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! 🌸❤️

Homestead-y week for winter

Sometimes it’s hard to have too much to post on here in winter. Nothing is really growing, other than the indoor plants. Absolutely nothing is being harvested and some days it feels like winter will be lasting forever!

It looks like fog, but it’s snow!

I am hosting a little local seed swap and I love seeing the varieties that are coming in!

So many great varieties!

I turned the huge pumpkin compost last weekend, and that beast is becoming one hot compost! I’m weirdly proud that there weren’t any chunks of pumpkin in there anymore. And look at that temperature!

Hot composting! 130 degrees!

On the cold days, I have been spending some evenings working on quilt number 2. The second row is finished!

I love that square with lots of bees! 🐝

And, I’m still turning those Dickinson pumpkins that I grew into some pumpkin pie! They make the most beautiful colored purée that I’ve ever seen!

Pumpkin to purée to pie and extra to chickens!

It’s nice seeing the bees flying around on the pretty days.

And I’m not going to lie, I’m still enjoying relaxing with my Sherman dog.

He is seriously the most snuggly pup I have ever had. I hope that you are staying warm and attempting to enjoy this cold season!

Keep blooming, even in the winter!

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!!

Imperfect food review #1

In the winter we do eat a lot of our own canned food. However, we miss access to fresh foods. We can get a lot of things from the grocery store, but usually don’t. Why?! It’s because it usually doesn’t taste good. Things go from rock hard to spoiled and don’t ripen. I just get tired of wasting money on things that end up in my compost pile or fed to the chickens.

So, we decided to get an order from imperfect food. They deliver here (with minimal and recyclable packaging) and it’s customizable. I’m picky and there are certain things that we just won’t eat. Now, on to our first order:

This is the small 1-2 person box!

It’s missing the sweet potato that was used in making some dog food (our bulldog has extreme allergies) and one fuyu persimmon is missing too because I ate it! (Pretty good!)

Overall, it was exactly what we put in the cart and I was able to form my meals around what we received. We only had one apple with a bad spot, but not a big deal. I compare priced the items at our local store and it’s almost exactly the same price ($32 ish). *and that’s not including the promo code that we got to use on the first box.

Here’s what we did with what we have used so far:

We have snacked on the oranges

The beef was used in tacos and we loved he sautéed Brussels

Some carrots were used in the bean soup

I made a tiny jar of apple/pear sauce

The chicken became orange chicken

New potatoes were boiled and then sautéed. Yum!

Lemon bars!

I was really impressed with the order and I am looking forward to receiving the next shipping! I plan on using this service until we start harvesting again and then I will take some weeks off and visit our own farmer’s market and enjoy eating local.

And, I was not paid or encouraged to do this review! It was my own honest review!

Keep blooming friends!

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!!

Beautiful December Week!

It has been so incredibly warm this week! Like, 60 degrees warm! I won’t complain at all!

Let me share my favorite thing that I got for Christmas:

I plan on riding this sweet ride to and from work when the weather allows. It has both a pedal assist and a throttle. It is ridiculously fun to ride!

I made some sugar patties for my bee friends and I was even able to get them out into the hives. The bees did not enjoy my visit, but I feel better knowing that they have a little extra food for the winter!

I also spent a nice chunk of the day moving the aged compost into the garden and turning the pumpkin compost into a new container. We took in a total of 148 pumpkins and we will be taking in holiday compost buckets this weekend!

Aged compost. Look at those worms!

The yummy dinner that I whipped up tonight was mostly homegrown! We are still using produce from our garden! Those are some of our homegrown potatoes and our last delicata squash. Roasted in the oven is the way to go with them!

And lastly, I have been enjoying my indoor plants. I am loving succulents and propagating them! This little baby is adorable!

I hope that you have had a few moments of joy during the holiday season! I’m trying to knock out the last of my goals for 2019 and I have some ambitious goals for 2020!

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?!

Who wants pie?!

This year I grew one really different looking pumpkin! I read that it’s the same kind of pumpkin grown and used by the Libby company. The funny part is, that it looks more like a squash than a pumpkin!

They grew really well here and were not attacked by vine borers or squash bugs too badly.

Since they are pie pumpkins, I couldn’t wait to make a pie! (Always make sure that you start with a variety of pie pumpkin! Field pumpkins are stringy and do not make a good pie!)

Now onto the pie making process! First I harvested these beauties:

Dickinson pumpkins!

After that I cut them in half, took out the seeds, roasted them in the crockpot (you can do this in the oven too), scraped out the softened pumpkin, puréed it and then mixed it with other pie ingredients!

Sliced in half and deseed

Roasted in the crockpot

Pumpkin purée!

The end result!

The guys say that it was delicious!

And now for my favorite fresh Pumpkin pie recipe

Have a great week and start dreaming about that pumpkin pie! (Or, if you’re like me, continue dreaming about what that garden is going to look like in 2020!

Keep blooming!!

October 2019 Goals

Hello November! Yes, it’s already day 12 of the month, but October was still beautiful! The leaves were so colorful this year!

During October I visited Ocean City MD to attend a conference and then back to Baltimore for the teacher of the year gala. It was a fun night!

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! ** I decided that this will be a December project!

2. Keep doing good for our community.

I had a book giveaway with Halloween. A few kids got a new book! I also finally got the plastic film collection box dropped off at town hall.

3. Can and save money on our groceries: I have been cleaning out the garden, so not much to be harvested! But, I did harvest all of those Dickinson pumpkins! Then, I roasted a couple and turned some into a pie!

The boys gave it 2 thumbs up!

4. Use that camper some more!: In October I traveled a few places to watch our teen play the bass drum in marching band. I also went to Ocean City for a conference and the gala in Baltimore!

**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 year.

Ocean City!

5. Compost!: We are taking in pumpkins, corn stalks and leaves in the months to come! (And getting a good many so far!)

6.Little free library/seed sharing- The Library has been having many guests! We got a few extra for Halloween too! Plus, we have been getting so many book donations that we need to go book bomb some other libraries!

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! I’m starting to look through seed catalogues at new ideas for next year!

Our last harvest of the year.

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 still harvesting 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!

The after!

9. Keep reducing our trash We are now on bag 5. Bag 4 left the house.

10. Create a Monarch waystation and tagging supplies-It happened! We have 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– 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 had several tie tying lessons and he’s kind of getting it. Lucky for him, his momma is a good at that!

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

October was flew by! I’m still can’t believe that it’s November! I’m already planning out what I’m going to accomplish this year in my neighborhood/homes/classroom! I hope that your 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! 🌸💚