Busy as bees!  One of our urban bees visits the blooming African blue basil.

and the humming bird hangs out in lemon verbena tree

Dispatches from the Homefront

With our some of “hopesolutions” in front of us and the old year behind us, it’s time to look forward!  It’s a new year with new paths to travel.

Thank you for all the wonderful new year wishes.  We really do appreciate hearing from our readers.  It’s like food for our soul so keep those comments coming.

Now, get ready for another round of pictures and happenings tfrom hese past few days.

Celebratory homemade treat

We rang in the new year with one of Jordanne’s ultimately scrumptious chocolate peanut butter pie (tastes like a Reese cup but only a thousand times better) .  She only makes these decadent desserts on special occasions and this year was one since we are celebrating a decade online.

Our family kept New Year’s day like we always do , far away from the maddening crowds that descend on Pasadena, snuggling under a warm blanket, watching a good A & E classic production with a few friends.   This year it was anti heroine Becky Sharpe in Vanity Fair (seen it already three or four times)  How well done this production is – the characters like Sir Pit are classic!

Good Year blip hovers over the urban homestead waiting for the Rose Parade to start

Warming up lunch in one of our solar ovens

We’ve been enjoying some wonderful winter weather – sunshine and mild temps.  Perfect weather for outdoor projects.

As with any holiday, we use the down time to get caught up on things.  Having a brief block of free time – no emails coming in, phone calls or produce orders– we get to concentrate on projects a whole lot better with no distractions.   We party hardy but just in a different way.

Plans for another composter.  Compost happens and we aim to turn all the waste into new soil.

Farmer D works on plans for a new composter, grey water system and fish pond.  Cassidy offers to help… just kidding!  She’d much rather snooze – she’s one sleepy head!

Cutting out more concrete

Justin wields the concrete saw and goes to work

Now the new project begins!

Out came the concrete saw to take out another chunk of concrete which remains of the 30 ft x 30 ft slab that we removed by hand one Thanksgiving day (and here) Death to all concrete! Boy,  I’d sure like to rip out the remaining four squares but have to keep telling myself patience is a virtue, patience is a virtue…

Jordanne, handy girl herself, is going to be putting in some shelving above the sewing desk/machine.  While she was busy wielding a drill and doing home improvements, I was in a paralyzed state looking at the containers filled with yarn and fabrics.    Thinking to myself: if I start sewing/knitting now around the clock for a year, I still wouldn’t make a dent.  But all is not lost, we decided to sort.  Pulling out yarn and fabric that we’ll use first – giving us enough material for projects in 2010.   Now, off to find some patterns online.  Particularly looking for a good peasant blouse pattern.

While Jordanne tackles the craft room, I am knitting as fast as my fingers can go.  Got to get through all this yarn.  In the knitting basket are a handful of wips.  Two hats, two scarfs and a bunch of yarn ready to leap on the needles just as soon as I cast off (no not sailing anywhere, if that’s what you think)

Justin is busy in the bowels of the cellar.  Unfortunately, since the garage is used as a barn, bike parking lot and storage, we have little room to keep odds and ends like scrap wood, metal.  You know, that pile of stuff you’ve found on the side of the road or salvaged from when a friend was moving that you can’t bare to throw away because one day, just maybe, one day you’ll use it.  Well, that’s what the cellar’s become.  However, it’s not a very efficient means of storage so Justin’s trying to sort and see if we can bring some semblance of order to our junk pile.  A junk pile which every urban homestead should have but is usually located in the back of the garage out of sight.  Yep, space is tight and space is why we fight!

Well, seems that we have some pretty smart readers here.  I thought I had you stumped with the mystery project photo but ya’ll are on top of things.

It’s going to be interesting to witness Justin’s fish farming experiment so stay tuned.

Spanky hangs on the bench keeping an ever watchful eye on neighboring cats

Peekaboo. Cassidy lounges under the row covers.  Hey, sweetie, you got some dirt on your chin.

Blackberry wonders “are we going walking yet?”

Fairlight, aka “her Ladyship” enjoys the sunshine

Sissy pecks thru the greens for bugs

Hanging together in the animal yard and catching the warm sun rays – ahhhhhhhh.

Splish, splash! Amy continues her water treatment and enjoys the water

Dora needs her nails cut.  Dora or “miss priss”  as we like to call her.  Prissy thing doesn’t take to scratching much in the soil so her nails end up growing- long!

Estella wants to have a serious conversation – I just know she does.  Wonder about what?

Meg looking beautiful and  so graceful

Sairey as silly as ever.  Aren’t those puffy cheek cute – just wanna go up and pinch them.

The blue moon (second full moon this month) seemed to make the critters here on the urban homestead squirrely.   The chickens, the goats and even we people felt this lunar pull — feeling a little loonie (think that’s where the word come from).   It was as if the animals were in a daze, slightly lost and some even pulled a few lunatic antics.  Lucie, the belgian bantam, went flying and prancing uncontrollably.  Sairey, our easter egg chicken, seemed to run around in circles more.  Blackberry and Fairlight seemed a little skittish/jumpish, their eyes wide open like they are anticipating the chupacabra!

The ducks started sounding like a vaudeville laugh track – one even started running around the enclosure, flapping her wings like an airplane ready for take off.

Thankfully, the blue moon is waning; otherwise, we’d all be off in the loonie bin.

Like I’ve said many a time.  When you start paying attention to your surroundings – the plants, the weather and the animals here on the urban homestead, you start picking up a sixth sense.  An earth sense that not many city folk have.  This sense makes you appreciate what our pionneer counterparts had to go through – they didn’t have 24 hour cable channel or a vet around the corner.  They relied and survived on their senses and those senses have been dulled and drowned out.

The tool shed did wonders with organizing all the hand tools that we use here on the urban homestead.

With the addition of a potting bench to one side of the shed, I think we have a makings of a bonafide working space.

Time to put those tools to work in the garden!

Next it was time to give the trees a hair cut.

Along the fence line we have a mini orchard of peaches and apricots.  By giving them a hard prune it keeps them a nice size for our small pot and increases food production.

Another olla get’s ready to be submerged into the ground.  The ollas (which are 80% more efficient than drip irrigation) have really work in helping our water conservation efforts here on the urban homestead

Self watering container: The ollas work great in pots like this one – onions and olla (clay pot irrigation method)

Sunday morning, Jordanne whipped up a meyer lemon pound cake. I think this is the best cake ever. – especially made with our very own duck and chicken eggs.  So moist and delicious.  YUM

Once again Sunday was a busy day at the urban homestead for visitors.

JK comes to pick up her order (thanks for your support) and gives us a bagful of homepreserved goodies.  Can’t wait to try the white guavas and mandarins.  YUM

We needed wood and some advice for a kitchen home improvement project so DD stopped by Sunday afternoon to help with both.

Then it was off to walk the goats then visit Betty  (our knitting mentor and adopted grandma) who’s been knitting since she was four

We walked in a found Betty surrounded by rubbermaids filled with yarn.  Seems she too was bitten by the bug to organize and sort out her yarn stash too.  Oh, and you know what that means? I come home with more yarn.  It’s a vicious cycle, I tell you!

Betty shows DD how to finish off his first knitting project (a scarf)

While Betty was knee deep in yarn and vowing never to buy anymore yarn in 2010 (I secretly doubt she’ll stick to it) , I take some time to show DD how to purl with easy to remember advice:

bump = purl (yarn front, needle front thru stitch)
flat = knit (yarn back, needle back thru stitch)

So our wonderful readers, how did you “ring” in the new year – care to share?

Coming Up!

December’s harvest tally along with the entire 2009 harvest tally, weekly meal wrap up, more photos of projects in the works here on the urban homestead!

:: Field Hand Appreciation :: GM $45, LM $5  and MM $5 monthly donation that will continue in 2010.

Thank you for your support.  Have you been inspired and like to support this our sustainable non profit outreach – here’s how


  1. Heidi says:

    If my husband (construction contractor) ever caught me using a saw in those shoes Justin is wearing, he would KILL me. I might just have to send you guys a pair of steel toes so no one over there loses any digits 🙂 as always, LOVE the photos!

  2. Karis says:

    I also love the photos! And I’ve been meaning to make some blouses too – here’s a very helpful tutorial that you can adapt to your own measurements – looks pretty easy:

  3. jengod says:

    Love these. Thanks for brightening the day with pix from your homestead.

    Q for Justin or Farmer D: How did you train the lemon verbena into a tree shape? I would love to do that, but mine always sprawls in every direction. Should I dig mine out and get a new seedling and train it up a bamboo support?

  4. Rose says:

    Delish looking preserves. I made apricot jam yesterday, it looks like summer sunshine.

  5. Sarah says:

    Love the pictures! AS usual! 🙂

    You make me want to start sewing some clothing for myself! THAT is something I have not done yet. I am a self-taught sewer and have sewn robes for my boys, pillows, blankets, curtains, easy stuff…. I think I could do the shirt or skirt thing… It would be a cheaper way to have some nice new clothing!

    Again, feel free to include any recipes of all of these delicious things you all make!!! 😀

  6. Robyn says:

    here’s an easy peasant blouse tutorial:


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