Homestead Update: Red Succulents, Giant Chickens, and Quick Whole Food Meals

When I arrived home from Tennessee early Monday morning, I was surprised by how much growth had taken place while I was away! Our chickens looked twice the size they were when I left, huddled in their brooder, basically living on top of each other. That gave me the hint that it would soon be time to transition them to their coop. We are hoping that this Wednesday might be the day! I also took a trip out to the greenhouse to whisper hellos to my little plants to find that they weren't so little anymore! My pumpkins, zucchinis, butternut squash, and cucumbers had basically taken over their trays, more than three or four times the size they were when I left them. What!!!! It was incredible. My other vegetables were looking fine, too, a little yellow, but I think they are just ready to grow somewhere other than a tiny cubicle. 

I did find some surprises with my plants. My succulents, the ones I've had for over a year now, were still looking sad. My giant aloe that's as tall as Tad, that I bought for five dollars, is just this dull gray/red color. My paddle plant? It was once so tiny and bright green! It's now red and shriveled, along with a few of my other original succulents. I can't seem to figure out what's wrong. They did live indoors, near a south facing window, for the entirety of their lives. I moved them outside when the weather just reaching 50 degrees, which I figured would make them stressed, but now that the weather has been a steady 60-70 degrees outside of the greenhouse, with the inside tending to be about ten degrees warmer, I can't seem to figure out what they're still stressed. I basically drowned them in water a couple of weeks ago, and while I keep checking for drying out, they're still retaining that moisture and don't need much more than a spritz of water. Yet, they remain red and shriveled, still trying to hang onto life. Any tips for me? I'm trying to decide if it's a water issue or more of a case of too much sun. Is that possible for a succulent?

While I experiment with curing those plants, I also have a new task at curing my blueberry bushes. Early in the spring, around the beginning of March, I prepped my bushes for the upcoming season. Remember my blog post on how to care for blueberry bushes in the first year? Well, it seems my Nitrogen-rich fertilizer may have been a bit too much for them to handle. The leaves have begun turning red there, too, which can mean either a nutrient/vitamin deficiency, lack of well draining soil, or a fresh disease. While I can't find any other signs of disease nor have I had a problem with our soil retaining or draining moisture, I am going to assume for now that they have a vitamin deficiency. If you have a blueberry bush with red leaves, that usually means they are low on magnesium and calcium. I watered them with some water from the tap mixed with an all over vegetable fertilizer that was high in those two nutrients. We will see what happens! I've also read that just giving them a good drink can help reduce the redness. So far, no splitting leaves, just some red tips. We're going for the green over here!

The same with all trips, I arrived home and felt utterly disorganized. How do you cope with getting your life back in order after traveling? I find that just not doing anything for a day or two helps me mentally prepare myself for the clean up ahead. Honestly, I still have laundry to do and the kitchen to reorganize. My pantry is lacking in quite a few ingredients, and while I've been to the grocery store, I'm kind of avoiding filling my flour jar back up. All of the work leading up to the Country Living Fair has made me crave being lazy for at least a week... maybe two! But, alas, I have to buy flour to keep my sourdough starter alive. And I probably need to refill the cilantro because I really like eating Thai noodles sprinkled with it. 

Along with my procrastinating, Jill and I were so inspired with new directions to drive our business after CLF. It's always so amazing to get away, see what's happening in the world outside of our little cottage, and become re-inspired to keep pushing. I realized while I was there that though my embroidery and woven work is wonderful, and there are a lot of people interested in it, it's just difficult to sell. And I will be totally honest about that! It's a hard sell. It's my personal artwork, it takes me a lot of hours to make, and it's expensive. It's the same as purchasing a fine art painting, though I won't compare to my work to that, but it's the same concept. And I'm okay with that! The realization came that I have so many more people ask me how to make embroidered and woven art than how to buy it. So why not teach? That really pushed me to make the e-courses I've been dreaming about and teach classes here at our studio. It's pushing me to make my art just for me and without the monster of "what will my customers like" looming over my shoulder. I feel good about it. I hope y'all do, too. I'm hoping to have some class-like products available by June 1st, and an e-course soon after that. 

For those of you looking to purchase some finished embroidery, I do have a few hoops available in our shop here.

There was one night this week where we had a lot of miscellaneous ingredients lying around our house, and we weren't really sure what to make for dinner. There in lies the problem, generally, where you either order takeout from a crappy chain or make hotdogs and frozen chicken nuggets because you don't feel like trying too hard. I know; I've been there. Now that we eat whole foods (which was actually a lot easier to find while out on the road than we expected! Just pack snacks and avoid fast food/gas station snacks and look for local, family restaurants that serve home cooked meals), we are finding ourselves becoming more and more creative in the kitchen. It takes a lot of mental strength to remind myself not to make something fast and unhealthy just because it's easier. That night, we decided to make a mishmash of Thai-inspired food. Usually we eat Thai noodles, but since we were out of linguine, I made it with rice, and it was still just as fabulous. If you tend to have leftover veggies in your fridge that are just sitting around, try throwing them in this dish:

  • 1 cup cooked linguine noodles or rice
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • vegetables of choice (broccoli, spinach, bell peppers, mushrooms, shredded carrot, zucchini - I would avoid tomatoes)
  • 2 tbsp sesame seed oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce 
  • 1 tbsp teriyaki glaze
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar OR honey
  1. Cook your rice or noodles according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat the sesame seed oil over medium heat. Cook the onions and garlic until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add in the other vegetables. I love broccoli, mushrooms, and peppers! We had spinach on hand the other night and mushrooms. So yummy! Cook until the vegetables are soft or maybe a bit crunchy if you prefer. Sometimes I toss a little pasta water in to help them cook faster.
  3. Turn the heat to medium/low and toss in the noodles or rice. 
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the sauces and sugar/honey. Pour over the noodles and veggies and let reduce for a few minutes. Make sure everything is covered. 
  5. Serve warm with cilantro sprinkled over the top.

Sorry I don't have a photo of the pasta dish! We kind of ate it... HA! And I just spent about a half hour looking for an old photo that I must have deleted. Just trust me - it's good!

The last update on the homestead for this week would have to be... cutting out the garden! Yes! It's finally happening. We'll be starting on that sometime today or tomorrow, weather permitting. It's been grey and rainy here, yet again. I was hoping for that warm sunshine, but it should be returning in the next couple of days. I am so excited to finally move my plant babies outdoors. It's going to be so beautiful! (: Do you have any fun weekend plans? 

xoxo Kayla