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!

Wednesday walk through the garden! 6/13/18

It has been raining here almost every single day! The garden could really use some sunlight and warmer weather! But, the plants are still growing!

The green bean teepee was weeded well and I even put down a nice layer of newspaper on the inside, under the mulch. The scarlet runner beans are looking great!

On the other side of the garden, I have the regular poling green beans growing! They seem to be taking off as well!

The glass gem corn is about ankle high and I’m really excited to see what the corn will look like! I’m hoping to be able to use it for decor in the fall and then grind it up for extra chicken feed this winter!

I love the beautiful yellow blooms coming on to the tomatoes. At least they seem to be enjoying this weather!

This year I’m trying the Florida weave on my Roma tomatoes. So far it seems to be working out!

In the pollinator garden, it’s still mostly mulch! Something has decided to eat a majority of the milkweed, but at least this black eyed Susan seems happy!

The last exciting news is that my paw paw tree is growing some leaves! I have 2 that are doing well in the house and I’ll wait to see how the ones I started outdoors are doing! (They are growing in a wooded area!)

It’s slow growing around here, but tomorrow is my last day of school! I’m looking forward to playing in the garden, swimming with my boy, trying out new adventures and going on our trip this summer! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

No Spend May

Last month was almost a complete fail in the whole no spending. My Mr. has had his heart set on needing a new tractor. We didn’t have one at the moment, so tilling the big garden is a lot of work. On top of that, digging holes, loading up heavy things and running mulch is always a task. So, he bought a new tractor. But, he has been selling off a ton of extras including: his 4 wheeler, the Panel truck, an old jeep, accessories for the jeep and Panel truck, and other things. The garage is a lot cleaner, and we also didn’t have to pay too much more for the tractor. So, no payments or credit card purchases!

A huge accomplishment this month is that I am now payment free on my braces! My teeth are straight and my retainers come next month! Yay!

A reader on my Facebook page keeps some feral cats warm in the winter by creating wind breaks with straw bales. However, after a long winter, they were not in the best shape. She got ahold of me and I gladly took them to mulch around the garden! Yippee!

The garden is all planted and I’m pretty excited to say that most of the plants look very happy and healthy! Starting everything from seed is a lot of work, but it does save money!

I’m still working on making more food from scratch at the house. Just last weekend the Mr. was frustrated because he claimed that we didn’t have anything to snack on. An hour later we have some super delicious homemade soft pretzels. Getting out of the habit of wanting instant food is hard. I’ll start trying to make more ahead of time. (Once my summer break starts!)

The garden is slowly starting to produce. That will help to take a small chunk out of our market budget!

And this has been my go to spot for relaxing when I get the chance. I love being home and most of the time at least one dog is curled up on the hammock with me. And that’s free entertainment. 😊

May wasn’t perfect, but the savings is continuing to grow. The house is getting paid off faster and faster. And, I’m hoping to continue working on spending less this year!

May Goals Update 2018

It’s June!!! Only another week and a half of school, the garden is coming to life and the temperatures are on the rise. I love summertime!

And here’s how the goals are going:

1. Expand the garden– it happened! The whole thing is planted! I have walkways and I’m doing my best to keep the weeds at bay! The trellises are all looking great 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! And the Mr. custom fit the bamboo mat for the bathroom area!

3.Travel out west- That camper is officially ready for adventure! It’s going to be happening this summer! I really want to see a buffalo, a few Great Lakes and the beautiful sights in Yellowstone! Oh, and spend another summer with my boy before he’s all grown up!

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 far we have raspberries, blueberries, black eyed Susan’s, brown eyed Susan’s, echinacea and a wildflower mix. And I’m pretty sure that some wild yarrow is coming up! And we are up to 2 inhabitants in the pollinator hotel!

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! I volunteered at a STEM festival and helped to educate kids about the importance of bees! I saved all of the water bottles from being thrown out during a school event and the boy’s composting service has kept around 70 pounds of food waste out of the landfill!

7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair- the Mr. turned a broken window into a planter for the wildlife area! He also painted up and installed a cat litter container (now mailbox) in my garden so I’m not losing my garden trowel as often! And I turned some unused worksheets into notebooks for the boy to write down compost weights on! Great upcycling month!

8. Paw Paw trees– These native trees have grown near here for such a long time! We are now up to 2 seeds sprouting! I was hoping to at least have that many for cross pollination!

9. Build a pizza oven– I do believe that we are putting this off for another year.

10. Grow different produce

I am proud to say that the Tennessee dancing gourds are growing, along with the apple melons and all different kinds of tomatoes! The only seeds that didn’t germinate at all were the oriental long beans. Not a one!

11. Continue tracking the solar panels- May was a nice solar month, despite lots of rain! 1.6 MWh and just the connection rate fir an electric bill! (It’s around $5)

12. Work on garden cart sales– I am hoping to be able to put something out for sale this month! Maybe at least eggs! That cart is too pretty to not be used!

Last month I worked every single free minute in the garden. On more than one occasion I had a bad feeling that I bit off ore than I should have. But, not everything is planted and growing. I hope that your gardens are taking shape! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

Overload of homestead happenings!

Over the long weekend and all week long, we have been working all around this place!

The Mr. has been putting up better fencing around the garden that also connects the chicken area to the garden.

This is the new walkway in the big garden:

I also finally had a chance to string up the trellises for the pole beans. And I’m using the green bean teepee from last year!

I spent last night weeding the homestead tomatoes and yellow zucchini area:

And one of the yolo red pepper plants is producing its first pepper!

I have been (with the help of the boy) doing a much better job of keeping the compost greens and browns balanced! It was baking at around 130 degrees yesterday morning!

But don’t worry, I have still been chilling with the pup when I’m not in the garden!

I hope that every week continues to be as productive as this one! Keep blooming friends!

2018 is going to be a No Spend Year!

I know what you’re thinking… you have to spend money to stay alive! You’re right! I also don’t want my belongings repo-ed or to starve! So, of course we are going to pay our mortgage and other bills. We are also going to definitely be buying food, but staying in our budget!

Now on to the reason why we would do this! My mister is a police officer and has been for over 20 years. His job has definitely changed in the past couple years, with many more dangerous changes in the future. I would love for him to be able to retire sooner instead of later!

The objectives to our challenge: (I don’t like to call them rules!)

Groceries

1. We have a budget for how much that we spend on our groceries per month. We will stick to that budget and you won’t be seeing us eat out! (Unless we have a gift card!)

Eating out

2. Lunch packing is in our future. No coffees, teas, sodas or drive thrus. (Which is really easy to me because I don’t go to them!)

Shopping

3. Shopping for new items is going to be avoided. No buying more clothes or shoes or whatevers. If we really need something, we will try to find it second hand. Gifting will be interesting this year!

Business

4. The buying of business items, will still happen. Also, I’m sure that we will still need to buy gardening items. But, whatever money is made from the homestead will go back into it!

Travel

5. We are planning on packing up the family and heading west on a road trip this summer. We definitely will be watching what we spend, but we also want to make sure that this is a great experience. So, sending will happen.

Gas

6. Yes, we are going to have to buy fuel, but we really don’t waste it. I might just need to find alternate transportation to work. Walking or  🚲 ?

Household goods

7. We don’t use disposable items, like paper towels or commercial cleaners. But, we will need to spend money on toilet paper and laundry detergent.

Emergencies 

8. We definitely won’t scrimp on medications or doctors visits. Also, if a NEED must be replaced, it will be. We need to make sure everyone here is very well taken care of.

Pets

9. All the pets will be taken care of including fed well and receive vet care when needed.

Online shopping 

10. This is the hardest to avoid! We will only be making purchases to benefit our homestead.

Overall this will be a way of separating out our needs from our wants! We will be updating on how much we have been able to save! Anyone else out there up for the challenge? Maybe only for a few weeks or months? 2018 is going to be a great year! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

Still gardening and harvesting! 

Well tomorrow is the end of September and my birthday! I have no plans, but I know we will get into something! Now, onto the harvests!! We are getting some popcorn harvested and it is beautiful! 

Popcorn!!

We also cut a few of the sunflowers down and we have some huge seeds and I plan on roasting them! (For the first time!) 

Huge sunflower heads

The cover crop in the raised bed is growing very well! I’m hoping this will keep the soil in there nice and healthy! 

Cover crop!

The next crop to be harvested in October are all of those sweet potatoes! The video of our sweet potatoes was even featured on thehappygardeninglife on Instagram and has been viewed over 5,000 times!!!


The luffa gourds are still growing and I’m really hoping that they will be ready to be harvested this year!!


Enjoy your weekend and I’ll be posting how September has been for our goals!