Overwintered Carrots

This week, Chad and I received a gift from ourselves from the past – almost 20 lbs of carrots! We had a large carrot crop last summer and decided to keep many of them in the ground for winter – a way to take advantage of the outdoors as an additional source of refrigeration. I…

How to Get By Without Toilet Paper

I thought I would try to cover a few subjects of current interest to myself, and perhaps you, during this global health crisis we’re living through. Don’t moments like this put things into perspective? I mean, I’m talking about priorities! Priorities like… Toilet paper. Yep, you’re not the only one, here on the healthy, happy,…

No Clue about Paleo? Here’s the Answer.

Fellow food-intolerant friends, As mentioned here recently, I have spent some weeks (months?) of frustration on the food intolerance front, despite some fairly valiant efforts to avoid suspect items. During this period I started feeling like my food-gut issues were a puzzle, and that there were too many missing pieces for me to (ever) have…

Homemade Gluten-Free Cherry Pie Recipe

Last summer, shortly after our move back from Oregon, Chad and I had one of the best welcome home presents ever. Our sour cherry trees were covered with fruit and the birds weren’t eating them yet. Years before, Chad had planted a few small cherry saplings – volunteers from his dad’s orchard – shortly after…

Routines on the Homestead

When we’re on the road, Chad and I like to listen to Great Courses CDs, and one of them we listened to recently was on decision making. Chad wasn’t excited about it when I first told him the title, but he gave it a chance and we both quickly became enthralled listening to it. One…

Painted Lady Butterflies

Last summer we had some borage come up as volunteers in our garden. Did I say “some”? I meant thousands of plants. We didn’t have borage plants, we had borage patches. This was our first year with a borage explosion, so we thought we’d let some of it live, not realizing just how hardy it…

A Quest for a Healthy Diet

I thought I had my healthy diet all figured out. Vegetarianism was my eating style of choice. For me, this choice lasted for twenty five years.  After a long struggle with debilitating IBS, I discovered that I had a sensitivity to corn, and was gluten intolerant. And then my body let me know that my…

My Yoga Home Practice

I live in a very rural location with no access to regular yoga classes. But yoga is one of my great joys in life, so I’ve had to figure out how to keep my yoga practice up, despite my location. When I lived in Charlotte, with access to several yoga studios, my teachers regularly reminded…

On Aging and Growing Older

Over the past several years I have noticed something about growing older: I feel the same as I did when I was a little girl. I assume I am not the only one who feels this way – and I think this is one of the biggest misconceptions young people have about their future, adult…

Garden to Campside

Last year we went on a short road trip to Montana. We made sure to take some of our garden produce with us to use as we stopped over at campsites on our trip. Taking the Garden Camping Chad had thinned our carrot beds so we had a harvest of lots of small, adorable little…

Last Summer’s Harvests

Winter seems like a good time to look back at the past year’s summer bounty and see what did well for us out here in the high desert. Here are some of the highlights: ‘Lemon Boy’ tomatoes. I’m trying to keep my acidic food intake low and these tomatoes are great. They are low acid…

Non-Toxic Plants for Indoor Air Quality

You may have heard that you can improve your indoor air quality by adding houseplants to your home. While they won’t get rid of mold according to research from Nasa they can help remove some chemicals from your air. If you have dogs or cats, you’ll want to make sure that the houseplants you choose are…

Winter Seed Catalogs and Garden Planning

My spirits tend to get low during the winter – the post-holiday blues, gloomy weather, and reduced outdoors time always get to me. Winter here in NE Utah is long, but I have something to cheer me up and carry me through: seed catalogs and garden planning. By mid-January, there’s a stack of seed catalogs…

When Food Was Making Me Sick

About 15 years ago, things were bad. I’d come home after work nearly every day holding my stomach, collapse on the bed, and writhe in pain. When my stomach wasn’t bothering me, I might be having a migraine, the storm taking its merry time to pass through my head. One night I woke up in…

Living With Less

Howdy friends, Lately I’ve been trying to recenter the framework for this blog. One of the things that keeps coming up is that life here on the homestead is so often about making do and accepting a humble lifestyle. A long period of underemployment has recently broken (yippee!), but during those months, watching our savings…

New Year’s Gratitude

Christmas is over, the New Year is suddenly here. Weeks ago, urges to declare the many ways I intend to improve myself started tugging at my brain. Writing some resolutions sounded like a good idea, until I started thinking about it. This end of the year ritual can sometimes feel like an obligation and other…

How to Buy Organic Gluten Free in Bulk

If like me, you’re trying to make a simple living by being largely self-sufficient, finances are probably one of your constant concerns. But along with pinching pennies, I also have high standards and I bet you do, too. Everyday I’m trying to find the best ways to save money while still eating high quality, organic,…

Remembering Nelly Bean

Losing my cat Nelly was painful, but not as painful as the suffering she dealt with. I’ll always be grateful for her feline companionship.

Why Do I Have Mold?

Understand why you have mold in order to get rid of it That musty smell, those unsightly splotches… could it be MOLD? Should you be concerned? And what should you do about it? If you, poor thing, are dealing with a mold problem, it will be a big help to you in the long run…

Gluten-Free Sourdough Pancakes

Life-Changing Two-Ingredient Pancakes How many times have you wanted pancakes but didn’t have a mix on hand? This recipe will show you that you’ll never need to buy a pancake mix again – gluten-free or not. Really. I make my pancakes with only TWO ingredients: eggs and sourdough starter. You can use either gluten-free sourdough…

The Apricopocalypse

My Two Weeks (Or So) Of Non-Stop Apricots One of the nice things about living on an old homestead is that usually some person, decades ago, was smart enough to plant some fruit trees. Thanks to such past individuals we have an apple tree, crabapples, and a big, mature, apricot tree. The apricot tree has…

Make Your Own Milk Kefir

How to make your own milk kefir Knowing how to ferment foods is an excellent homesteading skill whether you’re living on a small farm, in a city apartment, or somewhere in between. Knowing how to ferment will empower you to make your own nutrient and probiotic-rich foods, help save you money, and is also just…

Vegetarian: To Be Or Not To Be?

Why I Embraced Vegetarianism… And Why I Gave It Up One evening as a young teen I was babysitting for some family friends. The baby was safe and sound in bed and all I had to do was eat my dinner and peruse a pile of magazines. I happened upon a blurb about Madonna being…

First Bean Harvest of Summer

Growing heirloom snap beans This spring as I planned our garden, I wanted to make sure we planned heavy on produce that would get us through the winter – including lots of winter squash and dry beans. After Chad and I reviewed my plan, we realized that it was VERY bean heavy,

Harvesting Apricots

Harvesting Apricots in July in Utah We have one mature apricot tree on our property. Mostly every year it blooms a bit early, then a frost comes along and kills all the blossoms off, knocking them to the ground, meaning that there will be no apricots for us. When we noticed the tree covered in…

How to Make Fermented Sauerkraut

Make Your Own Homemade Sauerkraut Making homemade fermented sauerkraut used to scare me. Along with the fear of botulism, I was also confused and unsure how to proceed. I really wanted to try to make this delicious, pro-biotic-rich condiment, but was utterly lacking in confidence.

Elkweed

On a recent hike I was excited to discover a plant I was unfamiliar with. For those of you who grew up in the Western US, you probably are familiar with this meadow-dwelling plant. I had never seen it until recently and spent quite a lot of time getting some close up looks of its…

One Way I Fight Stress? No Wi-fi.

I’m one of those people who gets stressed out easily, as much as I hate to admit it. I practice yoga, try to eat a healthy diet, exercise, and have positive relationships, yet I still do not do well with stress. I am a sensitive person and seem to be more prone to the ill…

Cauliflower and Mushroom Sauté

Last night as dinner time approached, I looked in the fridge. Nothing to eat, or so it seemed. I looked in the cupboard. I considered cooking a box of (gluten free) pasta and tossing in some vegetables. But pasta, when it’s a fallback and not an excitement, is never a good thing. For me, eating…

How to Keep Track of Your Plantings in a Permaculture Garden

Keeping Track Of What You Plant In Your Garden A few years ago I excitedly planted several varieties of snap beans and dry beans in the same section of the garden. At the time of planting, I marked the different varieties with wooden markers, so I didn’t think I’d have any problem knowing which was…

Allowing Nature to Return

“Although it would be highly arrogant of us to think we could actually design ecosystems, we believe that we can create a balanced ecological agricultural landscape by allowing nature to return to the land.” – Darrel Frey in Bioshelter Market Garden

A Miserable Hike that Makes You Feel A Lot Better

Fellow hikers, does this sound familiar? I have certainly been there. Usually I love hiking. Being outdoors, observing the plants and animals, pondering the geology and topography – these things just make me happy. But occasionally I find myself on a hike that I’m not really enjoying in the moment. Maybe the weather is miserable…

Rooted in the Land

“One cannot predict what a long-term sustainable future will look like. But we believe it will be rooted in the land. It will come as an organic outgrowth of a rekindled, dynamic relationship between people and their landscape.” – Darrel Frey in Bioshelter Market Garden

Winter Squash Potage

“Potage” is a French word used to describe a soup. While living in France I learned that the term “potage” referred to the type of pureed soup that I’m cooking here. Others call this a “veloute.” Whatever you call it, I find it utterly delicious – showcasing the flavor of whatever vegetable you use –…

Set Points from the Natural World

“Our nervous systems are built to resonate with set points derived from the natural world.” – Florence Williams, The Nature Fix

Improving Air Quality for Multi Pet Households

Are you one of those kind souls, too? One who has an undisclosed number of dogs or cats as co-residents of your home? If so then, like me, you probably catch yourself saying, “How can all that hair be on the floor? I just swept yesterday!” While the floor may be the thing that catches…

Let In Some Fresh Air

Open your windows to let in fresh air and you will get a brain and body boost. This is the easiest thing you can do…

Nature for Calm and Focus

“Compared with people who have lousy window views, those who can see trees and grass have been shown to recover faster in hospitals, perform better in school, and even display less violent behavior in neighborhoods where it’s common. Such results jibe with experimental studies of the central nervous system. Measurements of stress hormones, respiration, heart…

A Natural Resolution

In her book the Nature Fix, author Florence Williams says that the Finnish recommend being in nature for 5 hours a month to reap health benefits. That seems like a pretty good thing to add to a New Year’s Resolution list – just an hour and fifteen minutes a week spending time outdoors in a…

Alternative Christmas Traditions

Even those of us who don’t celebrate Christmas for religious reasons might still choose to enjoy the festivities of the season. At this time of year I enjoy taking some time to read about the pagan roots that lie behind our Christmas traditions. Since these roots came from rituals honoring Nature, it seems like a…

Our Ancient and Long-Standing Debt

“Although tragically diminished, the natural world that made us is out there still. With effort and some passing luck, we might find our own way of reconnecting, and in doing so, learn to honor our ancient and long-standing debt to life on earth.” – Graeme Gibin, The Bedside Book of Beasts

Good and Bad Smells in the Home

When most people think about bad smells they think about potty smells and body odors. That’s probably because these things embarrass us culturally. But when indoors today, we are more likely to be assaulted by a different type of offensive odor – that created by chemicals.

Gluten Free and Organic Bread Options

  We, the gluten intolerant and celiac-afflicted really miss the taste and texture of wheat bread. Yes, there are substitutes,  but once you make your way around the gluten-free bread section of the grocery store you will notice a few things:

Gluten Free Sourdough Starter Recipe

Most of us have probably heard that fermented foods are healthy for us, increasing the biodiversity in our microbiomes. Fermentation is also an exciting way to see nature at work – seeing an inert mixture develop bubbles and start to smell heavenly is a fun science lesson and provides a tasty cooking ingredient.

The Resonance We Need

“How happy I am to be able to walk among the shrubs, the trees, the woods, the grass and the rocks! For the woods, the trees and the rocks give man the resonance he needs.” – Ludwig van Beethoven, 1808

Love is a Two Way Street

Author, Professor, Botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Robin Wall Kimmerer asked her students this question one day: You love nature but do you think that nature loves you back? Her students, all very respectful of the earth, had never thought about it that way. I bet most of us haven’t either!

The Difference a Window Makes

Consider the exterior doors on your home. Are they solid or do they provide views to the outdoors? Even a small window like this half circle window in an otherwise solid door provides a view to the backyard, lets in a bit of natural daylight, and provides information about weather and time of day. As…

Let In the Light

There is no more powerful element to create beauty and mood in a space than natural daylight.

Make a Stress-free Space

If you aren’t quite ready to make your entire home a healing, rejuvenating refuge, can you at least give yourself one small space?

When You Don’t Have a View…

When the space is challenged with no windows, create the illusion of view with art work that depicts a nature scene. Green soothes…

Cultivate Patience

One of the lessons of Permaculture is to first of all, observe. In other words, be patient and survey the scene before you take action. This is something I personally struggle with since I get very excited and enthusiastic about new ideas. While I do like observing, sometimes the patience part just gets away from me….

What’s Your View?

When arranging your home or workspace, don’t forget to consider what your view is going to be. The ideal view will depend on what the space is used for. If you are setting up a home office or work station, you will want something that is pleasant but not distracting.

Why Eat Wild Food?

Getting to Know Plants My first gardening experience came when I was a teenager. Back then “gardening” for me was an after school job at a small, family-owned garden center, lugging around a heavy, interminable garden hose to water, section by section, the herbs, the perennials, the shrubs, and the flats of annuals. Out alone…

EMF’s and Holistic Healing

How A Low-EMF Environment Can Improve Holistic Health Treatment I’m a fan of holistic and alternative healing methods. They have helped me find healing when conventional medicine has let me down, and I bet you could say the same. What would we do without chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage, and naturopathy, not to mention many other alternative healing…

Polyculture Garden in Late Summer

On this last day of August the days are still hot and I find myself longing for fall. The garden is producing beautifully, and everything seems as if it will keep on going this way forever. But I try to remember not to take things for granted – the last warm days, the bounty of…

Composting in the Desert

Anyone who gardens or simply cooks a lot of vegetables quickly finds out – you must have a compost pile! Vegetable waste translates into useful fertilizer and soil very quickly if you compost, so it is a huge waste NOT to create some composting system – not to mention the cost of buying bags of…

Sheepy Poos

When my husband introduced me to his two icelandic sheep, I asked what their names were. He looked slightly embarrassed and told me he hadn’t named them. Strangely, two names instantly came to me, and I asked if I could use them. He kindly acquiesced. So let me introduce you to two of the biggest contributors to…

Desert Garden Design

Over the past ten years or so my husband has been planting a fairly traditional garden. Each year he tills the ground with a tractor then digs out rows to plant his seeds and transplants. With my visions of permaculture I of course wasn’t satisfied with this approach. Tilling with a tractor compresses the soil and also…

Gardening in the Desert

Contrary to what you might think, people can and do garden in the desert. However there are certain obstacles to overcome that those of you in more clement areas won’t have to worry much about. For one thing, we only get about 7 inches of rain a year here. Yes, a YEAR. Back in NC…

Milkweed

Milkweed is one of the loved, cherished weeds we have growing on our property. The plant is very important for monarch butterflies and may be edible (this subject gives rise to much debate!). And they are beautiful! We were wondering, though, if this was the RIGHT milkweed for monarchs in our area of the country. So I…

Cold Frame Conundrum

I have four cold frames that I made using plastic storage bins and two more that use glass with the thermal mass of bricks and stone. These are experimental and so far I’m seeing some clear differences in the results. The seeds started in the thermal mass cold frames are thriving and growing much more quickly than…

New Life in Macro

If you’re a gardener but have never planted from seed before, you really must try it. Every year when I plant seeds there’s always some doubt: they might not come up. And yes, sometimes for various reasons some seeds don’t come up. But most of them do. Suddenly, on their own schedule, they come up, sprouting…

Permaculture A Designer’s Manual

All you permies out there have surely at least heard of Bill Mollison’s monumental tome, Permaculture A Designer’s Manual. I have been eyeing it for years but always ended up buying other permaculture books instead. Two thinks put me off about buying this book, its price (upwards of $100) and its monumentalness. Maybe I just…

New Cold Frame

Me and my sweetie went a little crazy ordering seeds a couple of weeks ago. When we combined households last year our seed collections expanded dramatically! I added a lot of perennials, herbs and flowers to the mix, he brought a ton of tomatoes, peppers and squash. But somehow, it seemed we still needed more seeds. And…

Starting Seeds

Over the past week or so I’ve been starting seeds in some DIY cold frames which consist of plastic storage bins with a few holes drilled into the bottom. I would prefer to make a glass cold frame at some point, but this will do in a pinch! It’s very exciting to see the first…

A Climate Change

But not the kind you might be thinking of. Last year I moved away from the Southeast where the summers are hot and humid and the winters are mild. It would be considered a temperate forest zone (as opposed to a tropical forest zone – though sometimes it felt pretty tropical!). This is what my…

Taking the Plunge

After several years of dabbling in permaculture and dreaming of taking a permaculture design course, I am finally committing myself to an online certification program, the one started by Bill Mollison, no less. Although taking an in person, on-site course at a permaculture learning center is extremely enticing, I won’t be able to take 2…

Perma-Crazy

I’m a little obsessed with permaculture. But let me back up a bit. A few years ago I learned about myers-briggs personality types. I learned that I am an INFJ, which stands for Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging. One of the characteristics of this personality type, according to the good people at 16 Personalities, is believing…

Questioning the Logic of the “Nocebo effect”

If you aren’t familiar with the term, while a placebo is an inert source (such as a pill) that causes a positive health outcome, the term “nocebo” is often used to describe an “inert” source that produces a negative health outcome. In other words, it’s all in your head. The nocebo effect is sometimes used to…

My Native Plants

One of my priorities for my home was creating sustainable landscaping. I’ve added as many native plants as possible to meet the needs of the Central Piedmont climate and to provide resources for native wildlife.

What Does “Home” Mean to You?

Home is not just the place that you live, it has a singular meaning and emotional status for us – it may conjure up smells, feelings, and specific memories. As a country, we Amercians tend to have a strange relationship with “home.” Part of the American dream seems to have come to include constantly upgrading…

How to Attract Birds to Your Backyard

Last weekend I took a class on birds. It was a great crash course in ornithology and I was delighted to learn all sorts of interesting things about our feathery friends. The main purpose of the class though was to learn how to attract birds to our backyards with native plants. Because I love to share, here are…

What’s “Toxic Black Mold”? Is it Dangerous?

Earlier this week a friend asked me about “toxic black mold.” As with many health subjects, there is a lot of confusion as to whether mold is truly dangerous, or if this is all just hype perpetuated by mold remediation companies.

The Affordable Organic Sofa

If you’re interested in creating a healthy, healing natural environment in your home, don’t overlook the sofa. Conventional sofas are made with petroleum-based foam and have added flame retardants. It may be somewhat easier to find a conventional sofa without adding flame retardants now (Ikea carries some), but a sofa made with only natural ingredients…

How to Sleep Better at Night

If you’ve spent any time at all watching TV in the past several years you know one thing, Americans don’t sleep well and big pharma has plenty of little pills for that! Rather than turn to medication to fight insomnia or sleep disturbances, why not try preventing the causes of the problem in the first…

Death of a Hairdresser

Yesterday I learned that a dear friend died during surgery for tracheal cancer. The death of this friend was a rude and rough reminder of mortality, and engulfed me in a tsunami of regret. As I looked at Jacques’ memorial photo, what rose to the surface was how incongruous were the word “cancer” and the mischievous smile…