Whether you are planting wildflowers, spring or fall veggies, or designing an herb garden, it takes a little bit of skill. You have to understand what your plants need to thrive. You have to know how when and how to:  

  • Prepare and protect the soil.
    • How to add nutrients
    • How to till the ground
    • Do you need mulch?
    • Do you use compost deposits?
  • Select the seeds
    • Which seeds grow best in your climate?
    • When should you plant them?
    • How long should it take them to grow (click here for more details)gardening


  • Determine the amount of sunshine the garden needs (direct sunlight or indirect sunlight)
  • How to prevent disease or damage done by insects
  • Which plants survive cool and cold temperatures?
  • How to rotate your plants in order to keep the soil healthy

There is help

Modern technology is the gardner’s best friend. There are tons of apps for smart-phones and androids that will help you plant and harvest a successful garden. These apps give you all the information you need to begin and continue your garden. If there is an issue with your plants, you can bet someone has already experienced the same issue.


Below we are going to share with you 3 of our top choices for the gardener. With these apps on your phone or tablet, your garden will be fail-proof.gardening


Gardening Companion

The Gardening Companion App is free. Everything you need to know about your garden is literally at your fingertips. The app answers your questions about planting and issues that come up. It can be set up to remind you of when to maintain your garden. This is like having your own gardening assistant.

Gardening Compass

This app gives you all the information you need on any plant. If you want to identify a particular flower or plant, it can help you. If you want to know if that plant is compatible with your garden, it can tell you that too. The calendar reminds you of important tasks to do. It is easy to forget your gardens needs in our fast-paced world.


One issue you may face when designing your garden is that the apps are not very flexible. If you have an odd shaped garden, the apps cannot adjust their instruction for the shape. Permaculture solved that problem. This is a high-tech app let you create a virtual garden. You will be able to design the garden on screen and the app will tell you if you have placed a plant in a prime area or if it should be moved.


Gardening is a great way to bring beauty and satisfaction to your life. You may want a small flower garden to enjoy in your backyard or you may have a large plot that allows for fall vegetables to grow. You may have a raised garden or a portable herb garden. These apps adjust to your requirements and make the job of expert gardening your reality. Whether you have been a gardener for years or this is your first try, these apps are going to be your new best friend.


Summer flowe

Do you still have cranberry cravings? These Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies will be sure to satisfy them. These pretty, ruby speckled oatmeal cookies are not only delicious, but make a wonderful addition to you holiday table. Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies also make a wonderful hostess gift. Tie them up with a ribbon or gift them in a pretty box, they are sure to be enjoyed!cranberry oatmeal cookies


Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies




1 ½ cups of butter

1 ¾ cups brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 ½ Tbsp. honey

2 tsp. vanilla

½ tsp. salt

2 cups flour

18 ounces old-fashioned oats

12 ounces fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped

½ cup raisins

Finely chopped zest of 1 orange

1 ¼ cups coarsely chopped walnuts




Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Add the eggs, honey, vanilla and salt and beat until smooth and creamy. Using a large wooden spoon or your hands, work in the flour and oats until well combined. Add the cranberries, raisins, orange zest and walnuts; mix until every thing is combined.


I used my Kitchen Aid mixer which did the job of mixing everything up really well.


With your hands, form the dough into patties that are ½ inch thick and 2 ½ inches in diameter. Bake the cookies until lightly browned but still a little soft at the center, 15-20 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Makes about 25-30 cookies.cranberry oatmeal cookies


These cookies are almost more like a soft granola bar and are not overly sweet. I’m trying to convince myself that they would be a wonderful addition to my breakfast. I did have to put some in the freezer or they would have been gone in a few days!cranberry oatmeal cookies


These cookies freeze well so you can make them ahead of the holidays.cranberry oatmeal cookies

Welcome to the Simple Homestead Blog Hop!

We are so glad that you have stopped by for a visit! We encourage you to look through some of the great posts shared by our readers and then take the time to read those that interest you. If you are adding to our list, thank you for sharing your homesteading, homemaking, and homeschooling posts with us. It’s so much fun to read your hints, tips, and happenings. We hope you have fun exploring all the great ideas everyone has shared with us.

Meet Our Great Co-hosts

Kathi at Oak Hill HomesteadFacebookPinterestInstagram Dash at Bloom Where You’re PlantedFacebookInstagram Sandra at Clearwater Farm – Facebook – Pinterest – Instagram Leah at Busy Gals Homestead and Leah’s Lovely LopsFacebookPinterestTwitter Nancy at On the HomefrontFacebookTwitterPinterest

Featured Posts

Each week we’ll feature the most-viewed post from last week’s hop. Each host also features her own picks from the posts linked the previous week. Visit each of our blogs to see if you were featured this week.

We had a tie for our most-visited posts from last week’s hop:

How To Make Naturally-Carbonaed Ginger Ale

8 DIY Gifts That You Can Easily Make





Please stop by to congratulate the featured bloggers this week.

If you were featured be sure to pick up your Simple Homestead blog hop button below. Just highlight the text in the box and paste into your blog sidebar; the button will show up automatically.


Nancy On The Home Front

The Rules

You are invited to share your original homesteading, homemaking, and homeschooling posts. We have a few little rules:

  • Family friendly posts only!
  • No links to blog hops or posts dedicated to advertising products.
  • Please share posts that you haven’t linked up previously to keep the hop fresh.
  • Please visit other bloggers and let them know you found them here.
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  • Only share content and photos that you have created or have permission to share.
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Let’s start hopping!

Good New England apple cider from a local apple orchard is one of my very favorite beverages. Nothing says fall to me than a glass of apple cider. Mulled cider is even better. Mulling cider with a select mixture of spices perfumes the house with wonderful aromas and makes for the most comforting warm winter drink. Children love the cider warm from the pot “as is”, while adults often enjoy the added kick of a jigger of rum, brandy or Calvados. We’ve often taken a thermos of mulled cider with us when we’re snow shoeing in the winter. Nothing warms you up more than a mug of mulled cider!mulled cider


Whether you enjoy mulled cider as is or with an added kick I think you will enjoy this recipe. You can make it ahead of time and keep it warm in your crock pot. Your house will be filled with the wonderful aromas as your company arrives.mulled cider


I’ve often ordered mulled cider when we go out to eat, but it is so easy to make at home!mulled cider


Mulled Cider




2 quarts fresh apple cider

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 bay leaves

2 cinnamon sticks (about two inches each)

½ tsp. whole cloves

½ tsp. ground cardamom

½ tsp. grated nutmeg

Zest of one orange, peeled in a continuous spiral if possible.

1 ounce per serving of rum, brandy or Calvados (optional)




Combine the cider, brown sugar, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg and orange zest in a large pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain the spices from the mulled cider mixture and discard. Return the cider to the pan and keep warm. You can also transfer the mulled cider to a crock pot to keep warm. The cider is ready to be served as is. If spiking it, pour 1 ounce of the preferred liquor into each serving mug and fill with the hot cider.mulled cider

Makes about 8 servings

It can be quite a challenge to eat healthy during the holidays. There are so many delicious foods available at every gathering you attend. It can be hard to resist your favorite cookies or sweets. Here are six tips to help you approach the season and eat healthy during the holidays. It is possible to enjoy the season and not put on extra pounds.6 Tips To Eat Healthy During the Holidays


  1. Be realistic as you approach the holidays and understand that now is not the time to try and loose weight, instead try to maintain your current weight.


  1. Don’t skip meals. This may result in over eating! Instead include lots of fiber in your diet by eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This will help satisfy your hunger. If you have errands to run or plan to be gone all day pack some healthy snacks to take along with you.


  1. When you attend your next party use a small plate and fill it with vegetables and fruit before going to the entrees and desserts. Leave spaces between the items you put on your plate so you can actually see your plate and not have it piled high with food. It is possible to eat healthy during the holidays.


  1. Plan time for exercise during the holidays. Exercise not only helps relieve stress but also helps you to prevent weight gain. If you aren’t going to the gym regularly plan other ways to get exercise in during the day. Park a little further away from the store for example so you get a few more steps in when running errands. Even a short twenty-minute walk each day will help you feel better.eating healthy during the holidays


  1. Do you usually spend time baking during the holidays, making cookies and other goodies to gift? Try to take the focus off food and take time to make non-edible gifts such as decorations or treats for your furry friends. Friends with dogs would love getting treats for their pets!eating healthy during the holidays


  1. Practice healthy holiday cooking. Prepare your favorite dishes using less fat and calories. There are many recipes online to help you cook healthier holiday favorites.


Enjoy the holidays and follow these simple tips to help you eat healthy during this season. Remember the reason for the season, and enjoy the company of your friend’s and family.eating healthy during the holidays

One of the best things about the holiday season is all of the time you get to spend with your family and loved ones, creating memories and carrying out traditions. As you bring children into your yearly Christmas traditions, it’s natural for some of your traditions and plans to change as your life does. Adding and omitting traditions and holiday trends through the years is normal. But there are also fun ways to incorporate your children into your Christmas decorating traditions this holiday season.decorate


Gingerbread houses


Gingerbread houses are a family friendly way to decorate and have fun. You can purchase gingerbread house kits or make the gingerbread materials yourself. A fun way to let your children express themselves is to let them each decorate their own houses, and maybe even host a little gingerbread house decoration contest. Bonus to gingerbread houses? They’re a pretty delicious decoration.


Holiday wreaths


Having a holiday wreath on your front door to welcome guests in is a great way to show your guests your festive holiday spirit. There are a lot of different ways that you can make a wreath. The great thing about making your own wreath is that it’s entirely customizable, a lot easier than you’d think, and very kid friendly. The first thing you’ll need is a material for the base. Fronds and branches are great for this. And then, from there, it’s just a matter of decorations. You can use things like burlap, christmas ornaments, monogram letters, or even christmas lights, to really make your holiday wreath special, unique, and festive. Read here to get more ideas for wreaths you can make yourself.


Other yard decor


Making a holiday wreath is just the beginning of your potential home exterior christmas decorations. DIY yard decor can be as simple or extravagant as you want it to be. Have your kids help your string colorful lights around a few bushes or shrubs. Another fun decoration idea is to make homemade lumineers. Cut designs into the sides of brown paper lunch sacks, and then fill the bottom of the sacks with sand. Place artificial tea lights in the sand, and then use these homemade lumineers to decorate! A great way to use them is to line your walkway with them.


Make your own ornaments


Ornaments tend to break pretty easily once you have children running around. A great way to cut the cost of having to constantly replace your Christmas ornaments every year, is to have the whole family participate in ornament making activities. Not only will the whole family have fun, but you’ll save money. And your children will give the Christmas tree a little wider berth as they run around, because they’ll be proud of the ornaments that they made and won’t want to break them. A few fun homemade ornaments to make with your family include: salt dough ornaments, no cook cinnamon ornaments, pom-pom ornaments made from old t shirts, ribbons, and ornaments that are made from felt.decorate


Paper snowflakes to hang in the window


There are few things that fill a child with wonder as much as realizing something that they helped create is beautiful and can serve a purpose. One of the least expensive Christmas decorations that you and your children can make, is paper snowflakes. Distribute safe, kid-friendly scissors to your children, and let them cut designs into paper triangles. Once unfolded, they’ll be beautiful paper snowflakes. One of the best way to create these snowflakes, is to start with a square piece of paper. Fold that square in half diagonally, to create a triangle. Repeat this step two more times, and then begin cutting designs into the paper! After the snowflakes are finished, you can tape them up onto walls or windows. Or, you can tape/glue them onto fishing wire, and then hang the fishing wire from the ceiling. This will create an illusion of falling snow.


Keep it simple


The key to including your kids in your Christmas decorations, is to keep it simple. You don’t have to have your entire home decked out with Christmas lights that will make your electricity bill skyrocket, in order to be festive and spread the holiday spirit. Do-It-Yourself decor projects are fun, and will give you a chance to bring the whole family together to create something beautiful and festive.decorate

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