Chicken quilt update!

Over the past 2 weeks, I have been working to get the top of the quilt pieced together! I am hoping to finish this up before garden season starts!

The layout!

Then, I started making rows, 8 in all!

First row of the quilt!

Next up I started putting the rows together. (This part was my favorite because it finally started looking like something!)

It might just be a quilt!

Then, I had a snow day in the middle of the week! So, I was able to get more rows sewn on!

And here we are this weekend finishing up all of the rows! I still need to place the edge pieces around the perimeter next.

I think it’s beautiful!

And here’s a main reason why I need to work on finishing this beauty:

So many seeds!

I picked up so many seeds in an online seed swap! (Through Instagram: frugal seed swap!) and I can’t wait to grow so much more this year!

And at some point, I’m going to relax with this pair and enjoy the last day of the weekend!

Keep blooming friends! 🌱❤️

The active pair!

Homestead happenings with Blacksmith made hooks

This week was a cold icy week and we didn’t have much school. So, that means that the teen was eating everything that was in our house! I eventually had to make extra yummy food! We had homemade fajitas (so easy to make! Flour, water, salt and shortening)

We also decided that we needed something yummy, so I thawed out some frozen zucchini and used the eggs that were frozen from the polar vortex to make some zucchini cake:

The Mr. has been busy in the shop working on a big project for the house! (Which I cant wait to share when it is finished!) But, he was also able to whip up a few hooks for someone else’s project!

At school, I managed to snatch up all of the plastic bottles from the faculty lounge to recycle for them. And, I happened to snag up some rolls for the chickens that were being thrown out!

And a sweet neighbor, who was part of our summer composting program, dropped off more treats for the chickens!

Maybe it’s the days getting a little longer, or all of the treats, but I’m just glad to see my hens finally laying some eggs!

For the rest of the weekend, I plan on working on my teacher of the year paperwork, sewing on my chicken quilt, starting my plans for the garden and spending time with my family.

🌱keep blooming friends! (Spring is right around the corner!) 🌸

Greening up the school and indoor plants

We are still working on recycling what we use and composting on our Waste free Wednesdays at school. This week we decided that the recycling bins needed cleaned out and counted.

We have a terracycle box for our glue, the markers go to colorcycle through crayola and the crayons go to the color initiative.

So far we have gathered around 400 glue sticks and 8 pounds of markers and 8 pounds of crayons. I’m so glad that I have students who love to help count everything.

We also composted on another waste free Wednesday and the compost was cooking nicely when I turned it! We have composted around 70 pounds of food waste this year!

And how lucky am I to have neighbors who drop off food scraps that the hens would love. (They scarfed them down!)

And now for the indoor plants:

I think that the pineapple plant that we are trying to regrow might just make it!

When I was taking down the Christmas crafts from the windows in town I ran across a beautiful old Christmas cactus. I was gushing over how it is so hard to find a real Christmas cactus and she told me to take the pieces that her daughter had cut off. And guess what?! They are rooting!

The ginger that we are trying to regrow is sprouting! I can’t wait to see what this 89 cents worth of ginger turns into!

Today I was able to freshen up the chicken coop and then turn the huge compost.

That compost is mainly the remains of all of the pumpkins and leaves. It is decomposing really well for temperatures being cold.

The weekend is quickly approaching and I am really looking forward to getting more work done around here before winter weather returns! Happy almost Friday everyone! Keep blooming (even in February!)

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! 🌱❤️

The bees are still alive! (And weekend work!)

Weekends are always a mix of relaxing, spending time with family and getting things done! So when it’s a beautiful weekend in January, I have to get things accomplished!

First up are those honey bees! Both hives appear to be thriving. They were out, since the temperature was around 50 degrees and they can break cluster to go to the bathroom and get a drink! (And forage too!)

While I was outside I checked on the chickens and the garlic growing in the garden. And all were enjoying the gorgeous day!

I also spent around 30 minutes on Friday giving my Izzy dog a haircut, nail trimming and bath. She needed it! I figure we save around $30 every time that I clip her, and we have had the same clippers since our last dog! They definitely have paid for themselves!

Two of my students bought me plants for Christmas, so I repotted the the Norfolk tree and put the frosty fern in a terrarium to help keep the humidity where the plant likes it.

And I’m letting you in on another plant that I’m trying to regrow: ginger! I bought this chunk for 75 cents at the market (grocery store is what everyone else calls it!) and I’m hoping to get it growing well and have some to harvest in the fall. But, I guess we will see!

I hope everyone have the perfect weekend for you! Have a great week and keep blooming!

The results are in for the summer compost service!

This summer I really wanted to learn more about composting, in order to be able to be more knowledgeable for our school program. Also, I wanted my son to learn more about real work ethic! So, a neighborhood composting service was created!

We started by finding people who were willing to save their compostables and then we found lots of free buckets!

They needed lots of scrubbing, but they got a second life!

We started with almost 10 customers and most needed some information on what could go in the bucket! So, the boy gave information sheets in the first bucket.

The buckets were lined with newspaper for easier cleaning and to add some browns to the large amount of greens that we collected. We picked up the buckets weekly and returned a clean bucket. We also weighed the buckets to keep track of the amount we collected.

As we got more buckets, we were able to just exchange the buckets

We picked up a few and lost a few customers over the summer, but he managed to continue without complaining once!

We primarily used the compost tumbler and that turned out the compost the fastest. But, we also had a bin over by the chicken area that they loved digging through.

Compost tumbler

Chicken area compost bin

We were also able to snag around 100 pounds of coffee grounds from a local coffee shop! We saw on Facebook that they had plenty to share.

Coffee grounds!

The compost started to accumulate and we are looking forward to having a lot of garden food for next season!

So eventually we made it a goal to collect 1,000 pounds before the break in our program for the winter. And guess what…

We actually hit our goal! I’m proud of our boy for working so hard, and appreciate all of his customers willingness to give! I was so impressed with his knowledge and hearing him show confidence when talking to his customers. I can proudly say he knows more about composting than most adults! And his mom’s love for this beautiful planet is rubbing off on him! 💙💚

So, will we do it again next summer? I think so, as long as people are still interested!

A plan that actually worked!

Last year right around this time of the year, I had an interesting idea. It was to expand the garden to go out around the bee area and attach in to the chicken run. I even posted this:

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My 2017 dream! 

Last Fall my mister was awesome and tilled that area and I planted some different cover crops. The old fence was taken down and I started planning for spring! When it finally arrived, we put up t posts, fencing, lots of mulch and weed paper around the perimeter. It was at that point that I thought that I may have overcommitted!

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The garden door and no fence

Once all of the fencing was installed, we had to fill it all again, made a mulched walkway, trellis around the beeyard side and planted the seedlings!

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A very young garden! 

And even after a long trip out west, and the wettest summer in forever, the garden seemed to be thriving!

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An early season garden 

The trellises held the pole beans well, and the chickens loved that I would toss Japanese beetles to them!

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Trellises full of beans and gourds 

And then today, exactly what I had dreamed and hoped would happen last year worked out! While cleaning out the garden, I just opened up the door to the chicken area and they helped clean the garden with me! No more dragging everything from the chicken run for them to check it out. It was well worth of the work!

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Chickens checking around the gourds 

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They also cleaned up under the trellis! 

They spent so much of the day in there scratching around, eating pesky bugs and enjoying digging under the corn stalks! It was all worth the hard work!

I always wonder if I’m crazy for not wanting to move, but then moments like today happens! Keep blooming friends (even when you are pretty sure that you are in over your head!)

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!

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. 🌱❤️

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! 🌱💚