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 »

Latest
  • fresh-tomato-pizza

    Recipe: Pizza with Fresh Tomatoes

    Finally our heirloom tomato plants are ready for harvesting! We are running through our regular list of ways to enjoy fresh tomatoes, but just found one more to add to the mix: homemade pizza topped with fresh tomatoes. Get ready for something delicious and easy. I found the pizza dough recipe on AllRecipes.com aptly named “Quick and… Read more »

  • onions-curing

    Harvesting Onions

    I planted two different varieties of onions in early spring along the perimeter of our raised beds: red onions and Walla Walla sweets. You know it’s time to harvest onions when the greens start to die back, which usually happens in late summer. That means the plant is done sending it’s energy from the greens down… Read more »

  • nature-play-party

    Simple Backyard Nature Play

    Our homestead garden plan includes a small area reserved for an evolving nature play space for our little ones. We didn’t have a budget to work with, so most the play elements were based on what we had on hand. It’s a flexible space that can change over time as the kids grow and their interests change. That… Read more »

  • sunshine-blueberry-ripening

    Problem-Solver: Sunshine Blueberries

    Some of my fondest childhood memories were made among a berry patch. We grew raspberries, blueberries and strawberries on the urban farm where I was raised. Blackberries grew along a neighbor’s fence and we would cut them back just enough to keep them on their property, but within reach when the berries were ripe. In… Read more »

  • river-birth-7

    Welcome Baby River

    “I think I had better go lie down. I think that may have been a labor contraction…” I was standing in our garden next to the raised beds talking with my Dad about the garden. Contractions had been getting more and more frequent for the last week, but had yet to turn into real, belt-tightening-feeling… Read more »

  • bedroom-area

    Bedroom Facelift

    I’ve started a little trend lately here of taking you on a tour of our house, a year after move-in. Let’s continue to another room we gave a facelift to: our quiet and calm bedroom. This was less reno and more facelift because everything we did was simple cosmetic changes. The room had a yellow… Read more »

  • living-room-whole-room

    Living Room Facelift

    The mid-century home we bought a year ago had solid bones, but fabulously outdated interior spaces. Every room came with it’s own unique patterned wallpaper and a thick layer of beige carpet. It was hard to imagine we could polish this into a gem, but we took a leap of faith and snapped the house off the market…. Read more »

  • pathways-curving

    Crushed Rock Pathways

    Hardscape pathways in the garden can turn an otherwise messy space into a cleanly organized area. It’s one of those garden elements that doesn’t seem as sexy and fun as building a pergola or raised beds, but it will make a major impact in the overall visual appeal of a garden. Over my years of… Read more »

  • blueberries-prepped

    How to Freeze Blueberries

    When I was growing up, we always had a whole shelf in our freezer devoted to frozen blueberries. Around early July our family of six would visit the same local blueberry farm to u-pick about a hundred pounds of berries. All of us kids ended up with berry-stained hands and bellies full of fruit as… Read more »