Friday, December 12, 2014

5 Tips for Building on a Tight Budget

Are you looking at building a new home or remodel on a tight budget? Here are 5 things to consider:

1) Contact Lord & Lady Construction. We have a lot, a lot of experience working on projects with tight budgets. Many larger builders will say it's not a problem, but will then leave your project on the sidelines when their better paying project needs help. We track every dollar spent, that goes over and that goes under, helping keep us right on track and balanced when hiccups arise.

2) One Story vs. Two Story. When you are on a tight budget, square footage is crucial. With most home builds being around $100-100 per square foot at a bare minimum, the square footage that a stairway needs and takes up, reduces the overall "actual" usable space that you are going to get in the end. Therefore, on tight budget builds, we strongly encourage folks to look for one story plans, you'll get more for your money!

3) Develop a plan with phases. You can't always get everything you want on a tight budget, but you can work to develop a plan that will make it easy to change and switch out to what you really want in the future. A great example of this is waiting to install air conditioning, waiting to put the stone facade on the fireplace, or planning a detached garage that can be built later. All of these items can save thousands in the budget and will cost almost the same amount of money (rather than more than if you do them all at once with the main project) if you do them later. 

4) Consider all electrical appliances. Yes, people love gas stoves and natural gas furnaces, but electrical appliances are cheaper to buy and generally cheaper to run. Additionally, you will save money when you don't have to have a gas line installed, which is typically thousands of dollars.

5) Be willing to ask and listen to what is the most economical way to make your choices or changes a reality. Often at estimates, clients are adamant that they would like a specific change done a specific way, and no other way. They also then state that they want it to be a specific budget, not over. We will then bid the change or build the way specified, but can not keep in budget. This is not to say we can't meet your budget, it just often means we can't meet the budget, building it exactly the way you requested. However, we nearly always have other ideas on how your changes could happen, in just slightly differing ways, that would make the budget possible. So, if you have a budget you can't change or increase, try to be flexible with the exact details of the materials and way in which the changes happen. 

All these subjects and more are in-depth conversations that have many pros and cons based on your specific needs and wants. If you want to have a deeper conversation on any of these and more with Lord & Lady, give us a call or send a message, we're happy to meet with you and discuss your home project hopes and dreams!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Little Birdie: Issue 3

After a few week's lapse in issues, we finally have a new issue up again!  The third issue of our newsletter is out, along with our csa boxes for the week! Read up for the latest news and information about our CSA delivery, our chickens and garden expansion!

Here is a link to download the pdf to your computer  - or check it out below!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Little Birdie: Second Issue

Time flies!  The second issue of our newsletter is out already, along with our csa boxes for the week! Read up for the latest news and information about our CSA delivery, our chickens and garden expansion!

Here is a link to download the pdf to your computer  - or check it out below!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Little Birdie: First Issue

We're very excited to have finished our first newsletter!  Lots of news and information about our first ever CSA delivery, which we're also really pumped and proud of and the piggies!

Here is a link to download the pdf to your computer  - or check it out below!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Orange Ramp Braised Chicken

This is by far my favorite ramp dish.  It is always one of the very first that I make in the ramp season.  I also love to make some extras to store in the freezer for later in the year, when the ramps are gone.  I have not taken photos of this, despite eating it already this year.  I will snap some shots of it the next time I make it and add them for you all.

Reminder - I use all organic and local ingredients and feel strongly that this makes a difference in the flavor.  Get as many organic and local ingredients as you can, you won't be sorry.

Orange Ramp Braised Chicken

1 whole chicken, broken down into 10 pieces (though I save the wings for another use)
coarse salt
1-2 tbsp olive oil
about 20 good sized ramps, if yours are small, use more, they're delicious
3/4 cup pitted mixed olives (buy the bulk olives from oryana or burritts that are mixed with all kinds of olives)
strips of orange zest from an orange and all the orange juice from that orange (you want at least a 1/2 cup, if you don't get that much, use another orange, or short of that, add water)

Preheat the oven to 450F.  Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high until hot but not smoking, about 1 minute (you can also use a dutch oven or a large nonstick skillet, but cast iron gives better flavor I think).  Season chicken with salt.  working in batches if needed, add chicken, skin side down, and brown on one side, about 9 minutes, moving chicken around while cooking if necessary, for even browning.

Turn chicken, skin side up, and add ramps, olives, orange zest strips and orange juice to skillet.  Transfer to oven and cook until chicken is cooked through, 15-20 minutes.

Take out and enjoy, making sure to eat all parts with the chicken, including the orange peel strips (they taste AMAZING).

Ramp Butter

Ramps are finally back in season.  They are one of my favorite foods.  I make everything I can think of with them.  This year I strive to make even more.  One of the first dishes was this ramp butter.  I choose to use it on bread - garlic bread style - for a side with chicken parmesan.  I made versions of the bread both with just the butter and a version with mozzarella on top, to see which we preferred.  The verdict of all three tasters was the no cheese version, though to be honest, both were amazing.  I feel it would also be stellar atop a grilled porterhouse steak, so I am hoping to try that out in the near future.

Here's the recipe.  Sorry for the lack of photos, don't know what I was thinking while eating.  Oh yeah, I was thinking, this is damn delicious, get it in my mouth.  Not, stop, take a photo.

Just a reminder - I always use all organic and as local ingredients as possible.  I do strongly feel this affects flavor.  If you make this and you don't love it to pieces, I'm sorry to tell you, you must be doing something wrong :)

Ramp Butter

1 stick softened unsalted butter
3 ramps, cleaned, minced
zest of one small lemon (if you use too much lemon, it will completely overpower the ramps)
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/8 tsp ground multipeppercorn mix (I used a 5 blend)

Mix all ingredients together until well combined.  If not using right away, can be saved in plastic wrap and rolled into a log. 

I however, immediately made it into toasted bread for our chicken parmesan.

Roasted Ramp Butter Bread

Loaf of sourdough bread (I use stonehouse)
Ramp butter
Lots of shredded mozzarella if you want

Lay out the slices of bread onto a cookie sheet.  Smother each with a good amount of the butter.  If you want to make cheesey ones, put a mound of cheese on each - however, our tasters preferred sans cheese.  Place sheet into a preheated 425F oven.  Bake for 6-7 minutes or until just starting to crisp.  Take out and enjoy the delicious.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Seedling Progress

Red Romaine Day 3
So here we are the beginning of April, still buried in feet of snow.  It's getting just silly.  However, we are still trudging forward with our gardening and CSA adventure.  Our seedlings are growing, new fruit bushes are arriving, chicks are arriving, pigs are ordered and sap water is pouring out of our trees for maple syrup.  We have more volunteers for helping with the expansion and are making plans for where to start as soon as this snow does finally leave us.  We promised to keep you updated with our progress, so you can be a part of this gardening experience, whether you're a part of our mini-CSA or not!
Red Romaine Day 4
First up:  Seedlings

We've planted a number of seeds so far, so they'll be ready for transplant at the right time (hopefully).  So far, we've got a few started that are a bit earlier than we normally would.  Since we're doing this mini-CSA thing, we're trying to see if we can have a few early season veggies ready for transplant and picking, sooner than you would if we just direct sow as we typically would.  Once the snow melts and we can start to till the ground, we will get these early bad boys in and covered with a new mini row "hoop".   This should protect them enough to continue growing through the slightly colder temps and give us a few extra treats in our boxes!  Those seedlings that we've started a bit early are Red Romaine Lettuce and Chioggia Beets.   We will be starting more lettuce this weekend, allowing for a hopefully continuous stream of lettuce, rather than LOTS and then none.

The rest of the seedlings planted already, are because they need a lot of time to grow big enough for transplanting outside.  So far we've started, Anise, Jade Eggplants, Curly Parsley, Lemongrass, Himalayan Rhubarb, Bandit Leeks, Colorado Shallots, Stevia, a special variety of asparagus, Pepino Melon, some tomatillos and a variety of currant tomatoes.  We'll be starting a lot more seedlings this weekend, as soon as they arrive from the supplier!

Himalayan Rhubarb


Curly Parsley

Chioggia Beets

Red Romaine Lettuce - Day 14

Pepino Melon

Bandit Leeks

If you ever thought to yourself, vegetables can't be cute, this is proof that you were wrong.  Baby asparagus seedling.


Jade Eggplants and Currant Tomato

Second up:  Fruit plants

We are adding a lot of new fruits to the yard this year.  Many of those come dormant, expecting to be placed into the ground immediately and then grow in as the weather slowly warms.  Our ground is still snow covered and frozen solid, so transplanting right now is not an option.  We have planted these in buckets inside and are keeping a watchful eye.  We are pretty sure with the way the weather is headed, they are going to come out of dormancy, they'll be inside so long.  So we'll have to make some judgements and hardening decisions before moving them outside. 

So far we have received two grapes, which is a brand new addition, we've never had grapes before.  Not sure yet where they will go, want to be sure we leave room for more next year. 

We have also gotten two saskatoon bushes, another brand new addition.  Also not sure where the saskatoons will go. 

We got one bush cherry, which is essentially a bush, that grows cherries, so we'll see how that goes.  Our other cherry trees are in the front yard, but I am thinking perhaps this bush cherry will go over the hill below the gardens.

We have two new gooseberries, both different varieties and both different from the one four year old bush we already have.  We are hoping to put them all near to each other, which is to the right of the existing terraced garden, if you're standing at the top of the hill. 

We have two honey berries, which are again, new additions.  They are sort of like an oblong blueberries, but they appear and ripen before strawberries!  Very excited to have this new early fruit on the homestead, I think these may actually make it into the front yard herb gardens. 

We've gotten 25 new earli-glow strawberry roots.  Those will be added to my existing strawberry bed (on the left side of the large back deck) and will be a welcome addition.  Earli-glows are my favorite variety, they are a bit smaller, but are pretty much the sweetest of all strawberry varieties.  Very pumped for these to expand the patch.  We also should be receiving another variety of strawberry later this month, to completely fill the rest of the patch.

Finally, we've already received four different varieties of blueberry plants.  They are completely dormant, so we'll see if they can manage to stay that way until we can transplant.  The blueberry patch was started just last year and is on the hillside just above the existing tiered garden.  These will be added in along the stairs and up the top edge of the berm.  We should be receiving more blueberry bushes later this month.



Grapes, Honeyberries and Bush Cherry

Third up:  Root Veggies

We have already received our American Groundnuts and our Jerusalem Artichokes.  Both of these are vegetables that grow underground, like potatoes and sprout leaves and beautiful flowers above.  Both of these are probably going to be put into new gardens down below, that don't yet exist....  So right now, they're in the refrigerator to stay dormant.

Fourth Up:  Chicks

Our first batch of baby chicks came in this week.  This first batch has some of the most rare and EXPENSIVE birds I've ever ordered.  We are adding Welsummers, Salmon Faverolles, Lavender Orpingtons and Blue Ameruacanas.  All should be a great addition to the beauty of the flock and the diversity of the egg colors! 

They are cuter than ever this time around.  Arya is in love with them, even reading them books and showing them the photos.  They arrived in very cold weather, unfortunately there were more dead on arrival than normal, SIX dead!  It is a bit sad, but it is the reason I order more birds than I actually want/need.  You never know what will happen in transport and the rare breeds are nearly impossible to reorder in the same season if you haven't already ordered in the previous year. 

We are excited to see their stunning growth process unfold before us.  Already at a few days old, their pin feathers are coming in and they are getting their cockscombs!

It's also refreshing to see new babies that can eventually be added to the flock.  Particularly today, as a predator dug through the frozen earth, 18 inches, into the chicken run and escaped with two of our lovely ladies.  A white cochin and my only remaining silver laced wyandotte were taken.  Since we have had many predator attacks before, we aren't exactly shocked, though it is still sad and deeply frustrating.  We have refortified the coop and run and hope that tonight the little devil fox doesn't fair so well.  Unfortunately, we don't think we have a trap big enough to catch him, but we'll set it just the same and see what happens....

Blue Ameruacana
Salmon Faverolle


Lavender Orpington

Lavender Orpington

Lavender Orpington

Fifth Up:  Pigs

For those unaware, we are going to be finally adding pigs to our homestead this year!  We have ordered five little buggers and will hopefully be welcoming them sometime in May.  After transplanting and cleaning up the expansive raspberry patch their new run and structure will be top priority!

Sixth Up:  Maple Syrup

This is our first year collecting sap water and making maple syrup, but so far we are beyond happy with the decision to try.  It has been extremely easy and we are kicking ourselves for not having tried this sooner.  The sap is pouring out of the trees and we're getting so much that there's no more room for the bags in the chest freezer, so boiling now became a crucial advancement in the process and could no longer be put off.  Today is the first day we have started boiling and so far it seems to be going great.  No boilovers, no burning and it smells awesome.  It's amazing to us how quickly the water starts to tint to syrup color.

After hearing about all the rage of drinking sap water like coconut water, we obviously had to try that too.  The verdict delicious.  A little hint of syrup and a nice refreshing feeling.  I learned that there is a company in Canada that sells it bottled, but carbonates it, so we are totally going to try that too with our soda stream.  We'll keep you posted on how that goes.

I think that's finally all our gardening adventure updates!  We'll keep you posted as things progress!  And in the meantime, keep thinking melting snow thoughts!!!!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Garden Plans and Seedling Planting 2014

So Spring is here and we are still knee-deep in snow.  We wake up, snow is falling.  Undeterred, I move forward with our large garden expansion plans. 

Snowy scene as of March 23, 2014.  Nice fresh dusting this morning.

Snow still comes halfway up the doors - March 23, 2014

This year we're hoping to expand our gardens immensely.  With the help of Howard (Thomas' Dad), myself, Thomas, Arya, Mae, Paula and Ezra, and other friends and family, we are hoping to largely expand our garden.  We already have multiple tiers trailing down the hill, as well as lots of herb beds, fruit trees and bushes in the front yard.  Our goal is to put in a new bed below the chicken areas, large areas down below on the flatter portion of our property, nearer to m22 and expanding the herb garden into the two large front gardens.  This is going to take a lot of hard work and investment on our part.  We not only have to get the ground tilled, we have to put in compost and nutrients.  Then, since the deer love fresh produce, we will have to fence like no ones ever fenced before.  We are also hoping we might finally get some dripline in throughout the gardens, rather than traditional sprinklers (this will conserve water and help the plants do better).  If we do really well with our time and plans, we may even put in a hoop house down in the lower area.

The garden last year, prior to planting

The garden hillside last year

One of our herb gardens that will be added to this year

At the end of Fall last year, we finished expanding the chicken run area to more than double what it was.  This year we are also going to put in a new chicken area, getting multiple new breeds of heritage or rare breed chickens (check out olive egger chickens- GREEN EGGS!) and its also looking like we are finally going to be getting the pigs I've wanted for over three years now. 
Blue Laced Red Wyandotte

German Spitzhauben

Silver Spangled Hamburg, Blue Andalusian, New Hampshire Red, White Cochin

And to help us in this quest we are embarking on a mini CSA (that we've offered just to close friends and family) to share in our wacky and unique crops.  This will not only help the funding along, but also be able to share our excitement for unusual and rare vegetables.

A little explaination, CSA's are community supported agriculture.  You put money into the farm in the beginning and each week get "shares" of the produce coming out of the farm.  You are not guaranteed any vegetables - if tomatoes all die from deer or disease, sadly, no tomatoes in the shares, however if zucchini is plentiful, you'll know it.  Additionally, you can be a part of the process, if you want, or not, if you want.  You can come to our little homestead any time and help weed or plant or till or lay straw or pick vegetables and fruit or watch chickens, OR just enjoy the produce in the comfort of your own home.  

Now, we at Lord & Lady have never run a csa before - we have been in many, but never run our own.  Because we have never run one before, we don't really know how it will go, except that by the end of the summer, our friends who joined us in this quest will definitely be getting some produce and we'll alleviate our overload that always occurs.  Because we do not have a greenhouse, we are quite certain that we won't be able to start deliveries until mid-June, and in the first few deliveries, there might not be a lot.  However, if the season is somewhat normal, we will probably have produce through till October time.

We also know we will have chicken eggs available.  Our eggs will always be available by the dozen, and you could add them to any week's delivery, however, this year we will have to charge $6 per dozen if ordered week to week, as this is what we will be charging at the market.  However, we also decided that if you would like to order an egg share (that you pay all at once up front), 1 dozen eggs will be delivered to you every week and they will be only be $5 per dozen.  An investment in an egg share will help us get the new bigger chicken coop built! 

Check out our hopes and dreams for what we'll try to grow.  As mentioned, we may not get all this, but we can dream.

Lettuces/cabbage/brussel sprouts/kale/chard/etc:
Red Romaine
storage no 4 cabbage
diablo brussel sprouts
nautic brussel sprouts
red kitten spinach
salanova mix salad
ridgeline lettuce heads
five star lettuce mix
Korridor Kohlrabi
alfalfa sprouts
Bright lights chard
Flash Collards
wasabi arugula (arya picked this specifically)
black summer pac choi
golden frills mustard greens
Spring Tower Chines Celtuce
Green Afro kale
Beira Kale

beauregard sweet potatoes (we have not had good luck with sweet potatoes before, giving it a go though)
gold rush potato
elba potato - this is going to be switched for something else, not sure what yet
stampede jerusalem artichokes
American Ground nuts

Alligator aka Jacare
6823 butternut squash
spaghetti squash
tuffy acorn squash
yellowfin yellow squash
alexandria zucchini
dunja zucchini
red kuri squash
god nugget winter squash
delicata squash
munchkin pumpkin
casperita pumpkin
dill's atlantic giant pumpkin
champion pumpkin
racer plus pumpkin
new england pie pumpkin

Navajo Winter watermelon
Pepino Melon - very rare variety of melon look it up yo!

snow leopard honeydew
san juan melon
serenade melon
sweet granite melon

Lillie Mae's Little White Cucumber
Suyo Long cucumbers
Salt & Pepper Cucumbers
Northern Pickling Cucumbers
Mouse melons (gherkins)

Barton's Broad Bean (Fava bean)
Large Green Lentil
Large Red Lentil
Fordhook Lima beans
Cannellini Beans
Rockport bush beans
provider bush beans
shiraz snow peas
super sugar snap peas
maigolt shelling peas
sienna shelling peas

Jade Sweet
Rosa Bianca
Kermit (arya picked this specifically)

Red Velvet Okra
jambalaya okra
Tango - Celery
ancho pepper
gourmet pepper
flavorburst pepper
yankee bell pepper
Variety of hotter peppers

Skywalker cauliflower
belstar broccoli

Stevia - Sweetest Stevia
salad burnett
giant of italy parsley
mountain mint
calypso cilantro
amethyst improved basil
sweet thai basil
Genovese basil
multiple varieties of sage
goldkrone dill
zefa fino fennel
arat (parsley root)
Goldenseal (not harvestable for 2 years)
American Ginseng (not harvestable for 2 years)
Staro chives
garlic chives
vertissimo chevril
Perfect Skewer Rosemary
French Tarragon
Red Shiso
Green Shiso

Root Vegetables:
Salsify - Mammoth Sandwich Island
Black Salsify
Purple Plum Radish
Gobo - Japanese Burdock
Laurentian Rutabaga
Mars - Celeraic
bolero carrots
atlas carrots
yaya carrots
chioggia guardsmark beets
touchstone gold beets
moneta beets
helenor rutabaga
chiko burdock
belstar super salsify
red meat radish
nero tondo radish
rover radishes
javelin parsnips

San Juanito - Tomatillo
Cuatomate - currant tomato
hawaiian currant - currant tomato
ildi - currant tomato
granadero tomato
toma verde - tomatillo
624 cherry - tomato
tomimaru muchoo tomato
german johnson tomato
defiant tomato
amish paste tomato
indigo rose tomato
artisan tomato collection

Corn (we have a terrible track record with corn, I will be amazed if we get any - this year we are going to attempt to grow it with the pumpkins, like the Native Americans did):
Country Gentlemen
Spring Leaf Corn

Short Stuff - Sunflower
Bees delight mix
edible flowers
Lemon Drops
Big Smile sunflower
cherokee sunset sunflowers
bicolor sunflowers
procut gold sunflowers
johnnys sunflower collection
giant sungold
giant dahlia mix
Benary's dahlias
ocean pearls
bells of ireland
orange granade
bombay yellow gold celosia
ruby parfait
sun ball gomphrena
strawberry fields gomphrena

Precoce d'Argenteuil - Asparagus (takes 3 years to be harvestable)
Jersey Supreme asparagus (takes 3 years to be harvestable)
Variety of rhubarbs
Himalayan Rhubarb (takes 2 years to be harvestable)
Victoria Rhubarb (Takes one year to be harvestable)

Bandit Leek
Colorado Shallot
saffron shallots
evergreen hardy green onions
sierra blanca onion
red zeppelin onion
candy onion
forum onion
king richard leeks

Grains/seeds (we've never done grains before, so very excited at this prospect):
Hi Yield Quinoa
Multi-Hued Quinoa
spring wheat
Hard red winter wheat

Fruits (all of these are very variable, some years we get lots, some years none):
Tart Cherries
Sweet Cherries
Bush Cherries (if we get any, this will be a new planting)
rowan berries
Honeyberry (if we get any, this will be a new planting)
Red Currants (if we get any, this will be a new planting)
Saskatoons (if we get any, this will be a new planting)

spruce tips

Variety of Heirloom Eggs (if you choose this plan)
meat possible (if you choose this plan)

Heritage breed Meat (if you choose this plan)

Meat (if we get them and if you choose this plan)

So that's our quest for this Spring, Summer and Fall.  Every year I (Laura), have big ambitious plans for the upcoming season.  And every year it's great, but I am particularly excited for this year.  I will work to keep everyone updated on our exciting and undoubtedly interesting process.

So far we've still got so much snow, we're just into planting seedlings.  But even that, is thrilling, the smell of dirt, fills our home.  We're using coconut planters this year, with organic and heritage and rare seeds from Salt Spring Seeds, Southern Seed Exchange, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company and Johnny Seeds.  We've got the seedlings in a room in the basement with windows, hopefully safe from the cats!  And some upstairs in the loft in clear tubs, with lids, again, to try and keep safe from the cats! 

Additional NOTE:  If you are super interested in joining the mini CSA and we didn't offer it to you already, email me, we might have room for one more.  And if for some reason you are interested in donating funds to the cause, but don't want any produce at all, don't let us stop you.