Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fall: Seasons of Change

Join me and my guest, Lisa, as we discuss the changes in both the season and the farm. Welcome to Rancho No Dinero.

Something is afoot here on the farm. Find out about some big changes coming to Rancho No Dinero.

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

It May Be Cold Outside, but It Is Warm In Here

The Beach in the Morning
Last night temps got down to the mid 40's and it is a bit chilly as I sit here typing this. This morning there is a nip in the air and I am anticipating a nice hot cup of coffee as soon as it is done brewing. I haven't posted much in the last few days because I was out of town somewhere nice and warm. I thought I would share some photos from my whirlwind weekend in Florida this past week.

I left at mid-day on Thursday, dove to Missouri and spent the night, then drove to Ft. Walton Beach the next day. We passed through Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama along the way. We, being the silly tourists we are, stopped at every state border and took a picture under the sign. It was great fun. After driving all that distance, I spent part of Friday, all of Saturday, and part of Sunday morning enjoying the warm sun, cool breeze, and soft white sands of Florida's Gold Coast.

Coffee on the Beach

Saturday morning we got up and took our cups of coffee to the beach. It was a little chilly at first, but the coffee and the sunrise warmed us right up. 

Dolphins in the surf
I was excited to see dolphins feeding in the surf. I have never seen a dolphin in the wild. I can cross that off my bucket list. 

White Sands of the Gulf
The sands of the Gulf of Mexico and the panhandle area of Florida are white and very fine. I can only describe it as soft on the feet. I can tell you though that I am out of shape for beach walking and my calves are still sore.

I had such fun doing her hair
We went for this weekend to go to a beach wedding. My friend Sharon and I had to stop off in Missouri to pick up the children and bring them so they could participate. I was lucky to be able to play hair dresser to Madison and I braided her hair in a fishtail. She looked beautiful.

Little man looked "Sh-nazzy"
 Little man had pants that were too long, so we had to figure out in a pinch how to hem them without any sewing supplies. Sharon had a glue gun she was fixing the bouquets with, so we just glued the hem up. It worked like a charm. 

The happy bride and groom
The bride and groom were gracious hosts and the wedding was beautiful. The bride's dress was perfect for the occasion and she glowed like only a bride does.

Lovely bleached wood of a beach fence
I took the opportunity to turn my lens on everything. I have to find that perfect shot to enter in the state fair this coming year.
Sharon and the kids
We had a great time and I couldn't have asked for more perfect weather. Tomorrow I will show some photos from the morning photo shoot and some better shots of the dolphins.

Happy Hump Day!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Heritage Blue Mason Jar Bird Feeder

I love all things Mason Jar and I love all things galvanized. I combined my two favorites when I made this simple bird feeder. I actually planned to fill it with candy corn and leave it on the table for a fall decoration, but then I found these great instant handles for jars and decided I liked it better hanging.

This Mason Jar bird feeder was super easy to assemble. Total cost for this project is under $5.

Here is what you will need:

1 Mason Jar (quart size)
1 Galvanized Chicken Feeder (local feed store or Tractor Supply)
1 Mason Jar Bale Handle.
Clear tape (cellophane or packing)

How to assemble:

Attach the bail handle to the mouth of the jar. The handle needs to be taped to the side of the jar with a couple pieces of clear tape to prevent it from allowing the jar to tip over. Next, fill the jar with bird seed. Finally, screw on the chicken feeder base.

I chose to hang mine in the window as a little country touch, but this would look great on a porch or hanging from a tree. Because the base that holds the birdseed is so wide, you will want to keep it out of the path of lots of rain.

To clean just take the base off the jar and wash. Refill and rehang. That's it! Like I said, super easy!

Happy Mason Jar Monday!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

My Shed is Finally a Home!

Well folks, it has finally come to pass. After all the electrical work, insulation, wall board, flooring, and lighting, today I got to move furniture into the Shouse. I have a functioning living room, functional kitchen, and a kitchen table for eating meals. I can hardly believe it myself!Here is how my noteworthy weekend played out.

Saturday I wanted to go to Wichita, Kansas for a beer festival, but that just wasn't in the cards (or the bank account) so instead I headed into Oklahoma City and went to Tapwerks. Tapwerks is located in a neigborhood called Bricktown.Tapwerks claim to fame is that they at have over 100 beers on tap and another 150 beers in bottles. Oklahoma has some antiquated alcohol laws, so buying beer over 3 points (3-5% alcohol) is restricted. Finding micro-brews is difficult and very few local resturants carry anything but Budweiser and Michelob (insert retching sound here). I wanted to try some local Oklahoma micro-brews and Tapwerks was just the right place to go for some. I took a "beer flight" and tried 4 types of beers made right here in OK. 

I had the OK tray 9

OK Beer Flight (ya, the tray was nasty)
The menu had the typical bar fare and for a minute I thought I would have to order a burger, but then I spotted Chicken Pot Pie. I took a gamble and ordered it. I could not believe how lucky I was in my choice. Here is what it looked like: 

Chicken Pot Pie
That was the most delicious pot pie I have ever had. Ever. It was so rich and yummy, but I couldn't finish it all because I had gorged myself on Mango Salsa as an appetizer. All in all it was a great meal and the beer was wonderful.

After dinner we took a walk around downtown OKC. We walked past lots of small stores and restaurants. We even passed by the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. Ultimately we thought about seeing a movie, but the one we wanted to see had already started. We walked back to the car and headed home. I was so full I was uncomfortable, but it was worth it! 

Clowning around in Bricktown

Sunday morning we got up and began finishing the last of the wall board in the Shouse and our friend, Terry and his boys, Daniel and Ian, came over around 2 to help us pick up furniture from the old mobile we use for storage and transfer it into the Shouse. Here is what load number one looked like: 

Terry keeping stuff from falling out
We moved the living room furniture and the kitchen table and chairs into the Shouse. Here are some shots of what the inside looks like now that furniture is in:

The all-important television on the fireplace.

Living room before final piece of wall board was hung.

First beer to be enjoyed in the living room.

The view from the living room to the kitchen. 

I am so pleased with the way the Shouse is coming together. The living room is spacious and so cozy with the fireplace. I know I have a ways to go to complete the Shouse, but it is functional and I think it is really beginning to look and feel like a home. 

What do you think?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How to Install a Propane Cooktop

Atwood Propane Cook Top
I have a beautiful multifuel stove that both serves to cook my meals and to heat my home. However, I cannot use this in the summer and that limits my kitchen functionality. Originally I was going to simply place an electric burner on the surface of my beautiful wood/coal stove that I could just store away over the winter, however, I like the convenience of being able to heat the tea kettle or pop some popcorn without having to stoke up the stove too. A simple two burner propane cook top is a great solution and an economical one too.

My Vintage Godin MultiFuel Cook Stove
I purchased a cook top on Ebay for just under $40. It is a simple two-burner model commonly used in travel trailers. For an additional $12 I bought a regulator. I already had two spare propane tanks that I had filled prior to my move. I decided to install the cook top in the kitchen for year-round use primarily for the convenience factor, bu and because it really doesn't take up that much more space. I didn't want it to appear to be a temporary fix, but a long-term solution that would blend into the environment of my small and funky kitchen. After contemplating installment options, I came up with installing the cooktop in its own section of counter with storage underneath for the propane tanks that could be concealed by a skirt.

Inner Workings Attaching Regulator
I first chose a piece of counter top to mount it in. I used a section of butcher-block top that matches the counter where my sink is located. I decided to make the height of this stove taller than the surface the sink sits in because it is easier on my back for cooking. The counter top is 1.5" thick butcher block, so I traced the cook top and then predrilled holes on the corners for a cleaner installation.

Pre-drill holes in Counter

I mounted a support board to the wall, firmly screwing it into the studs on both ends. It is important that the support board be screwed into the stud because pots of boiling liquids are quite heavy. You do not want to risk a collapse with a pot of boiling pasta on the stove. The support of the wall studs is mandatory for safety. I plan to install a tiled back splash later, so the wall is plain for now.

Wall Support in Stud

Next I built a frame to support the section of counter top. I was careful to measure the counter top so that there was room to install the cook top without the support interfering with the propane regulator. Finally, I added posts to support the front. I will add a skirt around the bottom that conceals the propane tank and a spare. The skirt will match the kitchen for a cleaner and less cluttered look.

I added some storage containers to the side to hold small cooking items and to hang a towel and some pot holders out of the way of the flame. All-in-all it looks great and functions superbly. I highly recommend a propane cook top in addition to a wood burning stove.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Beginnings of the Grey Water System

Check it out! I have a sink with plumbing, well at least the drain pipe portion of the plumbing. Last weekend I installed the sink and I used it with just a bucket under it all week. I felt like a queen being able to wash dishes in the sink (geez, never thought I would say that!). It is much easier to cook and then clean up when you don't have to worry about carrying a heavy container of dirty water outside afterward.

The plumbing under the sink is done in the usual manner. I used plumbers putty around the drain lip before installation and Teflon tape around the threads to make leak-proof connections. Drilling a hole in the wall, I pushed the pipe through and used flanges (unfortunately I only found them in chrome, so I will be spray spray painting them) and I will use a silicon caulk to make the hole air, rodent, and insects from passing through. I still have to insulate, run the water lines in, and install the wallboard under the sink, so I am not going to add silicone just yet, but for now I have a draining sink! For now it will drain outside, directed into the forest that surrounds the building, however eventually it will be connected to the grey water pipe system and water my raised garden beds. Water will come in, be used, and then cycle out to water the garden. All things running as planned, drought will be less of an issue for my gardens each summer.

The place where I built the Shouse sits up on a hill, the place where the raised beds will eventually be built and planted is down low on the property about 300 feet away on the adjacent 2 acres. Theoretically it is simple, as gravity will do all the work to transport the water to the beds. Realistically the challenges will be how to best evenly distribute the water to all the beds, how to keep food particles from clogging the weep holes, and keeping chemicals that are harmful from the system. Despite the logistics of the entire operation, I am confident that grey water is the only ecologically sound and practical solution to recycling the waste water and keeping the garden well hydrated in the dead of summer.

I never thought I would be so excited over a simple drain!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Frankenstein Heritage Green Ball Jar

Credit to #MasonJarMomma
I found this on Pinterest. I fell in love with it and its simplicity. Using the same green Ball Heritage jars that I used in last weeks Mason Jar Monday, you can easily create a Frankenstein Mason jar Halloween decoration. 

You will need: 

  • 1 Green Ball Heritage Jar
  • 2 Large Google Eyes
  • Glue Gun
  • Black Permanent Marker
  • Black Spray Paint

Here's how you make it: 

  1. Spray paint the lid and ring with the black spray paint. Allow overnight to dry.
  2. Using the glue gun, glue the google eyes on the jar. 
  3. Using the permanent marker, draw on scrars and smile. 
  4. Fill if you so desire.
  5. Screw on lid and band. 

That's it! How fun and easy. I love this idea. I also know that when the season is over I can pop off the google eyes, wash the jar, and it is good to go for my next project. 

Happy Crafting! 

Game of Thrones: The Luggable Loo vs Incinolet - Making Do When You Have to Make Doodoo.

It is the Loo, the Throne, the Oval Office, the Turlit, etc. You know what I am talking about. The potty is an important part of the everyday for all people. So I cannot, in good faith, talk about Rancho No Dinero without bringing up the scoop on the poop. Ok, on to the point of this post.

This means there since there is no running water, I obviously do not have a flushing toilet.  I cannot spend my life running to a gas station (since there is none close by) or digging a hole to go to the restroom. I was forced to find an alternative solution.

Originally I had planned to order a beautiful hand-made oak sawdust toilet that a gentleman custom builds, but he is ill or on vacation or whatever right now and I cannot wait for him. I had to research a few other options until I found a good one. I ordered a Luggable Loo. Those of you who camp may be familiar with this item, but if you are not let me explain what it is and how it works.

The Luggable Loo is basically a 5 gallon bucket with a toilet seat on it. You line the bucket with a plastic bag and then simply tie it shut and throw it away. Another option, other than just throwing it away is to use it as a sawdust toilet and then compost the waste. If you plan to compost the waste, you must take the time to read the Humanure Handbook so that you can safely compost human waste. I have seen many versions of this made by DIYers, but I chose to order this one because the seat/lid unit snaps onto the bucket. I would sure hate to knock this over by accident, lol.

Using this set-up is not as gross as you city-slickers may think. It would be far grosser to dig a hole and have an animal dig it up and drag your waste and toilet paper across the yard. Besides, I don't want to poop outside on my own property. The company who makes this has several pop-up tents that are designed to work as temporary outhouses, but I simply placed it where my future bathroom is inside. After I install my household toilet and it is running, I plan to put this down in my storm shelter for emergencies. If you want to have one for emergencies, but don't have a tornado shelter, you can do like many and make a cover for it. It is just the right height for a good foot rest! The Luggable Loo is around $25 and was worth every penny.

My final toilet purchase for the homestead will be an Incinolet. An Incinolet does not run of water either, but actually incinerates your waste. Burning the poop away to an easy to clean up ash which is cleaned out every few weeks. I like the Incinolet best of all the options primarily because it is made of stainless steel and not plastic. I feel that over time it will hold up better and be the most hygienic of all the options.

Using the Incinolet is simple and low hassle. After installation, you simply place a liner in the bowl, do your thing, then press the "flush."  The basin opens up allowing the liner to drop down into the toilet and then it catches fire and burns. Liners run approximately .12 cents a use. The only draw back is that the unit runs on electricity. If the power is out or you are off the grid with no electricity and no solar, then this unit is not going to function as designed. In that case a composting toilet may be a better option for you.

We can not go through the building of a home without discussing the delicate topic of poop. However, I have discovered that there are many options for dealing with the topic of waste and its "management." Composting, sawdust, and incinerating toilets are the most common and the most user friendly options I have found.

For those of you who may be interested in how the Incinolet functions, here is a highly entertaining video that demonstrates its use:

So there you have it, the poop on poop!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fall Leaf Flower Power

I found this awesome tutorial to make Fall Leaf Roses and wanted to share it here. These awesome flowers combine my love of fall leaves and all their magnificent colors, with my love for a floral centerpiece on my table. Imagine the possibilities with these clever flowers. I plan to try making some from artificial silk fall leaves from the craft store so that I can use them for years to come, but I know I will make some from all the beautiful ones here on my property, I adore fall!

Did you try making one? Share your thoughts or Fall Leaf Roses below!

Photo Credit: I was given this photo by a "share" on Facebook. Credit needs to go to Nicole Duke for this photo array, however I  attempted to find Nicole via Google, without success. I have no idea how locate her to let her know I am using her photo. If you know Nicole Duke and/or how I can find her, please let me know. I would love to tell her "Thank you!"

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Rodent and Insect Proof Food Storage

Eww, mice have been here!
I have been unpacking all the boxes from my move here now that the Shouse kitchen is usable. When I packed my kitchen in Phoenix, I was sure to bring all my canned foods and other pantry staples. I didn't plan to have them in storage as long as they have been, nor to be so inaccessible, but it is what it is and I am just now getting to unpacking and putting them away. I discovered this box to the left hidden deep within the pile of boxes.Yes, folks, that is rodent damage. I had mice in the storage area and they had a good time eating some of my baking supplies and boxed goods. Thankfully they only invaded this one box. Know why? Because all of the other supplies were in rodent and insect proof packaging. So today I will be focusing on how to keep rodents and insects out of the food in your tiny house and, as a bonus, out of your building all together.

Mice are disgusting and dirty
Practical storage in a small space can often be difficult. Limited shelf space seems to always be an issue no matter how large the house, but in a Shouse it can be an even bigger challenge. There are many options from the cheapest (zipper top plastic bags) to the expensive (Lock-N-Lock, Tupperware, etc.). I think I have tried just about every type of storage there is available. Some worked great, some fed the mice. Let's talk about what will work for storage that can keep your food fresh and the pests away.

Be Prepared for a Power Outage

Powerful Thunder Storm 
Last night I saw a flicker off in the distance. Lightening. Rain was not in the forecast last time I checked, but in Oklahoma weather changes from hour to hour. Off in the distance was a storm. An hour later my weather monitor went off alerting that I was directly in the path of the storm and that it was packing some high winds and hail. I was in for a rough storm and possibly a power outage, but I was not worried. It is not uncommon to lose power out in the sticks. In fact, it is not uncommon in the city to lose power during a good thunder-boomer. Rolling blackouts and brownouts are common in larger cities during heat waves. Sometimes power outages happen for no apparent reason. 

An Oklahoma storm
off in the distance
I was not worried about losing power at all simply because I am prepared. In fact, losing power this time of year is a cake walk compared to losing power in the dead of winter or during a heat wave. However, with winter rapidly approaching I thought I would take this opportunity to review how I prepared for a potential power outage, no matter the time of year. Perhaps you can take some ideas from my preparations.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mason Jar Monday: Heritage Lantern Jars for Halloween, Fall, and Thanksgiving

Ball Heritage Green Jars for 2014
Ball has released new jars this year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the "Perfection" mason jar. Last year they released blue jars, however this year they released green. The green jars hearken back to popular colors of the 1930's. I love these limited edition jars and have been finding clever ways to integrate them into my decor.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Racho Recipe: Black Eyed Pea Salad

Black Eyed Pea Salad
I had this wonderful Black Eye Pea Salad at a potluck recently at my job. I instantly fell in love with it and had to ask for the recipe. Who knew it could be so easy to make? I could not resist sharing the recipe with you here. This salad is nutritious and easy to make. Filling and inexpensive, this makes a fantastic side dish and I like to take the left-overs (if there is any) for lunch the next day. This salad would make a great dish for Meatless Mondays.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

5 Great Podcasts for Homesteaders

I have an insatiable need to read and to learn. However, life is crazy and I find I have very limited time, which means reading is often a treat. Luckily I have discovered the joy of podcasts and vlogs (video blogs). Each day during my 50 minute commute to and from work I listen to podcasts via bluetooth earbuds and my Ipad. Eventually I hope to put in a new stereo that has an auxiliary or bluetooth capability, but for now my system seems to be working. I have an eclectic mix of podcasts I subscribe to, so I never get bored with content.

Being a homesteader, I, of course, listen to as many podcasts as I can on the topic. I have discovered many great and informative podcasts as well as some that are just entertaining. I thought today I would share my top five favorites that pertain to homesteading. These are listed in no particular order. I hope you find them as interesting, educational, and informative. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

15 Best Solo Activities for a Rainy or Snowy Day

It's all the chatter on Facebook. Rumor has it that this year is going to be a very cold and snowy winter. Last year the east coast got slammed with some really foul weather. Everyone was complaining about having to stay home. I can't even imagine. I was stuck in Arizona where we had two seasons, hot or hotter. I love weather! In fact, one of the factors that helped me make the final decision to move to Oklahoma is the change of seasons and of weather. With fall approaching I have been thinking and dreaming about dreary and cold days. What will I do during those fantastic periods of time? Here are 15 ideas I have come up with for how I will spend those days when the rain or snow limits my ability to leave the house: 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How to Live Without Running Water

I have been living in the sticks now without running water for 4 months.
Until recently, my coworkers had no idea that I don't have running water. Building a house is dirty and sweaty work, no doubt, so how do I maintain my personal hygiene and day-to-day without running water? Read on to learn how.