Thursday, May 26, 2016

May 26, 2016 :: In the Garden

I had an idea.
Imagine that, haha
I had several old tiffany lamp shades that I had collected to use, somehow... They have been in the garage for ages, still waiting for inspiration. When the garage was being cleaned out on Saturday, inspiration hit and I asked my welders if they would weld me a large washer around the top of the rebar so that I could put this lamp shade on top, where it wouldn't slide down. They fired up the welder and had it accomplished in no time flat. 
I LOVE it. It's exactly what I was wanting and the light is beautiful shining on it and through it. 
The picture above was taken early this morning, the sun is just peeking out, but later it will shine!

The tomatoes are growing nicely. I had to stake them to keep them from getting to willy nilly. Tomatoes can be likened children... stake them close so they can grow up strong and tall. Sending lots of love and appreciation to any of my 'woodshed' moms reading this. Thank you for teaching me that lesson so long ago!

I've been having to water the garden because we have had NO rain... at all! It could be the start of a VERY dry summer. 
My trellis is leaning a bit, but I still love it.

The back yard hydrangea is starting to bloom too. I can't wait to pick some bouquets! Love!

Another sweet find when cleaning out the garage was this birdhouse my kids painted for me many years ago. I promptly brought it back out and put it on the back deck. Sweet memories.

Have a wonderful Memorial day weekend, friends! 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Thursday Garden Update 5-19-16

My garden hasn't changed a whole lot from last week, but still, I like to chart the progress of how things are going. My sweet love fixed the trellis for me this past week, now to fill the beds and to get the green beans in the ground. I am SO excited and I LOVE how it turned out! A wonderful mother's day gift for sure!!! 

My first little tomato blooms. Hooray! 
I asked the guys to build me a strawberry bed, but try to use only what we had available to build with. We are trying to keep costs down in every area we can. So they laid down some cardboard to help kill the weeds and grass underneath and then they laid down some of our old cinder blocks and then topped them with some pavers we had laying around. We have used cinderblocks in the past for our raised beds, and they work well, but they can have weeds grow up through the holes. So topping them with pavers worked beautiful and I think it turned out wonderfully!
Hydrangea season!!! Eek! Look at this beauty! Pinkish purply and blue! LOVE!!!! It is going to be so beautiful when it is in full bloom, it is already gorgeous now. I adore hydrangeas. ADORE!!!
A pic of the sky and my back deck. I love the blue and the green... plus there is my little yard sale find, the drying rack. I've been without one for a couple of years now. 
And just because I love how pretty it is... another picture of my clematis.  More blooms this week and plenty more buds ready for blooming. I hope it continues and continues for weeks! 

So, not a big update this week, but still, many exciting things going on as we build and move and grow in our little homestead and garden. 
Have a great Thursday friends! 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Buying in Bulk

Buying in bulk is something that many don't think too much about. I know several families who buy just what they need when they need it, whether that be daily or weekly. For me though, I prefer to try and save up and buy in bulk and then when I need something, I shop my pantry. I can tell you, most of the time, I end up forgetting something and either have to do without it or get it from a local store. But if I am organized and ready, I tend to have a better, more fruitful experience. 
I have three places I shop on my big day. 
And a local natural food store

On my weekly shopping trips, I go to a local farm stand, my milk man, and occasionally to the grocery store or Walmart if there is something that I am in need of that I do not have... and monthly I try to order from a food co-op that we belong to.
Costco is a great place for me because I do want to buy two packs of 30 rolls of toilet paper, I do want to buy 25 lbs of flour for under $6, I do love to buy the bulk bags of shredded cheese, and I do love the rotisserie chicken... just to name a few! Bulk purchases like these make Costco a wise choice for us.
Aldi is probably my most favorite store though, and truly I think I COULD shop here and forgo Costco if I decided to give up my membership. 
I get a bunch of everything at Aldi.
canned goods
off brand zip lock bags
condiments that I don't make myself
natural peanut butter
sandwich meat
Aldi has incredible prices and since I only shop there once every several months, it makes sense for me to make the trek to our closest one available and stock up.
The health food store that is fairly close to my husbands work is another store that is a great place for me to buy from. They carry the 5 gallon buckets of wheat that we use, they carry organic sugars, local honey, and a lot of all natural items and seasonal produce. 

Here's a little food for thought. 
I spent about $200 at Aldi on my last trip, (several months ago)... and I got many things that I will be able to have on hand to use daily and to plan my menu for the months ahead.
So here's my question for those who think that buying in bulk is a bit of a waste or too expensive to do at one time... 
How often do we 'run to the store' and spend $50 or more? Even when I do plan and bulk shop this happens to me!  I know how easy it is to do! I've heard a friend say that they go in for one item and come out with no less than $50-$100.
Give some thought to trying a bulk shopping trip. Here's a few tips to help you get ready.

  • Clear out your pantry. 
  • Begin making your list of items you will want, items you use a LOT of, and items you may want just for convenience, and items that you use a little. Get familiar with your list.
  • Don't run to the grocery store for a while. Save those dollars back and use up what you have. You may feel that you get down to bare bones, and that is ok. You will have room and money for your trip.
  • Start a weekly or monthly menu plan. That way you will have an idea for what you are going for and your goal.
  • Compare! Know your prices. If you know you are going to save a ton at one place on a particular item, then make an extra stop. Be a sharp and smart shopper. 
  • Make an ongoing list of prices. If you are a list maker like me, this will make things even more happy. Check prices, make notes of them. You will see many things increase and maybe even decrease between trips... most likely increase. 
  • When you have an opportunity to stock up, do it. If you find a huge deal on something and you have the space and you know you use it often, buy a little extra and store it! This is a HUGE help in our family. We found an excellent deal on chicken legs one day. I bought 40 lbs for just a few dollars!!! I came home and put some on for supper that night and then vacuum sealed the rest for the freezer! Many suppers meat was supplied in that purchase. 
  • Don't buy on impulse too much. If you won't use it... don't buy it. No matter how good the deal. If you don't use it, it is going to be a waste of your money. 
I know there are tons of other tips out there, but these are a few of mine. You may be a small family or a single, I still think bulk buying is beneficial, but it's all up to you. Do what works for your family. 
Let me know if this is helpful to you. I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, May 16, 2016

A thankful heart

When you are tempted to be discontent or downhearted, look around you. 
There is always, always, always, something to be thankful for. 

There were many times that I could have been downcast recently...  I think that a tool of the enemy is discontentment. He wants you to look around and want what someone else has or to be sad that yours is not as great or as nice. He wants you to covet what is not yours. 
I know everyone probably has many things that we would like to improve or change or that we might want... but just look around at your life and see the good there or how you can improve the situation just by changing your heart and being thankful. You will not fill a void with more things. Things will not make you happy. They are only temporary. 
Choose to be thankful. Choose to be grateful. Choose to be happy with what God has given you, and do your best to make your situation better with what you have. Happiness doesn't come from stuff or things. It comes from the Lord. It comes from a heart of gratitude and gratefulness. 
Choose to have a thankful heart. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Strawberry Pie

Strawberry Pie
It screams SPRINGTIME! It's so delicious and it is the perfect treat after a long, hard days work outside in the garden. There are tons of different strawberry pie recipes out there and I know there are plenty of great ones, but this recipe belongs to my husbands grandmother and it is by and far my husbands favorite... and possibly mine too. 

You need two pie baked pie shells. You can make your own or you can purchase some at your grocer. I have this book and I like a lot of the pies she has recipes for. I've got the strawberry icebox pie in the freezer as we speak. And she has a great recipe for pie crust also. 
You can click the picture for the link.

For the pie you need:

1 1/2 pints strawberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup cornstarch or arrowroot
1 3oz box or strawberry gelatin

Mix sugar, water, and cornstarch in a pot at medium heat and cook til thick and and congealed, stirring often. Remove from heat and add strawberry gelatin. Let mixture cool completely and then stir in your berries. 

Divide your berry mixture between the two baked pie crusts and refrigerate until cooled and the gel has set. 
Enjoy with some fresh whipped cream or eat as is!


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Thursday Garden update 5-12-16

Weekly I hope to give an update on how things are coming along in the garden and our little homestead. Thursdays seem a good day for that since Wednesday is a day that we try to spend a great deal of time in the garden. Yesterday was slightly overcast, but still pretty warm for the first part of May. I'm slightly concerned for a scorching summer, but I am going to just take it a day at a time and be thankful for what each day has to offer. 
Above are our blueberries that are growing. We should have a small harvest this year. I'm not a huge fan of blueberries straight up, but I do love blueberry pancakes. ;) 
We've decided to redo our garden beds again, last year we noticed some issues and were not happy with the results, so Shannon took the beds apart and we are just reusing all the wood and soil we had. Just a lot of shoveling and rearranging. The kids and I managed to make two beds yesterday and get them planted, we hope for several more before the weekend if time allows. 
We have a lot of things blooming. This little clematis was bought on the clearance rack at Lowes last year I think. I've got it on the North side of the deck and it is growing up the stairs. Such a deep dark purple color. 
I don't think I have EVER seen so many buds on the grapevine as I have this year. I am truly astounded at the amount. I sure hope we get as many grapes as we can, I want to can a LOT of juice to put up for the winter. 
My kids have turned into such able helpers. They are an amazing blessing to me and so good to help me get the job done. It's not just teaching them how to do things, it is teaching them how to get in there and get your hands dirty and work. Something this generation seems to have lost. I know there are many more than my family that are raising up great, hardworking kids who will become very responsible adults and for that I am extremely thankful.
Now you might want to take notice of the picture coming up next... I am blown away.
We have peaches! Peaches that are not falling off the tree. Peaches that are not eaten up by bugs or disease (YET!), peaches with the slightest peachy blush to it. EEK! I really, really hope we can get a peach harvest this year!
Here are a few more teeny tiny peaches.
This picture was taken during our work this morning. That cattle panel trellis will be fixed later on, but we have it staked like that for now to help it to get a little bit of an arch in there. To train it a bit. I can't wait to see it covered with green beans! As you can see in the fire pit, there has been a lot of clean up done around here. And that mound was even after we pulled a lot out for our hugelkultur bed! 
Another site was this guy. The picture is terrible quality, but we were all AMAZED at how HUGE he was. This is a Southern Pileated Woodpecker. I knew we had been hearing him a lot lately and one of the kiddos spotted him and ran straight to get me. They said, "Come look, come look... He's HUGE!!!!!" and they were surely right. This guy was incredible. I love seeing birds that we have never seen before, especially when they are around our house. 

I hope you enjoyed our little garden/homestead update. Looking forward to sharing with you our 2016 garden journey!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Last week the boys helped me so much around the yard and garden. We had some raspberry canes that needed to get in the ground asap, and so we decided to try out a gardening method that has been getting talked about in some of our friend circles. 

It's called Hugelkultur and it is a type of raised bed. You first dig a bit of a trench and then you fill the trench with old wood that is beginning to break down. 
After you lay down your wood in the trench you begin to top it with all kinds of organic matter. We used old hay, compost, loads of old poo and wood shavings  from the chicken coop, etc.

We topped it with some more old hay and then you back fill it with the soil that was dug from the trench. The compostable material breaks down and feeds the plants over time and makes the soil super nutrient dense.The final look is a bit mounded up, like a little hill,  you can read more about it online. 
Here's a link also.
I didn't get a pic of the final look, because we were doing our best to beat the rain. I'll try to update with one soon.
Learning, trying, experimenting, it's all part of the journey when you try to raise your own food. I hope we have a  flourishing raspberry bed soon, and if not, we will try something else next year. 
Keep on trying! 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother's Day Weekend

Mother's Day weekend was absolutely splendid. 
Saturday morning I was begged by my eldest son to stay in bed and relax a little longer. He made me this breakfast and it was scrumptious. Then he made breakfast for the rest of the family.
I planted flowers for my mother-in-law and had a few leftover to plant for myself. When we went to see her this weekend, I commented on how I liked a pot of flowers she had sitting in a chair. I told her I had been looking for a chair to do the same thing.  She said that she had one for me,  this chair that came from Shannon's great grandmother and most all the family had used it at some point. It didn't have a seat any longer, but the frame is still so sturdy and I love the messy, chippy paint. The fact that so many used it throughout the family history made me love it even more.
My Carlie Jean begged to go shopping for me and came back with several treasures. It was so sweet. I love the rooster!
Shannon and the boys worked on this for his mom. I love when they get out and get creative with their welding. This is my favorite piece they have made so far. I think it is so fun and inventive. I know she will treasure it as well. 
The only thing I had really asked for, for mothers day was some work done in the garden and a cattle panel to fashion into a trellis. We haven't had a chance to get it fixed up just yet, too much going on. But I will show you once we do. I can't wait. 

My four that made me 'Moma'
My treasures. 
Flowers are blooming all over the yard. I LOVE the pops of color. It makes me so happy.
We had some fun times at my Mom's. I got to keep my little cousin for a while and these two little ones reminded us of the two big ones when they were babies. So it was fun to see them together. 
Sweet babies playing with kitchen tools. So precious.

I am so blessed and this weekend was absolute perfection. Thank you Lord for all your blessings.