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!

So, what’s so great about our certified wildlife habitat?!

One of my favorite projects this summer was turning a patch of grass that we were annoyed to cut into a wildlife habitat. I envisioned bees, butterflies and birds flying around and beautiful flowers. And it was exactly as I imagined!

Here are some quick reasons why I absolutely loved this space last summer!

1. It was so beautiful when the flowers were blooming! I had no clue there were so many species of moths, butterflies and bees here!

2. It looked so much better than just the plain grass that was there before! When we built the garage, most of the topsoil was scraped away from that area. Now, from heavy mulching, the topsoil is increasing! And, my picture from last spring was pretty close to what we did!

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Before 
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After

3. We got way too excited when we saw native bees in the area and especially when they were using our upcycled pollinator hotel!

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Part of the pollinator hotel 
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A native bee on a teddy bear sunflower 

4 I have had people ask why I went to the trouble of certifying it and not just create it for free. That’s a great question! But here is what I have noticed, so many people have stopped and asked me about the sign. Questioned what the area was for. Or, who it benefits. The sign catches attention and creates conversation! We usually talk about everything that I’m mentioning on here! It spreads a great message!

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I still love the reused bamboo pole! 

5. And my most favorite part, that I didn’t even know would happen was raising monarchs! I loved finding tiny caterpillars on the milkweed and bringing them inside! I loved all three of us hunkered over milkweed plants screaming “I found one!!” As we pulled the leaf off of the plant to assure the safety of the caterpillar! We released close to 20 this year!

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A tiny baby! 
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Chewing on swamp milkweed 
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From caterpillar to chrysalis 
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The send off! 

So, where or what are the plans for next year in this area?! Well, I am planning on planting even more milkweed! (I saved lots of seeds!) I would love to actually get into tagging them before releasing them.

I also want to have more host plants for the swallowtail, like parsley and dill in this area. I’m hoping to get some native coral honeysuckle for around the archway to bring in more hummingbirds and add more nectar sources.

So, I’d highly recommend taking a patch of unused area and giving nature a helping hand. It was more than rewarding!

Honey, compost and outdoor school

This week was a busy one! All week I drove to the next county over to go to outdoor school and experience it with students from our school. We had a great week, despite the rain and muddiness! The hikes were my favorite part!

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The sun did manage to shine one day! 

When I got home, we spent one whole evening spinning and filtering some honey from our hives. It turned out a beautiful dark color and has a delicious taste!

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Beautiful capped honey! 
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Slowly filtering! 

Since it seems like the only weather we have anymore is rain, compost pickups are always rainy. I’m so lucky to have a great worker who doesn’t complain about getting rained on during pickups! Look how many pounds we have collected so far:

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Over 800 pounds so far! 

Even though that weather was not ideal, I was able to find a few sunshine rays that allowed me to release a few butterflies this week! 1 boy and 1 girl so far!

When  I was rushing out of the house earlier this week and I found this lone leaf in the driveway:

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❤️

I feel like the Earth was sending me some love back! We are pretty committed to each other! 😆

Wherever you are, whatever you do, try to bloom where you’re planted! 🌱❤️

Wildlife area update

We have slowly been turning our yard in front of the garage into an area for our pollinators. It will give them more pollen, nectar, water and shelter choices. It will also get rid of all of the extra grass cutting in this area!

Here was our basic outline of what we had in mind:

And here is how it is coming! Keep in mind everything will not be blooming for quite a while! Even though it mainly looks like mulch still, there are black eyed Susan’s, brown eyed Susan’s, purple coneflowers, yarrow, milkweed and white coneflowers. There will be more planted! We are using these adorable homemade stick gnomes that we created, so that we remember what we planted where! And, we decided that the perfect spot for the bird and bee waterer is right over by the garage! The sunflowers that came up early are looking big and healthy already! (1st picture) And the second picture is an echinacea bloom popping up!

Above, my Mr., who is always amazing me, created a planter from an old window frame that the glass was falling out of! It looks beautiful hung and I can’t wait to plant something beautiful in it! And have sunflowers growing all around it too!

We have lots more to plant and I’m hoping to get this certified as a certified wildlife habitat by July! I just want to make sure that I have all of the requirements checked off!

Have a great week! Keep blooming!

No Spend Year (April Update!)

So far we have still been doing relatively well with this whole trying not to spend money on frivolous things journey! I was so proud of the Mr. for finding a used pair of boots that he really wanted for when we go hiking. He found them on eBay and I’m pretty sure they are never worn! And he raves over how comfortable they are!

We were also able to go to the museum in Antietam, MD and camping without extra spending. We took our own food and drinks, played the free putt putt there and avoided the gift shop where everything was so expensive!

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We were working on his skipping rocks technique! 

Also, since the boy is starting his own little composting business, we told people nearby that if they were getting ready to get rid of something that the chickens would enjoy, that we would gladly take it! The chickens have been enjoying cabbage, lettuce, spinach, avocados and even some bread!

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They have been eating a lot less feed! 

And even though new buckets would look great for the boy’s composting  service, we decided to peel off labels and scrub down ones that were given to us instead! They will go out to his customers today. We did purchase easy to remove lids for them.

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He put in lots of elbow grease for them to look that great! 

And we are still growing pretty much everything from seed to save money. I love weird varieties of plants, so growing from seed is about my only option. I am going to get the squashes, watermelons and gourds growing in the greenhouse this week! They can go in the ground at the end of the month!

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All of the flowers have popped up too now! 

We also got back a nice little tax credit for the solar panels! So instead of buying something new, we dropped that money on the loan that we have for them. They won’t take too long to pay off either!

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And now for the things that I have bought: I purchased a nuc of honeybees, because most of my bees died this winter.

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They are doing well! 

We also have to buy fencing for the garden, but that needed done because of the old fencing breaking.

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It’s still a work in progress! 

Even though we are still spending money on our homestead needs, we are making huge financial strides! My braces (Invisalign) will be paid off next month. We still have no vehicle payments. We have no credit card bills (thank goodness!) and we are getting close to another $10,000 leap on our mortgage! We should have this place paid off before I’m 40!

Are you making your debt snowball roll?! We are trying!

Antietam trip! And new bees!

Over the weekend we got the chance to try out the camper before we take it out for a long trip!

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At the campsite! 

We went to the Antietam battlefield and museum first to give the boy a nice history lesson from the civil war. The murals on the wall even helped me better understand how the war progressed and we enjoyed looking at the relics.

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A wooden canteen 

We also walked many paths and wore those pups out!

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Walking the trails 

And it was hard not to stop and look at the size of monuments and think of the devastation that this area saw.

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Antietam,Md

We we to a nearby KOA and enjoyed their  amenities! We played mini golf, played by the stream, checked out the dog park and just enjoyed nature! I also felt at home when we saw that the campsite had a mini farm with sheep, goats and chickens!

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Just checking out the creek!

On the way home, we arranged our schedule so that we could pick up a new hive of bees to install when we got home. Nothing like a drive home with a hive of bees right below you!

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I could hear them buzzing!

So, after getting home, I rushed to install the new bees into their house and it was easy to spot the Queen! Can you find her?

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She’s right in the middle! 

So, we started making a long list of what all we don’t want to forget on our trip out west! It was a great learning experience! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

Happiness is simplicity!

Yesterday was quite an interesting day. I had been the middle person between the county waste service, our school and an outside source that provides insight on how to start composting at our school. We had a meeting and I thought everything was going well. The great news is that it was well received by the staff! The bad news is that our maintenance department is very against it. But, obviously they don’t know me well, because if they did they would know that this girl has lots of fight in her for this beautiful planet!

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I still am super enthusiastic about getting the program started! 

Since I used to be the person that would be ridiculously angry and say things that I would regret, I’m proud to say that I have become pretty calm the older that I get. It’s hard to be mad when there is so much happiness in my heart! So here’s a few things that get me up and going in the morning:

-Teaching anyone about the environment, gardening and beekeeping! Even my student teacher interns!

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Their goodbye gift from me (since we talked about all of the things at my tiny homestead often!)

-Growing everything from seed! (Or just watching anything grow!)

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Our grow lights are pretty filled! 
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The paw paw seed sprouting! 

-Watching everything come back to life in the spring!

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Our wine cap mycelium coming back! 

-Watching the bees awake from their long winter!

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Look at all of that pollen that she’s bringing in!

-Cleaning up this world and spreading goodness! With so much negativity in the world, I’m trying to make it a little better!

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2 streets of trash! 

-And, of course, raising this kid to be compassionate towards others, a good citizen, to have a love for our planet and everything in it and to live life meaningfully!

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Such a good heart in this one! 

When life kicks me down, I choose to think of all of the good around me and there’s a lot! What gets you up in the morning? What brings you out of your funk and makes your heart happy? Keep blooming (even on cloudy days!) 🌱💚