Who we are!

Hello all! We have had a nice influx of new people to our little blog since Mavis over at onehundreddollarsamonth.com featured my husband’s Blacksmithing hobby!

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I really appreciated my Mr. being chosen! 

1. So obviously, my husband is a backyard blacksmith! He’s pretty awesome and makes all kinds of metal creations, including my favorite dinner bells!

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He even did the brickwork on his forge 
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Dinnerbell in the works! 

2. We try to grow as much food as we can and preserve our over abundance!

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Our main garden. 
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We ❤️ Tomatoes

3. I am a beekeeper! I love having them to help pollinate everything, and also the delicious honey and wax for crafting!

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Baby bees!

4. I also love growing lots of flowers to keep the pollinators happy, and have plans to grow a much larger patch of pollinator friendly plants this summer!

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Our state flower: black eyed susans!!
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My favorite flower: echinacea! 

5. We keep chickens to give us lots of delicious eggs and they help us create less trash by eating leftovers!

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Our ladies enjoying some leftovers! 

6. I’m the eco warrior at the school I teach at. I teach my sweet 3rd graders about caring for our precious Earth and do the recycling for our building! Someone has to do it!

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Recycling for the staff! 

7. I love crocheting and craft everything from toboggans to washcloths to sell at local craft shows!

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Crocheting! 

8/9. I love both sewing and upcycling whatever is headed towards the trash into something useful!

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Upcycling and sewing! 

10. We try not to produce an over abundance of garbage and strive to be zerowaste!

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Less waste! 

11. We have been tracking our solar panels and how they are working out for the past year!

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We are on year 2 of having our solar panels! 

12. We try to eat at home and cook all of our own food! It helps to save money and I know what’s in my food!

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My cinnamon rolls
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My pizza! (Don’t worry, I make lots of healthier food too!) 

So these are a few things that we have going on here on our less than an acre in a small town! We really appreciate anyone taking time to read about our tiny homestead happenings!

January Update 2018 Goals

Welcome to February everyone!! January was a whirlwind of crazy cold temperatures, lots of working on the camper and seed organizing! And, of course, we have been working on those goals that we set!

1. Expand the garden– Not too much to talk about so far with the garden. We did measure it off for planning the layout!

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Garden planning!

2. Fix the camper– The Mr. has been out in the garage most nights working on it! He has starting recaulking all of it, installed a new hot water tank, blacksmithed a hook rack for a cabinet, fixed the table so that it’s easy to lower and raise and started to replace the converter. I was able to get some fabric on extreme clearance and I have all of the cushions pulled out!

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That old hot water tank definitely needed replaced! 
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Such pretty hooks! 

3.Travel out west– That camper is going to be making some trips this year! Our boy is 13 and I want him to see more than I have.
 *If you all have suggestions on what to see and do for around the Great Lakes, through Yellowstone, let us know! *

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, that’s what the plan is! The Mr. Put the bat box together and I have seeds all picked out!

 

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Of course the bat box needs a Batman symbol! 
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My basic idea so far! 

5. Reduce garbage– Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags. So far we have not filled one, and I’m going to try bokashi composting for meat leftovers and molded food.

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I’m attempting to make my own bokashi sawdust. 

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month– I just blogged about what we were able to do last month! We started a local free trade Facebook page and sold lipbalm to raise money for the local shelter. We were able to donate lots of food!

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Our homemade beeswax lipbalm! 
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Our contribution to the shelter!

7. Repurpose, remake, mend or reuse– My husband repurposed a satellite dish bracket into a flag holder!

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Yeah, he’s pretty awesome! 


8. Paw Paw trees– These native trees have grown near here for such a long time! I can’t wait to give it a try to grow them this year, and eventually (maybe) eat one!! The seeds will be finished stratifying in the fridge at the end of the month!

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Stratification is still happening!



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!

 He starting clearing the area where it will be built!

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I can’t wait to use my yummy dough recipe in his pizza oven! 

10. Grow different produce– I was able to pick up a majority of the seeds that I wanted online. I will have quite an assortment of gourds, slicing tomatoes, melons and a few of my favorites from last year!

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So stinking exciting! 

 

11. Continue tracking the solar panels– It was so incredibly cold out, but our electric bill was still less than $6. We are living off of the summer surplus still!

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What a difference from last year! (It wasn’t hooked up until the middle of the month 2017!) 

12. Work on garden cart sales– We are hoping to do some upcoming craft shows, but we won’t have any produce for sale for quite a while!

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Out pretty garden cart! 

Did you set any goals?! We are hoping to have checks next to them all at the end of the year! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

Weekend working!

This beautiful weather awoken our working spirits this weekend. We came out of our hibernation mode for a bit!

My cousin is having a baby boy very soon and I made her a homemade gift, along with the wrapping paper that I upcycled from a paper bag! I even made a little card and bow from that single bag!

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Homemade hooded towel! 

I also was able to enjoy some crocheting and finished off projects that were almost completed!

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Crocheted dishcloths

The boy and I whipped up a large batch of lip balm. We are going to use the profit that we make from selling them to buy food for the Union Rescue Mission. Good deeds are being done! ✅

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Beeswax lip balm 

The boy and Mr. helped to measure off the area of the garden that we are going to expand and I’m going to start planning where I’m going to plant everything! And I also started putting some planning into our pollinator garden area!

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Pollinator Area planning! 

The Mr. was busy in the garage working on the camper, and doing other projects.  I’m excited that he put together our bat house and that he even painted the Batman logo on it! I love it!

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Bat House!! 

He also up cycled the mount from an old satellite dish into a holder for a flag. He’s been wanting to put a flag outside of his garage!

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America! 

And now to brag on the boy! He made this  nice trivet in shop class last marking period! I think he did a great job!

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Made by the boy! 

I’m going to enjoy this beautiful weather while it lasts! Are you all starting to plan out your garden?! 🌱💚

Growing Popcorn

Last summer one new thing that we tried our green thumb on was popcorn. We grew 2 varieties: strawberry popcorn, on the right and a mixed color variety on the left.

We noticed right away the height difference between the 2 varieties! The strawberry popcorn was much shorter than the colored variety. It also seemed like the ears of corn developed faster on the strawberry variety.

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Popcorn stalks

I left the corn on the plant to dry as long as they could and when the cold weather started setting in, we pulled the cobs off and brought them in to dry out the rest of the way.

Just now, in January, we decided to shell the corn. At first, we tried to just use our fingers, and that was painful. And then we read where if you rub 2 cobs together, they will come off easier. That worked better with less cut up fingers!

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Our popcorn!

We decided to save some of both seeds.

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Some of the seeds for next year

We used a funnel to pour all of the popcorn into a mason jar to keep everything sealed up!

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Yep, that’s homework still on the table!

And here was how much we got for a very small patch!

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Our whole harvest! 

And for the leftover cobs and husks, the chickens enjoyed looking for any kernels that we missed and kicked everything around!

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A nice winter treat! 

Now on the the important part, did it pop?! It sure did! They might not be as large as the store bought, but the taste is much better!

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Popcorn! 

Next year I’m going to focus on the strawberry variety because they seemed to pop much better, and took up less room.

So, I consider this new crop to us a success! Does popcorn make your list for the 2018 garden? I’m going to stay under these covers and dream of the beautiful weather that will eventually come! 🌱💚

2018 New Year Goals!

All year long I keep a list of things that I would like to accomplish in the future. Last year we accomplished a good bit! But, as long as I’m able, I will continue to work on accomplishing more. Here’s how last year went:

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This year we have set 12 more goals:

1. Expand the garden– We need more fencing put around the larger garden. I’m looking forward to having a more permanent fence and growing more food!

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2. Fix the camper- My sister in law saw this beauty along the road this summer. The next day, it was in our driveway. It needs some work, but I know that we can do it!

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3. Travel out west– That camper is going to be making some trips this year! Our boy is 13 and I want him to see more than I have.

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, that’s what the plan is! Native flowers, insect homes, water source … it’s going to be great!

5. Reduce garbage– Last year we made 7 bags of garbage. This year, the plan is less than 6!

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6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month– I teach 8/9 year olds. Of course it’s my job to teach curriculum, but I love to set an example of spreading good things! There are tons of good people in this world, I plan on being one!

7. Repurpose, remake, mend or reuse– It’s a No Spend year for us, so we will need to be creative! People are always offering me things that they don’t know what to do with, so maybe I’ll be able to save more things from the landfill.

8. Paw Paw trees– This native trees have grow near here for such a long time! I can’t wait to give it a try to grow them this year, and eventually (maybe) eat one!!

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9. Build a pizza oven– this is the Mr.’s idea! He built his own Blacksmithing forge, so I’m looking forward to having a delicious out of the oven pizza!

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10. Grow different produce– This year I’m going to grow: several different varieties of tomatoes, Apple melons, different gourds, cucumelons, luffas and so much more!

11. Continue tracking the solar panels– Last year was our first year of tracking our panels. Next year I’m hoping that they continue to produce well for us!

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12. Work on garden cart sales– The Mr. made that beautiful cart for sales this summer!

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Did you set any goals?! We are hoping to have checks next to them all al them next year! Let’s make 2018 a great one!

 

Green bean teepee diy!

During the 2017 growing season, I decided to build my first green bean teepee. I had envisioned my boy enjoying sitting in or hanging out in the teepee.

I saw a couple diys, but they never posted whether or not they grew well! So, here’s how I built it (And the results):

First, I had to source some bamboo to make the beast out of! Lucky for me, my husband works with a guy that has it invasively growing in his yard. So, he told us to come get it anytime we want! (Cost free!)

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Bamboo! They were about 7 feet long! 

Next, you need to really shove those bamboo poles into the ground! Like, about 6-8 inches in the ground. I just pushed mine in the ground and used my body weight to force them to stay put!

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They aren’t going anywhere! 

Then, I continued on with pushing the rest of them in the ground. It was 100% constructed by just me! I used 6 poles placed about 18 inches apart.

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I really looked like a pole vaulter shoving these in the ground! 

Up next, I used paracord to tie the tops together. I just kept tieing them together and knotting them!

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I had to use a stool to reach the top! 

I continued using the paracord to tie knots on each post to give the pole beans something to grow on. I spaced them about a foot apart from row to row. You could do it a lot closer, but I was running low on paracord!

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Green paracord for the beans to grow up!

And here is my finished project! The next step was to plant the bean plants all around it!

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Fully constructed! 

I planted the pole bean seeds really close together because something kept eating the seedlings!

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At first only 1 side really took off! 

Once I put bird netting around the seedlings, the other plants really started taking off! They did make it to the top!

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Beans enjoying the teepee! 

You can see the progression in the photos below!

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Our teepee looking great! 

So, even though I had to fight off pests, I would consider it a success! I harvested a lot of beans! But, will I do things differently next year? Yes!!!! Here’s what I’ll change:

🌱Don’t make it so tall! I couldn’t harvest those ones on the top! Be sure you can get them!

🌱start off with netting to protect the seedlings from the beginning! (We have a lot of rabbits and birds here!)

🌱 place the paracord closer together around the teepee! Then you won’t have them having a hard time growing up it!

We really got a lot of beans from this single teepee! I’d recommend this for anyone, and I enjoyed getting in the shady interior to pick beans! If you give it a try, or have before, let me know how it went for you! Keep blooming folks! 🌱💚

November goals update 2017

November brought the cold temperatures that reminded me that Winter is will be here to stay. It allowed me enough nice days to clean up the garden and chicken coop. So, without waiting, here are how the goals are going:

1. Zero waste our home! We are continuing to enjoy our deliciousness that we canned from the summer and fall including: peaches, apple sauce, tomato sauce and even ketchup! I’m also loving the upcycling that we have been doing here! That’s going to be a focus next year!

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Upcycled license plate money box!

2. Declutter 20 items per month. We need to continue cleaning out the boy’s closet since he’s growing like a weed! I’m sure I will find someone here that could use them!

3. Create only 12 bags of garbage per year. Americans are super wasteful. We are going to try to only produce one 13 gallon kitchen trash bag per month. We are still on bag 6, but it’s basically full.

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Still only 5 bags thrown out! 

4. Merge crafting and homestead business. This month we have been crafting away! We will be having a sale through our Facebook page and I have been working hard on hooded towel orders!

5. Create a summer kitchen. We will be turning a spot in the garage into a nice canning area. This just won’t be happening this year. #comeonmrllewellyn!!

6. Expand the garden. We are definitely working on this! 

We will be putting up a nice fenced in area next year and driving posts for a better appearance. So, I guess that I need to be selling lots of goodies to help offset the costs!

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Putting the garden to sleep

7. Grow some different plants. Luffa gourds were so fun to grow last year, and we are growing more this year! The okra grew great this year. We harvested tons of cucamelons, popcorn, okra and luffa gourds!

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The last of the mushroom harvest 

8. Make a chicken viewing area. Yeah, um, I don’t think we are going to do this! We have some other ideas for 2018!

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Enjoying a warm breakfast

9.Green up my school. Schools create an absurd amount of trash! My class recycled around 150 pounds of plastic film last year. The plastic bag recycling program has started, and we have recycled 88 pounds so far! I also convinced my principal to buy a zero waste glue stick recycling box and we are also recycling our cereal bowls and markers!

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Marker recycling! 

10. Track our solar panels. This month we reached  730 kWh! And our electric bill was less than $6!

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Still loving our solar energy!

11. Continue beekeeping. We are still providing lodging for our flying insect friends! I made them some sugar boards to help keep them fed this winter!

12. Travel more with the family! We managed to visit so many places last year and only a few this year. Next year we will be traveling out west!

How are your goals going?! Have you starting thinking about goals for next year? We are hoping to accomplish just as many goals in 2018! Keep on blooming where you are planted!!💚🌱