2019 Spring Home and Garden Tour


Saturday night. I’m enjoying a cup of homegrown chamomile tea and a piece of my daughter’s leftover Easter chocolate. The scent of fresh-cut lilacs wafts through the house, mingling with the lavender, lemon and rosemary essential oils I’ve got going in the diffuser, and the rhubarb I’ve got drying in the dehydrator.

Jars of dandelions and pine tips are filling up on my countertop, the rabbits are eating fresh greens every day from the abundance of weeds that are everywhere right now, and our garden is just about ready to take off. Ah yes, this is spring.

We’ve had a lot going on around our little homestead-in-the-making this spring, and I must admit I’ve been totally neglecting this blog because there’s been so much that I’ve needed to devote attention to lately. 

First of all, after a year of hard work and bad fortune, we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve finally finished the coach house we’ve been building and will have a renter joining us on our property in just a couple days. My dear husband converted the garage that was here when we bought our place into a fully functioning tiny home, and although it took more time, money and red tape than I ever thought possible, we did it and we now have a separate legal suite on our property, which is great news for our finances and for our overall goal of self-sufficiency.

Part of our vision for our homestead is for it to be as self-sustaining as possible. Of course, this involves the usual things like producing our own food and personal items, but it also means being able to earn an income off of our land. We’re now doing that in part by renting out a piece of that land. So this is another step forward when it comes to our self-sufficiency and sustainability goals.

We also finally got our garden put in. In just over a week we’ve took a garden space that had been neglected for over a decade and turned it into a flourishing vegetable garden that is already full of seedlings and getting fuller every day. 

Needless to say, we’ve been a little busy. But it’s amazing what we’ve been able to accomplish on this property in just over a year. So I figured now would be a great time to open up our door (and our garden gate) once more and invite you in for a little spring home and garden tour!

 

2019 Spring Home & Garden Tour

Last year I invited you into our home for the first time. We had just moved in and had pretty much transformed the interior of the house. You can check out the original post here to see before and after pics.

I was going to wait until the one-year anniversary of that post to write a follow-up, but we’re at such a milestone right now that it seemed crazy not to share with you what we’ve been up to (and why I haven’t written quite as much as I’d have liked to lately).

So come in, won’t you? Grab a drink and stay for a while. Follow me on a little tour of our house and homestead in the making. I hope it inspires you to continue making your house a homestead too, wherever you are:)

 

Come in, come in!!!

Interior living room photo

Our front door opens directly into our living room, which opens to our dining room and kitchen, so as soon as you cross the threshold, you’re in the heart of our home. I wasn’t sure that I’d like this at first, and we had planned on building a pony wall in between the door and where the couch is, but in the end I’m glad we didn’t. One of my favourite things about this little house is how open and inviting it is. 

Spring living room and wood stove

The wood stove lays dormant in the spring and summer. But there’s no better time for a princess tea party!

I don’t talk much about our actual living space on this blog because the focus is primarily on the usual homesteady stuff like growing vegetables and using herbs and making things from scratch. But I believe making a welcoming, comfortable home is just as much a part of homesteading as growing an abundant garden.

Vases of lilacs and bluebells on a shelf

Let’s face it, homesteaders tend to spend most of their time, um, at home. We tend to value our home lives and want to make it a place that nourishes our families’ minds, bodies and souls. One way we can do that is to make our environment, both inside and outside the home, a place that comforts, soothes and inspires.

Sleeping cat

While the living room is a cozy place to chill out in the warm spring sunshine, the kitchen is where the real magic happens…

Modern homestead kitchen

Because the kitchen is the true heart of the home for any homesteader. Even if you don’t have a garden, chances are you have a kitchen, and there is really no limit to what you can create from scratch in just about any kitchen.

Modern homestead kitchen

Whether in our current house, our old rental or our city condo, one common thread is that in the spring, jars of all kinds begin to pile up on the countertop. Jars of dried herbs and dandelion buds. Jars of kombucha and sourdough starter. And the very first Mason jars of home preserved food mark the beginning of canning season.

Mason jars of rhubarb juice on the counter

Rhubarb juice is the very first thing I’ve canned so far this year. Click here to get the recipe.

I want our home to be my favourite place to be, because I spend about 90 per cent of my time here. I want to want to be here, and I want my family to enjoy being here as much as I do.

Dining room

I want our home to foster curiosity, creativity and play for our daughter, whether she’s outside catching butterflies or inside playing tea party with her dolls. 

Doll tea partyI want it to be a space where we want to live and enjoy each other’s company and the bounty that our land and home provides, even if that does mean the kitchen sink usually looks like this on the best of days…

Dirty dishes in the sinkBut that’s okay, because it’s just another sign of the life that exists here on our little homestead:)

 

Let’s head outside…

Spring tulips

Our backyard is like a little piece of paradise. While it does get a lot of sun throughout the day, it’s nice and shaded, which is already a blessing in the record-breaking spring heat that we’ve this year. I know it will be my favourite refuge to go and chill out and enjoy a cocktail during the intense heat of the summer.

Outdoor seating area

Like every other space on this property, we have big plans for our backyard. Eventually we want to move the overgrown rhododendron bush, build a deck (those little stones are not fun for bare feet!), re-seed the grass, pull out the poisonous laurel tree in the back corner and build a playhouse for our daughter. Oh ya, and mow the lawn one of these days… (Can you see those dandelions that have gone to seed in the background??)

But for now, I love it just the way it is <3

Bumblebee on a rhododendron flowers

Smelling the flowers

Cat peeking through the tall grass

Behind our sitting area is our rabbit pen.

Rabbit pen

While I would love to have some meat animals one day, these rabbits are our pets. We adopted our male rabbit (whom we simply call “Bunny”) years ago from a rescue who found him dumped in a cage in front of the hospital. I’ve always had a mild obsession with Alice in Wonderland, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to add a large white rabbit to our family!

We let our rabbits “free range” in the spring when the weather gets nice.

We got him a girlfriend for Christmas and they totally love each other and snuggle all the time. We named her Jessica Rabbit… Because she’s fancy.

Spring bunnies in their penAround the corner is our greenhouse, a small backyard garden bed with a rhubarb plant and our sugar snap peas and a planter box full of garlic. 

Inside the greenhouse

Seedlings

Peas & rhubarb

Homegrown garlic patchOh, and our homemade rain barrel, which has been working like a charm! 

Homemade rain barrel

Learn how to make your own homemade rain barrel out of a few simple and inexpensive materials.

 

Onto the front of the house…

The large driveway in front of our house is home to the garage-turned-coach-house that I mentioned earlier on. This is what it looked like before…

Garage before being remodelledAnd this is what it looks like now…

Coach house in the driveway

Come take a tour before our renter moves in!Coach house kitchen

We were very intentional with how we designed this small, 365 square foot space. Because we were converting a garage, we had to work with the foundation we had. But in the end, I think we really made the most of it!

Coach house kitchen

We wanted it to feel as big and bright as possible, so we went with finishes like white shiplap and a tongue and groove pine ceiling that helps lengthen the room.

Coach house hallway

Luckily I have an incredibly handy husband who can build just about anything, so we were able to get this done for a fraction of what it would have cost us if we had to hire people to do all the work. 

This rental unit is a huge asset to us and our property, and will help bring us one step closer to self-sufficiency by creating a source of income from our property.

Coach house bathroom

Serious props to my hubby Ryan for taking on this project and seeing every detail through to the end. Having a skilled handyman around is another huge asset, and I am grateful every day for mine<3

 

And finally, the garden!

We were really lucky when we bought this place that it already had a large fenced garden area in the front of the house where we get the most sun. However, the garden had been left to go wild for more than a decade, and so we had our work cut out for us this spring as we scrambled to turn this area into a functioning garden space before our hundreds of seedlings burst out of their tiny pots.

This is what it looked like when we started…

Overgrown garden

Beautiful, in a very “Secret Garden” sort of way, but totally not usable.  

Of course, we’ve had big dreams for this space since day one. Our ultimate goal is to build raised beds to ward off the aggressive horsetail weeds that grow wildly in our area. 

But that will have to wait, because this year the priority was just getting our plants in the ground. And I’m proud to say that in jut over a week, we turned that crazy, overgrown space into a fully functioning garden space.

Spring vegetable garden We created a few simple in-ground rows for our annuals, our perennials (raspberries, blueberries and asparagus) will go in around the front, and we’ll have a pumpkin patch in the far corner. 

Spring vegetable garden

We tore out everything from this space to make way for the garden beds, including about 5 tonnes of rocks and mini boulders, another huge and unkempt rhododendron bush, an invasive blackberry vine and a rhubarb plant so massive that its roots looked like tree roots and and it looked like it had been around since the days of the dinosaurs. Luckily we’ve got two more rhubarb plants on our property.

Red currant bush

We did leave the red currant bush. Last year we were too busy and it was so overgrown I could barely get to the currents to pick them. But this year I intend to make some jelly or cordial with the berries. I’ve never used currants before, so feel free to drop your favourite currant recipes in the comments!

We’ll also be putting in a medicinal/pollinator flower garden, a nice sitting area and a new 3-bin composter soon. But for now, I’m happy to sit on an old, wobbly, driftwood bench, listen to the birdsong and marvel at my perfect row of broccoli on a warm spring evening in the garden.

Glass of wine on the garden benchFor me, this is pure bliss.

 

There’s no place like home

Home provides for us in so many ways. It is the shelter that keeps us safe, warm and comforted, the garden and kitchen that keeps us fed and well, and the space where we live, love, laugh, cry and take our stand in this crazy world.

Creating a home (and certainly a homestead) requires work every single day. You really do get out what you put in. But over the past year, we’ve proven to ourselves that the effort we’ve put in each day really does add up, and the harder you work, the faster you reap the rewards.

Not only have we managed to turn this house into a small but very functional homestead in a single year, but the process of doing so has helped us to further develop the grit, determination and resourcefulness that it takes to live this lifestyle we’re so passionate about. And it’s proven that when you have a dream AND you make a plan to actually achieve that dream AND you take consistent action in the direction of that dream, then nothing can stop you.

That’s what we did. And now that we can look back and see how far we’ve come, I know for a fact that we’ll be able to make all of our dreams a reality. 

And we’ll do it all from the best place on Earth: home.

Because personally, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

 

Wishing you homemade, homegrown, homestead happiness 🙂


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REAL FOOD
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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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(1/5) The past few weeks have been some of the most difficult to date in my occupation as a homesteader and a blogger.

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Why have I chosen this path, and why is it important to me to share it with the world??

The truth is, I've talked about my "why" before. I don't homestead and grow food and cook and preserve and preach about sustainability and self-reliance and self-determination simply because I think homegrown tomatoes are healthier and taste better than store-bought tomatoes. Sure, this is part of it, but it's not the part that drives me to put in the long hours and hard work that goes into the line of work I've chosen.

What drives me to do what I do and to share my passion for homesteading and self-sufficiency with the world comes from a place deep inside me that sees the wrongs in our system, and wants to do whatever I can to challenge them and make them right.

I've talked many, many times about the flaws with our modern, industrialized food system, and about how homesteading is a way to take back some control over our food supply and buck this system. (Yes, that's buck, with a "b" ;)

I talk all the time about the importance of supporting small farmers and local businesses instead of big corporations, and about the importance of voting with your dollars.

And I preach the importance of community, and why it's so important to support each other and find support in your community, whether in your local community or online. Because self-sufficiency is about more than each individual person or family; It's about empowering entire communities of people to rise up and take control of their own food supply and basic needs, and break free from the cycle of dependency on the system that most of us are born into.

To me, homesteading is about so much more than the act of growing and preparing food, or DIY-ing your own soap or candles or toothpaste. Quite honestly, it's a way for everyday people to take back control over their own lives and throw a proverbial middle finger to "the system" and the status quo.

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A reader of mine who tried to share this recipe a couple weeks ago suspects that it’s because the word “shooting” appeared in the post, when I talked about our rhubarb stalks “shooting” out of the ground. I’ve since changed that sentence and appealed to the FB gods, but so far to no avail.

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(1/3) When I look back on my 34 tours around the sun, all I can say is WOW! How incredibly blessed I’ve been.

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I don’t like radishes. But I love to grow them, which has created quite a dilemma in the past. That is, until I discovered ROASTED RADISHES!

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🕷 There was a time in my life when finding a nest of spiders on my garden gate, VERY close to the handle, would have easily been considered one of my worst nightmares.

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But when I started gardening and reconnecting with nature, suddenly spiders went from being something I was afraid of to something I welcomed on our property.

In the spring, I love seeing the garden spiders (I have no clue what they’re actually called) running around close to my fingers as I plant out seeds, many of them carrying large egg sacs on their back.

In the fall I love watching orb spiders spin their webs that capture the last of the summer rays and the first of the fall raindrops on their silky threads.

Even in the bathroom (why do spiders gravitate to the bathroom??) I always try not to kill the spiders that I find, but relocate them to the garden instead. A healthy garden is teeming with spiders and worms and butterflies and bees. A healthy garden is full of healthy life, and just like good bacteria helps ward off bad bacteria in our bodies, so too do the “good bugs” help to control the bad bugs in the garden, and spiders are one of the most beneficial bugs when it comes to that!

It’s amazing how much living close to the land changes you and gives you a greater respect for all life. As much as I’m still not ready to put my hands out and hold a spider (I literally passed out when I was a kid and tried to hold someone’s pet tarantula), I am learning to coexist with all things, and appreciate the unique purpose that every living thing serves here on Earth.

As much as it may seem like we have nothing in common, if you take a moment to just observe nature or sit in stillness by your garden gate, you’re sure to realize we all have more in common than most people might think.
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