I did finally get a car. I found an 18-year-old with very low mileage that I could pay cash for, and bought it. I do still use my bike quite frequently, and have found that I do miss my rides. I recently bought a small pair of saddlebags for it. Turns it out they are designed to go over the front tire, not the back, so there is more cargo room available than I had thought. Eventually, perhaps I can get a week’s work of groceries with it.

We’re getting in this year’s garden. More tomatoes – Sungolds, Old Brooks, Celebrity, and German Striped. Flowers join the mix this year – nasturtiums, borage, marigolds, bachelor’s buttons and love-in-a-mist. Another name for bachelor’s buttons is cornflower, but bachelor’s buttons is more romantic to me so I use that name for them. Some of  these are can be used as cut flowers, and several are edible.

Mitzuna and lettuce are ready to harvest, bok choy will be soon. There is also broccoli, turnips, cabbage, onions, and a ‘mystery green’ in the ground. It would have helped if I could remember what I planted in the one row where we can see seedlings, right?


No, Really… No car.

My last car blew its engine back in June. We did some research, and when we got done laughing at the prices, we decided to live without a car until we could afford one. Afford, according to my version – I pay the payment, I sign the loan, and I refuse to pay more than $300 a month on a car. The prices we saw were around $5000 for a car with 130,000 miles or so. I read that as “pay $5k for 20k mileage.” You know, until now, I’ve paid about $1k for those cars. They’re still not worth $5k to me.

Once we decided to wait on a car purchase, we tried to shoot holes in our logic. Here are the results:

–       Groceries/shopping: One grocery store is 1 mile away, the other one is 3 miles away. The health food store is one bus ride away, as is the mall, and both are still distances we’ll walk if needed. We keep bus fare on hand, and purchased a sturdy grocery cart. So far, so good. We just need stronger wheels on the cart.

–       Commute: He walks to work anyway, by his preference. I now ride my bike, and would keep doing it even if given a car.

–       Weekends: I like to stay home, except for required shopping. So far we’re looking at about 6 days a month I’d use a car. Not needuse.

–       Doctor Appointments:  All but one doctor are within 3 miles of home – not quite planned, but very helpful. For the one, I can rent a car for a day and also do errands that are less convenient via bus or foot.

–       School events: We use a taxi. About $20 round trip, including tip.

Actual cost of car: Payment + insurance + taxes + gas + tags.

Therefore: $300 + $75 + $60 + $80 + $5 = $520.

Cost of bike: $100 bike + $300 upgrades (saddlebags, better saddle, safety items).

I’m ahead $120 the first month, and $520 a month after that. We’re using the money to pay off the rest of our debts, and then save up for the car.

This must be difficult for some to accept.  I have a few people that are convinced I will “need a car” and can’t be convinced otherwise. Um, no. I like my bike, and I don’t melt in the rain.

A Breath of Winter

It’s cooling off here. We didn’t get the snow & cold that the Northeast did over the weekend – just one day of rain and brisk winds. Still enough, though, for me to go ahead and put up the shrinkwrap on the windows. I have plastic sheeting for the huge window to the balcony – we can’t block it since we need access to the storage and plants out there, so the sheeting works to insulate it while retaining access. It’s affordable, too; only about $15 and the sheeting can be reused for several years. I think the last one lasted 5 years or more, and could have been used for tarp after that.

Just those things – shrinkwrap & sheeting – are enough to hold in heat. The heat isn’t on, and it’s 65 in the house. Today’s high was 59, and we face east, so it’s not solar heat gain! We’re trying to wait until at least Thanksgiving to turn the heat on. We’ll see how it goes!

Independance Day – 30 Oct. 2011

Independence Days, one day at a time – greater awareness of life and how we live it.

1. Gardening: Nothing, just keeping things watered. Still. Last check, no new sweet potatoes.The decorative flowers are still happy, though.

2. Waste not (preparations): Donations to thrift; not much else.

3. Want not (manage your stores): Usual maintenance.

4. Build community: Sold local chickens to co-workers for a farmer-friend..

5. Eat the food: Lo mein with local chicken, a new 4-bean soup recipe; starting to bake cookies every week or so instead of buying them. Cheaper & healthier.

6. Crafting: Not much here, really; working on kitten toys for my niece.

Welcome again!

I’m starting this blog because I have not seen much, if any, information about homesteading in an apartment – there are a lot of great sites out there, but everyone seems to have yards or livestock. I have a shady balcony – great for catching breezes, not so much for catching sun with tomato plants.

I do a lot of crafting as well as cooking from scratch and using natural cleaners. My guidelines are “what would I do without electric?” or “what would I do if I couldn’t drive to X?” It does lead to creativity!

This blog was previously at minihomestead.blogspot.com, but is now in the process of being moved to WordPress.

Thanks for stopping by!

Independance Day Challenge, 2 Oct. 2011

The past week or two I’ve been focusing on getting the house neatened up – back to where ‘clean’ is easy to maintain & piles don’t breed when I blink. Yule is coming, school has started, and the days are getting shorter. Everyone is enjoying the fall & winter recipes I’ve started making again. Next up, getting warmer clothes out. All I have right now is shorts!

1. Gardening: Nothing, just keeping things watered.

2. Waste not (preparations): nothing.

3. Want not (manage your stores): Refreshing my stash in Ravelry, so that I can use it as a reminder of what I have & where. Applying a bit more logic to storage locations as I go, and frogging projects I know I’ll never finish.

4. Build community: Met a new neighbor.

5. Eat the food: I’m actually planning meals lately – always a challenge for me. I found a recipe for the ground elk so one day soon we’ll have elk meatball sandwiches. Part of the focus has been to eat out the fridge/freezer – both are extremely full. I want to make pumpkin pie, and can’t, because there’s no room in the fridge for it! Three people can’t eat the entire pie in one sitting, after all.

6. Crafting: Did a few stash-busting projects, and will restart another hibernating project here shortly.

Independance Day Challenge, 18 Sept. 2011

It’s been a quiet weekend, rainy and pleasant. I’ve caught up on some of my reading as I wait for new books to come in. Fall is sneaking in slowly, and I’m starting to pull out clothes and linens for the cooler weather. Mostly because I want to; 60-70’f isn’t really cold except that it’s cooling off from 90’f and it’s damp. And I really want it to be closer to 50’f. Yes, my favorite seasons are fall and winter.

1. Gardening: Checked the sweet potatoes on the balcony. The ones I’ve kind of ignored all year. All the originals are still edible, and I pulled a fingerling-sized new one. The rest are still in the pots to give them more time to grow. Still – SUCCESS! I can grow sweet potatoes on our shady balcony! With more attention, I should get a reasonable harvest next year.

2. Waste not (preparations): nada

3. Want not (manage your stores): zip

4. Build community: zilch

5. Eat the food: Shepherd’s pie, apple pie, spaghetti. Nice warm favorite foods. Yum.

6. Crafting: Making Sweetie a basic-but-warm wool hat. He needs it in the rain/drizzle we’ve had the last couple of days.