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5 Tips for Upgrading Your Homestead's Kitchen

Kacey BradleyAs a homesteader, you already know how important your kitchen is to you and your lifestyle. It's not only the heart of the home, but where you preserve foods for seasons ahead and prepare meals with the literal fruits of your labor.

With so much time and energy spent in your kitchen, you want to make it better and more functional than it is now. But upgrading a homestead kitchen isn't quite the same as sprucing up the same room in a more traditional abode. So, to make the process simpler, here are five tips for renovating your space.

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1. Think About Flow

A major kitchen upgrade will probably have you changing the layout of the room. In general, most designers stick to the triangle rule — the sink, refrigerator and stove should be placed so that they create a triangle. This allows you to easily access your chilled storage, clean and peel at the sink, and cook on or in the stove. To make it work, you can't have any obstructions between the appliances. For example, your refrigerator shouldn't be on the other side of a kitchen island, or else grabbing ingredients for cooking or preserving will take that much longer.

To that end, homesteaders have to consider kitchen access to outdoor spaces. You'll want a door or, at least, a window through which you can pass the harvest from your gardens. Once you pinpoint the location of your entryway, map out a place where you'll store all of your fresh produce until you eat it or otherwise preserve it.

2. Select the Right Sink

Once you've figured out your layout, you need to make lots of material and design decisions. One of the most important for homesteaders will be the sink — as a harvester of fresh fruits and veggies, you'll need a big, durable sink to aid you in all your scrubbing and washing. So, make an extra-large basin part of your design. Many homesteaders swear by farmhouse sinks that reach from the front of the counter all the way to the wall, thus preventing any water from leaking between the sink and the wall and causing damage to the home.

3. Pick a Powerful Stove

When it comes to stoves, everyone has a favorite style — some prefer electric, while others swear by gas. The latter tends to suit homesteaders better, as it can still turn on and off when the power goes out. Plus, it makes a better base for canning, which you likely use to preserve the fruits and vegetables you don't eat while they're fresh.

Once you find the right appliance for you, make sure you know how to maintain it to ensure it lasts long — as a homesteader, you already make the most of your resources and boost their longevity as best as you can. So, know how to clean your stove and do so regularly so that it lives out its projected lifespan. Something as simple as using an abrasive cleaner can cause irreparable damage to your glass stove top.

4. Harness Natural Light

Another must-do in a homesteader's kitchen — harness the power of natural light. The sun's rays provide a multitude of health benefits, from boosted moods to better sleep. In your kitchen, you can rely on the same glow to illuminate your work space without using any additional resources. Make the best use of your home's natural light by positioning obstructive cabinets or appliances far from the windows. If you can, add one over your sink or in other places where the sun's glow would be beneficial to your prep work and cooking.

Of course, you'll need artificial lighting so that your kitchen is functional at night and on gloomy days. Other homesteaders suggest adding grow lights by the sink or underneath cabinets. Not only do they shed extra-bright light into the room, but you can actually use the glow to cultivate fresh herbs and other plants.

5. Choose the Right Time to Do It

Finally, as a homesteader, you need to make sure you take on your kitchen renovation at a time that is convenient for you, your family and your farming. For most homesteaders, this means taking the project on in the middle of winter, when farming stalls and preserving is finished. Others have found it worked well to take on small projects over a longer period of time instead of one big renovation. That way, the kitchen is never completely out of order, and you can continue your cooking as you update.

Make Your Kitchen Homestead-Ready

Ultimately, the perfect homestead kitchen is the one that works best for you and your family. Design a space that's both functional and beautiful, and you'll be well on your way to the perfect kitchen. These five tips will help you in that quest — all there's left to do is start brainstorming and building out your dream space.

5 DIY Homestead Projects You Can Take on Yourself

Kacey BradleyA homestead lifestyle often allows for more freedom in life. Many look forward to the self-sufficiency lifestyle that ensues, but projects around your property can often take on a life of their own. Some may need professional intervention, but there are many homestead projects you can handle on your own.

Your land holds limitless possibilities, but don't allow the dreaming scare you out of diving into them.

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Allow the following five DIY homestead projects to inspire your next to-do list. You'll have the satisfaction of playing a big role in creating the homestead of your dreams. Who knows, your first project may inspire more to follow.

1. Build a Wooden Planter Box

No homestead is complete without veggie gardens ready for the warmer months. Plus, there's a natural appeal that comes from gorgeous landscaping, but what about smaller garden elements, like herbs, that would be better suited for deck or outside patio?

With a few materials, you can build your own planter box. The needed materials will depend on how large of a planter you want. Measure out the space you want it to fill, then pick your planks accordingly.

After gathering your supplies, and an hour of drilling everything together, you'll have a nice self-built planter ready to go. Line it with tarp for easy cleaning and drill a few holes for adequate drainage.

2. Construct a Chicken Coop

Taking care of a homestead often means tending to the animals on your property. If farm-fresh morning eggs are on the menu, construct a chicken coup to help house your chickens. Having chickens on your homestead also offers another revenue stream if you plan to sell the eggs for a small profit.

Depending on the number of chickens you have or plan to have, you want to start by figuring out their size so you can determine the coop size to build. Six to eight hens will need at least a 5 x 20-foot coop. These are the basic materials every size coop will need:

  • 2 x 4-foot planks, for the frame
  • Plywood sheets, for the floor and ceiling
  • Sheet metal or shingles, to cover the roof

Accessorize your finished chicken coop with food and water troughs, plus a six-inch deep layer of wood shavings or hay for nesting. After everything has been assembled, your chickens will have a very happy home waiting for them.

3. Make a Cheery Sign

Many homesteaders choose to identify their property via a farm name, or they might like the look of homemade signs throughout their gardens. You can create a unique sign for your homestead with the help of a few materials.

The materials and instructions for your sign will differ depending on what kind of sign you want to make. Your base should start by nailing a few small pieces of plywood together and covering with weatherproof paint for an outdoor sign. You can indicate which plants grow in which planters, or make one for each row of your garden.

Consider painting sealant over a welcome sign for your front porch. Include your children by having them write the word "welcome" on the sign, to preserve their handwriting forever. A layer of sealant will protect it from the sun and weather, so it'll last as long as you'll live in your home.

Whatever you decide to do, have a purpose or message in mind to guide the project along. Whether they welcome people to your home or guide them around your garden, constructing a cheery sign could make your homestead feel more like home.

4. Put Together a Greenhouse

Gardening is a fun summer activity, but often necessary all-year round for homesteaders. Greenhouses help keep your gardens thriving even throughout the winter months. Investing in a professionally made greenhouse may be something way outside your budget, but it can easily be built at home.

The secret to building a greenhouse is to use hardware wire mesh. Drape the mesh over the top and down the sides of a 2 x 4 wooden frame. Secure a plastic cover over the sides to protect plants in the winter, and remove the plastic in the summer so you can grow vine plants alongside the mesh. You'll have more opportunity to grow different types of plants in a greenhouse, whether you garden to grow food or beautiful plants.

5. Create a Shed

If you're thinking about building your own shed, it may take longer than a single weekend to accomplish, but when you're done, you'll have a useful structure for years to come.

Start by laying a concrete foundation. Once it's laid, you'll have to spend a few days misting it with water so it sets completely. Taking your time with this part is crucial, or you'll end up with a cracked foundation.

After your concrete has solidified, you'll want to build the frame for your shed. The size of your shed will determine what sized planks to get. You also want to pick out a material for the walls and ceiling, as well as for the doors and windows.

Time to Pick Your Next DIY Project

As a homesteader, you can personalize your home with DIY projects that will only boost efficiency around your property, not to mention they'll save you money.

Start looking into the projects that might benefit your homestead, and you'll find that the world of DIY projects has plenty of options for you to choose from.

10 Important Steps to Preparing Your Homestead for Summer

Kacey BradleyWhether you’re a self-sustained homesteader or new to the lifestyle, there are several steps you should take to get your home and your family ready for summer. Now is the best time to get outside and make adjustments for the warmer weather, from checking for roof damage to tuning up your lawnmower.

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1. Look for Damage

Get outside and look at your home. Do you see any noticeable damage from winter? Check your siding to look for any missing or damaged pieces, which can result from heavy winds. Check the state of insulation around your windows and doors, as leaks can cause increased energy bills and allow bugs and mice to enter your home. Preparing your home for summer means assessing the damage and giving yourself ample time to make repairs.

2. Clear the Gutters

While you’re outside, get out a ladder and check your gutters and downspouts. During the winter, gutters can easily get clogged with debris like twigs, pine needles, dead leaves and more. When it begins to rain more in summer, these clogs can lead to water overflowing, allowing water to get into your basement or crawl space and cause damage.

3. Check Your Roof

Like many parts of your house, the roof can show its age after time. Temperature fluctuations cause shingles to expand and contract, which can lead to cracking. Check for flaws that can allow water to enter your home and cause damage. You should also take a careful look at the chimney, which can begin to crumble over time. If you notice a leak in your chimney, inspect the joints where it meets the roof. If you find a crack, you can usually repair it with a patch.

4. Test the Temperature

When you work outside on the homestead, you want a cool place during the summer where you can escape and relax. That’s why it’s important to test the temperature controls in your home. To prepare for summer, examine your air conditioning units to make sure they work. If you’re having an issue with a window or HVAC unit, call a professional who can complete necessary repairs.

5. Clean Your Windows

Before summer, when temperatures are still mild, is the best time to clean your windows. To get crystal-clear glass, spray both sides with a window cleaning solution and use a squeegee or piece of newspaper to wipe it down, leaving it streak-free. While you may be tempted to save time and pressure-wash your windows, remember the force of the spray can easily cause damage.

6. Collect the Rain

Find or purchase a barrel to collect rain during the warmer months. This time of year experiences more rainfall than winter, making it the perfect time to set a barrel outside. The collected water has plenty of uses on a homestead, including watering your garden, washing your car, washing your pets and refilling a pool.

7. Transfer Your Seedlings

If you want to plant any new seedlings, you should start them indoors. But once the weather begins to warm, you should prepare for summer by finding the perfect spot outside for planting. Choose a place that’s not too shady and won’t get inundated with rainfall. As the temperatures rise, your plants will be able to soak in the sun’s rays and grow steadily.

8. Start to Compost

If you haven’t started a compost pile, now is the time to do so. Not only will you cut down on the waste you throw away, but you’ll also have a trusty source of fertilizer which will work great on crops. Food scraps like eggshells, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable peels and more can all skip the trash can and make their way outside. Items you shouldn't try to compost include meat and dairy products, plastic utensils, grease, plastic wrap and foil.

9. Maintain Lawn Equipment

The key to keeping your homestead looking picturesque is the lawn equipment you regularly use, like lawnmowers, weed whackers, hedge trimmers and more. Check your tools before you need to use them to make sure everything is in proper running order. If you forgot to empty gas from last season, clean out and refresh the equipment. Refill your weed whacker with fresh oil and check to see if you need to replace the string.

10. Look at Irrigation

If you’re a homesteader who relies on an irrigation or outdoor spout system, it’s essential to ensure everything made it through the winter season intact. Remove the freeze caps from faucets and turn on the water. If you only get a trickle, not a full stream, there may be an issue with your pipes, such as a crack causing water to leak. If you’re experiencing issues with an in-ground irrigation system, you might have to call a professional for a tune-up.

How to Prepare Your Homestead for Summer

It’s not hard to prepare your homestead for summer. The trick is to start early, create a list of all the tasks you need to do and set goals for getting them accomplished. Once you’ve finished your projects and are ready for the warm temps, sit in the yard and enjoy the new season's sun.

6 Ways to Make Your Homestead Feel Like Spring

Kacey BradleySpring is a lovely time of year when the flowers begin to bloom, the birds start to chirp and the warm sun is shining. Now is the perfect time to start making some simple touches that will bring spring to your own homestead.

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1. Decorate with Flowers

If you’re a seasoned homesteader, you might already have various flowers growing in your yard which are great for decorating. But you can just as easily decorate with fresh flowers that are store-bought. There are plenty of ways you can incorporate flowers into your decor.

Get a vase and use fragrant flowers to liven up a hallway or kitchen. Or greet guests with a bright floral wreath, bringing a touch of spring to the outside of your home. The types of fresh cut flowers which last longest include peonies, alliums, calla lilies and dahlias.

2. Grow Fresh Herbs

Spring is the best time to grow fresh herbs. When shopping for seeds, pick out herbs you’re most likely to use when cooking, like basil, thyme, mint and oregano. You can even grow catnip for any furry farm friends.

Choose a small sunny patch outside which is easy to walk to. Or place some pots in a sun-filled windowsill. Before you know it, you’ll have fresh herbs you can use to spice up dinner. As a bonus, your plants will fill your room with fragrant, tasty aromas that will remind you of your favorite meals.

3. Bring the Outside Inside

Decorating with live plants is an easy way to bring the fresh greenness of the outdoors inside. Not only do plants look nice with your decor, but they come with a lot of health benefits. Having plants in your home has been shown to freshen the air every 24 hours, removing up to 87 percent of toxins.

This includes harmful substances like formaldehyde, which is found in rugs, grocery bags and cigarette smoke, and benzene and trichloroethylene, both found in synthetic fabrics, inks and paint. The best plants for indoor use are those which don't require much light, including gerbera daisies, spider plants, dragon trees and peace lilies.

4. Choose Bright Colors

One way to make your homestead feel more like spring is to refresh your paint with bright, earthy colors. If your walls are in need of a new coat, the warm spring temperatures are the perfect time to open your windows and properly ventilate your home while painting.

For a spring feel, choose tones and hues which resemble comforting outdoor landscapes, like deep sky blue, emerald green, clay red and burnt orange. Not only will these colors make your home feel warmer, but it will also add a touch of style and personality.

5. Spruce up the Porch

If you and your family enjoy the homesteading lifestyle, you probably spend a lot of time on your porch admiring what you’ve been able to accomplish. So spruce up your porch with decorations to remind you of spring.

Start with giving everything a sweep, getting rid of any dead leaves and debris from winter. Get a small end table and garnish it with a vase of fresh cut flowers. Bring out any patio furniture you have, including the swing and antique rocking chair. You can even add a splash of natural color with a pillow or doormat.

6. Get Some Chicks

Nothing says spring like a flock of chirping chicks. Before the chicks come home, you should make sure you have the adequate outdoor space and equipment, including a coup with built-in feeders.

While chickens like to forage for food, including grass, worms and beetles, you’ll need to buy feed as well. Coops should also have enough nesting boxes, with the recommended amount being one box for every three hens. This gives them a place to rest and lay eggs.

Bringing Spring to Your Homestead

How do you bring spring into your home? From decorating with plants and fresh cut flowers to investing in your own flock of chicks, there’s plenty of steps you can take right now to make your homestead feel like spring.

DIY Secrets of Growing Your Own Wedding Flowers

Kacey Bradley

If you're planning a wedding, you know how costly the perfect big day having can be. To save money, consider cutting out the florist, which can cost anywhere between $500 and $1080. When you grow your own wedding flowers, you can easily reduce costs and have fabulous flowers to use for the bouquet, boutonnieres, centerpieces and more.

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To plan right and save money, look at the insider secrets below.

1. Pick the Right Flowers

Before you buy seeds or start picking a spot for your garden, you need to know which types of flowers to grow. Not only do you need flowers that fit your theme, but they also need to have long and sturdy stems, perfect for sitting in a vase or arranging into a bouquet.

Keep in mind you'll have to use annually blooming flowers in your decor. While perennials can be beautiful, they focus on growing strong roots the first year, not developing sturdier stems until two or three years in bloom. If you absolutely must have perennials, like day-lilies or phlox, use them for boutonnieres, which see less wear.

2. Consider the Timing

Different flowers bloom in different seasons, with fewer options to choose from in winter. If you already have seeds, look at the packet instructions for the time of year to plant. As a handy guide, take a look at the popular wedding flowers that bloom in each season:

  • Spring: Daffodils, apple blossoms, peonies, roses, tulips and lilacs.
  • Summer: Orchids, dahlias, zinnias, freesia, sunflowers and daisies.
  • Autumn: Calla lilies, marigolds, sunflowers, chrysanthemums, roses and yarrow.
  • Winter: Jasmine, holly, gardenias, poinsettias, camellias and mini gerberas.

Choosing the right flower for the season will ensure they bloom on time and look stunning.

3. Get Started Inside

You don't have to rush outside to begin planting. Instead, create an indoor setup with small pots. Use high-quality soil and water often, as the seeds will always need to stay moist. As your seeds begin to germinate, you can keep an eye on the process.

The seed packet, or a quick online search, will tell you when germination should happen. Some flowers can take up to a month to sprout, so be patient.

4. Find a Sunny Spot

Once your seedlings begin to push through the soil and expose themselves to light, it's time to take them outdoors. Find a spot that gets plenty of sun but won't collect excess water. Be sure to clear any weeds before planting your seedlings.

Once planted, you'll need to support, feed and maintain your plants. Add stakes for plants like sweet peas, which need support to grow up. You should also add fertilizer — either store-bought or homemade. If you decide to make your own, there are plenty of organic recipes you can follow.

5. Harvest with Care

When your plants begin to flower, you'll need to regularly chop off dead flower heads to ensure they keep producing. Once you're ready to harvest for your wedding, bring clean buckets and a sharp pair of scissors. Cut the stems at a 45-degree angle and remove stray leaves before placing in the bucket.

The best time of day to harvest flowers is in the morning when the stems are fully turgid (filled with water). The flowers will also be coated with morning dew, making them even more beautiful and fragrant as you walk through the garden.

6. Design an Arrangement

You have your flowers — so now what? It's time to arrange them! Seek a variety of textures and shapes when mixing your flowers. Create a balance between what's simple and what's visually stunning.

Once you've picked your assortment, it's time to assemble. Select a base and fill the inside with a chicken wire foundation. The wire will hold your flowers in place as you find the perfect design.

Growing Your Own Wedding Flowers

Weddings are expensive, with floral arrangements making up a large chunk of the price tag. While you might save money with imported flowers, they can sometimes be treated with harmful pesticides. By growing your own flowers, you can save a lot of money while also giving a personal touch to the look of your wedding.

Functional Flooring for Your Farmhouse and Homestead

Kacey BradleyWhether you're starting new construction or want a modern update, there are plenty of flooring options that can add functionality to your homestead. From durable to stylish, the best option will depend entirely on your wants and needs.

Look through the following five farmhouse flooring choices to see which will work best for you.

1. Tile

If you want a flooring option that will make your farm or homestead look great, consider tile. Tile flooring is easy to install and extremely resistant to wear and staining. It's also cost-effective, as it is around the same price as other flooring materials but can last much longer, around 75 to 100 years if cared for properly.

Ceramic tiles have a protective glaze on the surface to make them water-resistant, the perfect option for rooms which might get wet or humid, such as the bathroom, kitchen or laundry room.

Installing tile can also increase the resale value of your homestead, should you ever choose to put it on the market.

2. Linoleum

The most significant benefit to choosing linoleum flooring is the price. Compared to options like tile and hardwood, it's much cheaper. Be aware linoleum will not last as long as other materials, typically needing a replacement after 10 or 20 years.

This type of flooring is a practical, low-maintenance option for a farmhouse or homestead. While linoleum should be polished twice a year to maintain its finish, it is typically water-tight and resistant to staining. Try to avoid cleaners with strong alkalies, such as bleach, ammonia and baking soda, as they can damage the finish. It a stain does occur, it's possible to remove the single tile of linoleum and re-polish it or replace it altogether.

3. Vinyl

Vinyl flooring comes in both wide sheets and square tiles. While sheet vinyl flooring is more resistant to water damage and staining, many people prefer the look and aesthetic of tiles. This type of flooring is great for high-traffic areas, as it's inexpensive and also durable.

Vinyl is a suitable flooring option for second-floor rooms, as it can help reduce noise. Since it comes in a broad range of colors, styles and patterns, you can easily find flooring that matches your homestead's style. Some vinyl comes with faux wood grains which helps replicate hardwood planks.

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Photo by DDP on Unsplash

4. Wood

Hardwood flooring is easy to clean and very durable. It also looks gorgeous in any home. While the surface can get scratched or dented, proper care means the surface will last for decades. After many years of wear, you can update your look by refinishing the surface, something inexpensive that will only take a weekend to complete.

Choosing hardwood flooring isn't as simple as picking out a piece of wood, though. Both solid hardwood and engineered hardwood options are available. While both are very similar, engineered hardwood is produced with more resistance to humidity, ensuring you don't have to worry about your floor expanding with the seasons.

5. Rugs

Carpeted materials may not seem like the best flooring choice for a homestead or farmhouse, as the fibers can soak in moisture and quickly show stains. However, the benefit to using rugs over wall-to-wall carpeting is the ability to pick them up, take them outside and clean them. You can remove stains easily and also get rid of built-up dirt and debris, which is beneficial to allergy sufferers.

Much like vinyl, rugs can help reduce noise, making them an excellent option for rooms on the upper floors. Rugs can also hold in heat, making them a valuable winter accessory. Unlike flat, hard flooring, rug fibers trap in heat, helping to insulate your house and keep it warmer.

Choosing the Right Flooring Option

Your homestead's flooring doesn't have to be a source of constant headache. Instead, look for a functional option that works for you.

After a long day of work on the homestead, consider an option that will hold up to the wear of debris carried inside. No matter which flooring you choose, it should make life on your homestead easier and more convenient.

5 Materials Perfect for Upcycling

Kacey BradleyUpcycling is a trendy new way to get rid of unwanted items and turn them into something new. Whether you want to decorate your home with unique, new decor or create a helpful new method for organizing your home, there are plenty of materials you can use to start upcycling today.

1. Wood

The versatility of wood makes it useful for hundreds of upcycling project ideas. It’s become trendy to take apart pallets and use the wood for projects like furniture frames and flower beds. If you feel extra creative, you can create an outdoor jungle gym and obstacle course for your young ones.

Keep in mind that not all wood is safe for re-use. Some pallets are chemically treated and can be dangerous to your health, especially if brought indoors. Always inspect the wood for a stamp, which indicates it was used for domestic transport and was not chemically treated.

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2. Glass Bottles

Next time you empty a wine bottle or jar of jelly, save the glass for your next upcycle project. There are plenty of fun and easy ideas that can be finished in less than a weekend. Consider turning that bottle into a unique air plant holder, or learn more about glass etching to create the perfect vase centerpiece.

When working with glass, always take the proper safety precautions. If you plan to cut or sand, wear a face mask and eye protection. Heavy-duty gloves should be worn to prevent cuts and slices. It’s also recommended to work outside or in a well-ventilated space.

3. Leather

Leather is a material that can be used to create some of the most interesting and intricate upcycle projects. Instead of tossing out that dated leather jacket or those too-small cowboy boots, consider the best way to reuse the material.

Maybe you want to create a traveler’s journal where you can jot down all your vacation thoughts? Or perhaps a new change purse that perfectly matches your style? If you want something more classic, consider designing your own belt that will last for years to come.

4. Denim

Everyone has a pair of too-small jeans lying around or pair with a tear in the most inconvenient spot. Instead of tossing out your favorite pair of pants, consider how you can turn them into something new.

One simple idea is this fabulous hexagon rug, which can easily go with the decor in a kitchen, bathroom or guest bedroom. You can also use old denim to create a stylish new purse or a unique bed for your pet.

5. Books

If you’re a book-lover, it can be hard to toss those old, worn copies in the trash. But books are essentially filled with tons of crafting paper perfect for upcycling into anything your heart desires.

If you’re a chess wizard looking to create a unique experience for your games, consider these chess pieces made entirely from recycled paper. Or create a fairy-tale experience by building your very own tea set, complete with teapot, cups and saucers. If you want to turn your books into memorable decor, look at book reefs designed by folding the pages into tear-drop shapes.

Your Next Upcycling Project

Upcycling is a fun a creative way to get rid of old materials lying around while also creating something entirely new. The upcycled materials above can have as many uses as you dream up, from creating a fun new play experience for your kids or to adding more accessories to your style.







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