late-season-harvest-2

2016 Seed Order

I spent the cold dark days of winter pouring over my seed catalogs and dreaming of spring. The flowering quince are just ready to bloom, which tells me it’s time already to start seeds (Portland is in USDA zone 8). Making my list and checking it twice #seeds #homesteadplanning A photo posted by Renee Wilkinson… Read more »

cast-iron-book

Book Review: The New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook

Is there anything cozier than a cold winter morning curled up with a mug of tea while you pour over recipes from a good cookbook? That is how I have been spending my weekend mornings this past month. I borrowed several cookbooks from the library, but one in particular has stolen my heart: The New Cast… Read more »

leaf-mulch

Building Soil Quality with Leaves

Most of us are constantly working on increasing the soil quality of our gardens – both the soil nutrients and the soil structure. Either we’re starting a new garden on less-than-ideal soil or we’re trying to build the soil quality back up after previous crops sapped nutrients from the ground or winter rains compacted the soil…. Read more »

Christmas

Year of Gratitude

As 2015 draws to a close, I can’t help but acknowledge what a tremendous year this has been. I feel cheesy talking about being blessed, since it’s becoming such a cliche. But as my friend Brigitte says, “it’s not like your favorite kombucha is on sale and you feel blessed… your mom is alive and… Read more »

solstice-crab

Celebrating the Solstice

Celebrating the Winter Solstice is my escape from the holiday frenzy that reaches it’s peak about this time. I am excited to see my extended family come together for Christmas in a few days, but the Solstice reminds us to slow down, savor and celebrate the simple aspects of our beautiful life. Here are some… Read more »

solstice-tree-pinecone

Holiday Solstice Tree

Our holiday traditions have evolved over time, as they should. The childhood season of presents has given way to a season of simplicity in adulthood – quiet hours, comfort foods, making warm memories with family and friends. It’s less about the “stuff” and more about celebrating the season of the Winter Solstice. Our annual holiday tree is a reflection of… Read more »

thanksgiving-beds

Goodnight Garden

Juniper and River were both sleeping inside as Jay puttered around the house, so I seized the moment by taking solitary refuge in the garden. We have had a handful of cold, hard frosts now as fall makes way for winter. What a wonderful way to spend my Thanksgiving, working outside on the homestead to clean up… Read more »

chanterelles-frozen-cups

Preserving Chanterelle Mushrooms

This fall I spent more time hunting chanterelle mushrooms in the woods than I spent in our own garden. The combination of foraging for wild food, hiking for hours and simply being outside among torrential rains and giant trees made me feel more than alive at an otherwise sleepy time of year. I ended up with baskets full of… Read more »

chanterelles-drying

Hunting Chanterelles

The end of the garden season signals the beginning of the mushroom season, which certainly takes the edge off of the end-of-season gardening blues. Wild chanterelles begin growing all over the Pacific Northwest in September and continue through November. They are a great “beginner mushroom” because they are very distinct looking, so you can’t confuse… Read more »

November-Juniper-Harvest

Last Harvest of the Season

After so many years outside cultivating my urban homesteads, I have developed a good sense for temperature.  I don’t need to scan the weather report obsessively – I can usually just feel when it’s getting cold enough to threaten frost or warm enough in spring to remove row covers. Portland has experienced one of the warmest… Read more »

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  • November-Juniper-Harvest

    Last Harvest of the Season

    After so many years outside cultivating my urban homesteads, I have developed a good sense for temperature.  I don’t need to scan the weather report obsessively – I can usually just feel when it’s getting cold enough to threaten frost or warm enough in spring to remove row covers. Portland has experienced one of the warmest… Read more »

  • pumpkin-cookies

    Pumpkin Recipe Round-Up

    I’m that person… the pumpkin muffin, pumpkin scone, pumpkin bread, pumpkin-everything-person. This delicious and versatile squash is the quintessential sign, smell and taste of fall. As our days get shorter and nights get colder, here’s a round up of my favorite pumpkin recipes to keep you warm and well-fed.   Pumpkins are fun, easy to… Read more »

  • october-tomatoes

    Last Call for Tomatoes

    This weekend or next may be the last call for tomatoes for the season, so break out the canner, freezer bags, dehydrator or whatever you preserving method of choice is. Tomatoes do best with nighttime temperatures above 55 degrees, but overnight temps in Portland are more consistently in the low 50’s at this time of… Read more »

  • juniper-picking-2

    My Proud Mama Moment

    I had one of those overwhelmingly proud mama moments recently that I have to share. Juniper and I spent the morning of my birthday harvesting fruit for the Portland Fruit Tree Project. They help local fruit tree owners maintain their trees in exchange for donating the fruit to the Oregon Food Bank. If you volunteer… Read more »

  • apple-chips-nom

    Making Perfect Apple Chips

    I have always loved drying the fruit harvest and with little kids we consume more of these goodies than ever. It’s a healthy, naturally sweet snack that you can munch away on without worrying about additives. And drying fruit doesn’t require a lot of hands-on time or money. A bulky dehydrator can tuck away in… Read more »

  • fall-canned-tomatoes

    It’s That Time of Year

    Fall… the crisp colorful leaves, the brisk mornings, that smell after a fresh rain… And of course, the canner. It’s a permanent fixture on our stove at this time of year while the dehydrator keeps a steady hum on the homestead. I have been busy, which is an understatement. Our ten heirloom tomato plants keep… Read more »

  • winter-planting-arugula

    Planting the Winter Garden

    The harvest basket is reaching the brim and the temperature is suppose to reach 90 degrees today, but believe it or not we are overdue to plant the winter garden! There are lots of vegetables we can grow in our mild winters, but they need enough time to get established before the winter chill sets in…. Read more »

  • september-harvest

    September Garden Update

    The harvest basket is over flowing on our homestead – finally! Squash is meandering through every open corner of the garden. Juniper is still finding ripe strawberries from our everbearing plants that carpet the planting areas. Bees are humming from one echinacea flower head to another. This is the homestead I have been dreaming of since we first… Read more »

  • pku-feet

    Our Life with PKU

    We knew that Baby River was special the moment he entered our lives, but we didn’t know he was extra special until he was six days old. That is the day when we got the call that his newborn screening test came back positive for PKU. Coincidentally, that is exactly how old my now 15-year… Read more »