16
Oct

Gardening and Homesteading Goals for 2015

by Tiffany in Gardening, The Homestead

Goals for 2015The gardening season has ended for 2014…for the most part. I still have a variety of peppers and some flowers doing well. I also have a cold frame with greens going strong but I have done a massive fall cleanup and most of my garden beds will rest until spring. With everything I learned this year I am already making plans for next!

My organic garden goals for 2015 are to grow everything I grew in 2014 and:

  • Make potato cages and grow alot more
  • Start my seedlings earlier!
  • Add leeks and brussels sprouts for fall/winter
  • Grow more carrots
  • Grow different pumpkin varieties (jarrahdale and lady godiva) and grow more
  • Add another raised bed and a hoop with a fabric covering
  • Add more herbs and veggies
  • Plant spring bulbs
  • Add another rain barrel

My homesteading goals for 2015:

What are your goals???

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

18 Comments

15
Oct

Savory Pumpkin Soup Recipe

by Tiffany in Recipes

Savory Pumpkin Soup -naturemoms.com

This just might be my new favorite fall soup. It is scrumptious! Also pretty easy to make, just a bit long on cook time. I love pumpkin and you find great sales on pie pumpkins right about now but I am not big on making tons of sweets and pies. I usually put them in the slow cooker and make my own pumpkin puree for pancakes, smoothies, and souffles. That is about it…until now. You can bet I will be stocking up on pie pumpkins so I can make this soup throughout fall and winter!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup cream
1 cup stock (veggie or chicken)
1 clove garlic
1 T butter
2 T olive or coconut oil (non virgin)
Half a small onion or the white part of a large leek
4 ounces goat cheese
One small apple (cored, skinned, chopped)
1 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 medium to large pie pumpkin

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375. Cut out the top off the pumpkin as set aside, scoop out the seeds and the stringy pulp of the pumpkin. Make sure to set the seeds aside for gardening next spring…or you can use them for roasting. Oil the outside of the pumpkin and the inside of the pan (we used a cast iron dutch oven).

Inside the pumpkin bowl add butter, stock, cream, garlic, onion, apple, and some salt and pepper. No need to mix, just toss it in. Replace the top of the pumpkin and cook for 1.5 hours. Remove from oven and add the goat cheese and thyme. Cook for another half hour.

When finished remove from the oven and scrape the sides of the pumpkin gently to loosen the pumpkin flesh. Be careful not to pierce the pumpkin so that you won’t have a messy plan to clean up later. Use an immersion blender to puree all the ingredients into a thick soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. This soup serves 2-3 people so if you want to feed a larger family go with two pumpkins and a roasting pan.

It will be super hot so be careful! Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

2 Comments

14
Oct

Natural Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

by Tiffany in Health & Healing

Natural Ways to Get a Better Night's Sleep

It is amazes me how our attitude’s change about sleep as we get older. When we are younger we relish staying up late, brag about it, and generally try to milk every moment we can by staying awake. As we get older though we start to appreciate sleep time…trying to make sure we get a solid eight or more hours of dream time. We might even take naps. I know I plan my day around sleep time. I always want to ensure I get enough rest. If that means I have to go to bed at 6pm, before the best prime time shows even start, so be it. That is what a DVR and the weekend is for. We cannot expect to be healthy, fit, and strong if we ignore the benefits of adequate rest.

So what if you have trouble sleeping. I am one of the not-so rare folks who do. I wouldn’t say I have full blown insomnia but I am definitely sleep challenged. It runs in the family. Like my father, I toss and turn and wake up numerous times each night. I have tried a variety of things to help fix these issues because I am not a fan of pharma meds and don’t want to go that route.

Here are some natural ways to help you sleep better… one of them was a game changer for me.

Blackout curtains or a sleep mask – Total darkness often means a better night’s sleep. It also helps regulate our hormones better. Artificial light messes with our sleep systems so make sure to block all sources with blackout curtains. That way your neighbor’s porch light or street lights won’t be impeding your sleep. If you have artificial lights in your room such as the displays on alarm clocks or cable boxes, turn them off or use a sleep mask if you would rather not.

On the flip side, waking up with natural light is also ideal. If you have to get up before th sun does, like I do then use a wake-up light. The warm yellow light begins 30 minutes prior to your alarm time, increasing in intensity as your chosen waking time approaches. They are fantastic!

Get rid of EMF near the bed – Electrical appliances produce toxic electromagnetic fields called EMFs. It is not a good idea to have these devices near you when you are trying to sleep. To make your bedroom an EMF free sanctuary use a wood bed frame if you can (instead of metal) or just put your mattress on the floor. Turn off electrical devices or if you can, turn off the fuse that powers your bedroom. If you use a cell phone as an alarm clock (like I do!) keep it as far from you as possible, even if it means you have to get up and walk across the room to turn it off. You can also buy an EMF Neutralizer for your cell phone.

Use a natural remedy – Many people swear by Valerian (an herb) and Melatonin (a hormone). For the latter, start with a teeny weensy dose, even if you have to cut an already small pill in half. It can be a powerful sleep aid but it can also have side effects for some people such as vivid nightmares.

For me the most effective remedy I have ever tried is lavender essential oil. it is AMAZING. I put a roller ball on a bottle of pure lavender oil and apply it neat (means undiluted) to the bottoms of my feet thirty minutes before bed. Then when I slide into bed I am out like a light and I wake few times if any. Total game changer.

yes-this-nm

lavender oil for sleep

Eat light – Don’t fill your belly right before going to bed. That fires up numerous systems in order to digest the food and assimilate all the nutrients. Eat a couple hours before bed time or eat a light meal.

Take a bath/shower – A hot bath or shower is very relaxing before bed. You can also use a few drops of essential oils to relax you even more. Try Roman Chamomile, Peace & Calming blend, or Marjoram.

Avoid stimulation – Don’t exercise right before bed, watch TV, or play on the computer. Take an hour or so before bed to wind down and stay away from artificial lights such as bright TV screens and computer monitors. We cannot expect our bodies to go from 60 to sleep in just a few seconds/minutes. We need to wind down naturally and prepare our bodies for sleep. After sunset use candles and install software on computers and phones to dim the lighting with he setting sun. Try f.lux. It’s free.

Do you have sleep tips to share?

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

14 Comments

13
Oct

Fall/Winter Garden Prep & Chores

by Tiffany in Gardening, The Homestead

Fall Winter Garden Prep Chores - naturemoms.com

The weather is getting quite nippy and the nights are getting darker. Life is moving a little bit slower, and things are winding down in your summer garden. But perhaps you don’t want to give up gardening just yet. Heck the weather is perfect for outdoor enjoyment right? Well you CAN keep growing well into winter. If this interests you check out my article on extending the growing season into fall and winter. It has lots of great tips and info on what kind of plants do well in cold weather.

In fact I just set up a cold frame for my greens (lettuce, arugla, and spinach). I used a shower door that some threw out during a home renovation and I set it on top of an existing raised garden bed. Cheap and easy!

coldframe

There are still some gardening tips and strategies that you can employ to get you back outside and some dirt under your fingernails. You can add some color and life to your garden, and prepare it for winter. Depending on where you live, fall can be a very busy time in the garden. Here are some ideas:

* Water fruit tress well until into fall and until the ground freezes. They will have a long, cold winter depending on were you live and they need a good moisture supply to make sure they get through it well.

* Rake leaves and compost them. Or maybe just leave them. There are some gardeners who do not believe in leaving leaves around tees due to the potential for leaf-borne disease. I think that if the tree/leaves are healthy then it is important to leave a nice layer of leaves around the tree, covering the roots. This is what trees do right?! They shed their leaves which then provide insulation and moisture for the roots during the cold. It is a perfect system, don’t mess with it so you can have a perfectly manicured yard.

* Plant bulbs. Dig a hole, drop the bulb in, cover it up with soil and a thick layer of mulch, and go have a glass of apple cider. Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths, Crocuses, garlic, and Allium (my fave!) are typically planted in the fall so they can complete their growth cycle in time to come up in spring.

* Cut back bulbs that will be staying in the ground and cover them with mulch to protect them from harsh freezes.

* Weed!! Why wait until spring when you will be super busy? Get rid of weeds now!

* Pull all your spent vegetable plants, cut them up with pruning shears to speed decomposition and toss them in the compost pile.

* Clear out any annuals that are spent as well. Leaving them in the ground is easier yes but diseases and pests are discouraged when you clear the beds and allow them to overwinter plant free. So if they are no longer useful, get them out of there. If any of the plants did show signs of disease, toss them in the garbage, do not compost them.

* After clearing your garden beds cover them with an inch or two of compost or aged manure to help improve the fertility of your soil.

* Cover beds with mulch or garden fabric. This helps maintain a good porous surface and helps prevent soil erosion.

* Veggies – Cover strawberries with straw, cut back asparagus fronds after they brown from the first frost, and re-pot annual herbs to bring indoors.

* Drain and detach water hoses. Empty and clean your rain barrel. Store them in the garage or a shed.

* Enjoy the fall!

rain barrel in the garden

Monday, October 13th, 2014

15 Comments

10
Oct

Fermenting Fruits & Veggies – Easier Than You Think!

by Tiffany in Healthy Eating

My fermentation repertoire is sadly limited up to now. I have thus far only made kombucha, kefir, yogurt, and sourdough. I have wanted for a very long time though to make other fermented foods. High on my list are sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, ginger, and salsa but really I want to go wild with it. I love fermented foods and they are so very good for you. I credit fermented foods with helping me heal from the devestation wreaked upon my body by chemotherapy drugs after my bout with cancer. The drugs kill healthy cells and the healthy bacteria in the gut as well. Fermented foods helped me immensely, during chemo and after. They are now a big part of my family’s diet and one of our weapons against illness. We just don’t get sick very often and I credit all the fermented food we consume.

My love of Kombucha, and my disdain for the hefty price tag spurred me to make it myself. I would like to save even more by making more of my own ferments and I found the perfect guide to help me in this goal.

Last week I had the pleasure to meet a wonderful and knowledgeable blogger while at an activism and social media conference, Tamara from Oh Lardy. I have been a fan of her blog for a long time so it was awesome to meet her and even more awesome to hear her talk about fermentation and her new book… Oh Lardy’s Guide to Fermenting Fruits and Vegetables. I was super excited to get home and await it’s release, which was yesterday. I have already read it cover to cover. I love it!

take-a-look two

 Oh Lardy’s Guide to Fermenting Fruits and Vegetables
 

Not only am I exited to make all of the items on my wishlist (sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, ginger, and salsa) with the provided recipes I am also excited to try those I never even heard of….Dilly carrots, mushrooms, fruit leather, and lemonade. The instructions are super clear so I am 100% positive that I can take these recipes and run with them and the photos are gorgeous. I hope my creations look half as nice!

In This PDF E-book, You Will Learn…

  • The importance of the roles gut bacteria play in your digestive tract.
  • The basics of the process of fermentation, how it happens and why.
  • The benefits of consuming fermented foods (there are so many!!)
  • What materials you need to ferment foods at home to get you on your way to becoming a confident fermenter.
  • How you know when you food is fermented and other frequently asked questions.
  • How to make almost 40 different recipes easily in your own kitchen; recipes your whole family will love!
  • and more!

What’s Included:

This is a digital e-book, not a print book.  This e-book can be downloaded and read on your iPad, Kindle, smart phone, computer…almost any device!  You can read this e-book anytime, anywhere.

Buy Now

Friday, October 10th, 2014

13 Comments