Thursday, May 21, 2015

Parents, Life Is Meant To Be Simpler (And Not So BUSY!)


Life gets so crazy sometimes. We run and run and run. The kids are involved in several things at once, we can't say no to the latest commitment, and home is only a place to rest your head. Does this sound familiar?

Life shouldn't be like that. Yes, I know. I can hear y'all now. Kids are only young once. They need to experience all these things. They need to find out their potential. We need to be involved in their things. We need to be active in everything. The kids need to know what it is like to be involved and learn to get along with others.

Stop it.

Life is meant to be simpler.

Kids need to know that their family is also their best companions. Kids also need to know what it is like to hang out at home and be a contributor to the household. Kids need to learn how to keep a home, be content with what they have, be content being home with family, and live a simpler life. Kids need to learn how to work and develop a work ethic. Kids need to learn to entertain themselves instead of their parents doing it for them. We have to model that for them.

Does it hurt them to be involved in activities? No, but kids are in so many things that their activities become the universe in which the family spins around. That is crazy! We have lived this life. It makes every one exhausted, frustrated, and discontented. This isn't healthy for the parents and for the kids.

At one point in time, Shali was in four sports plus the dance squad, speech, theater, and choir for almost four years. In the fall of Jordan's junior year of high school, she was in volleyball, football cheerleading, and dance squad. She ended up being a very sick kid by November from the stress and lack of sleep as well her grades suffered a bit. Shali has two injuries that will haunt her the rest of her life because she couldn't rest them like she should have. The pressure to play was too great for her. The kids went to a small school that needed people just to have teams and my kids did what they could. The stress on our family was very great.

I have learned this lesson the hard way and am very happy we are now in a school district that only allows one sport at a time. However, that rule does not stop the endless weekend tournaments, open gyms, weightlifting, and camps. Parents wonder why their kids get burned out or, as they find out later in life, the kids kept playing to make their parents happy.

What are you really teaching them? To over-commit? To live for a sport that may have no meaning to them after high school? That home is only a place to lay their head at night and not a place to live?

This summer, my son decided he no longer wants to play little league baseball. I am perfectly content with his decision. We have a busy summer the way it is. I did ask him a few times to make sure he was certain. He is. However, I have family who thought I should have made him. Why? He clearly did not enjoy baseball by the end of the season last year. He plays basketball on a traveling team in the winter so he is active in something and he loves it.

We actually like to be home at night. I look forward to having a summer without nightly ball games. Next summer, Paige will be playing junior varsity softball and those games will be at night.We have one summer to rest and relax.  I want to rest and relax and so does my family. We want to have a summer of projects and fun. We don't want to be so tired that all we do is veg out in front of the television.

We as parents can stop the crazy train. We can say no. I didn't think I could, but I found out that saying no to being over-committed, stressed-out, and frustrated is very easy to do. Will other people be mad at you? You bet. Should other people's opinions matter where your family is concerned? No it should not.

You as parents are in charge of your family and the decisions that your family makes. You should decide how your family spends its time outside of the house. If you want your child in a sport or an activity, that is your choice. We still have sports and activities going on in our house, but I will not make my kids do something that they have already tried. I do want them to try sports when they are in junior high before deciding they like it or if it is worth sticking with. I also want them to be in either band or chorus in high school because I feel a music education is important.

Other than that, I don't expect my kids to be in anything. If they want to be and I don't feel like they are overextended, then they will be. I made some mistakes early on with my older two children that I won't make again. I feel that other things like being home and having a part time job to be more important for my kids and their futures.

We can make life simpler for our families. We can say no to the busyness, the constant running, and tiredness. We can do this and make life better for ourselves and our families.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Monday, May 18, 2015

10 Things To Do When Rain Stops You From Homesteading Outside


In my area of Iowa, we are soaked. We get about 2-3 days of rain, 2-3 days of no rain, 2-3 days of rain, and now cooler (than I like) temps. We have rain coming again by the weekend.

My garden is tilled. Nothing is in it. I have a fence to build around the garden, but the ground is so soft that I don't think it will stay upright. We have a lot of mowing to do. I need to build a compost bin. At least most of the crops are in.

I need to get a lot done before the heat and humidity of summer comes along.

What is a homesteader to do when we can't get a lot done outside in the Spring?

1. Keep planning the garden. Refine the plans. Dream a little more. Peruse Pinterest for more ideas. Check out different varieties. Wonder if they have their gardens planted in Alaska yet.

2. Check out the chicken coop for any repairs needed. Clean it up a bit. Watch the chickens for awhile. Wonder why you find them so amusing, but decide you don't care. The chickens love the all the worms they can find in the rain.

3. Scope out the barn. Pick up and clean up a bit. Dream about building a barn or adding on to the one you have. Check out building plans.

4. Decide to tackle that one closet you have avoided for years. You are a little afraid of it, but what else do you have to do?

5. Go out to pick rhubarb. The rhubarb really likes the rain and has been growing like crazy. Good time as any to freeze, can, and preserve the rhubarb. Maybe even try a few new recipes.

6. Drag out all the chicken bones and skin, vegetable scraps, and stock pot. As good as time as any to make/can chicken stock and clean out some much needed room in the freezer.

7. Weed if it is not raining. Weeds pull really well when the ground is soft.

8. Watch videos on YouTube about homesteading. Watch the Edwardian Farm and Victorian Farm for the umpteenth time and still learn something new. Watch videos about all those lucky people who have their gardens in. Contemplate making your own videos.

9. Read books about homesteading. Add more projects for your list. Try some new things that you read about and actually have the stuff for.

10. Make a list of things to do. Add dishes and laundry to that list because they so count. So does sweeping and vacuuming. Then actually do those things. It might be the last time before Fall.

Just some ideas in case you are going stir crazy (like me!). Rain is great, but also frustrating for those who have things to do and want to feel the warmth of the sun.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

2015 Garden Plans and Goals: Becoming More Self-Sufficient Every Year!


Photo by my daughter, Jordan 

The garden is tilled! Now time to start planting and planning some more. I love gardening and all the it entails. I am working on making the homestead into a food producing machine. A lot easier said than done, but every year I make progress.

What am I going to do this year?

1. Plant asparagus and hope it comes back next year. These are second year plants as opposed to the first year plants from last year. I have hope they will. I added a lot of rotted chicken manure and bedding to the area they will be planted.

2. Put a fence around the garden. I love my chickens, but I will love them a lot less if they eat everything I plant. So a 3-4 foot fence will be going around the garden. At the end of the season, I will let them back in the garden to fertilize, eat leftover produce (if any!), and scratch around a bit.

3. Adding two more blueberry bushes. All four of my blueberries planted last year came back. I will add more soil acidifier to keep them happy and mulch heavily again. That worked really well last year too.

4. Adding more raspberry canes. I want to thicken up the area they are in and get more production out  of them in the years to come.

5. Added peat moss to the garden. This is already done, but was on my list for this year. The soil needed some added boost from last year.

6. Planting everything much closer together. For what I read and studied, plants do much better this way. Planting closer together keeps weeds choked out a bit more and I can plant more in the garden.

7. Planting peas and cucumbers by the fence going around the garden. I want the peas and cucumbers to grow up the fence and save room in the garden for other things.

8. Adding mulch to the garden. I want to use tacky straw mulch this year since I have read really good things about it. I have a lot of wind because I live in a really flat place so I need mulch that stay. The tacky straw mulch is suppose to do that. Fingers crossed!

9. Moving the five-gallon buckets and other planters out of the garden. I have done most of this, but I have a few left. I am moving all of them up to the house. I will be planting some flowers, some greens, and some herbs in them. I think they will do better being protected by the house with some shade during the day. We shall see. I need to add more soil to the first.

What I planting this year in the actual garden?

Tomatoes
Bell Peppers
Poblano Peppers (if I can find plants)
Potatoes
Red Onions
Yellow Onions
Green Beans
Peas
Cucumbers
Pumpkins
Yellow Squash
Zucchini
Beets
Carrots
Radishes
Spinach
Cabbage (Red and Green if I can find plants)

I do have some pipe dreams for my garden and gardening in general. If I get them done, great! If not, there is always next year.

1. Put in two 4' x 4' or 6' x 6' raised beds closer to the house. I always wanted a "kitchen garden" where I would plant lettuce, greens, peas, radishes, and herbs. I want to trellis the peas in the middle and work my way to the outside with other plants.

2. Plant elderberry bushes, currants, honeyberries, and a couple more apple trees.

3. Find a new home or place in the yard for the day lilies. I love them, but they do not need to be in the garden. Plus I want to keep what flowers I have so the bees have more places to collect pollen.

That is it! The 2015 Garden Plans! Every year, we work on being more self-sufficient and raising our own food. This year will be the best yet!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

"What Do You Think Is Going To Happen? Is The World Going To End?"


The answer would be "I don't know" or "I doubt it". Literally, I don't know. I can guess and not be right. I can only give you my views and let you make your own decisions.

I see a lot of signs of potential bad things happening, but I don't know which way anything is going to go. I see a lot of signs that I find rather alarming and very disturbing. I see a lot of questionable decisions being made and a lot of questionable people making those decisions. We have natural events happening in unexpected places as well as expected places. We have things going on that are out of our control.

I don't ever see the world self-imploding or blowing up. I also believe that everything works in cycles. The weather works in cycles. Nature works in cycles. Animals work in cycles. You get the idea.

Natural disasters do not worry me that much. They are part of life and nature. We have no control over them. We can prepare for them as much as possible, but we always need to understand that everything we own can be destroyed in seconds. However, not having water, food, and other things on hand just in case is pure foolishness. Not being ready for something that can happen every year and at anytime doesn't make sense. You should have at least three to seven days worth of water and food ready for any natural disaster as well as other disaster supplies. FEMA put out a pretty good starter list for this and I would definitely check it out.

Our troubled economic status actually worries me a bit. Between being lied to by so-called experts, the amount of national and personal debt piling up, and the dropping value of the dollar gives us quite a bit to be worried about. I am no expert, but I can tell you this. Getting out of debt should be a priority. Learning to live on cash should be a priority. Having a cash emergency fund should be a priority. Having multiple streams of income should be considered important. You should do what you can now so when a recession or a depression comes around, you won't be at the mercy of creditors.

Widespread power outages, EMPs and solar flares do exist as a threat. They have happened before and more than likely will again. I do believe it is possible to have a EMP event or a widespread power outage. Learning to live without electricity and not be dependent on electricity will be extremely important. The skills needed to do this need to be practiced now. Many people rely very heavily on electronics and not enough on learning natural skills.

Job loss should always be on the mind. The most secure jobs in the world can become the least secure in a day, month, or year. Ask all the oil workers who were fired or laid off. I bet they didn't see that coming. Even if you work for yourself, the economy might dictate how your business will be doing. This is where emergency funds become crucial and multiple streams of income become the difference between starving and eating.

War and military action seems pretty far-fetched for most Americans. However, our administration is making some very questionable decisions and alliances. We have been attacked. We have proof of being infiltrated by terrorist groups. We could have a war on our hands. We have enemies with very powerful weapons and technology. We have a lot of people with their head in the sand. In my mind, nothing is impossible. Being prepared for this is mind-boggling. Being prepared for this means being able to defend yourself and your family. You have to be ready to make a lot of sacrifices and quick decisions. Start reading literature about how people lived through war conditions in the past. Learn and imagine what if?

Lack of morals and ethics in people in general worries me also. Stealing, looting, lying, lack of justice, lack of common sense, lack of accountability, and a convoluted justice system makes for very troubled times. We have millions of people who have a victim mentality and believe they are entitled to whatever they want without working for it. I know preparing for this can be difficult. Who do you trust? Will this happen in your area? What can you do to help? Who should you help? What can you do to be more alert and ready to defend your family and home? All we can do is do the best we can and prepare accordingly.

Any of these things can be true. There are many more scenarios to think of and ponder. However, being prepared for anything is the peace of mind that we need. While I admit to being worried about things, I do not fear them. Fear leads to irrational thinking and that just means mistakes will be made.

You have to do what is best for you and your family. Being prepared means that you are taking care of them and yourself. I can't think of doing anything better than that.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tuesday Savings on the Homestead: Attend A Garage Sale! (Tips for Having a Good Garage Sale Time!)

Every Tuesday I will be posting a Tuesday Savings on the Homestead. This posts will concentrate on one money saving thing you and I can do to save money for the week. Some will be easy, some will be be a bit difficult, and all will concentrate on one way to save money for the week. Please join me in trying to live a frugal life in 2015!

Do you love garage sales? I do love garage sales. I think this is a great way to find things we need and not pay a fortune for those needed things. Last weekend was kind of the official start of garage sale season in Iowa and we definitely partook. We found some shirts, shoes, and shorts for my son, some shirts for my daughter, and some books for me! Dane found two movies he couldn't live without for fifty cents each. 


Why should you attend a garage sale?

1. Garage sales save money and are a great place to shop for any frugal minded person!

2. Garage sales are great places to find clothes for those rapidly growing kids. Why buy new clothes for them when they are going to wear them out or grow out of them quickly?

3. Garage sales are a treasure trove for preppers! The things that people get rid of are just a blessing for preppers. I have gotten tools, flashlights, camping equipment, canning supplies, and more from garage sales. 

4. Garage sales are a blessing to the already budget-strapped homesteader. I have gotten gardening supplies, rope, fencing, and more from garage sales. 

Now that you are ready to attend a garage sale, here are some great tips for attending one and having a good time!

Tips for attending a garage sale:

1. Have a plan. Scout out which ones you want to attend in a weekend and make a list. Some garage sales will not have anything you are interested in and that is fine. Find the ones that do interest you, make a list, of where they are at and what you are interested in, and be ready to go!

2. Have cash on you. Not many garage sales are willing to take checks so have plenty of cash on you to pay. 

3. Make a list of what you are looking for. I have a mental list and sometimes a written list of what I am looking for at garage sales. Right now it is size 12/14 slim boys pants/jeans, size 5/6/7 boys shoes, lawn chairs, picnic table, outdoor cooking equipment, and canning supplies. However, I always keep an open mind for any future needs or the opportunity to improve on what I already have!

4. Bring a friend! I often bring my kids with me, but I love going to garage sales with friends! They often have ideas for items that I would not have thought of. They also might be willing to help you haul your new items home!

5. Be selective. I hate saying that, but sometime the deal isn't worth it. I have bought many clothes for my kids at garage sales and I have learned to become selective about them. If the items are already wore out, have holes, or showing signs of breaking, pass on them. Hold the items up, look over them carefully, and decide if the deal is worth it. Some things should be just given away, not sold. 

I hope this helps you in having a great garage sale time! Have fun! 

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Friday, May 1, 2015

May 2015 Goals Update


My Goals For 2015

1. Clean, de-clutter, paint, re-carpet, fix ceiling,  and organize Paige's room. This room is an unorganized disaster that needs some serious help. Plus she is at that age where she is growing out of everything: clothes, toys, books, etc.

This has been on hold for the last month. Between remodeling my work office and very busy month for her, we haven't gotten a lot done. We might just wait until school gets out before really taking this project seriously.

2. Clean, organize, paint, and re-carpet the office. This is where I work at home (most of the time). It doesn't work for me. It doesn't really work for anyone.

My home office has been getting tackled. I have cleaned out a lot of stuff straight to the dumpster. I also moved a set of shelves that were empty into the bathroom. I was home for a week with a sick child and just really did some cleaning out of this room. Still needs more done though.

3. Purchase a hand gun and learn to use it well.

Soon. Very soon.

4. To blog much more consistently and to learn to use social media to my advantage. To me consistently is at least 3-5 times a week. That doesn't happen right now.

Still been working on social media! I now have an Instagram account so feel free to add me there. I hit a bit of a stumbling block on blogging consistently with Dane being sick for a week, but hopefully now I am back on track.

5. To make a homemade gift for each birthday. I have lots of ideas that I am not using right now so this should be easy to do.

Next birthday is in August. I have time to figure out what.

6. Add 1-2 beehives to the homestead. I would love, love, love to produce our own honey.

7. Lose 20 pounds over the year. Unbelievably, I lost 20 pounds last year and would love to lose 20 more this year.

8. Finish six unfinished projects. I will introduce you all to my needlework pile in the future. You might not be laughing after you see it.

9. Live as frugally as possible by making more my own things and using what I have first before buying more. This really needs to happen this year and working up a realistic budget will be the first step.

I think I need to up our grocery/household budget or get more creative with the grocery/household budget. The kids have been taking more sack lunches to school which has added a little cost. We are also becoming more aware of what is going in our mouths as well as the pets' mouths which is increasing the budget too. I need to rework my budget in May. We also have a graduation to pay for. Yikes!

10. Write a book or an e-book. Because I have always wanted to.

11. Go to a self-reliance/preparedness expo and/or Mother Earth News Fair. I have never been to one and always say I want to go one and never do. This year is the year for this!

12. Get a new-to-me double recliner and love seat for the living room. The ones I have have been blessing my home for at least 16-19 years and they blessed some one else's home before that. The kids have made sure they are worn out and broken down. I have fixed over and over again. Enough. Time for new to me stuff!

I got a new entertainment center for the living room for $60. I know this was not part of the goals, but it was $60 and it fits in the corner. It can also accommodate a bigger television and ours is dying. Still looking for a double recliner. 

I am horrible about my goals. However, they are goals which are just defined dreams. Hopefully though, we can get them accomplished!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

FoodSaver / Freezerlabel.Net Freezer Label Giveaway!

FoodSaver / Freezerlabel.Net Freezer Label Giveaway

A group of homesteading and preparing bloggers have come together to bring this giveaway to you! By entering you have the chance to win 1 of 3 prizes! 

First, here is some information from Freezerlabel.net about recommended storage times for frozen food. This is very important information to have! I would suggest printing it out and keeping it on your freezer or deep freezer to have it handy.



http://www.freezerlabels.net/frozen-food-storage-times-infographic/

Three Winners Will Be Chosen To Win These Prizes! 

1 - The first prize is one FoodSaver Model Number#V4880 **Please Read Disclaimer #4 and 120 Professionally Printed Freezer Labels from FreezerLabels.Net this is a $319.00 Value.

2 - Second & Third Prizes are 120 Professionally Printed Freezer Labels from FreezerLables.Net for 2 winners.

Freezer Labels.Net

Freezer Labels have been provided by Freezerlabel.net they are designed to be used in freezing environments and made to last, unlike other paper labels. Visit their website to find printable's and other freezer labeling tools... Free Printable's Here! FreezerLabels.Net

When Is The Giveaway?

Begins May 1st 12am EST Ends May 8th 12am EST

Who Can Enter?

Anyone 18 years or older, and a resident of the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.

Winner Notification

The winner will be notified by email and will have 24 hours to respond. If we do not hear back from said winner in the designated time period of 24 hours we will choose another winner and they will have 24 hours to respond from the time the notification email is sent.

Giveaway Terms & Conditions

You can find the official Giveaway Terms and Conditions by clicking here!

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