few feet away multitasking so to speak to the power of 5. Besides laundry there's dough raising in the bread bucket under the huge cast iron skillet which has tarragon dehydrating. Cooking on the stove as well as on a high trivet on the right side of the hearth  is dinner. Me blogging is the final task.
Big push to finish routine chores since tomorrow is pie baking. Also need to install one of my last 3 replacement windows. I can not freakin believe that after 10 years and 12 windows later I will be done!
With windows that is. When I'm actually done with the final room of this house word is that family will box me then stick a couple saw horses under the casket and call it a wake. All the while sipping rum and admiring the wonderfully refinished wood work. 
An added bonus is that I should be getting mullah back from National Grid who is sponsoring an energy incentive program. 30 smackeroos in my back pocket err under the bed. Plus there is still the Energy Tax Credit for 2010.

Catch up - on sabbatical again my home care cased ended. Total roof fund was just over 3 grand before the gods realized I had dead presidents up under my bed. DD#2 needed a few hundred for a XC meet in NYC. She fund raised the majority, is a solid B/C student, & volunteers hours @ church so I splurged. Then the car needed work. And on it went until the fund shrunk by a grand & a quarter.
Past 3 weeks been battling a dental infection which has kept me from gutting the final 3 walls of the living room. Really should have purchased the extended warranty years ago before I started breaking down.
Today we went & rented a storage space ($50) to hold a slightly (installed then returned the next day) used carpet that we scored for $35. I foolishly thought that I could wrap it up in plastic & work around it. Well that & the church pew, coffee table bought from scratch & dent for $70 along with a few other odds and ends. Hard to see the paper trail of where that $1500 went huh.
Storage deal is until January 1st.
Time is wasting anyone seen Norm & the gang from TOH ?
I'm making pie!

~~ pelenaka ~~
who has a clean dry and oh so warm stoppenflopper

Friday, November 5, 2010

hacked ash shovel

This perforated ash shovel isn't an necessity but it is a nice hearth tool to have. After lusting for one last heating season hubby made me one out of our old ash shovel. He would have made it sooner but I wanted to wait until I could replace it with a new ash shovel so I could have both one with holes & one without to clean out the stove. Shopped both tag sales & retail stores - ended up buying new in early Summer when hearth accessories are clearanced, for $2.99 about a dollar more than the used ash shovel we bought @ a flea market.

The perforated ash shovel is nice to have when we have the wood stove fired up 24/7. Before our method of picking out the large embers was to put all the ash in the ash bucket then use old kitchen tongs to pick out the large embers throwing them back into the firebox to start a new fire. The tongs got hot quickly. Not to mention that all that handling of hot embers was a safety issue. And the CO2 detector enviably would alarm.

Thank you my husband.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Solar Martha

Our enclosed porch has a ceiling light with a pull chain dead center, which means the from either the outside door or the original front door you have to take a few steps in. Sometimes taking those steps can be a like a land mine littered with shoes, cleats, softball gear, kindling, and winter gear.  To solve this I had placed a few garden solar lights around on the floor but it was pretty much ineffective when digging through the shoe cubby under the window bench.
Thanks to a tip posted on Homesteadingtoday problem solved. Thanks W.A.

 Solar panel to charge my new & very stylish porch lighting system.

White Christmas lights in an icicle pattern for under $20 from Target. Fall swag from local YWCA tag sale last week for $3. Lace curtain was actually a tablecloth from Aunt Sally's for $2.
I'm really liking how well this repurpose worked out. So much so I think my kitchen needs a bit of solar lighting. Would hate for anyone to trip during a midnight fridge raids.

These are a few of my almost 9 year old garden lights. The one on the right still works despite it being having a more opaque solar panel than the other. Took an old toothbrush to them with a dab of cleanser. Seemed to help light output with the one that originally worked. New batteries installed in both.
All wiring seems to be intact with no rust noted.
Any suggestions ?
I just can't seem to let go especially since these were pretty pricey in the day.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

3Rs - Reusing/Recycling/Repurposed

K, here's my plan sss (short, simple, & sweet) - instead of the usual houseplants that don't put food on the table I'm gonna go with vegetables such as this hybrid patio tomato plant. Not the most flavorful but come December when we're craving a fresh tomato it will do.
I also have a very large planter filled with a 3 y.o. Rosemary bush, Basil, Oregano, Parsley, & Thyme, but I don't count it since it's just herbs.
The planter is a re purposed vacuum canister from a broken shop vac. Hubby drilled a few tiny holes in the bottom for water drainage.  So consider this also a post about reusing/recycling/repurposed (3Rs)
Note to self - remember NOT to shove it behind a stack of dry wall.

Anyone else had success with indoor gardening of veggies?

Back to stripping wood work.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Monday, October 11, 2010

Urban Orchard Part 4

This is the 4 in 1 Antique Apple Tree that we planted in April of 2008. Just an itty bitty stem compared to what it is now.

A bit out of control to say the least. DH has yet to train it into an Espaliers form. It is going on two years dear. As you can see the Strawberries that we transplanted from another bed filled in very well. It's a real pleasure to walk out the back door of the house and pick berries for breakfast in my robe. This was the only one of 3 Apple Trees that we planted that has fruited yet.

Out of 5 Golden Russets only 1 was brusied. Eatten with some of Yancy's Fancy Champange cheese. 
3 more Apples and it would be enough for a pie. It's a start.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Got Chips ?

Successful score on the Roma tomato hunt to a certain extent. The toms needed a few days in the sun before processing. As you can see the multi operational front porch also does duty as as a great sunny spot to ripen produce. My red headed step son is on guard duty or as my Mom would say he's living the life of Riley.
2/3 of this bushel worked into Zesty Salsa from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving - 34 pints plus. The plus went to a midnight kitchen raid after someone hit the corner bodega for chips.
Bushel cost $16 worked out to $12 for salsa, + $8 for a peck of green bell peppers, + $1 for 5 jalapenos peppers, $1.89 for onions. Had the remainder of the ingredients and my free canning lids I scored a few weeks back. 34 pints of salsa = 67¢ per pint.
The last 1/3 of the Roma's I ran through the Squeezo then drained the pulp in a cotton pillow case to remove excess water. Gallons worth sitting in the freezer. Waiting to see if I can score more canners before turning it all into sauce. 
I am giving some serious thought to not putting in a garden next year instead stressing bartering,foraging & gleaning efforts.
Only a few cups of diced hot peppers came from the garden. Dried cilantro was grown last Summer.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tomato Hunting

After we went apple picking @ my brother's suburban backyard we headed downtown to the Rochester Public Market in search of deal on canning tomatoes. No deal to be had as the tomato harvest wasn't yet in full swing, but we did get a deal on bananas & peaches.

While there we partake of good food @ Juan & Maria's Empanada stand.

Unique food offerings for all tastes.

The other white meat - Rabbit. Health & Harmony Natural Foods stand was doing a brisk trade.
Really enjoyed getting to know the owner & his son. Bought a few pounds of Redmond Real Salt.

Community garden a few blocks from public market in the Marketview Heights neighborhood.
A great spot without shade. I have garden envy.

~~ pelenaka ~~
Good day spent with a good friend

Sunday, September 12, 2010

As American as

When my Mommie saw this photo she remarked," Usted tiene un selector de América Apple ".
No Mommie I have a good friend who happens to be an American read white, that picks apples.
This is my brother's Apple tree next to his house in a very upper middle class neighborhood far far away from where I live.
I won't dell on the fact that he has a corner lot with an ungodly amount of Sunshine on a daily basis.
My brother grows mostly lawn and a few shrubs besides this fruit tree.
This will be the last harvest from this Granny Smith (?) tree. The inner core is rotten & as of last week a good sized limb broke off. It really isn't very stable. The Americana shouldn't be up there.
Later this fall hubby will stop by with his chainsaw and our daughters. I have a few years to convince my suburbanite brother to go in on a pig with me. Then we can smoke us some hams.
Between the two of us we picked about 7 bushels of organic Apples.
I keept about 4, bbgf got the rest since it was her ride that we used to go pick.

Thank you to the person who planted this tree in the early 1970's. I have enjoyed the last 4 harvests.
You have provided me with Mint Apple jelly, Apple Butter, Applesauce, Pie Filling, and have been a contributor to our homemade cider. I unlike my brother will miss you.

Prepping on my electric stove @ 0148 raining pitchforks & paino stools

It took myself & two daughters along with a hand cranked apple peeler to work up a bushel of apples into pie filling. 100% organic never been cared for apples have allot of blemishes that need to be cut out. I believe a bushel should give me over 15 quarts of pie filling. I'll know tomorrow after service when I plan to can this batch up. Used tapioca instead of clear gel or cornstarch.

Look like cocktail franks huh?

Nothing goes to waste. Apple cores are being dehydrated for rabbit treats later this Winter.
I plan on bartering my fresh baked Apple pies made with organic apples this Winter.

~~ pelenaka ~~ 


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ain't No Sunshine

Blame lack of Sunshine as the primary reason behind my poor harvest this garden season.
So far I have gotten 7 quarts of stewed Tomatoes, a handful of deformed curly -q Cukes, about a dozen fair sized Zucchini and Summer squash. Peach trees had a small harvest made even smaller due to flying rats. We were robbed in both broad daylight and rhythmic calm of an inner city night. In years past playing children and hours spent in the garden posted our sent as a deterrent. Or it could be that this upcoming Winter will be a hard one. 

Early afternoon on the back half of thirtyfivebyninety.
Notice the shadows in both the foreground and the right side of the tomato plant against the trellis.
Total amount of direct sunshine in this part of the garden is > 3 hours.

Raised bed just to the right of the beds pictured above.
Same day, same time, same lack of direct sunshine.
Cantaloupe growing on trellis along with Roma toms, and a volunteer Sunflower.
Sunflower is a direct descendant of hybrid Mammoths that I planted 9 years ago. Sunflower fence along the white picket in the background. Tallest is over 18 feet high.
Interesting to note that this year is the year that all the heads were numerous but very small.
Enjoyed by Finches.

Shadows, shadows, shadows.
Too many cool nights and rainy days.

Neighbor's 100 plus year old Maple tree shaped like a broccoli stalk.
2 years ago paid out $350 to have it trimmed with moderate results. Upside was that no limbs fell on our 81 year old dilapidated garage these past few Winters.
Notice the moss on both the roof's of our garage & the neighbor's home.
Tree top right hand corner is city owned planted in the hell strip.
Yeah it's that tall that it's shadow reaches my backyard.
As much as I petition for removal neighbor petitions against.

One of two directions I can grow - don't put in a garden next year devoting efforts to foraging & gleaning, find a way to increase sunlight with artificial methods, kill neighbor's trees.
Plural because I didn't photograph the Walnut tree that blocks all early morning sunshine.That tree is located just behind my greenhouse on a vacant lot. A lot that gets 9 hours of glorious sunshine.
5 years ago DH attempted to barter lawn care for use of the lot for container gardening but the owner wasn't interested. Should have cut it down 10 years ago when it was only 15 feet high.
Lost opportunities suck.

Yeah I'm gonna need a really good alibi.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Friday, September 3, 2010

Donner Party Dead

Here's a pic of why I haven't been posting on the topic of homestead gardening, and in turn preserving the harvest. This years garden bounty has been poor, pathetic & pitiful.
In short if we only had what we grew this season to survive on then we'd be dead.
Donner party dead.

Nursery Stock Roma Paste Tomatoes Summer 2010
Last year I started my canning tomatoes from seed, San Marzano an Italian paste variety. They were to say the least all that and a whole lot more until the blight hit.
The quantity of this year's crop is nothing compared to 2008 plum tomatoes. While the average size of the plum tomatoes are slightly smaller than previous years, the number of plums per plant this growing season is drastically less.

Total of home canned home grown tomatoes to date is drum roll please ... 5 quarts from 19 plants.
5 quarts of stewed tomatoes preserved over two canning sessions.
Did I mention late blight showed up last week in the sunniest corner of my garden ?
I am needless to say down hearted after all the composting & bio char I did in the past two years.

Neighbor's 100 year old Maple a.k.a. Sunblocker pic taken @ 1 p.m.
Apparently there is no substitute, no magic soil formula to replace the required 6 hours of sunshine each day that my city garden lacks.

Plan B - call around to both the barter buddy network & outside sources to score a good rate on canning tomatoes. Prices range from $12 a bushel for U Picks to $25 from a faux Amish furniture store. Green bell peppers range from $10 to $14 half bushel. Also need a small handful of hot peppers and garlic. Lots & lots of garlic.
Goal is to can up at least 30 quarts of stewed tomatoes, 25 pints of salsa (can you ever really have too much salsa on the pantry shelf), and if the price is right 30 quarts of sauce. I have been blessed this season with an abundance of Rosemary, Basil, & Thyme.

Would be too much to ask for a gleaning opp on canning tomatoes preferably plum type.

~~ pelenaka ~~
who has been knocked down a peg by Mother Nature

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Removing a window

This pic reminds me of that corny childhood phrase, you'd make a better wall than a window.
This is the latest rehab project on OOH. Gutting the living room or to use 1902 vernacular, the parlor.
We are removing the plaster & lathe, rewiring 4 existing electrical outlets, the 5th will be relocated directly below the main front window to accommodate lighting our Christmas tree. Other than a wreath hung on the front door that is pretty much it for Holiday decorating. Insulated with R-13.

While we have the walls opened up we will run wire up to the second floor. Our bedroom is directly above. It will be nice to have more than the one electrical outlet which is right next to the bedroom door. I look forward to having a bedside lamp and actually using my writing desk instead of the kitchen table.
Also considering wiring the living room for sound even though our 15 year old television can't handle the technology.
This window overlooked the side (only) porch. In the original design this 1900's two story farm house, the porch wasn't enclosed. One of the 1st aspects of the house that I changed was to rework the late 1990's porch remodel. Unfortunately the porch columns were removed and replaced with a bank of storm windows. Interior walls of the porch were finished off with Maple colored paneling. Apparently the previous owners felt they lived in a 1960's ranch house.

I have always wanted a home with a hexagon & bay window complete with a bench. So after wiring for lights and an outlet, insulation, installing bead board to match the original porch ceiling, and a new real outside front door to replace the storm door, we now have a porch/mud room where we can take off our shoes, hang our hats, and stow our packs. It's also a nice place to have a cup of coffee in the morning or in the case of my now teenage daughters a place to say good night to a friend.

Walling up this window also gave us much needed space for a vintage mirror (trash find) and more hat hooks.

Now the living room side needed to go.
Antique moldings were carefully removed to be used in a future project - a built in entertainment center in the corner to the right. Window sashes are in the attic. Slightly wavy glass intact.
And no, no treasures were found behind the lathe or the window jambs.
I couldn't help but think while I was striping away the paint of all the many conversations held though this window in the last 108 years. 
The woman of the house ordering produce from a peddler, declining his offers of new wash tubs. Wishing he would hurry along with her order before his horse drawn wagon leaves ruts in the newly graveled city street.
A young girl quietly speaking with a guy from the neighborhood perched on the arm of her father's chair. Later that father sitting in his chair near the corner silently chaperoning a young couple sitting on the porch rail dreading the flicker of the porch light. The rustle of his evening paper as he pretends to read. A mother of a WW2 sailor praying that the man delivering that Western Union telegram has the wrong house ... asking him to leave.  Or a mother of Vietnam soldier ...

Allot of history in this wall that was once a window.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Monday, August 16, 2010

Keeping the lid on

Sometimes after you have opened a home canned jar it's nice to be able to close it up for storage without using a metal canning ring. Caps are also nice when you have vacuum sealed a dry product such as rice in a glass mason jar and want an extra bit of protection on top of the canning lid. Also helps to keep the canning lid from rusting if you happen to store the vacuum sealed jar in a cellar. Caps are also great for sealing jars for freezer storage.. Beware frozen caps are brittle.
Caps pictured above are; white - Ball brand something like under $4 for 6. I use them on my 1940's glass canister jars for counter storage since white matches my decor. If I could have found 50's pink well then I'd be a happy June. The bright blue are from Aldis mayo, darker blue from Aldis peanut butter (could be the other way around), red also gotta be from Aldis, dark blue top of pic reads Hellman's Mayo (snagged from an empty jar @ work), yellow rings were in a box of jars I bought @ a tag sale. Love those. Have never seen them for sale retail.
Drop a line if you know where to buy them. I won't since I'm ghetto cheap but it would make me happy to know that they can still be had.
~~ pelenaka ~~

P.S.  10/11/2010 - The head Goat Gal & owner over @ Harper Hill Farm which produce some of the best Goat Milk Soap sent me this link for those plastic screw on lids that have the center cut out. Scroll down almost to the bottom of the page you'll find them.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

field to pantry shelf

I need to apologize to my BBFG. I doubted that there was an green beans in this field. That being said don't judge a newly harvested field from a car. Sometimes the goal is hidden in plain sight.

Learn the way grasshopper learn the way. Teaching a son to fish so to speak, age 3.

To the left is about 30 feet of green beans that weren't mechanically harvested due to low hanging tree branches on the neighboring playground. Prime picking. I was able to glean enough green beans to fill my 10 gallon bucket.

Scored canning lids for free thanks to Ball coupons and my local mega mart doing a one week dollar coupon doubling. Thanks also to a non canner bbgf who printed me off extra coupons. And a neighbor who gave me hers from the Sunday paper. 84 small mouth lids. Good deal down to my last 332 acquired from an eBay auction years back.
Gone are the days when Big Lots or Family Dollar priced American Harvest for just under a buck. Currently in my area selling for $1.50. Wally World going for close to $3.
Since I am canning using electric not wood despite the lids being free (remember after 9 years of canning all equipment has been paid off) I really don't know how much my 1949 Hotpoint stove pulls on the meter. For July kWh is $1.46. I figure between two pressure canner loads = 18 pints, prep, and what not I will have had the stove on for 3 hours.
Any takers out there on calculating a rough estimate for me ?

~~ pelenaka ~~

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rocket Canning Stove version #1

K, here's my story as to why I haven't built the 1983 MEN's Canning Stove.
L&S (long & short) of it is - 1) want to reuse portions of my old canning stove, 2) the new stove must be able to be disassembled easily (think surprise city code inspection or insurance company), and 3) I don't think that my Amish canner will tolerate the high temps if it is submersed down into the fire pit. Although I could easily find 3 used Granny ware canning pots cheaply I want to use my Amish canner. I paid for it I want to use it.
I haven't given up on the idea completely. In the mean time produce needs to be canned.
Below is my first attempt at designing a rocket canning stove with limited sucess . Fired up easily but extreme difficulty in getting my 15 quart Amish canner to obtain a rolling boil. After a few hours of burning a variety of materials such as 108 year old lathe, seasoned maple branches, elderwood, then finally oak I put a grannyware canning pot on to boil on my kitchen range - 1949 Hotpoint.

Watched pots & all that ... 7 pounds of organic blueberries.

Fire pit made with 3 cinder blocks & capped off with 3 pavers. Lined with firebrick (beige rectangular bricks), borrowed from Hubby's blacksmith forge. Some would say that I have balls since he was out front running his chain saw on Maple that he dragged home from the city yard waste. I prefer to say I can do no wrong in his eyes. That's what I prefer to say.

Next I laid the old canning stove top down on the pit. I should have laid a thick layer of wet sand on the rectangular pavers to form a gasket. I also should have placed the bricks farther apart making the fire pit wider.

Reuse was the word of the day. A&P coffee can rigged into a coupling. The galvanized duct pipe on it's last leg. Dang my stove needs polish!

Before I give up on this version any suggestions ?

~~ pelenaka ~~

Monday, June 28, 2010

on the back burner

One of the many oddities that attracted me to my husband was his huge collection of MEN Mags. That said this particular issue dating from June/July 1982 is one of my favs. This project has been on my personal to do list since I first started outdoor canning.
The other day I pulled back the tarp from my antique coal cook stove only to realize that without some major repair work it wasn't going to hold a fire. The firebox or bowl as seen better days. There is also the fact that it is almost impossible to camoflage the stove form visitors (upcomming roof replacement followed by upcomming code inspection).
LSS time to build a version of Mother Earth News cool outdoor mud stove.
Hmm, if a two pot stove is da bomb baby, wouldn't a three pot stove be da kind !

K, if anyone runs across a link or pics from someone who has built a stove like this or if you have please grant me with your hard earned knowledge or opinions before I pour cement.
I want to incorporate parts from my old canning stove such as the door which houses the flue.
I also would want the stack to be removeable.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Alternative buying club

File this under alternative shopping venues - bulk buying @ your local restaurant supply store. If it's good enough for my favorite eatery & their bottom line then it's good enough for me. Besides the main advantage of purchasing food for pennies per once, (50 lbs. of movie house grade popcorn for 49 cents per pound), the shopping experience borders on old fashioned. Almost brings you back to the local corner store with simple metal shelving, perhaps an old am radio playing, and a simple cash register. No multiple receipts with frivolous coupons on the flip side. Just the facts.
Besides the bushel sized sack of pop corn I buy vegetable oil, 5 lbs. bags of yeast, and high gluten/bread flour a.k.a. Occident flour. This is also a great place to buy spices. If the quantity is an issue organize a co-op or use for gift giving.
Did I mention the lack of membership fees ? No old lady bouncers @ the door. No flat screen t.v. or radial tires. Just commercial quality stoves and really huge blocks of mozzarella. Ask about discounts on bulk order. My Resturant Supply Store offers 10% on any order that is more than 3 cases pick up only.

The flour pictured above was a 3 way split put together by my prima bbgf. 50 lbs. = $17.99 divided 3 ways so $6/16 lbs. or 37 cents per pound.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Monday, May 17, 2010


Would you like a 2,000% return profit after just 4 years on less than $20 ? A profit that not only will save you money on your grocery bill but also make you healthy naturally ? One which gives you a return on your investment even while your asleep?
Not true you say. What's the catch ? Really just send me $19.99 with a SASE to ...

Of all the various urban gardening aspects such as container or raised bed, a cold frame will get you the most return on your dollar. Built in 2006 this frame has easily given us a few thousand $ in gourmet organic salad greens. The seed packets were bought last Fall on discount for a dime each. Seeded with mustard, red oak, arugula, butter crunch, and 2 over Wintered Swiss Card plants in early April. There's also the complimentary volunteer Naturism's that pop up. Need to replace the cracked plastic before Winter.

Made it a point to place a sheet of plastic over my 8 year old Rhubarb plant last month to increase the quantity of harvest. Will gift some to bbgf & use the rest in baked goods both now & Winter for bartering. Since it's a small amount freezing will be the preservation method of choice. No need for canning up - still have over a dozen pts. of Strawberry Rhubarb jam on pantry shelf from the last two years. Considering thinning this patch & potting up what I can to sell or trade.

Snow peas & White Radishes. Unfortunately something has nibbled on the leaves. Marigolds would come in hand shoulda started some in late February. Noticed the plastic sheeting on this bed & the next pic. Packaging off our new mattress & box spring. Hoops are PVC odds & ends.

This is the year that I am all framed up. The plastic covered bed in the foreground is where Green Bell Peppers were last year. DD#2 planted this bed with Yellow Wax Beans & Carrots in Mid April. So far no seeds have sprouted. Sometime this week I'll rework the soil & replant with tomato seedlings that I didn't start from seed. Yes, you read right. Despite the fact that the plant light stand has been set up since March no seeds to speak of have been started for the main garden. Only excuse that can be offered up is that when Mom works outside the home amnesia is epidemic. The plastic covered box behind this bed is a covered bunny cage. Direct placement of organic fertilizer.

However DH was able to start a few for his cold frame. Today he took down the light stand with the barren plywood table underneath 'cept an old collection of empty containers & toilet paper tubes once destined for seedlings. I had such great ideas for blog posts on seed starting.
He is taking me plant shopping on payday for veggies.
So much for my plans of no "bought" garden stock but realistically speaking our home life is in huge turmoil. The job I accepted here in the neighborhood which was originally scheduled for a few hours a day has developed into full time, with many over night shifts. Also I & one of my brothers have entered the sandwich generation, caring for & overseeing all of our Mother's affairs. Add in two daughter's playing JV softball, orchestra concerts, church youth group meetings, there goes my child labor pool. That's my excuse as lame as it is.
Up side is the roof fund has $1800 dead presidents.

Something to be said for a man who plants his rows straight.
Another version of a cold frame made out of scrap lumber, collected plastic sheeting, & hardware taken off of odds & ends found while curb shopping. Think drawer knobs & cabinet hinges when you see discarded furniture.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Friday, May 14, 2010

Baby's Got Wood

This is what's left of the oldest tree on my street after a wind storm the night before Mother's day. Those are city workers & a few of their posse gleaning firewood. As you can see DH & I were out numbered. The Public works fella on the far left is no doubt texting his gang of urban lumber jacks this location.

This is a street shot showing how the base of this 80 year old Maple took up the city side walk along with the median. Again we were out weighed by the sub contractors a.k.a. well connected friends of city public works. Notice the bright yellow truck is gone.

NP, got my own lumber jack. While the firewood down the block was divided up we went around our hood & score very well. And yes this is our own modern day version of a horse & wagon. And yes it is an Aveo 4 cylinder.

This is about 4 & half face cords that we collected prior to the gleaning effort pictured above. Mostly Linden and some Sugar Maple. Will be used in early Fall & Late Spring because of the low BTU value. Also for the canning stove.

Notice the 100 y.o. Maple in my neighbor's yard. Come June it will have blocked out majority of the sun for my garden from 11:00 a.m. until about 4:00 p.m. Then around 5:00 or 5:30 my house blocks what is left of the day.

If only I had a posse of well connected lumber jacks ...

~~ pelenaka ~~

P.S. 5/17/2010 - Cash out lay for trailer; $330 tax included, $25 for regirstation, inspection $8, hitch with wiring was $200 ish installed last year. So far IMHO I'd say that the hitch, inspection, gov. taxes, and a 1/3 of the cost of the trailer has been recouped in the value of the firewood that has been collected.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

We were in the area so as a free & fun family activity we attended an Ecofest at GCC today. One daughter got her face painted an another walked around calling her friends on our cell telling them how lame it was, how I made her come, and could they meet her @ the library later. Which is were I'm posting from. Multi tasking - left brain posting right brain convert opp on children.
Hubby wandered around ended up meeting an old high school friend who is involved with green energy. I got some up close & personal demo's of solar hot water heaters and solar panels. Besides numerous "green" vendors (some were clearly in the gray area of green) there were both electronic & sneaker recycling.
We recycled two old computer towers, saving us the cost of a trash ticket. $10 city fee for disposal. In our hood if you buy a ticket for an item always place a few layers of clear tape over the bright orange ticket/sticker. The tickets get snatched off your item. Kinda like registration stickers on license plates.
We declined the offers of reusable cloth shopping bags since we have more than enough made from old blue jeans.
One of our long range goals is to be solar powdered for all things electrical. Some great state & federal incentives out now. Hopefully all those programs will still be there in the next few years. While we can't hang a solar panel until the roof is replaced we can lower our overall consumption.

Daughters are done picking out DVDs movies to check out, (did you know that many libraries offer movies & music besides books ?) & I have bread to bake. Need whole wheat sandwich bread for lunches this week, also owe a barter debt of one Pumpernickel loaf, and Greek bread for 5 lbs. of feta cheese acquired last week end. Good day to bake it's been cold with feeble attempts at snowing.

Can you believe it's been 40 years since the first Earth Day ?
What are your plans to celebrate ?

~~ pelenaka ~~

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Living below your means -
While a lot of peeps who read that phrase will automatically translate this into the concept, “self denial” it is never the less a very valuable lifestyle tool. Unfortunately like all good lifestyle tool this guiding principle takes effort. Often a huge amount of effort. More than I had anticipated I mean this is me we are talking about. Piece of cake.
Roadblocks are if not constantly then almost weekly being built on my path to saving for a new roof. It is as if the gods know that I have coin. I myself have been really good about not dipping into the roof fund even for just a taste of bread.
Items that require cash keep popping up as if I’m related to the Rockefellers.
First it was DD#3 lack of a confirmation dress. After spending a few hours in several area thrift stores no frilly frock could be had that we both agreed on. Not to mention what’s with the new vintage clothing trend so popular? The 2nd hand retail prices on ’80’s party gear had outfits costing more now then back in 1987. If I had only known I would have saved all those men’s styled pinstriped suit dresses with the huge shoulder pads. Yeah I fancied myself an uptown girl.
LSS we ended up in a retail store’s changing room trying on numerous dresses ala Miley Cyrus. Finally we settled on a nice sundress with spaghetti straps that had a cute cropped jacket to match. Right length, right amount of cleavage, and almost 100% cotton (no dry cleaning). Daughter instantly fell in love with this high priced piece of cloth.
Quietly under her breath she began the assault. Mentioning that she would wear this for her 8th grade graduation. Also any upcoming weddings or occasions. Then she began counting off the already owned pairs of shoes that would match this ensemble. Deal was sealed when she mumbled something about wearing this for her wedding.
On sale for $65.
Quick cell call to gf who was able to go online for a promotion code. Quick chat with store manager to see if she would accept the code in numbers instead of an actual bar code that needs to be scanned. Me, “I would like to buy this dress but it is over my budget without a discount. Would you be able to accept a promotion code without an actual paper coupon?”. Manager,“ Yes, if you have the code we can punch it in”.
DD#3 snarked something about if we had our cell phones online then we wouldn’t need to call around for a friend who could go online. True that but how many times do we buy retail dear daughter?
Cashier just punched in the combination of letters & numbers which took off 15%. Dress came out to $57 something tax included.
Part of the quid pro quo between us will be that she take on a greater share of chores without nagging. Good deal for me now that I am back to work.
Still wish that we had found something to our taste up in the attic stash.
My son my only son mentioned in our twice weekly phone call that he had wanted to attend a leadership camp sponsored by his high school’s ROTC unit but that his father had said money was tight ( he hasn‘t gone without cable in the last 20 years). Deal was struck - after the conference when he came home for his Summer visit he would either pay me back in cash or barter. Barter - help with home improvements such as an upcoming interior wall removal. If he’s unable to snag a Summer job then he is to volunteer @ a neighborhood hospital.
Money order for $100 to cover his camp.
~~ pelenaka ~~
Who is giving some serious thought to a jail house tat on her right hand - LBYM

Sunday, March 28, 2010


This blog post isn't so much about my shinny new wood stove pipe it's more about the roof on my 108 year old home. The main roof to be exact. Hard to see from this angle but this former HUD home has been needing a new roof for over a decade now. Knew that when I bought the house. But between buying a home & a divorce & raising 4 children & rehabbing Our Old House a major roofing project was put on the back burner. Life got in the way.
Two years ago the portion of roof over the front pourch & kitchen were replaced with metal because of leaks. I choose metal because of the deep discount on my homeowners insurance (fire proof factor) and since I plan to be carried out feet first I didn't want to have to put another roof on when I was in my seventies. Cost was just under $1800.
Now it's time to do the main roof which has a 12x12 pitch. Cost has been estimated @ 9K.
My roof guy tells me that we can do a split job. Do one half this year and patch the other half.
From the ground and my next door neighbor's attic window it looks like the driveway side portion of roof that has the valleys is the most in need. Figure on 4k.

I'd like to be able to blog on how we are able to squeeze $4,000 out of our almost $29,000 combined income but well short of illegal enterprises that isn't gonna happen.
So I wanted to let all of my readers know that I am back to work. But since the goal of being gainfully employed to to pay for a new roof we will still be living like we're broke.
Except I will also be blogging about the deep urges to snag some of the "roof fund" money to score on this or that great deal.
It's like this - when your broke there is no inner conflict about buying this or that. No justification of why a purchase would be a good thing.
Yeah being broke has it's advantages.
Just wanted to be truthful.

~~ pelenaka ~~