Turning over a new leaf.

If you had told me a few years back that before turning 30 I would start considering whether or not to set my browser homepage to the Old Farmer’s Almanac website, I would have nodded politely and said “huh, interesting,” while thinking you were a psycho who should definitely get out of the fortune-telling business.

But… that would have ruined both of our careers, because here we are: I have a vegetable garden, and indoor grow-light system, and I obsessively check the weather every morning to determine if I need to water the plants that day or not, or if they need to be covered with a blanket that night.

But more than anything these days, you can find me combing the Old Farmer’s Almanac website for all of this information and more.

If you’re not familiar with the Old Farmer’s Almanac, allow me to enlighten you with this brief description from wikipedia:

The Old Farmer's Almanac is a reference book containing weather forecastsplanting charts, astronomical data, recipes, and articles. Topics include: gardening, sports, astronomy, and folklore. The Almanac also features sections that predict trends in fashion, food, home, technology, and living for the coming year.

Released the first Tuesday in the September that precedes the year printed on its cover, The Old Farmer's Almanac has been published continuously since 1792, making it the oldest continuously published periodical in North America.

It’s essentially the one-stop shop for everything you need to know about… everything. And I’m obsessed. I can check the weather, I can learn how to properly plant a leek, and I can read my horoscope - all in one place.

(I promise, this is not an ad. I’m just that obsessed)

Side note: I have no idea know who the original old farmer is, but I like to imagine they’re the stuff of legends… like, at some point, we all become the old farmer by following in their manure-ridden footsteps…

Obviously, I didn’t always feel this way. First of all, until recently I was absolutely awful at caring for plants. Dogs were my jam, but plants for some reason always seemed to wilt in my presence, and I didn’t really get why so many people were so obsessed with them. They just sit there, being green, and then they die, leaving you with a feeling of failure. I was always kind of baffled when people would come into the bookshop every September and obsessively request the newest copy of the Old Farmer’s Almanac, with a passion in their eyes. I’d curiously flip through it and wonder what the heck the big deal was…. and then… then I decided to start a vegetable garden and all of a sudden BAM! I, too, was one of the tribe.

So while the rest of you cruise through Facebook or Pinterest, you’ll find me reading up on how to plant according to the phases of the moon, or this actual article titled “Celery: Bland and Boring? Not so fast!

Because I think it’s time I embrace this new side of myself: I am Old Farmer. Hear me roar.


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Books and Bread and Leeks, Oh My! - Adventures in Homesteading

This blog post is dedicated to Ryan. He knows why.

Friends. I went full homesteader on Monday.

Okay, I didn’t exactly go out and get chickens or goats or cancel our electric bill and start pooping in a hole in our yard or anything, so maybe I didn’t go full homesteader, but I went pretty far. For me. And maybe only for me.

I woke up on Monday and I was READY. TO. GO.

First of all, I started organizing/purging my home library and it felt amazing. I started a LibraryThing account so that I could catalog all of my books.

Every. Single. One.

If you don’t know, I have a lot of books. Like… thousands. So far I’ve cataloged 361 of them. And that’s a little less than half of the ones I own on my “to-be-read” bookcase. The “read it and loved it” bookcase hasn’t been approached yet. That bookcase is significantly smaller than the TBR bookcase mainly because I take in a lot more than I can ever read, but also I give away a lot of books after I’ve read them.

Before you panic and you’re like “HOW CAN YOU SPEND THAT KIND OF MONEY?” don’t worry! I work in a bookshop and I get a lot of Advanced Reading Copies for free. But, I also buy a lot of books, because as anyone who loves books knows, they’re kind of an addiction, which I argue is a lot safer than meth, SO GET OFF MY NUTS, THE MR.

I forgot to take an actual picture, so I stole this from my  Instagram  story.

I forgot to take an actual picture, so I stole this from my Instagram story.

(Side note: I’m getting rid of a lot of books that I just know I’m never going to get to, and when I was trying to figure out what to do with them, I came up with some pretty good ideas, but one of them is a giveaway. I’m thinking I’ll do it when I reach 500 followers on Instagram, so go tell all of your friends to follow me so that you can maybe get a box of free books!)

What on earth does using the internet to organize my books have to do with homesteading, you wonder? Good question! I don’t really know, but it felt domestic, so I’m including it. I also did laundry. Does that count as homesteading? Sure! Why not! HOMESTEADING CAN BE WHATEVER YOU WANT IT TO BE!

Like… baking! Because I baked bread, mofos!! This one actually does feel homesteady because I made the bread not because I was bored and felt like making bread, but because we actually needed bread to make sandwiches for lunch for the week, and since the bread aisle at the grocery store gives me anxiety, I just said “screw it” and decided to make it myself, and you guys….

LOOK AT THIS BREAD.

I have to say, I made a peanut butter and banana sandwich (with a side of goldfish crackers, like an adult) with it the next day and it was maybe the best thing I’ve ever eaten. I’m never buying bread again.

In fact, I plan on never going to the grocery store again, you know why? Well, first of all, I can make bread now. Second of all, The Mr does the grocery shopping anyway, but third and most importantly of all, I PLANTED VEGETABLES. FROM SEED.

Last year we planted vegetables, and I’m going to say that it was a learning year. This year, we have charts! We have graphs! We have absolutely NO KALE! Things will be so much better.

This is just phase 1. At our height, we will have 87 plants started indoors and even more planted directly in the ground outside. I’m so excited.

This is just phase 1. At our height, we will have 87 plants started indoors and even more planted directly in the ground outside. I’m so excited.

Plus, this year, I’m planting in accordance with the phases of the moon, which I’m pretty sure makes me a witch now? I’m still waiting for my letter from Hogwarts, but this is like… Herbology 101, right? But with less screaming plant babies and more leeks. Also, for some reason I was feeling crazy and decided to plant Georgia Flame peppers, so… sorry, future me?

Anyway, all of this is to say that I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a little over a week, but I have a lot of books and bread and leeks to deal with.

But now I’m back, so yay! What have you been up to?

P.S. If you want to see even more photos of my homesteading adventures, go join the Awkward Ambassadors on Patreon! This blog is able to remain ad-free because of them. If you’d like to become an Awkward Ambassador and receive special perks (like exclusive vlogs or messages from my dog), please click here.

Making Butter - Adventures in Homesteading

If you’ve been following this blog you know that The Mr and I are starting to dive into homesteading. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go read this blog post) So far, it’s been going slowly, but well, which makes sense because it’s only February 4th, so there’s not a lot of farming that can be done in the dead of winter.

Since that’s the case, we’ve turned our homesteading efforts in a different direction: making stuff.

Like most beginning homesteaders, we started with a simple sourdough bread recipe. Or… The Mr did. I came home and was like “WHOA BREAD!” and then proceeded to unhinge my jaw like a snake and swallow the loaf whole.

“You know what this needs?” I said with a mouthful of doughy goodness. “BUTTER.”

“Oh, I’m way ahead of you,” The Mr said heading for the fridge. He rummaged around for a brief moment before popping up from behind the door holding a small glass bottle of heavy cream just as I shoved another piece of bread in my mouth.

“YEAH!!!” I jumped up and down with a level of excitement that is reserved for mild Taylor Swift fans during a brand new music video.

But I think it was totally justified, my friends, because here is the awesome thing: My brother and his wife gave us a butter churner for Christmas. Sadly, it’s not one of those giant wooden ones that you see in Williamsburg, VA, but it’s the next best thing because it’s an adorable glass mason jar with a churning mechanism screwed on top of it and it’s made and sold in Amish country, so YOU KNOW THAT THING WORKS LIKE A DREAM.

And you know what? WE MADE BUTTER.

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It was actually stupid easy. We just put the heavy cream in the jar and started cranking. Then came the coolest/most disgusting part….

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So at this point you have all this butter, but there’s also all this liquid on top, which is the butter milk, and you have to squeeze all of that out of the solid butter that you have. It’s squishy and gross and awesome, and for those of you with children, I highly recommend this kitchen activity. Oh! And then you can use that buttermilk in recipes like buttermilk pancakes and whatnot. It’s kind of amazing actually. (Side note, the liquid pictured above is not the actual buttermilk. It’s just water because you also have to rinse your butter. That’s right, your butter gets a butter bath.)

From there, you add salt if you want and viola! BUTTER.

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Ironically at this point we decided not to put it on the bread, but instead we made a giant bowl of popcorn and melted some of our delicious homemade butter for that and I REGRET NOTHING.

Have you ever tried making butter?

Adventures in Homesteading

If you follow me on Instagram, I think we all knew I was heading in this direction. I live in the middle of nowhere on an abundance of land. I often document my (weirdly successful) attempts to make my own skincare and home cleaning products, and last year The Mr and I (somewhat unsuccessfully) started a raised bed vegetable garden.

So…. was anyone really that shocked to see that I bought this book the other day?

Gio really missed his calling as a model.

Buy the book here. Check out her blog here.

This lovely little book called out to me at work in the bookshop the other day, and much to The Mr’s and I’m sure many others’ concern, I brought it home and immediately dove in. Because you know what? I kind of do want to be a modern homesteader. Not, like, in a poop-in-a-bucket prepper kind of way, but just in a “hey, I make or grow what I can” kind of way.

I’m definitely not going to start a big farm or anything, but I think my ultimate dream looks something like this:

Eventually I’d like to find a 1-2 acre plot of land with a small, livable house already on it for like… not a lot of money? On this plot of land I’d like to have a decent vegetable garden that grows enough to make up for a lot of our food. I thin I’d like some chickens for eggs, and maybe some goats or a cow for milk. And that’s it. The house would be an ongoing project that we would constantly be working on.

This is not a thing that will happen any time soon, however, so until then, I’m going to do what I can and try new things as I’m able to. We have a nice little raised bed garden on the property we are currently renting and I’m going to learn from last year and go for it again this year.

I want to learn to make and mend instead of throwing away and replacing.

And I’m going to fail a lot. It will undoubtedly be hilarious and you know I’m not going to hide any of it. I’ll be posting about it on instagram and here on the blog as much as I can.

BUT DON’T WORRY: This is not going to be a blog all about homesteading now! Just sometimes. Because it’s a thing I do now. And I’m not very good at it.

But that’s what makes it fun, right?

What about you? Do you consider yourself a homesteader? What tips and tricks have you learned over the years? I need all the help I can get, so please feel free to share your knowledge down below!