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 review #2

Box number 2 arrived a day late, but in perfect shape. The funny part is that it wasn’t late due to the company. It was due to the weather. It snowed around 4 inches quickly on Tuesday! But, it still arrived nice and cold and everything looked great! (Plus they credited our account a couple bucks for the inconvenience!)

So, what came in the box?!

This is the 1-2 person box!

We received mostly what we requested. We wanted a mango, but it wasn’t available. (We were refunded) and we asked for a delicata squash, and it was substituted with a butternut. (Anyone have a favorite butternut recipe? Drop it in the comments)

So far we turned the lettuce, some spinach, a tomato and the chicken into chicken salads. They were delicious!

The oranges and kiwi will be enjoyed in our lunches. The potatoes and onions will be some sides for something hamburger-ish meal.

I want to slice and bake those huge carrots. I’ll have to report back on how those turn out!

And we use brown rice and sweet potatoes in the homemade dog food that we make. This guy is allergic to so much!

Another favorite part of these boxes is that I can try out different produce before I try growing it. The acorn squash is being tried out before we grow it this summer. I’m hoping that we like it! I think they are so pretty!

Next week we are skipping a box to make sure that we use up everything that came in! (Another thing that I love about this company!)

Overall, very happy with box #2!!

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!!

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!!