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!

Kid composting service!

My kiddo is growing up fast and I would love to instill some work ethic into him. Don’t get me wrong, he will help out with whatever you ask him to, but I would love for him to understand what it’s like to keep customers happy. So, this summer he is providing a service to our neighbors/friends/family that were willing to participate! (And he actually got 10 people!)

The way that it works is that I am going to pay him, because not many people would actually pay for a service like this in our area. We asked around on Facebook and were able to round up some free buckets and that’s where we got the customers too!

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After we scrubbed them all up! 

Then, I helped him line them all with some newspaper and he wrote out the pickup times and put the list inside,

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The inside of the bucket
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All ready for drop off! 

He has already cleaned out several and has retrieved around 15 pounds of compostable materials that would have otherwise made its way to the landfill!

And now for his process:

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Step 1: weigh it (so we can let his customers know how awesome they are doing!) 
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Step 2: dump out the contents 
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Step 3: scrub out that bucket with some eco friendly soap! 

And an awesome coworker/friend thought that the boy’s service was such a good idea, that she donated some cleaner! This stuff smells amazing and leaves the buckets smelling great!

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Thank you Mallory! 

And on to Step 4:

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Reline the bucket with newspapers also given to us!

When he gets home we throw most of it into the compost bin, and give anything that would be enjoyed by the chickens to them! They sure are loving this!

I’m hoping to be able to keep this going all summer and I’m very thankful to the sweet people that are willing to try composting! I also love the fact that my boy knows just as much about composting  as I do! He can answer pretty much any question that a customer throws his way! Keep blooming, even in the middle of a neighborhood! 🌱💚

Mother’s Day weekend And gardening

Every year on Mother’s Day I think of how lucky I am to still have my mom. She was diagnosed with stage 4 inoperable oral cancer 13 years ago. She has had a lot of complications, but I still have her. That’s my favorite part of Mother’s Day. Abd that’s a pretty great reason to celebrate!

This year at school we planted some marigold flowers and made some seed paper from reused office paper. And we reused juice cups!

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I hope that their Mom’s loved them! 

My sweet husband picked me out a nice gift. (Yes, he spent money during our no spend year. But, it will all be used in the pollinator garden area!)

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Gnome birdbath/bee waterer 
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I love this sign!

We spent this afternoon cutting down bamboo at a friend’s house to use on the trellis system that we are going to be constructing along the fence.

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This stuff is very invasive! I would not recommend growing it! 

We also got the other garden gate installed! I love the way that it looks! We just need to put fence around it the rest of the way.

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Second garden fence! 

Oh, and I forgot to say that the Mr. managed to till the garden in between rain storms too!

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We are continually working on building up our soil! 

And in the greenhouse we have some little seedlings making an appearance!

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Apple melons, cucumbers and zucchini! 

The peppers and tomatoes made the big move into the greenhouse this weekend. They also got repotted to give them more space to grow.

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It’s a tomato jungle in there!

This whole weekend was pretty great! We can’t put any plants out in the ground until the end of the month, so I’m hoping to give our plants a head start in the greenhouse! I hope that you all are gearing up for another growing season!

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!

April 2018 Goals Update

It is the crazy month of May! The school year is almost over, I have lots to do in the garden and projects that need finished!

And here’s how the goals are going:

1. Expand the garden– it’s finally happening!! The t posts are in, the garden door is hung and the fencing will go up this month! And the plants will go to live outside this month too!

2. Fix the camper– We have been fixing up our home away from home! It is finished, minus a few little cosmetic things that I’d like to do! We love how it turned out!

3.Travel out west- That camper is officially ready for adventure! We tried it out at the end of the month by going to a koa in Antietam and everything worked great! It’s cozy, watertight (yeppers, it rained!) and even the pups enjoyed themselves in it!

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat- There’s a grass patch in front of the garage that is begging to be returned to nature. All of the grass has been covered and new plants are slowly working their way in! So far we have raspberries, blueberries, black eyed Susan’s, echinacea and a ton of other things growing under the grow lights in here!

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 working on filling bag 2! (Or actually not trying to fill it!) Still only 1 bag of trash! [/caption]

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- This month I spread some good! We really focused on cleaning up the Earth, since Earth Day is in April . We helped to organize a town clean up and about 20 bags of garbage were picked up!

7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair- we reused some of the old garden fence to go around the trees and help to keep the deer away. We were also able to score an old kiddie pool for our new ducks and I love the way that the other garden door turned out! It’s beautiful!

8. Paw Paw trees– These native trees have grown near here for such a long time! We finally have a seed sprouting. It may be the only one, but I’m hoping for at least 2, so that they can help pollinate each other!

9. Build a pizza oven– this is the Mr.’s idea! He built his own Blacksmithing forge, so I’m sure he can do it! I’m definitely looking forward to having a delicious, out of the oven pizza! No real updates yet

10. Grow different produce

I will be starting a lot more seeds in the greenhouse this month! The grow lights are working hard and everything is getting so big and healthy! I love all the different varieties that are emerging!!

11. Continue tracking the solar panels- The panels didn’t quite produce what they did last year, but it was still snowing all through April! At least we hit a Mwh!

12. Work on garden cart sales– I am hoping to be able to put a few seedlings for sale out there and the chickens are really producing eggs right now!

Last month helped me work on my patience! I kept wanting to do more outside, but the weather said no! This month is already helping us get caught up around the garden! How are your goals going? Keep blooming friends!

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! 🌱💚

Earth Day 2018

As you all know, I love the Earth every single day! But this year I stepped it up and helped to organize a town clean up! Only 9 people showed up, but we cleaned up a lot of trash! (Probably close to 20 bags!)

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So much trash! 

My boy will be starting up his own composting service soon! He’s going to pick up neighbor’s compostables for our compost pile and educate them on how to compost. I love that he knows so much about how to keep a small carbon footprint!

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Look at that beautiful compost that was in the bin from last year! 

I also started working on killing off the grass to make room for the flowers that will be planted here! And look at that beautiful bat box that was put up!!

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Future wildlife habitat! 

While taking breaks, I enjoyed watching the chickens do their thing! They are quite entertaining!

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I think he’s beautiful! 

And then, of course, I have to share a few gardening pictures!

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Garlic growing! 
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Pea plants coming up through the soil

And, I finally started some indoor flowers after my momma showed me how amazing hers were looking! I had total flower envy!

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All kinds of flowers were started! 

With May right around the corner, I’m looking forward to starting lots more seedlings for the garden. And, of course, we need to work on getting the soil ready in the garden! I already envision our garden in my mind, but I’m not sure if they will all turn out ok! Regardless, I’m excited about our 2018 garden!!

Did you all do anything special on Earth Day?

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!) 🌱💚

Summer preview weekend!

Last weekend was absolutely beautiful! It was in the 80’s and with temperatures like that, I was able to get a lot accomplished!

We purchased 3 trees from our local soil conservation fundraiser. Thankfully the trees had not broken dormancy yet, so we got them planted as soon as we could! And, of course, we had to put deer netting around them to protect them! We have a major deer overpopulation issue, so it has to be done!

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Yellow delicious and honey crisp 

I’m also doing everything that I can to clean up our hillside  it was so full of weeds and was covered in poison ivy too! I decided to plant wildflowers to the farthest end where black eyed susans and coneflowers come up already. And the rest of the hill is planted with strawberries! I’m not sure how that will work out, but they will give off pretty blooms, possibly some fruit and will spread out! (Hopefully!)

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Right around 100 strawberry plants! 
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No weeds and now wildflower seeds!

I also started removing all of the cover crop that I planted in the raised bed. I separated out the Egyptian walking onions. I am hoping to try them this year!

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Egyptian walking onions

I got the carrots and lettuce planted and hopefully they will pop up when the weather warms up!

By the way, the one beehive that survived the winter is doing great! I love seeing them come and go!

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Honeybees! 

I love being able to share what we are accomplishing around here! We are far from perfect, and I don’t want to ever seem like we are braggers. I am just proud of finding what makes us happy and how we are slowly transitioning to a more self sufficient life! Keep blooming!

What’s growing! 4/14!

It has been so warm outside the past couple days! A gentle reminder that I will soon be up to my elbows in dirt, woodchips, compost and hard work.

Outside we have been planting what can go outside so far, and putting closures around it to keep the excessive amount of deer and rabbits from hurting the plants!

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Tiny blueberry bushes
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Nectarine tree

We also had to relocate the raspberry canes to keep them away from our chickens that could reach them! (And ate every single one!)

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Red raspberries! 
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Rhubarb is growing beautifully! 

And under the grow lights everything seems pretty happy too!

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Common milkweed
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Pepper plants 
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Cucumelon with its first real leaf! 
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All of the tomato seedlings are getting big! 
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Luffa gourd seedling 

And I am also grateful for the kind souls that surround me! From neighbors that always stop and chat it up about life that end the conversation by saying “have a blessed evening.” To others that always go by with a smile and a wave! And then people who share some seeds with me because they know how much I love to garden!

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I’m making room on the trellis for these! 

I’m 100% sure that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be and meeting people who teach me about being a better person. I hope that your seedlings are growing nicely and you’re getting excited about this gardening season!

An improved garden door and organizing

Over the weekend, it was very cold for April and we even had snow falling. Since I couldn’t spend any time outside in my garden, where I’d rather be, I spent my time finishing up projects around here and the Mr. was busy working on our garden door!

The door had been falling apart, so we were going to buy a new one. But, instead of wasting money, the Mr. added supports, gave it a fresh coat of paint and replaced the screen with wired fencing! That should keep out the critters!

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Before and after! 

And then he surprised me by using his Blacksmithing skills to create a handle! It is absolute perfection to me! Look at that beautiful leaf on the bottom!

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I ❤️ This handle! 

And before you look at the next picture, don’t judge me  😳 It’s in the garage and this is the dumping grounds for all of the canning supplies, gardening stuff and random odds and ends.

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Definitely the before picture! 

And after a majority of my weekend, I am proud to say that my canning items, beekeeping boxes, baskets, containers and everything else down there is actually organized!

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And the after! ❤️❤️

This month I am taking on the challenge of 30 days if picking up trash here in the beautiful state of Maryland! It’s shocking how much is all around when you are actually looking for it! And here is what I rounded up on week one:

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All only in a week! 😢

Since I didn’t want to leave off this post on a negative, here’s a picture of how wonderful the pepper plants are looking! They are going to get repotted soon!

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Peppers everywhere! 

I hope that you all are getting ready for your summer and using whatever time that you have before the busy season to prep!! 💚

 

No Spend March

We are chugging along with our no spend year. I have spent money on gifts this month (I bought my baby niece some food and not candy for Easter and gifts much deserved to 2 work friends,but that’s it!)

Our big money saver is that we sold our panel truck! It was a hard choice to make, but we were not using it. We are glad to have more money in our savings and one less vehicle to tag and insure!

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Bye bye to the blue beast!

I’m doing my best to keep gardening costs down by using what we have and starting everything from seed! I also save my own seeds and plant mostly heirloom varieties to help with the seeds saving.

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Garlic that came up on it’s own (30 free garlic plants!) all replanted! 
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Pepper plants started from seed
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Saved Roma tomato seeds 

I have also been mending so much around here! We are up to 3 pairs of paints that are hole free and a certain pup decided to tear a hole in his bed, but all are fixed!

The screen door to the garden was ripped and broken and we almost bought a new one, but we used some old paint that we had to fix it up and put some reused wire fencing on it. Good as new!

We also try to do as much as we can around here, instead of paying others to do it for us. I am the dog groomer:

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Our sweet Izzy after her spa day

And we have been doing all of the work on the camper ourselves!

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New seat covers! 

And the pollinator garden is slowly being completed by us mainly using materials that we have!

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Lots of labor, but we are doing it by ourselves 

Instead of buying eggs from the grocery store or an egg dying kit, we used food coloring that we already had and brown and white eggs.

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I ❤️ How they turned out! 

And instead of going out to eat or paying to go do something, the boy and I took a nice walk locally! We hadn’t walked on this trail in a few years!

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Always interested in the rock formations! 

Overall, I’m thinking we are doing well with our no spend year! I’m hoping to continue spending less and gettting this house paid off!