In the Barnyard: Who are Bohemian Farmgirls?

Bohemian Farmgirl is something that has evolved over years of trying to figure out how to weave all of the meaningful parts of my life together. This is what it means to me, and if it touches part of your soul then my guess is that you are a Bohemian Farmgirl too.

1. Growing a Family--First and foremost, comes family. This may be your biological or chosen family, but whomever your family includes, it's roots dig deep and provide grounding for growth above the surface of the soil.

2. Planting a Farm--Modern homesteading is a way of life for a Bohemian Farmgirl. This may include anything from a windowsill garden to acres of land, buying local and supporting small farms to growing and raising all of your food yourself, and cultivating dreams of homesteading no matter if you live in the city or country.

3. Nurturing a Creative Life--This is the heart of a Bohemian Farmgirl and what brings us all together creating a community of ideas and inspiration. Living a creative life is the wellspring of joy that provides energy to make our dreams reality, no matter what the circumstances. And we all help each other along the way.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Birthing Pains: Making Dreams a Reality

Exactly three years ago from this moment I was in labor.  I had been having contractions every 7 minutes for 19 hours and had already been to the birthing center once, only to be sent home.  "Call us back when the contractions are 5 minutes apart."  Feeling somewhat foolish (this was my first experience with labor and all its glory), I waited until I had been having contractions every 5 minutes for a good 2 hours before calling the midwife again.  When we got back to the birthing center, I was only 1 centimeter dilated.  The midwife was going to send me back home again, but I begged her not to.  We lived 2 hours away for goodness sake! After another 12 hours and 2 shift changes, the midwife broke my water.  My daughter was born another 7 hours later.

Photo by winterriot via Pinterest
That's kind of how this homesteading dream has been going too.  I've been pregnant with it for a long time and I'm finally in labor.  I'm having contractions, I'm nervous and excited and scared all at once.  And it's time to break my water. In June when our student housing lease is up and we move out of New York City, I plan to be moving into our farmhouse.   Do you hear that universe??? Boil some water! Start tearing sheets! (Although I never understood why they tore sheets when someone was having a baby on TV in the 70s....). Anyway, just get to work manifesting!

One of the wisest things I learned from Julia Cameron (The Artist's Way) is about making things happen in partnership with God.  She said something to the effect of: if you are running late for work, say a prayer that you will make it there on time, and then run to catch the bus.  Well, I see the bus coming and I've got my running shoes on (okay, farm boots). I've been warming up with my little urban homestead and now I'm ready for the last sprint.

The biggest obstacle to getting there (sticking with the bus metaphor) is that I don't have enough quarters for the bus.  But I have lots of ways of getting some.  I'll share them all with you in future posts so that you can get on the bus too.  Got your running shoes on?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

My Custom Homestead: Steps 19 & 21

chickens in m'kitchen Image found on Pinterest
I'm down to the last steps in Jill Winger's Your Custom Homestead ( 19. Take the animal plunge and 21. Set aside a day of rest. (See previous posts for step 20. and all other steps.)  Even if you do not plan to use animals for meat, animals are a natural part of the ecosystem of a homestead.  They can be put to work preparing the land for growing food, provide a source of natural fibers, and even contribute milk for drinking, making cheese, and producing soap. A couple of great books on these topics are Homegrown &  Handmade and Plowing with Pigs.  

Yarn Image found on Pinterest
Personally, I plan to start with a farm table garden, our silly dog, and add a barn cat or two (once we have a garden and barn of course...).  If I can find a local beekeeper, I will gladly offer a spot in the garden to host a hive in exchange for a small portion of the honey and wax harvest.  The next season I will add chickens for eggs and insect control.  I can't make up my mind whether I want to raise chickens for meat or not.  If we do decide to put our chickens on the dinner table, I will need to barter with someone else for their "processing".  But I think I won't be able to make that decision until they are scampering around our garden.  The following year, it will be sheep and goat time!  I will never be able to eat their meat, but I am soooo looking forward to making clothing from their wool.  I can't wait to have a hat and a scarf made from the fiber of animals we call by name.  :)  And lastly, I will consider keeping animals for milk.  I can't yet imagine myself as a midwife (mainly because of the thought that I might have to put on elbow length gloves for any reason other than a formal party), so milk might be another resource that I barter for with neighboring homesteaders.

And lastly, Jill offers more sage advice: "If you are waiting for all of your projects to be finished before you allow yourself to take a break, then you are going to be waiting for a very long time" (p. 68).  I think she is speaking directly to me here, because I am definitely the kind of person who likes to get her work done before the pleasure of resting or playing.
Image found on Pinterest 

Thank you Jill, for your guidance that help me put my vision a little more into focus with this eBook!  I encourage all my readers to purchase her book for more details, advice, and tips to getting your homesteading dreams up and running, and to keep them running smoothly.  I follow The Prairie Homestead on Pinterest for TONS of great info and recipes.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

My Custom Homestead: Steps 17, 18, & 20

I'm almost done with Jill Winger's 21 Days (Steps) to Your Custom Homestead (ebook available at  These next three steps are food related:  17. Learn How to Cook; 18. Plant Something Edible; and 20. Practice Preservation.  (Yes, yes, I skipped over step 19 for now.  I'll talk about that one in my next post.)
I agree with Jill when she says, "Learning how to prepare a meal from scratch could be the single most important skill you learn as a modern-day homesteader."  When you homestead, it's almost like your job title becomes "Professional Nurturer".  You grow food to nurture yourself, your family, your animals.  You nurture the earth.   So it makes sense that living off the land and learning to prepare what comes off the land become part of your daily life.

Creamed Chicken and Corn Soup from Slow cooker recipes

I love to create meals that require as few ingredients and as little time as possible.  That's great, because this adds to the quality of the simple life I long for.  Olive oil, butter, garlic, salt and pepper grace just about every meal, whether in the crock pot or the cast iron skillet.  In fact, my crock pot is my favorite and most used kitchen appliance.  Just throw everything in, turn it on, and come back hours later to tender, tasty food.  My now second favorite kitchen appliance is a vacuum sealer I picked up for $15 at a Goodwill store in Indiana on a family trip this past summer.  I can prepare a few days' worth of meals in one crock pot and freeze half of it for later.  And of course, my other favorite kitchen appliance is my thrift store bread machine, given to me by a friend.  Again, load the ingredients, push a button, and 3 hours later I have fresh bread to dunk into my crock pot stew.

If you don't know where to begin with cooking, I would suggest skipping the fancy cookbooks with complicated multi-step recipes with ingredients that you cannot find in your backyard or local grocery store.  Instead, opt for resources like Pinterest and search keywords like "clean food" or "whole food".  You can check out some of my saved recipes on my Farm Table board here:
Jill also has plenty of recipes on her blog at

Step 18, Plant Something Edible, just makes sense, even if you don't have your 1/4 acre veggie garden up and running yet.  This summer I bought herb plants from local farms at my farmer's market and grew them on my windowsill.  Easy peasy!  Step 20, Practice Preservation, makes me sweat just a little.  My how water bath canner lives at the back of the bottom shelf in a hard to reach cabinet in my kitchen.  But I promised myself that this harvest season I would practice storing up goods for the winter months.  I admit, my vacuum sealer is a lot more appealing than the anxiety-producing (for me) process of canning. I have procrastinated with practicing this skill since I don't have that veggie patch yet.  But I also know that when I am up to my eyeballs in tomatoes, it will be more stressful for me to learn to can then than now.  And besides, what if the power goes out and I don't yet have a back up generator?  My frozen harvest will not last long. . .

As with any and all of my blog posts, I would love to hear about what you've learned from your own experiences. Send me an email or post a comment!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Free Mini-classes with Craftsy

I just discovered a website called which offers 36 free mini-classes on some essential Bohemian Farmgirl skills.  I just registered for lessons on woodworking, quilting, and spinning. Yay!  They have more in-depth online classes as well (for a fee), on topics such as gardening, sewing, knitting, cabinetry, and more.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Farm Table: Homemade Ice Cream!

Country Living Magazine, June 2014, page 114
I had been keeping my eyes open for an ice cream maker at flea markets, but didn't really want to squeeze another gadget into my already over-stuffed kitchen cabinets.  Luckily, I found a recipe for homemade ice cream in a recent edition of Country Living magazine that did not require electricity. We are ice cream snobs in this household, so I was a bit skeptical that we could compete with the likes of Ronnybrook Farms (Best. Ice-cream. EVER.) My little helper and I made some yesterday and the snobs gave it a unanimous thumbs up. Future versions will include the addition of chocolaty goodness, peanut butter, fruit, or anything else our enthusiastic little bellies desire.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Road Trip: Family Visit in Indiana

Big family meals
Maddie & Kendra
Hummingbird chatter
Abby in her country-dog glory
Seas of corn and soy
Hobbit garden
Treasure hunts
Piano playing
Farmers market
Porch swing
Aunt Karen's raspberry bushes
Anne's bees and flock
Bug bites
Sleeping soundly
Biscuits n'gravy
Love, Joy, and more Love

Friday, July 25, 2014

Domestic Arts: Candlemaking

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

On my list of things to try in my little urban homestead, was candlemaking.  It was easy as 1,2,3.

1.  Melt wax in a double boiler to about 170 degrees
2. Place wick in mold (I used a pencil to prop it up in the melted wax)
3. Pour wax into mold or container and let cool

That's it! Instead of waiting until I have my own beehive and learning how to harvest the wax, I bought some beeswax online at (1 lb for about $9).  They also sell wicks (100 for $6) and tons of other homesteading supplies for soapmaking and natural body care.  I picked up some cute little tart tins at a yard sale for $2 to use as molds/candleholders.  To melt the wax, you need to do so in a double boiler.  I opted to purchase a candlemaking pitcher and a wax thermometer but you really don't need anything special.  You just need a pot of some kind that has a pour spout and one that you can devote to only candlemaking. (The wax will stick to the pot.) I do recommend a candlemaking thermometer to monitor the temperature of the wax.

Making homemade candles was so easy and fun, that my daughter and I will make lots more to give away at Christmas time. (Oops!  There goes the surprise!) 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

My Custom Homestead: Steps 15 & 16

Continuing my work with Jill Winger's Your Custom Homestead e-book, it is time to start taking action.  Step 15 is to plan out your year with important dates of things to do so that they don't sneak up on you.  Things that will go on my annual planning calendar may not be completely relevant now.  But when the time comes to call a patch of grass my own, I know I will be overwhelmed with the amount of work to be done.  Having my plan ready to put into action will keep things fun and enjoyable.  Let's say we move into our farmhouse on October 1st.  I can open up my plan book to that date and see what needs to be done so that the spring gardening season will be ready when the last frost chills the ground.  There are tons of free gardening planning tools online that make the growing season a breeze.  Plug in your gardening zone and the plants you want to grow and viola!  The planner will even send you a reminder so that when you are up to your elbows in water bath canning, you don't forget to put in the next round of plants in the empty space where your tomatoes were yesterday, ensuring that you have more veggies in the weeks to come.  My favorite garden planner and journal is on the site
Other things I will put on my planning list include giving vaccines to my farm animals (when I have them), checking all the fences to see what might need repair, ordering and storing hay, chopping firewood (which will pretty much be daily...), and ordering chicks.  In addition to planning the farm work, I will be planning and facilitating art workshops and retreats.  As exciting as all of this work feels, I also feel a little twirl of anxiety in my gut just from writing this.  Better get started on that plan!

Step 16, is to start doing what I can.  Jill explains this perfectly.  "If you are waiting for the stars to align perfectly before you start canning or putting in that garden or building those cold frames," (that's me!), "then you are going to be waiting a long time....I want to encourage you NOT to sit around and wait for the 'big day' to come.  You might not be able to do everything, but remember that every little bit helps." Jill goes on to provide a perfect example for me.  Even though I don't have my own veggie patch yet, I can buy veggies at the farmers' market and practice canning them.  Looking back at my list that I wrote when I first started Your Custom Homestead, I see several things I can do right now.  I can email the guy in the woodworking studio to schedule the safety class so I can learn how to build things.  I can make a list of questions to ask when I go to the sheep and wool festival in October.  I can get out the candle making supplies I bought and make candles.  SARK taught me all about "micromovements", and I will create a micromovement right now:  Get out my weekly planner and put it on the table with a pencil.  :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Custom Homestead: Step 14

As I travel along in Jill Winger's Your Custom Homestead (, I am finding myself a little discouraged.  It happens I suppose, but I want a farm now.  While making the best of my current city life is challenging and rewarding, it still falls short of the peace and serenity of the country life I long for.

Perhaps if I work on Step 14, "Know your local resources," I will find support during these times of feeling the longing of a Barnheart (Jenna Woganrich).  Jill suggests a few starting points for connecting to local resources:  becoming a regular at your local farmers' market, checking Craigslist for homesteading ads, or starting/joining a club.  These are all great ideas, and if I did them myself I would probably find come good company on this trail I am blazing towards my destiny.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Manhattan Farmers' Markets

Asparagus, chicken and mashed potatoes for dinner. 

Melt-in-your-mouth strawberries


Gorgeous radishes

Crispy lettuce

Ahhhh, chamomile

Monday, June 9, 2014

Country Living Fair: Rhinebeck

The first thing I noticed when my sister, my daughter and I stepped out of the car at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, New York, was how quiet it was.  Ahhhh, peace.  No sirens, no trucks, no car horns, no people yelling on the street.  Just the rustle of leaves in the trees and birds chirping.  My ears were ringing from the silence.  It was good to be home.

This is the second year that Country Living has hosted their fair in Rhinebeck.  Since I missed it last year, I was determined to go this year.  We were not disappointed!  So many treasures and ideas, artists loved and new artists discovered.  Only 364 days til the next Country Living Fair!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Dirt Under My Nails

It's the first full day of having completed my graduate school requirements and responsibilities.  I can breathe now....To celebrate, my daughter and I planted our windowsill herb garden with all the edibles we purchased from local farmers at the green market just a few blocks from home.  As we cultivate this mini-farm, we will sow our plans for a bigger farm, with room for chickens, goats, and sheep (and much more homegrown food!).  My little girl and I will nurture our garden daily and pinch off some fresh leaves for meals.  I actually had to ask her to stop eating all the arugula straight from the pot!  Our garden includes parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, lavender, tomatoes (grown from free seeds that came with a gardening catalog), basil (green and purple) , and of course, arugula.  Even though our organic potting soil came in a giant bag we ordered online rather than from digging holes in the yard, we still had a blast getting dirt under our nails. lists 5 reasons to grow your own vegetables, fruits, and herbs:
1. Improve your health.
2.  Know your food.
3.  Save money.
4.  Teach your kids about where food comes from.
5.  Have fun!
For more details on any of these great reasons to plant your own garden (no matter the size!) go to

Monday, April 28, 2014

My Custom Homestead: Step 13

Field trip time!  Jill Winger ( invites you to take a country (or city) drive in search of inspiration.  "I'm willing to bet that once you become more tuned in to the homesteading mindset, you will start to discover kindred spirits in the most unlikely of places," Jill says.  I agree!  Living in a big city has left me starved for some sweet grass scented breezes, the sound of crickets and peepers at night, and some cool soil to wiggle my toes in on an early morning walk.  Nevertheless, since I have started reading "Your Custom Homestead", I have found many places that support my homesteading goals.  And guess what?  The places I have found are run by
kindred spirits:  urban gardens and farms, farmers' markets, pottery studios, wood shops, craft fairs,
yarn and fabric stores.  Once I started turning over rocks, I discovered that the city does indeed have little pockets where a bohemian farmgirl can get cozy.  I have also found a daily dose of inspiration on Pinterest.  Each night before I go to sleep, I peruse beautiful photos of homes, farms, gardens, art projects, DIY projects, and spectacular places.  These images serve to plant seeds in my sleepy mind for nighttime journeys to not so far off dreams.  Check out my boards by clicking on the Pinterest link to the left of this post.
image from Country Living June 2013

 I already know that I want to plant my minifarm in the Hudson Vallley area of New York.  I can take a drive once again on my computer via Craigslist.  The possibilities of affordable land and a fixer-upper home (ie. blank canvas) are at my fingertips.   I also love to look at the listings for farm stuff for sale and things being given away.  This is enough to fertilize my goals and motivate me to create my homestead.

Monday, April 21, 2014

My Custom Homestead: Steps 10, 11 & 12

Jill Winger ( continues her custom homestead advice with these next three fun steps:  Do some research, Watch and learn, and Expand your skill set.  I have chosen my own research wisely.  I have not read books that are overly technical and kept to books with inspiring images. This has served to prevent feeling overwhelmed and kept thoughts of never achieving my goal away.  It has helped me too to read memoirs of ordinary folks who started their own homesteads on a small scale like I plan to do (like any of Jenna Woganrich's books,  Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, and The Good Life,  to name just a few.)
Here are a couple of books that I consider to be beautiful homesteading textbooks:                            

There is also a fantastic, beginner-friendly video on how to create a biointensive garden.  It will inspire you to get your hands dirty and garden boots muddy.

After you study up on some textbook info, you will want to gain some hands on experience.  Volunteer at a nearby farm or community garden.  Once we move back to the Hudson Valley, I plan to volunteer at the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary to put some book learning to work and become comfortable working with farm animals in the flesh (much different than in my imagination).  Until then, I can expand my skill set here in the city by becoming part of various groups such as the rooftop garden at my husband's school and the woodworking club in my building complex.  Even though these organizations are set against the backdrop of skyscrapers, I will be able to utilize my new skills on my farm when the time comes.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Green Housekeeping: Spring Cleaning

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

This winter has left me feeling a bit beat up by the "arctic vortex" and all the illness my family has experienced over the past few months.  Spring cleaning and disinfecting is on the agenda for this weekend.  I'm going to keep it simple:  wipe down everything with water and lavender essential oil.   Lavender oil has antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties, making it perfect for so many household uses.  Plus it smells beautiful!  I will add one tablespoon of lavender essential oil to one gallon of water in a bucket to make a batch of green housekeeping disinfectant.  I'll use a washcloth to clean everything room by room, remixing the batch as often as needed.  By the time I'm done, germs and my winter blues will be washed away.

To nourish wood after I wash it down (furniture and floors alike), I like to moisturize it with this recipe:
2/3 cup apricot kernel oil
1/3 cup water
10 drops lemon or orange essential oil
Just add to a spray bottle, shake, spritz, and wipe with a dry cloth.  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

My Custom Homestead: Steps 8 & 9

Even though I don't have my rural homestead yet, it's time to incubate my golden nest egg in preparation for hatching.  Jill Winger, author of the eBook, Your Custom Homestead: Awakening a Fresh Vision of Homesteading, recommends some fiscal evaluation in steps 8 ("Start Organizing Your Finances") and 9 ("Live Frugally Now").  I found a great link on Pinterest for just this sort of financial inventory: .  There are plenty of others too if you enter "save money" into the search bar.  But I like this one because it offers a four page checklist of things you can do to cut your spending by $400 a month starting right now.  Doing these simple things will help me get on track to purchase a homestead and require as little money as possible to maintain a simple life.
Even this photo was free! 
I have some tricks up my own sleeve that will help me prepare financially in ways that are creative and fun.  In past and future posts under Green Housekeeping, I offer some DIY recipes for nontoxic cleaning products that will save you a bundle.  I have also challenged myself to think about how to repurpose something old or make something myself before I run out and buy it.  I'm pretty savvy when it comes to finding things for free or deeply discounted if there is something I need.  Some of my favorite online places to shop are Ebay, Craigslist, and ThredUp.  If you must buy something new, try joining Ebates where you can earn cash back for shopping online.  Of course, shopping at flea markets and vintage shops is a lot of fun, and I love to make clothes for myself and my daughter.  And if I am tempted to make an impulse purchase, I ask myself, "Do I want this ____ more than I want a farm?"  If the answer is no, I keep walking.  If the answer is yes (because I believe it will add some value to the lifestyle I desire), I wait at least a week before making the purchase or wait until it goes on sale.  If I still want it after a week and I can pay in cash (not credit!), then I may just buy it.  Often times, I find that something I thought was absolutely gorgeous a week ago I now judge to be ugly and I am glad I didn't get it!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

My Custom Homestead: Steps 6 & 7

If you have been following along as I work through Jill Winger's 21 steps to a custom homestead (, you can see that I have been working at a slow-as-molasses pace.  This is tough for someone who thoroughly enjoys instant gratification!  I encourage you to go at your own pace as well.  Each step you take is one closer to your dream.

Jill's advice (Step 6) is to prioritize your homestead To Do List.  "Focus your energies on the tasks that need immediate attention, and try not to spend valuable energy worrying about the rest," Jill says.  Easier said than done, I know.  But I figured I'd try this one on for size and see how it goes.   Since my homestead is located in an urban apartment 8 stories above a very busy street, I don't have to worry about mending pasture fences or building new ones just yet.  (But I must admit, I really wish I did!)  So my priorities are the things I listed in my previous post that are part of my one year plan.  I've been gathering materials to redecorate my nest as well, so that I can try to feel like I'm in my future farmhouse for the remainder of my time in the city.  As each of these items on my list are begun and completed, I know in my heart that pastures and fences are in our future.  Until then, I can make them out of popsicle sticks and construction paper with my daughter ;)

Step 7:  "Don't Be In a Hurry".  Okay Jill, you are talking to people that are just itching with desire to dive into knee deep grass and compost piles here.  We ARE in a hurry!  But her wisdom from experience prevails.  "As you attempt to return to your roots and pursue simple living, you will discover a concept that our ancestors were very familiar with--most things take time."  When I create, I also remind myself that the depth of the experience lies in the process.  This means being patient with myself and the world.  Staring at a seed in the dirt and willing it to grow won't make it grow any faster.

Grow already!

Monday, March 3, 2014

My Custom Homestead: Steps 4 & 5

Step 4 of Your Custom Homestead by Jill Winger ( assigns the work of setting goals for the next one, five, and ten years.  My own five year goal is simple:  transfer my urban homestead to a rural location by buying a farm.  Beyond that, I have learned that I can get ahead of myself and stay stuck in the "future-izing" rather than being in the present moment where I belong.  But I do think that it is helpful to have a long term goal.
My short term goals for a NYC apartment-sized homestead seem very much attainable.

  • Establish an indoor herb garden. 
  • Buy as much seasonal produce as I can afford from the local farmer's market and preserve it for the winter. 
  • Contribute to our co-op's composting program. 
  • Make beeswax candles. 
  • Make fresh juice from seasonal produce.  
  • Get involved in a community garden in our neighborhood.  
From the foundation of these goals, Step 5 is to start mapping out your homestead plans.  Personally, I do this by adding images from magazines and books to my image file as well as getting plentiful inspiration from Pinterest (see my boards at These are my visual lists of things I want to add to my rural homestead, one step at a time.  
My only advice about these two steps is to mind the language you use.  I have learned that if you use words like "I want....." or "I wish....."  then you keep yourself in a perpetual state of wanting and wishing.  But if you adjust those words to "I intend to....." or "I will....."  then you align yourself with the forces of the universe which will lead you down the path to your desired outcome.  You will be more apt to find a way rather than staying stuck in constant longing and desire.  What are your goals??  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Custom Homestead: Step 3

Step 3 of Jill Winger's Your Custom Homestead ( is to develop a mission statement for your homestead.  Drawing on all of the things you listed in Step 2, create a platform for which all of it will come to fruition. 

photo by Katrina Rodabaugh via Pinterest
I am fortunate to have an amazing supervisor at my creative arts therapy internship.  She recently sent all of the interns an email with words of encouragement from Rob Brezsny.  The message starts out, "Lately, I must admit, our work has seemed almost comically impossible.  Many of us have given in to the temptation to believe that everything is upside-down and inside-out.  Ignorance and inertia, partially camouflaged as time-honored morality, seem to surround us.  Pessimism is enshrined as a hallmark of worldliness.  Compulsive skepticism masquerades as perceptiveness.  Mean-spirited irony is chic.  Stories about treachery and degradation provide a visceral thrill in millions of people who think of themselves as reasonable and smart.  Beautiful truths are suspect and ugly truths are readily believed."   So what is a person to do with all of this pessimism poisoning our souls? Brezsny suggests, "We have to be ferociously and single-mindedly dedicated to the cause of beauty and truth and love even as we keep our imaginations wild and hungry and free....We can create safe houses to shelter everyone who's devoted to the slow-motion awakening of humanity...."  After reading this, I felt so validated.  I have often thought of giving up and giving in to the "reality" of the dreary lies that society serves up to feed hungry pessimism.  I am exhausted from the fight already.  Can I be the only one who believes that we are all beauty and truth inside and even the most corrupt human heart has an opportunity to heal?  Sometimes it feels like standing in front of a tidal wave and looking it straight in the eye.  But Brezsny's solutions of creating sanctuary to "hospice what is dying [lies] and midwife what's being born [your beauty and truth]" equally validate my mission.

As I have gained clarity in my personal vision and work for this life, I have come to embrace that my job is to create beauty and a safe place for living things to do the work that Breznsy describes.  About a year ago, frustrated and foggy-headed from not knowing how to put all the pieces of my authentic-life-puzzle together, I asked the question, "What am I supposed to do with this life?"  The answer came immediately and clearly, "Offer a cool drink of water."  I felt such relief. Finally, a clear mission.  I knew what these words meant for me and I knew that I needed to create a sanctuary that offers literal and metaphorical water for weary and thirsty creative spirits who are facing the same tidal wave every day.  And so in that moment, I midwifed the birth of Soaring Heart Acres.

To be continued....

Sunday, February 9, 2014

My Custom Homestead: Step 2

In step 2 of Your Custom Homestead Jill Winger ( urges you to consider your reasons and motivation for wanting a homestead.  This is something that I have thought about for years, and something that keeps growing as I learn more about myself.  My personal motivations and aspirations have also evolved as a result of meeting and marrying my husband, and more recently, after having a daughter.

The vision I have of our creative life on a homestead is rooted in my longing for a simple life living close to the earth.  I want to live in beauty and create beauty.  In the quiet of nature, I find peace.  I want to share that peace with my family, friends, and those who need the tonic of nature.  I want to wake up and start my day outside, breathing fresh air and wiggling my toes in soil and grass.  I want to sleep to the gentle sounds of peepers, birds, and barn animals.  I want to grow food to nourish myself and my family.  I want homegrown and handmade feasts outdoors under a big tree.  I want to rely on money less and my two hands more.  I want our daughter to develop a relationship with mother earth through direct experiences like sleeping in a meadow and scanning the sky for shooting stars until she can't keep her eyes open anymore.  I want to create beautiful useful things that will be employed in our daily lives, like clothes, candles, soap, art, and pottery and then teach others to tap into their own creative energies to bring authenticity and meaning into their own lives too.  I want to celebrate every day.  I want a home to pass down to our daughter.  I could go on and on, but one more simple reason to have a homestead is that it will be so much FUN.

Why do YOU want a homestead?  Tell me here.  Let's create a community of inspiration and encouragement.  I will cheer you on with each step you take.  "Ask not what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive and do that.  Because what the world needs are people who have come alive."  Living a creative life on a homestead makes me come alive.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Custom Homestead: Step 1

Inspired by Jill Winger's eBook, Your Custom Homestead (available on,  I have begun her 21 step plan for creating my own personalized homestead.  My current homestead is small, being that it is located in a highrise apartment in New York City, but there are plenty of resources right here to support urban farming.  I am also gathering resources for my future homestead which will be much larger, complete with farm animals and a garden that will supply a year's worth of food to feed my family. 

To organize all of these resources and ideas, Jill's Step 1 is to create a homesteading binder.  She lists several sections that you may want to include in your binder.  Since I don't have any farm animals yet, my binder will not hold much in the animal paperwork  and health records section.  But I do have plenty to fill a binder for now.  My own binder is divided into sections for canning and preserving recipes, recipes for homestead essentials like my natural cleaning products and Jill's other eBook Natural Homestead, and a fantastic mini-handbook on Grow-Biointensive mini-farming techniques. (I will post more about this topic in the near future.) I also have info from Peaceful Valley's website ( that I printed out such has a winter garden checklist and a guide to vegetable families for crop rotation.  I have separate folders for cooking recipes and my collection of inspiring images. 

Now that my binder is is organized, I have officially completed this first step to my own custom homestead.  Woo-hoo!  I think I'll celebrate by baking a loaf of homemade bread. 

Peaceful Vallley Farm and Garden Supply

If you have the gardening bug, then you understand the sheer joy of opening your mailbox to find the season's new seed catalog right smack in the middle of winter.  Although I don't have a garden plot with raised beds at the moment, I do have wide sunny windowsills.  This spring I will start my indoor kitchen garden which is just one of the many ways I can cultivate my urban homestead until we have a rural homestead.

Yesterday I received one of my favorite farm and garden supply catalogs.  My joy expanded exponentially when I opened it to find a free packet of certified organic tomato seeds.  Simple pleasures like this fertilize my dreams and plans for a small farm.  Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply has an amazing website ( where you can spend hours learning about gardening and homesteading from their resources like free videos on anything from starting seeds to making cheese. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Farm Table: Healthy Granola Cookies

"Cookie" is a word that makes all toddlers pay attention. (More so than the word "no"...Hard to believe, I know.) Heck, even my ears perk up at the sound of "cookie", and that's good enough for me.  My niece, who also has a toddler at home, shared her idea for healthy cookies (thank you Anne!) that are made from kitchen staples:  peanut butter, bananas, oats, and raisins.  In fact, that's her entire recipe: Mix these four
ingredients together and bake for 15 minutes.  So today my daughter and I got out the mixing bowl and did just that.  We poured spoonfuls of peanut butter into a bowl and added one mashed banana, a handful of raisins (the size of my hand, not hers), and some oats.  We tossed in some pecans just for fun.  We mixed it all together with a wooden spoon until it seemed like the right consistency.  Then I patted little lumps of dough into cookie shapes and placed them onto a cookie sheet.  Fifteen minutes later, viola!  Healthy cookies!

Our first attempt did turn out a little dry (nothing a glass of milk couldn't cure).  I'm considering adding a smidge or two of applesauce next time to see if this helps.  And I'm thinking of all kinds of other ingredients that could be added or substituted:  craisins, carob chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, honey, apples, blueberries, pears, and the list goes on.  You don't even have to be adventurous in the kitchen to bake these cookies into a satisfying snack!  So try it and let me know what ingredients you used.  We can compare notes here in this blog post.

These tasty treats are great for packing up and taking on our city excursions to ward off crankiness caused by crowded subway cars.  And I'm looking forward to packing some for extra energy on a long hike in the country too.
Bon apetit!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Prairie Homestead
My wonderful sister-in-law (thank you Karen!) sent me a link to this awesome blog called The Prairie Homestead ( and here I discovered a kindred bohemian farmgirl.  I immediately purchased Jill Winger's two eBooks (Your Custom Homestead: Awakening a Fresh Vision of Homesteading and Natural Homestead: 40+ Recipes for Natural Critters & Crops).  She also has a free eBook called The Essential Homestead: Successfully Using Essential Oils in your Home, Barnyard, and Beyond, which I also downloaded.  The next day I read Your Custom Homestead from cover to cover in one sitting!

 Jill defines a modern take on homesteading as "a mentality that strives to go back to a simpler way of life and celebrates wholesome foods and the natural world.  It's a mindset that resurrects time-honored skills and appreciates the simple, yet meaningful, pleasures in life." 

She continues on to identify 21 steps to creating your own custom homestead regardless of whether you live in a high rise building in a big city (like moi) or on 100 acres of raw land.  With her permission, I will chronicle my own journey through these 21 steps here on this blog.  I would love it if you joined me as you discover how Jill's ideas can make your own homestead adventure more meaningful for you.  Send me a note, write a comment after each post, and by all means check out the inspiration of Jill Winger on her blog!

I also posted a link to her recipe for homemade liquid dish soap on my Homestead Inspiration board on Pinterest. Once I have all the ingredients, I will let you know how I made out.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

An Invitation to the Bohemian Farmgirl Blog

Fine Art by Elise Mahan available on Etsy
I have come to realize that blogging is like a constellation--connecting stars until something magical appears.  As someone who desperately wants to create a beautiful life in the country, I am not very attracted to all things technology, particularly social networking.  I'm much rather meet up with someone in person in a local bakery and share ideas over coffee and crusty bread.  I also fluctuate in mood between wanting to isolate in nature for days at a time like a bear in hibernation and longing to connect with other bohemian farmgirls who share the same creative passion.  ...Which is precisely why blogging is so perfect.  Here I can do both, and I don't even have to fix my hair.

As I read back on my journal pages for the past year, I see just how much clarity I have gained.  I know what I want.  I know what I don't want.  I know what I will do and what I won't do.  While my family and I are busy with this stage of our city lives, I have been able to explore ideas before making any major investments, commitments, or decisions.  Now the steps are clear, and with each new insight, things feel more right.  So moving to New York City hasn't been a step in the wrong direction; it has been a necessary part of the evolution of my dream.

So here is my invitation to you:  Do live on a farm or homestead, or imagine doing so?  Does the perfect day include creating and hiking or napping under a tree?  Do you long to grow your own food and serve it up on a beautiful handmade plate?  Do you count sheep, goats, chickens, llamas, cows, and bees before you go to sleep?  Do you wish you could make cheese, butter, soap, yarn, and maple syrup in your kitchen?  Do you scour flea markets and vintage shops for things you can repurpose or revive? Do you look forward to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival more than Christmas?  Do you want to do any and all of these things in a dress you made yourself?  If you said yes to one or more of the above, please, become a star in my constellation.  I am looking forward to meeting you.