Friday, December 23, 2016

On the Way to New Dreams

As you are reading this,
we are readying ourselves for our move to North Carolina
to begin a new chapter in our lives.
The sale of our home in Florida has been quite the experience,
which I'll share at a later time. 

We will check in when we can
after the new year,
as we will be getting settled in later this week.

Here's hoping your holidays
are joyful and that you are surrounded by
love, light and laughter.
The best to you and yours in the coming year.

Thank you for your prayers and support
through this journey.
Blessings be...


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Welcome to Winter

The first day of winter can mean frigid temperatures,
biting winds and even snowstorms.
But this is Central Florida.
We rarely get anything resembling winter
this early in the season.
Here's what's growing in our garden on this fine winter day.

Overnight on Monday,
we were blessed with almost 5 inches of rain,
highly unusual for us at this time of year.
Winter is most commonly our dry season,
but we'll take any rain that Mother Nature wants to send our way.

 The veggie garden has been slow growing.
Most of what's here was planted at the end of September,
and there is not much to show for it.
I am glad that the new owners will at least have a head start
on a few winter veggies.

The sugar snap peas are just starting to come in.
What a wonderful treat when I go out to feed the birds each morning.
It's my reward for caring for our feathered friends.

The broccoli is coming along,
but we'll be long gone by the time it's ready for picking.

The oregano seems quite content
and has been steadily growing.

The carrots are sparse,
and have been sown at least twice.
With our move only a week away, 
there's no chance that we will get to sample these.

 We've had an abundance of gulf fritillary caterpillars 
munching away on the passionflower vine.
 I've never seen the plant so decimated.
No worries, it comes back each spring on its own.

What is concerning is finding so many of these dead or dying cats.
This is the first time there have been more than a couple.
We garden organically, so I'm not sure what happened.

Along with providing a host plant for the caterpillars,
the passionflower vine has been gracing us with gorgeous blossoms.

Another caterpillar species, the monarch,
feasts on this plant, the milkweed.
These are now blooming as well,
and seed pods are exploding and being carried by the wind
to other areas of the garden.

African Iris

Even though the day was drab and dreary,
we always have some kind of color going on in the garden.

I guess these beach sunflowers don't realize it's winter!

This will be our last winter solstice in Florida.
Our days of 80 degree temperatures in December 
are most likely over.
We are looking forward to the changing of seasons 
as we make our way a bit further north.
(Remind me of that when the thermometer starts plunging 
in the next few months!)

Hope this first winter day finds you well.
Stay toasty!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Holiday Poem (Encore)

We hope you are enjoying this holiday season.
Here's a little ditty penned last year
that we thought we'd share again.
(It happens to be even more true this year.)

Twas the Week Before Christmas
by daisy

'Twas the week before Christmas and all through the home
Not a creature was ready, not even our gnome.
The tree, freshly bought, was barren and green
The ornaments, still packed, have yet to be seen.

No lights on the windows, no glow from the eaves
No cookies yet baked for Santa when he leaves.
Not one blow-up snow globe adorns our fine yard
And folks will have to settle for a Christmas e-card.

The mild winter weather has not helped at all
It's still in the 70's when we hit nightfall.
Where's that Yuletide feeling, the magic, the wonder
I think Mother Nature may have made a blunder.

Though things may not be merry and bright
We'll enjoy the time we have on this special night.
To celebrate our loved ones ever so dear
And the time we have together at this time of year.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Thrifty Thursday-Repurposing Old Towels

We're all about thriftiness here.
Part of homesteading is using up what you have
and being creative about finding new uses for items that have lost their initial purpose.
Towels can, over time, become frayed, stained and less absorbent.  
That's when it's time to find another use for them.
Here are a few ways we have found to repurpose old towels:

1.  Weed suppressant-Lay down towels to act as a weed barrier
when forming new beds.
The sun can't penetrate through them and your weed problem will be gone.

2.  Rice packs-Sew various sized pouches and place rice inside, then sew shut.
These can be placed in either the freezer or microwave
(depending on what temperature you need)
and used as hot or cold packs on injuries or aches.

3.  Car pillows-Create travel pillows for road trips
or just to keep passengers comfortable.
Used towels are especially soft after many washings,
and kids will love having their own car pillow.

4.  Moving helpers-Keep breakables safe during a move
with towels acting as cushions for your most treasured fragile items.

5.  Rag bin-The first thing we do with our old towels
is cut them into various sizes to be used as our new rags.
The old rags are then repurposed for other tasks
or composted if they are really worn thin.

6.  Critter Comfort-Animal shelters are always in need of donations.
The towels that you can no longer use for your family
can often be helpful at shelters for bathing animals
or used in their kennels for their comfort.


 So, don't throw those old towels away!
Use them up until they are nothing but threads.
Mother Earth will thank you.

"The trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster.
-Paul Newman


Homestead Blog Hop will take place every Wednesday featuring real food recipes, natural health remedies, DIY, crafts, Gardening Tips, and more...

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Farm School Fall Garden Update

My time at Farm School is coming to an end,
but the fall garden is going gangbusters!
My farmer friends Faye & Lynn
have a 7,000 square-foot organic container garden
on their 10-acre farm in Lake Wales, FL.
I've been blessed to be able 
to help them out every weekend
over the last 3 1/2 years.
It's always an adventure!

We uncovered the lettuces to take note 
of how well the squirrel-proofing was working.
The shade cloth protects not only from critters,
but from harsh winds that frequent this area.

Looks like they are doing just fine, thank you!
Take that, you pesky varmints!

More lettuces are awaiting their time in the main garden.
Grow, babies, grow!

The shade cloth has also been used to cover up the 
newly-planted sugar snap peas.

 Guess what?
It worked!
We'll be eatin' some of these tasty morsels in a few weeks!

The pigeon peas and eggplant are growing like nobody's business!
So many goodies, so little time.

On the other side of the garden,
the Asian greens are doing well,
along with the Swiss Chard, tomatoes and kales.

We seeded a new batch of Swiss Chard
in order to be able to have enough
through the rest of the season.
Amazing how such a little seed can feed so many.

Time will tell if these need to be covered as well.

tat soi
So much scrumptiousness in one place.
God does good work.
And so does Farmer Lynn.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Sweet Potato Soup (gf,df)

We are trying to use up the food in our fridge,
so I thought I'd whip up a batch of sweet potato soup.
The weather has been cooperating just enough,
so that a bowl of soup really hits the spot.

A handful of ingredients makes this dish 
a snap to put together in less than 30 minutes.
Sauteing the onions really brings out their sweetness.
If you don't care for sweet potatoes,
this method for soup making can be used with
white potatoes, butternut squash, or carrots,
or any combination of your favorite veg.

Sweet Potato Soup

1/2 yellow onion, diced
olive oil
3 sweet potatoes, chopped
cinnamon (optional)
water or bone broth

In a medium pot, sautee onion in olive oil
until translucent (5-7 minutes).
Add sweet potatoes and cook until almost tender
(8 minutes).
Add seasonings and fill pot 3/4 full with water
or a combination of water and bone broth.
Bring to the boil,
then turn down to low heat.
Simmer with lid on about 10 minutes.
Use an immersion blender or food processor
to blend until smooth.

Want to grow your own sweet potatoes?

Gluten Free Fridays Sharing glutenfree recipes for all

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Good Morning's Work

Our days at Farm School are winding down,
and we are cherishing every moment we get to learn from 
The Master.
This past weekend,
we worked on a couple of projects that needed doing.
The first one involved one of my favorite herbs.

We have a thriving rosemary plant out by our mailbox.
It loves the spot and requires very little care.
The bonus is the scent greets our mail carrier
with every delivery.

At Lynn's request, 
I had taken some cuttings from the Mother plant
and stripped the bottom third of the stem of leaves.
(These discarded leaves can be used for cooking or potpourri.)
I brought the cuttings with me to Faye & Lynn's,
so they could be transplanted for market.

Faye filled a large tub with pots,
then shoveled the magic soil mix into the vessels
and leveled them off with a straight edge (butter knife).

 Here we are all set up with filled pots and rooting hormone.
We worked near the garage,
as the day was too blustery to have much success 
with this endeavor out in the garden.
We simply took the cuttings, dipped them in water,
then coated the entire bare stem with hormone
and placed them in the center of the pots.
A dibber was used to create the perfect-sized holes.
They were watered in well and placed in a shady spot.
They will be watched and when they seem to be taking off,
they may be placed in a more sunny location.

You can read more about this fragrant herb 
in our Seed to Table Series here.

 The other job that Faye & I did together
was to pick pigeon peas.
These yummy morsels are akin to black-eyed peas,
in that they are nitrogen-fixers for the soil
and have a similar waxy taste.
We picked the greenest ones we could find.
They'll be shucked and sold at market this coming weekend.

Faye reminded me to use the sun 
to determine if they were ready.
The shadow of the peas in the pods helps to see their size.
The pods are not eaten in this case,
as they are quite tough.
You can read more about pigeon peas here.

It will be hard to say goodbye to this place.
The memories of all I have learned here
will be treasured in my heart.
My time here has made me a better person.
How do you repay that?