Crystal Madrilejos

Design & Creative


Hey Friends! Another legit update on the house project. I’m on a roll! We’ve been making lots of progress since my last post about the sewers. I’m going to try really hard to post regularly so as to not overwhelm you with epically long posts that are TLDR. It can be a lot, I know.



We’ve finally picked up some momentum on the barn conversion! A few weeks ago, we were finally able to tie the farmhouse and the detached garage/office space into the sewer. This was one of the main hurdles to parcelling off the property and we’ve hurdled that Matrix-style – jump and hover mid-air for what feels like eternity. That was us trying to get this thing done. The longest hurdle in history. That analogy was a stretch. It’s early. I’m still waking up. (more…)


We’re still plugging away at Project Homestead. It’s hard to know where to start with an update due to the amount of time that has passed since my last post and so much has happened since then.

So first off, we were a bit ambitious thinking that we’d be ready to start construction in July. Andrew’s Mom was being nice and didn’t say anything at the time, though she was thinking – “uh, yeah right.” :) Andrew’s parents built their home years ago, so they know from experience what it’s like. (more…)


Just because you find the perfect spot to build, does not mean it’s going to be the easiest spot to build on. For a long time, Andrew and I had been envisioning the spot we would build and anticipated some issues but you just can’t anticipate everything – including the cost. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that building a home is not cheap. So this is where we currently find ourselves. (more…)


It finally feels real. We’ve started the process of homebuilding and in the two weeks since we were pre-approved for our construction loan, we’ve been making progress – slowly, but surely.

This is a first time for us, not only to build a house but as homeowners. We’ve been renters our entire adult lives and have had no desire to invest in a starter house. It has always been all or nothing for us in terms of owning a house. Wherever we set down, that’s where we want to be. Of course, you never know what the future has in store for you, but our intention is to grow old in this house. That’s it.

We started keeping a written journal of notes and dates as we navigate this process. It’s a bit daunting, but doing things one step at a time helps keep us from feeling completely overwhelmed. After looking through the notes we’ve gathered, I thought it would be a good time to share some of the things we’ve learned so far. (more…)


This is the time of year that things start getting crazy (and fun) in the garden. Garden 2014 is no different, though a bit behind. Still no ripe tomatoes, but plenty of beans and kale. We got a decent haul of blueberries this year, and the blackberries are coming in nicely.

The other day a groundhog got into our garden, again. Damage was minimal, just some carrot tops and a torn branch of ripening Gilbertie paste tomatoes. Maybe it remembered that time Andrew threw a Bumbo at it. Turns out there was a hole in our fencing either from some critter’s chewing, or some careless mowing. I’m inclined to think it was the groundhog due to the size and shape of the hole. The hole has since been fixed and the groundhog trapped and moved out of the garden, thank goodness. (more…)


I’ve been having lots of thoughts and observations lately I’ve wanted to share but they are random and are probably more journal fodder than anything. The kind of thoughts you have while driving to work or watching the kids play. They may be constructive and potential for bigger more in depth blog posts, but sometimes I just want to put the thoughts out there without thinking about the larger form they can take.

As a way to incorporate these into my blog, I decided to create seasonal notes for thoughts and happening not warranting a full-blown post for now. They may be totally useless and uninteresting, maybe they’ll spark some thought and discussion. Who knows? We’ll just see where this goes. (more…)


I realized the other day, I haven’t done a garden post in awhile. It’s getting lush and green and everything is exploding but not much bounty yet, with the exception of strawberries, salad greens, kale and spinach.

I feel like everything is a bit behind this year. But I also have a feeling this might be a long summer. No scientific proof behind that claim, just something that I feel. I could totally be wrong though. (more…)


When we first started our garden, there were only a few things that Andrew was dead set on growing. Lettuce, potatoes, corn, and strawberries. Lettuce, check. Potatoes, check. Corn and strawberries, eh not so much. Every single year, something went awry with our strawberries. Until this year! We finally have a bumper crop – if we can manage to keep the animals and bugs (and little kid fingers) in check.

We’ve managed to keep the animals and kids at bay with fencing and netting. However, slugs are a problem. I see them everywhere leaving their disgusting foamy slug trails! How rude! A friend on Facebook suggested beer traps, which I have yet to try since we don’t have beer readily available in our house and I can never remember to get some. Andrew used to work/live on an permaculture homestead out in Washington state, and they have HUGE slugs out there. Like, cartoonishly big. Like if you accidentally stepped on one it would make a pop/crunch sound! Yuck. The people he lived with would crush up egg shells and sprinkle them around each strawberry plant because apparently the slugs don’t like to crawl over them – a similar concept to Diatomaceous Earth I suppose. Our strawberry patch is way overcrowded to do that, which probably isn’t helping our slug problem either. Too many plants in one area give slugs lots of hiding places! (more…)


Potatoes have been one of our favorite veggies to grow since we started our garden because they are so fun to harvest. It’s like digging for treasure! Up until this year we’ve mainly done one big harvest at the end of the season for storage potatoes. But our storage set up hasn’t been ideal and we seemed to end up with lots of sprouting spuds – okay for seed potatoes but not great for eating. This year we plan on harvesting as we grow (it’s a sign that potatoes are forming below ground when the plant starts to flower.) We’ve tried a few different growing methods over the years – planting in-ground and hilling the soil around the plants as they grow, a build-as-you-go bin, and last year started growing in a few different containers. I can’t say so far whether one has been more successful in terms of the amount of yield, though bins are less time consuming but a lot of soil is needed on hand to keep filling as the plants grow. (more…)