2021 Goal Setting!

Happy New Year! 2020 was an interesting year. I quit sewing for fun, and instead spent time sewing many masks and surgical caps. I started teaching from home and had to brush up on high school math and science skills. And, I found a new love of baking and being content with just being home!

I know that 2021 might not be so much different than 2020, but goal setting helps me long term plan and focus on positivity. These are the goals that we are planning here:

1. Continue baking!- I started cooking and baking a lot more over quarantine. I especially found a love for sourdough baking. I love the process and can appreciate the effort put in for such a delicious outcome!

One delicious loaf!

2. Growing cut flowers- It all started when a friend asked for a couple blooms for a photo shoot. I found a love for gathering and arranging the blooms. I also learned how much more some flowers bloom when you clip some off! I always left plenty for my pollinator friends though! I’m hoping to grow many beautiful varieties and create unique arrangements!

These arrangements made me smile!

3. Upgrade the yard garden- Last year we added a nice sitting area/patio and we have more plans for making the area prettier. More blooms and more veggies!

Every year it gets a little better!

4. Create a seed library– Last year I shared many seeds by sending them out and I put a seed library in our little free library. Next year, I’m planning on making a community one. I used donations from mask making to get the card catalog, but next up we will make it pretty and find a perfect location. The second part is hard with closure of businesses, public spaces and even our libraries.

Hopefully you won’t even recognize this beauty when it’s finished!

5. Create a workout area- This is more of the Mr.’s idea, but I think it’s going to be great! I’ve got my eyes on a sweet jump rope to work on some double unders! He’s more into lifting. But, maybe I’ll have some beefy arms by the end of this year!

6. Expand Blacksmithing area and production- The Mr. has been spending a lot more time pounding on metal. Everything that he makes is amazing to me. He takes a chunk of metal and magically makes it turn into a piece of art!

I think this is beautiful!

7. Travel somewhere!- We had plans of traveling last summer, but you know… 2020. We are hoping to break out the camper again and enjoy our time together!

Such a great time!

8. Focus in the garden– I have a tendency to grow beautiful things that I don’t enjoy eating. This year, I’m focusing on growing what we love. I’m not saying that I won’t have weird gourds, or a new variety. But, more of what we can and what people take off of the cart!

Food everywhere!

9. Up our creations!- Last year the Mr. made a lot more than he has before. I kind of got lost in the mindless mask sewing. I’m sure that I’ll still be making whatever the community needs, but I also want to make what makes my creative heart happy!

Our combo effort! Bag made by me and hooks made by the Mr.

10. Teaching some courses!: This would combine my love of teaching and creating. I would love to help others learn to crochet, take on starting plants from seeds, harvesting from their garden, preserving their yumminess, even learning how to use a pressure canner, make sourdough bread or whatever else we do. We will see if this is virtually or online!

Teaching about bread making to my students!

So, what are your goals?! Let me know! Even if it’s even just one goal! Happy New Year! And, keep blooming friends!

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! 🌸❤️

February Goals Update 2020!

Goodbye February and hello March! We are continuing to chip away at our goals and here’s how they are going:

1. Get rid of more, use less and be more minimalistic– We cleared out so much last month! The teen cleaned out his closet and dresser. (Turns out he has grown even more!) And I cleared out pointless decor, cleaned cabinets and even started on the garage. Busy!!

I got rid of over 500 things!

2. Do good, be a good person and spread kindness– The mail in seed swap went pretty well! We had about a dozen people participate. And, I’m in the process of helping to create a free seed library here in town and an Earth Day clean up!

3. Grow food, flowers and enjoy new plants– I have winter sowed a bunch of native seeds so far and only have one more to add to that mix! I also just started my peppers! The tomatoes and luffa will be starting in March!

These are all happily enjoying the cold temps outside!

4. Be creative! Craft, forge, sew and do whatever makes our creative souls happy!– I finished the second row in February! My favorite is the one that looks larger. So many bees!

Pollinator quilt!
I also made a delicious apple pie! (Just thought I’d show that off!)

5. Travel, spend as much quality time that we can with our ever growing teen. Time is precious. Last month there weren’t any teacher of the year trips. We did take mom to a few doctor appointments in Baltimore, and we made the best of it! We also enjoyed going on a nice hike. We saw a little beaver, so that was awesome!

A little local like!

Secret goal! We accomplished this a month or 2 early! We are debt free! We are super excited about this! Read about it: https://littlellewellynhomestead.com/2020/02/16/were-debt-free/

Hopefully in March we can get more plants growing and really start working on the garden!

Keep blooming! 🌸🌱💚❤️

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Chicken Quilt Reveal!

It all started out with a pattern that I found on Pinterest! I made a test square using scrap fabric and I decided that in 2019 that I would make my first quilt! Here’s the pattern that I used to make a Chicken quilt square

I learned from a few mistakes and started whipping out the squares!

All together I made 40 chickens and I spent one afternoon placing the squares exactly where I wanted them to go! Once I had them perfectly placed, I cut and sewed the squares together.

And then I sewed on the edging.

The quilt sat around asking to be finished for way too long. Then, on New Year’s Eve, I decided to finally quilt it. Lucky for me, my mom has a long arm machine and didn’t mind spending an afternoon teaching me how to use!

Next up, I cut off all of the extra batting, trimmed the backing, and used it to be the edging!

The front!

The back!

The finished project!

I am loving the finished project and I’m already planning out what the next quilt will be! I am so glad to put a big ✔️ next to my last goal for the year!

Now that it’s 2020, what are your goals for this year?!

Potato stamp wrapping paper

I catch myself getting a little bummed by how much waste is created by the holidays. So, I do my best to cut way back on gifts, give experiences and avoid all of the holiday excess.

When it comes to wrapping paper, so much if it is not recyclable. Then, there’s the plastic tape and ribbons. So. Much. Trash!!

This year I decided to make my own paper using things that I have around here. My momma taught me how to make potato stamps when I was young.

I used a couple of my homegrown potatoes. (Yes, that one is a purple potato!) I cut them in half and then just drew on some easy shapes. Then I cut them out:

And nope, I don’t get the newspaper either! But, my husband rescued these from work! And yes, that oui yogurt cup was rescued too!

So, after the potatoes dry off for a bit, I painted on some craft paint that I had here. Then, I stamped it on the newspaper. (By the way, make sure that you read the pages a little first. I avoid the obituaries and not so great articles!)

Don’t these stamps look beautiful all painted and ready to be used?!

I can’t wait to see our paper put to use!

Then, it will either be burned or composted!

How are you all bring a little more green this holiday season?!

Our little free library opened!

We checked another goal off for the year! We wanted to make a a little free library that our neighborhood could enjoy and encourage my students to read extra over the summer!

So, last weekend we finally opened up our library with a little get together.

My husband completely constructed it himself. Parts of it is made from upcycled barn wood and I love the personal touches that he added to it! It has a hand forged handle and dog leash holder.

At our little get together I made cupcakes, some kettle corn and had some drinks too. We had a place to drop off books and a couple people swung by to get some books and look at the seeds inside. (We have a seed swap box and a small container of dog bones for people walking their pups!)

My niece was the grand opener of the library! She is named after my sister and that is who the library is in memory of. Her Aunt, my sister, was a reader. She loved reading and she always was giving me books to read. (She didn’t understand why I didn’t love reading as much as her!)

I also made a book pillow as a giveaway! It was really easy to make and I’m hoping that the winner loves it!

So many books dropped off!

After wrapping up the party, I saw a message about a swarm of bees nearby that someone needed out of their tree. It was pretty close by and I’m happy to say that we were able to get them!

The bees have since been moved into a full sized hive and they are building comb fast! It was a good sized swarm!

Last weekend was memorable and I’m glad that I was able to provide a little extra something for my neighbors and enjoy time with family and friends!

Happy almost weekend and keep blooming! 🌸❤️

March 2019 Goals Update

March 2019 will be a month that I remember for a lifetime! I was named teacher of the year for my county, my boy made the high school band and all of our plans have been changed!

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!

2. Keep doing good for our community. I am still planning the Earth Day cleanup for my neighborhood and I have been doing all kinds of volunteering with the Master Gardeners. I also had another nice day to do a clean up around town!

Master gardener demo garden

St. Patrick’s clean up day

3. Can and save money on our groceries. I am hoping to make a lot of jam and jelly this year! Somehow I didn’t make any last year and the store bought stuff just isn’t the same! We are working on growing lots this year!

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! This is the major change.

**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. Unfortunately.

5. Compost!! Composting at school is still going well and we have diverted around 120 pounds of food waste from the landfill. We are still composting our own food waste here at home. We have also been receiving some drop offs of chicken treats and tons of leaves.

6.Little free library/seed sharing- Well, the cabinet turned out to not really work. But, the Mr has been working away at creating a library from scratch! It’s looking great!

7. Grow some new plants: This year we are hoping to grow ground cherries better. Plus, grow blue pumpkins, corn and more gourds! I decided to pick up a few more seeds online. I have big plans!!

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. We planted a couple blueberry plants, but have plans for more. And, we need to break down that swing set!

9. Keep reducing our trash We are now on bag 2. We are continuing to watch what we throw out!

10. Create a Monarch waystation and tagging supplies-Last year we made a wildlife habitat area and we will continue to add to it! Our milkweed is growing so well! And I’m happy to report that many lupines are growing well too!

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! Turns out he already knew how to use a saw and square properly and helped to make the raised bed garden for my students!

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?! (Change in plans!! Turns out my boy is going to Disney World with the band. So, we will be putting any money that we make from crafting/blacksmithing and gardening towards this trip!)

March was a great month! I’m looking forward to getting more seeds planted and planting the raised bed garden at school. I can’t wait to get my garden planted and beautiful! What all are you planting right now?!

I know that I am looking forward to warmer. weather!!

🌸🌸Keep blooming friends!! 🌸🌸

It’s a freezing out there, so I craft weekend!

Over the weekend the temps dipped around zero and just walking outside was painful! Add snow that turned into compacted ice, and even getting to the chickens is a pain. So, lots of inside activities are going on!

First up is my first quilt ever! I’m making the little chickens in groups of 9 and do an assembly line when making these! (And I had to fit in my chicken pin cushion too!)

And now I am up to 27 chickens (the sewn quilted variety!)

And a cold weather miracle started happening… the chickens started laying eggs again! I don’t put an heat lamps or lights in their coop, so I let it up to them to start laying whenever they’d like. And I only had to buy one carton of eggs this winter, so not too horrible!

Since everything has been so cold, not a lot of anything plant related has been going on. But, I am trying to get a real Christmas cactus to grow roots. I am also trying to regrow a pineapple from the top and grow some ginger from store bought. And the ginger is starting to grow some little buds!

They aren’t huge buds, but they are growing! If it continues growing, it will become a deck plant this summer!

And I started prepping the milkweed seeds for growing this year. They need to cold stratify for about a month. So, into a damp coffee filter and then into a container followed by the fridge they go. They will go into the soil around the end of February!

And I won’t lie, I also enjoyed relaxing on the couch with the pups! I started working on the paperwork to compete for teacher of the year and needed to relax a bit afterwards!

And that’s pretty much how the weekend worked out! And now to work a few more days until the next weekend!

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!

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!