Irons in the Pot

I have had a lot of irons in the pot lately.

First of all, my garden won’t let go of me!  It is still producing vegetables, despite the date on the calendar!  It is true that I live (for now) in the Sacramento Valley of California and our weather is pretty mild in the winter, but jeeze louise – it’s time for the summer vegetables to stop growing, don’t you think?

Tomatoes blooming in November

Heaven’s to Betsy – it’s November 7th already – STOP BLOOMING !

And I still have hoards of tomatoes ripening on the vine.

Tomatoes on the vine in November

Ppffftt, and I was worried all of my tomatoes wouldn’t ripen before winter.

This zucchini got a late start (I had to replant because of the squash mosaic virus – see HERE) and I wasn’t sure it would produce anything, but here is it’s fourth zucchini growing, and it’s November for Pete’s sake!

Zucchini blooming in November

Can you believe the zucchini is still blooming? In November!!!????

I have also stopped picking my McCaslin green beans (I have enough frozen green beans in the freezer for a year) and so the ones still on the vine are being allowed to mature and dry.  They will be used in soups this winter.  I already have a quart of dried beans with much more to come!  Those plants are amazing.

Green beans to dried beans

McCaslin Heriloom green beans drying on the vine. What a wonderful and prolific variety this turned out to be!

On top of all the gardening, I have been experimenting in the kitchen.  My biggest project has been working with acorns, and you can see the latest post about some of my experiments HERE.  It takes 10 days to leach my acorns to get all the tannin out and a few more days after that to produce acorn flour.  My next culinary adventure with the acorns will be making shortbread cookies!  I’ll let you know how it turns out……. or doesn’t!  🙂

Leaching tannin from acorns

My refrigerator filled with acorn pieces and acorn meal slowly leaching the tannin out. My acorns are pretty bitter and full of tannin, so this is a 10 day process for me. Oh, the big jar on the left – that’s minced garlic.  I sure wouldn’t want to mix the two!

And then I read that you can make your own extract from lots of things.  My first foray into the “extraction” world was with stevia extract/syrup, which turned out great.  You can see that article HERE.  Now I am trying a lemon extract, using a tutorial from “The 2 Seasons“, and will follow that with orange extract, almond extract and vanilla extract.  I just need more vodka!     🙂

DIY Lemon Extract

Making lemon extract with lemon peel and vodka. The recipe suggested a little bit of sugar. I think I will wait and add my homemade stevia syrup to taste!

Between doing all of this, I am also working on some K-Cup Advent Calendars for my grandchildren.  You can find the tutorial to make one HERE.  My dining room table hasn’t seen the light of day for a few weeks because I can’t find more than a few minutes here and there to work on these!

DIY advent calendar

Oh my. Such a mess, but so much fun!    🙂

Up on our future homestead we have been working some summer and fall weekends on building an outhouse.  It’s finally at the stage where we can use it, but it certainly isn’t done.  We still need a front step, trim on all the outside corners, a rain gutter so we can collect water into a storage tank for summer irrigation, and then finish off the inside with a sink, mirror, and some tile work to make it easy to clean (easier than just plywood!)

Building an outhouse

A fully functional outhouse! Wahoo! We still have a long way to go with all the finishing details, but at least now it is useable and safe!

Speaking of bathrooms, probably the biggest iron in the pot, these days, has been the remodeling of our master bath.  In the end, it will be a complete gut job.  We are going from two rooms to one and replacing everything!  Originally there was a divider wall with a pocket door between the shower/toilet room and the sink room, which just made them both seem so small.  We are putting in new cabinets, new shower, new sinks, new tile counters, new lights and a new tile floor!

Bathroom remodel

In my mind this is going to be a beautiful bathroom…..some day soon I hope!

So, you can see, I have had a lot of irons in the pot.  But, truth be told, I wouldn’t have it any other way!


This is where I am partying:  Thank Goodness It’s Monday; Homestead Barn Hop; Pin It Monday; Simply Natural Saturdays; Strut Your Stuff Saturday; Saturday Sparks; Saturday Show & TellThe Backyard Farming Connection HopNifty Thrifty TuesdayThe Gathering SpotGarden TuesdayTuesday GreensBrag About It;  Love Bakes Good CakesTuesdays with a Twist;The ScoopTuesdays TreasuresTweak It Tuesday;  Make, Bake and Create;  Healthy2Day WednesdaysDown Home Blog HopCottage Style PartyWildcrafting WednesdayWhat I Learned WednesdayWicked Awesome WednesdayLinky & DrinkyWhatever goes Wednesday;Show and Share WednesdayWined Down Wednesday;  The HomeAcre HopShare Your Cup Thursday;  Home and Garden ThursdayFabulously Frugal Thusday;Thriving ThursdaysSimple Lives ThursdayCatch A Glimpse PartyBlog Stalking ThursdayThe Blog StrutCreate it ThursdayFrugal Days Sustainable WaysFreedom FridaysFriendship FridayFrom The Farm Blog HopTGIF Link PartyLittle House Friday DIY Linky;  Small Footprint FridaysPinworthy Projects PartyFarmgirl Friday;  Friday Flash Blog PartyWeekend re-Treat; Family Fun FridayFriday’s Five FeaturesReal Food Fridays


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23 thoughts on “Irons in the Pot

  1. Hi Vicki,
    I’ve been following you for a few weeks and am just amazed at the parallels are lives are taking. My husband and I live in the Sac Valley and just bought a home on 5 acres in a gorgeous Sierra Valley. We are pretty excited and have been frantically working on getting it cleaned up and ready for winter. We alternate between calling the place “The Ranch” and “The Projects”. We plan to retire there, but don’t have any plans beyond that. I don’t know that we will ever be sustainable to the extent that you folks are, but definitely want to explore the possibilities. I have been following your acorn exploits with delight and interest! So far all that I have managed to do with the “millions” that are falling from our trees is polish them up and use them as a centerpiece!

    • Well, Lorraine, it sounds like we just might have to get together sometime! BTW, I have an acorn centerpiece also! The ones with the little black dots on them have worms inside, so I don’t bother trying to get out the nut meats. But they make great decorations! I was told, however, that they should be put in the oven at 200 degrees for an hour, just to make sure Mr. Wormy inside doesn’t get out and infect other trees! It’s funny, we didn’t set out to be so self-sufficient and/or sustainable. But, the higher our power bill, our water bill and our grocery bill goes, we have decided to eliminate most of that cost and spend our money instead on travelling during our retirement! Would you like me to e-mail you so you can have my e-mail, and we can converse further from there?

      • Yes, please email. It would be great to talk more. Thanks for the tip about the oak worms. I will go heat up my centerpiece this weekend:). Lorraine

    • Snow! I love snow! Just not too much of it at once! Working on the shortbread cookies today! Thanks for visiting my blog, Christine, and for your thoughts!

  2. First time here and I am truly amazed at all the sustainable projects you have going. I am pinning for future reference. My dogs eat all the acorns in our yard. Yes, I know the tannins are bad for them, but how can you stop them?

    • Hello Donna! Welcome! I’m not so sure the acorns are really bad for dogs – lots of animals eat them, including pigs, turkeys and goats – without harm! Thank you for pinning!

  3. Love your blog! I never knew you could do anything (cooking-wise) with acorns, I can’t wait to hear how that turns out! Thanks for sharing!


    • Well, I figured if pigs can eat them, so could I! 🙂 I will let you know how this all turns out. I have some acorn meal drying right now, ready to make flour. This batch took a bit longer to leach out the tannins, but my next step is to make the shortbread cookies! Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Hi there! You are certainly a busy girl. I can’t wait to read the posts you linked, especially the one on stevia. Thanks for a great post.
    Vickie, you read my mind! I’m planning to mix my next batch of dandelion coffee half and half with real coffee to see how that works.
    Toni@Foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains

    • Wow, I can’t wait to try the dandelion coffee! I’ve heard that you can also make “coffee” out of roasted acorns! Of course, none of these have caffeine in them, but instead have lots of nutrients and warm the soul when it’s cold outside! Here’s to rediscovering wonderful things that have already been known in the past!

    • Oh yes! I have seen a lot of crafty items made with wine corks! In fact, I have been saving some wine corks and I think I am going to make a trivet. Simple – get a picture frame (the deeper the better) and glue gun the corks into the frame, standing on end. Make sure you get the prettiest ones on the outside where they will show. I have also seen them glued in laying down. Either way would look great! I also saw one woman who was making her own wine bottle stoppers with dollar store christmas trinkets glued on the top of a cork! So many things to do – not enough time to do it all! Thanks for stopping by Jeanie!

    • Hahaha – the difference is that my kids are all grown up and I don’t have to do the homework thing anymore! Waa Hoo! Seriously, when my kids were little I enjoyed grocery shopping because I got to get out of the house and away from the kids! Seriously! I think parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world and boy am I glad I am retired! Of course, I still work part-time as a consultant with my grandkids. 🙂

  5. Oh, am I ever jealous! I had to buy store bought tomatoes. UGH! They don’t hold a candle to those garden beauties. We woke up to snow on Saturday. No garden here for over a month now. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

    • I know it’s really great to have fresh tomatoes from my garden in the middle of November, but holy cow, I think this global climate change thing is getting out of hand! I think I would rather go back to having rain and frost in November than fresh tomatoes, peppers and zucchini from my garden. Let’s hope, for the earth’s sake, this is all just a strange weather cycle.

  6. We’re a little bit South of you in San Luis Obispo county and we’re just finishing up with the tomatoes. What’s amazing to me is that the eggplant (which just plain refused to do anything in the summer) has been producing fruit in October and November! There’s one that will be harvested today or tomorrow and 4 more still coming! That’s just crazy!!

    • Strange weather we’ve been having! Eggplant in November? That’s downright scary, isn’t it? But, on the happy side, fresh produce in November from the backyard is wonderful! Thanks for stopping by, Susan!

  7. Your vegetables will be marvelous throughout the winter season – wonderful repurposing of the k-cups! I do appreciate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday,

    • Yes, I actually got another zucchini and a few tomatoes today, but I think that may be the last of it! It’s raining and supposed to get pretty cold this next week! Oh well, it was good while it lasted!

  8. Hi! Just finished reading all your entries on building your outhouse. I like the way it looks! Don’t forget to put in a magazine rack.
    Some comments:
    1. You had your rebar poking up about 7 inches after pounding it into the ground and cementing it in, as you describe in “Outhouse Update!”. Although you say that it’s to “tie into the next course”, in none of the pictures do I see that you actually cemented the rebar in the second course of bricks, which would have tied the two courses together. Did you remember to do that before putting on the sill plate? (Not a big issue with a structure this size; possibly catastrophic in a house.) Also, if you wanted to provide a little more insulation, in the brick holes that aren’t cemented in, you can fill them with sand or compacted earth.

    2. Where do you get your drinking water? I’m asking because you didn’t line your outhouse pit, meaning there is the danger of groundwater contamination. If any county health officials show up your hard work may go for naught (except the building experience) and you may be subjected to serious fines.

    It sounds like your soil is firm enough that you don’t have to worry about the sides of the pit collapsing in. To minimize the possibility of groundwater contamination, you can put 3-4 inches of grass clippings mixed with wood ash in the bottom of the pit. This will absorb and hold the material long enough for the organisms to digest it and form a “sponge” at the bottom of the pit. DO NOT USE SHREDDED NEWSPAPER! Newsprint is treated to minimize it’s ability to soak up liquids.

    If you haven’t gone too far with the finishing, it’s still possible to line the pit, but you’ll have to disassemble the bench so you can get at it.

    • Yup, you are right about the rebar! I went back and checked my pictures and we forgot to show one where we poured cement into the holes with the rebar in them. This was done just before the sill plate and walls were permanently fitted. We actually poured cement into all of the holes. We felt this was necessary to prevent water from seeping in, to insulate, and also for stability.
      As for drinking water and septic systems – I did a lot of research before we built the outhouse. Apparently, especially with our clay soil, the penetration of the leachate into the soil would never be more than 6 feet around or under the outhouse. In fact, that is why septic systems with leach fields are acceptable as waste removal systems – by the time the liquid waste has traveled through soil to the water table, it has been cleansed by the process itself. As long as the water table is not very high, which ours isn’t, there should be no problem with contamination of groundwater. We are using wood ash and a little bit of wood mulch in the pit for odor control. In fact, we already have a rule: One scoop for one poop! And the outhouse is for sitting only – the guys can water the compost pile outside!
      Thank you for your thoughts, Muzhik!