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Meet DeannaCat

Hi! I’m Deanna, but a lot of you may know me as DeannaCat. I am all about simple living, growing (and eating!) plants, and tending to my family and ecosystem the best I can. My hope is to inspire a love for a similar lifestyle or hobbies in others, by sharing real-life tips and tools to make “modern homesteading” activities easy, relatable, and enjoyable ~ so you can learn and dive in with me!

It’s always a bit awkward to talk about yourself, but I suppose it’s good to open up and share some things with you, to give you a better idea about my background, passions, and where I am coming from with all this.

DeannaCat in her personal Garden of Eden, surrounded by kale trees and chicken friends

So hey! I’m the face behind this blog, a garden mentor to many over on Instagram, and also work full-time as an Environmental Health Specialist. In my personal life, I am the wife and best friend to Aaron, a part-time monarch butterfly doula, and mama to 3 kitties, four chickens, 37 houseplants, 300 outdoor plants, and a bin full of worms. Yes, I have my hands full – but also have a very full heart! 

When I’m not busy in the garden (or writing about gardening), you can likely find me in the kitchen, cuddling with the kitties, walking on the beach, or doing yoga ~ preferably in the patio garden on a sunny day. It probably isn’t surprising to hear that I am a Cancer and total homebody. And for the record, everything is better with music. (You can listen to our favorite tunes here!)

If you catch glimpses of a smiling, dark, handsome man here and there – that’d be Aaron. For the record, he may seem “behind-the-scenes” here, but is an immense contributor (maybe even more than myself!) to the care for this homestead, plants, and animals! He also assists with photo shoots, proof-reading, idea-bouncing, and all sorts of other helpful contributions that I am beyond grateful for. We are a team.

Deanna and Aaron, Team Homestead and Chill
Team Homestead and Chill

So, how’d we end up here – doing this whole gardening, mini-homesteading and blogging thing? I guess it boils down to this: 

Back in 2013, a friend of mine told me I should get on Instagram. “You’ll love it, it’s pretty much just pictures!” she said. See, I have always loved photography. As a little girl, I had to save up my allowance to develop rolls of film because my mom got so overwhelmed at the amount of photos I was taking! Long before the days of smartphones, I was always “the friend with the camera” –  ready to capture the beauty and memories of any moment. 

I started sharing photos of what was happening in our life on Instagram, which was (and still is) mostly gardening and homestead projects, with a little bit of food and cats mixed in. Through Insta, I began connecting with like-minded folks – and also started getting a lot of questions about our projects and lifestyle, which I really loved! So I started doling out answers and explanations, and quite detailed ones at that. In addition to sharing images, this new outlet for information-sharing was totally jiving with a huge part of me that felt “missing” at the time.

Back in college, I was really involved on campus and led several environmental and sustainability-related campaigns. I was always out there – trying to engage people in conversation, connect, share ideas, and even maybe teach folks a thing or two. In case you’re wondering, I have my B.S. in Sustainable Coordination and Resource Management from CSU, Chico and a Master’s in Environmental Studies from Brown University. After leaving college and jumping into “the real world”, I felt a huge disconnect from the exciting, progressive, and creative energy I was so accustomed to. So I poured it into our yard, home, and Instagram instead. They became my outlet. My means of outreach had to shift drastically from in-person to internet-based (including starting a blog, because there is only so much you can convey on Insta) – but hey, that’s okay! That is why I am here now. And I am SO glad you are too!

Speaking of college, that is when I started my first garden. Back in 2007, I plunked down my first little raised garden beds (and worm compost bin) in the side yard of my tiny Chico rental cottage at the time. Since we were moving around a lot then, we kept it small and manageable: just a few tomato and squash plants.

My first garden and crookneck squash, circa 2007

Then when we moved into an apartment in Providence, Rhode Island, we weren’t able to garden much at all. Not only because of the living situation, but more so because I was busy working on my thesis. To get a break from my studies, I picked up the book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver (highly recommended!). It was then that the light bulbs for our future really started to go off in my head. I felt so inspired by the idea of not only growing vegetables, fruits, and herbs, but also raising chickens, preserving food, sacrificing non-essentials, and truly living and eating with the seasons. After reading that book, I decided I wanted to do more than casually garden – and dreamed of creating a mini homestead one day.

When I finished grad school we moved back across the country to California, landed jobs that brought us to the amazing Central Coast that we now call home, and began saving to buy a home. We purchased this property in 2013, and started our first flock of baby chicks in 2014. Project-by-project and year-by-year (remember, these things don’t happen overnight, and that is totally okay!), we have been slowly transforming it to make our urban homesteading dreams come true. We hope to move to a larger property one day, but are making damn good use of every square inch of this place in the meantime! To read more details about our homestead, click here

But wait.

How did I get interested in gardening and sustainable living in the first place? I get asked this question a lot, so I am going to jump back even further in time for a moment. This is going to get more personal here, but bear with me… it’s relevant.

My history with healthy eating and fear of toxins runs deep. Growing up, my mom was a dental hygienist, so processed sugar and many snack foods were a big no-no and a rarity in our house. She switched gears and became a registered dietitian/nutritionist while I was in late elementary school. So we started to look at everything we ate a little more closely, not just sugar. Then one day in early high school, my pancreas decided to quit on the job. Suddenly, on a genetic fluke, I became Type 1 Diabetic. Talk about putting everything I ate under the microscope! While my friends were spending their lunch breaks cruising around getting fast food, I was bringing sack lunches and counting carbs.

Flash forward 6 years. I lost my dad to aggressive kidney cancer when I was only 21. It was absolutely devastating. I was and always will be a Daddy’s girl. Who knows exactly how and why cancer decides to rear its ugly f***ing head, yet I can’t help but substantially blame his enthusiastic love affair with meat, butter, Ben and Jerry’s, and processed foods, along with the medications used to mask the symptoms of the issues that those all caused. See, my parents were no longer together by then, so they ate very differently in their households. When he passed away, I was already at a crossroads in college, considering studying nursing or physical therapy but not sure what direction I wanted to go.

Losing him made me take a serious step back to process what happened and reevaluate what was important to me. I quit my part time job at a local gym and started crafting as therapy. It was then that I started my journey with sustainability and healthier, natural living. Within the following year I changed my major, got a sustainability coordinator position at the university, started selling up-cycled crafts and photography at our local farmers market, became a vegetarian, and started my first garden. Oh yeah, and got dreadlocks.

Sounds a bit like a quarter-life crisis, right?! But it wasn’t a temporary dance with insanity. It was the start of my purpose. Over the years since this interest bloomed into a passion and into a lifestyle that I will never go back from. Don’t get me wrong, we are far from perfect over here. We by no means lead a fully self-sufficient or zero waste life, but we try our best! We aren’t fault-free with our diets either – we all have our vices! Mine happen to be good craft beer, organic kettle chips, and dark chocolate.

So, here we are!

All of the above naturally leads me to this – creating a blog about the things that light my fire, and I hope will light yours too! To me, this space is so much more than “just a blog” ~ it is my creative and artistic outlet, my motivator to keep learning and doing, and a way to connect with you, share, and hopefully inspire. I want to help people live healthier, happier lives, in whatever way I can. I also want you to know that I am not here to preach, and never to judge! You do you. No matter your level of knowledge, interest, or involvement in a similar lifestyle, you’re welcome here. Good vibes only.

In loving memory and dedication to my Dad, because I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am today without him. I know he would be so proud of both.

DeannaCat, a little blonde smiling girl, sitting in a red wheelbarrow at the age of two. Her dad is holding up the wheelbarrow, looking down at her, smiling.
Oh, did I say I started gardening when I was 21?
I clearly meant two.


  • Donna McKim

    Hi Deanna, I am wondering if I could re-do my cannibus salve. By that I mean re heating it without losing the CBD levels that are there. I made it and it is way to green, I should of used more water while doing it. Would it work to add more water now or just leave as is and next time use more water? I have coconut oil, vit e oil, arneca oil, shea butter and some essential oils in it now. It is also quite clumpy and doesn’t spread that great. Any hints for comments for me would be greatly appreciated.

    Have a great day, stay safe and warm.

    Hugs Donna

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Donna, if your salve is too green then it must be fairly strong (unless it’s green from olive oil?) and will work great when applied as a salve. You don’t want to add water, if anything you would add more oil. You shouldn’t lose too much of the beneficial cannabinoids as long as you keep the salve at a modest temperature and don’t reheat it at too high of a temperature. If you have almond oil, sunflower oil, or olive oil around (oils that are liquid at room temperature compared to coconut which is firm), this will make your salve less clumpy once it hardens. Did you add any beeswax to your salve? Our favorite main ingredient ratio for salves is 4 parts oil, 1 part beeswax, and 1/4 part shea butter. Hope that helps and good luck!

  • Melissa Miller

    I also accidently stumbled onto your website and am so inspired. I moved out to the San Diego area about 3 1/2 years ago, and have a small house with .25 acres. It is amazing what you can fit into it! I am looking forward to exploring your blog and website more, as most of the organic gardening information I find is relevant to everywhere but California! Thanks for filling that niche!

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Melissa, we’re glad you found us and hopefully you can find more articles that you find informative and inspirational. Happy gardening!

  • Robin

    I follow Deannacat on IG, but this is my first time on your website. I LOVED reading about your journey that brought you to this point. We just purchased 27 acres of land in Southwestern Oregon for the purpose of having a homestead, gardening/farming, chickens (for eggs only), (a much needed) dog boarding facility, and in the future a senior dog sactuary. I just ordered Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and cannot wait to dive into it. Thank you for sharing your journey and knowledge and helping those, such as myself get started. The information you provide is GOLDEN and you have an amazing website, one that I will be visiting often. God bless.

  • Sunita

    I’ve accidentally stumbled upon your website while looking for a recipe to ferment beetroots. Loved reading about your journey and good luck with all you do.

  • Jacqueline

    So glad I found your website by accident! I am teaching myself about herbalism, being a better plant-mamma to my existing house and garden plants. Your thoughts inspire me. Thank you for your gift! XO!

    Jackie C.

  • Carol Minard

    You are an amazing woman! I stumbled across your ACV recipe on Pinterest and haven’t been able to leave your web sight. Seriously, I want to read everything you’ve ever written! I so appreciate the information I’ve had the pleasure to read and I intend to put it to use as well as share it with all my loved ones. God bless you and your little family in all you do. Thanks so much for putting yourself out there to fuel the flames!

  • Chrissie

    Hi Deanna, I’ve just purchased a 21 gram pack of hemp loose tea. It states natural organic, natural cbd. Ingredients 99% hemp cannabis saliva 1% lemon balm, I’d like to make pain relieving salve for my chronic arthritis. Can I infuse this blend into coconut oil simmering stove top for several hours to extract the pain relieving properties? Should I heat it first to decarbonise in the oven? I can’t buy the dried flowers so was hoping this would be my way of the benefits of hemp into my salve? Please reply and advise me it says on the pack that once boiled the healthy fats found in our seeds enable natural absorption of CBDa and cannabinoids into the body ( acting like a fat). Kindest regards, Chrissie ( in the U.K.)

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Chrissie, does it state the amount of CBD in the loose leaf? You can either heat it in coconut oil for several hours but try and keep the oil temperature in the correct range as to not burn off any beneficial properties or you can decarboxylate the product in an oven (if you go this route, keep an eye on them as the product may burn or overheat if it is a finer material than flower). You also may want to use more than 7-10 grams that is recommended in the salve recipe to ensure that it contains enough CBD for your needs. Hope that helps and good luck!

  • Al

    I have some CBD oil that I purchased in bulk to make salves for arthritis sufferers and a family member who has another joint stiffness issue. Can I use that oil to make this salve recipe? It’s just the hemp oil, full spectrum cbd.

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Al, yes you can but since your CBD oil is likely fairly concentrated, you can dilute it some with a regular oil for the salve such as coconut oil, almond oil, sunflower oil etc. A rough estimate would be 1 part CBD oil to 5 parts regular carrier oil if your CBD oil has a higher amount of mg of CBD in it. Hope that helps and good luck!

  • Deb Case

    I have recently started a worm bin after watching your youtube video! since I live in Wisconsin where it can get really cold in the winter I am going to keep it in the house..for now in a corner of the kitchen, once the A/C is off, I will move it to the basement. Once I start collecting the castings, how do I store them over the winter? Can I just dump them in a bin or cat litter bucket to save until spring?

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Deb, sounds like you have a good plan and should be good to go as far as winter vermicomposting goes. Deanna and I lived in Providence RI for two years and we kept our worm bin outside of our apartment in a shared hallway that was quite cold in the winter and the worms did just fine. If you just started your worm bin, I likely wouldn’t try and harvest any castings for at least 4 months or so, you will just have to keep and eye on the material and see how much is bedding/food and how much is actual castings. Worms will also slow down and not be as active during the winter months so they will not eat as much or produce as much castings as when it’s warmer. Storing the worm castings after they have been harvested in a plastic bin or bucket with air holes is just fine until you are ready to use them. You’ll just want to be sure that the castings don’t get too wet and become anaerobic or become too dry either. We have never stored fresh harvested castings for longer than a couple weeks as we usually harvest when we need them. Hope that helps and good luck on your vermicompost venture!

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