Saturday, December 31, 2011

Homesteading Goals for the New Year

Last year I made a list of homesteading goals for my family in order to make our home a healthier and more fulfilling place. Unfortunately as with a lot of yearly goals, not all of them were realized. Perhaps we bit off more than we could chew. One area of weakness in particular was the elimination of all processed foods and cutting out refined sugars (we will try harder next year!) On the other hand, we have made a lot of progress in building a "homestead" where we are living off our land by the fruits of our own labor.

This past year we sustained a more productive garden than in years past,

one of our raised vegetable beds

homegrown heirloom arugula

I learned the art of canning for the first time,

canned tomatoes

baked my own bread and dried my own herbs for bulk storage,

homegrown dried herbs

helped our chickens continue their lineage by hatching and raising baby chicks (ok, that was largely mama Rosemary's doing, not our own)

Rosemary showing the chicks how to take a dust bath

converted to green cleaning products and found ways to conserve energy,

and a whole lot more than we ever thought possible!

There are many more lifestyle changes we still need to make in order to simplify our home, live healthier, and deepen our relationship with God. In 2012, I hope to really implement the homesteading practices we tried last year so that they become ingrained into our regular routine. Additionally, I have some new goals:

1. In addition to individual daily prayer and Bible study, set aside a time weekly for devotions and prayer together as a family

2. Expand our flock of chickens and if we hatch any chicks in the spring, learn to cull and process the extra roosters for the fall

3. Make our own bread on a weekly basis instead of just for a special treat

4. Expand our garden by an additional couple of beds and grow more hierloom vegetables each season from the early spring to the late fall

5. Start seeds, plants, and grow small greens in our cold frame (we are already doing this!)

6. Find a raw milk source and try my hand at making our own dairy products including butter, cheese, cream, and even yogurt!

7. Begin to buy dry goods in bulk and from local sources (flours, grains, rice, pasta, etc.) and seek out ways for safe and long-term storage

8. Purchase a few turkey poults and learn to raise heritage Bourbon Red turkeys!! We would love to do this to butcher in time for Thanksgiving next year. Apparently the flavor and freshness of a heritage breed farm-raised turkey is unbeatable.

9. ...and FINALLY....a big goal for us in 2012: to expand our family either through natural conception or adoption! Although we have been TTC for quite some time now with male factor infertility, we are trusting God to provide us with a child and also opening our hearts up to adoption. We know we will be blessed either way with whatever He has in store for our future family.

Looking back, 2011 has been a long and difficult year for me, but at the same time I have so much to be thankful for. Blogging has granted me an incredible amount of insight and satisfaction.

May you be abundantly blessed in the New Year! 

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Roost

"But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring 
you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; 
he is Christ the Lord."" 
- Luke 2:10-11

Wishing you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS from the Roost! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Greenery and Garlands: Exterior Christmas Decor

I love fresh greenery at Christmastime! Gathered into wreaths, boughs, garlands, you name it- I love it any and everywhere. The smell is divine and it brings life into the dead of winter. 

Our front porch

The wreath is hanging on burlap with the red trim
for under $1 per yard! 

Packages to decorate my front porch bench. I can reuse these each year! 

I'm very much into 'natural' wrapping with simple brown paper, twine and ribbon, and a little greenery. My goal is to wrap this way each year with recycled materials and natural elements. Maybe I'll change up the accent colors each year, but the basic elements will be the same for easy and frugal gift wrapping. 

I love this time of year......even when I have a broken leg :)

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Apartment Therapy Feature!

Hi Folks!

Today our home is one of the featured tours on the Renest section of Apartment Therapy! It is called "BJ and Megan's Traveling Farmhouse Homestead." I'm super excited. You can check it out here: 

The photographer for the shoot, Katie, did a wonderful job with the tour.  If you enjoy the post be sure to leave Katie a nice comment on her excellent work!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Plain and Simple: 2011 Christmas Decor from the Roost

 It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around the Roost!  I had plans for something really original and different this year, but with my broken leg and mobility limitations I decided to take it easy and dress the home with simple Christmas greenery and humble decor. I really like this better anyway because it helps me focus more on the real reason we celebrate: the birth of our Savior! A big thanks goes out to my dear mom for helping me :)

One of these years, I want to go all out with a Moravian-Inspired Christmas, but for right now, most of the Moravian Christmas decorations from Old Salem are found on my Christmas tree. I am especially fond of the Moravian star, which represents the Christ Child, who is the light of the world!

The Moravian Star

I struggled to decide what I should do with the living room mantel this year (you can view last year's mantel here), but in the end went for simplicity: I placed my Willow Tree Nativity set among fresh evergreens and pine cones. I think it turned out quite nice.

We ordered some new flush mount industrial light fixtures for the kitchen (to replace the ceiling fans), but in the meantime before we put them up I thought I could use them as cloches for some candles. Traditional fresh greenery, simple pillar candles wrapped in humble burlap trim, and a few antique winter prints that I already had comprise the rest of my Christmas decor.

Swags over the mirrors and little lambs with greenery add some Christmas cheer!

I wrapped the candles in burlap trim and secured them with red and white straight pins from my sewing box

My Christmas table setting features a homemade Advent Wreath. I simply placed four small candles on a tray in a circle among the greenery for each week of the Advent season with a candle in the center to represent Christ. I used my good china for the place settings with white linen napkins crystal goblets.

A homemade Advent Wreath in the center consists of white candles with greenery and a larger Christ Candle in in the center covered in burlap trim. 

How do you like to decorate for the Holidays? I hope you are enjoying and able to reflect on all the blessings the season has to offer!

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Chicken Therapy

Hello, dear friends.

I want to thank you for still sticking with me here at Restoring the Roost while I take a little more time between posts to recuperate from the accident.  A broken leg with full height cast (no weight bearing at all) is awfully hard to get around on to take photos, or do anything really ;)  Let's just say I'm blessed to have LOTS of help with physical tasks from the hubby and my mom for the next couple of months.

Believe it or not, chickens are wonderful therapy pets. Even when you aren't interacting directly with them, they are so fascinating just to watch as they scratch around, cluck, discover delicious bugs and get excited, and settle pecking order battles.

I've really enjoyed holding and babying my chickens lately since the accident. One of my roosters, Clove, is super sweet and will just sit in your lap and barely make a peep. They especially enjoy sitting when you have a handful of shredded cheese to offer  :)

Our next big challenge is getting our annual chicken Christmas card photo ready and sent out! You can view the photo we used last year for the card here.  Very soon I will be able to share with you this year's Christmas decor from the Roost!

I really appreciate all your prayers and sweet comments. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I am thankful today to be alive and well and for the Lord Jesus who gives us life and hope. Early yesterday morning my husband and I were traveling home to Kentucky for Thanksgiving. It was still dark, we weren't far from home, but I was traveling on a rural road I wasn't too familiar with. In the blink of an eye, we got into a bad accident and ended up on our side in a ditch. We are so THANKFUL that my broken leg and BJ's concussion were our only major injuries. Of course we have some very sore bumps and bruises and have muscular aches, but we are still here and okay. Thank you, Lord!!!

This post was originally supposed to be a local Thanksgiving menu from the Roost but I thought I should update you on my situation. Some of our family came down from KY to take care of us for which we are grateful. We have always wanted to try staying in NC for a low-key Thanksgiving, just not quite this way! So, without any further delay, here is the rest of my original post:

I was thinking how nice it would be to have a Thanksgiving menu that used mostly local, natural ingredients but yet still retain the delicious familiarity and warmth of traditional autumn dishes.

Before you begin, here are some thoughts to consider when trying to eat local Thanksgiving fare:

1) How much of your meal can you obtain from your own garden? If you tend a small or moderate sized homestead garden, you might be able to utilize more of the past year's harvest than you think. Sweet potatoes, autumn squashes, garlic, brussels sprouts, fresh pumpkin, dried herbs, and preserved jams, jellies, and chutneys can all be integrated into traditional Thanksgiving dishes.

2) Where is your turkey coming from? If you do not raise your own turkeys, consider purchasing a heritage, pasture raised fresh turkey from a local farm. This year, we reserved two pasture-raised heritage turkeys (one per family feast) that we will contribute. The flavor and tenderness of the fresh turkey is said to be far above the standard frozen one, and you will rest better knowing no hormones or preservatives were pumped into your bird (not to mention that it lived a happy life while alive!) Of course, our turkey ended up ruined and all over the car from our accident :(

3) If you don't raise a garden or didn't have much of a harvest, purchase local foods from your farmer's market. They usually have a wonderful array of seasonal produce and supporting your local farmers is an added plus.

4) Keep dishes simple and avoid processed ingredients like pre-made canned soups and other canned goods.

Okay, enough of the advice. Let's get to the good part! I've tried to include a variety of dishes and recipes from various sources so you can pick and choose your favorite to try!

-Maple-Bourbon Roast Turkey with Gravy (recipe from the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook)

-Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Parmesan (recipe from Real Simple) 

-Butternut Squash Bread Pudding (recipe from Real Simple)

-Brie and Chive Biscuits (recipe from Real Simple)

-Bourbon-Cranberry Compote (recipe from Real Simple)

-Leek and Potato Gratin (recipe from the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook)

-Corn Pudding (heirloom recipe from my in-laws)

-Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Roasted Chestnuts (recipe from the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook)

-Pumpkin Goat Cheese Cheesecake (recipe from the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook)

-Sweet Potato Pound Cake (from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott)

P.S. If you family is repulsed by the idea of (heaven forbid!) overhauling your traditional Thanksgiving dishes for different ones, try introducing just one new dish this season. Then, if it's a hit, you can introduce another one the next year, and so on.

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving - be sure and count your blessings!  Sometimes we don't give thanks enough until we are faced with losing all we have.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Winterizing the Chicken Coop

It's that time of year to begin winterizing your chicken coop (if you haven't already--you folks up north)! Chickens can definitely survive just fine in unheated coops, but it must be dry, somewhat insulated, and free of major drafts. We are fortunate that where we live the weather does not stay below freezing for very long over the winter and in general the temperatures are pretty mild. Of course,  I still worry about my babies though!!

1. Check the coop for any cracks. Make sure it is draft-free!

2. Add an extra layer of pine shavings on the floor to help insulate. Some people add insulation to the walls of their coop as well.

We added some straw mixed in the nesting box to make it cozier for the layers

3. Check for any dampness. This is a problem for me because my chickens like to have a small water bowl inside their coop for a drink while they are confined, but due to spills and drips from their beaks it makes the area around the water bowl moist. I'm weighing whether it is worth it to have extra water inside for them or risk frostbite.

4. Add heat only when necessary. Chickens can naturally tolerate pretty cold temperatures depending on their breed. I raise primarily Dominiques, which are inherently cold-hardy. They are happy to be out in the frigid cold foraging and bracing any weather conditions. However, I do have a small heating pad in the coop that is buried under their pine shavings and comes on automatically when the temperature reaches below 35 degrees. Yes, I'm a sucker and my chickens are spoiled. 

This cord that is connected to their light is buried under the pine
shavings with the heating pad

5. Invest in a chicken waterer heating base. This will prevent your water from freezing since the last thing you want is for your chickens to be without water.

6. Give scratch grains with cracked corn for treats. Corn will help raise your chickens' body temperatures a little, making scratch grains with cracked corn a great winter-time treat for your flock.

Over the summer we extended their run to include this very large round pen that is enclosed with solar-powered electric fencing and covered in netting. It gives them more room to run around and play when we are not at home
to let them out.

How are you keeping your chickies warm this winter? 

P.S. On a side note: I just tried to put cute "Santa" costumes and hats on my chickens for our annual Christmas card photo shoot and it was a DISASTER. Tansy ran around squawking like she was being choked or something by the weird red cape that was on her back- and it easily came off. Rosemary was being frantically chased by the boys who took advantage of the costume that was slowing her down. She eventually ended up getting her foot caught in the ribbon and I found her sitting down helplessly next too a log out in the woods! Poor thing.  The only one who half-way cooperated was Clove, who kept his Santa hat on only because I was holding him. I wish I had it all on video, haha!  What am I going to do?!?!

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

A wall of mirrors or Paul Sawyier prints? Or both?

Do you ever have blank walls in your home that are begging for something beautiful to cover them? I have struggled with what to place on the wall above my sofa in our living room for some time now. A piece of artwork? Haven't found a piece I like (or can afford) right now.... Family photos? Would need to do a nice photo shoot and have matted and framed.... Something with texture or more three-dimensional for interest? Hmmm......

Using what I already have, I came up with two options:

1) Hang all (or several of) the mirrors I have together in a collection on this wall. It would be easy enough to purchase small decorative mirrors for any open spaces left in the grouping.

2) Group together all of my beloved matted and framed Paul Sawyier Prints to create a "gallery wall." Paul Sawyier was a Kentucky artist famous for his watercolors of local scenes in soft, muted colors. Many of his works are of scenes located along the Kentucky River or in Frankfort (my hometown!), which is a big reason why I am so attached to his art. I like the idea of grouping my prints together, but am not so sure that the colors are going to work in this room. Also, taking prints from walls in other rooms to use in the living room would leave some blank spaces that I'd need to fill.

For now, I have decided to use a combination of the two. I'm please with how it turned out but I'm not set on it staying this way. Perhaps I will move two more of the larger Paul Sawyiers from my entryway (shown in the photo below) to add to this wall?

So many decisions! Seems like I am always changing things up, but, I'm the kind of person that needs variety in my space.

Which option do you like?