Lots of accomplishments and a busy week

I’ll start off with what I am still surprised by… I was chosen as the teacher of the year for our building! I’m very proud of this! I’m going to do my best to represent my school well on the county level and spread a little green teacher love!

This week I was officially announced as a master gardener! It takes a lot of time, but I enjoy it!

We have been busy around this place!

At school the kids are getting so much better at composting! They are the ones that tell each other what goes into the bin. But now I need to figure out how to get the unopened/uneaten food to the places that can use them! (Not in the garbage) Look at all if that waste:

I’ve got some ideas, but need approval and to make sure that it can all be kept in the fridge until it goes to a place that needs it. I’ll figure it out!

Last night I made some more honey lollipops and I will be taking pictures next time to share that process! They are easy and delicious!

I also have been reminding the teen quite often about needing to wash his face. Teens! So, I decided that he would appreciate some Star Wars scrubbies. And he does!

And for dinner this evening I made some pierogies. I followed the recipe for the shell and used leftover mashed potatoes for the insides (plus onions and bacon pieces). https://eatingeuropean.com/authentic-polish-pierogi-potatoes-cheese/

And this is how many 1/2 of the recipe made:

And now for the rest of my evening!

I hope that you all are getting some things accomplished this week! Keep blooming!

Snowy weekend activities

Over the weekend we had a little snow storm come through. It amounted to about 4-5 inches of snow. Lucky for my Mr., I enjoy getting a little workout shoveling snow!

The chickens enjoyed pecking at the snow, and the coop looked beautiful surrounded by the snow!

I enjoyed checking in on the bees. If you push your ear up to the hive, they sound like a soft hum. It’s a beautiful sound!

Before the snowstorm, I was able to pick up some wood chips locally and clean up the coop. It looks so much better! (And still does!)

I have also been working hard on the chicken quilt squares! 18 finished so far!

We enjoyed our extra day off today, due to the weather. And, I hope that you all are enjoying these winter days! Keep blooming friends! 🌱❤️

New Year Goals 2019!

Happy New Year! Every year I try to set a dozen goals and give monthly updates to keep myself accountable! (And because I love sharing our journey!) Throughout the year when I think about what I would like to accomplish, I make a running list. Some ideas get put into the future file. Some go into the never ever file and others make the cut! And without further ado, our 2019 goals:

1. Sew my first quilt– I have been wanting to try a new craft for quite a while. I wanted to take on a bigger project, and I wanted to make something for us. It’s going to be a chicken quilt and I found a great pattern online Here .And since I was super intimidated, I tried out a practice one. Even though it is far from perfect, I think that I’ve got this! I think!

2. Keep doing good for our community. I loved being able to help organize an Earth day clean up and donating to our local mission rescue. I plan on helping our community by organizing a clean up group and doing monthly street clean ups.

3. Can and save money on our groceries. We didn’t do a great job of canning our garden goodies last winter. I want to can more jellies, green beans salsa and other deliciousness!

Catsup!

4. Use that camper some more! Last year we remodeled and fixed up the camper and traveled to Yellowstone and back. It was a great trip and we have another family camping trip to plan in 2019!

The Badlands

5. Compost!! We are going to continue composting every Wednesday at school and greening up school in general! I’m hoping to have a school wide composting day on Earth Day! And, we are hoping to help our neighbors compost. Maybe we can compost 1,000 lbs again!

6.Little free library/seed sharing- We got a free cabinet that we are going to turn into a little free library with seed give away in it. My sister loved to read and I feel like it would be nice to build one in her memory. We are hoping to have it built and do a ribbon cutting in the Spring.

A local little free library we visited!

7. Grow some new plants: This year we are hoping to grow ground cherries better. Plus, grow blue pumpkins, corn and more gourds!

8. Yard to garden our bottom yard. We doubled the size of the garden last year and produced lots of extra food. This year, we want to take out our huge swing set that hasn’t been used in such a long time and start getting rid of grass. A little bit at a time!

9. Keep reducing trash! We produced almost 6 bags of garbage last year. This year we are trying for only 5! So, monthly I am going try to make my own package free version of foods that we love that unfortunately comes in wrappers.

10. Create a Monarch waystation and tagging supplies-Last year we made a wildlife habitat area and we will continue to add to it! So we will add plenty of nectar and milkweed for monarchs to lay their eggs on. Last year we loved looking through the milkweed for caterpillars and raising them to become adults. It was so much fun! So this year, we would like to tag them and see if any of ours make their way to Mexico!

11. Teach the teen life skills– the boy is growing up way too fast. He will be in high school next year. I want him to be ready to be an independent adult when he decides to leave the nest many years from now! We will be working on something new every month. Examples: sewing on a button, cooking meals, using tools appropriately, changing a tire, properly ironing and folding clothes. And weirdly enough, my brother bought this book for him for Christmas:

And if you are local, you can feel free to bring your kid over if you think it is a skill that your teen needs to learn too!

12. Keep track of $ from gardening– I’d love to eventually break even on all of our gardening! So this year we will see if we earn more than we spend on all of our efforts! Maybe?!

So, there are our big plans! We hope that we will be able to accomplish them all! And we also hope that you all do too! Keep blooming friends!

Winter arrived!?!

Here in the Appalachian mountains of Maryland, the snow arrived. Usually we will get a few dustings before a major storm, but not this year. We got over 10 inches between Thursday and Friday!

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Lots of snow and ice to clean up! 

And did I mention that the Mr. enjoyed using the tractor to clear the driveway? It was like watching a little boy play!

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Clearing lots more snow! 

Since we had school cancelled for 2 days, due to the snowstorm, I was able to put up the student’s artwork around town for the holiday season! Those are the Santas that my students made!

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Small town decor! 

And because I wanted to use my time well, I finished a lot of projects that had been needing finished! There were lots of patches that needed sewn on uniforms and hooded towels to finish up. And they are all completed!

On Facebook, I was tagged in a post about making a crown earwarmer. It was a quick project that was fun and easy! I don’t have a little girl, but it seems like many like this sort of thing!

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Crocheted crown earwarmer

I have also been wanting to learn how to do some brush calligraphy and just started with some crayola markers around here. I think I’m kind of getting it! I need something to do since the weather is so cold!

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Just reusing the back of my boy’s worksheets! 

While sitting on the couch yesterday, I noticed that the cactus that I received as a gift 4 years ago is back to blooming!

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Beautiful! 

Im not sure if it is a Christmas or Thanksgiving cactus, so chime in if you know!

Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy time with your families!

October Goals Update 2018

Adios October! And oh my goodness there are only 2 more months this year! However, I feel like we have made the most out of 2018! So, we are ready for November!

1. Expand the garden- ✅it happened! It has been cleaned out and the chickens and ducks have been enjoying getting to run through it! I loved the layout of it this year!

Our October Garden

2. Fix the camper- ✅We fixed up our camper and loved using it on a trip of a lifetime! I catch myself thinking about the fun that we had this summer often!

Picnicking in Yellowstone!

3.Travel out west- ✅ We did it and enjoyed every single stop! I loved hiking the trails and still think about how we packed a lunch, went on a long hike and then ate our lunch while watching buffalo and wild horses in the distance! 🌏💚

Old faithful!

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat ✅ There was grass patch in front of the garage that was begging to be returned to nature. So, we did! Everything has slowly died off, but I have saved so many seeds for next year! I’m hoping to add more native plants!

Milkweed that I saved from a lawnmower!

Seeds that I will be using next year!

5. Reduce garbage- Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. We are up to 4, so I think we have a good chance of making it!

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- I gave away an old Halloween costume and spent tons of time working on our composting program for school. Between phone calls, meetings and emails I have a lot of time wrapped up in it!

7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair-  This month I participated in a seed swap to give out our seeds that we have a lot of and make room for new varieties! Oh, and the Mr. fixed my phone case that I accidentally broke. Yay for a resourceful spouse!

8. Paw Paw trees- Our 2 little trees are looking great! They were repotted and put outside to get used to the weather. They are starting to lose their leaves now! They are preparing for winter!

9. Build a pizza oven- ❎ we are not doing this one this year. We are trying to figure out how we are going to change up the backyard next year! (We have an interesting plan for next year!)

10. Grow different produce- We have grow so many different plants! Huge gourds, different melons and glass gem corn! I just enjoyed some kale and broccoli from our garden just last week!

11. Continue tracking the solar panels- October was also a rainy month, but we still produced enough power to keep our bill at the $5 connection rate!

12. Work on garden cart sales- We sold our Blacksmithing and sewn crafts at a local craft show and had a great weekend!

I am pretty proud of the steps that we are making towards achieving our goals! And, I have a list of close to 30 different goals that are on the chopping block for 2019!

Are you thinking about next year already? Anything that you think we should give a try to?

Keep blooming friends! 🌱

Busy but back!

We have been crafting and Blacksmithing every hour of the day that we have had available for weeks to prepare for a craft show. It’s the main one that we do, so we wanted to have a decent selection!

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Our little bit of everything! 

We almost sold out of the different forged items that the Mr. made!

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All kinds of handles! 

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Railroad spike pulls 

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Business card holder

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Park bench business card holders 

And I managed to make a few different items this time too!

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Luffa soap 

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Beeswax lipbalm 

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Crocheted cotton dishcloths 

We also sold some of our homegrown goodness!

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Birdhouse gourds and glass gem corn 

And if you are looking to win some of the seeds from plants that we loved growing this year, head over to the homestead Facebook page and take a chance!

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Giving away on Facebook until the end of the month! 

This weekend is dedicated to finishing up our son’s Halloween costume! Hopefully he will be the best looking 5’ 6 inch jawa!

Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚🌸

July Goals Update 2018

Hello August! This summer has been an adventurous one with some more to come! And, the garden has been producing lots of food for us too!

And here’s how the goals are going:

1. Expand the garden– ✅it happened! Everything is growing pretty well and I’m hoping that I continue to get great harvests!

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From May to July! What a transformation! 

2. Fix the camper– ✅We fixed up our camper and loved using it on a trip of a lifetime! This month I found some bins that fit nicely under the second bed (for clothes) and crocheted a handle cozy for the skillet that we keep in the camper!

3.Travel out west- We did it and enjoyed every single stop! We are still talking about our fun trip and I love hearing the boy talk about what he saw and what he learned!

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat There’s a grass patch in front of the garage that is begging to be returned to nature. There are lots of critters enjoying the new area given to them! I actually saw a brand new monarch caterpillar emerge from its egg!

5. Reduce garbage– Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. We are still filling bag 3!

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- This month I did a giveaway on my Facebook page for a zero waste kit. I also spent most of a week volunteering for the master gardeners. I’m trying to get all of my hours in over the summer!

7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair- this month we didn’t remake anything big. We did, however, turn a large chunk of bamboo sitting around here into a post for the wildlife habitat sign!

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Bamboo post! 

8. Paw Paw trees– These native trees have grown near here for such a long time! The little sprouts are starting to look like trees, and we have 2! Now I’m thinking about the perfect place to plant them!

9. Build a pizza oven– ❎ we are not doing this one this year. We are trying to figure out how we are going to change up the backyard next year!

10. Grow different produce-I found my first Apple melon this month!(top left) ate my first ground cherry (bottom left) I’m enjoying the bushel basket gourds growing (middle) and there are lots of spaghetti squash growing (right)

11. Continue tracking the solar panels- May was a nice solar month, despite lots of rain! 1.72 mwh and just the connection rate for an electric bill! (It’s around $5)

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12. Work on garden cart sales– We have held a couple garden cart sales this month! I’ve sold a few zucchinis, cucumelons, garlic cloves and even some birdhouse gourds!

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Last month just flew by! We are looking forward to creating more memories before school starts back up! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

DIY garden markers (even with bad handwriting!)

In the past, I plant my garden and think that I will definitely remember where I planted everything. And guess what? I would forget what kind of tomatoes are those? Or, are those cucumbers? Or a pumpkin? Maybe zucchini? Now, of course I figured it out eventually, but I annoyed myself always doing this!

So, this year I started making some garden markers! The materials needed are:

– paint, I used the acrylic in the bottle from the craft aisle

– a sharpie paint pen, same aisle as the paint

– paintbrush, just a 15 cent foam one

– clear coat paint (it’s with the spray paint)

– paper

– chalk

– and garden stakes (like these from Lowe’s)

Step 1: I decided to color code my garden, but you might want yours all the same color! Whichever! Just paint the end of the stake and give them time to dry.

Step 2: I had already printed off the varieties that I wanted to put on the stakes. I used Lucinda handwriting on word. And any old printer will be fine. (Tip: if your printer isn’t working, you can always trace it off of the screen!)

Step 3: rub chalk all over the back of the paper on the word that you want to write. This will help transfer it onto the wooden marker.

Step 4: line up the chalk side on the wooden marker and trace the words using a pen or pencil. The words will be left for you to trace!

Step 5: use your paint pen to trace the letters. I’ve learned to make the paint longer than the word, so that the chalk is easy to see!

Step 6: after giving it a bit to dry, I take them outside and lightly clear coat them. (Since they will be in the elements all summer!) after that dries, they are ready for the garden!!

And there they are! I think they are absolutely beautiful!! Now I can easily see my peppers (blue markers), my tomato varieties (red markers) the bush beans (orange marker) and everything else!

Another great part is that I had almost everything here, except the stakes and paint pen! So, it was a cheap project! And, I love that it isn’t my own handwriting, because it is pretty sloppy!

Enjoy! And I hope that you have a great start to the growing season! Keep blooming! 🌱💚

Snow days in March?!

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, Mother Nature decides to spice up life and throw around 7 inches of snow our way! Just look at the difference between the pollinator area from Sunday to Wednesday!

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Top is Sunday, bottom is Wednesday! 

The chickens are not big fans of snowy days, so they decided to stayed tucked nicely in their house! But, their egg production is still increasing!

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The chickens discussing their disgust with snow!

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Nicely cleaned eggs! 

Every year around this time, I get tagged in the meme with the girl gardening in the snow! So, this year I recreated it! 😆

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I think I was pretty close! 

My good deed for the month of March is marked off! I went down to school (the one I teach at) and shoveled off as much of the playground area as I could for the kiddos. They really appreciated it today!

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Good deed for March! (It was a lot of shoveling!!) 

Im not going to lie and say that I was super productive on the days off from school/work because I wasn’t! I did manage to start making some curtains for the camper!

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Curtain for around the ceiling

And below, the Mr. upcycled some spoons into curtain rod holders for the door curtain that I quickly sewed up!

The indoor plants under the grow lights are looking pretty awesome! The only veggies that I have planted are peppers, but I have also started lots of perennials for the pollinator area!

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Pepper plants! 

And I will be doing a diy post on fermenting seeds to save them! I had leftover tomatoes in the freezer, so I fermented the seeds. That way I can plant the loads of tomatoes that I need to without spending so much money on plants!

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Roma tomato seeds! 

Did it snow where you are? And what do you have growing right now? Keep blooming friends!

 

No Spend February

We made 3. major achievements this month! 1. We paid off the truck!

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No more truck payments! 

So, we are officially vehicle payment free! Of course last month, instead of putting more money towards the house or the solar panels, I needed new tires for my car. They were leaking air constantly and not safe, so that’s definitely a must!

2. On the awesome list is that made another $10K leap on the house! You know, when you look at how much you owe and it is no longer in the $80K’s (for example) and now in the $70k’s!! That’s exciting! That will definitely feel good to get paid off eventually!

3. The Mr. has been doing a great job of packing his lunch! For pretty much ever, he has been a “pick up a snack while working” kind of guy. But after I showed him a quick write up of how much that really costs per year, he changed that habit!

For Valentine’s Day I actually had parent-teacher conference day until almost 6pm. So, it was easy to not go out to eat! But, we enjoyed out weekend and my parents even took our boy for a night. It was very quiet around here without him! 😳

My Mr. made me a beautiful pollinator garden for the special occasion out of upcycled wood. We just need to get the bamboo to fill it, but we have a free source for that! It is quite an invasive plant!

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Pollinator hotel! 

We were able to make a few bucks this week too! The dead hive provided us with some honey to sell. We will use that to help buy us another colony! Bees are not easy to keep! (Or cheap!)

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Honey! 

And soon I will have a surplus of eggs to rehome!

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Delicious eggs! 

Also, the Mr. blacksmithed some beautiful mantel brackets for a beam of barn wood for a customer! They turned out beautiful!

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In the garage! 

And now, in their new home!! They loved them just as much as we did!

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And the fireplace looks beautiful! 

Our electric bill came, and I was expecting a nice bill because February was pretty cold, but to our surprise it was $0!!

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Yippee!! 

And to save a lot of money, I start my garden from seeds. Getting plants from the nursery is pricy, and you can only get certain varieties, so I save my seeds and use the heirloom varieties yearly! And this year, I got involved in a seed swap to get different varieties! (I did have to pay shipping)

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So many different flowers, beans and veggies that I can’t wait to plant! 

It was not a perfect month because we still needed to buy items for the camper, and we started picking up some candy for the boy’s Easter basket. Oh, and we got Chinese out one time, but used the money from our crafting and not the bank. So, we haven’t been perfect, but it’s nice to be able to create a growing savings account and work on our debt snowball!

So, have you been working on spending less?!