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  • monkey orchid

    Homestead Stories: The Monkey Orchid

    If my Insteading readers have been following the orchid stories, you’ll know how much I love this charming plant. There’s my general, informative article on orchids, the unusually-shaped bat flower, and the swaddled babies. I keep finding more orchid varieties as I browse the local nurseries or share my discoveries with friends. I want to […] More

  • nasturtium flowers

    Homestead Stories: A Colorful Mosaic Of Nasturtiums

    “I love my nasturtiums,” Mom declared years ago as she led me on a walk through her extensive garden. The nasturtiums were everywhere. Every color imaginable — from solids pinks, reds, yellows, and oranges, to multicolored mixes. The long stems wove through and around the other plants, cushioned by the large umbrella leaves that served […] More

  • purple passionflower

    Homestead Stories: The Purple Passionflower

    “Did you know there are hundreds of varieties of passionflowers?” I thought I was talking to my husband, but he had wandered off to another part of the nursery while I studied the array of color in front of me. Glancing around, I realized I’d been talking to myself with others giving me wary looks. […] More

  • anguloa uniflora

    Homestead Stories: Swaddled Babies Or Baby In The Cradle?

    “I have a swaddled baby to show you,” a friend said over the phone. “Like a baby in the cradle. Want to come over and see?” The words caught my curiosity. My friend was too old to have a baby in her arms — at least, not one of her own. And since she never […] More

  • outside of cabin

    A Guide To Organizing A Log Cabin

    After moving to our mountain cabin, it took us over a year to find the best ways to organize it. We had to learn how to get creative with our space and think about storage in new ways. How you organize the space is key. If you do it well, you can maximize small corners, […] More

  • brazilian grape tree

    The Brazilian Grape Tree

    I had spent another morning doing battle with the proliferous wild grape that grew across my rock wall border. I had nothing against grapevines, especially when they bore fruit (which these vines did), and I’d collected bunches to make into jelly. But once they climbed my rock wall, took aim at my lush tree line, […] More

  • mourning dove

    Homestead Stories: I Love My Birds, But…

    Several years ago, my daughter informed me (with great excitement) there was a mourning dove nesting in my hanging fuchsia on the front balcony. “No way,” I declared. “Come see,” she insisted. Sure enough, in the center of my prized fuchsia was a mourning dove, packing things down to make a nest. I wasn’t too […] More

  • baby in cabin loft

    5 Tips For Raising A Baby In A Tiny House

    Raising a baby in a tiny house has both challenges and benefits. When we moved to our tiny house, I was seven months pregnant and incredibly nervous about how we would fit into the space! The Stuff Our first challenge was fitting all of our new baby items into our home. When you add a […] More

  • invasive kudzu

    Homestead Stories: The Kudzu Monster Plant and Other Invasive Species

    “What are those creepy figures?” my youngest asked. We were driving the back roads to Florida for a family vacation. “I believe that’s what they call kudzu,” I explained. “They look like monsters.” “Yes, they do.” I had read about kudzu years ago but had never seen the plant this close. It was downright eerie. […] More

  • spider flower

    Homestead Stories: The Spider Flower

    “You know I don’t really like spiders.” I scowled as my friend led me around her garden. Large or small, spiders really do give me the creeps, and sometimes they bite. Yuck! I do know they have a purpose. Just as long as that purpose does not include me. My friend stopped in front of […] More

  • cabin off in the distance

    Lessons Learned From Our First Year of Cabin Life

    Last year, my husband and I moved from Austin, Texas to a little log cabin in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We changed our entire lives over the course of 20 days: quit our jobs, sold most of what we owned, and moved across the country. Not to mention, I was seven months pregnant at the time. […] More

  • glass gem corn

    Homestead Stories: Glass Gem Corn

    “Oh my! That is colorful. And it’s really corn?” I was flabbergasted. I loved growing and eating corn on the cob. Usually the standard yellow corn or the peaches-and-cream which is a combination of a deep yellow and a pale yellow. I have eaten, though never grown, white corn, loving its tiny, sweet taste. I […] More

  • tulip tree

    Homestead Stories: The Tulip Tree

    “Oh my! The flowers on those trees look like tulips.” I was taking a walk with my grandmother along a country road just north of Lake Erie. It was spring and the weather demanded some outside activity. “That’s why people call them tulip trees,” Gran said. “They’re also called poplars. In fact, other than in […] More

  • green rose

    A Green Rose for St. Patrick’s Day … Why Not?

    “What’s wrong with your rosebush?” I asked. We were standing in front of my mother’s profuse garden of rosebushes. She loved her roses and was always adding a new color to the collection. “That’s a new one, isn’t it? Why is the flower all green?” I was convinced there had to be something wrong with […] More

  • michelle's homestead

    Moving from City to Country: The Long-Term Transition

    When we moved from a city of 200,000 to a homestead in a hilly, Ozark town of 2,000 residents, my husband and I fully anticipated there would be an adjustment period. As I wrote in my first article for Insteading, there are many moments of “culture shock” that could affect this urban-fled, aspiring country bumpkin. […] More

  • morel mushrooms

    Morel Mushroom Hunting

    It’s spring in Minnesota when the trees are sporting their new green leaves and the ground is warm and damp. It’s also time to get into the woods and look for morel mushrooms. Morel hunting has become one of my favorite springtime traditions. My husband Adam, introduced me to morels several years ago. I still […] More

  • foraged coffee

    Caffeine-Free Coffee Substitutes That You Can Forage In The Backyard

    Coffee is something I really used to enjoy. In my memories, that roasted, dark liquid is synonymous with warm cafes, good conversation, and air perfumed with delicious aromas. But now that I’m more than a decade past college, I’m finding that my appreciation for the flavor of this ubiquitous American beverage is quickly being eclipsed […] More

  • yellow jackets

    How To Get Rid Of Yellow Jackets

    My young son was playing with some rocks and sticks nearby while I was pulling weeds from our perennial herb garden. I kept his small frame in the corner of my eye while I worked, smiling to myself as I saw him lean close to the ground in curiosity. He was apparently studying something fascinating. […] More

  • prepping food for cooking

    Homestead Stories: How Dumpster Diving Made Me a Better Cook

    The first zucchini I ever ate came from a dumpster—or, rather, from a cardboard box next to a dumpster, also filled with various greens, peppers, and hummus. Many of the foods in the box were foreign to me, at least from a culinary standpoint, but they were free and I had a family to feed, […] More

  • balloon flowers

    Homestead Stories: The Balloon Flower

    “It’s a balloon flower, Mom.” My youngest jumped up and down with glee. “A what?” I asked. I have to admit, I’ve heard some pretty strange names for flowers but balloon flower was a new one to me. “A balloon flower,” my oldest confirmed. “That’s what the flower looks like when it blooms. A balloon.” […] More

  • outhouse flower close up

    Homestead Stories: The Outhouse Flower

    I have fond memories of the outhouse at the family cottage. Years ago. When I was a youngster. Dad had built it far enough from the cottage that it didn’t project its noxious odors into the place where we ate and slept. Mom planted tall, bushy flowers around the outhouse in an attempt to beautify […] More

  • bee balms

    Bee Balms Or Bee Bums?

    “Mom,” my six-year-old called from the front walk where he had been riding his bike back and forth. He had paused in front of my display of red and purple, firework-like flowers and admired them. At an age where he wanted to know everything, it wasn’t unexpected that he would ask about the different flowers […] More

  • the holly and the ivy

    Homestead Stories: The Holly And The Ivy

    “The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown. Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.” I hummed the tune happily as I dialed my parents’ number. I would be going home in a few days to spend Christmas with the family. I was excited and […] More

  • bulk food in jars

    Frugal Living: Everything You Need To Know

    It’s no secret that modern living is a bit of a morass of consumerism, waste, and debt. In a world where the latest smartphone debuts less than a year after its previous iteration, where the Joneses are always one step ahead of you, and where mountains of plastic are clogging up waterways and oceans, the […] More

  • jack-in-the-pulpit

    Jack-In-The-Pulpit: A Beautiful Flower With A Weird Name

    Growing up in the 1960s, just about everyone in my class at school went to church, and most churches were similar in layout, including, at the front by the choir, a pulpit. So, when the lessons turned to studying the wildflowers of Ontario, the one plant which captured our attention was the Jack-in-the-pulpit. The teacher […] More

  • false solomon's seal

    Homestead Stories: What’s False About False Solomon’s Seal?

    “False Solomon’s seal? What’s that? And why is it false? What’s the real thing?” Questions. Always lots of questions. Each new discovery on my country property opened up a new page of learning, understanding, and appreciating. I had been studying the knee-tall foliage that arched over my flower beds. With oval-shaped leaves draping along the […] More

  • trout lily

    Homestead Stories: How I Accidentally Grew Trout Lilies

    When I first moved to the country, I was amazed at the bounty of both wildlife and wildflowers. I had a big job ahead of me—tidying the forested part of our property. I wanted to clear out the brambles and remove the garbage that had been randomly dumped in a place the previous owners believed […] More

  • soap made with hops

    Making Homemade Soap

    I started making my own soap out of necessity, but eventually it became one of our farm products. Around 2000, I started having severe rashes. I had combination allergies, which made me allergic to soaps, shampoos, laundry detergent and even toothpaste! I started out making my soaps with melt-and-pour glycerin, but that proved to be […] More

  • dandelions

    Why You Should Keep Your Dandelions

    Yellow, yellow everywhere. Interspersed with the yellow, were just as plentiful white puffballs of fluff. Hardly any green. It was a dandelion haven. As a child, I recall picking dandelions as a flower bouquet for Mom or Gran. They loved them, or so they claimed, and made a big deal of placing them in water […] More

  • black and white lighthouse on the beach

    Lighthouses For Sale

    Buying a lighthouse is more than a real estate transaction. It’s a lifestyle change that links you to a proud American tradition. The best way to find lighthouses for sale is via a US Government lighthouse “property disposal”. These happen sporadically. When one is going on, the General Services Administration lists available lighthouses on this […] More

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