No Spend August Update

How in the world have I not gotten around to updating about our no spend year? Well, the main reason is that it has just started to become a norm for us. And, I can officially say that we made it through the summer without dipping into the savings. That’s a first! Getting a paycheck was sooo nice!

Since the school year started, we really didn’t buy much for the beginning of the year. The only things that the boy needed for school were a new pair of shoes (which we do splurge for since that is all that he actually cares about), and a binder. As for me, I only bought a new pair of sandals, because mine completely broke! However, I had a gift card and got a great deal!

In August, we went on an end of the summer getaway. We took the camper and the pups and headed to the Chesapeake Bay to enjoy a beautiful weekend. We used our KOA rewards card (from our camping trip this summer) and saved some money and packed all of our own meals. So, lots of savings!

Camping at the bay

We have also been harvesting lots more from the garden. The boy and I have had way too much salsa in the past month, but we still had more last night! I know that technically it doesn’t save us money, if I calculate in how much time and effort I put into it. However, since I love gardening, that also gives me a free workout and yummy food!

Haul from the garden

Another way that we save money is finding things around here that we enjoy doing that don’t involve leaving the house. Have I mentioned before that I don’t really like going out in public? It’s not the people, it’s just that I have talked all day to little people and I just want to stay home and relax. So, one thing that I have loved doing here lately is raising the monarch caterpillars that are on my milkweed. I collect the little caterpillars and feed them and keep them safe until they come out of their chrysalis and then release them to nature. It is fun for me! Heck, I even have the rest of my family looking for the tiny creatures.

Handsome male monarch

The composting service that we provide for 12 families has been a nice addition to the food for the chickens. They love the extra fruits and veggies and also kicking around in the compost looking for bugs. Double win!

Squash for the chickens

The garden produced so many tomatoes this year! I have sold some, given some away, chopped them for salsa and this weekend I have canned a lot of them for ketchup and pizza sauce. They will give us some delicious fresh food in the winter!

Ketchup from our tomatoes!

I was also able to put up some zucchini for future zucchini cake this winter and took a few pie pumpkins that we grew and turned them into a yummy pumpkin pie. The boys said that it was delicious.

Homemade pumpkin pie!

It’s so weird how you just get used to not really spending money. I won’t lie and say that we haven’t had any take out this year, but it has been a very rare occurrence! My husband and I have been packing a lot more for lunch and eating up the leftovers more often. So, that cuts back on waste more too. This year of saving has made us realize how wasteful that we can be.

I really am hoping that we can continue to find more ways to save, and would love to hear what else that you all do! Any tips that we can try in September?

Keep blooming friends!

August Goals Update 2018

Well September, you just snuck right up on us! August helped to grow some delicious food and work in some fun before school started!  And here’s how the goals are going:

1. Expand the garden- ✅it happened! Everything is growing pretty well and I’m hoping that I continue to get great harvests! The before and after below!

8CF6D954-DEAE-49D9-9810-9258A52647D3
My big idea
37686419-8EE4-40A9-9D68-A23B17DB7C55
How it turned out! 

 2. Fix the camper- ✅We fixed up our camper and loved using it on a trip of a lifetime! This month we took the camper on another trip in August to the Chesapeake Bay!

6178D29F-FAB2-4E81-AA7E-D3DF2397C789

3.Travel out west- ✅ We did it and enjoyed every single stop! We are still talking about our fun trip and I love hearing the boy talk about what he saw and what he learned! (I am still in awe of all of the beautiful sights that we saw!)

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat ✅ There’s a grass patch in front of the garage that is begging to be returned to nature. So much is still blooming! And my favorite part is that I have been able to raise and release monarchs because of the milkweed planted!

F30287FC-1FBD-4AF0-8B4E-BCC07CEFDFC6
A beautiful female tgatcwe released last week! 

5. Reduce garbage- Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. We had to finally get rid of bag 3.

8DF635B8-6627-4C13-87BE-904D0E685174

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- This month we had an excess of cherry tomatoes, so the boy and I walked around the neighborhood to give away extra tomatoes! We also passed along a lot of my boy’s clothes in to people who could use them!

7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair-  This month I upcycled some old cat litter containers into recycling centers at school and into more compost buckets for my son’s composting service! 

8AC5796C-A9AE-425E-B343-21FB52981211
Recycling center at school 
45AF297A-2438-4A8C-8A7C-AE53979397EE
Upcycled containers from kitty litter and laundry detergent containers 

8. Paw Paw trees- Our 2 little trees are looking great! They are going to be repotted this month and set outside to start being put into dormancy 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!

10. Grow different produce- We have been able to start harvesting some of those different fruits. We ate our first Apple melon this month and have picked so many cucamelons.

FD240FEA-00B5-478B-A257-B3607A4D2CB7
Glass gem corn 
F1B0847E-BA1D-4137-8A19-09E83491EAC6
Apple melons

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

A5A27665-BE65-443F-BE3B-32CE33F72D3A

12. Work on garden cart sales- We have been selling lots of extra produce to friends and neighbors! Mostly tomatoes here lately! I love being able to sell organically grown deliciousness to people who can enjoy it! (Below is before and after our sale)

How have you been crushing your goals lately?! Have you been enjoying any deliciousness from your garden? Keep blooming friends! 🌱

Walk through the garden 8/30

The garden is still producing lots of yummy food for us and we finally have a watermelon making an appearance!

F12CF9C4-E36D-47B9-A2A5-93E50C990132
It’s got a long way to go in a short time! 

I also peeked in on the glass gem corn and its looking beautiful!

FD240FEA-00B5-478B-A257-B3607A4D2CB7
Glass gem corn 

I am finally starting to see some Brussel sprouts! I’m hoping that I like them!

7125C741-5C69-4017-9A1C-DDE2EBAA1781
Brussel sprouts! 

A couple of the carrots bolted, so I figured that I would collect the seeds for next year!

1C4980FB-0E18-49A3-839E-CEBE25B61D41
Flower seeds from carrots 

The tomatoes are still producing! We will be making lots more sauce and salsa! Yum!

AAC04B0E-4954-4643-93A8-1244D359D1AE
San Marzano tomatoes!

The luffas have been loving this hot weather this week! There are 5 taking over the door!

BCD919D5-100C-47F3-BAD4-B45B3A2883B2
Lots of little luffas! 

Here is a garden picture of last month compared to this month! A lot of the plants are dying off and others are taking off!

3AA234C6-7F1E-4D57-AE8E-2FA2D38ED9A4
July garden 
B7C27654-3AF8-460B-AD12-B09F5908B8E9
August garden 

And I know that I have said it before, but I am still loving the pollinator garden area! We released our latest homegrown monarch! It was a girl!

F30287FC-1FBD-4AF0-8B4E-BCC07CEFDFC6
#7 didn’t care for getting a picture! 

Even though there is still lots of empty space, I’m loving the way that the wildlife area has worked out!

DD005C3A-BD7F-405E-B66E-6EF234806B54
Our little wildlife area! 

I hope that your garden is still giving you lots of food and beauty! 🌱❤️

Canning and back to work

Last week was a long one! Going back to work means prepping for a new school year and SO many meetings. (And sitting in seats made for 8 year olds during those meetings!) I am absolutely exhausted by the end of the day! But, everything will be ready by the first day for my students!

I have been able to get in the garden several nights this week and had a few nice harvests! I need to make so much more out of tomatoes!

6E219567-19F4-4FDD-8B65-26BC6B773923
Nice harvest right out of the yard! 

We also had our stand set up this weekend! We had lots of customers!

3CE80599-A9B7-45FD-B4ED-8974A731B1F2
Our tiny produce stand 
B8B5C939-F0C7-4276-8B21-FC6263C0D745
All of the tomatoes still left after the sale! 
3EBBBAAA-14B3-4F86-9D72-F95BB0E44A48
Some salsa ready canned and delicious! 

We finally had to take out the trash. Our goal for the year is to only make 6 bags, so I am thinking that we should be ok!

6D82C66A-2A7F-4709-A84A-9EC2AE6BEB0B
Bag 3 and both dogs made it in the picture! 

We also did the compost pickup today. It takes a lot of scrubbing and cleaning, but we only upcycle unwanted containers for the compost. The regular buckets are from a company’s laundry detergent and the left are kitty litter containers.

45AF297A-2438-4A8C-8A7C-AE53979397EE
Upcycled and ready to be used! 

And check out how much we have composted so far:

8511A7E9-B871-4640-8DD6-0961352E5BB3
717.24 pounds!!!!

And last, but no least, we found 13 more monarch caterpillars that we will be raising and releasing!

7ECD557D-0C66-4169-8035-CF37B6E57DCB
So many babies! 

And our last 2 were ready to be released on Thursday! 1 girl and 1 boy! (The girl flew away immediately!)

A6080F69-163B-49DD-8D4B-A33F5AB3A754
This handsome fellow even posed for me! 

I’m looking forward to getting myself back in the work routine and hopefully having a great school year! Keep blooming! 🌱❤️

A little weekend getaway!

Before we headed out of town, I picked everything that was ready to be harvested! It was a huge harvest!

ACCA7EAE-01E1-4D31-B5B0-E7208E9A4766
We have a lot of canning to do! 

And the yellow cosmos flowers started blooming too! They are so pretty! The pollinator garden has definitely been very pretty this year!

C7D217D2-3D7D-4CD3-A5B8-84EBFEBA01D2
Yellow cosmos 
73623CE2-2F6D-46F9-B1E4-8B2C9991C751
So many blooms in the garden! 

Our weekend trip was to a Koa on the Chesapeake bay! It was the first time that my boy went across the bay bridge!

219653FF-CBA6-40DF-9AEB-AD29F3CA902A
Such a long bridge! 

It had a nice beach and we saw blue crabs, horseshoe crabs and even a skate! Plus the waves were much larger than we anticipated!

6178D29F-FAB2-4E81-AA7E-D3DF2397C789
The beach at the campground 
1E74BC41-9A2C-44FC-9648-CB7F0514D963
All set up! 

And the pups seemed to enjoy the trip!

493FF3D3-F2DE-4573-8AA5-27492CCA70F1
Sherman on the beach 
F6BF3825-6EFC-4072-A258-D62D77950D6E
The pups love watching dinner being made! 

Then we came home and we had some surprises waiting for us! One of our new girls laid her first egg!

31A4E896-8A60-4F94-94E4-63745CDDE7C6
It’s about half of the size! 

And the most exciting part… 3 of our monarchs emerged from their chrysalis! We hatched 2 girls and a boy! So pretty!

7F2F12DF-A4A4-4C4D-B637-3A8FFF4E293E
Our first butterfly released! 

We also finally tried an Apple melon! It was really good! It tasted like cantaloupe, but was crispy kind of like an apple or pear.

F1B0847E-BA1D-4137-8A19-09E83491EAC6
We thought it was really good! 

And now I have a list of way too many things that I need to get accomplished before I go back to school on Wednesday. Even when things get busy, keep blooming. 🌱❤️

No Spend July Update!

July used to be a tough month for us, since I don’t get a paycheck from June until September. (Teacher problems!) We normally had to dip pretty heavily into the savings. However, we haven’t touched it yet!

I was able to score a brand new pair of shorts from the goodwill for a whopping $4. Since my sandals broke, I was able to use the remainder of a gift card and only owed $5!

We have also been selling off our extra produce and we will be putting that money towards seeds for next year!

FA7DB7BF-824D-41F3-A12C-9EC5449918FD
I have awesome neighbors and friends! 

I have also been able to make lots of food from scratch with the ingredients from the garden: salsa, dill fridge pickles, salads, tomato sauce… and that means fewer trips to the grocery store!

2E698F43-F183-48F0-A3AB-B059EE53AF2A
Grateful for a bumper crop!

And we have even been able to put up some for winter! (Which will save me money eventually!)

0B2E3078-B7FA-48B7-BE9B-2D2254D2EDCD
Green beans for winter! 

To keep the garden cart sales rolling, I have started my fall garden seedlings! It looks like there will be more beans, spinach, lettuce and kale!

1F6E2E45-8C7A-4B3E-8A3B-5B50D1377E4E
They have tripled in size since this picture! 

Instead of spending tons of money with entertainment, we spend the days relaxing, walking/working in the garden and my favorite, hammocking with my Sherman!

A84EEDDF-AAFA-40A6-95E5-C2DDD2C5721E
His favorite hobby is relaxing! 

I am hoping to be able to stay away from the savings in August too, which is hard with back to school time. I don’t need anything new and the boy only needs new shoes and basic school supplies. And no, I don’t think a kid needs a whole new wardrobe because it’s the start of another school year!

So, how has your budgeting been going? Are you paying anything off, or have some major financial goals? Whatever you do, keep blooming! 🌱❤️

Walk through the garden 8/9/18

My garden, overall, has been doing so well this year! The trellises seem to be helping plants not take up as much room. The tomatoes are all starting to ripen. And, I’m finally starting to see gourds growing larger and sunflowers blooming away!

6FE9361D-B5A9-4E7D-B969-D3683BFC2054
Harvest from Monday! 
7556BC29-AF7F-4A24-85EC-94BA418A8D7A
One of my larger pumpkins growing in the garden 
843B8C89-6E3F-4CAE-849F-8608714E89B8
Teddy bear sunflower 
F6D7C5EC-2D13-42E2-9E75-CFFE58CD54B9
Spaghetti squash (it’s huge!)
C53A0A11-5DB5-4514-BFBB-EC5B802B83C2
Glass gem corn 
2289168A-D993-44E2-ABD5-472B6A85D10F
All of my varieties of tomatoes 
D4928898-7F89-4AD0-83D2-4B75EC3BFC6D
Luffa are finally taking off!
7D59EF5B-D57F-4B18-ADCF-C51D54195A39
My what the heck peppers! I ordered red bell pepper seeds and this is all the plant grows. 
6D7026A9-0BC6-408A-9D8B-BF22B1568EBF
Bushel basket gourd! It’s about the size of a kickball! 

We have been getting so much rain here, so I’m fighting powdery mildew and plants that are just sick of water. They are needing some nice, dry and warm summer days here and there!

How are your plants doing? Are you harvesting a lot from the garden? Are your tomatoes turning red and did you get any wrong labeled seeds this year too? Just keep blooming! 🌱❤️

July Goals Update 2018

Hello August! This summer has been an adventurous one with some more to come! And, the garden has been producing lots of food for us too!

And here’s how the goals are going:

1. Expand the garden– ✅it happened! Everything is growing pretty well and I’m hoping that I continue to get great harvests!

A124B59B-2966-4025-BDFA-06604966EB0B
From May to July! What a transformation! 

2. Fix the camper– ✅We fixed up our camper and loved using it on a trip of a lifetime! This month I found some bins that fit nicely under the second bed (for clothes) and crocheted a handle cozy for the skillet that we keep in the camper!

3.Travel out west- We did it and enjoyed every single stop! We are still talking about our fun trip and I love hearing the boy talk about what he saw and what he learned!

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat There’s a grass patch in front of the garage that is begging to be returned to nature. There are lots of critters enjoying the new area given to them! I actually saw a brand new monarch caterpillar emerge from its egg!

5. Reduce garbage– Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. We are still filling bag 3!

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- This month I did a giveaway on my Facebook page for a zero waste kit. I also spent most of a week volunteering for the master gardeners. I’m trying to get all of my hours in over the summer!

7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair- this month we didn’t remake anything big. We did, however, turn a large chunk of bamboo sitting around here into a post for the wildlife habitat sign!

0E71A2EE-5C3D-43AF-ABEB-547E401C2BB4
Bamboo post! 

8. Paw Paw trees– These native trees have grown near here for such a long time! The little sprouts are starting to look like trees, and we have 2! Now I’m thinking about the perfect place to plant them!

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!

10. Grow different produce-I found my first Apple melon this month!(top left) ate my first ground cherry (bottom left) I’m enjoying the bushel basket gourds growing (middle) and there are lots of spaghetti squash growing (right)

11. Continue tracking the solar panels- May was a nice solar month, despite lots of rain! 1.72 mwh and just the connection rate for an electric bill! (It’s around $5)

5C4E0168-D62B-4555-B9D6-AC938B31FCDF

12. Work on garden cart sales– We have held a couple garden cart sales this month! I’ve sold a few zucchinis, cucumelons, garlic cloves and even some birdhouse gourds!

FA7DB7BF-824D-41F3-A12C-9EC5449918FD

Last month just flew by! We are looking forward to creating more memories before school starts back up! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

Looking for the sunshine

Over the past few evenings, we have been getting so frustrated with trying to trap a raccoon that has managed to eat 2 chickens and scare a third one. The chickens are on extreme lockdown right now.

801D4B83-913D-46E5-9752-60603F1E5F57
Little trash panda 😢

But, this is just part of taking care and raising anything. It’s frustrating, breaks your brain while looking for a solution and makes you feel like a failure. Instead of focusing on the negative at hand, I decided to look for some things that are going right at the moment. So, here are a few rainbows among the storm:

52FCC9A2-789C-4786-B9DF-A377B2BD67B0
Found a beautiful monarch caterpillar on the milkweed!
1AA0204F-ED00-4471-ADB4-DD83BDEECB30
The zinnias are blooming and are gorgeous! 
A2E81510-BE87-458D-9428-DDCCA50C770F
This is a beautiful nicotiana flower! It has such a beautiful scent! 
BB3CA7CF-7359-4E7B-AE00-0FC24EFD79F1
A pale yellow sunflower with native bee
68AE5924-50A5-4766-8505-6FFD3DBA7CFE
A honeybee on the cucamelon blooms

Then, I spent the evening preserving some of the leftover produce from the sale on the weekend.

31BB7CD7-3933-4C86-A7E3-918F973C5A2B
Cucamelon and cucumber fridge pickles 
90D547B1-B897-42C0-ABCD-C34C36B72708
Tiny amount of blackberry jam. (And this reminded me so much of my Granny!) 

And this definitely made me feel better! This is a little before and now picture:

A124B59B-2966-4025-BDFA-06604966EB0B
The top is May and the bottom is now 

Anyone else dealing with garden or animal issues? Try to remember that while some things are bringing you down, there are still lots of successes out there! Keep blooming! 🌱💚

Walk through the garden 7/26

It has been raining a lot this week! I need to get out there and weed and pick some pests (squash bugs and Mexican bean beetles) off of the plants!

Even though we do have some pests trying to take out some plants, we are still getting lots of produce!

48BE98F0-7A60-4E9B-B81C-6047CF46C21F
Harvest from yesterday! 

The pollinator garden is putting up some pretty flowers too!

63D84EC8-D630-423E-A23E-DD0E90D0C29C
Cardinal flowers 
78DA351D-108C-4822-816D-CDB33296366A
Bee balm 

And now for the garden too:

630951B8-80FF-4BAB-954A-3C90E804ABAC
Dill getting ready to flower
B34EBB33-7915-46CB-BBAE-187C202BF3E5
Our first cantaloupe this year
4D63F0C7-0D9C-41E8-B5D1-5679D5A9E344
Possibly our first luffa
EEDEAAA3-0F71-4442-91F4-1744E8E108DC
The largest bell pepper!
63AC0354-4E75-4F21-969B-FCB1A6986170
Spaghetti squash 
B049773E-988D-4F58-AA5F-9B937802A794
Scarlet runner bean teepee
1062C62E-CF2A-46E3-9CA3-5B67D9B13CF8
My first ever bushel basket gourd

I love that the garden is still looking nice and healthy so far!

3AA234C6-7F1E-4D57-AE8E-2FA2D38ED9A4
Our beautiful-to-us garden

I have started a few seedlings for my fall garden. I’m hoping to get some lettuce, spinach, kale and broccoli, but we will see how everything does!

Whats still growing well in your garden? Are you growing a fall crop?

Keep blooming friends!

Weekend walk through the garden! 7/21

Hello all!! Gardening has been on the back burner because I have spent 30 hours at the fairgrounds volunteering towards my Master Gardener hours! I’m pretty much finished with my hours for this year!

EA252C31-D863-4740-90A4-126A9057D291
I’ve talked so much about plants, bees and composting this week! 

Lucky for me, the plants have been enjoying the hot weather and rain today! Here are a few of the great things growing in the big garden:

386BD6D6-720A-4B24-9795-958B860C67E2
One of the cantaloupe 
7602B6B9-05B6-4329-9B07-2FA25A23918E
There are so many dancing gourds
8F68DDD9-D581-495A-AFD3-F2A268E7F26A
A pie pumpkin!
4F8F2A27-BC56-4425-BD44-933DEA737EEC
The tomato jungle, corn and luffa on the fence 
3E744C70-590F-4D83-A566-70ABFA9F2DBB
A scarlet runner bean 
5F66036E-7ED1-40C1-8DC3-8803FE21301E
My first ground cherry! And it was delicious! 
340C5726-8AE0-44E9-B9BB-3763F5EB5E0A
Pole beans poling! 
47DC2216-6CFB-4BAA-9592-B2397CD5D416
Spaghetti squash 
317B9047-7A76-4C5A-95F3-7B7F2C6B70F5
Volunteer pumpkin plant 
AEBA946B-C47A-4EA2-A919-BD8F387F2599
Apple melon! 

And the haul from the garden today! I even found a few blackberries growing by the sheds!

E2CE3A78-6C36-4FA3-8813-B1FE21ACD464
Nice haul today! 

What is growing well in your garden? My zucchini plants are starting to fizzle out a bit and I’m going to start my seeds for the fall garden this week! Keep blooming! 🌱❤️

 

Certified wildlife habitat!

One of our goals for the new year was to turn the front lawn by the garage into a wildlife habitat, and I’m happy to report back that we did!

The check off sheet for certification:

D8925A62-16D6-4916-B5BB-FBEDC459761F
Food, water, cover, places to raise young and sustainable practices
img_2311
My rough draft last year
img_3365
After lots of hard work getting rid of the grass
AD607B5E-0E00-4F8C-B0D0-1D40A0AF392A
And this week!

And now all of the requirements:

food: we have raspberries, lots of pollen and nectar, a walnut tree and sunflowers for both pollen and nectar as well as seeds

water: we have 2 bird baths and a tiny pond back by the garden

cover: we created a small brush pile and we have a wooded area and tiny pond

places to raise young: we have milkweed for baby catapillars, pond, bat house, pollinator hotel and trees for the birds

sustainable practices: we capture rain water, use lots of mulch to reduce watering and keep soil from eroding, reduce watering, plant lots of native plants (and plan on adding more every year!), hand pick weeds and invasive plants/insects, reduce lawn area and compost like no one’s business!

 

image-11
We started many native plants indoors last winter (coneflowers, milkweed, yarrow, bee balm)
55F188D5-6064-4740-B627-4A2799351A99
I keep seeing beautiful cardinals enjoying the seeds
053F6670-0A1A-4793-9427-072909BE3465
Not Native, but a polllen and nectar source
12000AD0-07C3-4D24-9145-10D4D6385D5B
Nasturtiums and the pollinators are enjoying the blooms now
img_4009
Echinacea
img_4010
Black eyed Susan (a Maryland favorite!)
C039C70F-1DAE-4474-A90B-A4B82C7F162B
Another variety of black eyed Susan with a native bee
EC2B6D5C-BC64-4A9F-B8A2-A18A18C0A972
Birdhouse gourds volunteered to come up here
0E71A2EE-5C3D-43AF-ABEB-547E401C2BB4
Upcycled bamboo sign post
CD7BB114-B826-4C38-AF4E-9DDE41FEA7C9
The solar lights along the walkway

It is far from perfect, but I plan on working on and adding to it every year. My husband enjoys not having to cut the grass in that area anymore and the wildlife have really moved in to this area! I see so many different birds, lots of different bees and beautiful butterflies flitting around. Plus, with more birds, I have had less issues with some insects in the garden! I’ll post a picture of it at the end of the season! Keep blooming friends!