So much canning! (And fall garden prep!)

You’d think that mid- summer is the busiest time for gardeners. Not true! Im busiest in late summer and fall! It’s prepping, picking, and preserving all of that produce!

We had another sale yesterday! Only a few customers, but the rest of the produce was preserved for the winter months here!

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Another produce sale! 

The Mr.’s sister has an apple tree and doesn’t use the apples. So, we went and picked about a bushel of apples and made some yummy applesauce! And we have some leftover to turn into something else!

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A few apples left! 

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Making applesauce! 

I spent the majority of the day today making some chili sauce! That stuff is super labor intensive! It takes a ton of peeling and chopping of veggies to make! But, my Dad loves it, so I make it!

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Chili sauce! 

And just like every other Sunday morning, we are out of food for breakfast! So, I baked some zucchini cake using the last of our homegrown zucchini!

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There were 2, but it’s really good! 

The wheat and rye that I planted to help add fertilizer to the soil is growing fast!

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Future green manure! 

And now to leave off on a few beautiful things!

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A honeybee on my sunflower! 

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One of the adorable stray kitties around here! 

I hope that you had a productive weekend too! Keep blooming where you are planted!

Wednesday walk through the garden and lots of blooms! 9-6-17

The garden is starting to fizzle out, but we are still harvesting green beans, cucumbers, cucumelons and lots of tomatoes! I’m hoping to harvest a watermelon or 2 this season!

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Ripen quickly please! 

I’m not sure what this is growing out of the compost bin! It looks like a yellow zucchini, but it is vining like a pumpkin!

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we love our weird compost hybrids! 

We are also still getting peppers, so we will be making some Appalachian style chili sauce. My Dad loves it, so of course I’m going to make him some!

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peppers! 

The popcorn is a good bit taller than me and has tassels!

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popcorn!!!!

The pumpkin vines are dying off, but at least we are getting a few pumpkins!

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Pumpkins! 

The fall beets are growing right up out of the ground!

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we will be pickling beets! 

The sweet potatoes are growing all over the place! I can’t wait to see how much that we harvest this year!!

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sweet potato vines

And I’m pretty proud to share that we made some ketchup this year out of our own Roma tomatoes! We just used one of the Mrs. Wage’s seasoning packets!

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homemade ketchup!

And, there are lots of beautiful blooms still around for our pollinators!

August Goals Update 2017

August was a month of birthdays, our 14th Anniversary and buying our new-to-us camper!  So, pretty great if you ask me! And, here’s how the ol’ 2017 goals are going!

1. Zero waste our home! We already do a good bit to avoid creating trash, but there is always room for improvement! We are still rarely eating  out, making our own cleaner and buying second hand when possible!

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My thrift store haul! (Back to school clothes for me!) 

2. Declutter 20 items per month. Last year I decluttered 2016 items from this house. A major high five goes to the Mr!! He sold our roof top tent, camping trailer, and 2 sets of tires and rims! Go him!!

3. Create only 12 bags of garbage per year. Americans are super wasteful. We are going to try to only produce one 13 gallon kitchen trash bag per month. We also cancelled our garbage pickup because for $15, we can take our whole year’s worth of garbage to the landfill and still have extra money to spare!

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Still only 4 bags for the year! 

4. Merge crafting and homestead business. I have not been getting too crafty lately. The beginning of the school year does that to me! But I am still getting some things made!

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I’m working on more garden aprons! 

5. Create a summer kitchen. We will be turning a spot in the garage into a nice canning area. #comeonmrllewellyn!! Well, he isn’t an electrician so we shall see about this! But not to worry! We are still preserving all of our harvest!

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6. Expand the garden. I widened the area along the fence and planted plants all throughout my yard. The fence garden is starting to fizzle out. The sunflowers are huge and the green bean trellis is growing pretty well too!

7. Grow some different plants. Luffa gourds were so fun to grow last year, and we are growing more this year! We are also growing popcorn, okra and my favorite: cucumelons! All are growing great!


8. Make a chicken viewing area. Yeah, um, I don’t think we are going to do this now! I love watching the chickens, but life has kept us busy!

9.Green up my school. Schools create an absurd amount of trash! My class recycled around 150 pounds of plastic film this year, and we are going to be doing the same recycling program this year! Plus, I’m going to green up the faculty lounge!

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Our beautiful little pollinator garden! 

10. Track our solar panels. This month we reached 1.7 mwh! And our electric bill was less than $6 again!

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We are loving our panels still! 

11. Continue beekeeping. We are still providing lodging for our flying insect friends! They will be getting a mite treatment and I’ll be checking in on their food supply! Right now they are really busy collecting nectar and pollen

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All the pollinators are loving our sunflowers! 

12. Travel more with the family! We managed to visit so many places last year and only a few this year. But, next year has us excited! We got a great deal on a truck camper! With a little work, this baby is going to help us travel out west in 2018!

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Our new to us camper! 

Hopefully you made August a productive month too! Tell me how your goals are going!!

Garden pictures and canning

The garden is really producing lots of fruits and veggies lately! I’m still loving the gardening apron that I made a couple years ago because I can pick a ton more veggies without moving a basket with me!

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Yesterday’s harvest 

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Top view of my gardening apron 

Remember how that groundhog ate every bite of my beets in the spring? Well here are the ones I planted for a fall harvest.

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Beets! 

And lots of other crops are growing by the day!

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Tiny pumpkin

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My first ever jalapeños 

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We seriously picked over 60 cucumelons yesterday! 

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Trails of sweet potatoes!

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My super late to the game luffa! 

Since we put up bread and butter pickles, we went ahead and make some dill ones too!

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Dill pickles

The sunflowers are starting to bloom now too!

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My favorite flower! 

Enjoy the rest of the weekend and keep blooming where you are planted! 🌱💚

Garden happenings, beekeeping and lots of work

I’m elated to say that this week is my last week of school and from here on out I will be busy taking on all this homesteading!

I’ll start with my beekeeping fun. All the hives seem to be doing well and are laying lots of eggs. The newest swarm that I got has been really busy laying eggs! Great job on picking that queen!

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You can see the brood! 

When we pulled the hive out of the tree being cut down, we put some frames of their brood in there to help get them started and attached them to the frame with rubber bands. Well, they showed me how much they liked those bands!

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They don’t like the rubber bands

The mister has a friend that has a ton of bamboo growing in their yard. That stuff is so invasive and grows too fast! But, they let us cut some for free to turn into tomato stakes and a green bean teepee!

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Bamboo! 

Around the homestead we have been gathering lots of eggs and some delicious strawberries!

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Homegrown food! 

The mycelium from the winecap mushrooms are really enjoying this wet weather!

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Fabulous fungi!

I was also given a fixer upper kind of project by a friend! Her camera strap was looking sad and needed recovered! So, 30 minutes later, I had removed the old fabric and made it pretty again!

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Pretty again camera strap! 

The solar panels did great last month!! Our bill was for only $8.16 and we even got a credit back for over $80 from previous months!

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Solar is kicking butt!! 

So that’s a quick update here on our tiny plot of land in the middle of a small town!

Zero waste?!??

We have already decided what our goals are going to be for this year! (And I will be posting them later this week.) So, spoiler alert, one goal is going to be to reduce the amount of trash that we produce.

So, next question, what is zero waste? It’s just as it sounds! Creating no garbage! It doesn’t mean recycling tons. It’s actually purposefully not creating trash. Some can put their whole years garbage in a mason jar. We are not there yet, but looking to improve! So, the goal this year is to continue on to creating even less trash! (Yes, this is exciting to me!)

I figured that I should share what we already do!

1. We grow our own food! Which means no packaging and no traveling long distance for our food!

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Growing our own food!

2. I have hobbies that don’t create excess waste! (And create food!)

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Beekeeping (and raising chickens too!)

3. We can, a lot! Between jams, jellies, sauces, fruits and veggies, summer and fall are quite busy for us! But reusing jars every year is a great feeling!

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We ❤canning!

4. Buy second hand! No excess packaging, plus no extra waste being created!

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My goodwill finds!

5. We use beeswax wraps to cover bowls and food, instead of plastic wrap! They can be reused or composted at the end of their life!

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Beeswax wraps

6. I already said we grow our own food, but we also reuse containers to start our seeds in.

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Reuse containers for seedlings

7. I upcycle garbage into crafts. The juice pouches below were donated by student lunches. We also avoid items that are single use.

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Upcycled crafts

8. We eat in almost every day of the week. It allows us to avoid styrofoam containers and single use plastic. (Yes, we both work full time and have a child!)

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Our yummy orange chicken (homemade)

9. We compost everything that we don’t eat and the chickens don’t eat. Some things go in the compost pile and others go to our composting worms .

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Our red wrigglers make great compost!

10. I crochet our washcloths and dishcloths and avoid those plastic loofahs and sponges. Since they are cotton, they can be thrown in the compost at the end of their life.

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Crochet dishcloths

11. I kind of mentioned this already, but we give the chickens some leftovers and in return, we get eggs and great compost for the garden!

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Our compost machines!

12. We use cloth napkins and towels in our home. We don’t use paper towels at all here!

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Unpaper towels and napkins

13. We make our own soap. It allows for no packaging or weird dyes and fragrances.

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Homemade soap!

Now that you know what we already do here, we are going to try to do even more here in the year to come!

Did anyone else set some goals to green up this Earth? Please share if you did, or do something that I might want to try!

Last weekend of summer

We have crammed work into every second this weekend. I think that we might just be getting to the end of all the canning. We were able to can a bunch of grape jelly from the grapes that I got! It is seriously delicious!

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Grape jelly!

And we also turned the last of the tomatoes into pizza sauce!

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Pizza sauce!

While all of the sauce was cooking, I decided that we needed to use up the last of the apples and I made apple pie cake. (Notice my little bum that wanted some too!)

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Apple pie cake

I also was able, with help from the husband, to finish up the newest craft that I’ve been working on. It’s very zero waste! Glass ball jar with reusable stainless steel straw and reusable and eventually compostable coozie! Major win!

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My newest creation

I’m still getting a little bit out of the garden every couple days! I have harvested around 5 luffas at this point and I’m hoping that the others have time to dry out too!

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Today’s harvest

I had all but given up on my cosmos flowers ever blooming this summer and I saw this today…

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So beautiful!

We walked over to watch a piece of a triathlon that comes through our town. It’s the biking section and they have to bike up this crazy steep part that’s actually closed to traffic! We cheered for all of the bikers!

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Beautiful view!

The sweet potatoes have been putting up lots of beautiful flowers! And the bees are loving them!

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Honeybee on a sweet potato bloom

It was such a productive weekend! Hopefully you all enjoyed your weekend!

Walk through the garden 8/31

Slowly I see the summer slipping away. The tomato plants are slowing down and the pepper plants are too. I’m not sure how many more veggies that I will be harvesting. But tonight, it was still great!

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Great harvest!

I was pretty excited to find a friend policing the garden! With so many other bad bugs, it’s great to see some good ones!

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Praying mantis 

I am still shocked at how the butternut squash have taken off! We might just get one this year after all!

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Butternut squash

Finally the couple of loofahs that I planted in the garden are doing something!

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Finally a loofah!

And the loofahs around the fence are starting to get ready to be harvested! At first I was concerned that they were diseased or something! But, they eventually turn almost brown before harvesting!

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Getting closer to harvest! 

And due to the 13 pounds of tomatoes picked every couple days, we have been canning a lot of nights. Last night we worked on some pizza sauce and they all sealed!

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Pizza sauce! 

And im still making some hair ties to put in my etsy shop! So, I had my sleepy and totally non-resistant model Sherman try one on!

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What a pretty boy! 

Looking forward to a holiday weekend and probably the start of cleaning out the garden for a cover crop and lots of canning!

What a weekend (of work)

The first week with my 24 new students was pretty exhausting, but we are all getting in the groove of things! So, instead of relaxing, I got to work!

In the garden I’m working on pulling out the plants that don’t look great and harvesting the goodies that remain!

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Garden harvest Saturday

That was over 16 pounds of tomatoes! Plus we got over 10 more pounds from the grandparent garden!

Then we started working on processing some of the harvest! We turned several pounds of tomatoes into tomato sauce!

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Tomato processing!

And then I made some chili sauce. My dad has been talking about how much he loves this interesting concoction, so I made him some! I believe that I need to make a good bit more!

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Chili sauce cooking!

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All canned and preserved!

We also put up some poultry netting around the cook to let the girls free range a bit! The hens are loving more freedom!

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Out free ranging!

While the chili sauce was cooking forever, I got some much needed sewing done! I hemmed a few pairs of pants, finished some bibs for a couple kids at school and then worked on an idea. I made bandana headbands, and still do, and now I whipped up some bow tie hair ties!

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Bow tie headband

And we did manage to work in a little swimming with my momma! Kids grow up too fast and you can never spend too much time with family!

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Chilling in the pool

I’m going to tryo utilize the evenings this week to get so much done! Enjoy your week!!

Thursday walk through the garden 8/25

Have I said how crazy the beginning of the school year is for a teacher? Well, it’s the busiest of busy times! We attended a back to school night with our middle schooler one night. Then, attended a seminar on solar energy last night. But tonight, nothing! Well, other than working in the garden and working on some sewing that needed done!

The harvest from the garden was really amazing! Around 15 lbs of tomatoes, 3 lbs of green beans, a few zucchinis and a green pepper!

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Today’s harvest!

And after bringing in all of this yumminess, I had to endure Sherman crying because he needed some tomatoes!

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Just staring at the tomatoes!

The butternut squash that wasn’t doing anything all summer started taking off! It is actually growing out of the raised bed!

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Butternut squash

We are still having lots of beautiful sunflowers blooming!

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Love the light yellow sunflower

The sunflower has become a trellis for the luffas, and there is a huge one growing in there!!

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Luffa on the sunflower

I had to show the beginning of the season chicken coop, and the way it looks now! The gourds growing around provided lots of shade and privacy for the hens!

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Beginning vs. now!

The wildflower garden didn’t turn out the way that I expected, but there are lots of yellow, purple and white flowers! And I see lots of pollinators enjoying all of it!

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Weedy wildflower garden!

The bees are also looking great! I added another super to the yellow hive to give them extra space!

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Busy bees!

I’m hoping to have a busy weekend processing green beans and tomatoes! Oh, and maybe a yardsale! Enjoy your end if the week!!