Hey You–Hello!

Today, more than ever, people are searching for “something” For many individuals, that search is leading to the desire for a more simplistic and sustainable lifestyle.

What can you expect to find on this blog?

  1. How to’s to help create a haven in your home, yard and most importantly, your life.
  2. Tips on how to save money and enjoy life.
  3. Ideas, ideas and maybe some more ideas to get you dreaming about what you can do.

Simple Solutions for the Suburban Homesteader.

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In many cases, homesteading revolves around outdoor activities such as gardening, raising of livestock, bee-keeping, permaculture, and a list of never-ending chores. However, at the end of the day and after all of your labors, creating a havenstead starts instead your home.
Years ago, my career revolved around helping people select the exterior and interior finishes of their homes. Becoming a registered interior designer was the culmination of a dream fulfilled with a lot of effort and schooling involved. I loved it. Who can say they wouldn’t love spending thousands and tens of thousands of dollars of other people’s money to create unique interiors—me, that’s who! However, it wasn’t long before this career created what I like to call a “soul conflict.” One day a designer came into the studio excitedly stating she had just sold a $9000 desk to one of our clients. When you’re trying to sell product to clients, that’s a much desired outcome. The desk was beautiful and a magnificent example of excellent craftsmanship in furniture. But instead of being happy about it, the first thing I thought was Do you know how many children that could feed? It was that moment when I knew I needed to back away from the “designer” lifestyle and get back to where my heart is happiest—in a simple, thriving lifestyle.
This doesn’t mean you to have to live in a hovel or a place that doesn’t support you. This is why creating a havenstead that supports you is important and starts with some simple design basics. Maybe today’s simple solution to selecting colors will help you to create “soul comfort” and a havenstead that is your sanctuary.

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The Waste Less Havensteader

I hate waste. Unfortunately, I’ve been known to find moldy veggies in the bottom of my refrigerator. I used to basically say “ugh” and then ditch it. “Oh well, I’ll do better next time” was my motto. Then I got … Continue reading

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Do’s, Don’ts and “Duh’s” of Homesteading

There is a great wealth of knowledge within the homesteading community. Often I’ll see something on someone’s blog or a pinterest picture or even a YouTube video, and say, “What a great idea. I’m doing that.” Unfortunately, I often find that the disclaimer “results not always as shown” should be listed in many of these areas. So here’s some of the things I’ve found that are the do’s, the don’ts and the duh’s I’ve discovered along the way.

Do: plant your seeds indoors to give them a head start to get out in the garden.

Don’t: spend weeks coddling your precious seedlings only to expect them to thrive the first day out in the real world.

Duh–plants can’t put on coats if it gets chilly or stick on a hat because the shady spot you placed them in is now in full sun.

Do: try new things like planting seeds in mini-greenhouse milk jug containers and sticking them outside to acclimate naturally.

Don’t: think that the moisture you used to plant the seeds is going to be enough if you leave off the cap top (per the pictures) and you live in the high desert.

Duh–milk jugs are light. When there is wind, you will have milk jugs all over the yard. Either put rocks in the bottom of the jugs or secure them to the table or place where you have them.

Do: plant items where they grow best. Roots and shoots need full sun.

Don’t: use the seed package recommendations for full sun. Look to your environment, your altitude, and your weather patterns. Full sun is going to mean two different things in Colorado Springs, Colorado with an elevation of 6035 and no humidity versus San Antonio, Texas with an elevation of 650′ above sea level and high humidity. Six to eight hours of full sun in either of these places may destroy your plants.

Duh–look to nature to ensure that your plants do well. Using permaculture principles, create food guilds that provide the right amount of sun and shade.

If you “do” anything in homesteading, you will find the don’ts and duh’s come with the territory. It’s great to see all the shiny successes but more often than not, it’s the don’ts and the duh’s that help all of us to learn.

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Do’s, Don’ts and Doubts of being a Homesteader

I rarely get sick. It just doesn’t happen. Except it did. Headache, sore throat, shivers and the desire to do nothing but stay in bed for two days. And as I always do when I can’t do anything else that I really need to do, I contemplated my life and what I really want from it. More importantly, I thought about what I don’t want.

Do you know what you really want to get out of life? What makes you content, happy, at peace with yourself and the world? Years ago I read a book that I highly recommend if you haven’t figured it out yet. It’s called Wishcraft by Barbara Sher. You can  still get it or find it at your local library. In the book Ms. Sher provides an outline of what I call “I’d rather.” It led me to pursue college and a career that I loved for many years until such time as my desires and goals changed. I added my own thoughts to it as I realized there were also other areas of importance–namely interaction with people as well as environment.  Recently I went back and reviewed my list of “I’d rather” and it helped me to inform what I want to be and do as a homesteader.

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Musings of a Havensteader

Okay, so most times you will find my blog revolves around #simplesolutions to creating a havenstead. I’ll share about permaculture ethics and  its guiding principles. I’ll give you some info on herbs–growing, saving, using. And you’ll often find tips or ideas to creating your own havenstead. And then other times you’ll find me day-dreaming on paper or at least our 21st facsimile of it.  This is one of those times.

Maybe its spring fever. Maybe it’s because I love to travel. Either way I woke up thinking what it would be like to simply hit the road and leave the standard life goodbye. I wouldn’t miss the house so much. Or the never-ending list of chores to be done. I might miss the “girls” but would find them a good home to spend their days pecking the ground or crazily flapping their wings and squawking over imaginary predators. No, that’s not what I’d miss.

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Permaculture Principle #1. Observe and Interact

Principle Number One: Observe and Interact
Ethics and Principles

Have you ever gone on a walk with a young child? They are the epitome of modeling the principle of observing and interacting. They see something that attracts their attention. They stop. They gaze at it, touch it, smell it, hold it. They seek only to engage and understand.
As we move into adulthood, we lose this curiosity, this ability to slow down and be in the moment. However, this is probably the most important principle to accomplish within permaculture.
In permaculture there are designations entitled zones. Those zones outline the various areas surrounding the home. It starts with Zone One. However, the most important place to start is Ground Zero—you! Before you can create a haven in your home or in your yard, the most important need is to observe yourself. You can interact by journaling your thoughts and spending time in creating achievable goals. You can do this at a new year, month, day or minute.

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Neighbors, rules, restrictions, oh my

So you’ve decided you want to try out homesteading. You figure you’ll start with the homesteader’s “gateway” animal–a few chickens. Or maybe not.
It turns out that your HOA dba as Harassment Only Authority board won’t allow it. So let’s take a look at the steps of how to create your own happy homesteading haven!

1. Don’t live in a covenant-enforced or HOA mandated subdivision.
This seems simple enough but while covenants help homes to look uniform and keep things tidy and nice, it won’t be long before you’re unhappy because your yard–sans full lawn or heaven forbid, fruiting plants in the front yard–is frowned upon. Also, check out if the HOA is even still in force. Many times it is no longer functioning after a decade or more. If you are serious about beginning to become self-sufficient, you may have to consider moving to a more open community.
2. Check out your city and county codes.
If it’s good in supporting homesteaders, then there’s your impetus to move forward. If it’s not, seek to change it. You CAN fight City Hall. Get to know your councilors and commissioners. Write letters, show up and speak up for homesteading, allowing bees or small animals, etc. If you live in an HOA, gain support around the subdivision for small projects.
3. Make your neighbors happy.
Here’s the number one thing to address if the codes align and the HOA approves your project. You have to realize that the first thing people think is “how is what you do in your yard going to affect my home/property value? So you need to turn that “nay”bor into a supporter. I’ll explore more on this in a separate blog but to begin with, start your homesteading in an enclosed back yard area or areas neighbors can’t see. Later when you take them fresh eggs or a jar of honey from your hive, you’ll not only engage a neighbor but possibly, make a friend.
4. Become the teacher.
The fact is more people are scared of something or are against something simply because they haven’t been educated. Take for instance, a bee hive. Many people are afraid of the “idea” of a bee hive. I used to be horribly afraid of bees until I actually got a bee hive! Whereas before when I would see a solitary bee and go nuts, now I work  in regular clothing with them flying all around me. Explaining to people about aquaponics, bees, chickens, goats or your goal to produce food could gain you kindred spirits and may inspire others who’ve dreamed of homesteading to start their own projects.
5. Ask forgiveness versus permission.
While some may not agree with this statement, unless you expect to be slapped with a hefty fine, the best course of action may be to just do it. Half the time it won’t even be an issue, the other half you’ll already have it in place to prove that it’s not an issue.

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Succeed with Seeds

It’s SEED time!

Depending on where you live, this time of year probably has you either buying, planting or planning what seeds and plants you need for your garden. There are many calendars you can use that will assist with your needs. One such calendar can be found on the Burpee Home Gardening page.  Mother Earth News has a wonderful garden planner.

Here are some tips on getting the best from your seeds and your garden:

1. Read the Directions.

I know that “reading the directions may seem like a no-brainer. I rarely, if ever, read directions. I think “I know.” Then I find out after the fact, I didn’t. So read the directions where it says how to plant, when to plant, how deep to plant, etc.

2. Get your Seeds from a Good Source.

There are many good sources for seed. The best ones are from your last harvest, from a friend or neighbor, or from the seed catalog at the local garden club or library.

seeds planning

However, there are some times that you need to break down and buy some seeds. One of my favorite places to get seeds is from Horizon Herbs. They sell more than herb seeds. I love their seed collections like their Hoedown Seed Collection, Tasty Tea Collection, Edible Flowers Seed Collection, Four Sisters Seed Collection or My Mother’s Kitchen Garden Collection. 

You can also get great seeds and plants from Burpee. Right now check out their SALE.

3. Prepare your Seeds.

Some seeds need a bit of cold/heat. Some seeds need to scarified. No, you’re not going to jump out and say “boo” to your seeds. You’re going to add a piece of sandpaper to your gardening kit. Rub the seeds along the paper and voila, scarified seeds! One of the best ways to prepare seeds is giving them a nice long drink of water. Yes,  the number one thing to do for good results: soak your seeds! 

4. Plant Seeds at the Correct Time in the Correct Place.

Plants are picky. They prefer certain conditions. Some do well under a nice grow-light or on a sunny kitchen windowsill. Others prefer you plant them directly in the ground they will be setting down roots. Make your plants happy and plant them in their choice of growing spot.

5. Share your Seeds.

One of the Permaculture Ethics is “Fair Share” or another term states the ethic as “Return of the Surplus.” Look at how many seeds are in one plant. For something as prolific as squash or melons, you may only need two to six seeds. Host a seed exchange. Barter with friends and neighbors for seeds you each want or need. Give the seeds to local garden clubs or seed libraries. Plant a seed of giving and sharing.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the SEEDS that you PLANT!” Robert Louis Stevenson.

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