Thursday, March 17, 2011


The winner of the last giveaway was a no-show, so I've redrawn, and Judy is now the winner!   (If you peek at her blog, you'll see her beautiful new cabinets)

Judy, just email me at the address on my sidebar and let me know where you'd like me to have your new book Perennial Vegetables delivered.   Congratulations!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Winner, Please Contact Me!

I have no contact information for the winner of the third giveaway, Linda, and have not received a reply since announcing the results.  Linda, please contact me here in comments or by email found on my sidebar to let me know how to reach you so I can arrange delivery of your book!  

If I have not heard from Linda by tonight at midnight, I'll draw again and announce the new winner tomorrow morning...

Linda linda linda!


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Third Giveaway Winner!

 I used the "draw straws" online computer application at and the winner of the book is....Linda!  (I don't have a link to you, or I would have included it here)  Linda, just drop me an email at the address on my sidebar and let me know your contact info so I can have it delivered.  And congratulations!

And to everyone, the final Giveaway this time around will be announced soon!

Love you guys!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Third Giveaway!

We've discovered a lot of things in our dinking around with seeds, buckets, and an overgrown bermuda plot next door.  

We love plants that are hardy to our area. 

We've begun rethinking the term "weeds" and instead thinking more of them as "super survivors" (and seeing what uses we can find for those wonder plants that weather such extremes with such grace!). 

We've tended to lean away from anything that needs too much babying, and our amateurish efforts have necessitated that Benign Neglect is more of our "gardening style."  There ARE plants that do thrive that way.

We love multi-use plants.

We love edible landscaping (and about any edible plants of any kind!)

And we LOVE perennials! 

As part of our celebration of having the blog going for five years now, for God's miracle of expediting our getting out of debt recently, and of THANKS to you for your friendship across all boundaries, this book Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier is our next giveaway prize!   In it you'll find some great resources and information about edible perennials....

To enter this giveaway, just leave a comment and mention your go-to favorite edible plant...that's it!  The drawing will be on Sunday sometime. 

And now we go to eat our first loquats Jack picked today, another edible landscaping plant...delicious!!

Second Giveaway Winner!

Using the random online "draw straws" program at this site , we now have a winner....Rachel!!!   Rachel, email me at the address on my sidebar with your contact info and let me know which of the three fermented starters you'd like, and I'll arrange for it to be shipped to you ASAP.   Congratulations!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Second Giveaway

Something we experimented with early in our blogging years, and that we'll return to when our schedules are more predictable, are fermented foods.  Three types of fermented foods we enjoyed making ourselves were kombucha, kefir, and Caspian Sea yogurt.


Here's a post of ours from 2009 that tells a little about our kombucha-making.
There is much to be found online about brewing your own kombucha.  We eventually went to the continual process kombucha rather than the batch process.  It takes a few weeks to kickstart, and then about the second month you have a regular supply for enjoying.  It is a tea and sugar mix that is fermented by a "mushroom" (nickname, not truly a mushroom) called a Scoby, (read more here) to transform it into a highly probiotic drink.

We also tried making Kefir from a live starter, so we could try it as a great probiotic.  It is very easy to make with live starter culture ("grains") and milk.  Now we see kefir sold in the supermarket.  We enjoyed this best mixed with fruit and honey in a blender as a smoothie.

Caspian Sea Yogurt

This is a type of yogurt I first saw mentioned on a New Zealand homesteader's blog, unique in that it does not require anything but some starter, some milk, and being set out at room temperature for about 15 hours...that's it!  No heating or fuss.

My husband went NUTS for this.  At first, it seemed odd compared to traditional yogurt I'm used to...the texture is slick, pourable but with a fresh mozzarella-like slickness that's hard to explain.  Depending on how long you leave it out, the tartness will vary from super mild to super sour.  If left to sour too long, it will separate into whey and curdle.  It only takes a bit to use as starter for the next batch, and repeat, and so on.  Here's a back post of ours that mentions some of our Caspian Sea Yogurt making.


When we begin fermentation projects again, I will opt for the Caspian Sea Yogurt and Jack will request some continual brew containers of Kombucha be up and running...but we love all three fermented cultured products mentioned above.

Because these are unique to our "homestead" experimentation and something others already are trying or might like to experiment with, they are our next giveaway. . .


Pick your fermented fun!   If you'd like to begin making one of these 3 types of probiotics, we'll pay for the one you prefer!

The winner gets to choose one of the above fermented product starters (whichever one you most prefer)-- Kombucha "mushroom," Kefir live grains, or Caspian Sea Yogurt -- and try it for yourself...our gift!  We bought starters from The Happy Herbalist and were very happy with them.   The kombucha we were given as a gift (thanks, Maria!), but The Happy Herbalist has good starters, too.

**health disclaimer**  We take no responsibility for the health benefits or effects from any of these products.  Consult with your own health professional before consuming any food you have questions about.  

If you'd like to enter the drawing for one of these starter cultures, leave a comment and we'll get this going :)

First Giveaway Winner!

I used the "draw straws" application at this link to select the winner of the from the comments at the end of the post and the winning "short straw" chosen at random by the program Heirloom Gardener magazine was Paulette....congratulations, girl!!!!

Thank you, everyone who participated in this drawing...and check out the next giveaway I'll be posting tonight!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Giveaway Week!

This is a week we thank you for your friendship and for all we've learned from you!  The blog's been here five years, wow...who knew??  Thank you for sharing your lives with us and being a part of this blog!  We celebrate God's goodness to us throughout these years, and for the recent blessing of helping us retire the rest of our debt...and we'd like to share our joy with you.  We've chosen a few things that have meaning to us, and today's giveaway is a subscription to Baker Creek Heirloom Seed's Heirloom Gardener magazine. 

I love Baker Creek Heirloom the arrival of their seed catalogs seasonally.  I don't even have a subscription to this magazine myself, and have always wanted one...but first, to share!

To enter for a chance in the giveaway, just tell us in comments what some of your favorite magazines are...can be anything and doesn't have to pertain to homesteading subjects per se.   We'll randomly draw a name.  Enter before my next post...not sure when that is, but will be in the next day or two!

We love you guys!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Debt's Gone: Part Two...YOU

Part two of "we're out of debt" is about our indebtedness (in the good sort of way) to you, our friends.

You have been with us as we trudged through the ups and downs of the hardest part of getting out of debt (besides the paying back of it)...the waiting.  It takes time.

We've gotten to know numerous people here, and we consider you friends.  Throughout the past four years of this blog's life, we've learned so much and been so encouraged during some of the grayer days where we so wanted forward progress to be quicker.  So...THANK YOU to all of you who have taken the time to share your insights, encouragements, and humor with us along the way...the way we're still walking (it's not over! :)).  Thank you for nudging me when I got a bit morose or disheartened at the seemingly slow pace, and for reminding me of the real priorities and of so much for which to be grateful.

I had an interesting experience a couple days after we realized what was happening recently with the  unexpected (miraculous!) windfall (from God!).  Looking back on it, maybe I should have kept my mouth shut, but I shared with a former classmate a bit of what had happened, without realizing that it might not be something easy for her to be happy about, too...after all, we had commisserated for a couple months about job related things as we juggled bills in light of the scarcity of job openings and the specter of rising gas prices...and so on.  Her husband had found a job (we'd prayed about it and saw it as a welcome answer to prayer), and we sometimes had touched base about this and that as we both eased into entirely new careers at the same time, comparing notes and such.  I was stunned at her reaction to my news, momentarily.   She was bitter and snide, actually.   Whoa.

(She doesnt know I have a blog, nor would she be likely to read this this is not a passive agressive jab via the blogosphere, btw)

I just was surprised.   But it's hard sometimes to face down personal sucker punches and be happy for others' happiness...and all this to say that I'm not here to wave this happy time glibly in anyone's face as they go through really tough times.  I feel we've all along the way been very blessed AND very much in the trenches.

One of the lessons I've learned is that doing with less is  not poverty, nor does there have to be a poverty mentality as long as we maintain control of whatever choices we have at the time.  But, plain and simple, living more plainly and simply has taught us to appreciate a lot of things we used to take for granted AND it's taught us there are plenty of THINGS we are just fine doing without...even things others might call necessities.

We're only midway on the self-sufficiency scale compared to a lot of others out here who really are excelling at it, but then again we usually do most things slowly, easing into them.  I have to say that this community we think of as the "homesteading" community (and all the diverse range that encompasses that loose term) KEEPS us motivated...that's YOU!  We're not down-and-outers...we're cutting edge!  You, our neighbors via the internet (all over the world!) challenge us to get really creative, look at the possibilities, use what we have in the most interesting and creative ways, compare notes on so many different levels and topics, throw out questions for those with the most experience to help us answer, and share the REAL details of home life, not just some "green dream" but rather the nitty gritty of successes, failures, and family along the way.

We're SO GRATEFUL for YOU!!!!

And we THANK  YOU !!!

A special extra thanks goes to those of you who have taken the time to pray for us at any point along the way.  We truly feel your prayers are what have been answered here, not just ours.  Any time we can return the favor, please email's one thing we so believe in.  We thank God for YOU.  Thank you for caring about us!

Re-reading this post, I'm really inadequately saying what is on my heart just now, but I hate to let one more day go by without at least trying.  As so many people are panicking right now, or running scared and not knowing where to turn, we feel we already have a community that has roots and can help ground those around us who need somewhere and someone to turn to during hard times...we point people to local resources but also to this community...again, YOU.  These connections with REAL people who become familiar to us and such a welcome bunch of friends as well as a wealth of wisdom...these connections are so important.  There are answers, solutions, things to try, changes that can be made, a way to make it...and keep our choices, decision-making, and quest for the best quality life at the forefront of our efforts rather than losing heart and giving up.

A big ingredient in my not losing heart is seeing and learning from your personal blogs...and in getting to know you in ways ranging from occasional comments to knowing someone well enough to recognize a kindred spirit :)

Thank YOU

Thank YOU

Thank YOU

I seldom say it enough, how important you are to me, to both Jack and myself.  I'm saying it now.

We're now sharing our happiness with you, who have been with us for however long or short on our journey.  Please share yours with us as well, even if we don't show up in your comments as often as we'd like.  We DO care!   Time's kept us away from reading your own blogs as often as we'd like (and boy, do we LIKE to!) but...dare I say it ...we simply LOVE you guys.



You are one of the biggest parts of our happiness right now.   Thank you for sharing it with us.  If you're someone in the fire right now, or just having a hard time seeing light at the end of the tunnel and it's hard to share anyone's happiness, I'm saying hang in there and keep doing the right thing.   And email us so we can pray for you or encourage you, too.   In so many ways, we're all in this thing called Life together.  Thank you to everyone out here who has helped us realize this!

Much love from myself and my beloved Jack to you,


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow

...flies, rather than creeps!  (sorry, Ye Bard)

I have every intention of typing up Part Two of "Debt, Gone!"...was supposed to do it yesterday, then today...I'm not procrastinating but I want to have my brain at the computer along with my fingers while typing.  I'm tired!  It's a good tired from more recent activity than I've been used to.

Anyway, the subject of Part Two is the role friends (you!) have played in our debt-repayment success, and I don't want to rush through it.   So HOPEFULLY tomorrow I'll have time to respond to your WONDERFUL comments and to pen the next post.  It's not for lack of being hope to have something up by tomorrow late PM.   Just didn't want anyone to think I'd fallen off the internet in the last couple days :)

Hoping to be back tomorrow...!!!  THANK you for being happy along with us, and for being a part of so many of our ups and downs, and in this case, JOYS   :)