What I’m Reading (06/17)

I’m a book whore. That’s not really a nice word, but I’m not sure there’s another way to describe it. I feel like I’ve moved past “collector”. Collector might imply an enjoyment of  a certain genre or time period or style of writing, but what is it called when you like all the genres? (I don’t like ALL the genres – only about 90% of them!) What’s it called when you buy a lot of books, but then only hope to have time to read them? I’m an avid reader, for sure, but housework, volunteering and laundry always get in the way of my spending quality time with my books. 

I’m not a hoarder. Don’t laugh! It’s not hoarding if it’s books. I saw a meme on the internet, so it must be true. 

To be clear, book buying is not something I hope to seek help for any time soon. The mortgage is paid and my family gets food on a very regular basis. I’m just trying to be set the stage for the three books I’m reading this month. They were all purchased in May. A month when I actually read very little. Yes, I grew my collection of books, therefore growing my “to-read” list all while not ticking any off the list. It’s terrible, really. But I’ve convinced myself that just being surrounded by good books is enough sometimes. And when I do ever have time to read, I’ll have a large list to choose from. 

See, I’m a book whore. 

When I saw Welcome to the Farm at my local bookstore, I picked it up to purchase immediately. I did do the obligatory flip-through, but given the title alone, I was going to buy it. It might have been a joke book for all I knew and the joke would have been on me, but it appears to be a legit homesteading book. It’s totally the type of book I love. It’s part “how-to”, part recipe, and part story, combined with great pictures. 



Home Grown Pantry was another impulse buy, I’ll admit. One of the reasons it grabbed my attention was right on the front cover “Selecting the Best Varities & Planting the Perfect Amounts”. If someone is willing to take the guesswork out of a seed catalogue for me, I’m in! I thumbed through it and really enjoyed the layout and information presented. It discusses the main points of food preservation and how to choose the best varieties to grow. It covers veggies, herbs and fruit. 

You might be proud of me for the next choice. Cut Flower Garden was published way back in February and I didn’t buy it until May. That’s right, it was on my “wanted” list for nearly 3 months. While I’m not sure I’ll ever have a flower farm, I love the idea of this book. It’s organized by seasons, which is perfect for a flower book and the photography is stunning. I’m looking forward to diving right in. 

Our kids have three weeks left of school, so summer vacation is just around the corner for us. Even though summer is busy in the garden and around the homestead, I still find more time to read than during the school year. Anyone else out there have seasons of reading? 

What’s on your “to-read” list this month? 

What I’m Reading (05/17) 

Do people read in May? Apparently, I do not. I’ve completed one of my April books and finished a juvenile fiction book I started 4 months ago. Not exactly something to write home about! 

But, the garden is weeded, planting is about 80% done and the kids have eaten three meals a day all month. 

So, yeah. Hoping to read books in June. Stay tuned for that list because I’ve purchase a few new books that I’m excited about. 

Before weeding
After weeding

Happy Spring! 

Homestead Tour in Photos

While I’ve been mostly absent from the blog-o-sphere lately, lots of things have been happening around here.

Here’s a photo tour of what we’ve been up to lately.

In the Grow Zone:

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Ready to be potted up.

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It didn’t take long for them to outgrow the growzone. They’re now sunning themselves by the window.

 

In the Greenhouse:

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The tomatoes outgrew the window so they were transfered to the greenhouse.
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Where they were followed by more and more growing plants.
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The best luck we’ve had with strawberries and pineberries is to pot them first, let them grow a bit, then move them to their permanent home. It’s more work, but at least they live. 

 

In the Garden:

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The only surviving pineberry from last year. The original plant is right at the bottom of the photo. This is the little berry that could! 
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Fourteen yards of mulch! Thank you Chad for moving ALL of it! 
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This picture should be called “Correcting a Wrong”. We skipped the cardboard under the mulch last year and it had me wishing I could put “less weeds” on my Christmas List.  
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In this photo, I see all the things we still need to do. It’s not a pretty picture, but it’s reality. 
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The Spring 2017 Balcony Shot. 
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Garlic growing and looking pretty great. Hopefully it likes rain!
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Garden bed expansion project. We ran out of cardboard so the bed is still sitting like this. It’s been a week. Maybe I should make a bet with myself to see how long it will stay like this…
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Transplanting some strawberries to a better location. That means we didn’t really plan ahead when we planted them in the first place.
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The crazy blackberry patch.
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Check out these Aspara-guys!! Is the plural form of asparagus just asparagus? We should change that. 
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Daisy is posing between our new peach trees. She still out there waiting for them to produce  juicy, ripe fruit. 
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They’re not in the garden, but they want to be. I think they’re trying to be statues so I don’t see them. 

 

In the Garage:

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Prep work for the new babies. We build very fancy digs for our chicks, as you can tell.
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Daisy knew exactly what was going on and kept hopping around waiting to see the chicks. Fun Fact: they hadn’t arrived yet. 
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Here they are! Six baby fluffy butts. 
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Meeting for the first time. Is Daisy thinking, “They’ve brought home something even cuter than me!” or “Little nugget, you’d taste delicious with some honey mustard.”?
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Did she just lick her lips? 

That sums it up for the last bits of April and the beginning of May. I didn’t capture rain photos, because, let’s face it, we all know what that looks like by now!

Stay dry!

Happy (belated) Easter

The kids are back to school after a great 4-day Easter weekend. I love long weekends with the kids. They always go by too fast. We had 20+ degrees both Saturday and Sunday and I’m not gonna complain about that – I had forgotten what a nice warm breeze felt like. I spent hours and hours and hours outside pulling weeds and edging and transplanting and potting up. Oh, I did spend time with the kids too!

Here’s a small photo recap of the weekend. I didn’t take many pictures because I was mostly covered in dirt and I didn’t want to damage Maude (my camera – yes, she has a name. She’s very special to me!) or my phone (who will remain nameless).

In the Grow Zone:

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Herbs growing like crazy have now been potted up.
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Yes, I’m organizing my grow zone by colour. I love it!! Tomatoes are red, herbs and flowers are blue. Yay for multi-coloured solo cups! 
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I watered them and they all shot up and started touching the lights. I moved about 15 yesterday. I woke up this morning and had to move 10 more. Crazy kids!  
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Not everything is growing well. Here is a tray that just didn’t have great germination. I’ll direct seed the ones that didn’t work and cross my fingers that they’ll grow. 

In the Greenhouse:

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I transplanted this lettuce into larger pots last weekend and left it in the greenhouse to see what would happen. It’s growing! Yay for cold tolerant crops! 
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I planted ‘Winter Greens’ in the greenhouse last spring and let it go to seed. This is what happened. Yay for volunteers!

In the Great Outdoors:

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One of our 6 fruit trees. They’re all beginning to look like this. Yay for new growth! 
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Hanging out with the teenager and the dog. Yay for warm weather! 

That pretty much wraps it up for the weekend. We’re heading into a busy couple of weeks here, volunteering at the school even more than we usually do. Chad and I are both hanging outside with groups of kids this week. He’s teaching baseball skills to 8-10 year olds and I’m geocaching with 12-14 year olds. It has nothing to do with homesteading, but it does include getting kids outside and that’s something we’re both pretty passionate about. For three seasons anyway. Chad likes winter, but I struggle with that season so we tend to stay inside quite a bit. I’m going to put it out there into the interwebs that I’m going to try harder to like winter. I promise I’ll try. But first I’m going to enjoy spring, summer and autumn.

I hope you do too.

Beautiful Surprises (04/14)

Volunteers in the garden! I mean, volunteer plants, not people volunteering….I’m not sure I’d be comfortable with random people volunteering. 

I’m quite sure this is calendula popping up here. Thanks for reseeding yourselves – you saved me some time and money!
I’m really hoping this is the echinacea I planted last year that didn’t germinate. The package did say it could take awhile…

Ah, Spring…

I always think autumn is my favourite season. Until April rolls around. Then I remember why I love spring best of all. The grass is so green, the trees are full of buds, plants are popping out of the ground. Even when the weather isn’t so warm, I want to open all the windows just to hear the birds singing again. And when I do, Chad follows along behind me closing them all back up again. I opened a window just now because he’s not here.

Once again, the seeds I planted last month have exceeded my very low expectations. I’m not sure why I doubt a seedling’s ability to grow. It happens all the time. And yet I’m still shocked when it happens here. There are plenty of seeds that have done absolutely nothing and I will have to replant a few things, but overall, the growth has been amazing.

All of this growth means that our grow zone is bursting at the seams right now. I spent most of Saturday potting up tomatoes, which really crowded the shelves.

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‘Before’ all the potting up. Lots of space on the left side. 
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‘After’ and all filled up. Seats are limited at this venue. 

I apologize for these pictures. I know they’re terrible.

Potting up took way longer than I thought it was going to take, but it felt so good to have my hands in the dirt again. The radio was on, the girls came outside to enjoy the weather, and Chad was working on stuff in the greenhouse and the shop.

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My corner of the shop. 
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These tomatoes looked so good. I can totally picture them on my burger. 
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I love solo cups. They make such great pots. Plus, I can throw them in the dishwasher and use them again next year. 
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You  can see the ones on the left were really sad to leave their baby room. They definitely all went through a period of shock but quickly bounced back. 

 

The herbs are also growing like crazy and I think I’ll be potting them up this week.

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Even the peppers are growing. I hesitate to talk about them too much because I don’t want to jinx them. Maybe they’ll pose for some pictures later this week.

And now, even though the sun is still fighting through the clouds, I’m going to go hang out a load of laundry. Yay for spring!

 

 

 

 

Cookbook of the Month (04/17) 

Spring seems to be officially here, which usually kicks off a few months of us eating at odd hours and making very simple meals. We still follow recipes, but we don’t like anything that keeps us inside for too long.

Last month, I chose a cookbook that I wanted to read, and I thought maybe I’d be more creative this month, but no. No creativity this month in my cookbook choice. None, whatsoever. Last week, I asked Arianah to pick a couple of recipes to add to our weekly menu plan, and without fail, she went straight to our Chef Michael Smith section and chose from one of his cookbooks. So, that’s how I decided this month’s featured cookbook.

For April, I hope to try new recipes from Chef Michael Smith’s Kitchen. We cook from his books quite often, and I can’t remember a time we’ve been disappointed – kids included. And pleasing them is a nearly impossible feat!

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Chef Michael Smith is another Canadian chef (that’s two in a row, if you’re counting. I’m feeling very patriotic, I guess.) and he’s written lots of cookbooks to date. I don’t have a list in front of me and I can’t really be bothered to find one. Sorry. You can check him out at your local bookstore or online.

Some of the recipes I hope to try include a Potato Bacon Cheddar Breakfast Bake, Split Pea Soup with Smoked Ham Hock, Slow-Baked Salmon with Honey Mustard Glaze and Gruyere Mashed Potatoes. This particular cookbook of his doesn’t have a section dedicated to vegetarian recipes, but if you’re like me, you can find a way to make those Mashed Potatoes your entire meal. With a small salad maybe so you don’t judge yourself afterward.

I’ve already made his Oven-Roasted French Fries with Spicy Ketchup and if I didn’t have a husband and two kids, I would have eaten the whole tray. I’m actually drooling just thinking about those fries.

And now I’m hungry. Happy eating!