Crystal Madrilejos

Design & Creative


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…)


Yesterday I posed a little sneak peek on Instagram and Facebook about our house plans. I’m super excited to share where we’ve finally landed with the homebuilding project. I didn’t want to say anything earlier because we still had some loose ends that needed tying up and even now there is one big blocker that we need to overcome, which I’ll talk about later. After much back and forth, we had to forgo the location we had originally settled on due to the fact that it just wasn’t going to work with our budget. We could have probably built in that spot if we waited another 20 years to save the additional money it would have cost, but it’s just not worth it to us. Opportunity costs, people! (more…)


Okay, so this is sort of a bummer post. After much going around and around and talking with too many people to even recall, it’s looking like we may not be able to build our homestead in the spot we had planned. Super sad face, I know. Let me break it down for you. (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 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…)


Years ago when we started our first garden we jumped all in and grew pretty much anything and everything we could, even if we had no idea what to do with it. Back before Kale was all the rage, we grew it because we were young and ambitious and wanted to just grow the weirdest things we could find (Kale being one such “weird” thing) and when it was time to harvest we were like, “Now what?” – we literally had never made anything with Kale. Fast-forward to our current garden. We’re a bit more selective in what we grow due to space and time restrictions, years (it doesn’t take many) of gardening toil have made us a bit less ambitious in certain ways and a bit more humbled by the force that is nature (aka the damn deer, the groundhogs, chipmunks, birds, bugs and the weeds). But Kale… good ol’ Kale… has become a staple that goes into everything from smoothies and fresh juice, to breakfast scrambles or kale chips. Plus, not only is it really healthy, but it’s a workhorse during our zone’s colder months, a superfood in more ways than one! (more…)


A little recap from week one of maple tapping season 2014! We started tapping our trees on March 9th and between then and the day we boiled (last Sunday, March 16th) we got about 20 gallons of sap. The weather hasn’t been ideal, with only a few days going above freezing, but it was enough for us to get a decent batch. Since we knew we were only going to be able to boil on the weekends, we had to store the sap in the meantime and were a bit thankful for the cold weather. (more…)


Last year was the first year we didn’t do any summer squash (zucchini or yellow squash.) Despite these being the most prolific of veggies and something I would definitely recommend for any novice gardener to plant because they give a lot of bang for the buck, we didn’t plant them for that exact reason. Every summer we drowned in zucchini, like we couldn’t GIVE these things away, and you have to be diligent checking your plants or you run the risk of huge mutant squash. Plus, we belonged to a local CSA last year and we knew we were going to have a fair share of summer squash already.

Since we didn’t have those massive zucchini plants taking up space, we were able to plant more winter squash and also some watermelon, all of which were a great success. (more…)