Garden View

Garden View
Hello and Welcome! I decided to start this blog for everyone out there who has an interest, or WANTS to be interested, in living a life that is a little more sustainable. I am still learning, and invite you to follow this blog to learn along with me. I will share what I have learned as we go, and hopefully you will pitch in and share what YOU are doing to live a little more off of what you can grow and DO from home. PLEASE BELIEVE ME when I say, if I can learn how to do this on a very small backyard plot in a city, then ANYONE can do this!!

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Winter Molting? WTH!

WTH (What the HEN)?!  This expletive resounded when I made my daily visit to the girls and found that the scrawniest of them all had decided to molt during the throws of winter.  This is the first year the girls were due to molt and only one of them accomplished this during the Fall like they were supposed to.  Molting is typically triggered by the shorter days/light as the season changes from summer to Fall.  However, major temperature swings can also trigger molting.  Here in Colorado, we have definitely seen some bi-polar weather this year; going seemingly straight from summer to fall with flooding involved (??); then a strange winter cycle with snow, then temps back to the 50's for weeks before winter showed up again.  When it finally did rear it's frosty head, we had the coldest sustained temperatures in a long time, breaking records that were made in the 70's with 15 and 20 below!  Two weeks later (or so), we had temperatures reach 64 degrees.  No wonder these poultry pals are confused.

Needless to say, I kept a close eye on the smallest of our hens for a few days to make sure that this was nothing to worry about, since she didn't molt when she was SUPPOSED to!  Shortly after, the other 2 hens began to molt and the run certainly looked like a couple of chickens spontaneously imploded leaving only downy evidence behind.  Feathers abounded in the run, coop and nest box.

It's amazing how their behavior changes during this time as well.  I give them regular free range time in the yard, and they have only been spending a short time out, then they will hunker down and hide underneath the coop.  The smallest hen retires to the coop for good portions of time, no doubt due to the fact that it's insulated and much warmer than outdoors when you are nearly naked in the winter!  "They" say that the better layer the hen is, the quicker her molt will be.  I am seeing that in my flock as well; the Rhode Island Red is molting very quick, as well as the Barred Rocks. Then there's the Andalusian....she's taking her time and definitely looks it!

Seriously though, molting causes extra stress on a hen and there are some things you can do to help them out in their time of need.  Here are a few things I am doing to help them through the molt:

-Extra Protein: Making fresh new fluffy feathers takes energy and requires protein to develop.  Great sources of protein for them are leftovers of your scrambled/boiled eggs, meal worms, black oil sunflower seeds, sardines (they love 'em!), leftover meat scraps (as long as it's not heavily seasoned).  I also give them regular free range time in the yard so they can continue normal chicken behaviors such as hunting and scratching for bugs.  

-Make Molt Muffins as a supplement (find the recipe in this necessary natural chicken keeping book Fresh Eggs Daily by Lisa Steele).  This provides extra nutrition and protein as well as something for them to do and peck at besides each other.

-Supplemental Heat:  This will be a personal choice for you based on your geographical location and weather, as well as your 'position' on the matter.  We do NOT add supplemental light for our chickens in the fall/winter so as to give them the natural break for their bodies.  However, we set up a very small, crude, heating 'device' inside the coop to provide a small amount of radiating heat.  We have a light bulb inside a clay pot set up inside the coop for this purpose.  We use this during only the coldest nights/days in the winter.  Truthfully, we probably wouldn't have it at all if we didn't own a Mediterranean breed (Blue Andalusian) that does not do well in colder temperatures.  There are some great, safely designed heating devices to have inside your coop such as this Heat Lamp I found available from Premier1 supply.

Important things to consider if adding supplemental heat:  

1.)  You are conditioning them to 'need' the heat so they will, in turn, not be as hardy with the colder temperatures.  If you choose to do this, you must be consistent with when and how much you supplement.

2.)  What about power failures?  Do you have a back up generator or other plan to keep the heater running?  As said previously, the chickens won't be as tolerant of the colder temperatures if you are giving them added heat, so if the power fails you may be facing illness or even death in your flock without it.

3).  Fire Hazard.  Supplemental heat sources can be a fire hazard.  Make sure you triple-quadruple check and plan out the safety part of this.  We lock our chickens in the coop at night and there is no way I would want a fire to develop inside with no escape route for them.  Tough to think about, but you must think through these things if you want to be a responsible chicken keeper.

Would my chickens survive without the small amount of added heat?  Absolutely.  This is not something that chicken keepers have to do (think of the people that have chickens in Alaska!), but it is something we chose to do to keep them a bit more comfortable.

Nice single tail feather Tina!
The 2 hens on the right are molting
And last, but certainly not least, give them plenty of alone time since they seem sincerely embarrassed at their pitiful condition!  They don't seem to want you to see them in less than tip-top shape!  They are a bit more sensitive to touch during their molt, so on behalf of the hens, don't force any snuggling.  I might have to take up knitting chicken sweaters if they decide to molt during winter next year (Kidding...I think)!

P.S. Odice the Bunny doesn't mind the molt.  'Course he doesn't mind much of anything, really.
Bandit running from the camera

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Setbacks in reality: Sappy post alert!

As many of you may have noticed, it's been a little quiet on the blog for a while.  Life.  Sometimes life begins to fly by so fast that we occasionally need to slow down and take a reality check.  I am one of those 'straight forward' communicators that doesn't like to beat around the bush.  In short-I like to call-it-like-it-is. So here's the deal: I began to lose priorities in my life.  This past year, my work stresses began to consume me both professionally and personally.  Not good.  I had all kinds of goals and excitement for my writing and where I wanted to take the blog-but even that began to feel like a burden.  My garden was planned beautifully-with succession plantings and lots of food that would be canned to store and have to feed the family throughout the winter. 
I can tell you I have nothing in my pantry from the garden except a bag of frozen shredded zucchini and some cherry tomatoes.  There was a lot of waste in my garden this year.  You know there needs to be a reality check when the things that bring you joy are only another stressor. 

THE POINT-I am here to remind you that there are a lot of things that we plan and would like to accomplish at certain times in life, but God will always remind you of where your focus should lie; and I can tell you its not on stuff-and-things, or even work.  I still have a lot of the same goals-but they are no longer self-centered.  They involve my family and, perhaps more importantly, helping others.  God has a way of humbling us right when we need it; and for that I am thankful.  I am grateful for hardships and suffering that bring about perspective and humility.  We pick ourselves back up and begin again-with a fresh mindset. 

So-onward we go.  I am refreshed and renewed and excited to continue sharing our path of learning about homesteading with you!  I have no doubt that many of you have experienced frustration, set backs or motivation struggles while learning to homestead where you are.  I'm here to tell you that it's normal-and that you aren't the only one who goes there; I guess I'm just willing to tell it all-the hilarious, the growth and even the ugly.  This stuff isn't glamorous folks-we get down and dirty in this game of life!  Come on now-what has been the biggest obstacle for YOU in homesteading and how have you overcome it?  Let's inspire each other to keep-on-keepin' on!  What are you working on right now?

Until next time,


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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

BOOK GIVEAWAY: Fresh Eggs Daily

When I don't know the answer to something my kids ask me (or for their homework), I GOOGLE it. When I have a question about chicken keeping, I FRESH EGGS DAILY it!  I'm serious: since the beginning days of raising my chickens, I turned to the web page for Fresh Eggs Daily and searched the files there for advice, feed recipes (Breakfast of Champion Layers...'nuff said) and natural remedies. You can imagine my excitement, then, when I heard that Lisa Steele was writing a book on natural chicken keeping. I am thrilled to announce that I have an autographed copy to give away to one lucky winner! If you can't wait for the giveaway, or just want to buy one for everyone in your family, the link to purchase this beautiful AND informative book is HERE.


At first glance, I was very impressed with this new book by Lisa Steele of Fresh Eggs Daily.  I like the smaller 'coffee table' size of this book.  It is bound beautifully and in full color throughout.  Everything about this book is pretty and chock full of information in ' easily digestible' chapters.  By that I mean that this has got to be the best resource book I have found available on the market right now natural chicken keeping strategies.  I have read every chicken keeping book on the local library shelves and I have not found one that contained advice on raising chickens, specifically, using all natural resources.

While I recognize some of this information from the tried and true website founded by Lisa Steele, don't think you are getting a 'cut and paste' version of her website; this book contains a lot of new information and, again, I love that it is sectioned out to make finding the information you need a breeze.  I can genuinely say that I will highly recommended this book to all current and prospective chicken owners.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Visit all the other stops along the Fresh Eggs Daily Blog Tour to read some more great reviews and to enter to win a copy!

Week One

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Friday, August 30, 2013

From The Farm Blog Hop

Hello everyone! I am more-than-excited to be the guest host this week for the From The Farm Blog Hop! I just love to see what people are up to and what you are doing around your 'farm;' whether that's your house in the city, or your farm in the boonies! Thanks again for joining us! I can't WAIT to hear from all of you, so let's get this party started!

Here are the features from last week's party:

Congratulations! Please feel free to grab our button and display it proudly on your blog!

Photo provided by Chicken Scratch Poultry

Now, on to this week's party:
1. Link up to three of your best gardening or homesteading tips, farm-themed posts, recipes, homemaking and simple/frugal living tips, decorating ideas, DIY projects, craft ideas, thrifty makeovers or repurposed items, healthy and sustainable living tips.
2. Link back to my blog, or put the link party button anywhere on your blog or post to share the love.
3. Make sure to check out some of the other links before leaving.

 photo FromtheFarmButton-Final.jpg

Photo provided by Chicken Scratch Poultry

We can't wait to see what you share with us!

Note: Linking up to this party will automatically sign you up for an invite to next week's party via email. To unsubscribe, please reply to any email you receive and you will be removed. Linking up also allows us permission to publish one of your photos on our blogs, Facebook, and/or Pinterest pages.

Shanyn -Fresh From Home
Your From the Farm Blog Hop Co-Hosts:
The Adventure Bite | Sunny Simple Life | 1840 Farm | Let This Mind Be in You | My Healthy Green Family | Fresh Eggs Daily

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

SERIES: Natural Living So Easy...DIY LAUNDRY SOAP powder

Yup.  So Easy Even I Can Do It.  Seriously.  This is super easy.  Everything I have tried during this journey of mine toward more frugal and natural living has surprised a good way!  I always saw stuff like this and thought, "that crunchy-natural-hippy-type stuff sounds good and beneficial, but 'aint nobody got time for all THAT!"  I am here to encourage you to try something that you can make yourself that is so simple (you guessed it), that even I can do this in no time flat!  In fact, my kids usually get in on this recipe and ASK to help!  Here's a ridiculously easy, quick and effective DIY LAUNDRY SOAP (powder):

What you need:

  • 2 Bars of Fels-Naptha (Laundry bar soap/ You can usually find this, or an equivalent, on an end of the laundry soap isle)
  • 1 Cup Washing Soda (also in the laundry isle)
  • 1 Cup Borax
    • OPTIONAL:  Several drops of your favorite Essential Oil

STEP ONE:  Grate your soap bars (we do this directly into a large, empty industrial sized laundry soap tub, but any medium sized bucket/container/tupperware will do).  I like to grate them finely so I don't get large soap chunks in my mixture.  This is the part my kids have actually ARGUED over taking turns doing.  I make sure they know how they are helping the family by doing this AND saving us TONS of money!

STEP TWO: Add the Washing Soda and Borax. 

STEP TWO-ish: OPTIONAL: You can add 5 or more drops of your favorite essential oil into the mixture at this point.  We typically choose lavender or lemon and it really makes our clothes smell fresh!

STEP THREE: Mix together and store in an airtight container.

USE: 2 Tablespoons for an "average" to "large" size load.  Use more for larger or heavily soiled loads.

That's it!  Told 'ya-----super simple!  We have had great results with it too.  My husband gets greasy at work and this stuff has NO problem getting it all out and making the clothes smell fresh when using 2 Tablespoons per extra large load.

Is it worth it?  You decide

Here's the cost comparison:

Homemade Laundry Powder= $6.16/ 48 oz= $0.31/oz

General commercially made powder (not generic but not name brand)=$0.20/oz

>>>So that's not a "per ounce savings" at first glance.  Here's the catch:  You only need to use 2 Tablespoons for a Large load of laundry with homemade soap.  Commercial soaps have you dumping in around 1/4-1/2 cup of their chemical-laden laundry soap.  SO, if I have to use less than HALF of the amount of detergent per wash, then my savings can more than double!

Our Laundry soap savings just bought us a large box of ice cream cones to pass around tonight; which MIGHT result in more laundry to do, and more laundry soap to make.  Such is the circle of laundry-life!  Enjoy it to the fullest!

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

NEW SERIES: Natural Living So Easy Even I Can Do This! DIY Natural Shampoo and Creamy Conditioner

I am not "crunchy."  At least I didn't think I was, or would be for that matter.  I am referring to a term used by many to describe a person that has gone "all natural" or has changed/ altered their lifestyle for environmental reasons.  Ever since I started this journey to living a more sustainable lifestyle by trying just one new thing each month, I have realized that I may have created a monster (in a good way).  I have been blown away at how easy and CHEAP it is to make your own stuff; everything from bread and tortillas to household cleaners to garden markers and personal care products.  I have found that my homemade products work better than the store bought items; but the best part is that they are FREE of chemical-laden ingredients that are not good for my families health and well-being.  I have been really busy testing a LOT of recipes for a LOT of different things, and I am so very excited to start this series titled: "Natural Living So Easy Even I Can Do This." 

Today I would like to share how you can DUMP your store bought go-to bottle of chemical-plastic shampoo and conditioner!  I have fine hair that is long and Blond.  I previously dyed my hair and live in Colorado where it is pretty dry most of the year.  Translation: my hair sucks up conditioner like no tomorrow and can be a bit difficult at times.  Since I have started using the below natural recipes, my hair has balanced out it's natural moisture, is brighter and shinier, and is growing like crazy! 

A couple things to note when making 'the switch:'

*Your store bought shampoos have that super creamy/slimy consistency because of the chemicals/preservatives that are added so that it can sit on the shelf for a couple of years before going 'bad.'  The below recipe does not include any of those chemicals and will have a different consistency; more like liquid soap.

*Your store bought products actually contain a type of plastic that coats your hair to make it 'feel' soft and conditioned (when it really is not).  The below recipe does not contain said chemicals/plastics.  Your hair may go through a detox period when getting rid of these things from your hair and scalp (the chemicals added change the pH and natural oil balance of your scalp-in a not-so-good way).  DON'T WORRY-your hair will be softer and healthier than ever if you just stick with it.  Anytime you make healthy changes to your body, it needs to move out the 'bad' in order to make room for adding the 'good.'  This is the easiest way I know to simply explain the detoxification process.

*You may need to try a few different recipes and/or combinations of the recipes to customize it to your specific needs (Dry, Oily, Frizzy, Damaged).  Give each change at least a week or two so that your body has time to adjust.  This way you can make accurate assessments about how/if it is helping your hair and what you may need to adjust.  Yet another wonderful thing about making it yourself-the ultimate in customization!

OK-On to the recipes!  As I mentioned, I have tried a TON of recipes on myself (and co-workers, family members and friends) and I have found the below Shampoo and Conditioner recipes to be the simplest and most effective.  It took me a couple of  batches to get the conditioner the way I liked it (creamy with enough conditioning/moisturizing agents for my hair), but it is my favorite/easiest recipe thus far.

BASIC SHAMPOO RECIPE (see below for a Basic Herbal Shampoo):

1/4 C water
1/4 C Liquid Soap (Castile)
*1/2 tsp Carrier Oil (see below)
**OPTIONAL: Essential Oils for your hair type (see below)


SWEET ALMOND OIL: All hair types to Dry/Damaged: aides in hair loss prevention, heals split ends, adds shine, moisturizes dry/flaky/sensitive scalps

JOJOBA OIL: All types: Light sunscreen agent, Softens, Strengthens, Detangles, Balances Oil production (is said to be the closest to our natural skin oils)

GRAPESEED OIL: Regular to Oily: absorbs easily-is one of the lightest oils, thickens hair shaft

OLIVE OIL(Extra Virgin): Best for thick/coarse, dry/damaged: Ultra-Hydrating, strengthens, adds elasticity, adds shine, smoothes hair cuticle (coats hair shaft)

COCONUT OIL: Best for Regular to Dry Hair: Moisturizes scalp/dandruff control, adds shine, aides growth, softens, detangles

AVOCADO OIL: Best for Dry/Damaged: heals dry/damaged/mature hair, softens, aides hair growth *Goes rancid quickly.  Mix with Jojoba Oil and store in refrigerator to prolong 'shelf life.'

SESAME OIL: Sunscreen (blocks 30% UV rays) *Goes rancid quickly.  Mix with Jojoba for longer 'shelf life.'

**ESSENTIAL OILS (EO's) FOR HAIR (use 20 drops per 4-8 oz shampoo):

ROSEMARY: Dry scalp/Flaky scalp, promotes growth, darkens color
BASIL: Controls Oil production from scalp, promotes growth
LEMON: Controls oil/dandruff, natural blond highlights
LAVENDER: good for normal hair, treats dandruff and lice
PEPPERMINT: moisture aide, promotes growth
YLANG YLANG: (smells like jasmine): promotes growth, good for all hair types
*Visit here and here for some great EO blends by hair color and problem types.  Great websites to visit for more info!

To make the above into an HERBAL SHAMPOO:

1/2 C water
2 Tbsp dried or 1/3 C Fresh Chamomile, Lavender or Rosemary herbs
1/2 C "Basic Shampoo Recipe" (above)
2T Glycerin

*Bring water to a soft boil.  Add Herbs and remove from heat.  Cover and steep for 20-30 minutes.  Then strain out herbs/flowers to reserve the liquid only.
*Add shampoo and glycerin to the reserved liquid and stir well.
*Put in bottle and let sit overnight.

USE: Lightly mix bottle before each use.  Shampoo and rinse for 2 minutes with cool water.


The Easy Aromatherapies website linked above also contains the best creamy Conditioner recipe I have tried thus far.   Click HERE for that recipe. 
*The only thing I want to mention about the recipe is that you really DO need to make sure the temperatures of the water/herbal mixture and the oil mixture are as close as you can get them.  My first batch had the contents separate, but as long as I mixed it before using it still worked great.  Also, use the EO blends as suggested for your hair type/condition.  This gives you added benefit and it really worked wonders for my thin/dry hair/blond hair.

*There are also many recipes and suggestions for Hair Rinses for use in place of a conditioner.  I have tried many of these and have not found one yet that works well for my hair.

That's it for now.  HELP ME EXPERIMENT and try different recipes, then let me know what you have found!  If you try these recipes, I would love to hear your comments.  Just don't forget to give it a week or so before making your final judgment.  I am still experimenting and preparing to make some Shampoo Bars (that condition all in one) as well as a pH balancing recipe for Shampoo that does not contain Castile Soap.  I will certainly share my experience when I test those out too!

I hope you have as much fun on the road to "crunchiness" as I am!  Well, lets just call it "sustainable living."  I'm Cool with that too.


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Monday, April 15, 2013

Easy DIY candle: 99.9% Orange, 100% Natural!

Want a quick, easy and natural citrus candle that you can make in about 5 minutes or less?  With only TWO ingredients?  Well, it's a good thing you stopped by 'cuz I have the perfect recipe for such a thing!

I made this with my daughter (OK, she mostly helped by eating the orange) and it literally only took a few minutes from start to finish.  Here's what you will need:  Navel Orange, Vegetable/Canola or Olive Oil (any vegetable based oil would work fine).  That's it! 

I bought my Oranges from the sale bin at the grocery store for items nearing expiration or that are 'slightly blemished.'  You will be using the section of the orange that has the stem/'button' for the candle base, so be sure to select an orange for this project that doesn't have extra umph in this area.

Take a knife and cut all the way around the orange, 1/2-3/4 of the way up to make your 'base.' 

Now take your fingers and separate the peel from the fruit.  Do this on both sections and be sure to keep the stem in the bottom section attached since this will be you wick (which is so super-cool)!  I accomplished this by simply peeling that part away from the fruit slowly. 

Next, pour in your oil to just below the top of your wick (approximately 1cm).  I used two different types of oil for this experiment.  It seemed to me that the vegetable oil lit a lot easier and burned better.  You will can see the difference in this photo: 

Light your candle!  This actually took me a few tries and I found that the oil really needs to be within 1 cm to light effectively AND it helps to dip the 'wick' in the oil lightly.  I still had to hold the flame to the 'wick' for a bit before it would stay lit on it's own, but once it did they worked fabulously!

I also cut designs into to the tops to create a glow effect.  NOTE: the swirly design started to burn and make my house smell less like citrus-Orange and more like house-fire.  SO, I suggest sticking to simple cut out designs if you go this route.

P.S.: Don't throw out your Orange Peels!  Orange peels are good slug repellents for gardens. The peel can be also be pressed, which produces sweet orange oil and is used to flavor drinks, food and can be used in perfumes and oils for aromatherapy; should you feel so inclined.  OR, put them in your compost bin.  As if this project could get any better, right?!


This post was featured on the following sites: Featured at the Homestead Bloggers Network

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Announcement and Earth Day Giveaway!

I am very proud to announce that I am now a part of the wonderful group at Homestead Bloggers Network!  What better way to celebrate this wonderful news than joining with them to celebrate upcoming Earth Day and an amazing giveaway!

In celebration of Earth Day 2013, members of the Homestead Bloggers Network have partnered with to make going green even easier! With a generous gift card for $250, makes going (or staying) green even easier! So what can I find at Maybe the question should be, "what can't I find at" From clothing to composting, they've got you covered! believes that the power to make a change rests with consumers. Take a stand and demand healthier, greener products as a customer and let's make a change together. a Rafflecopter giveaway Additional prizes are offered by participating blogs:
Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. The Homestead Bloggers Network and participating blogs are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Giveaway is open to US & Canadian Residents ages 18 and over only. Entries close on April 22 and winners will be drawn by April 26. This giveaway is part of the Homestead Bloggers Network and sponsored by

Participating Blogs

  1. Heather Harris - The Homesteading Hippy
  2. Mary Hitchings - Raising Dick & Jane
  3. Dani Meyer - The Adventure Bite
  4. Chris Dalziel - Joybillee Farm
  5. Annie Bernauer - Montana Solar Creations
  6. Jen Fowler - Frugal Upstate
  7. Teri Gelseth - Sustainability is a Journey
  8. Chris McLaughlin - A Suburban Farmer
  9. Kristi Stone - Let This Mind Be In You
  10. Lindsey Knerl - Lille Punkin'
  11. Krystyna Thomas - Spring Mountain Living
  12. Shanyn Cascia - Fresh From Home
  13. Wendy Hammond - The Local Cook
  14. Angela England - Untrained Housewife
  15. Amanda Jones - Adventures of Mommyhood
  16. Colleen Anderson- Five Little Homesteaders

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Book Review: Vertical Vegetable Gardening

Have you ever read a book that changes the way you garden?  A book that is so rich with information and ideas that you can't wait to apply them and get started?  That's what happened when I read Vertical Vegetable Gardening by Chris McLaughlin.  My book reading during the cold winter months this year got me so excited about gardening that I started making plans right away for my 2013 garden.  Basic enough for beginners yet full of detailed steps throughout the broad spectrum of subject matter make this a book for all levels of gardeners.

I really liked the structure of this book; it is broken down into four parts for ease of reading and reference.  Part one discusses "The Beauty and Bounty of Vertical Gardening."  The author begins by explaining the benefits behind growing vertically and how "Less Really Is More!"  This section shows you how much space you can save, how growing vertically can save you time and work as well as money.  There is also information on how this method reduces weeds, pests and disease.  Perhaps best of all, you will increase your vegetable production by learning how to grow vertically!  The remainder of Part 1 discusses different structures and containers with how-to tips along the way.  There is information within this section about DIY structures as well as how to Re purpose items for your vertical gardening.  I have to say that since I have read this book, I am using more re purposed items and think more about reusing rather than just purchasing something new (and perhaps wasting money).

Part Two is titled; "The Basics: Soil and Seed."  This section contains all the information you need to learn about why soil is so important in your garden, what type of soil you have and how to improve it, as well as how to start seeds.  There was a great section here about the many different types of seeds and even how to go from starting your own to transplanting them.  Very condensed but well organized and summarized information.

The last two sections discuss the nitty-gritty of gardening with your vertical vegetables.  There is so much information here!  From Organic pest control to a fact-filled section on all of the vegetables that like to grow vertically, I can tell that these sections will be ones that I reference often (there's already dirt and coffee stains all over it and the gardening season hasn't officially begun)!

Overall, this has got to be my favorite gardening book to-date (and I have read a TON).  The wealth of information that is categorized and summarized in an easy-to-read format makes this book highly valuable to me.  I can turn to this book for just about everything related to my garden.  There is also a list of  resources for seeds/plants, online help and books in the back that I am still referring to often. 

I am literally growing 90% of my food vertically this year thanks to the inspiration from this book; saving time, money and growing more food as a result.  Fantastic find and must have if you want to grow more food in less space (and not be confused or frustrated while doing it)!

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Welcome Spring Signs

It is beginning to look a lot like Spring around here!  My crocus have been blooming for weeks, Daffodils are going to bloom any day, Multiple Vegetable starts are thriving under indoor lights.  I just planting my first round of cold-season vegetables in one of the raised beds this week (Broccoli, Kohlrabi, Lettuce and Spinach, Tatsoi and Macha/Corn Salad).  Odice, the 10-month old Flemish-giant rabbit, says to go ahead and fire the ground-hog; He's so excited to say that Spring is on the horizon that he left some eggstra special surprises in the collection basket today!

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Generations of Swedish Potato Bread

Traditions and Family.  Laughter and Learning.  These are irreplaceable things and are what create timeless memories.  I had the opportunity to not only learn a family recipe from my mother, but to learn it in my kitchen alongside my daughter.  This bread is an absolute must for our family thanksgiving get-together each year.  The following is the story and recipe behind our family Swedish Potato Bread recipe.

Photo Credit: Encyclopedia of Immigration
My Great-Grandmother came to the US straight from Sweden via Ellis Island when she was only 9 months old.  Her family then moved to a Swedish community in Boise, Idaho.  She met and married my Great Grandfather, Mr. Jones of Wales, and they lived out the rest of their days in Colorado.  I was very fortunate to have their influence in my life as a young child; such as the incredible musical talent of Great Grandpa Jones that inspired my mother and myself, and is still living on in with my children.  My great Grandfather was also a great gardener!  Isn't it wonderful to look at your own life and see the generations of influence that have been (willingly or not) instilled inside of you?

Hjelm Farm in Swedish Community-Idaho.  Photo Credit Historical Findings
This recipe was written down by Great Grandma Jones and was influenced by my mother.  There was a time when my mom learned this recipe directly from Great Grandma Jones in her kitchen.  However, Grandma Jones NEVER measured anything and would just say "use about THIS much salt" (after all, that's how she learned it from HER mother).  My mom went through this recipe with her and translated, or measured, as they went and then wrote it all down.  Thank goodness for that, as there was BOUND to be a relative down the line that is a rule-follower and for whom a recipe is a must-have (a-hem)!

With the laminated recipe in my Great Grandmother's handwriting and my mother as the teacher; to my daughter helping in the kitchen (who has an apron from HER great grandmother and is wearing Great-Great Grandmothers belt around her waist), this baking event spanned 5 generations.  Now THAT is something truly priceless!  Without further ado, I give you the treasured Mrs. Jones Swedish Potato Bread original recipe.

NOTE: The below recipe is translated as written on the original recipe.  Since this has been passed down throughout the years, Mom's variation to the recipe has been noted in italics within the recipe.  I love seeing the improvements of the recipe over time!
Here's what's cookin': Swedish Potato Bread
Serves:  12
Recipe from the kitchen of: Sigrid Jones

1 Cake yeast or 1 Pkg dry yeast
1 Medium potato
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup shortening
1Tbsp Salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 Eggs beaten

  • Peel potato, cut fine and boil with approximately 1 1/2-2 cups water.  Reserve the potato water after boiling.  (Reserving the potato water allows you to keep the vitamins/minerals and flavor that escape while boiling, for putting back into your recipe). 

  • Meanwhile, scald the milk (Mom says you can scald it in the microwave.  Watch the milk and stop cooking just before boiling.  Mom says you will know it's scalded when it gets 'excited' and starts to foam).

  • Pour milk into large bowl and add Sugar and Salt.

  • Mash potato. 

  • Add shortening, potato and reserved potato water (should be about 1 cup-add water if not).

  • Dissolve the yeast with a little warm water.  Add to the milk mixture, be sure it is luke-warm and not too hot (it will kill the yeast cultures if too hot). 

  • Then add the eggs with the flour:  just enough flour to handle (slowly alternate adding flour and eggs.  You will know when the dough is ready when it doesn't stick to your finger when you poke it!  It should be anywhere from 3-6 cups flour) 
P.S. This dough will keep in ice box for two weeks!
  • Shape into large ball and place into large greased bowl.  Let rise in warm room until double in size
  • Punch dough down and shape into rolls or loaves and place in greased pans.  Let rise again until double in size

  • Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown

ENJOY!!  We eat ours with turkey dinner and buttered with Lingon berry Jam for delicious breakfast (and lunch, and dinner) sides.  I hope you make some lasting memories today!
Bella the lab wants to know if you will share this recipe?  She's hoping that someone....ANYONE will at least share with HER!  She knows as well as the rest of us that everything DOES taste better when it's Fresh From Home!

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Caption Contest!

Let's have a little fun and see who the funny and creative ones are amongst you!  Help me out here, what should this caption be for this hilarious photo taken during a lovely backyard evening at Fresh From Home?

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sprouting GIVEAWAY!

I recently wrote about sprouting as a way to quench your gardening itch during the winter months.  I am excited to announce that Handy Pantry (by Living Whole Foods, Inc)  has very generously donated several items just for YOU to enjoy!  I was hesitant to try sprouting having heard others talk about having to "rinse them constantly" and that it "was a pain."  The winter garden itch won over, however, and I found the wonderful sprouting kit from Handy Pantry at my local garden center.  It was SO EASY to do the sprouting using these trays that I now keep them continuously in service!  The seeds can be rinsed 3 times a day but 2 quick rinses per day work just fine as well (this is what I do and they always turn out fantastic).  In a lot of circles, sprouts are considered super foods that are also touted as "fountains of youth."  The reason they say this is that they are powerhouses packed with nutrients, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants and more!  For example, broccoli sprouts have been found to have 50 times the antioxidant property (sulfurophane) of mature broccoli!  Not to mention that all of these sprouts tasted MUCH better than store bought.  All of their seeds are certified Organic AND non-GMO.  Well, as we have come to know around here-everything tastes better when it is Fresh From Home! 

1 GRAND PRIZE WINNER: The SPROUT GARDEN-Complete Starter Kit ($30 value): Makes up to 4 lbs of sprouts in 3 days!  Includes 2 oz. packet of Organic, Non GMO Alfalfa Sprouting Seeds
3 Tray Stackable Sprout Garden

3 WONDERFUL WINNERS:  Several different Sprouting Seed Packets (all Organic and Non-GMO) from 4oz to 8oz including: Alfalfa Sprouting Seed, Mung Bean Sprouting Seed, Green Pea Sprouting Seed, 3-Part Salad Sprouting Mix and 5-part Salad Sprouting Mix.
5 Part Salad Mix - OrganicAlfalfa Seeds -  Organic

Winners will be randomly selected.  I hope to see lots of you enter to win these great products-just use the Raffle-Copter gadget below to enter.  Please show this company that you appreciate this giveaway opportunity by visiting all of their websites and browsing their different product lines.  If you get the chance, tell them Fresh From Home sent you!  (They have an Indoor Culinary Herb Garden and Garden Stacker pots that I have my eye on)!!

                                   So much gardening (and healthy living) possibilities, so little time!! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

For the LOVE of seeds; DIY 'dirt' mix and Seed Starting

I LOVE this time of year in Colorado when we are usually in the coldest and snowiest part of our winter because I get to plant seeds!  Yes-starting seeds is something I have come to look forward to each and every year.  I love to dream up my garden for the next year, love the planning process and LOVE starting seeds (did I mention that already?)!  Plants have different requirements throughout their lifetime, from seed starting to transplanting, to the mature and fruiting.


First of all-it's not really dirt.  These mixes are soil-less but provide the best growing environment for your seeds.  For the best germination rates, you will need a good quality seed starting mix, and you don't really want to compromise on this step.  While I can attest that seeds will sprout in just about any kind of dirt (remember that I've learned a lot by doing things the wrong way first), they will not give you the best germination rates, will not be as vigorous or sturdy starting out, and there is a strong potential of introducing disease to your seed by using other 'dirt' as your growing medium.  You can buy these seed starting mixes at garden centers everywhere, but they can get pretty expensive.

Seed starting mix is important because it allows for the proper amount of moisture retention. When you use one of these mixes, your seeds don't get water-logged and moldy (reducing seed waste).  Also, the proper soil will promote good air circulation to allow for good seed germination.  If you use soil from outside, you could be introducing pathogens and/or microorganisms that will likely be harmful to the seed and/or might kill it.  Much like everything else I am trying to learn, I want to know how to grow things Fresh From Home so that I can be SURE of what is in my food and to feel good about how it came to be my family's dinner.

Here is a simple seed-starting mixture that I have excerpted from Mel Batholomew's book "All New Square Foot Gardening:"

  • 1/3 Peat Moss (purchase from any garden center)
  • 1/3 Vermiculite (suggested to buy: coarse grade in 4-cubic foot bags)
  • 1/3 Blended Compost (If you need to buy this, make sure to purchase different types from your garden center; it needs to be blended-not all of the same type)

*Peat moss gives it the desired density and air circulation
*Vermiculite increases water retention
*Compost gives nutrients

One of my Farm Chick friends pointed me to the website  This site plans out your garden based on your zip code.  You can keep your gardening journal there, post photos and it will send you email reminders of when things should be started indoors, when they should be sprouting planted outside, harvested, etc.  How neat is that?!  The only thing that I have not liked thus far is that you cannot add your own plant types to your garden list.  However, this site is fairly new and they are taking suggestions for improvements (*wink, wink*).
You can also buy seeds directly from this site.  All seeds are from Botanical Interests, which is a FANTASTIC seed company that is not owned by a giant-monopolized company, all seeds are non-GMO (non-Genetically Modified), they have a large selection of Certified Organic seeds, and it is a Colorado based company.  Their seed packets are loaded with information on everything that your plant will require and they are just plain gorgeous too!  Needless to say, this is now my go-to seed company.
2013 New Varieties

For more articles on the basics of seed starting, here are some more great links from some of my Farm Chick friends.  Happy seed starting everyone!

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