Thanksgiving break And composting

Thanksgiving was a nice break so far! Prior to the break, I’m still trying to volunteer around here as much as I can. I was able to decorate  many businesses with student-made artwork thanks to the wonderful teachers who I work with!

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Mittens in the library

I was also asked to play in a fundraiser basketball game against the Harlem Wizards, and of course I did! It was such a fun night and those fellows are entertainers!

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Yeah, we lost by a lot! 

Then, when I found out that the town needed a grinch for the Christmas tree lighting, I said absolutely! It was fun playing a character for the evening!

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My favorite fellow and myself! 

Our pumpkin gathering is going pretty well! We have been chopping pumpkins, feeding them to chickens and composting so many! We are up to 97 so far!

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Slowly breaking down 

To add to all of the pumpkins, we have to add a lot of browns! Leaves don’t break down well whole, so I throw them in a trash can and weed whack them into tiny bits! A whole bag becomes not too much!

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Bag of leaves 
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The same leaves all chopped up! 

The school composting has been going well too! We have diverted a little more than 16 pounds of food from the landfill!

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Our school compost 

I’m going to get some more pumpkins taken care of today, since it’s decent weather here! Hoping that you had a nice Thanksgiving!

Winter arrived!?!

Here in the Appalachian mountains of Maryland, the snow arrived. Usually we will get a few dustings before a major storm, but not this year. We got over 10 inches between Thursday and Friday!

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Lots of snow and ice to clean up! 

And did I mention that the Mr. enjoyed using the tractor to clear the driveway? It was like watching a little boy play!

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Clearing lots more snow! 

Since we had school cancelled for 2 days, due to the snowstorm, I was able to put up the student’s artwork around town for the holiday season! Those are the Santas that my students made!

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Small town decor! 

And because I wanted to use my time well, I finished a lot of projects that had been needing finished! There were lots of patches that needed sewn on uniforms and hooded towels to finish up. And they are all completed!

On Facebook, I was tagged in a post about making a crown earwarmer. It was a quick project that was fun and easy! I don’t have a little girl, but it seems like many like this sort of thing!

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Crocheted crown earwarmer

I have also been wanting to learn how to do some brush calligraphy and just started with some crayola markers around here. I think I’m kind of getting it! I need something to do since the weather is so cold!

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Just reusing the back of my boy’s worksheets! 

While sitting on the couch yesterday, I noticed that the cactus that I received as a gift 4 years ago is back to blooming!

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Beautiful! 

Im not sure if it is a Christmas or Thanksgiving cactus, so chime in if you know!

Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy time with your families!

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!

No Spend Year October Update

October was another month of working on our finances and we are also focusing on paying off those solar panels!

A few things that we sprung for were eating out once during a day off together. That was nice!! Turns out you really enjoy those experiences when they are more rare! And I found a nice pair of work pants at a thrift store for $1! Such a great deal!

We try to save where we can. As a gardener, learning how to save seeds is a way to save a ton of money for the next growing season. I have been saving everything that I can and I’m going to only have to buy a minimal amount of seeds for the next growing season!

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Some of the flower seeds that I saved

We also save about $15 a month by not having a trash service. We have only produced 4 bags this year, so that means I would have been paying almost $40 for each bag to be thrown away. Instead I have the option to drop them off myself for next to nothing.

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Less trash, more money

We also have been working on our crafting/Blacksmithing and making a few bucks on our creations. It’s nice to have hobbies that pay you back!

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Our craft display 

Another great way to save some money is to be a fixer! I know people throw out a lot, instead of just fixing it! The arm on our couch just needed a needle and thread!

Right now we are also shopping around for new insurance and comparing prices. When we are both driving paid off vehicles and have luckily not been in accidents in a while, it seems like we are paying a crazy premium!

Next up is trying to take it easy on our finances while the holiday season is upon us! We already have some ideas for family members, but I still wish that we could just enjoy spending time together! I just can’t stand buying literally junk. Ugh! (Not for my kid, other family members!)

Does anyone have some insight on how to avoid buying so much ridiculousness during the holidays? Thanks for any ideas!

 

October Goals Update 2018

Adios October! And oh my goodness there are only 2 more months this year! However, I feel like we have made the most out of 2018! So, we are ready for November!

1. Expand the garden- ✅it happened! It has been cleaned out and the chickens and ducks have been enjoying getting to run through it! I loved the layout of it this year!

Our October Garden

2. Fix the camper- ✅We fixed up our camper and loved using it on a trip of a lifetime! I catch myself thinking about the fun that we had this summer often!

Picnicking in Yellowstone!

3.Travel out west- ✅ We did it and enjoyed every single stop! I loved hiking the trails and still think about how we packed a lunch, went on a long hike and then ate our lunch while watching buffalo and wild horses in the distance! 🌏💚

Old faithful!

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat ✅ There was grass patch in front of the garage that was begging to be returned to nature. So, we did! Everything has slowly died off, but I have saved so many seeds for next year! I’m hoping to add more native plants!

Milkweed that I saved from a lawnmower!
Seeds that I will be using next year!

5. Reduce garbage- Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. We are up to 4, so I think we have a good chance of making it!

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- I gave away an old Halloween costume and spent tons of time working on our composting program for school. Between phone calls, meetings and emails I have a lot of time wrapped up in it!

7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair-  This month I participated in a seed swap to give out our seeds that we have a lot of and make room for new varieties! Oh, and the Mr. fixed my phone case that I accidentally broke. Yay for a resourceful spouse!

8. Paw Paw trees- Our 2 little trees are looking great! They were repotted and put outside to get used to the weather. They are starting to lose their leaves now! They are preparing for winter!

9. Build a pizza oven- ❎ we are not doing this one this year. We are trying to figure out how we are going to change up the backyard next year! (We have an interesting plan for next year!)

10. Grow different produce- We have grow so many different plants! Huge gourds, different melons and glass gem corn! I just enjoyed some kale and broccoli from our garden just last week!

11. Continue tracking the solar panels- October was also a rainy month, but we still produced enough power to keep our bill at the $5 connection rate!

12. Work on garden cart sales- We sold our Blacksmithing and sewn crafts at a local craft show and had a great weekend!

I am pretty proud of the steps that we are making towards achieving our goals! And, I have a list of close to 30 different goals that are on the chopping block for 2019!

Are you thinking about next year already? Anything that you think we should give a try to?

Keep blooming friends! 🌱

Composting at school

The time has finally come! It was not a well loved idea throughout our county, but change is hard. (Especially if you have not composted yourself before!) I know that we need to teach these youngsters how to compost and be less wasteful, and I’m proud to say that there were many learning moments!

First up was setting up the bin! The location had already been suggested by our composting guru/consultant. I just had to put the bin in place and stake it down. The county that I live in waste management actually donated 2 of these bins to our school!

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Set up and ready in the new location! 

Then, I put some newspaper down to keep the grass from growing in there, a few leaves that were right beside the bin and next up were some leaves. It was topped off with a touch of compost from my bin to get it started!

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All ready to start composting! 

On Wednesday’s lunch shift I went down to the cafeteria to sort out our third grade’s leftover lunches. And here is what we noticed:

1. Kids took straws even if they had no intention of using them. (And extra straws!)

2. They take stacks of napkins, instead of just 1!

3. Some kids didn’t even touch their whole lunch! As in nothing at all!

But with all of that said, we composted 5.44 pounds of compostable materials!  Then, I added the sawdust to keep any smell from developing.

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Our first pile added to the compost! 

Next up, I put the buckets next to my car to clean out and bring in more saw dust to start the whole process over again on Wednesday next week!

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Our compost buckets ready to be washed! 

Overall, the process went well. The student compost volunteers did such a great job of telling the other students what can be composted, and the cafeteria staff have been so kind to allow us to come into their space and start something new!

It is awesome to see kids get so excited about composting and reducing their waste! We definitely need to teach them young! 🌎💚♻️

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!