The Best Gifts for Homesteaders, Gardeners, and Cooks

If you know someone who's into homesteading, we've got the perfect gift guide for you. Whether your gift recipient is into gardening, canning, preserving, fermenting, or other weird DIY hobbies, we've got ideas for every niche.

As we are into these hobbies ourselves, we can easily say we would be super excited if any of these things showed up as a gift (even though we already own 99% of them!). 

In this one, we thought we'd approach our gift guide a little differently and instead of organizing by product, we organize this one by recipient interests (e.g. gardener gifts, baker gifts, etc.)!

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5 Reasons a Kitchen Designer May Be Worth The Price

We have been planning a complete kitchen renovation for far longer than I'd like to admit.

First, we delayed our project because of financial issues (there are a lot of zeroes involved with a kitchen renovation). Then we delayed our project due to COVID. By the time we finally got around to pulling the trigger to start our renovation, we felt like we had a very good idea of everything we wanted. Those extra years gave us a ton of time to think about it (and save for it!), after all.

But we had this nagging feeling that we could still do better. That we were, perhaps, missing some glaringly obvious issues or that a contractor would not fully understand our vision and something would get lost in translation from what is in our heads to the final delivered product or layout. We have seen this repeatedly at friends' houses, and we did not want to make a mistake simply from not knowing any better.

So we decided to hire a kitchen designer for added peace of mind and, in particular, get contractor-ready drawings for our project at large. 

As it turns out, we loved having our designer, and when it comes to looking at whether or not they were worth the fee, we thought we'd share some of the things you'll likely get out of your partnership!

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How Long Does a Dehydrator Take to Pay Itself Off?

When we started to get into gardening and planting fruit trees, we knew we would have to look into preservation techniques for any of the excess we couldn't eat right away.

We had already been jamming fruits and preserving via water bath canning for years. We also had gotten into fermentation and pressure canning recently, too. But we wanted to try more techniques for preservation, so we decided to purchase a dehydrator to test out a different process altogether.

Dehydrators, to us at least, are simply fascinating. They work by running at low temperatures (sub-boiling) and low humidity to drive off excess water from fruits, vegetables, meats, and more. In the process of reducing the water content, these items become shelf-stable and can be stored longer-term at room temperature. 

Anyone who has tried a dried fig, strawberry, or even vegetables knows that these are quite delicious, and we were pretty excited to see what foods can be dehydrated.

But we had another question to go along with it- is a dehydrator a cost-effective purchase? So we decided to share the economics of buying a dehydrator in this one!

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How Long Does Gardening Take to Pay Itself Off? It Varies

We love to garden.

Nothing is more rewarding than going out into your own vegetable patch, picking something ripe, and then immediately cooking with it. From the flavors to the satisfaction that you did it yourself, it really can't be beaten.

But is gardening better than buying produce at the store? Particularly over buying produce from local farmer's markets where the quality would be comparable?

We thought we'd take a look at a cost-benefit analysis for all things gardening to see what the math says. But in this one, we have to look at two kinds of gardening outright- container gardening and in-ground gardening. The math for each is quite different!

Note: This evaluation considers gardening to be for more conventional items like tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, beans, and more. Perennial plants, like fruit bushes and trees, are not included in this discussion as, assuming they survive to production age, their payback period typically is the first year or two of a full harvest (generally 3-8 years) as maintenance costs can be quite low. As such, they are excluded from this evaluation. 

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The Danger of 12 Months No Interest Financing for Appliances

When we decided to start a kitchen remodel, we knew we would finance our appliances in some capacity.

We could make up many reasons why that was the case, but the simple answer was that the appliances we wanted were expensive (read: ~$25,000 in total) and we didn't want to blow through our cash savings to buy these outright.

So when it came to looking into financing, we considered the spread of options be it putting them on a credit card, taking out a home equity line of credit (HELOC), and 12-month, no-interest financing from the sellers.

Ultimately we went with the zero-interest financing from the retailers because 0% interest sounded pretty good to us. But this comes with one big caveat that is often not discussed but really needs to be addressed- that “12-month term” is disingenuous at best!

  • Note: We are not financial planners. This article is more about conveying our experience in taking 12 months same as cash financing and is purely anecdotal. Your mileage may vary. When in doubt talk to a financial planner before making any major purchase decisions. 

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5 Lessons Learned in My First Year Bee Keeping

As we wind down our first year of having beehives at our house, I have to admit that I learned a lot- way more than I originally thought I would, if I am to be honest.

I made mistakes (plenty of them). I made some strides. I even got a little bit of a honey harvest out of one overly productive hive.

So while we are busy prepping for winter hibernation, I thought I'd take some time to look back on some of the biggest lessons learned in my first year beekeeping for others who are thinking of getting into it.

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Hipster Homesteaders Year One in Review – Getting Started

We founded Hipster Homesteaders in late 2021 to chronicle our somewhat different approach to urban homesteading on our ~0.13 acre lot in Pittsburgh. 

Our goal here is not to be 100% self-reliant on food grown in our yard, but rather to maximize our urban gardening as best we can while supplementing it with local produce (via CSAs), local meats (via area farmers), and cutting out intermediaries when supporting other non-local businesses (such as buying seafood direct from fishermen in Alaska over factory farmed products in the grocery store). 

Now that we are winding down our first proper season after launching this site, we thought we'd review everything we have added to our homestead in the past year!

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5 Things to Do With a Food Dehydrator – Fruit to Yogurt

Whenever we want to buy a new appliance for our kitchen, we often have to take a good hard look at whether or not the benefit is worth the tradeoff of using the limited storage space we have.

So when we were considering buying a dehydrator, we wanted to make sure we could get good use out of it (note: some ovens have a dehydrator function which would be great, but ours does not). We thoroughly researched all the things you can do with a dehydrator and were convinced- and luckily it has lived up to all of our hopes and dreams.

So in this one, we thought we'd share some of our favorite uses for this magical appliance!

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How Long Until a Coffee Roaster Pays Itself Off?

We are coffee nerds. Big coffee nerds. The kind of coffee nerds that not only own every style of coffee brewing equipment under the sun but the kind that also got into home roasting as well.

As any coffee consumer can tell you, roasted beans are expensive, and those made by artisan producers are often doubly so.

So while we got into coffee roasting as a fun, albeit nerdy, hobby, we also did so because we thought it would end up saving money in the long run as green beans are often far, far cheaper.

Naturally, we wanted to share the math on if this purchase truly worked out in our favor or not!

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How Long Until a Beehive Pays Itself Off? It Really Depends

When we decided to launch this homesteading project of ours, our main goal was to be as self-sufficient as possible with our little plot of land in the city. 

A secondary goal of ours was to try and offset spending that we had for items, particularly around food, that we could grow/make/ferment ourselves as opposed to buying at local markets and stores.

As such, we always love to take a look at how much value our purchases bring to the table, and if we find something that could pay itself off in short order (read: months, not years), we know we have to buy it for our property as soon as possible.

But when it comes to my drive to get into beekeeping, the analysis became tricky. So in this one, we thought we'd share the numbers on how long it takes a beehive to pay itself off, but then jump into an even deeper analysis about why a hive may never actually do that at all!

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