Canning and back to work

Last week was a long one! Going back to work means prepping for a new school year and SO many meetings. (And sitting in seats made for 8 year olds during those meetings!) I am absolutely exhausted by the end of the day! But, everything will be ready by the first day for my students!

I have been able to get in the garden several nights this week and had a few nice harvests! I need to make so much more out of tomatoes!

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Nice harvest right out of the yard! 

We also had our stand set up this weekend! We had lots of customers!

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Our tiny produce stand 

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All of the tomatoes still left after the sale! 

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Some salsa ready canned and delicious! 

We finally had to take out the trash. Our goal for the year is to only make 6 bags, so I am thinking that we should be ok!

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Bag 3 and both dogs made it in the picture! 

We also did the compost pickup today. It takes a lot of scrubbing and cleaning, but we only upcycle unwanted containers for the compost. The regular buckets are from a company’s laundry detergent and the left are kitty litter containers.

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Upcycled and ready to be used! 

And check out how much we have composted so far:

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717.24 pounds!!!!

And last, but no least, we found 13 more monarch caterpillars that we will be raising and releasing!

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So many babies! 

And our last 2 were ready to be released on Thursday! 1 girl and 1 boy! (The girl flew away immediately!)

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This handsome fellow even posed for me! 

I’m looking forward to getting myself back in the work routine and hopefully having a great school year! Keep blooming! 🌱❤️

A little weekend getaway!

Before we headed out of town, I picked everything that was ready to be harvested! It was a huge harvest!

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We have a lot of canning to do! 

And the yellow cosmos flowers started blooming too! They are so pretty! The pollinator garden has definitely been very pretty this year!

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Yellow cosmos 

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So many blooms in the garden! 

Our weekend trip was to a Koa on the Chesapeake bay! It was the first time that my boy went across the bay bridge!

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Such a long bridge! 

It had a nice beach and we saw blue crabs, horseshoe crabs and even a skate! Plus the waves were much larger than we anticipated!

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The beach at the campground 

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All set up! 

And the pups seemed to enjoy the trip!

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Sherman on the beach 

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The pups love watching dinner being made! 

Then we came home and we had some surprises waiting for us! One of our new girls laid her first egg!

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It’s about half of the size! 

And the most exciting part… 3 of our monarchs emerged from their chrysalis! We hatched 2 girls and a boy! So pretty!

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Our first butterfly released! 

We also finally tried an Apple melon! It was really good! It tasted like cantaloupe, but was crispy kind of like an apple or pear.

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We thought it was really good! 

And now I have a list of way too many things that I need to get accomplished before I go back to school on Wednesday. Even when things get busy, keep blooming. 🌱❤️

No Spend July Update!

July used to be a tough month for us, since I don’t get a paycheck from June until September. (Teacher problems!) We normally had to dip pretty heavily into the savings. However, we haven’t touched it yet!

I was able to score a brand new pair of shorts from the goodwill for a whopping $4. Since my sandals broke, I was able to use the remainder of a gift card and only owed $5!

We have also been selling off our extra produce and we will be putting that money towards seeds for next year!

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I have awesome neighbors and friends! 

I have also been able to make lots of food from scratch with the ingredients from the garden: salsa, dill fridge pickles, salads, tomato sauce… and that means fewer trips to the grocery store!

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Grateful for a bumper crop!

And we have even been able to put up some for winter! (Which will save me money eventually!)

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Green beans for winter! 

To keep the garden cart sales rolling, I have started my fall garden seedlings! It looks like there will be more beans, spinach, lettuce and kale!

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They have tripled in size since this picture! 

Instead of spending tons of money with entertainment, we spend the days relaxing, walking/working in the garden and my favorite, hammocking with my Sherman!

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His favorite hobby is relaxing! 

I am hoping to be able to stay away from the savings in August too, which is hard with back to school time. I don’t need anything new and the boy only needs new shoes and basic school supplies. And no, I don’t think a kid needs a whole new wardrobe because it’s the start of another school year!

So, how has your budgeting been going? Are you paying anything off, or have some major financial goals? Whatever you do, keep blooming! 🌱❤️

Walk through the garden 8/9/18

My garden, overall, has been doing so well this year! The trellises seem to be helping plants not take up as much room. The tomatoes are all starting to ripen. And, I’m finally starting to see gourds growing larger and sunflowers blooming away!

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Harvest from Monday! 

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One of my larger pumpkins growing in the garden 

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Teddy bear sunflower 

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Spaghetti squash (it’s huge!)

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Glass gem corn 

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All of my varieties of tomatoes 

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Luffa are finally taking off!

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My what the heck peppers! I ordered red bell pepper seeds and this is all the plant grows. 

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Bushel basket gourd! It’s about the size of a kickball! 

We have been getting so much rain here, so I’m fighting powdery mildew and plants that are just sick of water. They are needing some nice, dry and warm summer days here and there!

How are your plants doing? Are you harvesting a lot from the garden? Are your tomatoes turning red and did you get any wrong labeled seeds this year too? Just keep blooming! 🌱❤️

Looking for the sunshine

Over the past few evenings, we have been getting so frustrated with trying to trap a raccoon that has managed to eat 2 chickens and scare a third one. The chickens are on extreme lockdown right now.

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Little trash panda 😢

But, this is just part of taking care and raising anything. It’s frustrating, breaks your brain while looking for a solution and makes you feel like a failure. Instead of focusing on the negative at hand, I decided to look for some things that are going right at the moment. So, here are a few rainbows among the storm:

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Found a beautiful monarch caterpillar on the milkweed!

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The zinnias are blooming and are gorgeous! 

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This is a beautiful nicotiana flower! It has such a beautiful scent! 

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A pale yellow sunflower with native bee

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A honeybee on the cucamelon blooms

Then, I spent the evening preserving some of the leftover produce from the sale on the weekend.

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Cucamelon and cucumber fridge pickles 

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Tiny amount of blackberry jam. (And this reminded me so much of my Granny!) 

And this definitely made me feel better! This is a little before and now picture:

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The top is May and the bottom is now 

Anyone else dealing with garden or animal issues? Try to remember that while some things are bringing you down, there are still lots of successes out there! Keep blooming! 🌱💚

Walk through the garden 7/26

It has been raining a lot this week! I need to get out there and weed and pick some pests (squash bugs and Mexican bean beetles) off of the plants!

Even though we do have some pests trying to take out some plants, we are still getting lots of produce!

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Harvest from yesterday! 

The pollinator garden is putting up some pretty flowers too!

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Cardinal flowers 

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Bee balm 

And now for the garden too:

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Dill getting ready to flower

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Our first cantaloupe this year

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Possibly our first luffa

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The largest bell pepper!

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Spaghetti squash 

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Scarlet runner bean teepee

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My first ever bushel basket gourd

I love that the garden is still looking nice and healthy so far!

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Our beautiful-to-us garden

I have started a few seedlings for my fall garden. I’m hoping to get some lettuce, spinach, kale and broccoli, but we will see how everything does!

Whats still growing well in your garden? Are you growing a fall crop?

Keep blooming friends!

Weekend walk through the garden! 7/21

Hello all!! Gardening has been on the back burner because I have spent 30 hours at the fairgrounds volunteering towards my Master Gardener hours! I’m pretty much finished with my hours for this year!

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I’ve talked so much about plants, bees and composting this week! 

Lucky for me, the plants have been enjoying the hot weather and rain today! Here are a few of the great things growing in the big garden:

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One of the cantaloupe 

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There are so many dancing gourds

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A pie pumpkin!

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The tomato jungle, corn and luffa on the fence 

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A scarlet runner bean 

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My first ground cherry! And it was delicious! 

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Pole beans poling! 

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Spaghetti squash 

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Volunteer pumpkin plant 

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Apple melon! 

And the haul from the garden today! I even found a few blackberries growing by the sheds!

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Nice haul today! 

What is growing well in your garden? My zucchini plants are starting to fizzle out a bit and I’m going to start my seeds for the fall garden this week! Keep blooming! 🌱❤️

 

Certified wildlife habitat!

One of our goals for the new year was to turn the front lawn by the garage into a wildlife habitat, and I’m happy to report back that we did!

The check off sheet for certification:

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Food, water, cover, places to raise young and sustainable practices

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My rough draft last year

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After lots of hard work getting rid of the grass

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And this week!

And now all of the requirements:

food: we have raspberries, lots of pollen and nectar, a walnut tree and sunflowers for both pollen and nectar as well as seeds

water: we have 2 bird baths and a tiny pond back by the garden

cover: we created a small brush pile and we have a wooded area and tiny pond

places to raise young: we have milkweed for baby catapillars, pond, bat house, pollinator hotel and trees for the birds

sustainable practices: we capture rain water, use lots of mulch to reduce watering and keep soil from eroding, reduce watering, plant lots of native plants (and plan on adding more every year!), hand pick weeds and invasive plants/insects, reduce lawn area and compost like no one’s business!

 

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We started many native plants indoors last winter (coneflowers, milkweed, yarrow, bee balm)

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I keep seeing beautiful cardinals enjoying the seeds

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Not Native, but a polllen and nectar source

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Nasturtiums and the pollinators are enjoying the blooms now

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Echinacea

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Black eyed Susan (a Maryland favorite!)

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Another variety of black eyed Susan with a native bee

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Birdhouse gourds volunteered to come up here

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Upcycled bamboo sign post

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The solar lights along the walkway

It is far from perfect, but I plan on working on and adding to it every year. My husband enjoys not having to cut the grass in that area anymore and the wildlife have really moved in to this area! I see so many different birds, lots of different bees and beautiful butterflies flitting around. Plus, with more birds, I have had less issues with some insects in the garden! I’ll post a picture of it at the end of the season! Keep blooming friends!

 

 

Wednesday walk through the garden 7/11/18

I know, I know, it’s Thursday! But, all of the pictures were taken yesterday as I walked through the big garden searching for the fruits of my labor! Things are slowly growing, and I’m hopeful that I’m going to have some pretty great harvests in the future!

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Homestead tomatoes

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Tiny Tennessee dancing gourd

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Purple pole beans

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Glass gem corn

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Pie pumpkin

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Tiny cantaloupe 

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Purple bell peppers

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Oxheart tomatoes ❤️

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Roma tomatoes

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My first cucumber! 

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Genovese tomatoes

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Scarlet runner beans

And then there is my nice little harvest from earlier in the week:

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Zucchini for every meal!😆

Everything is still pretty healthy in the garden! I’ve been fighting off Japanese beetles, a few squash bugs and Mexican bean beetles. That’s the tough part with organic gardening… finding ways to get rid of the pests that are going after your crops. At least the chickens are enjoying all of the beetles that I’m pulling off of the plants!

So, anyone harvesting yummy things this week?! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

No Spend Year June Update!

I’ll start off with how we were able to go on such a nice trip this summer, while saving money.

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1. We haven’t been on a big vacation in 3 years. Only little weekend trips. (But still very fun!)

2. We camped all along the way in the camper that we could double our money on, if we sold it today. (Because we upgraded it so much!)

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3. We saved up all year to make sure that we wouldn’t have to dip into our savings for our trip! (By choosing to not eat out, buy things that we don’t need and limiting our spending for the holidays!)

4. We rarely ate out. Because we were camping, we made a majority of our meals in the camper. It was so nice having that stove and our fridge!

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Burgers for dinner! 

And remember the adorable toaster oven/griddle/coffee maker combo for the camper?

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This beauty?!

It was amazing! We were able to have morning coffee from our campsite and… the thing holds a freezer pizza perfectly!

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15 minutes in the toaster over for perfection! 

It was so nice to be able to have some of my boy’s favorite food available for him without ordering out! We ❤️❤️❤️ That toaster over! (We got it on amazon FYI!)

5. We were not big souvenir buyers. The boy and I got a shirt and we took lots of photos that I will be turning into a scrapbook at some point.

Now on to the rest of the month! We have been working really hard at paying down the house! And we are down below the next $10k! We enjoy seeing that number fall!

We also have been eating more from the garden and saving up on our grocery bills. Since I love gardening, it’s a win-win!

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We had fried zucchini and zucchini cake! 

We have also sold a bit of our produce and will use that money to buy plants and garden supplies next year!

June was really a blur, due to school finishing and our trip all at one time! The summer is a time for us to focus on saving (since I don’t get paid again until September!) I’m looking into more ways to save, and would love hearing any suggestions! Thanks for reading along and keep blooming! 🌱💚