Spring Time!

Gardening season will soon be upon us!

I feel the rush of spring heading towards me at full speed. So much to do, so little time!

It’s quite funny really. Winter seems long on the calendar, yet always tends to go by too quickly for all that I want to accomplish during those ‘slow’ months. At this time of year, now that we are living on the prairies, my facebook feed starts to fill with garden photos from warmer climates such as Vancouver Island, where we moved from. Flowers, fruit trees, tomatoes, all sorts of things already growing well elsewhere, yet my own garden is no where near ready to be worked, let alone growing. We just had yet another dump of snow last week. Today is the first day we are seeing grass in many areas on our homestead, and there’s still many well protected treed areas that still have quite a bit of snow. :)


Yet, in all honesty I don’t mind.
While my heart pulls towards the photos showing plants in full bloom, my mind knows I just don’t have the time to be in the garden for any more months then May-September. It suits my lifestyle, as I find the winters a great time to catch up on all the crafts, and inside work, that I have absolutely no time for all spring/summer/fall. I enjoy the quiet of the winter days, especially during the late sunrise mornings when I can go for a long walk before the kids wake up for school, and see the full colour spectrum of the sunrise without needing to wake before 5am to do so.

Now that spring is in full swing, it’s time to start getting up much earrlier if I even stand a chance to enjoy my morning walk during the sunrise.


Soon it will be time to plant, weed, and work the dirt! I do love gardening!
I just need to become better at time management balancing all the homestead things, while keeping my head above water with the business. That is a goal I have set for this summer. To keep things running smoothly between our camping trips, animal births, and all the other things summer brings upon us such as out building reno’s, haying, etc..

My hope is to have less ‘rushing’ and more ‘enjoying slowly’ this summer too.

It’s a high hope though, but not one that need be impossible!

How about you? How does spring make you feel? Are you excited for the change in season?

For the love of homemade soups


When I was first married, I was quite terrified of making soup. Can you believe that?

My husband grew up living close to both sets of grandparents. I often heard his stories of his grandmothers wonderful homemade soups, her cookies, and not to mention her pies, which I have yet to master…

I had a hard act to follow and homemade soup simply seemed so scary!

Today, as I pulled my homemade turkey bone broth from the freezer, and then added in our homegrown corn, celery, onions, garlic, and tomatoes, I realized just how far I’ve come since those first years.


Now I love to make homemade soups! The thought of tossing all that homegrown goodness into my crockpot to stew all day…it just makes me feel so good inside.FullSizeRender

And I don’t share this to ‘brag’. Oh no, not at all! I share this to show you that if I can do it, you can do it too! If you feel intimidated by homemade soups and you reach for a can instead, search the Internet for “very easy homemade soup recipes” and do some quick browsing. Start out with the real basics. I did! I think you’ll be surprised at what you can do, and how quickly and easily you can learn!

Before you know it you’ll be feeling all proud of your homemade soups too! And if you don’t garden already, you’ll get the urge to begin! Even if it’s some celery and tomatoes in pots on your city balcony! You’ll see. 

Gardening and home cooking is addicting. Next you’ll be wanting to move to a homestead out on the prairies… Oh wait, that’s my story…

Watching my girls grow up, a time of mixed emotions.

*Re-sharing an old post because it’s that time of year again. That time when my babies turn another year older and I prepare my heart to accept it yet again. :)
This year they are turning SIXTEEN!
I’ll share some new photos soon.

It’s our twins birthday on December 8th.

twinbabesdec 1999

Every December is a time of HUGELY mixed emotions for me, ever since our twins turned 1 year old.


Knowing these two would be our very last children makes their birthday so very VERY bittersweet every.single.year.


Yet, I don’t want to dampen the joy of watching these two grow into such beautiful young girls!


They bless my heart SO much!


I struggle DAILY from the time Dec. 1st hits.

Twins 4

My babies are not allowed to grow up.


I keep telling them this…


yet they don’t listen.


They are such rebellious young girls!


Last year was REALLY hard. They hit DOUBLE DIGITS!

My BABIES were not ALLOWED to hit double digits!

Babies do NOT turn double digits! It’s impossible! It just can not be so!

And yet…


with every passing year they grow.


And my heart grows….


And grows…


How is it possible, that one woman, one mother…

Silly Sisters

that I, could be so incredibly blessed as to have these girls be a part of her daily life?

With every passing day…
the blessing of it all
…just blows me away.

Fabric Dyeing

I thought I’d post a little about my dyeing process. If you’ve been around our facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/HomesteadEmporium) you’ll know that I love to dye fabrics. I won’t go into details about my own little ‘tricks’ of the trade but I do know a lot of you would love to see some of my works in progress, and possibly even my dyeing ‘station’, so I figured I may as well share here on the blog. I seem to be a horrible blogger, always shareing on facebook in little spurts of info instead. It fits my busy days better, but doesn’t always give the full scope of things around here.

To learn to dye, I’ve spent many many hours researching. Watching videos, reading books, reading articles, and of course, lots and lots and LOTS of hours of practice!
My favourite place for learning has always been this site: http://www.pburch.net/dyeing.shtml

Stack of fluffy dyed goodness.

Stack of fluffy dyed goodness.

I get asked a lot of questions about dyeing, and even about sewing, and sewing pads, and honestly, I do not have time to answer all the questions. I don’t say that to be rude, although I know it probably seems rude to one who’s desperate to learn, but it’s simply a fact of my life. When I have time to teach, I’m teaching my own children, and most days I don’t even have enough time to teach THEM all I want them to learn. When I have time to answer emails and messages, I need to spend that time answering business emails pertaining to my products. My customers know how long they occassionally have to wait while I’m harvesting or planting the garden, or tending to emergencies here on the homestead (or elsewhere!) Perhaps one day that will change, but for now I can only suggest that anyone who wants to learn do exactly what I did.
Read, research, watch videos, and make your OWN way into the wonderful experience of dyeing fabrics!
If you want to learn, you won’t regret the time you spend diving into the subject!

Shown in my photos below are some of the different ways I dye fabrics.
There are MANY different ways. Ice Dyeing, folding fabrics, swirling fabrics, scrunching fabrics, or simply soaking fabrics. These are a few of my favourite ways, and a couple of these ways are ones I’ve just tried for the first time! I’m always learning!

IMG_5797.JPGWhen I’m dyeing fabrics, it’s almost exclusively bamboo velour. This is fun, but a little frustrating at times too. 99.9% of ALL the fabrics I see dyed in my research and learning process are flat & thin fabrics. Bamboo velour is plush, and dyes completely differently. So I have to play around a lot, and go through a lot of trial and error when trying new methods. IMG_5798.JPG

The fabric shown here in the photos above and below, is one of the very few flat & thin fabrics I do dye. It’s meant for my Comfy Undies, and it’s a lot of fun for me to work with since I get to try all the neat ways of dyeing that I see on most sites/books/articles etc.. This particular piece I swirled up, then ice dyed with softer more pastel colours. These photos show the fabrics after the ice has melted. If you are interested in learning more about ice dyeing, there’s lots of instructions online, simply google “ice dye”.IMG_5799.JPG
This piece of bamboo velour shown below is done the same way, but with different colours. Since it’s bamboo velour, it does not swirl/fold as tightly and it soaks up much more dye etc.. It’s a lot more work, but since I use mostly bamboo velour in my products, it’s a must for me.


This is another ice dye, different colours, different method, no swirling of the fabric this time.IMG_5801.JPG
I decided to share a photo of my dyeing space, despite it not being pretty. Don’t judge! It may not be pretty, but the stuff that comes out of it is to ‘dye’ for. ;)
It’s not glamorous at all! I really wish I had a beautiful and inspiring work space filled with colourful walls and a gorgeous tile floor but this is the reality of my life currently. We moved onto this property for the homestead, the land, the beautiful farm yard with an orchard and lots of other trees, the barn and outbuildings. We knew full well that the house was nothing glamorous and in need of work. I knew my workspaces would most likely be the last rooms to be finished, and I’m totally ok with that. I refuse to allow an ugly room to stop me from creating beauty! Don’t let all those gorgeous spaces you see on pinterest and the rest of the internet make you feel like you need one of those spaces to create beauty. I’m sharing this photo to show proof that it’s not true. Your work space has nothing to do with what you can produce in it. :)
IMG_5816.JPG Although my workspace is not glamorous, it is very productive and practical!
I have a great big double sink, wall space for pinning information and a lot of my ‘tools’. I also have all my dyes stored here. I even have a small window to allow me fresh air while working with the dyes. Behind me is a HUGE old freezer that doubles as my dye ‘table’. It also works great as a big cutting table. Again, not pretty but very functional! ;)IMG_5818.JPGThese next photos, as well as the photo above, are during the rinsing process. Both these are ice dyed, and both are a thin smooth fabric meant for my Comfy Undies.IMG_5820.JPG
This fabric below is again bamboo velour, and it is scrunch dyed.IMG_5831.JPGThis one was folded/pleated and then dyed in sections. This is a ‘dna’ dye, but with bamboo velour, you just can’t see the full scope of how dna dye should look. At least not with my bamboo velour attempts… yet. I’m still hoping to play some more and do better!IMG_5833.JPGThis was the swirl dyed bamboo velour piece shown above.IMG_5834.JPGThis was the other ice dye, bamboo velour again. As you can see, bamboo velour does not tend to ‘streak’ as beautifully as the flat/thin fabrics. Still beautiful in it’s own way though. :)IMG_5835.JPGThe swirl ice dye completed, washed, and dried! This is a very large piece, this part shown is aprox. 36 inches by 54 inches. :) It’s almost a shame to cut it into underwear! As you can see, there is much more definition in the flat fabrics below, than in the plush velours above.IMG_5836.JPG This is the other underwear fabric, this is a relatively small section of the large two yard cut. This photo shows very well how beautifully you can manipulate the dyes to melt into the fabrics with the ice dyeing process. I will definitely be making myself a pair of the Comfy Undies from these two pieces! The rest will go into the shops. :)
Oh how I wish I could force the bamboo velour to recreate this way! I keep playing with it in hopes of one day truly getting it right. IMG_5837.JPGAnd there you have one of my dye sessions!
This one was more ‘adventurous’ then most of my dye sessions. I mainly dye using the LWI dye process, meaning Low Water Immersion dyeing. Which looks more like this:20130401-145244.jpgAnd this:

Dyeing fabrics.

Dyeing fabrics.

And produces results more like this:TissuesAll ways of dyeing can be equally as beautiful, yet very different.

Just like all of us!

Planting season, part 1


We finished planting the garden last week, so I thought I’d take a moment to write down all we’ve planted this year. To one who has no interest in gardening, this will seem long and boring. If you are learning about gardening, this may be of interest. This is just our 3rd year planting on the homestead and we are learning as we go.

On the left closest to the garden ‘gate’ we have rows of potatoes. 10 rows of aprox. 21 hills.
We planted Yukon Gold, Russet, Purple Russian (these stay purple even cooked!) and Banana potatoes.

We grew each of these from our own potatoes. This was our first time successfully storing potatoes all winter. We still have enough to get us through to harvest, and I was able to sell enough seed potatoes locally to fund the purchase of all my starter plants from our local greenhouse.

Last fall I was able to sell enough green tomatoes to pay for my spring seed order. One goal we have here on the homestead is to find ways for everything to pay for itself. This year the garden did just that!

Back to the planting.
Beside the rows of potatoes, we planted 190 garlic in 2 rows.

Next we planted aprox 330 onions in 3 rows.

Then we have a variety of tomatoes. Mostly Romas for sauces and paste. Between a few of our tomato rows we put down garden cloth. This year we are going to attempt growing sweet potatoes. We’ll see how that goes. We’ve also planted celery at the end of one of these rows. The 2 plants grew so well last time that we planted 6 this year.


Next to the tomatoes are peppers. Then we have green ‘bush’ beans, purple ‘bush’ beans and sugar snap peas. I haven’t had much success with long beans yet (broad/favas grow great for me, as do Sugar Ann/Snap peas) so we moved them to a less weedy area in hopes that they will have a better chance this year. We don’t use weed killers of any kind, so it’s our biggest battle each year.

Along the fence I planted our broad/fava beans. Then we have our rhubarb patch. I added 2 more rhubarb plants this year. Next to that is a row of strawberries from last year, then a row of asparagus that is new this year. A second row of strawberries, also new this year. And next year we’ll add another row of asparagus.

Then we have our salad section.
Four varieties of lettuce, including romain, buttercrunch and a colourful leaf variety, then kale, 2 types of spinach, radishes and bunch onions.

And lastly on the left side, 3 Haskap bushes, and a plot of dill.

This has gotten long. I’ll finish up what we planted on the others side, next time. :)

Contest time! I need help! Enter to WIN!

Contest time! I need help! Enter to WIN!

I need help naming a new product for our shop!
Read further to find out how you could win THREE FREE Undies just for YOU!


I’ve been working with a new pattern for our undies, the scrundlewear pattern: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/203246106/scrundlewear-ladies-underwear-pdf-sewing?ref=shop_home_feat_1

Many of you have asked for more size options in our undies, and this pattern provides us with just that! We will now be able to offer sizes xsmall all the way up to xxxlg!



We also have the option for briefs (similar to our previous regular undies) or boy short styles!
For now, we’ll be sticking with the briefs but I like having the option to add boy shorts in the future.

I’ve changed up the pattern just a teeny bit, to work best with our cloth pads. Basically I’ve just narrowed the gusset a little, as I find I do like a wide gusset with cloth pads, to hold everything in place well, BUT if the gusset is TOO wide with the addition of the knit leg bands, it can cause a little bunching. No one wants bunching. I feel this is a real nice fit between holding it all in place, and keeping things trim. I hope you agree!

I’d like us to come up with our very own name for our completed undies. They will still be scrundlewear, and I will have the scrundlewear info in every listing because believe you me, any undies pattern maker deserves all the credit they can get! Undies are NOT easy to design! I’ve been working at some patterns for 10 years now and I STILL don’t have them the way I want them! LOL And that’s just working on 2 sizes for now, mine, and some of my daughters! So credit must be given where credit is due! If you’d like to make your own undies, I really suggest you try the scrundlewear pattern. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Onto the contest details!

I’d really like a catchy name. Something that fits with Homestead Emporium and all that we stand for. Simple living, homesteading lifestyle, family life, natural living, etc.. If you’ve been around our business (blog, facebook, etc.) long enough you’ll know what I’m getting at. If you’re new to our business and family, just take a quick look around and it won’t be hard to tell what’s important to us. :)

The skies the limit in your suggestions, give me your best ideas for names! Feel free to enter as many name ideas as you like! To give yourself MORE chances to win, enter a NEW COMMENT for each additional new name!

Remember though, this will be judged by our family so in order to win, your name suggestion has to be GREAT! So get creative, but keep it real.

Tips on what we’ll be looking for in a name:

-MOST IMPORTANTLY- google any name you suggest to be sure it’s not already taken! Of course we’ll have to go more in-depth into searching any name we choose as a winner, but we ask that you at least google it, just for a quick pre-check. A name that’s already taken, can not be a winner, no matter how great it may be.
-Something that’s catchy, but not too ‘cutesy’.
-Something that fits with our lifestyle & business goals.
-Completely FAMILY FRIENDLY, no use of words that you wouldn’t say in front of a young child. Keep it clean and fun!
-Bonus points for something that’s catchy, but still easy to spell. Feel free to go for an acronym. Many call our pads HER pads for Homestead Emporium Reusable Pads. We like that, and think it’s catchy. However, HER Undies doesn’t quite make the cut. LOL Most undies are reusable. And well. HE Undies just isn’t right either, since there’s no men’s undies in our undie line up, yet! However, we will be offering children’s undies, so keep that in mind. Bonus points again for a name that works with ANY undies we may create, regardless of age and gender.
-Creativity. We really do love all things unique!
-Beautiful/artful would be a big plus. Remember, we love ‘class’ (although we do like humor too, just keep it at a classy level). We strive for our products to be functional, but also beautiful. Often our customers call our products a work of art, we’d like a name that reflects that same goal for our line up of undies.

The winner of our naming contest will receive THREE FREE Undies, in their size choice, & their fabric choice (to be chosen from our instock fabrics).
We’ll even pay the shipping!! The value for this prize is over $70.00!

As a bonus, because we know not everyone can come up with creative unique names (hey, we can’t, or we obviously wouldn’t be asking YOU all for help!) we’re going to give away an additional prize just for sharing this post, and commenting here! Somewhere, out there, is some naming genius who would love some free undies and a chance to win them! So help spread the word, share this post on facebook, twitter, pinterest, where ever you choose! Come back here and leave a comment letting us know how you shared. Every one of those comments will be entered for your own FREE Underwear! You get to pick the size, we’ll surprise you with the fabric (but your likes and dislikes will be taken into consideration in the creation of your Undies). So share with others and spread the word for your chance to win too!

New product- HalfWrap Liners!

This week we have a new product debuting on our hyenacart, HalfWrap Liners!

These little liners are the baby to our PantyWraps (both shown below).


If you’ve been around the Homestead Emporium for a while, you know I love all sorts of sizes and styles of pads because… we’re all so very different, AND because each one of us has different needs at different times of the month!


Personally, I wear liners daily (except when I need to wear pads).

I never like to wear more pad, or liner, than I need to. That’s why I originally created the PantyWrap. At just 7 inches long, 2-2.25 inches wide, and just two layers of fabric, the absorbent top layer, plus a water resistant backing, the PantyWrap is a very trim, yet still an absorbent little liner. I’ve always loved the PantyWrap, and so do many of our customers!


However, I also have some favourite undies that have quite a wide gusset. These undies worked ‘ok’ with our PantyWraps, but, not perfect. Sometimes they would bunch up at the ‘back end’, so I’ve been trying to figure out how to change this without loosing all that I love about the PantyWrap. At first I thought perhaps the solution was to make a wider PantyWrap…


But I’m all about LESS being MORE when it comes to liners and pads, so that kind of went against my real goal. So I continued to think on things some more, tweak my pattern, and realized that the back end of the PantyWrap wasn’t really needed for my regular daily protection, and that perhaps, rather than making the PantyWrap wider/bigger, I needed to actually make the PantyWrap smaller!


And…. here we have the HalfWrap!


It’s not actually half the size of the PantyWrap, more like 2/3rd’s the size, but a liner called the 2/3rdsWrap just didn’t sound as good as the HalfWrap. ;)

At aprox. 5.75 inches long, it is indeed our smallest liner (besides our thong liners), yet it still has the same great absorbency our PantyWrap has.
Only one snap setting on the HalfWrap, since it’s intended use is for wide gusset undies. No need to add the extra bulk of another snap. It’s still just about 2.25 inches wide, but it’s just wide enough that it should not cause the bunching of the back half of the liner that you may have with a wide gusset and the regular PantyWraps. These will save you a few pennies too, since it’s just a little less fabric and one less snap, the price is a little lower on the HalfWraps too.


After testing out the HalfWrap for some time, I’m pleased to have it instock and ready for you to try too, in our hyenacart this week!

DSC_5644So if you prefer a wide gusset undie, and you’re tired of having your undies causing a bunch up in your liners, give the HalfWrap a try! It may be just right for you!

You’ll find the HalfWrap today at our hyenacart shop: http://hyenacart.com/stores/HomesteadEmporium/

And hopefully soon in our etsy shop too:


Monday’s on the Homestead in Pictures

Pretty much every Monday morning I give our three youngest girls the morning off.
hey get to sleep in until about 10, and I take care of the animal chores.

One Monday morning a few weeks ago, I thought I should snap some photos to share with you all. These were all just snapshots taken with my phone, as it’s been too cold to take out my professional camera, plus it gets in the way during feeding.

Up and at it at 5:25 for some prayer time with hubby.


5:40 Out of bed, and straight to the washer and dryer!
I’m excited to see how my load of ‘laundry’ is looking this am!


Ahhh… freshly dyed fabrics. It’s especially fun when trying new ways to dye.


Coffee time.


Start the bread maker. I need 3 or 4 batches of dough for today’s baking.


Time for my morning devotions & writing in my prayer journal. I’ve been doing this for about 18 years now. A very good habit to start my days with!


Time to fill up the water jugs and a bucket of raw food for the barn cats.


Scout & Bentley join me for the walk to the barn.


First up, piggies. This is Oreo, our sow. She’s a purebred Berkshire.
We’re hoping she’ll have babies this spring. If we timed it all right, and all works well, she should have piglets mid May!


And this is Red, (I called him Tam, but the kids outnumbered me 3-1). He’s a purebred Tamworth boar who’s staying with us for a while. If he did his job well, we’ll know soon enough. He gets to stay at least until things warm up. For now, him and Oreo keep each other nice and warm. I’d rather Oreo have company for the cold months. Once things warm up, he’ll be going back to his farm. Who knows, maybe he’ll come visit Oreo again next winter. ;)

We bred Oreo to a tamworth because her sister had been bred to a tamworth and she had the most delightful little red piglets with black spots. Both breeds are great, so we thought we’d try the cross for ourselves. My kids never saw her sister’s piglets, so they are anxiously waiting to see if these piglets turn out as cute as I said they would. lol


This will be our first time ever breeding a pig, we’ve always just raised weaner pigs in the past (piglets that have been weaned) so it’s pretty exciting. Of course we have no clue if it’s going to work, and if it did, how many piglets Oreo will have, and even if they will all survive. It’s all a guessing game until the end. I guess you can’t count your piglets until …


Time to feed the sheep!


And the horses anxiously await their turn!


Munch munch munch, horses are happy once again.


Time to feed the chickens, ducks, and guinea hens.


And pick up the rewards!


Two kitties who are staying in the house when it’s cold since they’ve not been feeling great. (We do keep a heated place for the barn cats in the loft, but when they are kittens, or sick, I like them inside when needed) Patches, our almost 17 year old cat, dares to allow the kittens to share in a plate of salmon. This is not usual. lol Grumpyoldcat doesn’t like to share but was too busy being excited over the smell of salmon that she didn’t mind them too much… this time.


Worstebrodjes all finished for dinner. It’s ground beef and pork mixed with spices, rolled into small sausage shapes. Then you wrap that in bread dough, and bake.
( I should have taken some pics of the process).
While I made the worstebrodjes at the table, the girls did their school work.
I seem to have missed taking anymore photos after this point. The day just gets away on me.


After school I cut fabrics and sewed, and sewed, and sewed some more.
I’ve been working on a couple of blankets as well as pads.


We had our simple dinner of worstebrodjes (truth be told, they were our lunch too. We couldn’t wait until supper time to dig in!)
And then, off to bed. Tomorrow is another day!

Some time when the weather warms up a bit I’ll follow the girls around while they each do their morning chores and share a day on the homestead from their perspective. Perhaps one day one of them would even like to blog about their days!

It’s almost time for the Dragon’s Den!

Anyone who knows me well, knows I have an entrepreneurial drive. Of course, this means I love shows like the Dragons Den here in Canada, and the Shark Tank in the US.

This week, we finally get to watch our fellow Canadian pad making company, TreeHugger, on the Dragons Den!! To say I’m excited is to put it very mildly. Even my girls are excited! They know this business of making pads probably better than most, and they understand the heart, the blood, sweat and tears that goes into the making of a successful business in a ‘unique’ market! So it only makes sense that we are very anxious to see how TreeHugger’s pitch turns out on the show, TOMORROW NIGHT!
I know Crystal and her husband have been waiting a LONG time to finally be able to share their pitch with the world! This is big news in the pad making industry, especially for Canada! Just think of how many people will be hearing about cloth pads for the very first time! It’s very exciting!!

Would I want to be on the Dragon’s Den? This is something my girls asked me. My answer; No, I really commend Crystal and her husband for stepping out! It’s a huge step. Even IF they did not make a deal, this is huge for their business! It takes a lot of work to prepare for this! I’ve messaged with Crystal about the show, and I know they’ve been working around the clock to prepare their website and everything behind the scenes for the upcoming show!

Julia (our daughter) says she would go on the Dragon’s Den. She’s brave like that. lol

The work isn’t the reason I wouldn’t want to be on Dragon’s Den though. It’s simply not how we vision our business growing, right now. For us, our ‘business plan’ is different from most. Our business supports our family along with my husband’s full time job. I began this business to bring in an income that allows me to stay at home, homeschool our children, AND, allows our family to achieve our dream of homesteading. All of these things have had to balance. Home, Homeschooling, Homesteading, AND Home Business. It’s been a very difficult balance, with the Home Business tipping the scales a LOT, most of the time. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. We love what we do and we just continue to strive for that even balance!


However, just because it’s not my desire to grow in leaps and bounds overnight by appearing on a show like the Dragon’s Den, does not mean we’re stagnant. Far from it! We’re simply interested in growing more at the rate of our children’s growth. Day by day, week by week, year by year. Just as children seem to grow slowly at the time it’s happening, before you know it, they are adults, out the door, and on their own! That’s how our business is. It seems to grow slowly at the moment, yet over the years it’s become bigger than we ever could have dreamed. I expect that will continue.

Our younger three daughters are getting older (Shaylah & Julia just turned 15 in Dec. and Elsa just turned 17 this month), and as the girls mature, they seem to find their own niche within the business, and that area of the business begins to grow. They also come alongside where ever help is needed, and that allows more growth. That is exactly how we’ve planned, and hoped, it would be from the very beginning. Each person joining in where they desire, and where their talents fit.

Right now, the growth for all three is in helping with dyeing fabrics as a new side adventure. Julia has also become a lot more involved in the day to day running of the business. She has now officially become Homestead Emporium’sAssistant Manager“. Quite the title for a 15 year old, but she’s ready for it. I’ve always said she has plans to take over one day!

Even Alesia, our eldest daughter who is now married and lives 2 hours away, is planning to come back to work part time for Homestead Emporium. Alesia worked alongside me for many years! It’s wonderful to be able to welcome her back again, even if it is part time, and only online for now. Perhaps that will change and she will have time for a bigger role in the business again too. Maybe when children come along in the future once her husband has completed his schooling. The skies the limit really, only time will tell! Things always have a way of working out really well within this business, for everyone involved.

For now, we love watching the business grow at a rate that works well for our family, and our homestead. We have our wonderful helper Wendy and her husband Ryan, constantly working behind the scenes! I’m lost when it comes to a lot of the webwork etc. and I love that even Wendy can work from her home, as it fits into her family’s schedule! That’s what this business is all about. So yes, we are growing, but I guess you could say in a more ‘organic‘ way. Like the tortoise, we’re slow and steady… and that’s ok with me. I’m all about enjoying life along the way, and striving towards that balance each and every day!

If you don’t have cable tv, be sure to check out the episode, it should be right online here either during, or right after the show is on tv:


We really hope to be watching direct tomorrow evening, but we’ll pvr it just in case we get too busy sewing here in our own home business!

How about you, will you be watching the Dragon’s Den tomorrow night?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Time to think about getting dirty!

It’s that time of the year again!
So many are saying winter is lasting too long and they can’t wait until it’s over. I say it’s going by much too fast! There’s so much to do before spring arrives!
First and foremost on the agenda is planning and preparing for the garden!
The garden today. Snowy but still providing corn stalks for the pigs and sunflower heads for the egg layers.

The garden today. Snowy but still providing corn stalks for the pigs and sunflower heads for the egg layers.

This past weekend hubby got to work putting together our new tiller. This is the first time we won’t have to borrow or rent a tiller to break ground in our garden. He managed to get it all done, and ready to go! So nice to know that once the snow melts, we can start turning dirt! Ahhh… I just love the thought of it. We’ve been tossing our ash into the garden all winter, and come spring we’ll add in some compost that’s been brewing from our kitchen and all our animals for the past 2 years, we’ll till it all in, and away we go for another gardening season!

Garden plot planning.

Garden plot planning has begun.

On my agenda, is picking out a second tiller, a small one for keeping on top of the weeds between aisles this year. It’s my birthday wish, (last year I asked for, and received, a seeder! It’s wonderful, especially for planting all the little seeds like carrots, beets, corn, etc.) and hubby asked me to research which tiller I think I’ll like best. I’ve narrowed it down to two, and I’ve asked him to research them a little further and decide which he feels is the best and will last the longest. These are the two we are researching so far.
One of my favourite garden preps to do is order THE SEEDS!
Last year I ordered my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, also known as rareseeds.com
Their catalogue is my favourite magazine. Seriously! The photos are fantastic, as you can see on their website, and I love reading all about the different varieties and dreaming up what I’ll plant this year! And dream about things I’ll plant in future years, once I get a little better at this gardening thing.
I thought I’d share with you what I’ve ordered, and add in some notes about why I’m re-ordering some of these, and how they grew for me last year.
First off, this year I decided NOT to order any of the following seeds that I would have to start indoors:
Tomatoes, peppers, and onions.
Last year I attempted to grow each of those from seed and since I do not have a proper set up with natural light, it just wasn’t worth the effort. My pepper plants we ‘ok’ but didn’t transfer well, but since they looked promising, I ended up not buying many new plants and thus had no peppers to speak of last year.
My tomato plants were all VERY leggy, so they really didn’t do well at all and I ended up replacing any and all plants with starts from the nursery. So that was a pretty good waste of my time. Something I don’t have an extra abundance of here between the homestead, homeschooling and the business!
Onions, again, they started our promising, but since I was using heat lamps and not proper grow lamps, none grew enough to amount to anything, and again, simply a waste of my time. We ended up buying 200 starter bulbs, and they grew fantastic, so we’ll go that route from the start and forget about the seeds.
Last year bounty.

Last years bounty.

Here’s what I DID order again this year:
Golden Bantam 12-Row Corn

Golden Bantam 12-Row Corn

  • Item No: CN143
    This corn was HUGE and very impressive, the plants that is. However, we didn’t actually end up with any corn cobs that matured well enough for us to eat them. I am replanting this corn though, in hopes that perhaps it was just an off year AND, because even though WE didn’t eat the corn, our pigs are STILL enjoying the stalks well into winter. It’s near the end of Jan now and today I picked some stalks again just for the pigs. So as a treat for the animals, even if we never taste this corn ourselves, it’s worth a few rows of space in our garden. And, as I mentioned, the plants grew so big that it really was very impressive!

    The stalks on the left are from baker creek seeds.

    The stalks on the left are from baker creek seeds.

Detroit Dark Red Beet

Detroit Dark Red Beet

  • Item No: BT110
    These grew exceptionally well for us. The tops were tasty too. These beets are also very hardy keepers. It’s near the end of Jan and we are still eating them every week from our cold cellar. We have so many, that every time I cook some, I cook extra so that I can give all the left overs to the chickens/ducks/guineas. Our horses also like them raw! It’s like bonus vitamins for the whole homestead, all winter long!
Big Beet!

Big Beet!

Golden Beet

Golden Beet

  • Item No: BT102
    Again, like the beets above, these also grew really really well! I absolutely LOVE the golden colour of these beets! They look so beautiful steamed alongside their red counterparts!
Chioggia (Bassano) Beet

Chioggia (Bassano) Beet

  • Item No: BT104
    I’m trying these beets out for the first time this year. I was so happy with my decision to try out golden beets that I decided even more variety in colour would be even more fun!
Cantare Bean

Cantare Bean

  • Item No: BN153
    These beans did not do well for us this past year, but I’m going to blame user error and not the seeds. There were part of our garden we stayed on top of the weeds really well last year, but our bean section was not one of those parts. I fear the weeds took over before we could salvage these bean plants. We have plans to mulch with straw this year, so we’re hoping that will help keep the weeds down, and I’ve read it also helps the bean plants root better.
Broad Windsor Fava Bean

Broad Windsor Fava Bean

  • Item No: FB101
    Broad beans always seem to grow well for me. They grow straight, tall, and faster than our weeds seem to grow so it’s easy for the kids and I to keep the weeds away. They freeze real well too and taste great boiled in a bit of salt water, and then fried in some bacon grease. Home grown bacon grease is even better. Yum!
Sugar Ann Snap Pea 1/2 LB

Sugar Ann Snap Pea 1/2 LB

  • Item No: SN107F
    Even though, as I mentioned above, the weeds go ahead of us in the bean/pea section of our garden last year, these Sugar Ann Snap Peas still seemed to fair out quite well despite fighting for air among weeds as tall as me! We still ate as much as we possibly could straight from the garden, and froze extras for stir fry too! I can’t even imagine how well they will do with our plans to mulch straw around them this year! If all goes well, we should have peas coming out of our ears. lolsnap peas
Royalty Purple Pod Bush Bean

Royalty Purple Pod Bush Bean

  • Item No: BN101
    Again, as with the Cantare beans, we didn’t actually see much of anything with these last year. I will try again, because I believe it was user error and weeds, and not the seeds.
Russian Black Seeded Sunflower

Russian Black Seeded Sunflower

  • Item No: JS140
    I have not grown these yet. I’m really aiming to grow enough large sunflowers with edible seeds for our chickens/ducks/guineas to eat all winter. We’ll see how it goes, and I need to figure out how to save the seeds. This past fall I attempted to hang them in the cold cellar to save the heads, and they rotted. Not good! I’m thinking the slight dampness and cool climate of the cold cellar was a mistake. I need to research further.
Distinto Mixture Sunflower

Distinto Mixture Sunflower

  • Item No: FL258
    Order these just for fun!


Teddy Bear - Sunflower

Teddy Bear – Sunflower

  • Item No: FL724
    We grew these last year and they were so CUTE! I loved being able to pick some on my way out of the garden, and keep them in a vase in the house. I don’t have flower beds yet, so these are wonderful in the meantime. I look forward to their brightness again this year!
Titan Sunflower

Titan Sunflower

  • Item No: FL749
    As the website says, these are impressive, massive sunflowers. Since I first began gardening with the kids we’ve been growing the largest sunflowers we can possibly find. these do not disappoint! An added bonus, the bees around here LOVE them! Anything that attracts bees to our property is promised a spot in my garden year after year!
Alaska Garden Pea

Alaska Garden Pea

  • Item No: GP101
    These grew a little better than the beans did last year, but again, the weeds got the better of them. I look forward to trying again this year, with straw mulched around the plants in hopes of a better outcome. I REALLY want to dry peas for my peasoup, which we all love here in our home. Especially with our home grown ham!
Little Marvel Garden Pea 1/2 LB

Little Marvel Garden Pea 1/2 LB

  • Item No: GP102F
    Same with these, didn’t stand much of a chance last year and I’m hoping for better results this year.
Blacktail Mountain Watermelon

Blacktail Mountain Watermelon

  • Item No: WM129|
    So… this is the third, and final year, I will be attempting to grow melons. I ordered all three of these melon varieties last year and they all started out quite promising… but then came the HUGE weeds, and we kind of lost them for a bit, and by the time we dug the weeds away from the plants I think it was too late for them to mature fully in our shorter growing season. I choose only short growing season varieties, but I’m pretty sure that means they’ll grow in a short season WITHOUT being drowned out by weeds. lol We have a plan to mulch around these dainty little plants as they grow too. WEEDS be gone! (we still refuse to use any weed killers though! We WILL figure this out, naturally!)
Collective Farm Woman Melon

Collective Farm Woman Melon

  • Item No: OML110
    Same as above.
Minnesota Midget Melon

Minnesota Midget Melon

  • Item No: AML140
    Same again, as above.
Echinacea Purpurea

Echinacea Purpurea

  • Item No: HB119
    I decided each year I should attempt to add a new herb to my garden. Last year was mint. This year it will be echinacea. I’d like to make my own tincture. I need to decide if I’m going to plant it right into the garden, or into a half barrel. I’m thinking a barrel to keep it contained, but I’m concerned that may not be the best for the winters out here. We’ll see what I can find when I research further while awaiting springs arrival.
Straight Eight Cucumber

Straight Eight Cucumber

  • Item No: CU168
    So far since starting our homestead garden two years ago I have yet to truly successfully grow cucumbers. I’m really not sure why. I think the weeds are partly to blame again, so this year we are going to plant them in hills rather than rows, and mulch straw heavily around those hills. As you’ve probably guessed, I’m hoping straw will be our saving grace against weeds this year. I also did hills last year, and found it so much easier to weed than rows. With rows, it’s quite hard to find your little tiny starts between weeds and weeding them gets scary for fear of pulling the good with the bad. The straw & hills should help to define where the plants are.
Muncher Cucumber

Muncher Cucumber

  • Item No: CU174
    Again, see above. Both the above variety and this variety I haven’t tried before, but they require shorter growing seasons than the cucs I’ve attempted to grow in the past, so I’m hoping this will help me to have more success along with the hills and mulch.Another thing I grew from Baker Creek Seeds last year was carrots. Lots and lots of carrots! I only planted HALF the seeds I bought, so I won’t need to buy them again this year, but we ended up with probably a few hundred pounds of carrots. lol
    I’d like to point out the wonderful variety they have, because we had success with all the colours of carrots we planted! Here’s their entire selection:


    Gorgeous colour!

    Gorgeous colour!

    These are the ones we planted. The colour was superb and went very well with our golden and red beets! I was sure I purchased another coloured variety, but I can’t find it at the moment.


    Next year when I need to purchase carrot seeds again, I’ll also be adding in these:
    and these: http://www.rareseeds.com/amarillo-carrot/

    Just like in my home busines, I love colour everywhere!

    Colour on the Homestead

    Colour on the Homestead

    So there you have my seed order for this year.
    There’s a few things we’ll be purchasing from the nursery. Our Roma Tomatoes. We had great success with them last year.

    Plenty of tomatoes!

    Plenty of tomatoes!

    We will be trying something a little different this year in hopes of having them ripen earlier, but last summer was a little more wet than usual, so that could be completely different this summer and ripening may not be an issue. We still ended up eating these tomatoes well into November! With plenty of tomato paste and sauces made too.

    Peaches and Cream Corn.

    Peaches and Cream Corn.

    We’ll also grow the peaches and cream variety of corn again. We’ve been able to eat corn all winter from what we pulled from the garden and froze. :)

    I think that’s just about everything to do with our garden so far!

    How about you? What are your garden plans for this year? 
    Whether you’re in the country, or the city, planning a garden, or filling some containers with a few tomato plants and some salad greens, I’d love to hear about it!