The Groundskeeper

May 072018
 

There is a lot of “new” happening over here this growing season – new zone, new yard, new routines, new plant selections, new places to shop…you get the idea.  Among all the newness there are still some constants which help it all flow smoother.

One of the things I have learn while gardening in various ways over the years is that raised beds are my friends.  I do not need a tiller to break up the soil each year, weeds are greatly reduced, and I can grow more in a small space than I could traditionally.

From past experience I knew that an 8 foot by 4 foot bed would be a great place to start.  Large enough to plant several things, but not too big to become overwhelming.  Having paid attention to the sunlight over the past year, I knew where in the yard would get full sun through all seasons, and which areas were in full or partial shade from late fall through late spring.  As none of our neighbors have backyard trees to create shade, that was not something I had to contend with.

A few other factors to take into account when deciding on placement were: location to a watering source, distance from fire ring, discharge from rain gutters, and allowing room for the kids to play.  I did not want to be carrying heavy buckets of water across the yard all summer or trying to wrangle several lengths of garden hose.  I also needed it to be far enough away from our fire ring to not interfere if we happen to be outside after dark.  The rain gutters discharge a lot of water during a rain event, even a small one.  If the garden was too close the soil would be eroded away.

After settling on where to place the garden bed and carrying the materials to that spot I actually had to move the location over a foot or two.  Why?  The yard had a slight slope around the edges to it to aide in storm-water run off.  What is normally a good thing (good drainage) becomes a not so ideal situation when you are trying to build a level raised bed.  Moving the bed over meant it would be level, thereby saving me the effort of having to dig it down on one side or raise it up on the other.

My previous garden beds were made out of wood planks screwed together to create squares or rectangles.  While this method was more economical it meant more time in constructing the beds, as well as painting or staining the boards to ensure a longer life.  It also made it a lot more difficult to extend the beds as my gardening adventures grew.

I liked the look of raised beds made of decorative stones, but the budget would not permit it at this time.  I also felt like that beds were more permanent in nature.  At this time I was not ready to commit to a location long term.

Concrete blocks were more economical than decorative border stones, flexible enough to change or move if desired, did not require constructing a frame, and allowed me the option to plant in the open spots of the blocks.  While I did not prefer the look of the blocks, the other factors won out.

In two days time I had a bed created in my back yard.  A few days later it was planted and seems to be doing well.  After two years of not having a vegetable garden, it is nice to be able to look forward to produce from one’s own backyard.

Something to keep in mind when planning on using concrete blocks is their weight.  Not only the weight of the finished product, but also the weight in your transportation of choice.  I was able to fit 27 blocks in my car without overloading it.  20 of the blocks were for the raised bed, one block high.  7 of the blocks were being used in a flower bed located in a different part of the yard.

At the time of picking up the blocks I also grabbed a bag of peat moss, two bags of top soil, and a bag of perlite (meant to get vermiculite but didn’t want to make an extra trip to exchange bags). A 50 lb bag of manure, 4 more bags of top soil, and 2 large bags of compost were added to it later.  As I replant and fertilize more dirt will be added.  I will also need to pick up a few bags to finish filling in the open holes of the blocks around the border.

Once home I gathered up cardboard boxes which had been accumulating in our garage.  These I laid out in a rough rectangle shape.  Where possible I created multiple layers of cardboard, which will kill the grass underneath before breaking down in the soil.

After the first corner was located where I wanted it, I began the place the blocks in a line, measuring from the privacy fence to double check its alignment.  Due to the size of the blocks the planting area was not exactly 8 feet by 4 feet, but it is really close.  Add in the extra planting squares and I am happy with the result.

After the blocks were squared up as much as possible, the bags of peat moss, soil, and compost were added and mixed in place.  This may not be the “correct” way to do it, but without a wheel barrel it was an acceptable alternative.  It also created less work than mixing the ingredients on a tarp before adding to the bed.

The soil was watered, allowing me to check for levelness of the new soils and to help the contents settle before planting.

The bed is now ready to be planted!

 

May 032018
 

These past few weeks have been full of various activities around the house and adventures away from home.  Here are a few snapshots of what has been going on. Much to my surprise and delight, my amaryllis is blooming. This lovely flower was a gift from a friend.  However, it was one which I could not set out to bloom the first year I had it, so it was placed in a cool, dark basement.  Then we moved, and it had to winter another year being stored in a cool, dark place.  Tip: this is not a recommended gardening technique.

As I was unpacking and organizing the house this past fall I decided to put it out by the front door in hopes that the location would encourage it to begin growing.  Within a few weeks of placing it outside and watering it, I noticed green beginning to appear.  Both bulbs put on a hardy set of leaves for a few months.  After a time the leaves began to yellow and die away.  I was a bit disappointed, but not surprised by the lack of flowers. With a lack of a place to store it, I left it outside though not a lot of watering was taking place. (Apparently I did something right without knowing it.)

One morning, I noticed green appearing once again!  Regular watering began immediately.  This time an additional shoot appeared after a few weeks – it was a flower stem!

Our front porch has now been graced with this beauty for the past week or so.  It brings a smile to my face every time I see it.

This beauty (in the eye of the beholder) was on the neighbor’s curb.  While it is not the perfect pallet for what I have planned, there were a few factors which made it perfect in my eye. Most importantly the fact that it was two houses away and free.

It is now a work in progress, hopefully to be completed by the end of this week as I already have plants to put in it.

With a warming of weather I realized it was getting close to being late for putting in a garden.  I was not wanting the look of concrete blocks, however the benefits – mobility, long life, no having to cut and drill, outweighed the negatives – not exactly the look I was heading towards.

After seeing a friend’s beds built with these even my husband mentioned I should try it.  Guess he was not bothered by the look. So I took the plunge and bought them one day.  I knew that if I only took the first step, the rest would fall into place quickly.  I already have the cardboard, from moving boxes, and experience of having done this before in Small Town.

The construction of this has progressed enough for plants to be added in today or tomorrow.  I will share more on it later.

While picking up blocks for the larger raised bed, I decided to adjust a design detail on the new smaller side bed.  The blocks along the fence had been more of the decorative type.  The problem with this was two-fold – they were too short and they were more expensive.  Why have nice looking blocks there when no one would see them?  Not only are the concrete blocks taller, but I can also plant inside the previously open squares.

I also added a painted pot from one of the kids.  The likelihood of a toad finding it to make a toad house is fairly small, but you never know.

Another aspect of gardening I have been researching is the addition of fruit plants and/or plants to create a living screen along our back fence.  After asking opinions of other local gardeners, browsing online garden supply stores, and reading up on our state’s extension website I thought I had it narrowed down to my final choices.

A trip to a local nursery with Jack one day showed me that I was not happy with the final choices.  Even more so, I did not want to pay a few hundred dollars for something I was not completely sold on.  Back to the drawing board I went.

One thing was for sure, I wanted a fig tree.  The other fruit trees are more prone to issues due to the humidity of our location.  Figs, however, do better and will give us about two crops a year.  I also hope to start new plants off this one using cuttings.  The gift that keeps on giving, I hope.

These past month has also found me working on other goals – saving money, establishing better homemaking routines, getting back into the flow of schooling, and decluttering.

On the saving money front, I chose a store where I do not regularly shop and worked on finding ways to save there.  It took a lot more time than I thought, but I am getting the hang of it.  Something I came to realize, though, was that my attitude was not in the right place while learning.  Instead of being in a place of thanks giving for the time and resources to learn, I began to have an attitude of lack. 

I began to feel as if I failed if I did not get this deal or that. To nip this lie in the bud, I stopped paying attention to the deals at this store for a couple weeks.  When a big sale came up I was able to take advantage to save a lot of money by stocking up on some essentials for our home, not worring about the other deals I missed.  When I had to thought of, “Maybe I should go check out the other store near us, they may have other inventory”, I gave myself a talking to and found a better use of my time to bless my family.

January tends to be the hard month school wise.  After the holidays it is hard to get the motivation back to get work done.  While January was unusual, it was March which really did us in.  For whatever reason, we just could not find our groove again.  April found us taking advantage of more out-of-home activities as we are getting to know particular local families who also are active in several of the groups we frequent.  A few other groups have also appeared on our radar…we really are blessed with the opportunities, ones we were wishing for in Small Town but could not find.  We are all appreciating the opportunities to make new friends.  Now the challenge is to find a balance between “learning” and “socializing”.  Good thing several of the groups fill both needs.

As for decluttering, there are still a few boxes of items to unpack from our move.  While I am not in a rush to unpack them without knowing where the items will go, I have been going through other things to clear out items we no longer need, want, or which are in a condition to warrant being thrown away.  I was able to pass along several bags of clothes to other families of boys, as well as contribute to the yard sale of a local youth group.

The common thread to these things is: routine.  Having a routine for school makes it more likely to get started.  Having  a routine to plan weekly meals makes it more likely to not rush at dinner time.  Having a routine for picking up the house makes it more likely I am not spending all my time picking up, but can actually focus on cleaning, fixing, or clearing out.

After trying a few different things I have found a few thing which have stuck.  Using those as framework for the rest of the system we are slowly expanding.  For me that currently looks something like this:

  • Laundry – Monday=mine and my husbands, Tuesday=George, Wednesday=Jack, Thursday=household and random other pieces
  • Meals – Sunday=spaghetti for lunch, leftovers for supper, Thursday=supper with small group, Friday=supper is pizza and movie, Saturday=lunch is meat, potatoes, and another vegetable with a nice dessert, supper is lighter such as sandwiches.  Nothing fancy, but it is a good framework.
  • A daily evening pickup of the house. Not perfect, but something is better than nothing.  This was happening right before bed, but then everyone was worked up. I changed it to happen right after supper and before a family activity which involves some sort of treat/dessert.  It worked much better last night.
  • Bedtime routines have simplified and been written out.  This was written down such that “Boy A” does X then Y, while “Boy B” does Y then X.  Seems clarifying that they shouldn’t be in the bathroom at the same time was needed to help reduce the amount of rough housing and to decrease the time it took to brush teeth.
  • The robo vaccum is run twice a week, at least – on Sunday while we are at church, and Wednesday during the day.  Other times as needed, but at least I know the floor will be picked up and swept twice a week. Now for mopping…

There is a lot going on over here, a lot of new or different things.  However, I am beginning to feel a better balance about things…all in time for summer break to be looming on the horizon, of course.

My overall goal for the garden this year is to work on getting big things established, to keep the longer distant time-wise goals in mind.  With an idea of where I want to end up, each step of the way is in that direction, even if it seems like I am skipping here and there around the place.

How has the spring been finding you?  What is one of your goals for the year and what have you done to work toward achieving it?

Apr 162018
 

This post contains affiliate links.


All throughout April you can earn large bonuses when sign up as my referral on Swagbucks. Swagbucks is a rewards site where you earn points (called SB) for things you’re probably doing online already, like searching, watching videos, discovering deals, and taking surveys. Then you take those points and exchange them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, or PayPal cash.

When you sign up through me this month, you can earn a 300 SB bonus! Here’s how:

1. Sign up using this link

2. Earn 300 SB total before May 1st, 2018. You’ll get a 300 SB bonus for it!

3. That’s it. It’s super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. I use it myself, and I’ve earned enough since the beginning of the year to purchase a rain barrel, a compost tumbler, a used copy of a long-awaited book, and more.  This past month has been a bit quieter due to having my focus elsewhere.  That is one of the things I like about Swagbucks, the earning opportunities are flexible; there is no set schedule or method which you must use.

Apr 152018
 

This post contains affiliate links.
As much as I would like to live in my own little bubble, in my own little corner of the world, tending my garden, reading books, drinking coffee, and feeding birds, that idealized vision could only last for so long.  That is the problem with ideals, they are, well, ideal.  They do not account for realistic details.  For example, in order to sit in my garden drinking coffee and feeding birds I would have to had bought coffee, with money earned from somewhere, washed the dishes in order to have a clean cup, and have weeded the garden in order to have anything growing worth gazing at.  None of those – washing dishes, weeding the garden, working – were in the glimpse of my idealized world.  Yet, they all must have happened at some point or another.

So it goes with history at times, either we idealize it or forget about the smaller details completely.  At times, it may not matter so much – like whether a distant past relative made roast or chicken for Sunday dinners.  At other times, it is very important to remember what happened, how we ended up where we and the world is at today.  The actions and words of people in the past have greatly played out into the world we are now living.

Kevin Peraino takes a look into the past, piecing together the different strands to give us insight into how the events of 1949 set the path for where China has ended up today.  A Force So Swift: Mao, Truman, and the Birth of Modern China is not a story which follows a straight path, but instead flows from one thread to the other, logically, giving the reader a broader understanding of the forces of the past which had an influence on the molding of what we see today.

In other words, the only cure for a run-away story is another story.   ~Kevin Peraino, Prologue to A Force So Swift

I greatly appreciated the broader picture Peraino laid before his readers, connecting and relating the different aspects of what was taking place in various parts of the world, among various factions vying for control and influence.  It is no easy task to walk someone through these details without losing them along the way.

A Force So Swift contains many details, not only in the main body of work, but also in the extras.  The beginning of the book contains a map of the China and surrounding countries, marking locations of various cities and regions.  The last quarter of the book hold an Epilogue, Notes, and a Selected Bibliography.  The 261 pages between these two is split into three Parts, which helps delineate various times in the story’s progress.

The research which went into this book resulted in a narration filled with facts, references to primary sources, snippets of conversations and communications, and expansions of the characteristics of the various players.  As a testament to the author’s skill, he did it all without making the reading too dry.

Truman thought he was being caution in his decisions.  It turns out there was more going on then they realized.  Little did they know this would lead to yet another war within a couple decades, one which would claim many American soldiers’ lives.

China is looking back to its past, trying to find where it went right and wrong.  Learning from their past is a part of finding their identity and creating a better future.  It can be tricky to pinpoint these “good” and “bad” parts among the various tellings of history.  Which has the correct view?  Which recounts it the clearest? How was one affected by the other?  These are questions which do not always have answers.  It takes more than 261 pages to work through over a century of ones history to find the truth, if there even is a single right one.

As I listen to the news and read reports of happening in our country and overseas, I can not help but see influences from the past showing themselves today.  None of us live in a bubble; what we do effects others, and what they do has an impact on us.  We may not know the result of those impacts, whether for good or not.  We may assume one outcome, one which never materializes.  None of us can predict the future.

Should we give up then?  By no means! Keep fighting for what you think is right. Things can change. Meanwhile, remember, the story will not end with you.  Your role is a part of the bigger whole, even if it feels as if we are only  weeding the garden and feeding the birds.

 

I received a copy of this book from Blogging For Books to review.  All opinions are my own.

Apr 032018
 

I was provided a copy of this book by Moody Publishers for review.  All opinions are honest and my own.  The post contains affiliate links.  If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small percent at no additional cost to you.

Ordinary.

That is a very good description of how I have been feeling as of late. While I have been getting better at keeping a routine, I think we all know that the world will not end if I happen to do my kids’ laundry on Monday rather than mine and my husband’s.

There really is nothing earth shattering about teaching roman numerals to one kid, while reviewing for the umpteenth time multiplication facts with another.  These will not help save a kid from hunger tonight.

Dishes done before going to bed?  Fabulous…there are still people without jobs.

Fixed a broken dresser?  Helpful, yes.  Does that help someone who feels lost and depressed?  No.

It is very easy to go through the day’s activities, day after day after day after … one begins to feel like a gerbil on a wheel going nowhere very quickly.  Not only am I going nowhere, but do I really have anything to offer others?

In a world obsessed with superheroes and celebrities, Dan Stanford reveals how our extraordinary God works through ordinary people to accomplish the incredible.

Dan Stanford gets straight to the point in the introduction of his newly released book, Losing the Cape: The Power of Ordinary in a World of Superheroes  – “…as bad as the world is right now, we don’t need a superhero to come save the day.”  Wait, what?  Then why am I reading this book?  Thankfully, he continues, “…we need ordinary people like you and me to join God and go change the world right where we are.”

In the next 21 chapters Stanford goes on to give multiple example of people, in the Bible and the world today, who have accomplished great things, even when they were obviously lacking.  He also encourages us to focus on our sphere of influence, use what we have on hand, rely upon God and not our works, and to stop expecting works of great importance to look big and earth shattering – sometimes the biggest thing to someone may come in the form of a small, seemingly insignificant gesture.  To the person, however, it means the world.

While there are many biblical references, Losing the Cape: The Power of Ordinary in a World of Superheroes is a fairly casual, easy read.  It was not until a few chapters in that I began to get into the book.  That was the point where the author shared more of his background, what led him to where he is today, and more of how this has played out in his life.  I believe the story could have done with a bit fewer superhero analogies at the beginning.

In the middle section, I found myself underlining a fair amount and adding notes in the margins.  This was not due to finding formerly unknown concepts.  Instead, it was to help me get further into the content of the book.  It really did help encourage me to begin applying to concepts internally rather than superficially agreeing with them.

Several various parts are words of encouragement I could have used during particularly rough patches in my past.  Hearing someone say those things to me at those moments would have gone a long way towards reenergizing me to keeping going.

The ending section was a deeper conclusion, though it felt a bit rushed.  This part could have been expanded upon more and would have helped add to the application and encouragement in the reader’s life.  As it is, I believe taking time to think over what is read, rather than rushing through this last bit, will help the reader see more of how this can apply to their lives.

Changing the world doesn’t start with a cape and a catch phrase. Changing the world starts by allowing God to invade your world.

Following the last chapter are two additional sections – notes, arranged by chapters, and discussion questions.  Again, nothing supper long or heavy, but a chance to slow down and contemplate how what you have read may apply to your life and current circumstances.

While a lot of the book is talking about us as people, what we can do, how the world around us can benefit from what we have to offer, that is not the real focus and point.  In Chapter 19 Stanford makes a factual statement – our input was not needed when the world was created; people were being fed, clothed, and housed before we came along and will continue to be after we die; in a few generations we will most likely be forgotten.  Doesn’t sound too uplifting, does it?

Knowing all that, we were still uniquely created, born in a specific place at a specific time for a purpose.  Yes, it could all have been accomplished without us, but He chose to use us, to give us a purpose. How awesome is that!

Mar 202018
 

This post may contain affiliate links.  

The ultimate goal of this blog is to pass along information in hopes of inspiring your love of the out-of-doors or encouraging you to try something new.  If I can help save you from making some of the same mistakes I have, keep a few extra dollars in your pocket, help you grow personally, introduce you to a new book, or offer you some laughs, I think we could all call it a good day.

I will be the first to admit that I do not know everything there is to know about gardening or nature.  {gasp} Shocking, I know!  Alas, it is true.  Thankfully there are others who know more about this area or that, who have tried this method or the other, or whose goals are different than the ones I may prioritize.  Put together we form a pretty solid source of knowledge.

To add a bit more excitement to the mix, I have compiled a sampling of giveaways, contests, and free items available this month.

If you have a small space or are looking to simplify, I would encourage you to check out Three Dogs In A Garden’s review of The Less Is More Garden: Big Ideas for Designing Your Small Yard by Susan Morrison.  “Because this book will go to a winner through the mail, we will have to limit entry to readers in Canada and the USA.  The draw will remain open until Saturday, March 31st.”Stuck inside due to snow or rain?  Then this would be a great time to complete some crafts.  Sara, at My Impressions, shows how you can use the Simon Says Stamp April Card Kit: Beautiful Day!  She also has a set to give away.  A winner will be chosen March 26th!

AZ Plant Lady reviewed The Colorful Dry Garden over at Ramblings From A Desert Garden.  If you garden in the same sort of climate, this books looks to be a helpful one to add visual interest in a challenging environment.  She is also giving away a copy of this book on March 22, so head over to read the review and enter to get your own copy.

Pepper Joe has a variety of ways to receive or win free hot pepper seeds.

Mar 172018
 

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There are so many “National _____ Month” or “National ______ Day” or “Celebrate This Day” that it is hard to keep track of them all.  Honestly, at times I do well to remember my family’s birthdays.

You may then consider this your friendly neighborhood reminder – March 25th is Neighbor Day.  While you do not necessarily need a specially designated day to be a good neighbor, nor do you have to physically live right next to them to still consider them your neighbor (yes I am talking to you Neighbor-Lady-Who-Is-Still-Hibernating, “Hello”), a reminder does not hurt either.

Being a good neighbor is not the same as being a nosey neighbor.  How are they different?  Here are some examples:

  • Did you see that Bob was in the paper again?  Yup, got arrested.  Poor Betsy, what is she going to do now? tsk tsk Nosey Neighbor
  • Did you see that Bob was in the paper again?  I am going to take Betsy some diner and see if she might need someone to talk to. Good Neighbor
  • “There are those kids again, running around in the middle of the street.  Don’t they have better sense than that?  Their mother really needs to step up and parent those kids, being that it is just her after all…I wonder if she has found a job yet? Probably not.  I think I will run and take her this week’s classifieds, see if has heard from their father recently.”  Nosey Neighbor
  • “There are those kids again, running in the middle of the street.”  Goes outside and speaks to the kids, comes back inside for some apples and water, takes them out to the kids and plays on the stoop till mom comes back from work.  Finds out mom is currently working two jobs with no child support. Talks to mom about letting the kids play in her/his yard after school and possibly start on homework till she gets home.  Good Neighbor
  • Sees elementary aged kids running around outside with no adult supervision.  Sits on porch watching the kids for almost an hour with no adult in sight.  Calls police “out of concern”.  Nosey Neighbor
  • Sees elementary aged kids running around outside with no adult supervision.  Sits on porch watching the kids for almost an hour with no adult in sight. Goes and knocks on neighbor’s door.  Sees neighbor inside slowly get up from chair by window.  Once the door is open the cast on the foot is exceedingly obvious. Good Neighbor

While the line between Nosey Neighbor and Good Neighbor can be a fine one, most of us know the difference, if we are being honest with ourselves.

But what about those times when you are not sure how to help?  Or when the problem seems bigger than what solely one person is able to accomplish?  What can one person do in those situation?

A little over a year ago I reviewed Make It Zero: the movement to safeguard every child by Mary Frances Bowley.  Here is a bit of what I wrote at that time:

Make It Zero is not about children only.  It actually began by talking about adults, parents, and teenagers, not exactly who one thinks of when talking about the children in our society.  However, by the end of the second chapter I was starting to understand.  Safeguarding the children means giving them a good foundation.  That foundation is the parent/s in their lives.  If the parent is struggling, the children will struggle.”

This week, I am going to be giving one of you a chance to read this book for yourself.  Here is how it works:

  1. Leave a comment on another blog post.  It needs to be relevant to the topic of that post.  As cute as your Yorkie may be while trying to jump through snow, telling me that on a post about starting seeds is not the place. 🙂
  2. Come back here, leaving a comment telling me where you left your first comment. (The post title will be sufficient.) Please make sure you leave your email address somewhere, either in the comment or as part of your login.
  3. You will need to do this by midnight ET on Thursday, March 22, 2018.
  4. I will randomly select a comment and contact the winner.  You will have 24 hours to respond.

Open only to U.S. addresses.

Now, if you would like to share a picture of your Yorkie jumping through snow, I am not opposed to such.  Feel free to send me an email with a photo.  Who knows, it might just make it onto the blog for all to ooh and ahh over!

Mar 162018
 

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January has a reputation for being a recovery month.  Coming off several large holidays, one may find they are feeling a bit down, are having a rough time with cabin fever due to colder weather, or perhaps feeling overwhelmed by their goals for the upcoming year.  While January was, personally, an odd month, I did not find myself struggling through it.

My slump came during the last half of February and the beginning of March.

I suddenly felt like I was spinning my wheels in a spot of slick mud, not gaining ground yet exerting a lot of energy.  My actions were taking me this way and that without a clear direction.  Looking back I realized that I was heading in a direction, that it took working on a bit of this and that and trying different things to find the firmer ground.  Or so I hope.

My main focus so far this year has been on homemaking, personally following routines and habits to help me run our home better and feel a certain way.  While I want to have the kitchen picked up before bed, that does not mean I need to spend all my waking hours at the sink waiting for a dirty dish to appear.  Instead, I also can work on something else.  Some of the areas I have been tackling are:

  • finding a new rhythm for grocery shopping
  • trying a few new ways of saving money, and joining online groups to help in learning
  • sticking to a laundry routine
  • keeping the house picked up, or picking it up once at minimum
  • focusing on one main garden activity each month (compost tumbler, rain barrel, new flower bed)
  • finding a bedtime routine which works for everyone, and writing it down to post on the wall
  • participating  in one or two home school playgroups each week
  • offering to help others, in general being a friend who actually thinks about others and acts on it
  • having music playing throughout the day
  • clearing out unneeded items – donate to others, give away, recycle, reuse, or throw away
  • compare insurance quotes before renewing
  • encouraging kids to take along a book, instead of an electronic, when running quick-ish errands
  • make small changes in how I approach and plan our school week/month
  • begin to think about school over the summer, implement some of the routines now
  • send the kids outside to play, “and don’t come in till supper”

A lot of small things, which add up to a larger, hopefully positive, change in the feel of our home.  It is not perfect, far from it.  What it is is better.  I may spin my wheels more than I like, but I am heading in the right direction.

 My mother-in-law was also able to come for a week long visit.  Jack enjoyed having her here all day. She would chat online with her sisters in the morning, Jack sitting right beside her doing whatever it is Jack could get away with doing because “Grandma is here and we should not have school”.  Let’s just say that picking up his room was not high on his list of priorities.

We also took a few days to get away to a city we had never visited before.  While there was nothing wrong with the trip or the location, the timing was not the best.  It took us all a few days to identify what we had all been feeling, we just wanted to be home.  The last day we cut short possible plans and headed home, all sleeping better that night.

The next few weeks might see my husband traveling some.  Or perhaps not.  It is all up in the air.

What I have decided to do is set a goal for myself and tell you all what I plan to accomplish.  When I did this a few years ago I was amazed at how much I was able to accomplish.  Not only then, but in the time following.  Momentum begets momentum.  I have been lacking momentum as of late and am starting to feel like I will never get unstuck from where I am.

While I am not ready to share it all right now, it will be coming soon.  As in the next week or two soon.  If I delay too long I wouldn’t be surprised if a few seasons pass before I gain motivation again.  🙂

Something I have been working on a bit each day, which has paid for my compost tumbler and rain barrel, is Swagbucks.  This is another area I have been trying out a few new things, as well as joining an online group in hopes of increased learning and earning.  So far it has worked well, though I did ease up a bit this past week as my focus needed to be elsewhere during those early morning hours.

Every little bit helps

Want some extra boost for your budget this month?

If you haven’t tried Swagbucks before, you can get a bonus $3 for signing up as my referral in March. Swagbucks is a rewards site where you earn points (called SB) for things you’re probably doing online already, like searching, watching videos, discovering deals, and taking surveys. Then you take those points and exchange them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, Target, or PayPal cash.

When you sign up through me, you can earn an additional $3 bonus! Here’s how:

1. Sign up using this link

2. Earn 300 SB total before 4/1/18. You’ll get a $3 (300 SB) bonus for it!

3. If you want even more bonuses, you’ll get a $10 (1000 SB rebate) bonus for making your first shop purchase! That’s in addition to the SB you earn for every dollar you spend.

My earnings for this month are a bit shy of 1,200 points called SB.  That is equivalent to $12.  This time around I am working toward reducing the cost of building a flower bed and purchasing seeds.  While my costs may not be covered completely, every little bit helps.

The same goes for compost – “every little bit helps.”  This is how I was able to turn shredded documents, coffee ground, kitchen scraps, and other compostable items into something that resembled black gold.  No one part was large, often I doubted if I was even making a difference.  As I added the not yet fully composted mix on top of cardboard for a new flower bed, I no longer had my doubts – I was thrilled with “free” organic matter to utilize.

What are you working toward currently?  Do you have a plan to accomplish it?  A timeline?

Mar 152018
 

Last October I shared this video with the intent of increasing garden knowledge for those who like to tuck such facts away for when they will be useful.

For the rest of us, here is the video at a time which may be more appropriate to your gardening preparations.

Do you grow onions?  What is your preferred type?

 

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