You’re right, we aren’t living on Little House on the Prairie

Last month I had an unkind message sent to me saying that I needed to stop pretending that I live this little house on the prairie life. That hurt. It didn’t really hurt because I thought that I am living a lifestyle like that. It hurt because someone took time out of their schedule to to try to hurt me. But, good news, it gave me time to reflect instead.

So, even though we don’t live that yesteryear kind of life, we do have some similarities. (Weirdly enough)

1.I’ve always been transparent that we don’t have much land, but use what we have! We have less than an acre, but managed to grow and harvest over 1,000 pounds of food this summer!

Our main garden
The huge cushaw squash we harvested
Honey from our hives

2. We also don’t have a large amount of farm animals, so that’s true. We raise hens for their eggs and have a couple ducks for the same reason. We use our eggs, share some and even use them for making deliciousness like egg noodles!

Thanks ladies!

3. We don’t live solely off of our food, but we did can over 100 jars of food. Plus, we spun lots of honey, made so many loaves of sourdough bread, homemade noodles and lots of other yumminess!

Homemade bread!
Over 100 jars canned this year!

4. Everything we own isn’t homemade. But, the Mr can fix almost anything and he has been forging a lot! I have been working on teaching myself skills and I have been quilting, crocheting, making salves and lip balms and sewing in general.

All made by the Mr
I love our new curtain rods
Homemade gathering apron
Calendula salve
Crocheted dishcloths

5. We don’t have beautiful fields of wildflowers, but we do have a pretty certified wildlife habitat/monarch waystation/pollinator garden.

Pollinator garden
Raising monarchs
Sharing some blooms

6. I don’t have to cook over an open flame or wear an apron. But, I do wear an apron in the garden. I also hang my laundry anytime that I can. And, I’m big on reusing what we have avoiding anything disposable.

Sunflower gathering apron
Clothes drying the old fashioned way!

So, I figured I would end this up with my homestead kind of life photo:

So, let it be known that I do not live on a prairie, I live in a small town in Appalachia. I don’t have a huge garden or farm when compared to others, but it provides well for us. I own less than an acre, but use what we have well.

No matter what you have going on, who you compare yourself to or what others think about you, keep blooming where you are planted! 🌸❤️

Weekend walk through the garden 6/14/20

Hello all! I have been gone for a little while! I have been teaching from home and basically hibernating. But, I have still been planting tons of plants in hopes of harvesting lots of food! So, I figured that I would show how well some of the plants are doing!

Zucchini
Little Roma tomato
Ground cherries
Chili pepper
Delicata squash
Onion!
Blueberries
Tiny box turtle by the garden (eating a worm!)

It’s been a weird time, but we are still growing lots of food, and even have a goal of harvesting 500 pounds of food from our less than an acre! So far, we have a long way to go!

Keep blooming friends, even through 2020!

January 2020 Goals Update

January felt like it had 6,500 days, but I was able to start the year off in a productive way. And, here those goals are going:

1. Get rid of more, use less and be more minimalistic– So far, we haven’t filled any trash bags. But, I was on a mending kick and fixed several shirts and a couple pairs of pants that needed holes fixed.

2. Do good, be a good person and spread kindness– I am in the process of organizing a little mail-in seed swap. (Hopefully I get enough people to participate!) and I finally have the final weight of the amount of compostable trash that we kept out of the landfill!

3. Grow food, flowers and enjoy new plants– I have ordered most of the seeds that I will be planting! So far, I have starting winter sowing some of the native flowers that will be growing!

4. Be creative! Craft, forge, sew and do whatever makes our creative souls happy!– I have decided to see another quilt this year and I already finished the first row. Hopefully I love this one as much as I do my chicken quilt.

The Mr. has been working on restoring restoring ’49 Ford F1 pickup with a 302 small block engine!

5. Travel, spend as much quality time that we can with our ever growing teen. Time is precious.

I really enjoyed my trip to Annapolis as the teacher of the year. I have seen so many nice places and met great people. Definitely an experience of a lifetime. I’m loving Maryland more with every trip!

Secret goal! I will be sharing this awesomeness at the end of the month!!!

I hope that you are crushing your goals! If not, you still have 11 months to get it together!

Keep blooming!!

2020 Goals!

I have been setting goals for close to five years. Writing them down and reflecting on what I have achieved makes me feel much more accountable.

One big change for my goals this year is that I’ve reduced the number of goals. I normally have about 12, but this year I have five main goals! And, here they are:

1. Get rid of more, use less and be more minimalistic– I have been able to get my trash down to around 6 bags a year. I also want to get rid of the things that are not meaningful. I’m hoping to find a home for a lot of the extra things around here!

2. Do good, be a good person and spread kindness– I try to volunteer often, and I’m always looking for more opportunities where I can do more. I’d love to focus on volunteering that aligns with gardening, growing for the pollinators.

3. Grow food, flowers and enjoy new plants– I love growing food for the bees/butterflies and some for us too! I have already made a few seed purchases of new varieties!

4. Be creative! Craft, forge, sew and do whatever makes our creative souls happy!– In 2019 I didn’t do much crafting. I was officially in a crafting rut. This year, I’m going to work on creating and crafting! (So will the Mr.!)

My favorite creation from last year

I ❤️ watching him create!

5. Travel, spend as much quality time that we can with our ever growing teen. Time is precious.

I’m not too sure where we will be heading this year or how local it will be. But, we will be camping, seeing places that we haven’t been to before and hopefully hiking some trails!

Secret goal! I also have one not yet posted goal. I’m going to post about it when it is accomplished!! And, hopefully it will be soon!

I hope that you have created a couple goals for 2020!

Keep blooming!!

October 2019 Goals

Hello November! Yes, it’s already day 12 of the month, but October was still beautiful! The leaves were so colorful this year!

During October I visited Ocean City MD to attend a conference and then back to Baltimore for the teacher of the year gala. It was a fun night!

And now, the goal updates:

1. Sew my first quilt– The craft that I wanted to try was making my first quilt. Everything is sewn and I just need to quilt and bind it! ** I decided that this will be a December project!

2. Keep doing good for our community.

I had a book giveaway with Halloween. A few kids got a new book! I also finally got the plastic film collection box dropped off at town hall.

3. Can and save money on our groceries: I have been cleaning out the garden, so not much to be harvested! But, I did harvest all of those Dickinson pumpkins! Then, I roasted a couple and turned some into a pie!

The boys gave it 2 thumbs up!

4. Use that camper some more!: In October I traveled a few places to watch our teen play the bass drum in marching band. I also went to Ocean City for a conference and the gala in Baltimore!

**so here’s the change: I have lots of traveling with being the teacher of the year, so I don’t think that we will be doing much traveling this year.

Ocean City!

5. Compost!: We are taking in pumpkins, corn stalks and leaves in the months to come! (And getting a good many so far!)

6.Little free library/seed sharing- The Library has been having many guests! We got a few extra for Halloween too! Plus, we have been getting so many book donations that we need to go book bomb some other libraries!

7. Grow some new plants: We grew so many new plants this year! The ground cherries turned out to be my favorite! But I also love how different and pretty that the Dickinson pumpkins are! I’m starting to look through seed catalogues at new ideas for next year!

Our last harvest of the year.

8. Yard to garden our bottom yard. We doubled the size of the garden last year and produced lots of extra food. That swing set was reassembled by a friend for her adorable twins. We are still harvesting zucchini, purple tomatillos, green beans, carrots, luffas and peppers too!

**we have some trellis ideas for this space and ideas of what we are going to grow!

The after!

9. Keep reducing our trash We are now on bag 5. Bag 4 left the house.

10. Create a Monarch waystation and tagging supplies-It happened! We have a monarch waystation! That habitat was loved and used by so many pollinators! We released 186 butterflies (108 females and 78 males) plus a few swallowtails and even this beauty:

Pollinator garden in late September!

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!

*he had several tie tying lessons and he’s kind of getting it. Lucky for him, his momma is a good at that!

12. Keep track of $ from gardening– We decided to use the money made from the garden cart to go towards the teen going to Disney with band. We made some spending $ for his trip and lots of neighbors enjoyed the cheap and local produce!

The last garden cart of 2019

October was flew by! I’m still can’t believe that it’s November! I’m already planning out what I’m going to accomplish this year in my neighborhood/homes/classroom! I hope that your completing your goals and thinking about 2020!

Keep blooming friends!!

End of the year 2018 goals!

Setting goals for the past 3 years has helped keep me focused and motivated. I love being able to look back at what we have been able to accomplish in a short period of time! Here are our 2017 goals, and the link for our 2016 goals .

Now on to the goals:

✔️1. Expand the garden- it happened! In 2018 we almost doubled the size of the garden, made lots of trellises and grew lots of food! It was a wonderful treat to see our hard work pay off!

✔️2. Fix the camper- Since we bought a second hand camper that needed a good bit of work, and we are pretty handy, we were able to go on a trip of a lifetime for not a ton of money! We were able to camp comfortably and not eat out too much!

✔️3.Travel out west-  We did it and enjoyed every single stop! We visited 3 of the 5 Great Lakes, camped on Lake Erie. Then camped at the top of the lower peninsula of Michigan. Drove through the upper peninsula and saw our very first moose! Camped in Minnesota and swam in the coldest pool ever! Camped in my favorite place, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, where we saw bison and prairie dogs for the first time! And hiked so many trails! Next up was Yellowstone! The geysers were so different than we expected and we loved seeing all kinds of wildlife, including grizzly bears at a distance and an elk right beside our truck! After that was Mount Rushmore, the pickers place in Iowa and lots of miles! Great experience!

✔️4. Create a certified wildlife habitat- There was grass patch in front of the garage that was begging to be returned to nature, and we did it! We raised monarchs, watched hummingbirds visit our yard and saw beautiful blooms instead of just grass! Read about how much we loved it Here!

✔️5. Reduce garbage- Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. Number 6 is still in the can, so I think we can call this a success!

✔️6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- This goal has been my favorite this year! I have enjoyed spreading the good! We have donated food to a local mission, dressed as both the grinch and Santa, donated labor and time through the master gardeners program, started a composting program at school, composted for our friends/family/neighbors, decorated the town with holiday decor and many more things! It wasn’t always fun, but giving does great things for your soul!

✔️7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair-  I have fixed clothes, instead of buying new. We have turned old doors new again for our garden and revived our camper! We were able to collect over 1,000 pounds of old food and turn it into garden food, and compost/feed to the chickens 183 pumpkins! And my favorite upcycle surprise was the broadfork made by the Mr!

✔️8. Paw Paw trees- Our 2 little trees are now dormant! I’m hoping that they come back next year! So, we did grow a couple little tiny trees from seed!

✖️9. Build a pizza oven-  we decided not to do this quite yet! We are thinking about how we want to use the space where the oven was going to go.

✔️10. Grow different produce- We have grow so many different plants! Huge gourds/tiny gourds, different melons and glass gem corn! I am hoping to give another big try to ground cherries!

✔️11. Continue tracking the solar panels- 2018 was the year of rain. It rained way too much, and the sun was not out nearly enough! But, power was produced and the bill has been consistently low!

✔️12. Work on garden cart sales- We have sold at craft shows, and had several produce sales here this year! The neighbors seemed to enjoy the source of produce and I enjoyed sharing my extras!

So, 11/12 goals completed is a success to me! I believe that we have our 12 main goals for next year set! And, goal setting is my most favorite thing to do every December!

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

Keep blooming friends!!

Thanksgiving break And composting

Thanksgiving was a nice break so far! Prior to the break, I’m still trying to volunteer around here as much as I can. I was able to decorate  many businesses with student-made artwork thanks to the wonderful teachers who I work with!

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Mittens in the library

I was also asked to play in a fundraiser basketball game against the Harlem Wizards, and of course I did! It was such a fun night and those fellows are entertainers!

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Yeah, we lost by a lot! 

Then, when I found out that the town needed a grinch for the Christmas tree lighting, I said absolutely! It was fun playing a character for the evening!

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My favorite fellow and myself! 

Our pumpkin gathering is going pretty well! We have been chopping pumpkins, feeding them to chickens and composting so many! We are up to 97 so far!

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Slowly breaking down 

To add to all of the pumpkins, we have to add a lot of browns! Leaves don’t break down well whole, so I throw them in a trash can and weed whack them into tiny bits! A whole bag becomes not too much!

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Bag of leaves 

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The same leaves all chopped up! 

The school composting has been going well too! We have diverted a little more than 16 pounds of food from the landfill!

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Our school compost 

I’m going to get some more pumpkins taken care of today, since it’s decent weather here! Hoping that you had a nice Thanksgiving!

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!

So, what’s so great about our certified wildlife habitat?!

One of my favorite projects this summer was turning a patch of grass that we were annoyed to cut into a wildlife habitat. I envisioned bees, butterflies and birds flying around and beautiful flowers. And it was exactly as I imagined!

Here are some quick reasons why I absolutely loved this space last summer!

1. It was so beautiful when the flowers were blooming! I had no clue there were so many species of moths, butterflies and bees here!

2. It looked so much better than just the plain grass that was there before! When we built the garage, most of the topsoil was scraped away from that area. Now, from heavy mulching, the topsoil is increasing! And, my picture from last spring was pretty close to what we did!

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Before 

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After

3. We got way too excited when we saw native bees in the area and especially when they were using our upcycled pollinator hotel!

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Part of the pollinator hotel 

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A native bee on a teddy bear sunflower 

4 I have had people ask why I went to the trouble of certifying it and not just create it for free. That’s a great question! But here is what I have noticed, so many people have stopped and asked me about the sign. Questioned what the area was for. Or, who it benefits. The sign catches attention and creates conversation! We usually talk about everything that I’m mentioning on here! It spreads a great message!

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I still love the reused bamboo pole! 

5. And my most favorite part, that I didn’t even know would happen was raising monarchs! I loved finding tiny caterpillars on the milkweed and bringing them inside! I loved all three of us hunkered over milkweed plants screaming “I found one!!” As we pulled the leaf off of the plant to assure the safety of the caterpillar! We released close to 20 this year!

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A tiny baby! 

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Chewing on swamp milkweed 

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From caterpillar to chrysalis 

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The send off! 

So, where or what are the plans for next year in this area?! Well, I am planning on planting even more milkweed! (I saved lots of seeds!) I would love to actually get into tagging them before releasing them.

I also want to have more host plants for the swallowtail, like parsley and dill in this area. I’m hoping to get some native coral honeysuckle for around the archway to bring in more hummingbirds and add more nectar sources.

So, I’d highly recommend taking a patch of unused area and giving nature a helping hand. It was more than rewarding!

No Spend Year October Update

October was another month of working on our finances and we are also focusing on paying off those solar panels!

A few things that we sprung for were eating out once during a day off together. That was nice!! Turns out you really enjoy those experiences when they are more rare! And I found a nice pair of work pants at a thrift store for $1! Such a great deal!

We try to save where we can. As a gardener, learning how to save seeds is a way to save a ton of money for the next growing season. I have been saving everything that I can and I’m going to only have to buy a minimal amount of seeds for the next growing season!

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Some of the flower seeds that I saved

We also save about $15 a month by not having a trash service. We have only produced 4 bags this year, so that means I would have been paying almost $40 for each bag to be thrown away. Instead I have the option to drop them off myself for next to nothing.

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Less trash, more money

We also have been working on our crafting/Blacksmithing and making a few bucks on our creations. It’s nice to have hobbies that pay you back!

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Our craft display 

Another great way to save some money is to be a fixer! I know people throw out a lot, instead of just fixing it! The arm on our couch just needed a needle and thread!

Right now we are also shopping around for new insurance and comparing prices. When we are both driving paid off vehicles and have luckily not been in accidents in a while, it seems like we are paying a crazy premium!

Next up is trying to take it easy on our finances while the holiday season is upon us! We already have some ideas for family members, but I still wish that we could just enjoy spending time together! I just can’t stand buying literally junk. Ugh! (Not for my kid, other family members!)

Does anyone have some insight on how to avoid buying so much ridiculousness during the holidays? Thanks for any ideas!