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!

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!

 

Not a winner, but still feeling great!

Yesterday I found out that my principal took it upon herself to nominate me for an environmental teaching award. Wow! I couldn’t believe it! Someone actually noticed what all I’m trying to do to spread environmental awareness to a younger generation! It’s my passion! I love teaching about all renewable energy, recycling, using less resources, composting, gardening and I especially love starting up new initiatives at school!

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We got plastic recycling in town
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Marker recycling
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Cereal bowl recycling
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Our new glue stick/bottle recycling
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Our teacher’s lounge bin
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We are actually up to 88 lbs of plastic film recycled
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I clean out and recycle the teacher lounge k cups
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Pollinator garden built by my students last year

So, now for the bad news… I didn’t win. I’m not going to lie, of course I was disappointed. But, after thinking about it for a bit I realized that it’s not going to change a thing about me. See, that’s the thing… have you ever met someone who is really passionate about something? I used to be annoyed with people like that because all that they wanted to talk about was what they love doing. Now I realize that those are the best kind of people! The ones that do things despite never being acknowledged. They don’t care that you find them weird or dorky.

That’s exactly where I’m at. So, I’m just going to continue on my green little journey and invite the followers and the ones that find me odd along for the ride. When you run into any student that I previously had, I’m sure they will describe me as the crazy beekeeping, gardening, compost-loving, recycling lady!

I truly hope that you all find your passion and you will understand what I mean! Keep blooming where you’re planted! 🌱💚