Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts

Monday, July 11, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - July 11


Whew! Another week gone! I swear I am going to figure out how to slow down time...

The kids were a busy bunch this last week. They went to their dad's house for two days. Paige drove some more Driver's Ed and worked at the pool (she is a life guard). Dane went to his aunt and uncle's house on Saturday with his grandparents.

On Sunday, the kids and I went to my parents' house to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary! Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad! A lot has happened in forty years and I am sure more will happen in the future!

This week, Dane has basketball camp from today to Thursday. Paige is on her second to last week of Driver's Ed. Both kids are frantically getting ready for county fair that is the first week in August!

And we have family coming Friday to stay with us this weekend! Whew!

So what happened last week?

I weeded the garden. Amazingly, it needs weeding again.

We got some much, much needed rain after being dry for almost three weeks. I had started to water the garden because the tomatoes were starting to wilt and the peppers were not growing. I think both are starting to come out of it now. The peas are definitely ready to pick and I hope to get that done tonight yet.


I dug up all my garlic. The plants had dried back so it was time. The bulbs were pretty decent sized and I am pretty happy with the harvest. I got thirty bulbs which is what I planted. I also got some bulbits. I had planted the garlic last fall about an inch into the soil. The bulbs must have sunk further down because I had bulbits which are a second forming on the bulb above the surface. They are still edible and I learned a lot about planting garlic this year!

We cleaned up more of the shop and worked on the barn. Rob got another wall of the shop painted which he is happy about. He also cleaned the front of the house, front porch, the front doors, and the sidewalk! The house looks brand new!


We also had two date nights at the tractor pulls in Rockwell! I love watching them every year. Rob got me into tractor pulling and I am so happy he did!

I am also trying to get back into cooking more from scratch and planning ahead for the week. This is my goal almost every weekend, but the weekends just seem to fly by. Saturday morning, I made two loaves of bread, two batches of granola bars, and a double batch of egg muffins. We ate some of the egg muffins for lunch Saturday, but the rest have been for breakfasts this week. I also diced up a canned ham we were given and will use that for scrambled eggs, omelets, pizza, and pasta salad.

How was your week?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - June 27 & July 4


This last two weeks have really been a roller coaster. We have had a few ups and a few downs. 

The garden is growing well. All except my peppers. They are not growing much at all. I think I am going to hit them with a shot of fertilizer. My carrots did not come up very well either. However, I hit up some end of the season sales. I planted more tomatoes, peppers, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. I will probably go back and get some more strawberry plants and see what else is left. 

We need rain and soon. We are suppose to get a storm tonight so hopefully we get some significant rainfall with that. We are dry...as in do not light a fire anytime soon dry. 



We lost our house cat, Lola last Friday. She hadn't been doing very well this last week and was scheduled to go back to the vet last Friday. She passed away on the way to the vet. She was 15 years old and had lived a long, good life. We buried her in the yard so the kids can visit. They were pretty attached to her.



The chickens are doing great. The egg output has been slowing down a bit which leaves us with some tough decisions. Rob wants to put up a camera in the coop and see who is actually laying or not. If they are not laying, they need to be part of the freezer. I am a little more attached than that. However, I am really considering getting some pullets and expanding the flock so we have fresh layers. I have already looked into it.

Other than that, we have been doing a lot of cleaning up outside. We (meaning mostly Rob) took down two dead trees in the grove. We have also been putting some work into the inside of the barn. As of right now, the goals for July is to: 

  1. paint the walls in the shop 
  2. move the wood in the barn to a neater pile in one of the other buildings 
  3. rent or borrow a pressure washer to clean the floor in the barn
  4. kill as many rats and mice as possible
  5. build shelves in the shop so Rob can find his stuff a lot faster and easier

We are never bored. That is for certain.

What is going on at your homestead? What is your goals for July?

Thanks for reading, 
Erica


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

60 Ways To Save Money Today


Saving money is always important. For most people, it is a part of every decision they make. 

With the economy in a precarious position, we all need to work on saving more money! Practicing good money-saving habits now will help you in the future when the money might be tighter than ever. The tips below will help you save more money and might even give you more ideas on how to save money in other areas of your life. 

With that said, here is 60 Ways To Save Money Today:

1. Eat up the leftovers in the fridge. It's just food!

2. Eat from your fridge first to use up the food that will go bad the fastest.

3. Do not eat out - unless you scored a free meal for yourself or your family!

4. Use your gift cards - saving them for some rainy day is wasting money.

5. Use coupons on things you buy.

6. Use your store loyalty cards. Load coupons and store specials on them.

7. Sign up for free samples and accept them when shopping. Free is good!

8. Use sites like Swagbucks to earn points for gift cards and Ebates to earn money back on online purchases.

9. Buy soda pop from the store instead of the convenience store. You will save over $1.00 a bottle and $.50 a can.

10. Better yet, give up soda pop and drink water instead.

11. Use your public library for books and movies. If the library doesn't have the book you want, they can usually get it for you a different way!

12. Make your coffee and tea at home instead of buying it at the fancy coffee places.

13. Check the pressure in your tires. Properly inflated tires will help your fuel mileage and save money on gas!

14. Bring your lunch and snacks to work. Eating out is just expensive!

15. Shop for clothes at thrift stores and garage sales.

16. Make a budget and stick to it!

17. Commit to a clothes buying ban. See how long you can go without buying clothes.

18. Start a no spend month. Set boundaries and see what you can live without.

19. Buy used instead of new. Rarely do you need anything brand new.

20. Bring your snacks and drinks to kids' ball games. Buying at the concession stand can be expensive!

21. Have movie night in instead of going to the movie theater. Pop your own popcorn, rent a movie, and relax in your home for a lot less money!

22. Cut your own bangs, groom your eye brows, and even trim your own hair. I save myself $10 by cutting my own bangs tweezing my eye brows in between hair cuts.

23. Make your own laundry detergent instead buying the expensive stuff at the store.

24. Make your cleaners with vinegar, water, baking soda, and salt. If you already have essential oils, add them in too!

25. Wash your vehicles at home. Detail the insides of your vehicle at home too!

26. Rent or borrow equipment you are only going to use once or twice.

27. Hang clothes outside or on a clothes rack to dry instead of using the clothes dryer.

28. Cancel the cable and/or satellite. Sign for the cheaper Netflix, Hulu, or just watch YouTube videos for free!

29. Drive right by the coffee shop, the convenience store, and the donut shop! Don't stop!

30. Never, ever shop without a list. The list will help you remember what you are getting (saving extra trips) and you should not be tempted to buy anything else.

31. Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan. Knowing what you are going to make will save you from being tempted to eat out and/or making an extra trip to the grocery store.

32. If you have people coming over, make the meal potluck or have them bring their own drinks.

33. Turn old shirts and socks into rags and stop using paper towels!

34. Stay home for the day. Get things done around the house or just chill for the day!

35. Fix your own things and do your work if possible. You can Google or YouTube for instructions.

36. Run errands while on your lunch break or after work. You will save money doing that instead of running them on the weekends.

37. Look at your grocery ads to see what is on sale. Plan your menu around them.

38. Wait 3-7 days before making any major purchases. Sometimes you can find a better deal or realize that you can live without it.

39. When shopping online, add items to your cart and then save it for at least three days. A discount may come along or you may realize that you no longer want those items.

40. Use cash when shopping. When the cash runs out, you are done.

41. Have at-home date nights. Pop in a movie, make your steak dinner, play cards or a game, and chill in the comfort of your home. Going out is so expensive and overrated!

42. Shut off lights in the house and unplug the electronics chargers.

43. Go one step further. Shut off the air conditioning and open the windows. Your house will get aired out and your electric bill will go down. (Of course, use your discretion on this.)

44. Use rags instead of paper towels.

45. If you can, walk or bike instead of driving.

46. Use your grill or slow cooker instead of your oven in the summer. Keeps the house cooler and saves on electricity.

47. Mend your clothing instead of throwing them away.

48. Get organized. Knowing what you have and where to find will keep you from buying a item that you have and can't find.

49. Before you make a purchase online, find out if there is a coupon code available. If there is, use it!

50. Stop the kids cold with all the requests to buy stuff at school. I swear I get a new request for a t-shirt every other week. Unless it is necessary for the class or participation, don't spend the money.

51. Want to hang out with your friends? Invite them over for coffee, tea, or drinks. Take a walk together, watch a movie together, or just hang out and talk!

52. Before purchasing anything, ask yourself if it is a need or a want. If you are really strapped for cash, then you know what you need to answer.

53. Take shorter showers and use cold water to wash laundry to save money on electricity for your water heater and (if you have one) well pump.

54. Wear clothes more than once if you can. Wearing clothes more than once saves you money because you will do less laundry!

55. Down to the bottom of that soap bottle? Doesn't matter what kind of soap you are using, add a little water to the bottom to get the rest of that soap out! 

56. Clean and declutter your house. You will feel better when you have it done and you may never know what you will find! You will also have a lower heating/cooling bill because you won't be heating/cooling as much stuff.

57. Grow a garden. You will be growing your own food for a lot less money than buying the produce in the store.

58. Get rid of the subscription services like Stitch Fix, Just Fab, Birch Box, etc. You are paying a fee for every one you are subscribed to. Stitch Fix takes $20 out of your account on the month you get a fix and you don't get that back unless you purchase an overpriced piece of clothing.

59. Buy generic over brand name. I have very few things I am brand loyal too anymore, but OTC medications, body wash, and many more things are just fine as generic!

60. Invest in some mini-scrapers and super skinny scrapers. They will help you get the last of the peanut butter, ketchup, mustard, lotion, etc. By not doing this, you will be throwing money away when you recycle the bottles. 

Did you get some ideas? What will you try first? What ideas do you have to save money today?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead: June 13 & June 20


It has been two weeks again and time is flying! I mean to do this every week and hopefully I will again soon. I am lacking pictures for this post, but stay tuned and I will have more!

The clothesline is done! Rob finished that last week with minimal assistance from me. I love it because it is a little higher than the last one and it has a center support post. I can hang more laundry on it without the center sag that I had with the old clothesline. I hung laundry out all day yesterday and love it! I hope to have a post up this week about how we built it!

I have been spending a lot of time in the garden trying to stay ahead of the weeds. I haven't been entirely successful, but I am doing the best I can. Rob and Dane have been catching toads for the garden to help with the bugs. So far, so good! Before they started, my green beans and zucchini plants were getting eaten alive. We have managed to keep the rabbits out, but the bugs do not respect the fence!

Paige starts Driver's Ed this week. She just got her permit last week and Grandpa has been taking her driving. Yes, I am totally shirking my parenting duty on this. I am fine with that!

We have started on the shop and the back of the barn. Rob has been getting the work bench the way he wants it and fixing/painting what needs to be done. I started on the back of the barn yesterday. Yuck! Too many critters making a mess! About a third of the barn got done and hopefully I can finish the rest by the end of next weekend.

We (mostly the kids) cleaned out the chicken coop. We do a thorough cleaning about every three months with a more frequent cleaning under the roost. I love the smell of a freshly cleaned coop!

Otherwise we have been doing a lot of little things like getting curtains bought two months ago hung up, going through more stuff and getting rid of a lot, prepping, and staying on top of the kids and their chores!

What have you been up to?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, June 6, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead: May 31 & June 6


We have the fence around the garden and the garden is planted! That, my friends, may be the best and biggest news of these last two weeks. Besides mowing, these two things have consumed most of our time. 



This has been a time consuming project and I will try to get a blog post up about in this coming week. However, one of my goals from last year has been checked off the list! We still have some work we would like to do on it before fall, but that can wait because we have other things to get done...

like the clothes line.
like the shop.
like sorting and organizing the tools so we know what we have and where to find it.
like building raised beds for the strawberries and whatnot. 
like moving the lilies out of the garden.
like transplanting the rhubarb.
like cleaning and organizing my side of the garage.
like a multitude of other projects. You get the drift. 

Rob has been a rock star during these projects. He is doing most of the work and is the brains behind the planning and designing of the projects. I don't know what I would do without him! He would rather be doing other things, but yet he is doing the work on "my" projects. So awesome!

School is out for the summer. I say that ironically because Paige started life guarding classes the Tuesday after school got out. She also has marching band every week this summer and drivers ed in July. However, Dane is enjoying his summer off! Actually Paige is too because she is a little bummed that school is out. She loves school even as a high school student!

I am still decluttering and organizing. I started work in the basement with the laundry room. I have shelves full of painting supplies, laundry supplies, emergency food storage, and whatnot. We also have bags, socks, pillows, and other things that need to be let go. The other room I have been tackling is Shali's old bedroom. She did go through more clothes and we have two big boxes to get rid of as well as some things from her vanity. 

I have been trying to be more conscious about what I can resell when decluttering. I always need extra money for one project or another. I have a store on Ebay that I sell things through and I am trying to add more of the decluttered items to it that I know will sell. I have sold a lot of different things over the years, but I still get nervous about selling the new and unfamiliar to me. 

That is pretty much it unless you want to talk about the daily life things that happen. We took the cat to the vet and found out her thyroid is out of whack. She is on pills which is not fun, but oh well. The car got an oil change. I have stuck hard to only getting groceries once a week. I wish I could say the same for the hardware stores!

In a weekly dose of cuteness, meet Rebel the garden guard:

He sleeps on the job a lot. He seems to like the garden for his naps!

What have you been up to this last week (or two!)?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, May 23, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - May 15 & 22


This blog post is being sponsored by a tired and out of shape blogger. She is recovering, but sadly knows that she needs to get into shape and soon. 

I did finally go to the doctor and get some breathing issues addressed. I have had asthma for over 25 years. However, I have been managing it without an inhaler for almost 20 years. The last few months, however, have not been good. I have been constantly short of breath and have had a few attacks. The doctor does not know exactly what is causing the problem, but thinks it might be more allergies than asthma. As I am already on an allergy med, they are treating me with a generic Singular for allergies and asthma. If it works, great. If it doesn't work, back to the drawing board. I also got an inhaler to use as needed. So far, no need. 

You don't realize how much your health impacts your activities until you are trying to get as much done as humanly possible! I carry a few extra pounds too so getting into shape so I can handle the work has been a priority. 

What have we been doing? A lot! The weather has been gorgeous for over a week and that means really tackling the project list. I am not sure where to start or what project has been the biggest.

We borrowed a tractor and moved dirt around the house. Some of the land around the edges of the house was starting to slope towards the house. We are always actively having to work to keep the basement dry so this needed to be addressed. We moved a fair amount of dirt around the house and have a good slope built up again. We would like to put heavy plastic down with rocks over top of the plastic. We will see if the budget will allow that. 

We (meaning Rob) cleaned up the grove. There was a brunch of work to do in there so all the kudos go to him. I helped when I could as did the kids. He cleaned up the downed trees, about a million branches/brush, and filled in the holes left from decaying stumps and just some low spots. The grove looks fantastic now!


We got all the flowers planted. I need just a few more for the one bed I cleaned out (lower right corner). That particular bed has columbines and wild roses growing there right now. I planted three new perennials in there, but it could benefit from three more perennials. The half-barrels on the left hand side are flowers I got for Mother's Day from Dane and Rob. The orange flower on the upper right hand picture is also from Dane. I went to Country Gardens and got some more flowers to match it and fill in those planters. I also got a yellow gerbena daisy plant from Jordan that I need to bring outside. 


We got the poles up on the new clothesline last night. We rented a post hole auger to make this job much less work. It was worth every penny of the $66 I spent to rent it. We used 4x4x10s for the posts and used Quikrete to cement them in the ground. We will wait a few days to let them get settled before finishing that project. 


We also got the poles put up around the garden. We used the same post hole auger for the corner posts and the gate. I bought snow fence to put around the garden. We are lining the snow fence with rabbit wire fence to keep those darn critters out. We would like to get this project as soon as possible because...


these replacement tomato and pepper plants would like to be planted. Their predecessors were some rabbit or deer's snack over a few nights. I am going to get a few more plants of each yet, but I would love to get them in the ground. I do have all my seeds planted. I planted beets, carrots, green beans, peas, kale, yellow summer squash, zucchini, pie pumpkins, and more onions. 

In other news, school will be out this Friday. I have been spending some time looking for interesting challenges for the kids this summer. Shali is leaving on Thursday for 10 days for a college trip to England, Scotland, and Ireland. I am so excited for her! Jordan is heading to work at the church camp in Okoboji when school lets out in Cedar Falls/Waterloo. She works for the YMCA in the before and after school program at the local schools. Shali will be heading to work at the same camp when she gets back from her trip. Paige will be starting life guarding training as soon as school lets out then onto Drivers' Ed. Dane will be enjoying his summer of very few commitments!

Summer is busy, that's for sure! 

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, May 9, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - April 25 through May 9


To sum up these last three weeks: we got a lot done! I got to play in the dirt and garden! Yes!

I transplanted about 50 raspberry plants to a new area. I just need to get a lot of mulch to help keep the weeds down. The weather is taking care of the watering. As of two weeks later, about 1/4 of the transplants are sprouting new leaves. I wish more were doing the same, but of right now I am happy with that.

I planted four rows of red, Yukon, and russet potatoes and about 50 onions. I hope to get more done in the next week, but I shall see what kind of time I have. I have to plant the other 50 or so onions and some shallots. I have plant those on the edge of the garden by the potatoes so the rain won't affect that.

I also got 11 bell pepper plants and 20 tomato plants in the garden. I might get more pepper plants (4-6) and some grape tomato plants. All I have left is the seeds to be planted. As of right now, I will be planting carrots, parsnips, green beans, peas, kale, summer squash, zucchini, and sugar daddy pumpkins. Hopefully the rain will let up this week and I can get them in. I should have on Saturday, but life happens.

We got a ton of yard clean-up done. There is still some more to do. Rob trimmed up a lot of trees, cut down the dead ones, cleaned up a ton of sticks, and cleaned up the fallen trees. Dane and I cleaned up branches, cleaned out the dead stuff from the lilac bushes, and raked a fair amount. We were able to have a fire in the fire pit one Friday night and burned up some of the branches in there. That helped some! However, we have quite a pile building up. You will probably see that fire from Wisconsin!

We also had another fire in a bigger pit area Saturday night before Mother's Day. That was a big fire! We bought some more wood and brush from another pile to keep the fire going longer. The kids wanted a fire and we had very little wind so the fire happened. We had smores, played a tough game of I Spy, and talked a lot. It was a great end to a pretty great day.

Notice I talk about the weather quite a bit? The weather has been deciding for us what we are doing. We had a beautiful week of weather followed by five days of almost monsoon like rains. Then a beautiful week of weather. Today is Monday and we are scheduled for rain the next five out of seven days. Just crazy!

We got one major project in the shop done. We moved the work bench to the wall with the plug-ins. The work bench was on the opposite wall from the plug-ins and Rob decided (I definitely agreed) that needed to change. It was a major undertaking with lots of sore muscles due to carrying almost everything out that was in there. Rob has a lot of unpacked stuff in the shop and getting the shop done is a top priority now so he can find things and work on other things.

While cleaning out the shop, I purged a lot of junk furniture. I thought some things had potential, but I was wrong. I got rid of a dresser, a vanity, and two desks. They were falling apart! Since I am still in a purging mood, things need to go! I did keep two dressers, a seat, and a bench that have plenty of potential. They just need some love!

We are also trying to decide what to do about the chickens. Of course we want to still keep them, but the ladies are starting to slow down on the egg production. Plan A would involve getting a rooster and letting the ladies lay their own chicks. Plan B would involve getting chicks and integrating them over the summer. What do you prefer?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, April 18, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - April 18


Hello! We are having some very lovely temperatures here! The wind seems to want to blow too, but it feels so good to be outside soaking up the sun.

We got a fair amount of yard work done. The branches are piled up in three piles around the house and will be loaded into a trailer. Some of it will be burned and some of it will become mulch for the garden. The kids did most of that work as well as picking up trash around the yard.

I have my raspberries dug up and will get the replanted as soon as I get a new spot ready. I am excited to have them out of my garden and ready to get a new, bigger patch going. We all love fresh raspberries!

I also found out yesterday that my garden will be tilled in two weeks. I am excited about that too. I want to get my own tiller, but I am shopping around for a decent used one. I bought my seed potatoes, onion sets, and shallot sets yesterday too. I might buy more seed potatoes, but I am waiting to see.

We, mostly Rob, got the garage cleaned out and organized. We still have some more cleaning and organizing to do, but the garden tools and shovels are all hanging up! I have dreamed of that for quite a while! Rob also tore out some shelves that were rotting and falling apart. He also did a lot of sweeping and dusting. The garage was pretty dirty!

Paige went to prom! She is only a freshman, but her date was a junior. Here is the pretty girl in all her finery:



She wore a dress that her older sister, Jordan, wore to her junior prom. This dress was in pretty decent condition, but I had to use my sewing and ironing skills. I fixed and sown back on the beads and larger rhinestones that came loose. The skirt had a couple minor tears that I sewed back up. We spent $26 to get her hair done and grandma bought her a new pair of heels to wear. Jordan applied her make-up and Paige wore jewerly that she already had. A fairly frugal prom!

The chickens are still alive. We have been free ranging them again and so far no hawk. We did find out it was illegal to shoot them. I am looking into other ways to discourage them from eating my chickens!

Other than that, we have been going to track meets, cleaning, and generally keeping up with life. The cats will go to the vet tomorrow and that should be more fun than it sounds. One of the cats is deathly afraid to even leave the house so this is always a fun trip.

I wanted to let you all know about a new site for starting and adding to your current food storage. Preppers Market carries healthy emergency food storage with none of the nasty stuff you don't want! It tastes delicious and offers a great variety for you and yours. It would make a great gift to help jumpstart someone's food storage or add to their existing food storage. Check it out!

Preppers Market LB pasta

What is going on around your homestead?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, April 4, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - April 4


Happy April! April seems to be the month that truly feels like Spring to me. That may be because the weather and temperatures seem to be better. We have had great temps the last couple days, but of course the wind has been blowing hard! We haven't gotten much done outside as a result.

And sorry about missing last week's update. My mind went somewhere else last week and I totally forgot about this on Monday!

Rob accepted a welder position at one of the local manufacturing plants. This is a big change for him since he has been a trucker for the last fifteen years. He wanted a job that did not include trucking long hours and he found one. I am so excited for him!

We have gotten a lot done, but we still have so many things to do around the house. Rob got the shower and tub re-caulked. He also cleaned the living room carpet which I do every spring. He is really good at fixing a lot of things. He is definitely a rock star in my book!

We have been purchasing more things to fix small and big problems around the house. I bought more sturdy shelving for the food storage/prepping area. I have plans to buy two more big sets of shelves for that area for this year. I use these shelving units in my food storage/prepping area because they are sturdy and can hold a lot of weight. I have also added more food to my food storage including a buckets of flour and brown rice, flats of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, and been trying to up my first aid preps.

I also bought black-out, thermal-lined curtains for two of the upstairs bedrooms. My goal is to have these curtains in every window upstairs. In addition to blacking out light, they are great for blocking drafts and keeping the rooms warm or cool depending on the season. Also, they block out light so ill-intention people have no idea if we are home or not. 

I don't know about you, but what has been on my mind lately is how much we have to do! I just feel an urgency to get these things done and I know, in my mind, they need to be done sooner than later. I have been constantly making to-do lists and crossing stuff off and finding more things to get put on the to-do lists. Whether it has been home projects, the kids, homesteading, prepping, gardening, and whatnot, I just feel it all should have been done yesterday. 

This is not really a good mindset. I am finding myself getting anxious and worried. I have lost my sense of humor a bit and struggle to relax. It is affecting my relationships with those around me. I find myself trying to at least smile. That hasn't been easy either. 

Otherwise, we have been keeping up with the schedule. Paige's track season is underway with the first outdoor meet scheduled for tomorrow. She runs 400, 800, and 1600 meters in open runs and relays. We are working with Dane on reducing his screen time as it was becoming apparent that he was becoming addicted to it. This has been a bit hard for him, but we have very little sympathy for his plight! He goes to the Y about 3-4 days a week after school and plays and practices his basketball shots. 

Before I forget, I wanted to let you know that Emergency Essentials is having a Case Lot Sale in April. I love Emergency Essentials and get a lot of my preparedness items from them. I am seeing a lot of great deals and I want you to check them out! Thanks!

What have you been up to this last week?

Thanks for reading,
Erica





Monday, March 21, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - March 21 and Thoughts on Homesteading


The task of the month here has been bedroom cleaning. In hindsight that might not have been the best idea, but getting Dane upstairs to a new room became a priority. Dane is still working on purging toys and whatnot in both his old and new rooms. He is claiming that he plays with them all. Paige has had to confront her hoarding tendencies and clean her room. We have to repair the window in her room as well as the ceiling. As of right now, we just want her floor clean which she has been making great progress on. We are also challenging her to keep it clean. I have confidence she can do it if she sets her mind to it.

We moved the bed from Dane's old room to Shali's old room to make a better guest bed. The bed in that room had a broken box spring and was uncomfortable to sleep in. We also needed to address the bed frame. We got that accomplished and the bed made. Sometimes getting the bed made too is a huge accomplishment!

We moved a friend last weekend. I loved how organized she was. All the guys had to do was carry out the furniture and deconstruct a few items like the bed frame and the entertainment center. The boxes were all packed and ready to go. We just had to load the truck and U-Haul truck. We spent the night (aka collapsed into a hotel bed) in Rochester and had lunch with another friend for his birthday as well as hung out with Rob's uncle and aunt for awhile. A nice weekend all-in-all, but we found out how out of shape we are! I am still feeling sore muscles today.

We also came home with a loveseat, a small table and four chairs, and two bar stools that were free to us. They will be put to very good use in our home. The loveseat will replace an existing one that is quickly falling apart. The table and one chair will go to Dane's room as a Lego table/desk. The barstools will be used in the shop.

I was hoping for Spring to be here, but we got a couple inches of snow last Friday night. The weather guys are saying we will be getting more snow Wednesday as well as the temperatures cooling down for Easter. That is not very conducive to getting stuff done outside.

I know a lot of people plant their potatoes on Good Friday. I have never had any luck with doing this especially in March. My potatoes end up rotting in the ground. However, I have a few fabric growing bags and I am thinking about growing some potatoes in there. What do you all do? Do you plant your potatoes on Good Friday? Do you plant your potatoes in the ground or use another method?

I have had some private comments that we are not homesteading when we are talking about getting the house in order, making repairs, and generally doing what we can. We have chickens, but they are pretty content just being chickens and laying eggs. I have things planted in the garden right now, but gardening in northern Iowa is not the best idea at the moment. 

We are doing what we can in this moment. Since our energies cannot be devoted to being outside growing and making things, we are concentrating on other areas. Being a homesteader is being self-sufficient and we are practicing that all the time. We are making our own repairs. We are putting our house in order so we can concentrate on working outside when the time is right.

We are making plans. Oh my, are we making plans! We are planning what to plant in the garden and how. We are planning to plant more apple and pear trees. We are planning to move the raspberries to increase the room in the garden. We are planning and working on the shop so we can make and repair more of our own things. We have been debating on getting more chickens this year or wait until next year. There is so much we want to do!

We are all in different stages of our own journeys. Some people may be comfortable just gardening. Some people may want and have it all. Homesteading is not a contest. It is an individual journey of your own making.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, March 14, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - March 14


This has been another busy week on the homestead. Every week seems busy, but some weeks just wear you out. However, this last week wasn't too bad. 

We have been doing a lot of little things. Cleaning out the garage and getting the doors to work right has been fun. I had to go to Menards Saturday morning and I got two new springs which should make all three garage doors operational now. Rob is also adding buttons to the outside of the doors to make getting in and out of the garage easier.

I got two new tires put on the Escape. I wasn't very happy about doing that since I had just put four tires on a year ago. However, lack of knowledge on tire rotation, a tie rod going out in November, and not having a good alignment done after that caused undue tire wear on my vehicle. 

While getting the tires put on, I bought two live traps for the barn. We have a few opossums living in there that need to be relocated or just dealt with. I am not sure which option we are choosing, but they do not belong in the barn and they are way too close to the chickens. The opossums must go. 

The sump pump has not been fixed yet. The sump pump drains into a tile in the yard and the water is really running right now. To change the sump pump, the check valve, and PVC in the basement would be a really wet and miserable experience right now. We can wait until the ground dries up a bit. We still have the old sump pump in the basement and Rob keeps a close eye on it to make sure it is running correctly.

We had some beautiful weather last week and part of Saturday. Rob got some yard work done and he identified some areas around the outside of the house that we will have to build up or landscape so the water will run away from the house. We have gutters where we can, but some of the roof is not conducive to having gutters hung. He also fixed the gutters and downspouts so they work well again. Some of the downspouts had an unfortunate meeting with a very fast lawnmower driver!

I started cleaning up the basement. The basement has been very unorganized for awhile. I cleaned off a set of shelves that we are getting rid of to put newer, sturdier shelves in that place. I cleaned under the stairs and moved a bunch of totes into that space. I also started cleaning up and organizing my food storage better. I should have bought more of these storage baskets because the size is perfect for what I am doing.  I hopefully will get that project done very soon. 

The rhubarb has started to poke through the ground. I am thrilled about that! I love rhubarb (learn to grow it here)! No asparagus yet which is okay with me. I think I might get some radishes and possibly some spinach or lettuce started in the ground soon on the edge of the garden. I am really looking forward to some fresh vegetables!

I am still keeping up on the food storage and prepping. My goal was to increase our water storage which I am working on. One of my other goals was to get our food storage up to a year or more and I have been adding to what we have already. I have a continuous food storage which means we eat from, rotate, and continuously add to the food storage at all times. This time of year I really add to our food storage using part of my tax refund. 

What have you been doing around your homestead?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Monday, March 7, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - March 7


In order to get back to a more consistent posting, we are bringing back the Monday Update From The Homestead. And folks, the homestead has been busy.

As you all know, Rob moved in about six weeks ago. This has been a huge adjustment on everyone's part and we are still working out the kinks. However, he is quite handy and I love that about him. He has fixed the upstairs bathroom sink, is fixing the sump pump in the basement, fixed the other drain in the basement, and the list goes on. He also likes order and consistency which my household is not big on. However, we need it so this has been an interesting experience. 

Dane's room flooded last week. Hence, the sump pump repairs. We have a perfectly good sump pump, but the float kept getting stuck on the side of the pit. So we bought one that does not get stuck on the side of the pit. The new sump pump has a float that goes up and down on a rod. The old one had a float that was on an extended arm and went up and down. 

Dane was moved permanently up to his sister's old bedroom and is currently getting settled in. We are still trying to par down the toys and figure out what to do with the organization of the room. He got moved into a room that is about half the size of his old room. This will involve creative use of room and roaming Pinterest for lots of ideas!

So what is our next project? Fixing the sump pump for starters. Rob is also going to re-caulk the upstairs shower since a chunk of the caulk is missing right now. Then I think we are going to turn Dane's old bedroom into a family room with all the movies, games, and whatnot down there. We are going to paint a waterproof sealer on the floor, put down carpet, replace the door, and replace the paneling in that room. Then we can decorate it and furnish it. We have most of that on hand now. 


One part of the back of the shop. We have a lot of cleaning and fixing to do.

Getting Rob's shop set up is also a priority. He would like his tools and space to make and fix things. I can't blame him on that. Hopefully, we will get that started as soon as possible. 

As for the weather, we had a bit of snow last week, some cold, and now really nice temps. The ground was starting to dry up a bit before the snow and I am waiting for that to happen again. I would like to get out to the garden soon and start cleaning up the garden for spring. I would also like to get a start on building some raised beds and plant a small row of radishes and maybe peas. We have a chance of storms through Tuesday and nice temps the rest of the week.

Speaking of the garden, my garlic is coming up. The onions that I left in the ground last fall are coming up too. I haven't seen any sign of my rhubarb or asparagus yet, but it is really early for those plants. However, no real ground frost/freezing means early start on the crops here. 


She is not normally an inside dog, but loves to be inside any chance she can get!

We have developed a system for the dog and the chickens. The dog likes to hunt the chickens and the chickens like to roam the yard. The dog has a fenced-in outdoor area so that is where she goes during the day so the chickens can roam. At sunset, the chickens go in and the dog comes out so she can be the protector she is not. But she does like to bark a lot!



I also have not decided if I want to add more chickens or not this year. There is a part of me that would like to add about six more layers to the flock, but I am not sure if I have the room. I probably can make the coop work with the addition of another roost. I have wanted to do meat chickens also and I still might on a small scale. I am thinking maybe 10-12 meat birds so I can get the hang of the process. I would have to build a temporary coop or chicken tractor for them though. There is no room for that many birds in the regular coop.

Other than that, we just have been busy. Dane's basketball is wrapping up and Paige's track is just starting. She will also be done with jazz choir in the next month which will be nice. 

How is your homestead today?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Are You Frugal?


Many people claim to be frugal. 

Many people are frugal. 

Many people don't have a clue how to be frugal. 

Most people don't realize what it takes to be frugal.

Frugal is defined as being economical with what you have, not wasting anything, and being careful with your money. Being frugal means you do not throw away something that could have use down the road. Being frugal means you do not waste a refrigerator full of food or let the leftovers go to waste. Being frugal means you do not foolishly throw away your money on a cool new fancy car when a good sturdy used car will suit your needs perfectly.

A lot of people believe that they can not be frugal because it doesn't come naturally to them. Being frugal doesn't necessarily come naturally. Many ideas and processes come into place to be frugal. Some people are born with the "frugal gene" and are good at being frugal. Many people have had to learn to be frugal either by upbringing or trial by fire.

Some believe that all you need to be frugal is to shop the sales and use coupons. Being frugal is so much more than that. Being frugal means buying at the right time and only buying the things you need now or in the future. For example, buying good quality kids' clothes at a garage sale even though the kids might not be able to wear them for a year or two is being frugal. You are anticipating a need, saving money now by buying the clothes, and will have them on hand when needed instead of buying new and in a hurry potentially costing more money.

Being frugal takes time. Many people are brought up to be frugal by parents or grandparents who didn't have a choice but to be frugal. Otherwise, they wouldn't know how to get by. Frugal habits take time to learn and practice. You don't just wake up and know how to be frugal. You learn by watching others, reading about frugality, and putting those things into practice. Soon you will not even have to think too hard about being frugal because you have practiced frugal habits. 

Some times being frugal take time due to research. Buying a vehicle or even tires for a vehicle takes time. You want to be sure to get the best price for the quality you are looking for. That takes online research, phone calls, taking to the salesperson, and making a calculated decision. You are frugal and don't want to throw away your money on a lemon or bad tires. This part of being frugal can be tedious, but so worth it. 

While many of these things are not taught in schools anymore, kids (and adults) need to learn vital skills to be frugal. Learning to budget, to check your bank balance, how to figure the unit price of an item, and learning how to save money are some of the skills people need to know today to save money. Also, people need to learn how to cook, make basic repairs, sew and mend, and do their own work. Many of these things were taught in high school under the names of Home Economics, Shop, Life Skills, and Basic Living Class. Rarely are these classes taught beyond junior high when they should be taught and mandatory for high school students.

Everyone who is frugal has made mistakes and they learn from those mistakes. Many frugal people could tell you about the one time they thought something was a great deal so they bought without doing thorough research. Then they got home and found out it wasn't such a great deal. They learned and they moved on. Or they returned the item if they could and got their money back. These things happen and that is how you become more frugal. Mistakes can be the best teacher for frugal habits.

However, being frugal is much more than money. Being frugal means planning and thinking ahead. It means planning ahead for the needs of your family whether that means planning meals for the home, lunch for school or work, making bread on the weekends for the week, etc. It means remembering to bring your lunch every day so you don't spend money eating out, remembering to pay bills on time to avoid late fees, and saving money for potential repairs. 

Being frugal is mending a shirt to get more life out of the shirt, accepting some free clothes from a friend, and fixing your own headlight. Being frugal means using last night's leftover pork roast for pulled pork sandwiches today. It means starting your own tomato plants from seed instead of buying the plants at the store for your garden. It means letting your livestock graze on grass a bit instead of buying more feed. It means eating eggs and toast for breakfast at home instead of getting breakfast pizza at the convenience store. 

Being frugal means a lot of things, but it can be easy to be frugal with time, practice, and careful planning. You can be frugal by making a decision every day to do so. Everyone makes mistakes, but you will learn and not make that mistake again. 

You can be frugal. I know you can. 

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, February 12, 2016

Make Valentine's Day Cheap and Easy!


Valentine's Day can be so expensive! Flowers, candy, cards, stuffed animals, expensive night-outs, expensive dinners at equally expensive restaurants, and the list can go on. Guys and gals alike throw away huge amounts of money and for what? A holiday they might remember? 

What a huge waste of money!

I used to work at a florist shop and I just could not believe that guys would spend $150 on two dozen roses, balloons, and the works. I was not as frugal then as I am now, but the cost would just about stagger me. I always really hoped that the wife or girlfriend was really worth it or really appreciated it. 

Don't get me wrong. I love getting flowers or a plant! I think they are beautiful, but not on Valentine's Day! Do you realize how much those items are marked up? Never mind that the flowers are usually out of season, making the flowers even more expensive!

How can you get around this? 

Take a vow to make Valentine's Day cheap and easy!

Here are some ideas for you:

1. Have a nice dinner at home. Even if you buy the steaks at the grocery store, you are saving a ton of money by cooking them yourself and staying home. If you want a romantic dinner for two, find a babysitter or eat after the kids go to bed.

2. Watch a movie at home. Want a new movie to watch? Hit up a Redbox, see what Netflix or Amazon Prime has for free or rent, or borrow one from a friend. 

3. Make cards for each other. Write a heartfelt note on the card.

4. Make your own decorations using ideas from Pinterest or the free printables on the internet. 

5. Make your kids' Valentines for school using free printables from the internet. I found some really cool Star Wars Valentines for my son to give at school. We also taped a pack of 5 Juicy Fruit gum on the back of each one as the favor.

6. Go visit an art gallery or museum. Most places are free or free passes can be obtained to visit. 

7. Play a card or board game at home. We love to play UNO together. It can be vicious with the kids involved, but we didn't teach them to play to lose! 

8. Take a walk or sit together on the couch and spend some time just talking to each other. Communication is important in any relationship and is free!

9. Go on a drive and visit some places that mean a lot to you both. While driving is not always cheap, gas prices are low right now. Plus there is no cost for being sentimental. Visit the places where you first met, had your first date, had a great time at, a favorite spot for both of you, etc.

10. Make breakfast in bed. Who doesn't appreciate having a great breakfast made and served to you in bed? 

11. Make a book of favors to give to your special one. Have coupons for free massages, supper of their choice, clean their vehicle, etc. You can make these as nice or intimate as you want!

12. Make a batch of Valentine's cookies to give to kids or neighbors. 

13. Swap babysitting with another family to have a free night for just the two of you!

14. Make a special dessert for just the two of you or the whole family to share. Cheesecake with cherry or strawberry topping is always a hit in my family!

15. Fill a jar with little love notes to open in the year to come. Just a note saying "I love you" or "Your're the best" can really lift someone's spirit!

I am sure there are more ideas to think of, but this is a good list to get started with. I know some people do not celebrate this holiday and that is fine too. I think you should express your love and appreciation all year round and not just one day. However, some people think it is special day and want to celebrate accordingly. Just do it cheaply!

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

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