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! 🌸❤️

2019 Goals Finale!

Hello 2020! After staying up finishing my quilt on New Year’s Eve, I am proud to say that my goals went pretty well this year!

2019 can be best described as the craziest roller coaster ride that I have ever been on. The ups have been going fantastic places and meeting fabulous people! The rough part has been watching my favorite person battle cancer and have way too many complications.

Beekeeping in December!

Crabbing in the Chesapeake Bay

And now, the goal updates:

1. Sew my first quilt– ✔️ Yes, it’s finished! And I love it!

2. Keep doing good for our community.✔️ we have done a lot with our little free library and also decorated the town for Christmas. We helped organize the town cleanup and did a few of our own street cleanups.

3. Can and save money on our groceries:✔️ We has a pretty rocking garden this year. We canned so many green beans, some salsa, jams and some pickles!

Moon and stars watermelon

Dickinson pumpkins

4. Use that camper some more!: ❌Maybe in 2020!

**so here’s the change: I have lots of traveling with being the teacher of the year, so we couldn’t get the camper out.

Ocean City!

5. Compost!: ✔️We composted 148 pumpkins, several bags of leaves and over 100 pounds of holiday waste. So much future garden food!

Holiday composting

6.Little free library/seed sharing- ✔️The Mr. built it, so many donated books towards it and many have utilized it. And the best part, it’s in memory of my sweet sister who loved reading and always wanted to be an author.

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! Plus, the nest egg gourds are beautiful!

Our last harvest of the year.

Nest egg gourd

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 harvested 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 next year!

The after!

9. Keep reducing our trash ✔️We took out 7 bags of trash this whole year! Since I have been away a lot this year, I can say that I missed out on always getting pictures! But, we will try to do better in 2020!

10. Create a Monarch waystation and tagging supplies-✔️ It happened! We created 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– ✔️He had several tie tying lessons and he’s kind of getting it. Lucky for him, his momma is a good at that! Plus, he’s so much better at managing time and tracking his own grades.

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

Disney World was a delight!

See you later 2019! I am planning out what I’m going to accomplish in 2020 in my neighborhood/home/classroom! I hope that you’re completing your goals and thinking about 2020!

Keep blooming friends!!

August 2019 Goals Update

Hello all! Can you all tell that I’m an elementary teacher and August is my crazy month!? Getting a classroom ready is a ton of work!! That ‘s where I have been!

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! ** When momma feels up for it, we will quilt it!**

2. Keep doing good for our community. The little free library has still been being utilized by many and I added some lollipops that have been disappearing! Plus, we have been releasing lots of monarchs and we even invite the neighbors to watch!

3. Can and save money on our groceries: We have canned several canners full of green beans and even started freezing some. Plus, I made some salsa and canned it too! It’s going to taste great this winter!

4. Use that camper some more!: The Mr. and I enjoyed a Ravens game! It was our first NFL game and I enjoyed it! (Even though professional sports are not really my thing!)

**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 summer.

5. Compost!: We are still getting some food scraps dropped off, and we are prepping for those jack-o-lanterns! But the best part is that even when we grow something that isn’t great, the chickens will help us out!

Tigger melons after chickens!

6.Little free library/seed sharing- The Library has been having more guests, since the garden cart has been out so much!

7. Grow some new plants: The ground cherries have been growing very well! Plus we got our first tigger melons, rainbow carrots and moon and stars watermelon!

Tigger melons

Beautiful carrots

Moon and stars watermelon

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!

After!!!

9. Keep reducing our trash We are now on bag 3, and it will be changed in September for sure!

10. Create a Monarch waystation and tagging supplies-It happened! We have a monarch waystation! That habitat is being loved and used by so many pollinators! We are still finding caterpillars out there. We have released almost 60 in August and just tagged a couple in the beginning of September!

Monarch waystation!

Our first tagged monarch

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 has become a master at putting away the ducks and chickens for the night! I probably don’t want to know how the rooster ended up in the duck house!

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 are slowly making a little bit at a time! (the cart is gaining momentum with this harvesting season!)

August always flies by! (That’s why I haven’t posted this sooner!) We will be getting some honey soon!

Our first watermelon!

Keep blooming friends!! 🌸❤️

January 2019 Goals Update

Dear January and all 499 days in the month, you lasted forever! And it has been so stinking cold and snowy! But, this weather makes me appreciate future warmer days. I’m really hoping that the bees pull through this coldness! And on to our goals:

1. Sew my first quilt– The craft that I wanted to try was making my first quilt. The finished quilt will be 54 chickens in all. I’m finished 27 already!

2. Keep doing good for our community. This month my biggest accomplishment was that I officially became a master gardener. I did just shy of 50 hours of community service to get this name badge! I will be going to the town meeting this week to see how we can do another town wide clean up day.

3. Can and save money on our groceries. We didn’t do a great job of canning our garden goodies last winter, but we are enjoying our home canned salsa! (With homemade tortilla chips)

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! (Still figuring out where we will be going!)

5. Compost!! Composting at school is still going well and we have diverted around 70 pounds of food waste from the landfill. We are still composting our own food waste here at home. We need to figure out how to be more efficient with composting next summer. Driving house to house was a little too much!

Our little vermicompost

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. (We haven’t started building it yet!)

A second library that 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! Add ginger to that list!

Regrowing ginger!

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. I’m hoping to turn this area into more food production with trees, bushes and understory plants.

9. Keep reducing our trash We are still on bag 1! We are going try to make our own package free version of foods that we love that unfortunately comes in wrappers. I tried to make my own belvitas, but they were not great. But I did make some delicious pierogi and we haven’t bought microwaveable popcorn! That pampered chef popper is loved by my teen!

10. Create a Monarch waystation and tagging supplies-Last year we made a wildlife habitat area and we will continue to add to it! We started cold stratifying a lot of milkweed seeds to start in the Spring!

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! In January the boy learned to properly load and unload the dishwasher and how to do laundry. Next month shall be something else!

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?! (Nothing going on here yet!)

This month I have been working hard on my teacher of the year paperwork and I feel like that’s where a majority of my time went. But, when your peers nominate you, of course you do your best work. I’m very proud of this life I’m leading and the lessons I teach along the way! So, February will hopefully be more productive and I’ll get a lot more accomplished around here!

And how are your goals rolling along?! Keep blooming (even on those gross weather days) friends!

The strange statement that I always get: Your poor husband!

You read that title correctly! I get told the same very strange statement all of the time! “Your Poor Husband!!” This is usually in response to me telling people what we do a little differently at home! Here are a few examples:

  • You don’t go out to eat?!?! Your poor family! But when we do go out, it’s like a nice surprise! When things are rare, they are that much more special! Plus, we put all that extra money saved towards being able to go on trips and spend more time together! So, definitely not poor Mr!
  • You can’t just throw everything away?! Your wife gets upset when she finds recycling in the garbage?! Well, I’d rather things like plastic bottles not come in the house, but if they do, just recycle them. And yes, I am usually the one that takes the recycling to our center! So, not poor Mr! I take care of it!
  • You help your wife till the garden and put in the fencing?! It’s true! He does and it is a lot if work! But, I do an equal amount of work, and I share all of those delicious fruits and veggies with him! So, not poor Mr!

  • You have to help your wife pick up pumpkins and other compostables?! He does help me pick up about half of them! And I’m very thankful for his help! All of those will become plant food which equals more produce for our bellies! So, not poor Mr!

  • You really have to compost all that food stuff at your house?! Yes, same as above! Our food scraps equal soil amendments, which equal more food for our family! Not poor Mr!

  • You really have to help out when it comes to canning?! He is the best at helping me use the pressure canner! And everyone knows he eats too, right?! So, delicious food in the winter! Nope, not poor Mr!

  • You just don’t go out and buy new things all of the time?! Oh this one!! I do not tell him what he can and can’t buy. We are a team and together we are trying to become debt free! He has helped to fix lots around here and is ridiculously handy!! So, not poor either of us!

  • You are the beekeeper?! I figured your husband did all of the beekeeping?! But you do help your wife? Poor you! It’s the strangest look that I get when I say that I’m the one who keeps bees. Weird. But yes, he helps me spin honey and carry super heavy honey filled boxes. He also eats the honey and eats baked goods made from that honey! If you tasted our honey, you wouldn’t think poor Mr!

We are a dynamic duo! While I know that I am very driven to make the world a greener place, I would never make someone do anything that is out of their comfort zone. He is totally on board with our journey and often chuckles when I start a sentence with “hey, I have an idea…”

You don’t stay married these days for 15 years when you are not moving along life in the same path! Thank you Mr. for helping my dreams come true and for always embracing my crazy ideas! You are the best of the best!

No Spend August Update

How in the world have I not gotten around to updating about our no spend year? Well, the main reason is that it has just started to become a norm for us. And, I can officially say that we made it through the summer without dipping into the savings. That’s a first! Getting a paycheck was sooo nice!

Since the school year started, we really didn’t buy much for the beginning of the year. The only things that the boy needed for school were a new pair of shoes (which we do splurge for since that is all that he actually cares about), and a binder. As for me, I only bought a new pair of sandals, because mine completely broke! However, I had a gift card and got a great deal!

In August, we went on an end of the summer getaway. We took the camper and the pups and headed to the Chesapeake Bay to enjoy a beautiful weekend. We used our KOA rewards card (from our camping trip this summer) and saved some money and packed all of our own meals. So, lots of savings!

Camping at the bay

We have also been harvesting lots more from the garden. The boy and I have had way too much salsa in the past month, but we still had more last night! I know that technically it doesn’t save us money, if I calculate in how much time and effort I put into it. However, since I love gardening, that also gives me a free workout and yummy food!

Haul from the garden

Another way that we save money is finding things around here that we enjoy doing that don’t involve leaving the house. Have I mentioned before that I don’t really like going out in public? It’s not the people, it’s just that I have talked all day to little people and I just want to stay home and relax. So, one thing that I have loved doing here lately is raising the monarch caterpillars that are on my milkweed. I collect the little caterpillars and feed them and keep them safe until they come out of their chrysalis and then release them to nature. It is fun for me! Heck, I even have the rest of my family looking for the tiny creatures.

Handsome male monarch

The composting service that we provide for 12 families has been a nice addition to the food for the chickens. They love the extra fruits and veggies and also kicking around in the compost looking for bugs. Double win!

Squash for the chickens

The garden produced so many tomatoes this year! I have sold some, given some away, chopped them for salsa and this weekend I have canned a lot of them for ketchup and pizza sauce. They will give us some delicious fresh food in the winter!

Ketchup from our tomatoes!

I was also able to put up some zucchini for future zucchini cake this winter and took a few pie pumpkins that we grew and turned them into a yummy pumpkin pie. The boys said that it was delicious.

Homemade pumpkin pie!

It’s so weird how you just get used to not really spending money. I won’t lie and say that we haven’t had any take out this year, but it has been a very rare occurrence! My husband and I have been packing a lot more for lunch and eating up the leftovers more often. So, that cuts back on waste more too. This year of saving has made us realize how wasteful that we can be.

I really am hoping that we can continue to find more ways to save, and would love to hear what else that you all do! Any tips that we can try in September?

Keep blooming friends!

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! 🌱❤️

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! 🌱❤️

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! 🌱💚

An improved garden door and organizing

Over the weekend, it was very cold for April and we even had snow falling. Since I couldn’t spend any time outside in my garden, where I’d rather be, I spent my time finishing up projects around here and the Mr. was busy working on our garden door!

The door had been falling apart, so we were going to buy a new one. But, instead of wasting money, the Mr. added supports, gave it a fresh coat of paint and replaced the screen with wired fencing! That should keep out the critters!

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Before and after! 

And then he surprised me by using his Blacksmithing skills to create a handle! It is absolute perfection to me! Look at that beautiful leaf on the bottom!

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I ❤️ This handle! 

And before you look at the next picture, don’t judge me  😳 It’s in the garage and this is the dumping grounds for all of the canning supplies, gardening stuff and random odds and ends.

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Definitely the before picture! 

And after a majority of my weekend, I am proud to say that my canning items, beekeeping boxes, baskets, containers and everything else down there is actually organized!

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And the after! ❤️❤️

This month I am taking on the challenge of 30 days if picking up trash here in the beautiful state of Maryland! It’s shocking how much is all around when you are actually looking for it! And here is what I rounded up on week one:

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All only in a week! 😢

Since I didn’t want to leave off this post on a negative, here’s a picture of how wonderful the pepper plants are looking! They are going to get repotted soon!

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Peppers everywhere! 

I hope that you all are getting ready for your summer and using whatever time that you have before the busy season to prep!! 💚