“With Pomp, Power & Glory the world beckons vainly, In chase of such vanities why should I roam? While Peace & Content bless my little thatched cottage, And warm my own hearth with the Treasures of Home.” — Beatrix Potter

Not sure if you are getting tired of these pictorial posts since comments have been sorta quiet of late (because of the holidays?) — but here we go again.

Another salvo of pictorial dispatches from the homefront.

It’s winter here on the urban homestead, though there are no dreamy, snowy white scenes to be hand in la la land.  Instead we are enjoying blue skies and sunshine.  It’s nippy in the mornings and evenings but the days are very pleasant and “warm.”

No waste! One of our clients is a local tea shop and they discard crust and ends of bread.  We take the refused bread and make….

New Orleans style bread pudding topped with caramel rum sauce.   Jordanne made two trays. One for our gathering last Saturday (which was demolished by the end of the evening) and one for us.  In this household if you make dessert you better make a whole lot of it.

Farmer Justin shows off his “kill” –er, huge tromboncino squash to Farmer Sergio

Group shot with the squash

The squash finally makes its way to the table as a centerpiece!  Dinner is served.

Chatting with friends.

It’s been a busy winter in terms of entertaining for us.  I think we are going on 7 weekends that we’ve had people over and we aren’t finished yet… new years coming up and more visitors!

Goat walk and goat food foraging.  Fairlight looks on while Jordanne grabs a bag and gets ready to harvest some oak leaves (aka goat “chips”)

It’s getting dark so time to head home. Carrying bags of lead and the goats follow the leader (me there in the distance lugging a few bags full of leaves.)

Heading home!

Hey, Blackberry, you have hay on your head!  Blackberry, sorry to say, is what we like to say is – “a little dense.”  In a cute way!

Chatting with visitors to the urban homestead

Group shot

Looking forward to these kumquats ripening.  Almost there and then they’ll be breakfast!  Can’t wait.

Chicken convention.  Wonder what they are discussing?   Perhaps they are wondering why they haven’t been getting as much garden greens.  It’s winter guy, er gals, – sorry!  The garden is a slight state of hibernation and we are rationing the greens.

The guys work on another building project with all the scrap/leftover wood – nothing is wasted here at the urban homestead.

Building an attached potting table to the new shed.  The nice shutters were gotten at Habit for Humanity store.

While in the garden I overheard some talk about improving the backyard again.  I caught snippets and words like using an old bath tub for, and we could take out the concrete here and move it there, expand this and so on and so forth.  Sounds like there’s some work coming up in transforming the garden yet again.   Can’t wait!

Mystery project! This contraption is located alongside the house.  Can you guess what Justin is up to?

Another gift from our readers!  In the mail yesterday, another thoughtful gift and lovely letter.  Thank you D & J B from Kansas for the calendar that contains a host of inspirational quotes.  One of my favorites is ” The garden is a poor man’s apothecary.”  – German Proverb

Winter citrus harvest – 150# worth.

Blood orange juice.   Drink a glass of this in the morning – hits the spot!  No, it’s not orange juice mixed with blood if that’s what you are thinking. The blood orange is a variety of orange with crimson, blood-colored flesh. The blood orange is often described as a hybrid between the pomelo and the tangerine, but it is actually just a mutation of a sweet orange.


As a kid when introduced to these unusual greens, I’d turn my nose up at these “strong flavored” greens.   Yes, I know we are talking about the same person that goes bonkers over salad mix.  Funny thing, taste changes and you get used to the flavor.  Now I come to appreciate, that if a vegetable that “has taste” is a good for you. The strong the better!

Potatoes in pots

Youngins – baby salad greens.

Now is the time to stock up on seeds for spring.  Check out our online seed store, at – featuring seeds grown by the people for the people.

Speaking of seeds and our little seed company (that’s celebrating it’s FIRST anniversary!) there’s been some comments of late that I’d like to address regarding our (limited) selection of varieties.

Baby chard

The greens are recovering from the first frost we had but three weeks ago.  The are safe and sound in their little hoop houses.  To ensure the frost doesn’t bite them again Justin covers the cloth row covers in plastic every night.

Broccoli.  Looking forward to our first spears!

New to gardening, wondering what you can plant this time of year?  It’s not to early/late to start all sorts of greens, root crops, radishes and brassicas.  Don’t forget you can stock up on seeds for your Freedom Garden at Freedom Seeds.

Gorgeous meyer lemons

With the meyer lemons (given to us by a friend – thanks Paul!) with this round of kombucha made a meyer lemon syrup.  YUM!  Gonna almost taste like soda pop!

Part of the pantry with the storehouse of “staples”  – oats, flours, rice and a few dried beans.  We try to keep our pantry stock with basic staples.  Staples that our pioneer counterparts would be familiar with.

To help us along our path and the direction we need to go we constantly ask ourselves “What would the Ingalls do?”  Of course, in this modern age and stuck in the city it’s a hybridized life but that question helps keep us focused on on course.

Scrap wood for our wood stove/heater

The “medicine chest” – dried herbs for health and other projects like soap.  That reminds me – gotta make another batch of soap soon.

It’s amazing how much wild life in here in the city of Pasadena (lucky for us our city has lots of trees, the arroyo seco and backdrop of the majestic San Gabriel mountains.

Here’s a bird of prey checking out if there’s any food in the neighborhood….

Mrs or Mr Crow makes sure the predator’s not there for long.

Speaking of birds a flock of geese flew over the urban homestead this morning – unfortunately didn’t have the camera with me.  As I said before in another entry, we must be on their migratory flight path.

Snoozers. Catching zzzzzz’s and ray’s.  No work or worries for these guys – lazy daisies!

Hope this latest pictorial post left you inspired to “bloom where you are planted!”

As 2009 quickly comes to a close our family wishes yours a productive and purposeful new year.

Coming up, a two week meal wrap up, another round of highlights from 2009, new “hopesolutions” for 2010 and more!


Looking for something to inspire you (and others) throughout 2010?

Buy a beautiful calendar of stunning nature and simple living photos–and be encouraged to grow more of your own food! Plus you’ll be supporting an important work of educating others how to be more self-sufficient.

The calendar is a wall calendar, and each month has a different picture. Some months have a group of pictures. The pictures are of nature and simple living topics and reflect the seasons of the year to a certain extent.

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Ok, I have a confession to make.  My goal here is to sell 1000 +  of these calendars (we aren’t there yet!) That’s not too much to hope for?  If we don’t — I’ll,  I’ll…. I’ll have to think of something.


  1. BJ Gingles says:

    I enjoy the pictoral posts. Please keep them up. It has been quite a busy holiday season for us and will be still for the next few weeks. I am working my own square foot raised bed and container garden and have been clearing out some of the beds getting them ready for the next planting of salad greens. I’ve also been perusing the seed catalogs, planning next season’s garden and will be contacting you soon for some of the heirloom varieties I want to try. My husband is all for this but it seems that other than building the beds for me (and eating the produce), the gardening is my project. That is fine with me as I have discovered I absolutely adore gardening.

    Thanks for the inspiration and motivation you give.

  2. Sarah says:

    LOVE the pictorial posts. Holidays are busy, but never too busy to pop by and see how your family is!

    We can’t plant or harvest much this time of year in Indiana, but your blog makes me look forward to planting our seeds in February, in my living room!

    Keep up the great work! Would also LOVE to know how you make your soap. I have never done it, but we are getting a pregnant goat in the next week or so, and would LOVE to make goat milk soap. Or ANY soap for that matter. It HAS to be better than some of the stuff we have used in the past! Would also LOVE to see some more recipes!

    Oh yes, and one more thing! You have inspired us to try sprouts! We will be doing our first sprouts soon!


  3. Michelle says:

    I never tire of the pictorial posts. EVER! Love them! I’m so inpsired by your pantry…and feel the need to re-read the Ingall’s books. I read them as a child…but I think I would gather so much more now as an adult. Thanks for the reminder! Hmmm…I wonder where my set is? Have to call mom!

  4. David S says:

    Hi Dervaes Family & Travelers,

    Fantastic green thumb’s all! Farmer Justins tromboncino squash looking as vibrant as ever. Tried some of your organic tromboncino squash seeds & got a bumper crop so much so was giving away to friends,lol. Friends still have one from last Thanksgiving & its still tastily scrumptious as ever. What a keeper!

    Enjoying the rare drizzling rain here today in southern Calif. Hope the Rose Parade will be dry, but for now know my vege garden’s loving the liquid sunshine :).

    Bon Appetite All & Happy Growing New Years 2010, David S.

  5. Tara says:


    I just read you holiday posts , as I was on holiday mode myself… and you guys were in INDIA. Delhi!!!

    I live 20 minutes from the place you had the press conference and had I known, I would’ve turned up ( invited or not).
    I was crestfallen. You guys have completely changed the way I view life. Not everything I plant sprouts.. but I question myself every time I do something.. in a good productive way.

    Just to say …” OH! Crap!! I missed out” 🙁

    If you guys do come back to Delhi…. maybe you could have the papers/ media advertise it better? don’t know. I checked the papers of last week…. there was no mention.

    Keep on the good work. You guys are amazing and a brilliant example of how much potential we all have.

  6. Heidi says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE the picture posts. They make me feel like I’m your next door neighbor. AND they keep me motivated on the days I feel like I’m failing. Thank you so much for all that you do!

  7. Callie says:

    Please don’t ever stop the pictorial posts! I have been following along for over a year and stop in daily to see what’s new on the Homestead—you inspire me to do more myself, to work towards sustainability. Keep up the good work!

  8. Tim says:

    Over this holiday my father obligated me to help out the company he owns by working on a huge calling project (his company make phone calls on behalf of large organizations)… I’ve been sitting in this chair for 10 hours today, making thousands of phone calls, saying the exact same words over and over.

    I took a minute to check in on your blog for a little hope and inspiration…to remind myself that most of life isn’t like this cubicle. So…Thanks! You guys are great… I’m so glad this isn’t my normal job. We all need a lot less office and a lot more gardening.

    Have a joyous new year.

  9. Candace says:

    Love the pictorial posts; keep them coming. I often show them to my husband, especially the goat pictures, to warm him up to the idea of getting goats in the future. Chickens in 2009; he was skeptical at first, but now loves them. Bees in 2010, which he is excited about so that didn’t take much convincing. So goats in the future is doable, I think.

  10. Wendy Proulx says:

    I really enjoy your pics! Please continue posting this way. Wishing you and your family all the best in 2010… peace, good health and happiness.

  11. Sharon from Mississippi says:

    Thanks so much for all you do. Your posts are an inspiration to me. Just love the pics. Please keep them coming!!!

  12. Karis says:

    Hi – I just found your site/blog and am really enjoying it, especially the pictures. I hope to start a garden this year – thank you for the inspiration! I contacted my county extension and found out I’m not zoned for chickens – I think they thought I was crazy, as perhaps does my husband. But I know you understand 😉

  13. Aspen says:

    I love the pictoral posts, too. I love seeing the local sites, the critters, and the food. Better post a recipe for that dessert, girl. Made my mouth water!

  14. Jason says:

    Looks like Justin is starting an aquaponic system from the looks of the mystery project.

  15. Ben Guygoesgreen says:

    That squash is awesome. I think it would be fun to make some sort of craft out of it to preserve the size.

  16. DAn says:

    I am working on my lasagna garden and hope my garden will just be as great as the ones in your pictorial posts!! keep it up

  17. Chris says:

    Happy New Year Dervaes Family! Wishing you every good thing: good health, much happiness, and a bountiful growing season in 2010!!! Please keep up the photo posts. They’re wonderful, inspirational and remind me to “check myself” and my lifestyle to come up higher one step at a time. I’d love to see more recipes posted by you. Everything looks so delish! Re: The German Proverb, modern day version should be: The garden is the Wise man’s apothecary 🙂 God Bless you all!

  18. Anne P. says:

    Please continue your pictorial posts ~ it is very encouraging and inspiring to see the daily practical application of your sustainable living message.

  19. jill says:

    Lovely pictures of your garden..mind is somewhere here under all of the snow and ice!!
    Would you share the recipe for the New Orleans bread pudding?? As bread pudding is my staple crowd dessert I’m alwys looking for a new version.
    Health and happiness to you all in the New Year.

  20. Rob says:

    The mystery project is either ceramic bokashi ball or an aquaponic system.

  21. C says:

    I love these picture post! I’ve been following your blog for maybe a year, and it’s posts like these that help me imagine myself as the urban homesteader I want to be!
    Since reading your journals I’ve finally realized this is what I want to commit my life to, it’s just getting there that it the hard part. But in two months me and my partner will be moving cross country to California, and hopefully will be able to start out first garden, work less, and live more simply.
    I was so discouraged at first because we didn’t own a home (making it hard to garden) and because we both have to work, which makes homesteading and DIY living very difficult. Reading your blog has taught me to walk one step at a time down the path…thank you for that!
    I truly feel like I’m making progress towards where I want my life to be.
    Please continue with these posts, they are so inspiring!

  22. jengod says:

    Another vote for picture posts. (Find out what the boys are working on! I’m curious!) Happy New Year, and thank you for being the inspiration for all my own homesteading project. You guys have really changed my life!

  23. Darcy says:

    I just started reading your blog and love your pictorial posts! I noticed in the 5th picture of this post that you have two glass lamps lit on the table. My dad just gave me one of these lamps for Christmas and I wonder what type of fuel I should use and also where to find wicks? I would appreciate any suggestions you may have! Thanks!

  24. Susan says:

    It’s OK if Blackberry is “a little dense”. When you’re that cute, who needs brains? I’m sure that’s the motto of many a supermodel!

    How did the animals react when you came home from your adventures? Were they happy to see you, or sulking because you left them?

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