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!

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My big idea
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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!

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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!

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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.

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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! 

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Recycling center at school 
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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.

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Glass gem corn 
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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!

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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! 🌱

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!

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Nice harvest right out of the yard! 

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

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Our tiny produce stand 
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All of the tomatoes still left after the sale! 
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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!

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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.

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Upcycled and ready to be used! 

And check out how much we have composted so far:

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717.24 pounds!!!!

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

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So many babies! 

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

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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!

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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!

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Yellow cosmos 
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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!

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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!

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The beach at the campground 
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All set up! 

And the pups seemed to enjoy the trip!

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Sherman on the beach 
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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!

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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!

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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.

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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. 🌱❤️

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!

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Harvest from Monday! 
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One of my larger pumpkins growing in the garden 
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Teddy bear sunflower 
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Spaghetti squash (it’s huge!)
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Glass gem corn 
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All of my varieties of tomatoes 
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Luffa are finally taking off!
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My what the heck peppers! I ordered red bell pepper seeds and this is all the plant grows. 
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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! 🌱❤️

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.

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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:

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Found a beautiful monarch caterpillar on the milkweed!
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The zinnias are blooming and are gorgeous! 
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This is a beautiful nicotiana flower! It has such a beautiful scent! 
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A pale yellow sunflower with native bee
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A honeybee on the cucamelon blooms

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

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Cucamelon and cucumber fridge pickles 
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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:

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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!

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Harvest from yesterday! 

The pollinator garden is putting up some pretty flowers too!

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Cardinal flowers 
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Bee balm 

And now for the garden too:

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Dill getting ready to flower
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Our first cantaloupe this year
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Possibly our first luffa
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The largest bell pepper!
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Spaghetti squash 
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Scarlet runner bean teepee
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My first ever bushel basket gourd

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

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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!