Berkey Water Filter

We’ve been using our Berkey Water Filter system now since December so I thought I would give a review on it for my readers. First off–we are glad we have it in light of recent news of contamination in the bottled water we have resorted to in the past because our city water reeks of chlorine. The news article here states that even Evian, which is the only bottled water that I’ve purchased in 20 years, is contaminated with plastic particles. I breathed a sigh of relief to know we have found an alternative to all of them. Here is a snippet of the review I left on Amazon for the Berkey Water Filter (I have not been compensated in any way).

I won’t be drinking water from anything else for the rest of my whole life except water filtered in our Berkey. The clean chemical free taste-free water from our Berkey hands down even tastes better than Evian (which I LOVE). It arrived safely packaged, I followed the directions, and it was up and running within 20 minutes. We bought the travel Berkey and it works great for our family of two. We live in a city that’s city water has too much of something?chlorine. And probably a lot of other things we didn’t want to keep consuming. We’ve used Pur filters for almost 10 years and our water still tasted weird not to mention Pur filters lasted us approx. 25 days a piece. My husband didn’t entirely sign on with me spending a bit over $228 for our Berkey, but once he tasted the water he told me he’ll never be without one again. He is sold on it and uses it for anything and everything we use water in, plus he himself is now drinking approx. 50 oz. of water a day. Win-win! We ordered the stainless steel spigot right away because we were worried we would break the plastic one with our constant use. We love the sturdiness of the stainless steel spigot. Our Berkey is easy to clean, easy to use, and we’re never without it. We love our Berkey Travel and highly recommend it to everyone.

Cleaning the Berkey takes about 10 minutes. I clean ours every two weeks. The manufacturer does not list how often to clean your Berkey system but does suggest cleaning it when water filtration slows down. The system is made from high-quality food-grade steel that keeps your filtered water clean and safe. However, you do need to clean the filters with water, basically helping to remove sediment or chemical build-up to keep your system going. The instructions are here.

The holding capacity of ours is 1.5 gallons and we use 2.25 gallons a day. So we must fill our Berkey twice a day from our tap. That isn’t a problem for us. We have a 2-gallon pitcher and add a gallon of cold water at a time.  The only thing we would consider a negative would be that unless you lift the lid you do not know how much water is in your Berkey. I wish it had a window on the side of the filter that let you know how much water you had used.

My next blog post will be about spring planning and spring planting! Until then–Enjoy!



You’ve probably been hearing a lot about permaculture lately, and like I, wondered what on earth is all the buzz about? Initially, I’ll be honest –all I saw when I looked at the word was culture, and I immediately thought it was a new group to join.

So what does permaculture really mean? Permaculture is defined as an agricultural system or method that seeks to integrate human activity with natural surroundings.

So how do we integrate human activity with natural surroundings?

Whether on your homestead, property, or in your garden everything created- food scraps, plant waste, and animal waste is all put back into the soil, hence composting, creating a closed loop system of farming/gardening. Nothing is brought in from the outside–you use everything that is already available to you from the resources you have on hand. Thus creating zero waste.

In essence, you collect waste, you compost the waste, and then you return it to your soil. In your soil, you grow your food, and if you have livestock you grow their food too.

By doing things this way your operation is considered sustainable, as well as efficient, less costly to operate, it’s environmentally safe, as well as safer for you, your family, and anyone that eats what you produce–nothing from the outside is being hauled in that may be contaminated with chemicals, bacteria, or other pollutants.

In closed-loop farming, you try to use everything such as:

  • Table scraps are composted- all scraps even bones and meat scraps.
  • Lard is rendered from pigs
  • Animal hides are tanned and turned into gloves, vest, jackets, and so much more.
  • Garden scraps–any and all safe plant scraps
  • Animal waste is composted.

By the way, this isn’t something that is new in farming, gardening, or homesteading. I grew up this way in the 70s, and know many hundreds of people that grew up this same way too. I grew up on a farm, but even most of the city kids I knew had compost pails under the sink. All kitchen scraps were thrown in the garden, and/ or fed to the chickens and pigs. Chickens scratch the ground–they are natural compost tillers. I found a great article about this here.

What is vitally important to remember as you start your spring planting is — you need your soil to be at its very best. You need to start with soil that is alive, healthy, and thriving. Chemical-laden soil grows a chemical laden product. Depleted of its nutrients soil grows depleted of its nutrients product. Small scale or large scale you don’t need to rely on places outside your farm or homestead to provide you with nutritious resources for healthy soil. You have everything it takes to make it if you have kitchen scraps, plant and animal waste, time and space.

Here’s an article I found that teaches you all about composting.

Here’s an article about building healthy soil.

Here is a Composting 101 Guide.

Here’s a Permaculture Film.

Here’s some free online streaming of all things permaculture.

And last but never least here is a family that blogs about homesteading, permaculture, and gardens created by chicken tillers– The Rhodes Family on Youtube. You will love them and find a ton of useful information about permaculture and chicken gardens here.

A special thanks to the website Permaculture Research Institute for providing hours of rich and comprehensive information for me to consume on Permaculture.

Building a strong immune system–what’s in my medicine cabinet

Headache/Sinus Headache/Facial Migraines –Peppermint Essential Oil.

Pain-bone spur pain, arthritis pain, bursitis pain–Copaiba Essential Oil

Colds, Flu, Sinus Issues- 1 tsp elderberry syrup every 1-2 hours for 12 hours.

Mood- I diffuse Orange and sometimes Lemon Essential Oil

Menopause issues- I eat yams–roasted, pureed, anyway they taste good. Sometimes mixed with mashed potato and sometimes with applesauce. They help a lot with hot flashes.

Sleep- Lavender Essential Oils on bottoms of feet, and I take 320 mg of magnesium a day. Magnesium works great for constipation as well. I found a great article on using Magnesium supplements here.

Rollerball for applying oil–15 drops of lavender EO and fractionated coconut oil. Put the 15 drops of lavender EO in rollerball and then fill the rest of rollerball up with fractionated coconut oil. Shake before each use.

Stress- Frankincense Essential Oils on the bottom of feet.

Same recipe as Lavender Essential Oil recipe for sleep, but you use Frankincense not the lavender with fractionated coconut oil.

Sore achy muscles- we take Epsom salt baths several times a week. Epsom salt is great for relieving muscle aches and pain and also detoxifies your body.

Not everything I use to support mine and my husband’s health is an essential oil. For over 20 years I have incorporated healthy living and a healthy diet into our lives. It’s been many years since my husband or I were sick. I don’t say this lightly–it takes work and considerable money. Eating junk food, or an unhealthy diet and using OTC products is so much cheaper.

Our diet– I’ll start by saying 60% of our diet is organic. I know some people are going to say to themselves I’m a food snob or? But I’m really not. I’ve had Fibromyalgia most of my adult life–probably close to thirty years now. I spent four years researching diets, food, and food safety and discovered that it was possible to feel better and live the life I wanted to if I changed my diet. So I did. It hasn’t happened overnight. We are still working on several changes in our diet. All total we’ve been working on a complete 360 almost fourteen years.

We aren’t big meat eaters. Before I got married I had been a vegetarian for over ten years. Since being married I’ve been a vegetarian for another ten years. We eat red meat once a week. We eat poultry or fish twice a week, and the rest of the week is meatless. We don’t eat out more than 12 times a year. When we eat out we usually choose homemade food restaurants or a local pizza place. I can’t think of anything we eat that we overeat. I don’t use any cheese in my cooking, processed foods are out, and most of what we eat is fresh and usually locally grown. When we grocery shop we shop in the outside aisles for the most part. I don’t buy anything in cans, boxes, or the freezer section except ice-cream.

We don’t drink alcohol and neither of us smokes. We also don’t use any OTC medications except Tylenol.

We weren’t always this healthy I assure you. Twenty-some years ago we had a cold every year, sometimes twice a year, just like everyone else. We also had the stomach flu a time or two. But overall I think we’ve been fairly lucky, considering I worked for almost twenty years in healthcare.

Having fibromyalgia has been the hardest thing for me because so many other things have come with it. I’ve dealt with IBS off and on since I was a teenager, but since changing our diet most of my IBS symptoms are gone. I’ve also had IC for about twenty years and that can be a very frustrating thing to have. But again diet plays a major part in controlling the symptoms of IC.

Before I quit smoking I had a lot of allergies. I probably had a severe allergy, that caused me to miss work, or be in bed all weekend, 3x a week. Now, I maybe have a couple of bad allergy days a year. Sometimes I have facial migraines, which are something new to me. I started getting these about ten years ago. I also deal with jaw pain at times which is also something found in people who suffer from fibromyalgia.

Another important thing for me to add in about my health is that I suffered from malnutrition most of my young life. I was diagnosed at eight years old. Growing up not only was I a picky eater, I had major issues regarding food. From a baby until eight or nine my diet was extremely limited. This aversion to food caused by malnutrition remained an issue until I was in my late thirties. To give you an example of the degree of malnutrition I had, I weighed 60 lbs in 5th grade. When I graduated high school I weighed 92 lbs. I tried twice in the eighties to join the military and twice weight issues prohibited me from being able to join.

To say my health was extremely fragile when I was 30, and met my husband and married, would be an understatement. I shouldn’t really be as healthy as I am now. I owe most of my good health to eating right and using a homeopathic approach to all of my health issues.

In addition to my homeopathic approach, I am also careful about getting the flu shot. I have never had a flu shot–I’m certain this statement will cause some readers to become very unhappy with me. But it’s true, no flu shot ever. I’m allergic to eggs and penicillin–and in the old days, you couldn’t get a flu shot if allergic to eggs (and I’m sticking with that recommendation, even though the CDC has now relaxed it). I still have issues with eggs if they’re not pasture raised organic eggs. In my whole life, I have had to use an antibiotic 3 times. Once in my childhood, once with strep throat, and once when I had foot surgery. That’s it. My husband has used an antibiotic just twice in his life, he too is allergic to penicillin.

Sometimes I am convinced being allergic to penicillin has been a good thing for both my husband and I. I once sat in a room with 15 students and our instructor and was the only student not to get the swine flu. My husband is 1 of 2 people out of a 100 people not to get the flu this year. It’s on its third time around in his workplace.

Three Secrets to a Strong Immune System

  • Probiotics- I eat Activia yogurts 3 x a week. I stop using them if I start to get too much gas or bathroom activity. That tells me I have enough active strains in my system and need no more at this time.
  • Sleep- 8 hours every night.
  • Drink 1/2 your body weight in clean filtered water every day.

I’d like to say we drink kombucha a lot or eat kimchi on a regular basis but we do not. We’ve tried both but unfortunately did not like them. Probiotics were difficult for both of us at first. I tried several brands of probiotic supplements and had varied results. If you’ve been reading my blog awhile you’ll remember I thanked taking Accuflora–a probiotic tablet for helping me to recover from a serious intolerance to gluten. I took Accuflora off and on for about two years with great success and then switched to Activia.

Other things that can be done to assure strong immunity and healthy living–

  • Wash bed pillow often or change it out.
  • Keep all toothbrushes separate from other toothbrushes and not out in open in your bathroom. I keep mine on a piece of paper towel in my medicine cabinet. Change out toothbrushes every 2-3 months, more if you’ve been sick. Change out the piece of paper towel or cup in is kept in every 2-3 days for the cup, once a week for paper towels.
  • Wipe down doorknobs if there is someone that has been sick in the home. Wipe down toilet flusher on toilet daily with a baby wipe or antibacterial soap.
  • Clean toilets once a week, more if someone has been sick in the home.
  • A banana or apple a day really does keep the doctor away.
  • Wash hands often. Don’t touch your hands to your mouth when out shopping in stores. Try not to touch bunker railings (where the meat etc. are kept in the meat and dairy department). Every time I’m at Walmart I see someone sneeze and wipe their hands all along the bunkers in the meat and dairy department.  My husband and I do use hand sanitizer all the time. We have heard that is really doesn’t work, but for us, it works even if it is semi somewhat pyschologically. Maybe it’s because that is what is on our hands vs. germs from the meat bunkers in Walmart? No clue.

I understand that not everyone can follow a homeopathic approach to their health. Many people have very serious issues that do indeed require regular doctor visits and prescribed medication. Other than my having Fibromyalgia and back issues my husband and I do not have health conditions that warrant being under a doctor’s care. Believe me when I tell you we do not take our good health for granted. At any time, for many reasons, our story could change. If you have some of the less serious issues I have mentioned I would encourage you to give essential oils, good herbal teas, and probiotics a try. I hope this post is helpful to some of you. I wish everyone good health in 2018!

If you are curious about oils or have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments. This month I am offering a $25.00 Amazon gift card to anyone that signs up for a wholesale membership with Doterra under my referral id–  4104948

To start an account and become a wholesale member (wholesale prices 25% off retail pricing) go here.

Choose language and country of residence and click continue and fill out account information. When you get to Account Type choose Wholesale Customer and when you get to Referral Information enter my referral id–4104948

Click Continue

There are two ways to get a wholesale membership account with Doterra–

  1. Pay $35.00 and then begin purchasing oils through your virtual office and get up to 25% off with each purchase.
  2. or Choose a starter kit (150.00 and up), waive the $35.00 membership fee and enjoy 25% off with each purchase.  I joined in 2017 with the Family Essentials and Beadlets Kit ($150.00). Best $150.00 I ever spent.

There are two ways to order your oils once you are a wholesale member–

  1. Create a New One Time Order
  2. Create a Loyalty Rewards Order (earn points, and get free product)

There are no requirements that you share or sell Doterra essential oils. But I promise once you learn how to use them and see just how they work you won’t be able to stay quiet for long. Even so, you can sit back and enjoy your oils and never have to sell them to anyone. Every year renew your wholesale membership –$25.00 annually and reap the rewards of these wonderful oils.

I have almost thirty years of using oils under my belt, and just a little over a year using Doterra essential oils. If you have any questions, any at all, feel free to leave a comment or email me at

Thank you!

Homemade Biscuits – an urban homesteader treat

A dream come true– I’ve just made homemade biscuits from scratch!

For years and years, I’ve been buying

and to be perfectly honest we’ve never been happy with them.

So today I followed a recipe by @colonialmilling

Combine in a bowl: 2 c All Purpose Flour, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp salt. Cut in 6 tbsp cold butter. The butter should be about pea sized when you’re finished. (use a fork or your hands) Pour in 1 cup buttermilk and mix just until it comes together. It will be very crumbly. Flatten the dough on a floured surface then fold it over on itself. Do this 3-4 times. (this makes them flaky) Cut your biscuits and bake 450-degree oven 15 min or so or until golden brown.

Total prep time- 10 min. Total bake time 15 minutes. These could also be baked in a cast iron pan. I used a cookie sheet. My first 6 weren’t as tall as my last 6 because I flattened my dough too much with my first batch. I tasted one almost right out of the oven–absolute heaven. I used organic flour, aluminum free baking soda, salt, organic butter, and organic buttermilk plus the slat and baking powder. I was able to get 12 biscuits vs. the standard 5-8 we got in the Pillsbury cans. I usually pay just a bit over $2.20 for the Pillsbury.  The total cost for a dozen organic homemade biscuits is-salt on hand, soda on hand, powder on hand, 2 cups of flour cost less than .50 cents a cup, buttermilk .35 and butter (6 tbsp).75 = total cost of approx. $1.80

Tonight’s meal- sausage patties and eggs on homemade biscuits!

Up Next- Endocrine Disruptors–what are they? and what can you do about them?

The Day to Day of Living with Fibromyalgia


I first noticed that something was wrong with me, other than just normal fatigue, when one day it hurt to lift my arms and pain radiated from my elbows. For about a year my lower arms and elbows ached really bad. After that, I began to notice burning in both my shoulders and lower back areas. A burning sensation like I had pulled a muscle or injured something in those areas. The year was 1995 and in the area I was living in the doctors I was seeing had no clue what was wrong with me. Tests were run and concluded nothing. I was told to rest more and eat a better diet.

Years later at a doctor’s appointment for what I would later discover on my own was IC (interstitial cystitis), I was asked if I had ever been diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).  Yes, I had been in 1986. Back then I think the doctor called both of the things I had complained of–overactive bladder, which would turn out to be IC, and a sluggish? lazy, I think? bowel, which would turn out to be IBS.

Fast forward to 2004 when symptoms of my fibromyalgia were in full swing. I suffered from burning pain in shoulders, buttocks, and hips, burning hot feet, sore elbows, upper back and neck, brain fog, fatigue so bad I could have fallen asleep standing up, and an all-around feeling of depression, and loss of appetite & ambition.

Some of this I attributed to the fact I had just quit smoking.  But the level of pain I was experiencing was not from my not smoking anymore. At this point, I was also dealing with issues from IC, and some hormonal issues like hot flashes. So off to the doctors I went to see what was going on. After three blood draws I was escorted into a room to wait. When my physician arrived he concluded I did not have a UTI, and the one test he had done for hormones did not conclude any hormonal fluctuations. His feeling was that I go see a urologist. So I did. The urologist asked me a couple of questions–same ones the doctor did and informed me that what was wrong with me would go away on its own. I asked him what was wrong with me? He stated–“you have what we call little ulcers on your bladder wall, sometimes things like this happen, they will go away on their own.” Once home, of course, I went straight to my computer and googled ulcers on bladder wall and found out what I had was called IC, and I promptly joined a community of fellow sufferers at 

Had it not been for this network I wouldn’t have known what I had wrong with me, how to cope with it, or what things I could do that would help me live a normal life again.

I’ve probably had fibromyalgia since I was a teenager. Though there is no concrete reason as to why people get fibro, some think it may be due to an undiagnosed infection, injury, PTSD, traumatic childhood, and genes. All of which I am predisposed to or have suffered from for as long as I can remember. My nature is that of a worry wart. I hide my anxiety well, most would never believe I am a nervous person. I have always had what I call dark moods–dark days. I have suffered from PTSD for most of my life–learning this just recently, and had two undiagnosed infections (Strep, UTI) both when I was in my early twenties, and my first back injury at 18.

Add to that I started smoking at an early age, had a poor diet up until my forties, am a recovering alcoholic, and worked in healthcare twenty years. I’d also experienced two ectopic pregnancies, two premature births (24, 26 weeks) and a stillborn baby when I was between the ages of 18-24.

Now, in my fifties, I have suffered well over 25 years with fibromyalgia and have also been diagnosed with myofascial pain syndrome (pain from knots in muscle), arthritis in my back, and feet, and PTSD.

When I was in my forties I began a lifestyle change. First I quit smoking. Second I decided to eliminate all chemicals from my life. I started by–

  • Changing my diet to a more whole food, organic, diet.
  • Eliminating all chemicals, sprays, cleaners, lotions, deodorant’s, detergents, and make-up.
  • I stopped using store bought feminine hygiene products and invested in mama pads.
  • I started drinking water vs. pop, tea, coffee or alcohol.
  • I started to be more active–daily walks, bike rides, hiking, and pelvic floor exercises along with daily stretches.
  • I started taking naps and sleeping a minimum of eight hours a night.
  • I did everything in my power to eliminate all unnecessary stress from my life-priorities.
  • My health and my quality of life became an important priority in my life and my husband’s life.

I’ve lived in the same area for almost 22 years and dealt with, due to our insurance through work, the same inept doctors this entire period of time. For the most part, I have found that fibromyalgia is still not taken seriously by many doctors. The push seems to be to give the patient a ton of anti-depressants, and or, pain-relievers and bid them farewell. I’ve found that by my doing the aforementioned list of things my mood is better, thus I am more able to perform my household duties, and work. A healthy mind helps one to have a healthier body is my mantra. I have many days that my fatigue is nearly overwhelming, and my pain keeps me grounded in my chair a bit longer than I’d like. But somehow and someway I pull through it, and I am 100% certain it is because I changed my lifestyle so drastically almost 14 years ago.  Everyone has a different story, experience, threshold, and life to live so my experience may not be yours. I definitely believe in removing chemicals from your life. I am a firm believer that if you smoke and drink and suffer from fibro that you are only making things worse–seek out a health provider and look at all your options for quitting. If there were three things I have done that have made a difference for me living with fibromyalgia I would say they are–

  • Adequate Rest
  • Balanced diet- whole foods vs. processed foods
  • Less Stress- you’re always going to have stressful things in your life. Prioritize those things that are stressing you and work on one thing at a time. For the things you cannot control or change–let them go.

I’ve also found the Facebook group –Fibro Colors Fibromyalgia Awareness (@FibroColors) to be of great comfort to me, and also extremely informative.

I hope the new year brings you peace and good health!

Spring Planning– Seed Catalogs for 2018

It’s not long after Christmas that I begin to think gardening. This year I requested my seed catalogs early–

Richters Herb and Vegetable Catalogue and Seed Savers.

I mentioned earlier this fall I was going to overwinter a geranium and rosemary plant. Well, the geranium ended up getting gnats in it and all new growth was yellow so I threw it. The rosemary plant, however—

has some new growth. I could hardly believe it because it has really been looking rough. For once following directions for care has gotten me somewhere. Anyone else out there have the same problems as I do when you follow directions of care. I’ve killed African violets, succulents, Christmas cactus, so many to mention following care directions. But my 40-year-old cactus and a couple of succulents I have are thriving and I’ve ignored them both.

At Christmas time I bought a bag of Halos at Walmart, which almost always tend to be a bad idea, but this year perfection!

Three a day has kept the doctor away even when my husband came down with a slight cold/allergy that lasted for four days after Christmas. I had him take Sambucol Elderberry syrup from his first symptom and whatever he had was cut in half and like I said lasted just four days.

My Lemon Cypress is holding on as well–

This year, coming soon, I will be posting about Endocrine Disruptors–a subject I’ve been researching for about three months.  I will have that post completed in the next two weeks. I also hope to take you on my journey ordering and caring for Heirloom tomatoes, what I order from my seed catalogs, some favorite Keto and Paleo recipes I tried over the holidays, and so much more.




A Very Cranberry Christmas

Cranberries are definitely not just for Thanksgiving. Cranberries work perfectly paired with ham, duck, and turkey at Christmas time too.

Last Christmas I made an Orange Cranberry Bread w/ Honey from a recipe here that was a hit.  It worked great to serve it Christmas morning, and by Christmas dinner, it was ALL gone.

Every year I watch two Christmas movies from the show Little House on the Prairie–A Merry Ingalls Christmas and then the past three years I’ve made one homemade ornament or decoration inspired by these heartwarming shows. The first year we made a silver star out of aluminum foil like the one Carrie buys for a penny at the mercantile. The second year my husband made this paper garland–

this year we are making a cranberry garland like this one over at Ocean Spray only we’re skipping the popcorn.

At Thanksgiving time I don’t make cranberry sauce, I make a cranberry relish instead. I use a recipe by Tyler Florence that works great and goes well with turkey, ham, or duck. I also use it to spread like butter over bread with leftover ham or turkey for sandwiches.

So, that’s my story about my love for cranberries at Christmas time. Making homemade ornaments for Christmas is a way to incorporate something simple, yet cherished, into your holiday making. Cranberries though traditionally served at Thanksgiving look marvelous and taste great when added to bread, relish, even salsa.

I’ll be sharing my post with Marty over at A Stroll Thru Life— come on over and join the party!

Thanksgiving Menu–adding a couple of new dishes to the menu

I’ve been making Thanksgiving dinner since I was 18 years old. For my husband I’ve been making the same Thanksgiving meal almost 23 years. Several years back I decided not to try new dishes for the first time during holiday meal making, because if they don’t turn out then my stress level goes through the roof. Nothing worse than a dish that flopped and there are a minimum of10 hungry people at the table. Every year though I say to myself– “self, I should try something new this year”, but I never do. Until this year when I began prepping our Thanksgiving meal a few weeks in advance with a trial run of mashed cauliflower and a new dessert- pumpkin bundt cake with cream cheese frosting.

The recipes I chose worked great and both the cauliflower and pumpkin bundt cake turned out terrific.

I followed a recipe from Eating Well for Creamy Mashed Cauliflower.

Now, I don’t like garlic. Well, I used to, but I haven’t been able to tolerate it or onions for about five years now. No clue why?

Once my cauliflower was cooked, mashed and creamy I added butter, buttermilk, and nutmeg. Try Nutmeg– I promise you this will become your go to seasoning. It works well on cauliflower that has been steamed or boiled (just sprinkle a little over the top once done) and works great with green beans and brussel sprouts. Just make sure to have a bit of butter worked into the veggies and then lightly sprinkle with nutmeg. In place of butter, if you like, you can use any oil you would normally drizzle on veggies. I would find a good priced quality extra virgin olive oil if you are opposed to adding butter.

My menu looks something like this—

Roasted 16# Turkey
Mashed Potatoes
Mashed Cauliflower
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Baked Squash drizzled with Maple Syrup
Gluten Free Stuffing
Homemade Parker House Rolls
Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Pecan Pie  

(I love King Arthur Flour recipes– their pecan pie recipe is a big hit everytime I make it)

Until next time Happy Thanksgiving!!!

My love affair with heirloom tomatoes

To be truly honest with you when I was growing up I’m not sure what kind of tomato we were growing. I suppose they could have been heirloom? Maybe they were started from seeds grandma saved? There was no Walmart’s or Home Depot’s back in those days, so our only source besides seed saving was purchasing plants from local greenhouses.

I’ve loved tomatoes since I was eight years old and never throughout the last forty-five years has my appetite for them waned. Up until a few years ago, I’d never had a home garden. Which meant any tomatoes I would be eating would either come from a grocery store or a Farmer’s Market. I never enjoyed grocery store tomatoes, but I ate them nonetheless. Because (ahem) I love tomatoes.

In the last three years, I started seeing Heirloom tomatoes pop up at the farm stand and a time or two at the Dane County Farmer’s Market. When I say pop up I mean scarce and rare, but it happened. I remember buying one for $4.00 about three years ago and thinking “boy that was worth every penny I spent.” But that’s a lot of money. The last two years I’ve waited patiently for the farm stand we visit every week to have them. Usually, right at the end of the season, they’ll have a half dozen heirlooms sitting at check out waiting just for me. I pay about a $1.00 a pound for these. This year the farmer saved just one big red one–the nicest one he could find just for me. I’ll take them bruised, soft, and overripe. It doesn’t matter to me. While eating the heirloom this year I vowed never to eat another tomato for the rest of my life unless it was homegrown and an heirloom tomato. No more store bought ever again.

Until you’ve tasted an heirloom tomato you have no idea what you are missing. Their taste is more than just sun-kissed, or warm and fleshy. Heirloom’s taste like the very best homemade pasta sauce you’ve ever tasted –authentic and flavorful. Nothing sold in grocery stores for the last thirty years can compare.  There are also taste differences between the different colors of heirloom tomatoes. I prefer the red ones which are quite acidic, whereas the yellow ones are very mild.

For tomatoes to qualify as Heirloom tomatoes there seed must be at least 50 years old.  I found out a lot of information here about heirloom tomatoes.

I’ve found a place online that I am going to order heirloom plants and seeds from and I am going to try to grow my own. If successful I will be delighted, and if not well–I’ll wait for the farm stand to save me a few precious tomatoes at the end of their growing season. It’s a small price to pay to be able to eat a real tomato.

Here’s an almost current picture of my container garden all wrapped up for winter!

We bungee strapped a couple more blankets around the middle of each tree hoping to keep the roots from getting cold. I read that keeping the roots from freezing is the secret to over-wintering container shrubs and trees. Fingers crossed. I brought both the rosemary bush and the last geranium inside to overwinter because both plants performed better than any flowers or herbs I’ve grown yet and I’d like them to have another chance next spring.

I’ll be sharing this post over at the lovely blog A Stroll Thru Life for Marty’s 398th Inspire Me Tuesday!

Homesteader Goal #5 & 6

Buy a cast iron skillet- check

I bought a Lodge at Walmart for $15.00. Right away I went to YouTube to watch videos on seasoning cast irons. There are a million videos out there. The first time it worked fine, but the video I watched suggested to season it a second time before use. This time it came out sticky even though I used a very very tiny bit of oil. I scrubbed it good with a brush and fried bacon in it and it seems to be doing just fine. No more stickiness.  I’ve hesitated for years buying another one after a disastrous seasoning experience in 2000.

For my birthday this past weekend, my husband bought us a Berkey Travel Water Filtration System. I’ve researched this system for over a year and we finally reached the point, tired of buying water, to purchase one. The taste of the water is incredible–absolutely incredible. We’ve been drinking Evian for years and both love it. However, the water we are getting from our Berkey is even better than that. Cleanest, clearest tasting water in the world. No more city water straight from the tap for us. The reason we didn’t buy the Big Berkey is this travel size is recommended for two people and it works just fine for us. It holds 1.5 gallons of water at a time, filters fairly quickly, and my husband has gone completely crazy over it. I’ve never ever seen him drink so much water.

Twenty-four years ago I couldn’t pay him to drink water. Then five years into our marriage he would drink flavored water. Fifteen years in still at flavored water until he started drinking Evian. Then he would drink a bottle here and there and he the last five or so years he’s up to a couple of big bottles a day. But drinking Evian is expensive, very expensive.

My goal for over a year has been to buy a water filtration system so–now we own one!

Goals 1-4 of this Urban Homesteader:

  1. learning to grow garden plants from seed
  2. learning to grow vegetables and fruits from both seed starters and plants
  3. producing food
  4. preserving food

I’m feeling pretty good. Hope you all are too! Until next time, be well.