Hi everyone!  I’m so excited!!  It’s the very first edition of Simple Lives Thursday!  Below you’ll find the linky to add your post to.  Remember you can add your link on any of the four hosting blogs.  Remember to link to this post from your blog for this week. Annette from Sustainable Eats is on vacation but she’ll be back next week :D
  1. A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa
  2. Sustainable Eats
  4. Culinary Bliss
Wherever you choose to post, it will show up on all 4 sites!  I can’t wait to dive in and learn from all of you!  As a reminder, this blog hop is a way to share with many people your posts on what you are doing to live a simple life. Whether that’s gardening, raising urban chickens, making your own deodorant, or cleaning supplies… we want to know about it!  If you’re into homeopathy, ways to save $ by conserving energy or other ways to live frugally… we want to know about it!   If you bike, cook real food, homestead or farm… we want to know about it!
So let’s get this thing going!

It has been a very difficult gardening and farming year for Iowa. We have seen over 15″ of rain in the metro alone during the month of June. 5″ is the norm. Gardens are just not thriving as that much rain depletes nitrogen levels. It’s been a season of amending, battling prolific slugs and mosquitos and waiting it out. My heart goes out to our local family farmers that have lost fields of crops. It’s been evident seeing empty tables at the farmers market. Prayerfully, our weather will turn for the best and enable them to produce abundant warm weather crops.

At my plots it’s been no different. Some of my crops are weeks behind and my fingers are crossed that they will have time to grow and produce something. If not, there’s always next year :)

Mami and Papi plots

My plots at my parent’s home are doing well.  I am so glad that they are raised or the wet weather would have stopped production.  I have come to the realization that this area does need more sunlight.  My father and I have plans to expand this area next year as we open it up, add another bed and landscape the area.  We plan to add mulch pathways and a cute fence.  However, I’m hoping we can find someone to help us trim his backyard tree or our efforts may not be worth it.  These pictures were taken last week when I harvested the last of our lettuce.   I’ll be seeding some more in this area in another week or so for a fall harvest.

Harvested Beets!  I’m going to give Beet Kvass another try ;D
I pulled out all of my lettuce as the warmer weather will cause it to go bitter and bolt.
Slugs!  I’m sick of seeing them!  I have been using Diatamacious Earth on my cabbage but the excessive rain only wipes it away.  A few of my cabbages are doing great, however, after speaking to a gardening friend, next year I’ll be taking full advantage of cloth row covers for my cabbage.  That should take care of the problem :)
Carrots!  I have harvested a few :D
Last of my lettuce until this fall.
Tomatoes.  They have indeed been suffering.  They are growing, but they just need warmer weather and less rain!  All of this rain also causes fungus including blight!  Yes, I have been seeing some of my leaves with the dreaded yellow spots.  I’ve been spraying milk, however, the rain also keeps wiping away all of my efforts.  DREADED RAIN!
I have a post coming up soon on battling fungus including blight.
My favorite flower.  The yellow blossoms on tomato plants :)
Fruits of my labor.  I can’t wait for the first taste :)
My potatoes in a sack!  They’re still growing :)

Scraps for the chickens!  They were very pleased :)


Community Gardening Plots

My community gardening plots are in full sun.  My hubby raised me 3 beds in one of my plots this year in order to prevent flooding that has been a regular occurrence over the past few years.  Unfortunately one of the beds that is home to my peppers this year is still to low and with all of this rain we’ve had it’s been taking in way too much water.  It’s draining better than it ever has, but it hasn’t allowed my peppers to grow.  I have added worm castings which has helped my crops green up and I’ve begun to see some growth!  I’m just praying now that there is enough season left to see some produce.  I had my heart set on all sorts of peppers this year.  Sadly, it’s been a couple years since I’ve had a good pepper harvest. I took the photos below a week ago and since then the crops have grown.

My peppers are bigger now, (not much) but the problem is that I am dealing with blight.  Since they are so small, I’m hoping they can grow quicker so I can efficiently deal with the problem.  I’ve been spraying them with milk but again, with all the rain it’s made it difficult to keep reapplying!
Rain… please stop… k.. thanks!
Tomatillos are doing great!
My eggplants are growing as well.
My zuchinni’s are way bigger now!  Yeah :D
My house plots and Grow Boxes.


My crops at home are doing fabulous!  They are in full sun with perfect drainage.  Next year, I will replace my corn with peppers.  I’m determined to have some good peppers again!  Check out my corn on my front lawn.  I think it looks super cute!  I’ve been pretty happy as I’ve actually been receiving compliments, ha!

I LOVE my GROW BOXES!!!  So easy to use.  My cucumbers are taking off and yes, I should have staked them but I can honestly say, I’ve been to lazy.  I’ll get to it, lol!
Beautiful cucumber blooms :D
My raspberry bushes are also getting ginormous.  I’m going to have to read up on tending.
I’m so excited.  I thought my plants were done fruiting for the season.  I guess not!
My tomato plants are thriving here.  Check out how large my tomatillo is getting :D
Beautiful Italian Heirloom leaves.

Tomatillo blossoms.

Well… there’s my gardening update from this city urban homesteader :D  I am already thinking about planting my fall veggies and looking into winter gardening.  I’m starting brussel sprouts indoors this week to hopefully harvest by December and it’s looking like I’m going to be using my Grow Boxes for winter Spinach, Chard, and Carrots.  So how are your gardens doing?  Make sure to share on the Simple Thursday Blog Hop!

This post is linked to the first edition of the Simple Lives Thursday Blog Hop.

It’s summer!  In the States that means potluck and grilling season!  No bbq would be the same without baked beans!  Delicious beans slow cooked with bacon all day long until they are thick and sweet.  I used to think baked beans came from a can until I realized how amazing the homemade version can taste.  When I’m making anything for a potluck or bbq, simple is always the name of the game.  Although this recipe takes all day to bake or slow cook, it only takes a few minutes to throw all the ingredients into a cast iron dutch oven or slow cooker.  The results will amaze you and the aroma that fills your home while you are cooking is out of this world!  Really… holding on for dinner while these babies are baking is quite difficult!

Baked Beans from Scratch
  • 1 bag great northern beans.
  • 8 pieces thick farm fresh bacon (save the rendered fat)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 2 tbls ground mustard
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup rapadura sugar (or dark brown sugar)
  • 1/4 – cup molasses
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • water to cover


  1. Soak bean the night before
  2. The next day, fry the bacon until barely browned on both sides and the fat has begun to render.
  3. Cut the bacon into 2″ pieces.
  4. In a large cast iron dutch oven or pot add all the ingredients including the port fat from the bacon.  Add water to about 1″ above the beans.
  5. Place a lid on your dutch oven or pot and bake at 325f for 8 hours.  Make sure to check the beans every couple of hours and stir.
  6. For the last hour, uncover the lid.  This will allow the beans to thicken up!

If you are heading off to work, this can be done in a crock pot set on low for 8 hours.  However, reduce the amount of water to just cover the beans.

That’s it!  Buen Provecho!!

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday’s hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

I really enjoy chicken salad sandwiches on a hot summer day!  As it’s best eaten cold, it’s refreshing and light on the stomach.  I didn’t grow up eating these type of sandwiches but wow, was I ever enlightened the first time I had one at our local Palmers deli.   Cold, creamy and just the right amount of sweetness and spice.  Over the years I’ve searched out recipes and realized that a chicken salad sandwich can be made anyway one pleases.  Some add mustard, others nuts and dried fruit!  As long as you add mayo you really can’t go wrong.  So here is my rendition of this American staple.

A nourishing chicken salad sandwich


  • 1lb diced chicken meat, fully cooked
  • 2 farm fresh eggs, boiled and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup homemade mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup homemade yogurt
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp Spanish paprika


  1. I usually make chicken salad sandwiches using chicken meat from homemade broth. If you need to cook the meat before making this meal, you can either boil pieces in bone for about 20 minutes or if you are using boneless chicken meat, cook them in about 1 tbls of EVOO until cooked through.
  2. Mix all ingredients together and chill before serving.

That’s really it!  Super easy to make and delicious.  Buen Provecho :)

This post is linked to Girlichef’s Two for Tuesday’s and Wardeh’s Tuesday Twister at Gnowfglins.

I am so excited to finally share with you the new blog hop, Simple Lives Thursday, that I am taking part in with three other amazing blogs…

Simple Lives Thursday is not just about cooking but in living sustainably.  In producing more and consuming less!

So what exactly is a blog hop? 

A blog hop is a way to share with many people your posts on what you are doing to live a simple life. Whether that’s gardening, raising urban chickens, making your own deodorant, or cleaning supplies… we want to know about it!  If you’re into homeopathy, ways to save $ by conserving energy or other ways to live frugally… we want to know about it!   If you bike, cook real food, homestead or farm… we want to know about it!

This blog hop is not about driving traffic but in about sharing with others what YOU are doing.  By sharing your posts on this blog hop, we can all learn something new to start implementing change to living a simpler life.

So how does it work?

Simple!  Every Thursday, you link up one of your posts that relates to living simply to one of the four hosting blogs.

  1. A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa
  2. Sustainable Eats
  4. Culinary Bliss

We will have a McLinky posted underneath our own Living Simply Thursday post.  All you need to do is add your post url (not your home url), insert an image and a thumbnail of your post will be displayed across all four blogs!  How AWESOME is that!  More people to view what you are doing to create change!!

A great example of a fabulous blog hop is the Two for Tuesdays, Real Food blog hop.  Check it out and you’ll see how your Living Simply Thursday posts will be displayed.

The only thing that we ask is that at the end of your blog post, please include a link to the weekly blog hop on one of the four hosting blogs.  You can include a text link or use my Simple Lives Thursday Badge by grabbing the code below.  Each of the four blogs has their own badge that you can use!


I’m so excited to see what you all bring to the Simple Lives Thursday blog hop!  I’m ready to start learning new ways to living a simpler life!!  Consume Less, Produce More :D  Have a great week and we’ll see you next Thursday!

Stuffed Beets
This has to be my new favorite way of enjoying fresh from the garden beets!  Boiling beets until they are sweet and tender and filling them with a salad blend of onions, cilantro, eggs, oil and red-wine vinegar.  They make a great summer appetizer or side!  Another great way to use beets in the season of summer.

Stuffed Beets
Recipe adapted from 1,080 Recipes


  • 4 cooked beets
  • 2 hard boiled farm fresh eggs
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Rinse the beets and put them whole in a pan of cold water.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 1 hour or until the beets are tender.
  2. Once the beets are tender, remove them from the water and let them cool a few minutes.  Their skins should slip off.


  3. Peel the beets.
  4. Cut a small slice on the bottom of each beet so they will stand.
  5. Hollow out the centers, taking care not to break the “shells.”
  6. Dice the scooped out flesh and set aside.
  7. Scoop the yolks out of the hard boiled eggs and set aside.
  8. Finely chop the whites.
  9. Combine the diced beet, egg whites, onion and cilantro in a bowl.
  10. Whisk together the vinegar and oil in another bowl, stir in the egg yolks, and season with salt and pepper, then pour over the beet mixture.
  11. Fill the beet “shell’s” with the mixture and season to taste.
  12. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Buen Provecho!!