January 2020 Goals Update

January felt like it had 6,500 days, but I was able to start the year off in a productive way. And, here those goals are going:

1. Get rid of more, use less and be more minimalistic– So far, we haven’t filled any trash bags. But, I was on a mending kick and fixed several shirts and a couple pairs of pants that needed holes fixed.

2. Do good, be a good person and spread kindness– I am in the process of organizing a little mail-in seed swap. (Hopefully I get enough people to participate!) and I finally have the final weight of the amount of compostable trash that we kept out of the landfill!

3. Grow food, flowers and enjoy new plants– I have ordered most of the seeds that I will be planting! So far, I have starting winter sowing some of the native flowers that will be growing!

4. Be creative! Craft, forge, sew and do whatever makes our creative souls happy!– I have decided to see another quilt this year and I already finished the first row. Hopefully I love this one as much as I do my chicken quilt.

The Mr. has been working on restoring restoring ’49 Ford F1 pickup with a 302 small block engine!

5. Travel, spend as much quality time that we can with our ever growing teen. Time is precious.

I really enjoyed my trip to Annapolis as the teacher of the year. I have seen so many nice places and met great people. Definitely an experience of a lifetime. I’m loving Maryland more with every trip!

Secret goal! I will be sharing this awesomeness at the end of the month!!!

I hope that you are crushing your goals! If not, you still have 11 months to get it together!

Keep blooming!!

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?!

DIY bee candy recipe

Yesterday it was a warmer winter day, so I checked in on the bees. They look pretty good, but had devoured their candy I left in there.

Since it’s only January, I decided to give them some extra food! So, last night I decided to make more candy to slip into the hives today.

Before winter set in, I put the spacers on the top of the hives to make room for bee candy. The Mr. made them by ripping down some old barn wood he already had.

Gather up your ingredients. You’ll need sugar, water, vinegar, a pot (I use an old one), pie pan or metal container to pour it in and a candy thermometer.

Start off by mixing in the sugar and water into the pot. It’s a 4:1 ratio of sugar to water. To fill up one pie pan, I use 4 cups of sugar to 1 cup of water. Pour in a tiny amount of vinegar. Just a little splash.

Stir and stir until it starts to come to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, put the lid on and let it boil for 3 minutes (it will be clear at this point!)

After 3 minutes, take off the lid and put in the candy thermometer and wait until the temperature gets up to 234 degrees F.

Once it reaches the temperature mentioned above (234 degrees), take it off of the heat and allow it to cool to 200 degrees F.

Once it gets close to 200 degrees, whisk it well and pour it into a cheap pie tin. It hardens quickly, so pour quickly. (I keep a spatula close by to scrap the quickly hardening candy with!)

Allow the patties to cool completely before putting them into the hive. (In the picture above I lined the pie pan with parchment paper, but it’s not necessary.)

You can double the recipe, if needed.

Recipe for 1 pie pan bee candy:

1. Gather sugar, vinegar, water, pot and candy thermometer.

2. Mix 4 cups sugar to 1 cup water and a splash of vinegar.

3. Mix continuously until it comes to a boil.

4. Cover the pot and allow to boil for 3 minutes.

5. Take off the lid and put in the candy thermometer and continue to let it heat up to 234 degrees F.

6. Then pull the pot off of the heat and allow the candy to cool to 200 degrees.

7. Whisk the liquid candy and pour quickly into the pan.

8. Allow it to cool completely before placing in the hive.

I have used this recipe for years and the bees seem to like it! And future me, you will be thanking me for finally putting this in a place where it won’t get lost!

Enjoy and happy beekeeping! If you have hives, I hope your bees are doing ok too!

🐝❤️

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!

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!

 

 

DIY garden markers (even with bad handwriting!)

In the past, I plant my garden and think that I will definitely remember where I planted everything. And guess what? I would forget what kind of tomatoes are those? Or, are those cucumbers? Or a pumpkin? Maybe zucchini? Now, of course I figured it out eventually, but I annoyed myself always doing this!

So, this year I started making some garden markers! The materials needed are:

– paint, I used the acrylic in the bottle from the craft aisle

– a sharpie paint pen, same aisle as the paint

– paintbrush, just a 15 cent foam one

– clear coat paint (it’s with the spray paint)

– paper

– chalk

– and garden stakes (like these from Lowe’s)

Step 1: I decided to color code my garden, but you might want yours all the same color! Whichever! Just paint the end of the stake and give them time to dry.

Step 2: I had already printed off the varieties that I wanted to put on the stakes. I used Lucinda handwriting on word. And any old printer will be fine. (Tip: if your printer isn’t working, you can always trace it off of the screen!)

Step 3: rub chalk all over the back of the paper on the word that you want to write. This will help transfer it onto the wooden marker.

Step 4: line up the chalk side on the wooden marker and trace the words using a pen or pencil. The words will be left for you to trace!

Step 5: use your paint pen to trace the letters. I’ve learned to make the paint longer than the word, so that the chalk is easy to see!

Step 6: after giving it a bit to dry, I take them outside and lightly clear coat them. (Since they will be in the elements all summer!) after that dries, they are ready for the garden!!

And there they are! I think they are absolutely beautiful!! Now I can easily see my peppers (blue markers), my tomato varieties (red markers) the bush beans (orange marker) and everything else!

Another great part is that I had almost everything here, except the stakes and paint pen! So, it was a cheap project! And, I love that it isn’t my own handwriting, because it is pretty sloppy!

Enjoy! And I hope that you have a great start to the growing season! Keep blooming! 🌱💚

No Spend March

We are chugging along with our no spend year. I have spent money on gifts this month (I bought my baby niece some food and not candy for Easter and gifts much deserved to 2 work friends,but that’s it!)

Our big money saver is that we sold our panel truck! It was a hard choice to make, but we were not using it. We are glad to have more money in our savings and one less vehicle to tag and insure!

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Bye bye to the blue beast!

I’m doing my best to keep gardening costs down by using what we have and starting everything from seed! I also save my own seeds and plant mostly heirloom varieties to help with the seeds saving.

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Garlic that came up on it’s own (30 free garlic plants!) all replanted! 

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Pepper plants started from seed

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Saved Roma tomato seeds 

I have also been mending so much around here! We are up to 3 pairs of paints that are hole free and a certain pup decided to tear a hole in his bed, but all are fixed!

The screen door to the garden was ripped and broken and we almost bought a new one, but we used some old paint that we had to fix it up and put some reused wire fencing on it. Good as new!

We also try to do as much as we can around here, instead of paying others to do it for us. I am the dog groomer:

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Our sweet Izzy after her spa day

And we have been doing all of the work on the camper ourselves!

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New seat covers! 

And the pollinator garden is slowly being completed by us mainly using materials that we have!

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Lots of labor, but we are doing it by ourselves 

Instead of buying eggs from the grocery store or an egg dying kit, we used food coloring that we already had and brown and white eggs.

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I ❤️ How they turned out! 

And instead of going out to eat or paying to go do something, the boy and I took a nice walk locally! We hadn’t walked on this trail in a few years!

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Always interested in the rock formations! 

Overall, I’m thinking we are doing well with our no spend year! I’m hoping to continue spending less and gettting this house paid off!

Blacksmithing and sewing weekend

Happy kids! Before I get to the weekend, I wanted to share that all of the students at the school that I teach at were so happy that I shoveled out the playground. Their thanks were the sweetest!

Onward to the weekend, the Mr. was on a little Blacksmithing kick. He made my Dad this hook for hanging whatever he hangs in his new garage.

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Railroad spike hook

Then he made me this little gardening trowel with inch markings on it. This is going to help me when I finally get to plant my onion sets!

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Gardening trowel

And I spent the weekend not doing a whole lot. But, I did get around to making a few hooded towels that will be Easter gifts and I need to finish hemming some curtains for someone else!

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I really like this hooded towels! 

We took the ruined bathroom cabinet door (someone allowed it to get water damaged!) from the camper off to my Dad to see if he could fix it on Monday. Since it was pressed wood, he used scraps that he already had (he does a lot of woodworking) and made us a new door by the next day! And it fits perfectly!

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He’s pretty amazing! 

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A perfect fit! 

So, I’m not sure that I have ever said this before, but I am so lucky to have talented people in my life! My Mr. is handy and blacksmiths, my brother is a whiz at electrical and making everything magically work and then there’s my Dad. He claims that when you are poor enough, you can teach yourself how to fix anything. And when we were kids, I remember him putting in a million boilers, fixing everything on his truck, working on engines, doing electrical, running parts to him on a coal mine to fix his own truck after working on bulldozers all day (darn u joints), laying tile, pretty much you name it! I’m blessed to have all of these people in my life. (And in case my mom reads this, that lady is who taught me how to sew, cook and I’m still trying to learn how to be as calm as her!)

So, hopefully you all have some talented people in your life! If not, skills are learned slowly over time! So, start learning!!

DIY zipper-free camper cushion slipcover

Well that’s a mouthful title, isn’t it?!  The Mr. has been working so hard on the camper, so I have finally had a chance to work on the cushions in the camper!

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A little reminder of the before! (The after is at the end!)

They weren’t horrible, but they had some stains, a tiny tear and a lot of boring-ness. I decided to document my easy way of making some slip covers! Here are my supplies: upholstery fabric (got this stuff at Joann’s half off clearance, so $2 a yard! And I got 7 yards for 3 cushions and the back cushion!), and you’ll also need sewing pins, velcro, sewing machine and scissors. (I also used a serger, but it isn’t necessary!)

Step 1.: cut out your fabric to have about an inch overlap length wise, and I left about 6 inches of extra fabric on the ends. Then, I serged the shorter edges, but you can fold it over and sew it under if you don’t have a serger.

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Ends serged

Step 2: I sewed up the length of the fabric and it turned into a long tube! (I used the line of the fabric to keep it straight and about 1 inch seam)

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Pin up the edge and sew it into a tube (right sides together)

Step 3: put the long tube back on the cushion to check for fit. It should have overlapped fabric on both ends.

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The fabric on the end of the cushion

Step 4: This part is hard to explain, so I’ll just describe it like fold it like a present. (Make sure the bottom of the fabric and bottom of the cushion are facing you!) Fold down the outer piece (it will be the flap that attaches with velcro) about an inch and pin. Then, that pin on top of the cushion is where the velcro will hold the flap shut. Which I found where to put it by pulling the fabric up!

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Do this to both ends!

Step 5: Slowly pull the fabric back off of the cushion. It’s not easy, because you want to keep the pins in place! Be patient and realize the longer the cushion, the harder to pull it off!

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Slowly remove the fabric!

Step 6: Sew the perimeter of the trapezoid flap and cut velcro to fit. Then sew it on.

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Sew the flap then the velcro

Step 7: sew the opposite side of the velcro where you put the pin to match up the velcro. (See photo below tonunderstand placement!)

Step 8: Put the big tube of fabric back on the cushion, and then fold it like it was!

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Ready to attach the fabric!

Last step: attach the velcro and look at the beautiful cover that you created!

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Back of cushion!

And just last night I was able to recover the backing board and staple the fabric on.

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Backing board!

And now the finished project:

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I love it!!!  And check out that rooster towel!

How the cushion looks from the front:

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Total cost: $14 for all the fabric!

It was a lot of work, but I’m hoping to be able to report back after traveling this summer on how well everything is holding up! Happy sewing!