Sprouting seeds and being green

Winter returned this week and we have had some snow, ice and lots of below freezing temps. But, there is lots prep work going on around here for spring!

The compost is cooking away and will make great plant food for the garden!

We have a few plants growing under the lights so far. The onions and milkweed are in soil and lots more seeds are being sprouted first. The pollinator garden should look pretty nice this year!

Butterfly milkweed

Sprouted lupine seeds

Did I mention that the chicken quilt topper is finished? Well, it is!! Now I just need to learn how to quilt it!

And before I started any seeds, I needed to plan my garden and make sure that I had room for everything that I wanted to grow. I needed to start my long season crops!

At school this month we have reached some green milestones! We have recycled over 300 pounds of plastic film, 1,100 plastic cereal bowls, and have saved 100 pounds of food waste from the trash! (Since the beginning of the year!)

Snow on the compost!

So many bowls. ♻️

And, here at home, we finally had to take out the trash for the first time in 2019.

And I always enjoy sharing a picture of our beabull! He thinks he’s a tiny baby.

I’m feeling the nerves coming on pretty strong for tomorrow! I have my interview to compete for the county wide teacher of the year. I just want to represent myself and school well! I could use lots of extra positive vibes sent my way! So, here’s to a nerve wracking Monday!

Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

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!)

Lots of accomplishments and a busy week

I’ll start off with what I am still surprised by… I was chosen as the teacher of the year for our building! I’m very proud of this! I’m going to do my best to represent my school well on the county level and spread a little green teacher love!

This week I was officially announced as a master gardener! It takes a lot of time, but I enjoy it!

We have been busy around this place!

At school the kids are getting so much better at composting! They are the ones that tell each other what goes into the bin. But now I need to figure out how to get the unopened/uneaten food to the places that can use them! (Not in the garbage) Look at all if that waste:

I’ve got some ideas, but need approval and to make sure that it can all be kept in the fridge until it goes to a place that needs it. I’ll figure it out!

Last night I made some more honey lollipops and I will be taking pictures next time to share that process! They are easy and delicious!

I also have been reminding the teen quite often about needing to wash his face. Teens! So, I decided that he would appreciate some Star Wars scrubbies. And he does!

And for dinner this evening I made some pierogies. I followed the recipe for the shell and used leftover mashed potatoes for the insides (plus onions and bacon pieces). https://eatingeuropean.com/authentic-polish-pierogi-potatoes-cheese/

And this is how many 1/2 of the recipe made:

And now for the rest of my evening!

I hope that you all are getting some things accomplished this week! Keep blooming!

No Spend Year November Update

It turns out that not spending money blows people’s minds. They have no idea how staying home, making meals here and avoiding purchases would be possible. But, here we are, chilling out the house, shopping thrift stores and very rarely eating out. Recently I had to go to Kohl’s to buy my long legged 13 year old dress pants and we both did not enjoy shopping. It was foreign to us, but I had a gift card to use on those pants! And, they cost us $0 using that gift card!

So, we have been spending some money on our crafting. I’ve been using what I already have, but also creating new things like our honey suckers. It allows us to give lots of Christmas presents that are homemade and make money on the extras! I can use some of that earned money on the few gifts that we are purchasing!

Other than spending lots of time crafting, I have also been composting pumpkins like it’s my job! Why?! Because this will become garden food for the gardens and will help us produce lots of food! So, that’s well worth our time!

I unfortunately ripped a huge hole in my favorite jeans when picking up pumpkins. I’m going to do my best to find a pair second hand, but at least I have a second backup pair. And, I’m going to try to fix my original pair!

And checkout this awesome vest that was on the free table at school! I love finds like this:

Although the picture below looks like I eat alone, that never happens. I just took the picture before anyone joined me! But anyway, packing a lunch saves a ton of money! Plus, I swear leftovers taste better the next day!

This year for Christmas we are focusing on spending time with people instead of overspending. I love that my parents and brother don’t have to stress about buying gifts for each other. We get the kids something practical and spend more time together!

And, we decided to not buy wrapping paper and have been using my parent’s newspaper instead! And it can even be recycled afterwards!

We are slowly paying off our solar panel loan and our mortgage might just be paid off in less than 2 years! I can’t even imagine being debt free by 40, but it might just happen!

Do you have some financial goals? We started with paying off small debts and working that debt snowball towards our larger debts. Don’t let a setback make you give up! Keep pushing forward!

Greening up the school!

This has been a pretty great week at school! In case you are just stopping by, I am a third grade teacher and teach all of the regular curriculum and squeeze in Earth friendly lessons along the way.

Last year we were able to start a cereal bowl recycling program and recycled a grand total of around 500. More teachers have jumped on board and now we are recycling more!

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So far 446! (Since August!)

We have had a paper recycling program going on since I started teaching at the school that I teach at. However, last year we only had one out of many cans recycled due to contamination. So, this year we changed up the program, added more guidelines and it is going so much better! After sorting through it, I only had to pull out a few crayons, glue sticks and gross tissues.

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Almost 90 pounds! 

Last year I started begging about wanting to do some composting at school. I was told no, but persisted. Then I started a neighborhood composting program with my son this summer to learn more and practice mixing the browns and greens. Then, revisited it with my principal and composting guru and now we will be having waste free Wednesdays with our grade level. I can not even tell you how happy my green heart is!

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One of our new compost bins! 

Speaking of composting, we are up over 900 pounds here with our neighborhood program and have a goal of 1,000 pounds before we go on winter break. I hope that it happens!

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Getting closer! 

And lastly, we finally had to take out the trash. This is only bag 4 for the whole year! We might just reach our goal!

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Bag 4 for the year

So, pretty great progress this week! I have so many ideas that I want to do in the future! I love the feeling of hard work paying off and being given the chance to prove that I can do something! Here’s to teaching some 8 year olds how important this Earth is!

May Goals Update 2018

It’s June!!! Only another week and a half of school, the garden is coming to life and the temperatures are on the rise. I love summertime!

And here’s how the goals are going:

1. Expand the garden– it happened! The whole thing is planted! I have walkways and I’m doing my best to keep the weeds at bay! The trellises are all looking great too!

2. Fix the camper– We have been fixing up our home away from home! It is finished, minus a few little cosmetic things that I’d like to do! We love how it turned out! And the Mr. custom fit the bamboo mat for the bathroom area!

3.Travel out west- That camper is officially ready for adventure! It’s going to be happening this summer! I really want to see a buffalo, a few Great Lakes and the beautiful sights in Yellowstone! Oh, and spend another summer with my boy before he’s all grown up!

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat- There’s a grass patch in front of the garage that is begging to be returned to nature. So far we have raspberries, blueberries, black eyed Susan’s, brown eyed Susan’s, echinacea and a wildflower mix. And I’m pretty sure that some wild yarrow is coming up! And we are up to 2 inhabitants in the pollinator hotel!

5. Reduce garbage– Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. We are still working on filling bag 2! (Or actually not trying to fill it!) Still only 1 bag of trash! [/caption]

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- This month I spread some good! I volunteered at a STEM festival and helped to educate kids about the importance of bees! I saved all of the water bottles from being thrown out during a school event and the boy’s composting service has kept around 70 pounds of food waste out of the landfill!

7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair- the Mr. turned a broken window into a planter for the wildlife area! He also painted up and installed a cat litter container (now mailbox) in my garden so I’m not losing my garden trowel as often! And I turned some unused worksheets into notebooks for the boy to write down compost weights on! Great upcycling month!

8. Paw Paw trees– These native trees have grown near here for such a long time! We are now up to 2 seeds sprouting! I was hoping to at least have that many for cross pollination!

9. Build a pizza oven– I do believe that we are putting this off for another year.

10. Grow different produce

I am proud to say that the Tennessee dancing gourds are growing, along with the apple melons and all different kinds of tomatoes! The only seeds that didn’t germinate at all were the oriental long beans. Not a one!

11. Continue tracking the solar panels- May was a nice solar month, despite lots of rain! 1.6 MWh and just the connection rate fir an electric bill! (It’s around $5)

12. Work on garden cart sales– I am hoping to be able to put something out for sale this month! Maybe at least eggs! That cart is too pretty to not be used!

Last month I worked every single free minute in the garden. On more than one occasion I had a bad feeling that I bit off ore than I should have. But, not everything is planted and growing. I hope that your gardens are taking shape! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

Overload of homestead happenings!

Over the long weekend and all week long, we have been working all around this place!

The Mr. has been putting up better fencing around the garden that also connects the chicken area to the garden.

This is the new walkway in the big garden:

I also finally had a chance to string up the trellises for the pole beans. And I’m using the green bean teepee from last year!

I spent last night weeding the homestead tomatoes and yellow zucchini area:

And one of the yolo red pepper plants is producing its first pepper!

I have been (with the help of the boy) doing a much better job of keeping the compost greens and browns balanced! It was baking at around 130 degrees yesterday morning!

But don’t worry, I have still been chilling with the pup when I’m not in the garden!

I hope that every week continues to be as productive as this one! Keep blooming friends!

Pretty great day! 

To many, today was just an ordinary Tuesday, but to me it was remarkable! It started out with a 2 hour delay. When you’re a teacher, that’s a pretty great start to your day! While sitting here for a longer morning, the power company finally came to hook up our new meter for the solar panels! They are finally up and running! 

Solar power at work!


Then, we got the final format for our new homestead logo and we love, love, love it! It’s going to look great at craft shows with all of our products! 

Our logo!


Then after working a much shorter day, I had one of those dinners where I was able to help create less waste and use up food that was on it’s way to going bad. We made chicken salads, croutons from clearance bread and made chicken stock from the leftovers and will make some chicken noodle soup later in the week! 

At the end of the evening I spent it crocheting some chicken hotpads and adding the labels with our new logo! 

100% cotton crocheted hotpads


By the way, those are for sale on my Etsy shop: llewellynhomestead.etsy.com 

So maybe it doesn’t take much for me to be excited, but I am really looking forward to our new business venture! 

Here’s to more regular days turning extraordinary!