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!

March Update 2018

It’s April!!! That means that we are getting so close to gardening season! March seemed like a blur, but I am always ready for it to pass by and warm weather to appear! So, he’s how the goals are going:

1. Expand the garden– it’s finally happening!! The garden has t posts around the perimeter and we fixed up the old screen door to make it rabbit proof!

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View from the bottom up
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View from the top 

2. Fix the camper– We have been fixing up our home away from home! The seats are recovered, shower storage door fixed, curtains all made and vent cover for the top!

3.Travel out west- That camper is pretty much ready for adventure! Before making  the big trip, we have to take it on a trial run! The trial run is going to happen this month!

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat- There’s a grass patch in front of the garage that is begging to be returned to nature. The pathways have been created. We made our own birdbath from a log and pan. We put up the hanging basket hooks and the insect hotel is finished!

5. Reduce garbage– Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. We have still only created one bag of garbage! But, I’m planning on doing a trash pickup everyday I can make it outside this month. So, that may increase our trash.

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Still only 1 bag of trash! 

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- This month I spread some good! I try my best to stay positive and share t too! I bought my bff teacher an awesome “teacher of the year” shirt because she was just named that! And I picked up another teacher friend a gift to remind her of how strong she is! But, my biggest good deed was shoveling our school playground so that the kids could go out to play the next day! This is about 2 hours if work!

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It was a lot of snow! 

7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair- At school we are reusing some juice cups for growing some plants that they want to grow! The Mr. turned a railroad spike into a new shovel for me. The pollinator hotel is finished and it is 100% upcycled! And the Mr. is turning some spoons into garden markers for me!

8. Paw Paw trees– These native trees have grown near here for such a long time! The  seeds were planted last month! I put some seeds outside and marks where I put them and put the rest inside. So far, nothing to show yet.

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All the seeds are planted! 

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 of different seeds this month! So far I have 5 varieties of sweet peppers. I also bought a hardy kiwi plant and I’m hoping to get that growing!

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We’re growing red, green, orange, purple and brown peppers this year! 

11. Continue tracking the solar panels- this month we created almost an identical amount of power as last year!

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1.18 mwh! 

12. Work on garden cart sales– We will be doing some upcoming craft shows this month! I’m hoping to have some extra seedlings to share, along with my lip balm and the Mr.’s blacksmithed items!

Last month rejuvenated my love of growing anything and everything!! Did you set any goals?! We are hoping to have checks next to them all at the end of the year! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

Spinning honey and melting beeswax

Last weekend we spent a lot of time harvesting the honey from the hives that didn’t make it through the winter. It’s sad, but needed done.

It’s still so amazing how perfect those frames of honey are!

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Full deep frame of honey

We then use a knife to uncap all of the honey and put the frames in the spinner. We spin the fronts of the frames until cleaned out and then the backs. We have the boy spin the frames because that kid has way too much energy!

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Spinning away! 

Then, we pour the honey from the spinner into the double screened filter. This honey was super thick, so it took a long time to filter! The light spring honey flies through the filters!

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Filtering out the honey

After we allow it to settle in the bucket for a bit, we pour all of the honey into clean and sterilized jars.

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A nice honey harvest! 

And now for the beeswax cappings that we cut off of the frames. There’s still honey on them, so I clean them out really well by putting them in a thin muslin and run water through it until it runs dead. I leave them on the towel and let them dry out.

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The dry beeswax cappings

Then, I make a double boiler with water in the pot underneath and the cappings in the top pot. It takes a little while for it all to melt and it doesn’t exactly look like beeswax,

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Before melting (I think it looks like burger!) 
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During melting

This batch was pretty messy, but it doesn’t matter too much. I filter it through a nylon filter and pour it into a mold. (I just used an old creamer container!)

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We harvested about 8.5 ounces

If you need it filtered again, have at it! But, the Mr. is probably going to use this batch for Blacksmithing!

We definitely were weekend homesteading today! Keep blooming away friends!

No Spend mid-February Update

Last month we were able to put extra money into our savings and are proud of another major achievement! We are now officially car payment free!! Yay!!!

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The Mr.’s beast is paid off!

I also managed to not spend money on valentines for my students! I used thread and cardstock that I already had to make these:

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Friendship bracelets for my students!

My hubby was so sweet and made me my Valentines gift!

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Pollinator hotel

It was crafted from some old redwood fence posts that were given to us by my dad! The empty shelves will be filled with pieces of cut up bamboo  and will be home to a lot of pollinators to lay some eggs! The total spent was $0 and it is way better than expensive flowers or chocolates!

My boy is such a sweet soul, especially  for a teenager. He doesn’t ask for anything. So, when I saw this pattern for a crocheted poke ball, I made him one! I had all of the yarn already here!

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My boy loved his poke ball!

We did spend a little money on our new lights set up! We like to grow different varieties, and starting from seeds allows us to have our pick of whatever heirlooms that we want!

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Our seed starting rack! Sherman is playing “Where’s Waldo!”

We haven’t been spending money on anything, but when I was in the craft store, these were hard for me to not buy! I loved them!

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I actually didn’t buy them!

So, for the first half of the month, we have been doing a pretty fantastic job! It’s kind of odd not going out to eat or just going shopping for the fun of it. I think when spring arrives, and there’s more to do, it will be easier to be consumed with outdoor living! Is anyone else having a great no spend month?

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!

No Spend January

Month one of our no spend year went pretty fantastic! The Mr. has managed to not eat out for lunch a single time! He never eats a huge meal, just grabbed a snack here or there. But he’s saving is around $80-$100 a month by just packing! I have also not spent money on eating out for lunch! I will continue to be a packer.

We had to buy a new hot water tank for the camper because the old one was leaking and was original to the camper. I also bought these necessities:

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Seeds for the garden (used PayPal money from craft sales!) 
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The boy’s birthday cake! (Got it 1/2 off because it was from Christmas!) 
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Bought the boy ice cream on his birthday and another for a neighbor that shares his bday! 
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Towel for a baby shower gift. Not much money because I crafted it myself! And made the gift wrap! 

I started up a free site for our small town and I have been able to find homes for our no longer needed items. The boy scored some military gear for free in his size! He loved it all!

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All free! 

We have been eating at home for every meal and no one has complained yet! The picture below is the best pizza I have made to date, as well as my cinnamon rolls!

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Delicious 
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Also delicious! 

We were able to drop a little extra down on our mortgage and almost have the truck paid off! Gotta keep that debt snowball rolling!

Next month I am going to see how much money we go into the month with and compare it to what we end the month with. That way I’ll be able to tell you all how much we will be able to put into savings!