Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Overwintering plants... and Maple tapping!

 Overwintering and Tree Tapping
Every winter we put some of our plants, tubers and bulbs in our basement or garage, so that they will be protected from freezing temperatures.

The usual suspects are your Gladiola bulbs and your Dahlia tubers.
Living in the north adds a bit of work to your fall gardening schedule but it is well worth the work to see those beautiful blooms in the summer months.

Gladiolas are the tall flowers and the Dahlias are the bright puffy ones!

But did you know that you can also overwinter all kinds of plants?
Here is a guide I find helpful in determining weather or not you have the right conditions to overwinter your favorite plants, herbs, flowers and even fruit trees, from the garden you worked so hard on all summer!!

We have many plants that are in pots, so that we can do this.
I have a beautiful Meyer Lemon tree that I have kept alive for about 7 years now. It thrives outside all summer long and then we move it indoor for the winter. It has a happy place next to a south facing window. It is flowering right now. I hope we get some fruit this year.
Meyer Lemon Tree
Potted herbs and plants
Avocado tree in a pot.
I also have some Rosemary, Parsley and two Avocado trees I started from seed, all thriving indoors until they can go outside for the summer.

Top left to right: Lemon Balm, Parsley Peppermint.
Middle left to right: Oregano, Raspberries.
Bottom left to right: Spearmint, Chocolate mint.

My mint plants(I have 3 kinds Chocolate, peppermint and spearmint) my lemon balm and a couple more parsley plants have all thrived in our garage this winter.
 We just bought 2 Raspberry plants and 2 Blueberry bushes to plant this spring. Since it is still too cold to plant them yet(being that the ground is frozen still) we are keeping them safe in the garage for now. We keep them watered and during the day when it is nice out we  set them out to get some sun and nutrition.

It isn't hard to do this with a little planning and the right space(light from a window, your protected garage or a basement or even a shed.) you can do it too!!

Now on to Maple tapping.
We have been planning to do this for two years now.
We have read article after article, and watched video after video.
Nothing prepares you for the thrill of getting that first sap though.
In the last few days I have collected about 7 gallons of sap....at this point I can't keep up with it all. 
The half pint jar on the left is my second batch of Maple Syrup.
The jar on the right is the Maple sugar I accidentally made.

But I am boiling it down and trying to not turn it into sugar like I did the first batch.....  :)

There really isn't too much to it. In the spring(right now for us here in Maine) when the nights are below 32* and the days get into the 40's the sap is moving from the roots up into the tree to nourish it's impending growth. So as it travels upwards some of the sap is tappable. You can read all about the tapping process here and the syrup making process here.
We only purchased 5 taps, so each of our closest Maple trees has one tap. That makes it easier to collect the sap.
As we collect it we cook it down until it reaches a syrup like consistency. Then we cool it and filter it.Store it in a mason jar in the fridge.
We will get a hydrometer when we can afford to, but for now we are just winging it.
With only the 5 trees tapped, it is a manageable project for one person. I am actually really enjoying the process. It is a kind of Zen experience. I love watching the clear sap turn to that golden color.
The benefits of living in the north east are many. I am so happy that we get to experience this part. What a wonderful way to bring in the springtime!

Love from the Homestead,


Saturday, March 12, 2016

How I feel after 7 months of eating the Keto way and Keto Cheesecake!

First let me just say, I never thought I would have ever, in a million years , given up Bread and Sugar. But I did and it didn't kill me!
If in the history of the world, anyone else loved bread more than me, well I doubt it.
I started on this journey in August of 2015. I did a months worth of research. I watched videos for weeks. From doctors to nutritionists and just average people who had made this change and how they were succeeding at losing lots of weight and fixing hormone issues to so much more.
My main reasons for this switch were to fix my hormones. Weight loss was a close second and third was to see if all of that would lead to more energy and the ability to have a baby.
You see, we tried for about ten years after we got married. We saw doctors, did hormone therapies, and injections, and Ultrasounds. But because of my hormones, and all of my Endocrine mysteries. It would not happen for us.
Now I have some hope again. I have been having my periods monthly for the first time in my life. Although that doesn't mean that I am ovulating(Yet)! It does mean that I am having a positive effect on my hormones.
I have not been to the doctor in almost a year, so no tests have been done to see how I have changed with blood work, but I will as soon as I can.
I feel amazing. I have more energy, and my concentration has improved. I am not so scattered as I used to be. My thoughts are more coherent and I am able to get things done. I used to start a project and leave it unfinished. My moods are better. and My body just feels right.
I know this won't work for everyone. I get that. I feel that you have to do your own research and make your own decisions. I just knew that I had to change to actually make a change occur in my body.
So far I have lost 37 Lbs. About 5 inches off of my waist.
You should see me cinch up my pants in the morning. I mean I never used to wear belts, and now I have to.  :)
My shoes fit better, I have lost that bloated feeling. I am more regular... I have lost most all of my cravings and the biggest thing....
I am not Hypoglycemic anymore.
I can go many hours without eating now.
My blood sugar doesn't drop dramatically anymore.
I used to get major Migraines and Hangry when I didn't eat.
I would wake up starving every day. I would snack late at night.
Now this is what my day tends to look like....

6 - 7 AM:Wake up - Have a Bulletproof Chai 
(Chai tea with a tsp. coconut oil, 
few drops of liquid stevia and 3 Tbsp. of cream ,blended)

Bacon, eggs with mushrooms and fresh parsley, half an avocado and sauteed swiss chard with melted cheddar cheese.

11 AM ish - Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch
whatever I feel like having.
If I want breakfast it is usually : (2 eggs scrambled with a few veggies; squash, mushrooms,asparagus and cheese. Sauteed greens(chard,spinach or turnip greens) 2 pieces  Bacon or Sausage and a half of an avocado.
Or I might have Keto muffins or pancakes with berries and cream.

If I feel like lunch I may have A large salad with a protein like chicken salad, tuna salad, salmon salad, egg salad or meat and cheese diced. lots of veggies and nuts and seeds.

7 or 8 PM -   Some type of dinner, could be a Keto casserole, or a burger wrapped in lettuce. Or a large dinner type salad (like taco if I had Breakfast for lunch.) Chicken thigh stir-fry with broccoli and mushrooms and a baked sweet potato. Or if I am not too hungry I might just have an apple with either almond butter or Cheese and nuts. I sometimes have a piece of 72% to 90%  Dark chocolate with nut butter late at night when I am watching a movie as a treat!

I never feel deprived, I eat till I am full, I am rarely hungry and I don't suffer from cravings anymore.
I even have snack and travel foods all figured out.
I make baggies of nuts and seeds, O'Coconut chia and hemp bars 

and I found these great Grass fed, sustainable meat bars made by Epic.
I buy most of my bulk packaged foods on Thrive Market.
(when you sign up through my link  you'll get 15% off and and when you become a Paying member I will earn $25 in Thrive Cash for my future orders. Win Win!)

If you are interested in the recipes I use please check out our Pinterest Page Here.

Sometimes I will make these elaborate deserts, just because.
That takes me to the Keto Cheesecake I promised you...

Looks good right? It tastes good too....I promise!
This is how a High fat Low carb diet has all the rest beat, hands down. This one piece is 1 tenth of this whole cheesecake:

That's right, One serving. It's a lot! The carbs break down to about 7 Net Carbs per slice, with the berries it's about 10 Net carbs. Berries are a very low carb fruit. So I don't skimp on them. If you want you can add a dollop of whipped cream or coconut cream to make it even more decadent. 
Time for the breakdown......

This is the crust recipe I used.

Cheesecake Crust

  • 1/2 cup Pecans Chopped fine(not meal, I like the chunks)
  • 1 cup Almond Flour(I used blanched)
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut(unsweetened)
  • 1/3 cup Cold Butter(cut into small chunks to cut into the dough easier)
  • 1/3 cup Erythritol Granules
  • 1/2 tsp Stevia liquid drops
  •  large Egg Yolks
Directions for the crust:
  • 1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  • 2. Grease or line your (pan/s of choice) with butter or parchment paper.
  • 3. In a medium bowl combine all your dry ingredients.
  • 4. Cut in with a pastry knife, your cold cubed butter, until it is well blended(coarse crumbly texture).
  • 5. now add egg yolks and incorporate well, kneading the dough until it is well combined.
  • 6. Place dough into your pan/pans of choice and spread evenly on the bottom and up the sides about half way up.
  • 7. Bake until lightly golden(time will depend on pan type. I used a springform pan so I baked mine for about 35 to 40 min) Cupcake pans should take about 7 to 10 min. etc...
  • 8. remove from oven and let cool while you assemble the filling.

Cheesecake filling
  •  3 - 8 oz. packages of cream cheese
  •  3/4 cup of Erythritol(or your sweetener of choice)
  • 1/2 tsp of Liquid Stevia
  •  1 Tbsp. vanilla bean paste(or Pure Vanilla Extract)
  •  ⅓ cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c. Cream

Directions for the Cheesecake Filling

  • Beat cream cheese until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Combine with sweetener, sour cream and vanilla extract, mixing for about 3 minutes.
  • Gently add eggs one at a time. beating until thick and creamy, about one minute after each egg.Then the cream for a minute more.
  •  Place cooled crust on a baking sheet. Pour in the filling. Place in middle of oven, so move a rack if you have too. Pour boiling water into an oven safe dish and place on a lower rack in the oven.(this will help to keep your cheesecake from developing cracks or fissures while baking. 
  • Bake for 50-55 minutes or until puffy and lightly brown around the edges. (Check it starting at 40 min to see if you need to cover it lightly with foil, so it doesn't over brown)
  • It should still jiggle a little in the middle when it is done.  But be firm around the edges.
  • Let cool for about 1-2 hours on wire rack. Cover, chill for at least 4 hours but over night is best.

I highly recommend that you try this recipe at least once. It doesn't taste sugar free, I don't get an after taste at all. With the additions of berries and whipped cream, how can you go wrong?

Truth be told...I ate two pieces today   :)
I don't regret it at all!!!!

Love, Victoria


Friday, March 11, 2016

Grubmarket Unboxing...and how to save money on Organic Produce.

See the video here!

I love to save money. I also love organic produce.
I recently found a new service called Grubmarket and I am really loving them.
I create an order of $49 or more and my order ships for free.
They have a large Organic produce section as well as many other things for your pantry and daily living needs. All at mostly reasonable prices.
What I have come to love about them is their customer service, their prompt delivery, and their quality produce shipped straight to my door.
Now that we live in Rural Maine, I have limited access to fresh affordable produce in the winter.
Spring, Summer and most of Fall we can get by on what is coming out of our gardens and the farmers markets in our area.

But not in winter(not until we have our own greenhouse)!
So when I found this service which they lovingly call 
"food for the 99%" ,I was hooked.
I do want to say that, as this is only my second order from them, I foresee shopping with them for a long time to come.(remember we don't have our greenhouse yet...) 
I hope you like the video and you want to get the $10 credit on your first order, just send me a quick email here: 


and I will make it happen!

Don't sign up until you get an email to me and then from grubmarket. that way we will both get our $10 credit.
Here is the invoice from the order in the video just in case you wonder what their prices are like.
This didn't reflect the $5 credit to my order. I only paid $45.

I hope if you are in a similar situation(your in a rural area), you will give them a try.



Sunday, March 6, 2016

100 Subscribers on YouTube!

It is so exciting to see that we now have over 100 subscribers on our YouTube Channel!!!

I am so excited that I am doing a giveaway.

1. Just head on over to the Maine.Homestead.Project Facebook page and vote in the poll. 

2. You must be a subscriber to my YouTube channel to win.
so go do that now!

3. Once it is decided what you want to win, I will do a video about it.

After the allotted time I will use a randomizer to pick the winner.

Good luck! 

Love from the homestead, Victoria