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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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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Well, it was no small task, but I FINALLY got everything in my pantry inventoried, organized and put away.

I wanted to share my process with you too, so if you’re interested in getting a full tour of our pantry and seeing how I organize things, click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead and check it out on YouTube!

P.S. I know you’re not supposed to stack canning jars as having multiple heavy rows stacked on top of each other can compromise the seal of the jars on the bottom. I avoid stacking when possible, but due to the style of our pantry I have made the conscious choice to stack one row (max) on top of the bottom and always make sure to stack jars of equal or lesser weight on top. And yes, we do have plans to add more shelves soon. Just a disclaimer since I’m sure I’ll get more comments about it;)

Also, be sure to leave a comment and let me know about any pantry organization hacks you use! I’m always looking to improve our system:)
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Finally got around to taking EVERYTHING out of the pantry today and now getting ready to take inventory.

When everything is buried in the pantry, it can be so easy to forget what you have. That’s why I always recommend taking everything out when starting a pantry challenge so you know exactly what you’ve got. I was feeling like we hadn’t preserved enough food this year to get us through the month, but now that I see everything, I’ve got all sorts of creative ideas for how to use up the abundance of food that we have.

I’m also finding things I didn’t know I had, seeing what I have more than enough of and finding gaps in my food storage. This is one of my favourite reasons for doing a pantry challenge: it’s an excuse to pull everything out and actually see what we’ve got so we know what we’re working with.

In order to keep everything organized, I also created printable pantry, fridge and freezer inventory sheets where I can record everything I’ve got (so it doesn’t get lost at the back of our very deep pantry again). If you wanna grab these printables, along with my weekly meal planning sheet, homestead pantry checklist, pantry substitutions chart and 31 Days of Dinner Ideas cheat sheet, click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead and sign up for the Homestead Pantry Challenge and I’ll send everything to your inbox:)

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Have you started organizing your pantry yet??
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🌱 One of the things I get asked the most during the #homesteadpantrychallenge is what we do for fresh veggies. Now, I much prefer to eat seasonally, which means eating the veggies that we preserved over the summer and fall during the winter. But I do start to miss my fresh greens by the time January rolls around.

Sure, I could grow some salad greens over the winter months, but that would require a level of organization that I frankly haven’t reached yet. And quite honestly, I don’t love going out to the garden in the middle of winter due to the torrential rain, swampy mud and frigid temps we get here in the PNW. No no, I’m a little too lazy and disorganized for all that! I’d much rather plant seeds a few days before I want to harvest them and do it all from the comfort of my kitchen during the nasty weather season.

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I get all of my microgreens from @trueleafmarket, one of the sponsors of this month’s pantry challenge, as well as the current issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine!

To enter to win your own self-watering microgreens growing kit from True Leaf Market, be sure to join in the Homestead Pantry Challenge on Instagram, and to learn more about microgreens AND score yourself a sweet 10% discount off all True Leaf products, make sure you’re subscribed to Modern Homesteading Magazine (discount code is in the magazine and in the delivery email).

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Well, we made it. It’s hard to believe that 2020 is finally behind us, but here we are, at the dawn of a new year; A fresh page and a new chapter.

This past year has been one for the history books for sure, and it most definitely has not all been good. But it hasn’t been all bad either. Us humans have a tendency to focus on the bad. It’s a survival tool that’s hard-wired into our brains to be on the lookout for danger. So we have to make a conscious choice to see the good in bad situations; To find what we can control and cling to it in a sea of things that we cannot control and, therefore, must let go of.

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As we enter 2021, I encourage you to remember that those things that were out of our control last year are still out of our control this year. They always have been, and always will be. But what is in our control are our thoughts and actions; How we choose to see and react to the world and to each other.

My hope is that we can begin to leave the past behind us and choose to see the world in a new light. In the Universe there is no good and bad. Everything just is. We assign the value.

I also hope that we begin to see each other as fellow travellers on the same journey, and to treat each other with equal respect, no matter our skin colour, gender, political or religious beliefs.
 
Finally I hope that the trend of people taking an interest in modern homesteading and taking action toward living a more sustainable, self-sufficient life continues long after COVID is behind us. As a whole, I think this was one of the best things to come out of this past year; A bright silver lining on a dark cloud.
 
There’s no way to know for sure what 2021 has in store for us, but I know that if we enter into this next chapter with open minds and hearts, along with a willingness to step up and take charge of the things in life that we can control while committing to let go of the rest, well then 2021 will be a good year no matter what.
 
To a new year and a fresh start 🥂
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Needless to say, a pantry challenge might be just what you need right about now to reign in your spending, put your resourcefulness, kitchen skills and creativity to the test, increase your self-sufficiency and decrease your dependence on the grocery store and on people and systems that are outside of your control.

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This year's Homestead Pantry Challenge is even bigger and better than before too, with some exciting prizes up for grabs, including a @lodgecastiron skillet, a self-watering micro greens growing kit from @trueleafmarket and an 8-quart Duo Nova Instant Pot!!!

🥫To join in and enter to win, post photos or videos of your pantry, your meal planning, your meals, etc. during the pantry challenge and use the hashtag #homesteadpantrychallenge in the caption. Every post equals one entry:)

🎞 You can also post in your stories using the hashtag #homesteadpantrychallenge and tagging me @thehouseandhomestead for additional entries!

I'm SO pumped about this year's challenge and I really REALLY hope you'll join me!

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Merry Christmas friends!

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Now that the big day has come and (almost) gone, it’s time to slow down, to rest deeply and recharge for the year to come. Nobody knows what 2021 will bring, but after the year that was 2020, we’ve proven to ourselves just how resilient we can be. And that is one of the greatest gifts of all. (Well, that and this accidentally inappropriate ornament we got to commemorate a year that will forever live in infamy;)

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night ❤️
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Cranberry sauce is a holiday tradition, but if you’ve ever had store-bought cranberry sauce out of a tin, then you probably know how unappetizing it can be.

From the “glurp” sound that it makes as it slides out of the tin and into the bowl, to the way the jelly stays formed in the shape of the tin even after it’s out, to the bland boringness of the flavour.

No offence to anyone who loves commercially canned cranberry sauce, but even if you love the store-bought stuff, then you’re definitely gonna love homemade cranberry sauce!

I know a lot of people put orange juice or orange zest in their cranberry sauce, and you can totally do that too! But I’m actually not a fan of the orange-cranberry mix, so my recipe calls for a little cinnamon and vanilla, as well as some sugar to give it a sweet spiciness that goes oh so well with Christmas dinner.

But perhaps the best part is that you’re able to can this cranberry sauce too, which means you can make a big batch this year and have enough homemade cranberry sauce on your shelves to last you multiple holiday seasons! Or you could even give some away to loved ones with whom you’re not able to spend Christmas with this year.

Whether you want to can it for later or eat it fresh or just refrigerate it until Christmas, this recipe is a must-try this holiday season.

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to get my full recipe plus canning instructions:)
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#homemade #fromscratch #christmasrecipes #cranberrysauce #delicious
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Look at that JIGGLE!!!

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Collagen has so many health and beauty benefits, including healthy skin (and reduced wrinkles), shiny, healthy hair and strong bones, cartilage, joints and muscles.

I love making my own broth at home because I can pretty much guarantee a good gel and lots of collagen in each batch. Plus I make mine super frugally, with bones and veggie scraps that I save in the freezer.

I’ll be posting my recipe (and canning instructions) soon. Start saving those scraps!
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#bonebroth #collagen #nourish #wholefoodnutrition #homesteadkitchen
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After 9 long months of extreme hand washing and sanitizing, the last thing our skin needs right now is the harshness of winter. But winter is here my friends, and that means it’s time to give your skin a little extra TLC.

I make my own body butter every year around this time, and it’s become my favourite way to moisturize my skin during the winter months. Much like a deep conditioner works on your hair, body butter absorbs deeply into your skin to help moisturize, repair and protect it.

While lotions contain water (aqua), they also requires additional preservatives to keep them from going moldy due to the water content. But this homemade whipped body butter doesn’t have this problem because it’s made of nourishing oils and fats like shea butter, sweet almond oil and coconut oil (plus beneficial essential oils for all-natural fragrance). These oils are not only all-natural and highly beneficial for your skin, they’re also easily absorbed, giving your skin a “deep conditioning” rather than just a surface moisturizing.

But the best part of all is how quick and easy this body butter is to make up in your kitchen, and what a nice gift it makes this time of year too! So you can make a jar for yourself and a few jars for the people you love:)

Click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/homemade-body-butter/ to get the full recipe and “whip up” a batch today;)
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#bodybutter #naturalbeauty #naturalliving #skindeep #homemade #handmade #naturalskincare
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The holidays are fast approaching, and that means it’s time for my FAVOURITE THINGS!!! 🎉🎁🎄(aka. The modern homesteader’s Christmas wish list;)

I’ve rounded up all of my fave kitchen tools, books and home and body products that I use all the time and could not live without (ok, I could live without them, but I wouldn’t want to!) and I’m sharing them all with you in this week’s YouTube video!

Grab a mug of something warm (or a glass of something chilled) and come on in for a tour of all the goods!

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to YouTube.com/thehouseandhomestead for all the latest videos:)
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