It’s a freezing out there, so I craft weekend!

Over the weekend the temps dipped around zero and just walking outside was painful! Add snow that turned into compacted ice, and even getting to the chickens is a pain. So, lots of inside activities are going on!

First up is my first quilt ever! I’m making the little chickens in groups of 9 and do an assembly line when making these! (And I had to fit in my chicken pin cushion too!)

And now I am up to 27 chickens (the sewn quilted variety!)

And a cold weather miracle started happening… the chickens started laying eggs again! I don’t put an heat lamps or lights in their coop, so I let it up to them to start laying whenever they’d like. And I only had to buy one carton of eggs this winter, so not too horrible!

Since everything has been so cold, not a lot of anything plant related has been going on. But, I am trying to get a real Christmas cactus to grow roots. I am also trying to regrow a pineapple from the top and grow some ginger from store bought. And the ginger is starting to grow some little buds!

They aren’t huge buds, but they are growing! If it continues growing, it will become a deck plant this summer!

And I started prepping the milkweed seeds for growing this year. They need to cold stratify for about a month. So, into a damp coffee filter and then into a container followed by the fridge they go. They will go into the soil around the end of February!

And I won’t lie, I also enjoyed relaxing on the couch with the pups! I started working on the paperwork to compete for teacher of the year and needed to relax a bit afterwards!

And that’s pretty much how the weekend worked out! And now to work a few more days until the next weekend!

Lots of accomplishments and a busy week

I’ll start off with what I am still surprised by… I was chosen as the teacher of the year for our building! I’m very proud of this! I’m going to do my best to represent my school well on the county level and spread a little green teacher love!

This week I was officially announced as a master gardener! It takes a lot of time, but I enjoy it!

We have been busy around this place!

At school the kids are getting so much better at composting! They are the ones that tell each other what goes into the bin. But now I need to figure out how to get the unopened/uneaten food to the places that can use them! (Not in the garbage) Look at all if that waste:

I’ve got some ideas, but need approval and to make sure that it can all be kept in the fridge until it goes to a place that needs it. I’ll figure it out!

Last night I made some more honey lollipops and I will be taking pictures next time to share that process! They are easy and delicious!

I also have been reminding the teen quite often about needing to wash his face. Teens! So, I decided that he would appreciate some Star Wars scrubbies. And he does!

And for dinner this evening I made some pierogies. I followed the recipe for the shell and used leftover mashed potatoes for the insides (plus onions and bacon pieces). https://eatingeuropean.com/authentic-polish-pierogi-potatoes-cheese/

And this is how many 1/2 of the recipe made:

And now for the rest of my evening!

I hope that you all are getting some things accomplished this week! Keep blooming!

Snowy weekend activities

Over the weekend we had a little snow storm come through. It amounted to about 4-5 inches of snow. Lucky for my Mr., I enjoy getting a little workout shoveling snow!

The chickens enjoyed pecking at the snow, and the coop looked beautiful surrounded by the snow!

I enjoyed checking in on the bees. If you push your ear up to the hive, they sound like a soft hum. It’s a beautiful sound!

Before the snowstorm, I was able to pick up some wood chips locally and clean up the coop. It looks so much better! (And still does!)

I have also been working hard on the chicken quilt squares! 18 finished so far!

We enjoyed our extra day off today, due to the weather. And, I hope that you all are enjoying these winter days! Keep blooming friends! 🌱❤️

The bees are still alive! (And weekend work!)

Weekends are always a mix of relaxing, spending time with family and getting things done! So when it’s a beautiful weekend in January, I have to get things accomplished!

First up are those honey bees! Both hives appear to be thriving. They were out, since the temperature was around 50 degrees and they can break cluster to go to the bathroom and get a drink! (And forage too!)

While I was outside I checked on the chickens and the garlic growing in the garden. And all were enjoying the gorgeous day!

I also spent around 30 minutes on Friday giving my Izzy dog a haircut, nail trimming and bath. She needed it! I figure we save around $30 every time that I clip her, and we have had the same clippers since our last dog! They definitely have paid for themselves!

Two of my students bought me plants for Christmas, so I repotted the the Norfolk tree and put the frosty fern in a terrarium to help keep the humidity where the plant likes it.

And I’m letting you in on another plant that I’m trying to regrow: ginger! I bought this chunk for 75 cents at the market (grocery store is what everyone else calls it!) and I’m hoping to get it growing well and have some to harvest in the fall. But, I guess we will see!

I hope everyone have the perfect weekend for you! Have a great week and keep blooming!

Becoming debt free!

Oh goodness, I’m blogging about money. So taboo for some reason! But, here goes!

Remember how last year we focused on not spending? We did a good job of keeping our debt snowball rolling. Well, rewind back to March of 2015, I would have laughed if you told me that I could be anywhere near debt free (including our mortgage!) by 2020. But we did the best first step of sitting down and writing out our bills and where our money went back then. So basically before this time, we paid our bills in a timely manner. But, we didn’t have a whole lot extra and made minimal payments.

We found out how much those quick trips to dollar general or a “run” into the grocery store were really costing us. We saw how much money we spent on eating out and buying soda. It was crazy! So, we starting slowly working on our debt. We paid off our car. Then, we worked on both of our orthodontics. Next up was paying off the truck.

This year, we are going to be attempting to pay off the rest of the loan for our solar panels and we will be doing extra patents to hopefully pay off the house.

So now on with the how. We did the smart thing of when we pay off one debt, we put that amount onto the next debt to pay it off sooner. And then on to the next. And last will be the mortgage. We will also:

Keep crafting and putting the money that we make towards our debts

Continue to pack our lunches and have no problem with eating leftovers.

Make our own snacks and avoid visiting the grocery store to pick up extras. (And make our own meals too!)

We will keep gardening and saving money by saving our own seeds.

We will keep growing our own food to save a few bucks in the summer. Plus preserve the rest for decent food in the winter.

We will keep composting and feeding extras to our chickens to give us extra food for the garden and yummy eggs for us!

We will also try to buy second hand when possible. Plus, fixing, mending and upcycling when possible.

So, do you have goals when it comes to your finances? If not, pull out those bills, take a deep breath and find out where your money is going!

And if you do have some goals, or other ways of saving, please share!

New Year Goals 2019!

Happy New Year! Every year I try to set a dozen goals and give monthly updates to keep myself accountable! (And because I love sharing our journey!) Throughout the year when I think about what I would like to accomplish, I make a running list. Some ideas get put into the future file. Some go into the never ever file and others make the cut! And without further ado, our 2019 goals:

1. Sew my first quilt– I have been wanting to try a new craft for quite a while. I wanted to take on a bigger project, and I wanted to make something for us. It’s going to be a chicken quilt and I found a great pattern online Here .And since I was super intimidated, I tried out a practice one. Even though it is far from perfect, I think that I’ve got this! I think!

2. Keep doing good for our community. I loved being able to help organize an Earth day clean up and donating to our local mission rescue. I plan on helping our community by organizing a clean up group and doing monthly street clean ups.

3. Can and save money on our groceries. We didn’t do a great job of canning our garden goodies last winter. I want to can more jellies, green beans salsa and other deliciousness!

Catsup!

4. Use that camper some more! Last year we remodeled and fixed up the camper and traveled to Yellowstone and back. It was a great trip and we have another family camping trip to plan in 2019!

The Badlands

5. Compost!! We are going to continue composting every Wednesday at school and greening up school in general! I’m hoping to have a school wide composting day on Earth Day! And, we are hoping to help our neighbors compost. Maybe we can compost 1,000 lbs again!

6.Little free library/seed sharing- We got a free cabinet that we are going to turn into a little free library with seed give away in it. My sister loved to read and I feel like it would be nice to build one in her memory. We are hoping to have it built and do a ribbon cutting in the Spring.

A local little free library we visited!

7. Grow some new plants: This year we are hoping to grow ground cherries better. Plus, grow blue pumpkins, corn and more gourds!

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 take out our huge swing set that hasn’t been used in such a long time and start getting rid of grass. A little bit at a time!

9. Keep reducing trash! We produced almost 6 bags of garbage last year. This year we are trying for only 5! So, monthly I am going try to make my own package free version of foods that we love that unfortunately comes in wrappers.

10. Create a Monarch waystation and tagging supplies-Last year we made a wildlife habitat area and we will continue to add to it! So we will add plenty of nectar and milkweed for monarchs to lay their eggs on. Last year we loved looking through the milkweed for caterpillars and raising them to become adults. It was so much fun! So this year, we would like to tag them and see if any of ours make their way to Mexico!

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! We will be working on something new every month. Examples: sewing on a button, cooking meals, using tools appropriately, changing a tire, properly ironing and folding clothes. And weirdly enough, my brother bought this book for him for Christmas:

And if you are local, you can feel free to bring your kid over if you think it is a skill that your teen needs to learn too!

12. Keep track of $ from gardening– I’d love to eventually break even on all of our gardening! So this year we will see if we earn more than we spend on all of our efforts! Maybe?!

So, there are our big plans! We hope that we will be able to accomplish them all! And we also hope that you all do too! Keep blooming friends!

End of the year 2018 goals!

Setting goals for the past 3 years has helped keep me focused and motivated. I love being able to look back at what we have been able to accomplish in a short period of time! Here are our 2017 goals, and the link for our 2016 goals .

Now on to the goals:

✔️1. Expand the garden- it happened! In 2018 we almost doubled the size of the garden, made lots of trellises and grew lots of food! It was a wonderful treat to see our hard work pay off!

✔️2. Fix the camper- Since we bought a second hand camper that needed a good bit of work, and we are pretty handy, we were able to go on a trip of a lifetime for not a ton of money! We were able to camp comfortably and not eat out too much!

✔️3.Travel out west-  We did it and enjoyed every single stop! We visited 3 of the 5 Great Lakes, camped on Lake Erie. Then camped at the top of the lower peninsula of Michigan. Drove through the upper peninsula and saw our very first moose! Camped in Minnesota and swam in the coldest pool ever! Camped in my favorite place, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, where we saw bison and prairie dogs for the first time! And hiked so many trails! Next up was Yellowstone! The geysers were so different than we expected and we loved seeing all kinds of wildlife, including grizzly bears at a distance and an elk right beside our truck! After that was Mount Rushmore, the pickers place in Iowa and lots of miles! Great experience!

✔️4. Create a certified wildlife habitat- There was grass patch in front of the garage that was begging to be returned to nature, and we did it! We raised monarchs, watched hummingbirds visit our yard and saw beautiful blooms instead of just grass! Read about how much we loved it Here!

✔️5. Reduce garbage- Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. Number 6 is still in the can, so I think we can call this a success!

✔️6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- This goal has been my favorite this year! I have enjoyed spreading the good! We have donated food to a local mission, dressed as both the grinch and Santa, donated labor and time through the master gardeners program, started a composting program at school, composted for our friends/family/neighbors, decorated the town with holiday decor and many more things! It wasn’t always fun, but giving does great things for your soul!

✔️7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair-  I have fixed clothes, instead of buying new. We have turned old doors new again for our garden and revived our camper! We were able to collect over 1,000 pounds of old food and turn it into garden food, and compost/feed to the chickens 183 pumpkins! And my favorite upcycle surprise was the broadfork made by the Mr!

✔️8. Paw Paw trees- Our 2 little trees are now dormant! I’m hoping that they come back next year! So, we did grow a couple little tiny trees from seed!

✖️9. Build a pizza oven-  we decided not to do this quite yet! We are thinking about how we want to use the space where the oven was going to go.

✔️10. Grow different produce- We have grow so many different plants! Huge gourds/tiny gourds, different melons and glass gem corn! I am hoping to give another big try to ground cherries!

✔️11. Continue tracking the solar panels- 2018 was the year of rain. It rained way too much, and the sun was not out nearly enough! But, power was produced and the bill has been consistently low!

✔️12. Work on garden cart sales- We have sold at craft shows, and had several produce sales here this year! The neighbors seemed to enjoy the source of produce and I enjoyed sharing my extras!

So, 11/12 goals completed is a success to me! I believe that we have our 12 main goals for next year set! And, goal setting is my most favorite thing to do every December!

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

Keep blooming friends!!