Saturday, April 19, 2014

How To Start Homesteading


Modern homesteads come in all different shapes and sizes from 100 acres off the grid to an abandoned city lot, from pastured pigs and a dairy cow to planter boxes on a fire escape.  The main thing that ties all these homesteaders together is the desire to do things for themselves and to live a more natural life. 

For us, our desire to homestead sprang from an interest in living a healthy life and a need to cut costs and save money.  We found that starting small and doing a lot of research was the easiest way to get going and even now that we are a few years in we are still adding new projects and researching new topics. 


Each week I link my blog posts up with the Homestead Barn Hop.  This is a weekly list of homestead themed posts.  It's a great place to look for new ideas, get some advice, and meet some pretty awesome homesteaders.  I've learned so much from reading blogs, it's a great way to see how real people are giving homesteading a try. 


We started with some simple goals and from there made a list of potential projects.  We started by canning "pick your own" apples and slowly added tomato sauce, salsa, a variety of jams, and pickles.  Our garden started out as a few pots of herbs and continues to grow each year.  I found that once I got the hang of one thing it was time to take it a step farther. 




Of course, you could always buy a few acres off the grid and just jump right in...

If you have any questions about homesteading ask away in the comments! I'd love to help you get started on this crazy and rewarding adventure. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Garden Planning Part 2

In my last post, I started to fill you in on our plans for this years garden (you can check that out HERE).  Well, one post just wasn't enough to cover all the awesomeness that we have in store.  The long winter gave us plenty of time to plan and dream and so we did....and maybe got a little carried away in the process.

Last year we grew tomatoes, pickling cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, and basil.  Those are all coming back again and this year we are adding corn, peas, dill, and cilantro.  We had lots of space so I decided to fill it! Corn and peas are some of Tilly's favorite veggies so I knew I had to add them.  I had grown the dill and cilantro before but last year I didn't bother and missed having fresh herbs.  I have 3 big pots that I'll use for the herbs that way I can bring them in the house come fall and keep picking from them.

I never used to bother with flowers.  I always said that I wanted to grow things that were useful and flowers were just for looks.  Well, I've changed my mind.  We were given some zinnia starts last year and planted them in front of the house.  Turns out they looked great and I fell in love.  This year I am planning a mix of zinnias and dwarf sunflowers for the front of the house.  Both are "cut and grow" varieties which means I can cut some for bouquets to sell at the top of the driveway along with eggs and the plants will keep producing.


We are planning some improvements to the garden area as well.  A fence is going up to keep those pesky critters at bay and the chickens are getting a covered run to keep them safe from hawks.  We've lost 3 since we started our flock and while I love letting them roam all over I love them alive and safe a bit more.  They'll still have plenty of space to peck around and I'll make sure they get all the weeds from the garden to munch on.

Are you planting a garden this year?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Meal Plan 4.14.14

It's technically April vacation but since boarding schools never really close, we have to work all week.  So, really it's not a vacation at all.  I'll try and link up recipes when I have them and you can check out my Pinterest boards for more ideas and inspiration.



Breakfasts: We have a variety of breakfast items kicking around the house and pick and choose as we go.  This week we have yogurt, cereal, and biscuits.

Lunches: I typically pack our lunches the night before.  Most of the time it is leftovers from dinners but some of our other favorites include, english muffin pizzas, quesadillas, crackers and hummus, and sandwiches. For toddler lunch ideas, check this out.

Dinners: I plan these out one for each night.  Typically we'll have a "breakfast for dinner" night once a week and at least one "meatless meal".  I try to stick to traditional real food (no food dyes, artificial coloring, flavoring, or sweeteners)  I also try to make as much from scratch as possible, it is cheaper that way and I can control the type and source of my ingredients.

Note: Tilly eats the same things we do because 1. I don't want to make extra work for myself and 2. I want her to be exposed to lots of different flavors and textures.  I just make sure things are cut into pieces she can handle.

Week of 4/14/14

Monday: French toast and bacon

Tuesday: Chicken in a crock pot with garlic mashed potatoes

Wednesday: Homemade Pizza

Thursday: Leftovers 

Friday: Bonfire with friends

Saturday: Chicken and noodles

Sunday: Easter dinner with family

What are you serving up this week?

Linking up with: Homemade MondayModest MomHomestead Barn Hop

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Garden Planning Part 1

Maybe it was the never ending winter, maybe was the fact that we were out of the veggies I put up by December but either way this years garden has grown considerably from last years.  I'm dreaming big folks, cause thats what I do...so big in fact that I had to break this up over two posts, stay tuned for part two later on in the week.



The garlic I planted this fall isn't looking so hot.  I'm not giving up on it just yet but I'm also not holding my breath for it.  I'm pretty sure the 2 feet of snow it got buried under for months didn't help very much, not to mention the flood that the 2 feet of melting snow caused.  I wish I could figure out the secret to garlic growing because thats one thing I'd love to be stocked up on when winter rolls around.  

Up until now, we've kept our garden to 2 raised beds and a couple of large pots but not anymore.  We're putting in a few rows along side the beds.  These rows are going to more than double the space we usually have and I plan on filling every inch.


My biggest experiment this summer is potatoes.  I'm trying the "trash can" potato method and I'm really excited about it.  I've done a lot of research and it sounds like an easy and inexpensive way to grow potatoes.  Expect a blog post about it later on once I see how it goes.

My other big experiment is fruit.  I've been wanting to orchard it up for awhile now (and yes, I know that isn't a real phrase) so this year we are turning one of the raised beds into a strawberry patch.  Well, hopefully but those little guys are not starting as easily as I expected and are still very very tiny.  Hopefully now that we are getting more sun, they'll grow a bit.  The other fruit that we are adding is blackberries.  Our local conservation district sponsors a tree and shrub sale every year and this year they are selling blackberries.  They are a hardy, thornless, variety called Chester and come with good recommendations.  These will definitely be the most permanent addition we've made and I'm looking forward to blackberries year after year...as long as we can keep the chickens away from them. 

Are you planting a garden this year?  What are your plans? 

Linking up with: Homemade MondaysModest MomHomestead Barn Hop

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Meal Plan 4.7.14

  Sorry, I failed last week and didn't get a menu posted.  Don't worry though, you didn't miss anything too exciting.  This week however...hold onto your hats! I'll try and link up recipes when I have them and you can check out my Pinterest boards for more ideas and inspiration.



Breakfasts: We have a variety of breakfast items kicking around the house and pick and choose as we go.  This week we have yogurt, cereal, and cinnamon raisin bread.

Lunches: I typically pack our lunches the night before.  Most of the time it is leftovers from dinners but some of our other favorites include, english muffin pizzas, quesadillas, crackers and hummus, and sandwiches. For toddler lunch ideas, check this out.

Dinners: I plan these out one for each night.  Typically we'll have a "breakfast for dinner" night once a week and at least one "meatless meal".  I try to stick to traditional real food (no food dyes, artificial coloring, flavoring, or sweeteners)  I also try to make as much from scratch as possible, it is cheaper that way and I can control the type and source of my ingredients.

Note: Tilly eats the same things we do because 1. I don't want to make extra work for myself and 2. I want her to be exposed to lots of different flavors and textures.  I just make sure things are cut into pieces she can handle.

Week of 4/7/14

Monday: Ian is at band so Tilly and I are going to get all crazy and eat oatmeal 

Tuesday: Pancakes and bacon

Wednesday: Tacos and all the fixings with homemade tortillas

Thursday: Quesadillas with the leftover taco stuff

Friday: Fish and chips with friends

Saturday: Tomato and tortellini soup with garlic bread

Sunday: Ham and egg casserole 

What are you serving up this week?
Linking Up With: Modest MondayHomemade Mondays


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Immune Boosting Gummy Squares


Seeing as we're stuck in the winter that won't end, I figured I'd share a little trick I have to getting some immune system support into Matilda (and us big kids too).   These immune boosting gummies are super easy to make, it seriously took me 5 minutes and it packs a punch. *Please excuse the pictures.  We polished off the last batch before I was able to take pretty blog pictures.  So, you'll have to look at the couple I managed to snap with my phone.  Or you could make a batch for yourself and take all the pictures you like :).  

Ingredients:
2 cups of your favorite flavor of juice, I chose grape (100% juice, preferably organic)
3 tablespoons of elderberry extract
1-2 tablespoons raw honey
2 dropperfuls (yes, that's a measurement) of echinacea extract
2 packages or 4 tablespoons of plain gelatin


Directions:
1. Heat 1 cup of the juice and the honey up on the stove until just starting to boil.
2. Remove from heat and add the gelatin (stir to mix)
3. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix.
4. Pour into a small shallow pan or ice cube trays and refrigerate until set.
5. Enjoy!

Linking up with: Homestead Barn HopHomemade MondaysModest Monday

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Meal Plan 3/24/14

Well, I tried some new things last week.  Some successes and some not so much but none the less I branched out.  Now, to branch out again this week.  I'll try and link up recipes when I have them and you can check out my Pinterest boards for more ideas and inspiration.



Breakfasts: We have a variety of breakfast items kicking around the house and pick and choose as we go.  This week we have yogurt, cereal, and corn muffins.

Lunches: I typically pack our lunches the night before.  Most of the time it is leftovers from dinners but some of our other favorites include, english muffin pizzas, quesadillas, crackers and hummus, and sandwiches. For toddler lunch ideas, check this out.

Dinners: I plan these out one for each night.  Typically we'll have a "breakfast for dinner" night once a week and at least one "meatless meal".  I try to stick to traditional real food (no food dyes, artificial coloring, flavoring, or sweeteners)  I also try to make as much from scratch as possible, it is cheaper that way and I can control the type and source of my ingredients.

Note: Tilly eats the same things we do because 1. I don't want to make extra work for myself and 2. I want her to be exposed to lots of different flavors and textures.  I just make sure things are cut into pieces she can handle.

Week of 3/24/14

Monday: Ian is at band so Tilly and I are going to get all crazy and eat oatmeal 

Tuesday: Steak and garlic mashed potatoes *We buy a "freezer box" of grass fed beef from a local farm.  We get a variety of different cuts and it lasts us roughly 9 months. 

Wednesday: Ham, egg and cheese sandwiches 

Thursday: Homemade fish sticks and veggies (this was on the menu for last week but it didn't happen)

Friday: Chowder and clam cake fundraiser at the fire station, yummy dinner and a good cause? sign me up. 

Saturday: Pizza and salad 

What are you serving up this week?

Linking up with: Homestead barn hopHomemade MondayModest Monday