Category Archives: Home & Garden

Everything (that I bought) Is Planted

This is a blast from the past post that never got published!  I was amazed to see this garden space looking so incredible. It’s nothing but weeds right now. I guess it’s a testament to my motivation to have some type of garden. This was before our current greenhouse and garden. Enjoy!
“Finally, everything I spent money on is in the ground or in the hay bales. I have lots of space still. It’s amazing how much space there is when you’re dealing with square feet.” 8/10/13


This looked so amazing. I don’t remember what we harvested from this space. I do remember that the hay bales did not work. I clearly had not seasoned them well or given them enough nutrients to sustain and nourish the plants. 

I have so many drafts in this blog. I think I’m going to start publishing them. This should be fun!!

A Stroll Through the Garden

The Garden.  It’s one of my favorite places to be.  Watching life grow, celebrating in the small changes each day brings great joy to my soul.

The quality of home grown food cannot be matched by what is available in the stores.  Knowing that nothing has been sprayed on my plants makes me feel happy and healthy.

Picking food from the garden and then bringing it straight into the house to prepare it for a meal is just loads of fun!  Home grown food tastes so much better than what is bought in the stores.

I remember a story from when my children were little.  We were eating lettuce from one of our first gardens that they could remember.  One of them said, “This lettuce tastes like dirt!”  It was actually true.  The lettuce had an earthy taste to it, and we all had to get used to it.

Now, we expect the lettuce to have a taste.  If it doesn’t, then it just serves to add crunch to a meal.  Garden lettuce actually tastes like something, and we’ve grown to love that taste.

Learning how to preserve the food in the most natural way is another step in the gardening process.  Being able to eat garden grown food all through the year is a goal that we are still striving to reach!

Sharing the garden with small pests is inevitable.  Imperfections are simply an indication that things were not commercially grown, and nothing arrives with a little sticker on it!!

The burst of color and textures make food look delicious.  The rich color of garden grown food adds variety and interest to the dinner plate.

Nature’s candy grows freely here.  It’s the only candy I’m eating now!

God is good.  Life is good.  Our garden is good.  Maybe we can share a garden meal one day?  It would be my joy to eat with you!

Prompting Change

When the snowball gets rolling, it just keeps gaining speed and momentum.  With the money situation in order (we became debt free in September 2016 and I meant to blog all about it, but it just didn’t happen.  Super exciting though!!), and the eating situation in order, I’ve moved into organization mode because I have the energy to do it now, and I’m getting a taste of how great it feels to cut out what is not needed in life and finally simplify.

I’m sure you’re heard of Kon Marie, the Japanese woman that wrote the book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and maybe you’ve even started sorting through your clothing, only keeping those things that bring “joy” into your life.  For those new to KM, her system is different than all others because she has you clean and purge according to category instead of room by room.  This approach allows you to really see what you own, really evaluate what you NEED, and really get in touch with what you truly LOVE and what brings you real JOY to own.

After our basement flooded last spring, I’ve been sort of forced to go through ignored boxes of things that haven’t been unpacked since we moved in 2007 to WA state.  My family has urged me to just throw the boxes away since we haven’t opened them in 10 years, but I can’t bring myself to do that because I know of a few key items that I LOVE, and I want to find them.  In going through the boxes, I’m finding all kinds of things and sorting them into categories.

Now with each category, I’m deciding what to keep and what to donate or toss.  It has been a VERY eye opening process.  I first gathered all of the Erin Condren brand items that I’ve collected over the past few years.


I did not realize how much I had until I FINALLY put it all together in one place.  This covers most of my living room floor! Much of this was actually free to me since I run a blog for my planner ( and I’ve received many referral credits for introducing others to the Erin Condren brand.  But it’s still an indication of allowing an area of my life to be totally out of control.

Next I gathered sticky notes.

Now that I’m a teacher, I am confident that I will actually use ALL of these in a couple of years.  I go through them very quickly in my classroom, so I’ve packed these all up in a tote and I’ll just grab them when I need them as the year/s pass.

They’re even pretty in storage!

Today I grabbed all the note pads that I had collected from various areas of the house.  This one made me stop and consider WHY I had this many notepads and office supplies in general.

I’ve always loved office supplies.  I had a stationery collection and a sticker collection that were sacred to me when I was a little girl.  I still have a stationery collection and sticker collection that I plan to use (and do use), but I want to focus on these list pads right now.

Why would I buy THIS MANY lists?  What in the world was I thinking?  Some of these are duplicates with multiples of exactly the same pad.  I’ve concluded that having this many list pads gives a false sense that everything is in control when in reality things are just the opposite.   Owning all the tools for order doesn’t result in order, and sometimes it can just cause more chaos.  It’s a dream, an imagination, this idea of being organized, and making a list is the way to get that started.  But wanting a dream and making changes to move toward a goal are two COMPLETELY DIFFERENT things.

Changing my eating habits has given me a much clearer mind and I’m learning so much about myself.  I evaluate everything I purchase now and I’m able to make clear distinctions about what I need versus the things I simply want.  I won’t be buying things that give me a wishful reality because my mind doesn’t need them, my body doesn’t need them, and the space in my home doesn’t need them.

The question now is, what am I going to do with all these pads?!!

Homemade Laundry Soap

I made laundry soap today. I’ve done it before and liked it well enough, but when it was gone, I just bought my regular type from the store, and didn’t bother doing it again.

I have a friend visiting, and she gave me a new recipe, so I tried it again.


All you do is grate the Fels Naptha and then mix everything together. I love the fragrance crystals. They make it smell so good!! I have been using this soap for the dog beds and I LOVE it!! I will be making a batch for my house soon and I will probably try some lavender crystals.

I think I won’t be going back to Tide for a long time!

(I started this post in July, and finally published it at the end of August. That is why I can make soap and use it to wash dog beds all in the “same day”)

Garden 2013 Plants

It’s about this time of year when I vow to myself that, next year, I will start my plants from seed. The little bundle of peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and flowers cost me a whopping $60+ dollars and it won’t even begin to fill my space!

I do have seeds and will start some things like beets and peas and beans from seed, and I need to make that happen before the end of the week!

I hope to lay down the water lines today and put the grids on the boxes. Yesterday The Woodman drilled in the screws so we can weave our lines and make our grids.


I also found some old steer manure to put on my hay bales. There is a lot of conflicting information on hay bale gardening. Some say use chemical fertilizer, some say use organic, others say don’t bother with any. I stood in Home Depot yesterday in front of the fertilizers long enough to be asked twice by the same worker if I needed help! I finally left with the Marigolds and that was it for the garden.

The only thing I’m fairly certain about with hay bale gardening is that I have no idea what I’m doing! I found some old bags of steer manure so I’m going to water it into my bales and then do it again with a second old bag in a few days.

The key is for the bales to heat up and begin decomposing, creating an optimal soil to grow in. Hopefully I will achieve that!


The Woodman found some Pearlite bags up at the other house, from some project long past that I never did, so I’m going to toss that into my garden beds along with some compost and call it good. And then finally, I will actually start planting!!


Garden Update 2013

Its time to plant! The garden has been sitting and looking pretty and I love the way it looks! But tomorrow I’m going to a new nursery to get some plants. There will be green in the garden soon, and something else new.

Today, I hauled 6 bales of straw into the garden for a new endeavor this year called “straw bale gardening”. I have read 2 books on the subject, one last year and one this year and I’m ready to give it a try.

The concept is simple, use decomposed straw for your garden base and create a warm base without weeds for your garden to grow in.

Since straw itself offers no nutrient value, you have to prep and “condition” the bales. It takes 12 days to condition the bales so tomorrow will be day #1. Today I just watered the heck out of the straw bales after I dragged them over from the barn.



We’re still discussing watering systems. I’d like drip hose everywhere, but because I plan to make my boxes in the “square foot garden” style, I feel like I need 4 hoses in each box. So figuring out how to get this all on one hose system with a timer is what we’re up against right now.

Livin’ Large

Today, the chickens got fresh, new straw bedding in their outside runs! They were in high heaven! I love straw! I love how clean it looks. I love how easy it is to manage! I have happy chickens and they give me lots of nice eggs!!










Garden 2013 – In The Beginning…

The honest truth is, I have a love/hate relationship with gardens.  I love planting things and watching them grow.  I hate weeding them, and truthfully, dealing with the harvest.  I know the whole point of the garden, is the harvest.  I know this in theory, but actually doing it, that’s another story!

It might have something to do with the size of our garden at the other house.  It was too big.  WAY.TOO.BIG!!

I never want to be in charge of a 1/2 garden again, or rather, left home alone all summer, with a space that needed a “staff” to get everything done that needed to be done.

I am going to miss my two 40+ foot rows of strawberries, and my two raspberry patches, but in time, we will have those here at the new place, on a smaller scale, so I am not so overwhelmed!

So…Garden 2013 begins, or it began 3 days ago!


When we bought our house, I had no idea there was even a garden.  Sometime after moving in, sometime last fall I think, I stumbled beyond the beautiful back yard lawn, beyond the chain link fence, and found these 3 garden beds, buried, and I mean absolutely buried, under years of weeds and grass.


At first glance, the garden doesn’t look like anything different from the wild ground beyond it, but there are 3 garden boxes, and with the weather beckoning us to do outdoor work, I suggested that we see what we could do with our tiny (compared to the other house) garden space!


So, we got busy.  I weeded the first box, by hand, but The Woodman had other ideas, and he brought in the rototiller and made quick work of the other two boxes.  In the first day, we pulled out and knocked down all the weeds inside the boxes, and The Woodman used the weed eater to mow down all the weeds in the pathways, all the way to the dirt.


I raked the debris into piles and we carried them over to the burn pile.

On Day 2 (yesterday), we laid down the straw!


I could hardly wait to see how nice it was going to look with the straw.  I was not disappointed! I know that weeds will grow up through the straw, but because it is so thick, it will take a while, and when a bit of green does pop through, it’s very easy to see, and generally easy to pluck out!!  My parents have done their garden boxes with straw all around the pathways for years, so I know how fresh and clean it is to walk on while working in the garden.  The straw is fairly cheap, and easy to replace, so this will definitely be something we can maintain.


I can hardly believe that just 2 days ago, this area was a terrible eyesore, almost completely hidden with neglect, and now we have a great little spot to plant a modest garden.

Today (Day 3), I hosed off all the railroad ties to get them clean, and thoroughly watered all 3 of the garden beds.  The two smaller boxes are approximately 4 x 8, and the large box is 4 x 24.  It’s the same amount of space as six, 4 x 4 Square Foot Gardens, which should give us plenty of space to have some fun with gardening this summer!

I also repurposed some 4ft tall dog exercise pens, and we will be lining the two outside edges with this fencing to keep out rabbits, and hopefully the cat!  We will be adding a few taller T-posts around the outside as well, and stringing up a couple of rows of tape, or something, to discourage the deer from jumping over the fencing.  We have observed other gardens in our area that are not fenced, so we are assuming deer must not be a huge problem, but we see them around, so we are making the fence a little higher, just to be sure!  We want to do this project with as little money out as possible, and so far, we have only invested our time and energy!

We still have to mix some type of compost/manure into the garden boxes, and lay down the bailing twine to make our Square Foot Garden grids.  I am also going to try my hand at straw bale gardening this year, so we will be hauling in a row of straw bales to get them seasoned and ready for mid June planting.  I’m pretty sure our last frost date is June 15 in this area, so while my CA friends are already beginning to harvest a few things, we can only dream about planting until June!

I am optimistic about the garden this year.  I think it is small enough that I will be able to handle it on my own, with some help from the kids.  I hope we get some nice tomatoes, peppers, and whatever else I decide to plant!!

Spring Fever

The sun is shining (most days), things are green (still), and it’s time to be outside doing things!!  And doing things, we are!  We had this nice patio furniture, left here by the previous owners, stored in our barn, so we decided to bring it out, clean it off, and give it a test drive on the porch.


I like the way it looks, and I like that all of the seats are “rockers”, which makes for a very relaxing time while sitting outside.  The big tree in front of our house offers lots of shade during the hottest part of the day, so I can’t wait for it to warm up just a tad more, and I will be out here enjoying my porch, and the sights and sounds.


The Woodman went up to the other house and finally brought back my whisky barrel pots.  He even surprised me and picked up a few 6-packs of flowers for me to freshen them up for the season!  I loved that thoughtfulness.  I will get the pots cleaned up, dead parts removed, and flowers planted soon!

He has also been busy setting up some new shelving in the basement for our canning supplies.  There are a few boards still on the porch as evidence!  I’m excited to think about how organized things will be in the basement soon!


The Woodman also brought in some flowers that were in our back yard flower bed/weed patch!  They are so delicate and beautiful, and I absolutely love having cut flowers in the house.  I was so delighted when he came in with the flowers, and I hadn’t even asked him to do it!!



There are a lot more projects to tackle as school is coming to an end, and summer is just around the corner.  Stay tuned for more updates from our little mini farm, homestead, country home!