Category Archives: Spirituality

January 2022: This Month On The Homestead

The mushroom lab is complete! Mike has some micelium started. When it is mature, he will be hanging up his shingle on Etsy, selling mycelium syringes and substrate to fellow mycologists. We are still waiting on some much-needed supplies, but like everything else, there are “supply chain issues.” Soon, though.

This lab is the culmination of over a decade of dreaming and planning. So many times we were discouraged, thinking it would never happen. The false starts, the lack of funds; it has truly been an uphill struggle.

Then one day a couple months ago a random thought completely unrelated to mushrooms led to a flurry of manifestations. Brilliant ideas started coming. Outside-of-the-box thinking helped us to work around the obstacles in our path, and suddenly it all just fell into place. And here we are, soon-to-be entrepreneurs!

It’s the end of January, and we are chomping at the bit to get this business started. Fortunately, the lab isn’t just about mushrooms. Mike and I have had so much fun playing with different ferments while waiting to launch. So far we have experimented with:

  • Kefir
  • Tepache
  • Wine
  • Lacto Fermented baby carrots
  • Lacto Fermented garlic cloves
  • Rye kvass
  • Rye bread
  • Sourdough bread


Kefir getting thick and bubbly!

We have had many successes, and a few spectacular failures. Most heartbreaking was the loss of our kefir grains. Our grains were multiplying and we were able to make a gallon of kefir at a time. Some close-to-spoiling milk tainted the grains, and they took on that “off” flavor, making subsequent batches equally nasty. We just received some new grains on Wednesday and are starting over again. Keeping a family of 7 in kefir is quite a challenge.


Bottled tepache, full of glorious probiotics

Tepache is a Mexican fermented pineapple drink, and it is awesome and healthy! The best part is only the skin and core of the pineapple is used, along with some spices and a bit of brown sugar, so it is nearly free to make. Mike has designed an awesome system for brewing, which makes the entire process super easy. I am considering a YouTube video on tepache making.


First batch of wine after racking off

We had a lot of fun making wine. We lost a batch of white wine because we were keeping it too warm. Being beginners, we started off making wine using just frozen juice from the grocery store. I am so looking forward to using fresh fruit from the homestead: Blackberries, mulberries, and elderberries are on the roster this summer. Mike racked off the first batch into two one-gallon jugs. We bottled one jug and left the other one for an extra week/10 days. The difference in flavor and clarity was amazing. It’s a simple dry grape table wine, nothing fancy. But quite tasty. We are looking forward to honing our skills and making some awesome wine. As soon as we get a quart of local honey, we will be venturing into making mead, which is wine made with honey.

Lacto Fermented Baby Carrots and Garlic

Different fermented veggies

Next to lacto fermented sauerkraut, the baby carrots are a family favorite. Lacto fermented veggies are packed with healthy probiotics for gut health. The fermenting process not only keeps the produce from losing any nutrients (as opposed to cooking or canning), it actually makes the nutrients more bioavailable. I have not fermented garlic all by itself before. Can’t wait to start using it to boost our immunities.

Update: I just checked the garlic. The entire lab was filled with its pungent aroma. Absolutely perfect. The baby carrots are crunchy, slightly sour, and delicious. The new kefir? Not so much. It was spoiled again. I think we may have an issue with fluctuating temps in the lab. But as Ma Ingalls said: “There is no great loss without some small gain.” Still, though, out of everything we’ve been doing the kefir is everyone’s favorite. So there are seven very disappointed people here on the Homestead.


Rye kvass starter

Many people are familiar with beet kvass, a fermented drink made from beets. Another traditional kvass is made from rye bread. Quite honestly, we didn’t care for it very much. At some point we are going to try again with some homemade rye bread and see if we can’t improve it the next time.

Rye and Sourdough Bread

I am especially excited about being able to make bread again. This rye bread recipe was my uncle’s from when he was a baker in the 60s-70s. I felt so honored to be able to bring this family recipe back to life, especially as my lovely Uncle Louis had recently passed.

The sourdough bread was a bit more challenging. I don’t think it will be a part of my regular repertoire, as I simply don’t have the time right now to nurture the starter on a daily basis. If I had a full kitchen and was baking bread several times a week, I would definitely incorporate the sourdough, but it’s just too much right now with my job. I can go several days without having a chance to tend to it. Sourdough bread is a fairly complicated endeavor, especially when working in a makeshift kitchen. My two loaves were flat and ugly, but quite delicious.

What’s Next?

February should be quite a busy month. Mike will soon be getting the last few things he needs to launch his Etsy shop. I have done some basic setup on Etsy for him, but we still have a lot of work to do on it before it goes live. We will also be revamping his Facebook page. And then there’s Instagram, which I truly don’t understand. TikTok, Spotify, YouTube……it will definitely be a learning process.

My granddaughter received a neat little Vlogging camera for Christmas. I am hoping to borrow it and start making some simple “how to” videos for YouTube. Again, a big learning curve for me. I am at the age where I simply hand my electronic devices over to my kids to set them up for me.

We will be working on some more wine soon. There is a scoby in the fridge just waiting for us to start some kombucha. And my winter greenhouse has been terribly neglected. I will be venturing in there today after a two-week absence; I should have a ton of kale, greens, radishes, and beets to pick.

It is nearly time to start my seeds for spring. I have a mini greenhouse within the big greenhouse with shelving, heat pads, and lights. It’s hard to believe that spring is just around the corner already.

There are just so many different projects here in the pipeline for us. Lack of time seems to be our biggest obstacle right now. There is so much we want to do, and yet there are still only 24 hours in a day. I look forward to the day I am able to retire and spend my days having fun, doing all the things I am passionate about.

If you have any questions or comments about any of our projects, I would love to chat with you about them. Please contact me and I will be happy to discuss what we are doing here on the Homestead!

Peace and blessings to you. Spring is coming!


A Day of True Thanksgiving

Almost ready for the feast!

Our 3rd Annual Thanksgiving in the Greenhouse was a blessed success! The food was delicious and perfectly timed; my six-hour cooking marathon utilizing two rugged kitchenettes was one of the smoothest I have experienced in my 39 years of Thanksgiving preparations. The weather could not have cooperated any better had I custom-ordered it.

An Early Start

Our Thanksgiving celebration was held on the Saturday after the holiday, as I was on call Thursday and other family members had work. Friday afternoon the prep work began: Scrubbing the kitchens and chopping up vegetables was my first order of business. I made the most awesome homemade cranberry sauce. Friday night, the stuffing went into the fridge to blend the flavors, and the still-frozen turkey (oops!) came out and was placed in ice water to thaw overnight (many water changes took place throughout the night; no danger of spoilage).

At 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning, the work continued. The now-defrosted turkey was stuffed and placed into the roaster. The rest of the stuffing went into a crock pot and was put into the greenhouse. Ten pounds of potatoes were peeled and cut up.

By 11:00, the turkey was done, potatoes were mashed and keeping warm, and it was time for the final push to get everything done at once. Our goal was to eat at noon, as Jenny had work at 3:00 (We sat down to eat at 11:56; I’m THAT good lol!). I pressed my sweet granddaughter into service preparing the crescent rolls, while I made enough gravy to sink a battleship. Brussels sprouts and sweet corn rounded out the menu, and the rest of the bountiful feast was carefully carried into the greenhouse.

Our first year doing this it was quite cloudy and cool, and we needed sweatshirts and jackets to eat our dinner. Our second year was cool and rainy, and moving between the two kitchens and the greenhouse was not fun and a bit treacherous. This year was perfect: Temps in the 60s, with a bright blazing sun warming the greenhouse so much that we had to leave the door open to keep it from getting too hot.

One Small Black Cloud

My sweet granddaughter Libby loves Thanksgiving nearly as much as I do. She was so eager to help me as I decorated and prepared dinner. Libby set the beautiful table for us and gathered chairs. Just as we were getting everything put into place to sit down and eat, she developed a massive migraine and started throwing up. Poor baby had to miss our feast! Fortunately, it subsided not too long after, and she was able to enjoy some incredible leftovers later that afternoon.

Counting My Blessings

A benefit of cooking the entire Thanksgiving dinner and being an old(er) matriarch is that once the food is consumed and I am unable to eat another bite, I have the privilege of getting up, putting on my jammies, and taking a lovely post-Thanksgiving nap! No cleanup for this grandma! The rest of the family cleared all the food away and did the dishes. Taking down decorations could wait for another day.

As I lay in my bed snuggling with my sweet Dobby, I reflected on how very much I am thankful for. The cast of characters may have changed over the years, but I feel so privileged to have been able to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for my family for 39 years now. After all of us suffering through Covid in July/August, I am grateful that none of my family was missing from our celebration. I know many this year who are devastated, looking at an empty place setting.

I am humbled beyond measure that I am living the lifestyle I have dreamed of for decades. No, things aren’t perfect. Money can be tight at times, work can be too demanding and stressful, and every project seems to take way more time and money than anticipated. Tiny space living can get, um, tense. But I am homesteading! I am writing, and growing food year-round. I am seeing some very big plans finally coming together which will drastically change the way we are living here.

I am blessed to be able to live with my grown kids and to watch my grandchildren grow up into amazing, brilliant, and talented young people. I am honored to have helped heal the generational dysfunction that had plagued my family for many years. To see my grandkids grow up without all the baggage that their parents and grandparents had gives me great hope for their futures.

May we all find more joy, bliss, and peace in this coming year!

Our Goals: Finally Starting To Fall Into Place!

Cottage industry plans are starting to launch, and I couldn’t be more excited

High-Tech Advertising!

Our biggest goal here at the Homestead has always been to mostly, if not totally, support ourselves with our efforts here on-site. These plans have changed and evolved dozens of times. I am sure they will continue to be modified going forward.

Many of the issues we’ve had in the past have been because of our location: We simply weren’t close enough to a large market to be profitable, and the local economy would never be able to support my microgreens and winter salad green sales, or Mike’s gourmet mushroom plans. I was quite disappointed to make this realization. I had visions of busy Farmers’ Markets and gourmet chefs drooling for our produce.

But everything I learned about growing microgreens and winter greens has not gone to waste. My family gets to eat healthy, organic produce all winter long, and I always have enough to share with my coworkers and dialysis patients.

Radishes,lettuce, peas, kale, yellow winter choy,
and spicy Chinese mustard in this tiny space

Waiting for Inspiration

It was around a year ago when we finally realized we weren’t going to support our Homestead through growing produce. We had to formulate a new strategy. Many evenings were spent tossing ideas around, trying to figure out what could potentially bring income to the Homestead.

One epiphany we had was the realization that no one single income stream was going to supply our needs. We were going to have to have several. Our location was one issue. Fortunately, my kids know just about everyone in our small town, and have a good reputation with the locals. We started brainstorming ideas that would appeal to the people in our community.

Ultimately, three main ideas have made their way to the forefront: Jenny (when she has time) does house/room cleanouts. She has been busy with her two outside jobs all summer, so she hasn’t been able to take on any new jobs recently. But there is definitely a market here for her services. It’s something she loves to do and she is awesome at it.

First chicken coop coming along beautifully!

Justin came up with the idea of chicken coop constructions after seeing those cheaply-made WalMart coops going for hundreds of dollars. After a couple months of discussions and negotiations, a local businessman bought the tools and supplies we were lacking; he will be paid back after the first couple sales. There is a good bit of interest in the community, and our location right on the main road will allow us to put one out front to increase exposure.

The third local income stream came about so randomly, I have to mention it here. A while ago I posted a blog “When Manifestation Is Effortless.” It recounted the amazing way in which the Universe lined up to provide us with 2 notebook computers, which Mike and I desperately needed.

Little did we know then that the Universe had much grander plans in store when it led us to those little computers. Turned out, these “awesome” notebooks had some major limitations which needed to be overcome in order to be useful to us. This led to Mike’s discovery that he had a passion and innate talent for fixing computers, which gave him the confidence he needed to actually set up a network server for our entire household from scratch. Fortunately, Mike has two uncles who are total computer geeks and have been for decades, so whenever he got stumped he had a couple resources to bounce ideas off of.

It didn’t take long to discover there were virtually no computer repair shops nearby. People had to travel 20 miles just to get a cracked phone screen fixed. I bought Mike the “Midvale Computer Repair” sign and he put some fliers on the local stores’ bulletin boards. He has his first customer, and we are depending on word-of-mouth for business. It’s kind of how it works here, and we’re good with that. There is also potential to sell computer parts online. Apparently, there is a growing market for old-school Windows 98 computers and classic games. Who knew?

Market Diversification

We don’t believe the local economy could support us completely with these businesses. It quickly became obvious that we would need to expand our ideas to products and services we could provide on a global scale. This would require Internet and social media savvy. Experience Level: Zero. But we’re learning as we go and having fun figuring it all out.

Here Comes the Lab!

An exciting day when this beauty was delivered Friday!

Mike’s love of all things mycologic has led him to his true passion: Growing and propagating mushrooms. Selling mushrooms locally wasn’t going to cut it for us income-wise, so he has modified his original plans while still being able to pursue what makes him happiest. With the equipment, knowledge, and experience he already has, he will be able to produce spore prints, mycelium syringes, and inoculated substrate to fellow mycologists so they can grow their own gourmet/medicinal mushrooms at home.

I am also excited about the new lab because that means soon I will be able to make kefir (a delicious cultured milk drink full of healthy probiotics) and kombucha (a delicious fermented tea drink full of healthy probiotics). We will have a place to make wine. Justin has plans for low-alcohol priobiotic beer. There is a high-quality distiller for making essential oils and hydrosols that can finally be put to use. So many things we have been wanting to do but just didn’t have the space or facilities for them.

My Plans

All my kids have wonderfully innovative ideas to help bring income to the Homestead. My goals are a little less focused on actual dollars, but are more geared toward producing things of value for the family. Retirement age looms large in the not-too-distant future. I am hoping to expand my blog once the lab is set up, as I will then have a nice, clean location to do my projects. There are plans for many more how-to articles. YouTube instructional and informational videos are on the drawing board. A small Etsy shop brings in a couple dollars here and there.

I have realized that over the decades I have amassed a wealth of knowledge about many things, including:

  • Organic gardening
  • Companion planting
  • Winter greenhouse growing
  • Seed saving
  • Canning
  • Dehydrating
  • Lacto fermenting
  • Essential oils
  • Tiny house living
  • Minimalist lifestyles
  • Travel nursing
  • Nutrition and health
  • Reiki
  • Spiritual growth and enlightenment
  • Trauma healing
  • Dog training
  • Living in a multigenerational household
  • Homesteading

Not an exhaustive list by any means, but still, fodder for dozens of blog posts and YouTube videos. These are all things I am deeply passionate about. I couldn’t imagine a better retirement: Having the time to do ALL the things I love to do while teaching others through my writing, photos, and videos. And at the same time, producing useful things for my family.

“Where’s the Money, Lebowski?”

I have long contended that eventually we would find something which would allow us to leave the time clock/paycheck world behind. Thousands of brainstorming sessions have occurred over the years. I think 99% of those ideas never panned out.

But recently, we have taken a much different approach. Instead of looking at the situation as a problem which needed to be solved, we began exploring what would make us happiest. From this new perspective, we began to receive inspired ideas with real potential to fulfill our dreams.

We also finally realized that there is no such thing as a get-rich-quick scheme. We understand that any plans we implement are going to take time to develop and grow, and we’re finally ok with that. And as things develop and grow, our plans will naturally evolve. What we envision right now is probably not how things will end up.

But there is a momentum and a positivity going on here that I have never felt before. It’s a very exciting time at the Homestead, and I look forward to being surprised and delighted by what’s to come.

“The only constant in life is change”