We’re Debt Free!

Our secret goal that we’ve been working towards!

I have to start with our backstory! This wasn’t a quick journey or one that was just started without much thought.

Rewind way back to 2005. We started our year off by having a beautiful baby boy. I had just graduated college (with some debt) and didn’t have a job. The Mr. was working and bringing in a decent income. However, we were barely making ends meet and babies are expensive.

Fast forward to the end of 2005, my beautiful and healthy 25 year old sister passed away very I expectedly. She was so close to really getting to the good part of life. She had just landed a better job. She had a great boyfriend and was starting to make some money. But, life just ended.

Still in 2005, my mom was battling 2 types of cancer, bills are crazy with those treatments and money was tight. (Hang in there, I’m getting to where our debt free journey begins, but these experiences definitely have altered my thinking.)

Moving on up 10 years. I finally heard of Dave Ramsey, money envelopes and a debt snowball. We had lots of bills and not a lot of savings. We brought our nest egg up a bit, and achieved our first big financial goal. We paid off my car!

Now we are up to March of 2015. We still have quite a mortgage and a truck payment, but the debt snowball was rolling. We tracked our money and budgeted like we should have been for a long time. And finally started writing everything down.

Our repurposed financial notebook

We started paying down the truck by making double payments (since we were used to paying the car payment, we just continued putting that amount towards the truck) and finally got that beast paid off in February of 2018. Yay! All that was left was the mortgage and the solar panels. So, we started making extra payments on the panels (we put what we used to pay for the truck and car towards the panels) and by May 2019, those were paid for!

And last, but not least is the house. We had been putting any extra money that we had towards the mortgage. It had been getting paid down a little at a time. From May until now, we have been paying every extra bit towards the house. And here we are in February of 2019, and we just paid off the house.

Here we are in 2019 debt free. I’m not even 40 yet, so now I question how much longer I will continue to work. I enjoy teaching, but I also enjoy spending lots of time with family, sewing, growing food and spreading my love for the environment.

I’ll end by saying that I didn’t share our story to be braggers. We live in a much different way than most. We don’t drive new cars, have the newest of anything, eat out often, live in a high end neighborhood or go on amazing vacations. I’m proud that we decided to achieve this before we were old.

The take away is that anyone can do this with time and dedication. Your journey might be longer or shorter. I acknowledge that we are blessed with good jobs (teacher and trooper), but we did not come from money. We are very proud of our accomplishment!

Keep blooming friends! 🌸❤️

2020 Goals!

I have been setting goals for close to five years. Writing them down and reflecting on what I have achieved makes me feel much more accountable.

One big change for my goals this year is that I’ve reduced the number of goals. I normally have about 12, but this year I have five main goals! And, here they are:

1. Get rid of more, use less and be more minimalistic– I have been able to get my trash down to around 6 bags a year. I also want to get rid of the things that are not meaningful. I’m hoping to find a home for a lot of the extra things around here!

2. Do good, be a good person and spread kindness– I try to volunteer often, and I’m always looking for more opportunities where I can do more. I’d love to focus on volunteering that aligns with gardening, growing for the pollinators.

3. Grow food, flowers and enjoy new plants– I love growing food for the bees/butterflies and some for us too! I have already made a few seed purchases of new varieties!

4. Be creative! Craft, forge, sew and do whatever makes our creative souls happy!– In 2019 I didn’t do much crafting. I was officially in a crafting rut. This year, I’m going to work on creating and crafting! (So will the Mr.!)

My favorite creation from last year

I ❤️ watching him create!

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

I’m not too sure where we will be heading this year or how local it will be. But, we will be camping, seeing places that we haven’t been to before and hopefully hiking some trails!

Secret goal! I also have one not yet posted goal. I’m going to post about it when it is accomplished!! And, hopefully it will be soon!

I hope that you have created a couple goals for 2020!

Keep blooming!!

2019 Goals Finale!

Hello 2020! After staying up finishing my quilt on New Year’s Eve, I am proud to say that my goals went pretty well this year!

2019 can be best described as the craziest roller coaster ride that I have ever been on. The ups have been going fantastic places and meeting fabulous people! The rough part has been watching my favorite person battle cancer and have way too many complications.

Beekeeping in December!

Crabbing in the Chesapeake Bay

And now, the goal updates:

1. Sew my first quilt– ✔️ Yes, it’s finished! And I love it!

2. Keep doing good for our community.✔️ we have done a lot with our little free library and also decorated the town for Christmas. We helped organize the town cleanup and did a few of our own street cleanups.

3. Can and save money on our groceries:✔️ We has a pretty rocking garden this year. We canned so many green beans, some salsa, jams and some pickles!

Moon and stars watermelon

Dickinson pumpkins

4. Use that camper some more!: ❌Maybe in 2020!

**so here’s the change: I have lots of traveling with being the teacher of the year, so we couldn’t get the camper out.

Ocean City!

5. Compost!: ✔️We composted 148 pumpkins, several bags of leaves and over 100 pounds of holiday waste. So much future garden food!

Holiday composting

6.Little free library/seed sharing- ✔️The Mr. built it, so many donated books towards it and many have utilized it. And the best part, it’s in memory of my sweet sister who loved reading and always wanted to be an author.

7. Grow some new plants: ✔️We grew so many new plants this year! The ground cherries turned out to be my favorite! But I also love how different and pretty that the Dickinson pumpkins are! Plus, the nest egg gourds are beautiful!

Our last harvest of the year.

Nest egg gourd

8. Yard to garden our bottom yard. ✔️We doubled the size of the garden last year and produced lots of extra food. That swing set was reassembled by a friend for her adorable twins. We harvested zucchini, purple tomatillos, green beans, carrots, luffas and peppers too!

**we have some trellis ideas for this space and ideas of what we are going to grow next year!

The after!

9. Keep reducing our trash ✔️We took out 7 bags of trash this whole year! Since I have been away a lot this year, I can say that I missed out on always getting pictures! But, we will try to do better in 2020!

10. Create a Monarch waystation and tagging supplies-✔️ It happened! We created a monarch waystation! That habitat was loved and used by so many pollinators! We released 186 butterflies (108 females and 78 males) plus a few swallowtails and even this beauty:

Pollinator garden in late September!

11. Teach the teen life skills– ✔️He had several tie tying lessons and he’s kind of getting it. Lucky for him, his momma is a good at that! Plus, he’s so much better at managing time and tracking his own grades.

12. Keep track of $ from gardening– ✔️We decided to use the money made from the garden cart to go towards the teen going to Disney with band. We made some spending $ for his trip and lots of neighbors enjoyed the cheap and local produce!

The last garden cart of 2019

Disney World was a delight!

See you later 2019! I am planning out what I’m going to accomplish in 2020 in my neighborhood/home/classroom! I hope that you’re completing your goals and thinking about 2020!

Keep blooming friends!!

Harvesting and planting on a Monday night

We had a light frost on Sunday evening, so I decided it was time to start bringing in most of the pumpkins and gourds!

I am absolutely proud of the huge Dickinson pumpkins that I grew this year! All 98 pounds of them! Plus, the birds helped to clean up the garden while I was working!

Beautiful colored pumpkins!

Ducks and chickens cleaning the garden!

We also were able to get more squash and a few more gourds out of the garden! Plus a few dried beans too!

Delicata squash

Scarlet runner beans

Birdhouse gourds

Spinner gourds

Egg gourds and a few jalapeños

Since the weather was so nice, I decided I better get the garlic in the ground too! And yes, there was a lot of compost added to the soil!

I saved lots of garlic for planting!

Lots of compost for the garlic!

Gorgeous strawberry blonde calendula

It turned out to be one great Monday night! If only winter went as fast as summer! Keep blooming! 🌸💚

July 2019 Goals Update

Where in the world have I been?! In the garden! I’m constantly harvesting, watering, pruning, weeding and mulching. But, I’m not complaining at all. I love this time of the year!

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! ** When momma feels up for it, we will quilt it!**

2. Keep doing good for our community. The school garden is starting to produce little cherry tomatoes. And, the farmer’s market in town is doing amazing!

3. Can and save money on our groceries: We had a decent harvest of cucumbers, so those were turned into pickles. Plus the green beans are all being canned for winter too!

4. Use that camper some more!: We were able to have a nice day at a local lake. It was perfect!

**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.

5. Compost!: We are still getting some food scraps dropped off, especially watermelon leftovers! The chickens love it! Plus, all of those composted pumpkins have regrown some volunteers for us!

6.Little free library/seed sharing- The Library is open and we have sooo many books! And check out that beautiful flag holder that the Mr. forged!

7. Grow some new plants: The ground cherries have really taken off! The bird egg gourds are going to look adorable in the spring, once they are dried out. And I’ve harvested a couple delicata squash!

Ground cherries

Bird egg gourd

Delicata squash

8. Yard to garden our bottom yard. We doubled the size of the garden last year and produced lots of extra food. That swing set was reassembled by a friend for her adorable twins. We are starting to harvest a good bit from this area!

After!!!

9. Keep reducing our trash We are now on bag 3. We are continuing to watch what we throw out, and I’m thinking bag 3 will be leaving the house in August.

10. Create a Monarch waystation and tagging supplies-Last year we made a wildlife habitat area and we will continue to add to it! That habitat is being loved and used by so many pollinators! The monarchs have been laying so many eggs. We have released almost 10!

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!

*he was washing and waxing cars a lot last month. The waxing was with our personal vehicles and the washing was for a fundraiser!

12. Keep track of $ from gardening– We decided to use the money made from the garden cart to go towards the teen going to Disney with band. We are slowly making a little bit at a time!

July was a great month for gardening! Mostly working in the garden and taking in the summer warmth!

Panorama of the garden

Tomato jungle!

Beautiful zinnias, black eyed susans and milkweed

Hoping to do a walk through the garden Wednesday! Keep blooming friends!! 🌸💚

Wednesday walk through the garden 7/17

The weather has been HOT!! When a rainstorm does happen, the plants grow right in front of my eyes! We had a nice harvest this morning! And, the flowers are blooming!

A few of the beautiful flowers blooming!

A jalapeño!

Tomatillo

So many green beans!

Bird egg gourd!

Red cherry tomato

Corn is tasseling

Dickinson pumpkin

Noodle beans

My first ripe ground cherry! It was delicious!

The garden is growing less weeds and more food!!

What are you harvesting from your garden? Growing some beautiful flowers?

Keep blooming friends! 🌻🌱❤️

June 2019 Goals Update!

June went by as quick as a flash!! We made our way to Ocean City, so that momma could have some fun this summer. School came to an end, lots of time was spent in Baltimore, I had an interview for MPT and spent the last part of the month attempting to get rid of weeds!

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! ** When momma feels up for it, we will quilt it!**

2. Keep doing good for our community. The school garden is looking better by the day! I was able to finally meet the hometown healthy coordinator and we will be getting our own farmer’s market here!

School garden tomatoes!

3. Can and save money on our groceries. Even though I had to buy the strawberries, I did get a few jars of jam made! And it is delicious!

4. Use that camper some more!: The boy and I enjoyed our trip to Ocean City! And I spent around a week in Baltimore too. I’m hoping that our family of 3 get to go on some sort of trip this summer!

**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.

5. Compost!: We are still getting some food scraps dropped off here at the house. And, we are continuing to compost our food waste too! Thanks to all of that compost from last year, we had a great garlic and potato harvest this year!! Around 60 pounds of potatoes and 80 heads of garlic!

6.Little free library/seed sharing- The Library is open!! I love watching people stop by and grab a book! So far this is my favorite goal! (and we have been receiving lots of book donations too!)

7. Grow some new plants: This year we are hoping to grow ground cherries better, and we got a lot of volunteers! The purple tomatillos are growing great and the purple potatoes look great!

8 ball zucchini

Purple potatoes

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 took out our huge swing set that hasn’t been used in such a long time and start getting rid of grass. The yard to garden is coming along!!!

After!!!

Beautiful fencing!

9. Keep reducing our trash We are now on bag 3. We are continuing to watch what we throw out! And we are participating in plastic free July and tracking how much trash that we are producing.

10. Create a Monarch waystation and tagging supplies-Last year we made a wildlife habitat area and we will continue to add to it! The butterfly weed is blooming, along with so much else! Plus, we are not collecting and raising monarchs in my new outdoor cage!

Chilling on the butterflyweed

Lady monarch on milkweed

Totally upcycled monarch cage!

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!

*he really stepped it up when I was out of town. He got himself out the door to school. Plus he has done his own laundry this month and has been putting the chickens away some nights.

12. Keep track of $ from gardening– I’d love to eventually break even on all of our gardening! We have only sold a couple dozen eggs so far, but the garden cart will be opening this month with some produce!

(No garden cart sales yet! But hopefully soon!)

June was a busy month! Lots of trips and then lots of work getting rid of the weeds when I got home.

After all the weeding!

End of June garden!

Keep blooming friends!! 🌸🌱💚

What’s blooming around here?!

It officially feels like summer here! With all of these hot days, the flowers are starting to bloom everywhere. And, the pollinators are happy!!

Bumble on bee balm

Swamp milkweed bloom

Borage bloom

Purple and white coneflowers

Marigold

Purple cosmos!

Zucchini bloom

Dragon tongue beans bloom

Before (top) After weeding (bottom)

I have been doing a ton of work getting rid of those pesky weeds in the garden. I used a lot of cardboard and tons on mulch on top. Hopefully that suppresses them for a while!

What’s blooming in your garden?! 🌱❤️

Wednesday walk through the garden 6/26

I have been working every evening at pulling weeds and mulching the whole garden. It is starting to look more beautiful by the day!

Tomatoes everywhere!

We also have quite the dill forest! I’m hoping to lure in some swallowtail butterflies!

Dill!

And now for the other beauties in the garden:

Dragon tongue beans!

Zucchini!

Dickinson pumpkin

Purple tomatillo!

Potatoes ready for harvest!

Over 80 heads of garlic harvested!

It was nice finally being able to get out in the garden and work! Hoping to get the garden stand set up this weekend!

What are you harvesting?!

Life has been busy! (But, so have I!)

Hello! I have had a long break from posting! I wish I could say that I’ve been off on adventures or vacationing. Instead, I have been spending lots of time with a loved one who has been in the hospital and not feeling well. I must admit that the waiting room in the hospital is pretty nice!

While in Baltimore, it was a quick drive over to MPT to be interviewed for the teacher of the year gala! It was a fun experience and it was so neat to have a behind the scenes view!

Since I have only been home about a week this month, I have a lot of weeding to do around here! So, here is my before picture of the garden. It will look so much better weed free!

My Mr. has been working hard on the yard to garden conversion! The space is being utilized so much better than just a patch of grass!

The butterfly weed is putting off the most beautiful blooms right now! (And the pollinators have been enjoying it too!)

Our little free library has been having a nice amount of visitors!! Plus, I have been excited to receive so many free books to put in there! Keep reading this summer kids!!

Last night I had a great moment! While working on bringBig mulch to the garden, I spotted a monarch caterpillar on the butterfly weed! So, monarch raising has officially started!

June has been a blur of running all over the state and finishing up the school year. But, there have also been lots of good moments too!

Keep blooming friends! 🌸❤️