Sunday, June 30, 2013

Using What You Got- In the Yard

Hubby and I have really been working on sprucing up our property.  We realize that our house needs some major curb appeal, and I mean major!  Our mailbox was pretty shabby looking, the lawn was way too long (since our mower quit), the "plants" err weeds were taking over the flower beds and the place wasn't looking too hot in general.  We are trying to fix it up while spending as little as possible.  I have been taking a mental inventory of what we have laying around that we could actually put to use.  One item that really stood out was this garden gate.  This gate has been well loved.  I originally bought it on craigslist from a lady who was redoing their fencing.  We used it as a planter backdrop, a decoration and even a headboard.  Today thanks to Hubby, it is proudly serving once again as a functioning garden gate!  We still have to add fencing on the other side, but now it divides the parking area and the steps leading to the backyard.  We only had to buy a new gate latch (which we haven't put on yet) but otherwise we didn't have to spend any money on it.  We have a couple more gates we plan on putting to use in the garden and goat pen. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Mailbox makeover

The other day I was at a department store and saw an advertisement for free shipping.  It wasnt the free shipping that caught my eye, but the mailbox in the ad.  Now, our mailbox has been an eyesore since the day we bought the house.  That said, it hasn't been high on my priority list.  But lately I have been noticing how small changes can make a big impact.  The ad in the store got me thinking.  I could do something similar.  Hubby and I immediately started pricing how much it would cost.  I believe in total we spent $40-50.  And I got to check something off my list!  I painted and measured (and checked regulations for height of the mailbox) and hubby cut and drilled.  The mailbox post now matches the front door now and I couldn't be more pleased.  Check out the inspiration, before and after. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cherry Jam Time

This week I went to the local farm market and bought two baskets of cherry "seconds", the kind of fruit that is not so pretty but still so tasty.  I came home and spent that night painstakingly slicing the cherries in half so I could remove the pit.  I can see why people invest in pitters!  The next night I made a round of jam with the first basket and just canned the other basket as cherry halves.  We have 11 jars of jam and 3 pint jars of cherries.  I am considering going back and buying more.  I took a jar to the nanny family and they loved it!  I love that kids will give you an honest opinion and not feel obligated to like something.
I will definitely be going back to the market this weekend.  I might buy cherries, or whatever else I think is cann-able.  Let the jamming season begin!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Keeping Busy in The Kitchen

I have a confession.  My kitchen refuses to stay clean.  We have been maxing out its potential this week.  Hubby has been working a lot of hours which leaves me at home alone.  After the evening chores are done, I love working in the kitchen.  I made another batch of homemade granola, hummus, pesto (with basil from the garden), rhubarb strawberry crisp and a huge batch of sweet cherry jam.  The poor dishwasher is constantly in use.  I try and take to work whatever projects I think are doable for a three year old.  J (the three year old) loves helping to cook and clean up!  I brought all the ingredients to make pesto.  He had such fun washing the basil leaves and dropping them into the food processor.  It is fun to watch his excitement.  Sure, it would be easier and quicker to do it at home by myself, but nothing about my life can be described as quick or easy.  I didn't take the granola to work because it mostly needed supervision in the oven.  But pesto was a perfect project.  The only bummer about pesto is that we eat it so fast...

Monday, June 17, 2013

So Proud of Hubby

I am so thankful for a handy hubby.  He is super good at fixing things around the house.  He also has an artistic side.  This week, that side of him really came out to shine.  For Christmas he had bought me an antler hair stick (that was on my etsy wishlist).  Once he saw it, he mentioned that he would like to try and make one.

We have had a bunch of antler sheds (each year a Buck will drop his antlers and regrow new ones) around the house.  I figured it would take him a few tries to get it right.  Boy did he prove me wrong!  The first one he made was amazing.  And the second.  Then he made buttons.  Then straight hair sticks.  Then carved pieces to be put on barrettes.  Now he is excitedly talking about craft fairs, and selling items on etsy.  I listed one hair stick to see how it sells.  I can't wait to put the antler buttons on a hand knit garment.  I am so excited that Hubby has found an outlet where he can express his artistic side. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

A New Frugal Bathmat

On Pinterest I fell in love with a quilted bathmat.  I thought about buying new fabric to make my own, but decided against it.  In my quilt chest I have a collection of antique quilts, including this crib sized quilt.  I am guessing its from the 70s based on the patterns.  I have never really had a place to put it, since its so small.  And the binding/backing was super ugly.   Keeping with the re purposing mindset, I decided to make the bathmat from this quilt.  I measured and cut the quilt (it was super hard to cut an antique quilt!) and removed the backing, taking care not to cut into the squares I was saving.  I love the vintage-y-ness of the quilt and tried to leave it as in tact as possible.  I even left the blue yarn tufts that connected all the layers.  I then sewed the quilt to a white towel and bound the edges.  When all is said and done, it looks like a small quilt on one side with a towel on the other.  I love it!  It was super frugal too since I already had the quilt and towel.  I did have to buy a heavy duty sewing needle because I kept breaking the regular ones.  Considering how I used a coupon it only cost me two bucks (for a whole pack of needles).  I am in love with my new mat and might make a matching one for the sink.  Especially since it only cost a couple bucks to make!  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

In The Aftermath of a Huge Storm

This morning I was woken up by what sounded like a freight train in my front yard.  I might have used some choice words when I peeked out my window and saw the enormity of our storm.  Not sure if it was a tornado, I grabbed my clothes and got dressed in the hallway.  Satisfied I wasn't going to be picked up and flown to Oz anytime soon, I took my phone to the patio door to have photographic evidence.  By that time it was hailing.  And I mean Hailing with a capital H!  Golf ball to baseball sized hail was pouring down.  I have never seen hail that big, strong or fast.  Looking out the kitchen window I realized that the roof to the turkey hutch had been blown off.  As soon as it was safe enough for me to go outside I did just that.  I donned my raincoat and went to see if any turkeys had survived.  The poor souls... Two of the three were alive but soaked and not looking good.  One turkey didn't survive.  I am guessing the hail killed him.  I hope it was quick and he didn't suffer too much.  I quickly put the surviving two in the barn with the smaller turkeys under a heat lamp.  Now, hours later they are looking quite content although I am sure their skin is bruised.  The worst of the storm was over by 10 am and we have had lingering strong winds and rain all day.  Tomorrow is predicted to be more of the same.

I am incredibly thankful that we only sustained minor damage.  My truck is extremely dented, but that's nothing a body shop can't fix.  We only lost one turkey and although I am saddened I realize it could have been worse.  The goats seemed unaffected, and the dogs snored through the entire ordeal.  There have been breaks in the storm that produced gorgeous sunsets and rainbows.  Storms like this remind us of our place in the world.  I can be as prepared as possible for the side effects of a storm, but I have absolutely no control over the storm itself.  Having oil lamps and jugs of water would not help me if a real tornado destroyed our home.  It is comforting to me to know that God is in control no matter what.  During the worst of the storm, I could only wait it out. When we acknowledge that we are not in control and trust that God has a plan, we are free to not worry.  Worrying and freaking out will only make matters worse.  I am so thankful that we were spared any real damage and no one got hurt. Maybe this weekend we will start cleaning up the fallen trees.  After I call a body shop...
We had a rough morning, but it is nice to be able to enjoy the beauty in the aftermath.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Using the Family Cloth- Warning Maybe TMI

Last year our we learned that tree roots are growing through our septic system pipes.  The solution is way out of our price range right now, so we compromised with the pipes.  They can handle human waste, but no paper or feminine products.  Anything aside from human waste will get stuck in the roots and back up all the plumbing.  Not fun!  So I have been using whats known as the "family cloth".  Basically squares of flannel, or baby wash cloths to wipe instead of tp.  We have baby wipes should we need to go #2.  Next to the toilet is a bucket for the cloths.  On the other side is the trash for the wipes. 
  I am sharing this not because you are interested in what goes on in our bathroom, but to show you that there are always ways of living frugally if you really want to.  Not buying tp has saved us so much money!  We do buy the baby wipes, but we use way less than we would with tp.  The flannel cloths can be made from old flannel tshirts, or flannel by the yard.  I made ours to fit inside a baby wipe container when folded in half.  When I start running low, I throw them in the wash.  I am betting if you ask anyone who grew up using an outhouse, they used some version of the cloth too.  I know some people who had a peg for each family member to hang their cloth.  Everyone was responsible for rinsing out their cloth and hanging it to dry.  There is something to be said about using soft flannel instead of tp... I feel spoiled!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Goat Fun

Anyone who owns goats will tell you how fun they are.  Each goat has a unique personality.  Latte, the mama goat is constantly looking over the fence watching or calling for us.  If she thinks we are outside she is looking for us.  Mocha, the black one, is the first to come running to see if we have any graham crackers for her.  They are her absolute favorite treat.  Java, the baby boy is happy to run and jump and beg for attention, as long as his mama is near.  They are all incredibly curious and friendly, which is one of the many reasons I love having goats!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Antiques Can Be Useful and Beautiful

There is a quote I love from William Morris- "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful".  I think this is a great motto for decorating.  We have antiques all over the house.  Some are simply for looks but the best pieces are both beautiful and useful!  Since we don't turn on the ac unless its absolutely necessary, we have fans in most of the rooms.  Some are ceiling fans, some are oscillating and some are antique.  Next to the computer is this old fan that works wonderfully.  It beats a white plastic fan hands down!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I need to learn construction

Construction runs in my genes.  My dad and grandpa worked in construction along with many of my relatives.  Unfortunately I didn't ever ask them to teach me.  Hopefully its not too late.  The other day Hubby and I were at Lucketts in Virginia (a great antique/chippy place).  We found this day bed and I am dying to make one!  Hubby and I can do basic construction projects like garden beds but nothing like this.  If I had relatives nearby I would ask them to help me in a heartbeat.  Unfortunately this bed was way out of our price range at the store so we wont be buying it either.  I am saving a picture of it, so that once I improve my skills I can take on this project.  Isnt it awesome?  Wouldnt you like to curl up outside on this with some Sunshine in a Bottle and a good book or knitting?  I know I would! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Houseplant Love- in the knitting room

I have always loved houseplants!  In high school one of my favorite teachers had covered his ceiling with hanging plants.  At the end of the year we each got to take one home.  I had houseplants in my bedroom, in my dorm room, apartment and everywhere Hubby and I have lived.  I always feel that a room is not complete without a plant however small it might be. 

  Houseplants can be expensive when you are just getting started.  Once you have a few good ones, its easy to separate them and start new ones.  Each paycheck I try to pick up a small plant.  Home Depot has gorgeous huge ones that cost over $100!  Crazy but beautiful.  I thought I would show you some of the plants I have around the knitting (and blogging) room. Enjoy!

(the word/sticks say dream, imagine and giggle)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Flowers from the Farm

Two years ago we planted a bunch of peonies around the driveway.  With the heat we have been having this past week, they have been blooming like crazy!  I clipped a few blooms as well as some roses from our bush in the back yard to bring in the house.  I love having fresh cut flowers from our yard.

We bought a knockout rose bush and some lavender to plant by the mailbox on Sat.  I can't wait to check the mail and smell them.  Oh the simple joys!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Repurposing and Decorating

We got rid of our king size bed (the frame was cracked and kept falling and the mattress was old and bumpy) but I couldnt bear to throw away the perfectly good wood slats from the frame.  For a while they sat in the closet until an idea popped into my head.

  Our hallway has been pretty non-exciting as many hallways are.  The light fixture was loose and didnt work.  Sometimes you could slam your fist on the wall and the light would come on for a few seconds.  haha.  I thought I could use the bed slats nailed to the wall as a board and batten style hallway.  One day while hubby was at work I measured and nailed the slats to the wall.  We bought a couple pieces of trim from Home Depot for a railing and Hubby cut them to the correct lengths.  I painted from the railing down a fresh coat of white, and grey above.  One sunny day Hubby fixed the light (we had to wait for sun so he could see what he was doing after we turned off the breaker).  I still have to repaint the french doors white but the hallway is looking soo much better!  We had some old window panes in the basement so I added hooks and hung them.

For the entire project we only had to buy the couple pieces of trim for the railing.  We already had the paint, and the slats were free obviously!  I still have another set of the slats which I need to find something to turn them into.  What do you think about our hallway mini makeover?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

We got Turkeys!

Hubby calls chickens a "gateway" animal, meaning once you have them you will most likely add more animals.  When the chicks were little we had a brooder set up for them (a safe cage with a heat lamp).  Now they are huge and in the chicken coop, the brooder is sitting empty.  On Sat, we were in town running errands, and someone made us an offer to buy the rest of their turkey poults.  Knowing we had everything we would need already set up at the house we jumped on the deal.  We now have 8 Spanish Black turkey poults in the brooder.

  Most commercial turkeys are non reproducing.  The have been bred for certain benefits that are not found naturally.   The hens need to be artificially inseminated to continue the breed.   If you want a huge turkey and don't mind buying new poults each year then its not a big deal.  However if you want a female and a male to produce their own offsprings you need to have a heritage breed.  Black Spanish are just that.  They are capable of reproducing on their own which is what we are looking for.  I figure we should be guaranteed a pair out of the 8 we brought home.  The others can be butchered in the fall for our freezer.  They are so little!  They wont get nearly as fat as the commercial breeds, but that is ok with us. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

No time for a gym

Living half hour from town means we have to give up certain luxuries.  There is no popping into the store for this or that.  Everything has to be planned and mapped out or we would waste so much money on gas.  It also means no gym membership.  There is no way I can get up at 5 to milk, then go to work until 5, milk again at 6 and still have time to drive half hour to go to the gym and half hour to get back.  I am not going to use the "I live too far from a gym" as an excuse to not workout.  I have been trying to maximize my time, and thought that I could take the kids I nanny for on a daily walk.  I found an inexpensive used double jogging stroller on craigslist (the parents didnt have one) and have been taking the boys out in the mornings.  This past week the temperature was in the 90s.  We put their older sister on the bus at 830 and then head straight on our walk.  The baby is pretty chill on our walks.  The 3 year old will wave and signal for truckers to honk their horns.  He loves going walks and seeing the sights.  There is a stop sign exactly one mile from their house.  We walk to the stop sign, touch it and turn around to head home.  So at least four days a week we get a 2 mile walk in.

  On my days off, I can take the dogs for a walk on my road, or go on the treadmill if its too hot outside.  Last week Hubby and I brought the treadmill up from the basement where it wasnt assembled.  Somehow over the past year we lost the bag with the screws for the treadmill.  We had taken it apart to move and the screws must have got thrown out.  So we have had a perfectly good, but useless treadmill in the basement.  I had started looking on craigslist for a treadmill and was thinking how silly it was when I had one downstairs.  I contacted the company who made the treadmill and for $30 they sent me a bag of screws and tools to put it together.  Yay!  Not only did I not have to buy a new treadmill, I saved a ton of money.  The screws came and Hubby put it together for me.  We also moved up the exercise bike and a oscillating fan to cool us off.  Maybe in the future we will put a small tv in there to watch while working out.  The treadmill connects to your ipod/iphone and has built in speakers.

Now both Hubby and I can workout together (or alone) without having to drive half hour to town.  By not paying for a gym membership we are saving money and time (for the commute).  Whats not to love about that?