Exalibur 9-tray Dehydrator Giveaway!

dehydrator-giveaway-landscapeThis amazing machine is definitely on my wish list! Probably on every homesteader’s wish list.

The black, 9 tray Exilibur dehydrator has a total of 15 sq ft of drying space, it’s got a 26 hour timer, an adjustable thermostat, 7 inch fan, 600 watts, and it is made right here in good old USA.

What can you use this machine for? Most people use it to dry fruit and veggies. For example, how about serving your kids zucchini chips, or kale chips, or maybe carrot chips? Of course, you can also make your own potato chips, or maybe sweet potato chips. How about drying tomatoes, or you can also dry onion, then grind it and make your own onion powder.

You can dry any kind of fruit. Use it as a snack, or add to baked goods or use in cooking. But if you thought this dehydrator is only good for fruits and veggies, think again. How about drying kitchen towels? Or a wet paper? You can dry used coffee grounds and eggshells, you can dry your cell phone if you happen to drop it in the toilet by mistake. The list go on and on. This post will give you some ideas.

I know you don’t need any more convincing, especially after the cell phone example… ;-)

Make sure to pay the participating bloggers a visit and give them some love! Maybe LIKE them on FaceBook or follow them on Pinterest.

Bloggers participating in this wonderful giveaway: Grow a Good Life, Timber Creek Farm, MomPrepares, Little Big Harvest, The Flip Flop Barnyard, Walking Softly Upon the Earth, The Easy Homestead, Little Blog on the Homestead, Montana Homesteader, Untrained Housewife, The Free Range Life, The Cedar Hill Chronicles, Imperfectly Happy, Pint Size Farm, Feathers in the Woods, Homestead Lady, ShneiderPeeps, Musing of a Modern Hippie, Lil’ Suburban Homestead, One Acre Farm, The Tattooed Homestead, Trayer Wilderness, Abundant Living With Less, Pasture Deficit Disorder, Letters From Sunnybrook, Homestead Bloggers Network, Lady Lee’s Home –  that’s me! Make sure you like my FaceBook page and follow me on Pinterest!

This giveaway is open to residents of the congruent United States. Entrants must be age 18 or older to enter. Giveaway runs from October 15th – 22nd. Winner will be drawn October 23rd and emailed. The winner will have 24 hours to respond to the email before another entrant is chosen.


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Good luck!



Old Fashion Semolina Porridge and the Real Story of Goldilocks

Did you ever read one of those classic fairy tales to your child and thought ‘this does not make any sense, at all!’  Well, it happens to me all the time when I read the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I mean, what little girl will wonder off by herself in the woods, trespass into a house, where lives, none other than a family of friendly bears, then eat a hot porridge, which tasted better because it was in a small bowl, then break a child’s size chair, where usually a bear sits, only to fall asleep peacefully without messing the house. Yeah, right.

You know why it doesn’t make sense? Because it is not the real story, that’s why! For years, they (not sure who ‘they’ are exactly…) lied to us. Generations of kids grew up on false information. But one thing in the story remained true to this day. The hot, sweet, milky porridge. And if you ask me, it must have been an old fashion semolina porridge.

So, I am here today, to tell you the real story of Goldilocks and to give you this easy recipe for a wonderful old fashion semolina porridge.


old-fashion-semolina-porridge-11The story of The Three Bears was first published in 1837 by Robert Southey. Some suggest that Southey was not the first to come up with the story, in fact, it is said that a very similar story had been told much earlier starring a fox as the antagonist.

In Southey’s tell, the three bears are not a family, but three bachelor bears living in a house in the woods. Already makes much more sense, right? Anyhow, they are described as a small bear, a medium bear, and a large bear, and they have always been friendly and trust-worthy.

Goldilocks, on the other hand, was not a sweet, curious girl with gold curls. Far from it. She was a filthy, ugly, foul-mouthed, bad, old lady. A criminal, really. Some suggest that Southey heard the story of the fox and confused it with an old, dirty lady. Goldilocks? Dreadlocks! That was her real name.



Anyway, the criminal lady broke into the three bachelor bears house, ate their porridge, broke their furniture in search of gold and went upstairs to take a nap since she was homeless and a warm bed sounded good. When the three bears came back home and found her, she ran away before they could fetch the forest’s police. Exactly what every criminal would have done.

Now, THIS story makes perfect sense!

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6 Natural Remedies to Prevent Cold and Flu

In the past few Winters, we got sick many times. Even though we try to eat healthy, we get plenty of outdoor exercise, and our kids don’t go to day care, somehow we managed to catch a nasty cold more than once. So this year I am determined to prevent us from getting the flu or cold. And I am determined to do it naturally.


prevent-cold-and-flu-naturaly-11So I did some research and came up with 6 natural remedies to prevent cold and flu. 6 easy things we can start doing now that will help us stay healthy this Winter.

Flu and cold are triggered by a virus, not a bacteria like many believe. Those viruses are floating around us constantly, the reason we “catch” them in a certain season is because of the seasonal change in our body. Even though the trigger of the illness is a virus, the cause for the illness is a weakened immune system.


prevent-cold-and-flu-naturaly-11. Cod Liver Oil

As the seasons change, the day become shorter, the temperatures drop, and the sun is not as strong as in the Summer months. We spend less time outdoors, soaking up less and less good old vitamin D from the bright circle up above. Researches show, that “catching” cold and flu might be a symptom of a vitamin D deficiency. Lower levels of vitamin D in your body will weaken your immune system significantly. So, the first thing to do as Winter approaches, is to make sure we keep the vitamin D level in our body optimal. One natural way to do this is by taking cod liver oil. Among the other many goodies in this oil, it is also very rich in vitamin D, and will help strengthen your immune system significantly. You will probably be able to find good quality cod liver oil in a local natural foods store or a health store, or you can purchase it online Here.

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4 Techniques of Grafting Fruit Trees

Oh man oh man oh man! I had the pleasure of sitting down with an older farmer a couple of days ago. We were talking about olive trees and somehow got to talking about grafting fruit trees. He got up, fetched a knife and a couple of branches from the mulberry tree, and started demonstrating grafting techniques to me. What a treat it was to learn all this from someone with so much experience!

Of course, you and I both know I am going to forget everything in about 10.34 minutes, so I am writing it down. All about grafting fruit trees.



What is Grafting…

Grafting means to unite, a shoot or a bud, with a growing plant by insertion or by placing in close contact. It is the joining of two living trees from the same family (it’s got to be apple with apple or pear or apricot or something else from the Rosaceae family. Or orange with orange, lemon, grapefruit or something else from the Rutaceae family and so on. You can’t graft an orange tree with an apple tree). So really, you can have one tree giving you 2 or more kinds of fruit. 


Why Would You Want to Graft a Fruit Tree…

There are many reasons, but the bottom line to remember is that we want to take advantage of one tree to grow the crop of another.

Let me give you a couple of examples. Let’s say you have an established red apple tree. The location of this tree is perfect in your homestead, the root system is strong, you get a lot of delicious red apples from it, and it is big and strong enough to survive the Winter. Your friend told you about this great green apple tree she has on her homestead, and now you think it might be nice to have a green apple tree as well. But, you don’t have room for another tree, or maybe you don’t want to wait years before another tree starts producing fruit. The solution? Grafting. Join a small shoot or a bud of the green apple tree with your established red apple tree, and you have one tree producing two kinds of apples. You are still spending the same amount of time taking care of one tree, you don’t water more than before, and you didn’t use up any more space in your homestead, yet, you now have another kind of apples for your family.

Another example… Let’s say you have an olive tree of verity A. It is on your homestead for years, it’s part of the beautiful view. The problem is; a certain type of fly comes through your area around the month of July. This fly loves your olives. The fly lay its eggs in your olives, ruining them completely. By the beginning of August, your yard is full of brown, bad olives. You don’t want to spray with chemicals, you don’t want to take the tree down, and you really want to enjoy a crop of olives. What can you do in order to save the tree? How can you use this established tree to produce great olives? The answer is grafting. You know about the olive tree of verity B. This verity start producing olives at the end of July or beginning of August after the fly is gone. You graft verity B on the established tree of verity A and you saved the tree.

There are a million examples, but I hope those help you understand the reason for grafting a bit better.

Grafting Fruit Trees- Method 1

For better understanding let’s say we are grafting tree A on tree B.


grafting-fruit-trees-108 The first way of doing this is by taking a shoot of tree A, hold it upright and cut half of the width of the lower one inch of the shoot, exposing the inside of the small branch.

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When to Pick Tomatoes

It’s the end of Summer already. The tomato plants are trying hard to hold the weight of the precious fruit.

Tomatoes are not easy to grow. It’s better to start them indoors, then transplant. They need a support system and to be watched closely for caterpillars and other pests. If you go ahead and do all that, it’s important to know when to pick the tomatoes. With all due respect to the caterpillars, worms, and other pests, they shouldn’t be enjoying your hard work. You should.


when-to-pick-tomatoes-4Like bananas, apples, and apricot, tomatoes are climacteric fruit. This means that they continue ripening after picking. Some say that the tomato tastes better if you leave it on the vine until it is bright red and soft. I prefer my tomatoes firm, and I don’t find them less juicy or sweet if the final stage of ripening is done on my counter or in my refrigerator.

When to Pick Tomatoes…

when-to-pick-tomatoes-6Therefore, I prefer to pick them when they are still somewhere between orange and red, but not bright red yet. Those tomatoes in the photo above are ready for picking in my book.


when-to-pick-tomatoes-9This one is not ready yet. I will give it a couple more days.


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The Cheapest Way to Pave a Driveway

Forget everything you know about driveways.

Asphalt, concrete, crusher run gravel, rail road ballast, paving stones… If you have a long driveway, or if you need a system of driveways on a farm, and you are planning to go with those common methods of paving a driveway, you are going to need a separate mortgage just for the driveway (or driveways). Believe me, I’ve been there. But no worries, I have a better idea for you. With a little bit of resourcefulness and work, you can cut your driveway expense significantly.


cheapest-way-to-pave-driveway-10My affair with driveways started after we bought our 20 acres of farmland, last August. There was no access to the land, so for a while we used the nieghbor’s driveway every time we came to visit. This could not last of course, so I started researching how to build a driveway.

I was very ambitious, I wanted to be able to park our RV at the end of the field, so we won’t be too close to the road. I thought “come on, how much can a 400 ft driveway cost? Surely not too much, it’s just stone…”

Well, try thousands!

Asphalt, concrete and paving stone were out of the question, we couldn’t afford any of them. And who needs a concrete driveway on a farm anyway? So we were left with rail road ballast and crusher run gravel and the widely known way of building a driveway. But wait, even then we couldn’t afford a 400 ft driveway, every truck load of stone cost $350-$400, and each truck load only covers about 50 ft. You need a layer or two of rail road ballast (the professionals told me), depending on how packed your ground is, and on top of that a layer or, more likely, two, of gravel. This adds up, and don’t forget the price of a hired tractor man and his machine, cause you are not going to rake it around, ain’t nobody got time for that! (this lady is hilarious, have a laugh…)


driveway4*Please forgive me for the quality of the next few pictures, it’s a long story, but some pictures are better than no pictures (maybe…)*

So anyway, we compromised on a 50 ft driveway (as if we had any other choice, pahh!), and I convinced myself that maybe it’s not that bad to park this close to the road.

A 15 inch concrete pipe had to be installed in the ditch. It cost $322.60 delivered, I was happy to find out that the local DOT people would install it for free if I didn’t mind waiting a few days. I didn’t.

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5 Easiest Cold-Weather Crops to Grow in Your Spring or Fall Garden

Pssst… Come closer. I have a secret to tell you… I don’t like gardening in the Summer.

Here, I said it. Here is the South, Summers are wet as the ocean, humid as a sauna, hot like a furnace, and don’t even start me on the bugs… Especially the mosquitos!

I still garden in the Summer, of course, but I much prefer the Fall garden or the early Spring garden. There are much fewer bugs, I don’t need to water almost at all, it is nice and cool so working outside is easier, and it’s not as wet and humid as in the Summer. Thankfully, there are a ton of cold-weather crops to grow in the Spring and Fall garden.


Lettuce copy006So, every year, after I clean my raised garden beds from the Summer garden or the Winter garden, I plant a bunch of cold-weather crops. Some of them are not easy to grow, for example, cabbage or broccoli. Others are as simple as can be.

When I say “easy crops to grow” I mean…

1. Easy to plant (can be direct seeded).

2. Can be started early (as soon as the soil can be worked).

3. No special soil requirements.

4. No pests (or almost no pests problems).

5. Useful in the kitchen and easy to handle.

6.  Fast growing (less than 60 days).

Before I start down the list, let me remind you that I am gardening in the South, zone 7b. I believe those 5 crops will grow well and easy everywhere, but you might need to adjust planting times and care according to your climate.

5 Easiest Cold Weather Crops to Grow in Your Spring or Fall Garden

lettuce copy004Lettuce: who doesn’t like lettuce? The crisp, juicy, sweet leaves are the perfect base of every good salad and a must ingredient in most sandwiches.

lettuce seeds can be direct seeded as early as the soil can be worked (soil temperature around 40F) in the Spring, or when temperatures cool down a bit at the end of Summer. Sow 8-10 inches apart. Since those seeds are tiny and it might be hard to space them correctly, consider making seed tapes ahead of time or use tweezers, this way you won’t have to thin later. Lettuce grows best at 60-65F and will be ready for harvest around 56 days. I sow them in the middle of March and  harvest at the end of April, right when summer crops need to be sown (I harvest a bit early since I have a small garden, and I need the real estate for Summer crops). I never had problems with pests when it comes to lettuce and as long as you have decent soil you’ll get great lettuce, of course, compost makes everything better so don’t hesitate to mix it in your soil before planting or add it around the plants later.

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Using Tweezers in the Garden

This past week, I started cleaning parts of my Summer garden. I removed the hay mulch, loosened the soil a little, and added homemade compost. Then, I was ready to plant my Fall/Winter garden.


using-tweezers-in-the-garden-3There are many kinds of cool weather crops that I can plant this time of the year, but, since my garden is pretty small, I choose to concentrate on the ones we use the most. Those are carrots, lettuce, beets, green onion, potatoes, chard and kale. The plan is to plant as many of those as I can right now, then mulch and cover them two weeks or so before the first frost (with the exception of the potatoes which I will harvest around the end of November, hopefully). The ground become a refrigerator for the roots, the plastic cover keeps the leaves from freezing, and we have vegetables from the garden all winter long.

This week I was planting  tiny seeds of carrots and lettuces and thought I will share with you how I used tweezers to do that. This technique is not going to work for everyone, like everything in life (except of Nutella, of course…), but it might work for you.


using-teewsers-in-the-gardenI know that the first thought that comes to mind is to use the tweezers to catch the tiny seeds, but this is not the only reason I use them. They also help me make sure I am sowing the seeds in the correct depth which is especially important when planting root crops.

I use a Sharpie to make a mark at one inch, which is how deep I wanted to plant my carrots…

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Moving a Garden Shed the Redneck Way

Sometimes I think we need to seek mental help. I mean… What husband and wife attempt to move a 2000 lb garden shed while their three little kids are running around on a Sunday morning? Can’t we just take a day off for crying out load!?

Did I just say a day off? God forbid!

My husband found this truck box for free. Free is as cheap as a storage shed can get, so we had to have it. We will use it like a garden shed, for outdoor storage of tools and such.


how-to-move-a-shed-11It was once sitting on a truck, but now stuck in the corner of the yard of an abandoned house.


how-to-move-a-shed-08After we had got the OK to pick it up from the new owner of the house, we pulled into the neighborhood with our heavy duty trailer.


how-to-move-a-shed-13After a bit of maneuvering, we backed the trailer up to the box.


how-to-move-a-shed-15Next, we used a high lift to raise one side of the box…

Just to clarify, by “we” I mean my husband. I was too busy yelling stuff like “oh my God, it is going to fall on the fence!” Or “it is going to kill us all!” While trying not to have a heart attack.

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Healthy Green Beans Recipe

Here is my favorite quick, easy and healthy green beans recipe. Those green beans are made with butter and garlic and are a great easy and healthy side dish.


healthy-green-beans-recipe-18My pole beans are doing great this season. So far I harvested  6lb of beans from five plants. They climb all over the railing of the front steps of the house so dinner is, literally, right out the door. Ha! My kids sit on the front steps and eat them fresh from the vine. I am lucky I actually got to cook some.


healthy-green-beans-recipe-01Here I have just a little under 2lb of beans. I think every recipe is better if you use fresh ingredients, but I make this same recipe with frozen beans I buy at the store during the Winter months.


healthy-green-beans-recipe-03Trim both ends of all the beans…


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