Mar 272017
 

mason jars

After spending all the time canning produce from your garden or elsewhere, the last thing you want to happen is to have jar go bad and not realize it till you “smell something funky” when you go to your pantry.

Take a few minutes to look over the jars you have.

Are they all still sealed?

Do any need to be wiped down?  If so, do it now before you forget.

If any have gone bad, dump the contents and sanitize the jars.  Check for chips before storing them till they are needed again.

Mar 182017
 

Plow & Hearth

Confession time: I did not buy new cushions for our porch swing for … 8 years!

And to make it even worse … they were the cushions which we inherited with the house and swing! Gross, I know!! Trust me, they were ready for retirement.

Not only did they not provide any form of softness, but they were faded and harbored who knows what kind of allergens.  It was finally at the point where I was afraid to even wash them.  Yeah, they were bad.

It was not until we were gifted a new swing that I began my search for new cushions.  The difference was like night and day!  Not only were the colors vivid, but the cushions actually, well, cushioned.

Never again will I wait so long.  I have learned the wisdom of routinely changing out cushions, especially if they are so worn you are afraid to wash them.

Right now, Plow&Hearth is offering $10 off orders over $85.  Whether you are looking for new cushions, a side table, outdoor planters or an arbor, not only can you save yourself a trip to the store, but also enough money to fill that new planter with your favorite plant from the local nursery or your greenhouse.

This post contains affiliate links.

Mar 162017
 

life is a series of experiences henry ford quote

This week finds us out of the house quite a bit.  So, I thought I would take the opportunity to look back at some posts from the past.

One thing that stuck out to me was the difference in weather between years, even though all these posts are from March.

Another theme I noticed is that I often posted about food.  That may have to do with the first things that stood out to me – the weather.

Soon it had been over three weeks and I had not even begun looking for a new stove or coming to a decision as to repair it.

Living Without An Oven – This phase was actually easier than I thought, though it did take some thinking.  We were also blessed, several months in, with a $1 toaster oven find at a local garage sale.  That toaster oven even moved with us, as I came to find it useful for different situations.

Once the warm weather comes, I would rather be focusing on outside rather than stuck inside doing these things.

30 Days, 21 Projects – It is amazing how all the little things around the house can be put off numerous times.  Suddenly, no matter where you turn there is something glaring at you that needs to be done.  Having a plan of attack, and a deadline, helps you realized the list is not never-ending.  It also gives you a sense of being in control rather than being controlled by your stuff.

I didn’t plant all the tomato seeds I had, but I got 75 of them started.

Weekly Goals – March 18, 2012 – Not only is it interesting to look back and see what was happening at this time in years past, but you may also be reminded of things you used to do and can do again.  While I will not be starting seeds indoors this spring, I hope to do it again in the future.  I also learned that I did not need 75 tomato seedlings.  Live and learn.

At first $4.30 didn’t seem like a lot to Mr. Arends, but by the end of the 6-weeks time frame, he had learned several lessons.

Comparing The Numbers – Before making statements about what can or can not be done, it is a good idea to take a look at the reality of your situation.

Last week he spent over 6 hours across several days working with cardboard and duct tape.

This Week in School, practical life skills – the above quote would be called a STEM activity in public school.  At home, it was called free time.  This post highlighted a season where Jack really did not respond well to sitting to learn.  While we were following Charlotte Mason’s methods, I had not fully implemented them, nor researched them.  So some items, like short lessons, were in play, there were other things I was learning on my own.  I am still not fully doing what she recommends, but we are getting closer.

Mar 142017
 

This post from a few years ago came up in a search I did recently.  Reading through it, I was reminded of how our gardening can start off with great intentions, but time can make us forget the blessings and larger purpose it may serve.  

Botanical Garden Fountain
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

 

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

 

She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

your  husband will appreciate your gardening efforts if you include items and varieties he likes.

She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

playing in the dirt is actually called “working”.

She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

it is okay to not grow everything. instead go to the produce auction or farmer’s market if there are things you want but can’t grow due to time or space.

She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
you don’t have to do it all yourself, hire help as needed. different stages in life call for different things.
She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

gardening … need I say more?

She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.

pulling weeds … and weeds … there are more? Didn’t I just pull those?!? (not such an issue with raised beds, but we did have to haul in dirt and build the boxes)

She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.

endless nights of canning, because you still have so much yet to do.  meanwhile, the next crop is ripe and ready to be put up.

She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

have you ever “blessed” someone with a random bag of zucchini?

She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.

all the canning and preserving serves a valuable purpose during the colder months. (or when a new child in the home meant not being able to shop as much for two months, those stores were very much a blessing.)

She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.

when not in the garden, you are allowed to do non-gardening related crafts.  even better if it is something useful.

Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

our gardening habits will also reflect upon the rest of our household.  let it be a good reflection upon them.

She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

otherwise known as running a produce stand, listing extras on Craigslist, trading for other items or services, selling at a local store, etc.  

Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

all that planning means rejoicing when the first vegetable or bloom appears in the garden.  it wasn’t all for naught.

She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

learn from those who have done it for more seasons than you, and share kindly with the new gardener just starting out.  you were there once too.

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

while it would be great to sit and watch the flowers and birds (or hang out on the favorite social media site), we can’t do that all day.

Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

gardening should not make you grumpy, short tempered, annoyed, or isolated.  instead it should add happiness to your home. if it doesn’t, then you need to sit down and redo you gardening plan.

Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

your house may be perfect; your garden beds weed free, organic and trimmed; and you may even be one of those gardeners who can work outside for an hour in the humidity without a hair coming out of place or breaking a nail.  If your heart is not in the right place, though, it doesn’t mean a thing.  

Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

enjoy what you have worked to make happen.  now would be the time to get that cup of tea (or peppermint cappuccino) and enjoy the flowers and birds, knowing that you have worked hard and blessed others … till it is time to go weed again or put the next load of jars in the canner.

PROVERBS 31: 10-31 (KJV)

Vase of roses in window

Bible passage taken from KingJamesBibleOnline

growinghomemakers link-up banner Modest Mom blog button copy

Mar 122017
 

This post contains some affiliate links.  If you click on them and purchase something I will receive a small portion, at no extra charge to you.  Thank you for helping support this blog.

Living in Reality with smokey border

(click here for Part 1 or Part 2)

Looking back at the list, waaay back at the start, you will notice I did not disregard everything on my “this is what life should look like right now” list.  There are still thing I can do where I am and with the reality I have in front of me right now.

can work on growing in knowledge.

can work gardening in the space I have been blessed with.

can have bees in an urban setting.

can do things on a smaller scale to help reduce energy usage, water waste/runoff, improve the soils, and teach my kids about nature.

can use solar power in various smaller settings.

can go for walks in the neighborhood.

can send my kids outside to play.

can take the kids to the local mountain/nature preserve/park/wetlands to see and experience wildlife without being surrounded by buildings.

can still recycle, reduce, and reuse. Or as my grandparents would say, “Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without.”

dad child walking by spring river

Once I got past what I could not do, i.e. stopped whining to myself, I began focusing on what was at the core of my desires and how it could be implemented where we actually were. I began to feel less confined by my circumstances and more free to find solutions.

I also have to realized that some of my life’s dreams have been fulfilled, just not all of them right now.  There are also many years ahead, God willing, to explore those ideas.

When I mentioned to George, who was watching the movie ‘Alaska‘, that I used to want to be a bush pilot, he looked at me with a serious expression and asked, “Why didn’t you?”  It was a great opportunity to point out to him that life only contains so much time.

“If I had pursued that desire, I would have had to give up so many others.  While it would have been fun, it was not what I was meant to do.”

And that, my friends, is when I realized all my contemplating and searching had finally come full circle and I was ready to move forward once again.

Mar 102017
 

Plow & Hearth

If Spring has not arrived in your neck of the woods yet, it is not too far around the corner.  With a mild winter across most of the country, gardeners are starting to get back into their gardens earlier on the calendar.

Whether you are looking to add lanterns, illuminators,  planters, or walkway lights to your garden, use solar power to add an additional interest to these elements.  Not only will you be saved the limitation of placing them only where there is a source of electricity, but you will also be saving on your power bill.

Today Only, save 20% off all solar accents and receive shipping sitewide on orders of $75. Ends 3/11/17.

In addition to these savings, if you are a new subscriber to their email list, you will receive $10 off your next order.

This post contains affiliate links.

Mar 102017
 

 

Regular turning of your compost pile is one of those garden jobs that often is forgotten.  Turning your pile over does several things:

  1. Mixes the new items you have added to your pile with your older items.
  2. Allows air to get to items that may previously have not had it.
  3. Discourages pesky insects (gnats, flies, mosquitoes, etc.) from gathering and laying eggs by covering food scraps not yet decomposed. This is only an issue if your pile is near where people will be, and therefore they will be pesky.
  4. Speeds up the decomposition of your pile.  In other words, you will have compost that you can use faster.  (This is my favorite reason.)

If you are in a cooler climate, or just a down right cold area, you may have to wait till a warmer day. This is especially true if your pile is under snow or otherwise unable to be worked.

Mar 092017
 


March is here, and it’s bringing you the chance to get a $5 bonus from 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, Walmart, Target, or PayPal cash.

There is no need to download a tool bar or tracking software onto your computer.  Instead, you can earn SB by doing things you might already be doing through other web sites.  Last month I earned 38 SB from searching the web, 182 SB by watching videos on my phone, and 491 SB by looking through special offers (including searching for insurance).

I have found that setting specific goals helps me earn more online.  Knowing I will be needing specific books in the fall, or am wanting to try growing a dwarf pear tree, allows me to plan ahead.  Instead of working toward an ambiguous goal, which is like running a race that never ends, I can see the finish line. As my high school coach used to say, “Run through the finish line.”

To help you reach your goals even quicker, Swagbucks is offering a $5 bonus for new users!

When you sign up through me this month, you can earn a $5 bonus! Here’s how:

1. Sign up using this link

2. Earn 300 SB total before 4/1/17. You’ll get a $3 (300 SB) bonus for it!

3. If you spend at least $25 through Swagbucks Shop* you’ll get another $2 (200 SB) bonus on top of the cash back you’ll get from shopping. If you have some shopping to do online, just go to Swagbucks first and visit the store through them. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but you’ll get SB points for every dollar you spend (on top of the bonus)!

That’s it. It’s super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. I use it myself, and I’ve earned 1256 SB last month.  This amount translates into a little over $12 toward school supplies for next year, flower bulbs for our new yard (once we have one), a bird bath for the new front yard (again, once we have one), or other items on my goals list.

*You must receive your shopping SB before May 1st

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for helping support this blog.

Mar 082017
 

This post contains some affiliate links.  If you click on them and purchase something I will receive a small portion, at no extra charge to you.  Thank you for helping support this blog.

Living in Reality with smokey border

The most important conclusion I came to, though, was this – those things take time.  Time each day/week to be a good steward of what we are given.  Time to grow and mature, to produce fruits of our labor. (from Part 1)

George was very disappointed that we were not going to be able to get a cow and a horse.  I tired to explain it to him, to no avail.  Finally I asked him, “Would you rather have a cow, or get to see Grandma?  You can’t have both.”  He decided we could take the cow with us when we went to visit.  You have to love the simplicity of young minds.

Then I started to wonder, how it was that I grew up in an area where having those things (several acres of land, living away from town, etc.) were normal, yet people still seemed to have a great life.  That is when I came to a few other realizations.

  1. The area I grew up in contained mostly families whose relatives also lived there.  Several generations of them in fact.  Most of my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents live/d in that county.  I can take you to 4 or 5 different cemeteries, some so old they no longer bury people there, and show you distant relatives who are buried there.  I grew up going to Grandma’s for Sunday dinner after church.  In other words, family was close by.  You did not need to travel to see them.  We live hours away from family; traveling for days at each holiday is our normal.
  2. People did not move often.  And if they did move, it might mean moving 10 miles away.  Not states away. With each move, it means starting over again.  Starting over takes time and work, as well as adjusting to new microclimates or growing zones.
  3. It was not uncommon of people would drive 30 minutes – 1+ hour one way for work.  I am not talking through traffic driving, but country driving where 1 minute = about 1 mile. It would take you at least more than 30 minutes to drive across the county on the main state road, which was probably the only straight road in the county. These miles usually took them past stores, gas stations, etc, which they would stop at on the way home. Our reality is that the kids go to bed early, 7-7:30.  If they miss this for 2 nights in a row, the next day is shot.  We can not keep them up late in order to see Dad after work if we want to have any sort of calm home life.
  4. Everyone understood “working in the yard” really might take you all day Saturday.  Especially after the kids’ morning sports activities or the afternoon ball game. Or the Saturday morning trip to town to “haul trash”, go to the bank, and do other errands. There are also no HOAs.  If you miss a week of mowing, or your car has been sitting for too long in one spot in your yard, no one is going to say much.  Well, your mom or grandmother might … :)
  5. People did not go to museums, unless they made a full day of it, driving the 1-1.5 to get there.  However, it was usually a special event, not a common event. Yet, they would go play in the creek, go hunting, swimming in an actual lake, watch the river flood each spring, listen to the band at the local restaurant/festival, hear about how “grandpa grew up down there”, etc.  It may not be in a building, but we were exposed to various enrichment activities.
  6. A farmer’s market was not a part of the culture.  They tried.  It never quite took off.  However, I know who makes maple syrup, who has honey bees, who grows Christmas trees, who has apple for sale at the local volunteer firemen’s spring event, who to go to for quilting your quilt top, where an old farmstead used to be but now is a large plot of daffodils each spring, etc.  

In general, life is different there.  The pace is different.  Time is on a different speed.  That is not a good or bad thing, it just is. 

(Honestly, if I had not married my husband, I would have gone back there to live.  That was my plan till the end of college, after all. I love him more than my plans, though. Hence I am not blogging from there.)

In case I am giving a picture that is not a full one, let me give the disclaimer: not everyone there ‘lives in the country’.  There are town folks, too. Or people like my one set of grandparents who lived about 10 minutes outside of town on a small farm, down a small county road which had no lines or shoulders. Yet about 90% of the county was a rural setting.

And that is not where we are living right now.

We live in a place that is 80-90% urban/suburban; a place where subdivisions vastly out rank farms. Due to recent population growth, there are still small farms sprinkled throughout town and a lot of people who did not grow up around here.

Where we are living is most likely not the place we will be in 10, 15, 20 years.

Unless we have a million dollars, are willing to be in a school district which can not necessarily address some of the needs George has, or want to see my husband less than we already do, our housing options are not the same as where I grew up.

This also goes to show why I am not in a rush to fulfill that dream of 40 acres and maple syrup right now.  If I were to invest 10 years of my time and labor, I may not be here to see the result of that work.

As a side note, time is all relative.  When we first were married, I was used to “tree time”, where 60 years is fast and 80-100 is when things finally start moving.  My husband thought 6 months was fast and 5 was super long.  It took us a while to get our clocks aligned. Even now, I feel like he is on fast time and I am on slow time.

That does not mean I have to give up everything.  Only that it will look different.

diy closet system

… to be continued.

 

 

Mar 072017
 

“Success With Container Gardening is a free PDF guide available exclusively on Craftsy, featuring 17 pages packed with tutorials, tips and tricks from expert gardener Meredith Skyer.”

This 17 page guide to container gardening is currently free.  This price may not last forever, so take advantage of it while it is here.