Thursday, November 23, 2017

Gifts that keep on giving...for gardeners and homesteaders!

 I love the holidays but personally one can only take so much bath sets, chocolates, and fruit cake. So if you are looking into new ideas for gifts check out some of these gifts that keep on giving.

For people who love gardening/homesteading try some of these ideas~

~Green house~go small or big but this is one gift that will for sure keep giving as it continues to help grow food and flowers year after year.
~Soap making set
~Carrying baskets..I am not sure about anyone else but we go threw these often and there is some pretty cool ones out there.
~Gardening tools
~Bird feeders..Watching birds year around can be very peaceful
~Books...Anything from gardening for beginners to one of the books that is on my list this year "the weekend homesteader"  You can never learn to much
~Self watering can find cheap ones out there and it is a great gift for anyone older or anyone that may loving gardening but is busy.
~Electric wheelbarrow..I have never used one and they are expensive but I imagine this can save some back pain
~Fruit or nut trees. For sure a gift that will keep giving even long after the person is gone.
~Rain collecting system. Again a gift you can find cheap but you get what you pay for in this one.
~Food dehydrator
~Starter solar panel kit..did you know they have solar powered Christmas lights!
~Compost barrel
~Warm clothing
~Crock pot
~Animals but make sure they are wanted first!
~Cold frames ....can be expensive, probably can be home made cheaper but helps prolong the growing season
~Fire wood can go big or small but in winter I love having one of these near the house ready to go with wood
~Wood...I now realize if you have to buy wood how expansive that can be and giving the gift of a warm home is nice.
~Chicken coop
~Canning items
~Sewing items
~Hand salve
~Cast iron items...This is also something you get what you pay for
~Tools but make sure you know what they need before buying
Most of all do not forget home made gifts are the best! When you put work into something it makes it that much more meaningful!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Growing Ghost peppers in PA! here is my experience with it

This was my first year growing ghost peppers, I was a little scared because I herd they are really hard to grow here in PA, but we ended up with a big healthy plant and many peppers to harvest. I do not know tons about ghost peppers plants but here is what I did, what I used and a little of what I do know.

~My ghost pepper plant was bought as a sprout from a local store. I was so surprised to see them I quickly grabbed one. It was about 5 inches high when bought.
~It was planted in May but for the first few months it did not grow really because a huge tomato  plant was blocking it from the sun. I did not know the tomato plant was going to get that big but the little sprout never died and once I pulled the tomato plant it grew quick.
~ I use old soil, soil for raised garden beds, and this was the first year I used compost from my bin. Other then that I threw in a little fertilizer every now and then.
~To be honest it wasn't a plant I expected to grow so I gave it little attention :/
~ I did not have any pest problems and never used any bug spray on this plant.

What I learned threw this growing season~
~Ghost peppers are great repellent, any peppers that  started to rot I just threw back into the garden. So squirrels digging this fall...
~They love heat and humidity...some people grow these plants in containers so they can easily move them around but that can easily kill a plant....a green house would be perfect but sadly  I do not own one :/
~Plant as early as you can or start indoors. These plants take a long time to grow peppers and then the peppers take a long time to turn red on vine.
~From my experience with my peppers is that no matter the color all are hot BUT the hottest ones are the ones left one the plant to turn red.
~WEAR gloves!! I can not express this enough, these peppers are hot and washing your hands after handling will not clean all the pepper oil me...
~A plant can grow to over 3 feet tall once full grown..make sure to check out my video linked at the end to see how big mines got this season.
~They are originally from India and are also called Bhut Jolokia.

Either way if you want to try to grow these then do it! You never know what can happen.~

Here is a short video of my ghost pepper plant and small harvest.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Using pine needles to freshen up dishes!

This is something I am very happy I tried. We have a dishwasher, a old dishwasher that most of the time doesn't work really well. I always end up having to go over many of the dishes and that is just a waste of time and money. My dishes wee starting to look old and stained and becoming hard to get clean. So instead of throwing them away I decided ...after collecting some pine cones... to try this idea. After  I was done soaking my dishes with some soap I put clean water in and added the pine needles. I let it sit while I brought my son to school and when I came back I used the pine needles to scrub down the dishes and then just rinsed them off. Yes it is a extra step but a step that doesn't take long and had great results! My dishes came out very clean and some even smelled of pine, witch I did not mind. Just keep in mind not to cut any branches that have sap or bugs. lol I do not use pine every time my dishes need to be done but when ever I have a pot to scrub or my dishes need a little extra tlc it has become my first go to thing.
Did you know pine needles can also be used for tea? and is even a antibacterial.

Friday, September 22, 2017

I failed.....

Man this growing season has been a problem sense day 1...pest after pest after...yep you guessed it ..PEST! For awhile I was able to keep them at bay but once my corn started growing the pest problem went from handled to crazy in what seems like over night. I was very proud of my corn crop this year and was excited to have corn like last year. This year I planted a little over 80 seeds and most grew into full plants, but I guess it was my lack of attention that resulted in a outbreak of  sap beetles right after a outbreak of ear worms. After researching and trying different things I could not get rid of them as they moved from plant to plant and decided I would not feel OK feeding the corn to my kids after it was done growing.
So off I went with a knife cutting down every single corn was hard...all the time spent on growing it, to have to messed up by my lack of attention...sucked! Now I am left with my pumpkins witch have mildew(I am treating with milk )and 3 different kinds of peppers that are all growing good. Last year the growing season went so well, wish me luck as this one comes to a end, we go out with a bang and some hopefully big pumpkins!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Dollar store fall wreathes and more!

These are all crafts made with things from the dollar tree. Hope you enjoy and become inspired to make our own.
Materials needed~
wire werath
red burlap
fake leaves
picture (the card bored piece in the middle)
hot glue(I used hot glue in all of these, I found it holds better then he wore and tape)

Materials needed~
wire wreath
fake leaves
picture ( the piece at the bottom)
fake bird
burlap to hang it up
leaf lights
below is a picture of it lit up

Materials needed~
burlap(I hot glued this one to the back so I could easily lift it and move it without things falling)
fake pumpkins
little scare crows
fake leaves
pine cones(found outside, did not buy these)

Materials needed~
Something to decorate
fake corn
fall decor balls

Friday, June 23, 2017

Growing baby broccoli

This was my first year with growing broccoli but man it was one heck of a experience. I planted my 5 plants in late March. I got them as sprouts from as local store mainly because my son who loves broccoli asked for it. As a first time grower I decided why not.....Anyway I never expected it to grow as well as it did. Our plants grew about two feet high and once  I started harvesting it grew back pretty quickly. Here is some things to remember when growing broccoli, some tips and tricks I learned. 
~They grow tall, though none of my plants needed support, I could see that happening growing this in the future.
~I grew baby broccoli because we like stir fry but there is different and bigger kinds of broccoli you can grow, each has different needs.
~They need full sun light(I read they can grow in shade but unsure how well, ours was in full sun) 
~They take about two months to mature, but again once they do they produce pretty quick.
~They need well drained soil, We added compost to ours that helped with keeping the soil well drained and gave the soil a extra boost for a healthy harvest.
~This is something I did not know before hand but found out as tempters reached 90 here...Broccoli does not like low temperatures or high heat. Our broccoli grew smaller and in time when  the soil got to hot it bolt.  I herd about laying straw down to keep the soil cool but it was to late for my plants.They grow best when temperatures are between 65-75.
~Keep your eyes open for pest like cabbage worms.
~A main head will form but also side shoots, both are of course edible. 
~ Harvest when heads are tight, size doesn't always means it is time to harvest. 
(in the picture above the bottom right shows heads that were not picked in time and most say they are not nice to eat after that but we still ate them with no problem, tasted fine.)
~Harvest with a clean sharp knife. Harvest the main head when it is about 2 inches and the side shoots when they are about 6 inches.
~Best when eaten fresh.
~If you do not harvest in time the broccoli will flower, I had one plant that really flowered. It looked so beautiful and once I removed it I become a great treat for our pup. 
~It can grow in both spring/fall, again just keep a eye out for temperatures. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Peach and nut pancakes!

One of the favorites here is these delicious peach and nut pancakes. They are simple to make and yes I do take one little short cut...I know, I know shame on me....The short cut I take when making these pancakes is using shake n pour pancake mix. Yes the one you simply add the water to, shake it and use it....with two little kids it makes breakfast easier BUT if you hand make your pancakes I give you credit this recipe would be even better with them!....did  I say recipe... I guess this is a recipe but really its as easy as just topping the pancakes you would normally make with peaches and nuts but remember some of these tips to style it your own...
Try honey instead of maple syrup 
Try fresh peaches instead of canned but canned also saves time if it is a busy morning..believe me I understand just not having the time some mornings but still wanting a homemade breakfast 
Add the nuts into the pancake batter instead of on top (I like this for my kids who are kind of picky)
Add cinnamon to the pancake batter...not a lot is needed but sure is a good added 
Try different kinds of nuts and fruit

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Growing Petunias and a updated on the lavender plant planted last summer!

I will admit I use to dislike Petunias....they always seemed like they died easy and really never looked to pretty in the stores but sense they have grown on me. :) I have learned to enjoy these plants and like the saying goes "never judge a book by its cover". Once home and planted in correct soil these plants just come to life! There is so many colors and patterns to choose from and they for sure can make a garden. So here is some tips and tricks I learned when growing these beautiful plants, enjoy! 
(please note, I only share tips or tricks that I have learned and tried myself, if there is any more please do not be afraid to comment, I love to learn more!)

~First off is choosing the right plant. Like with any plant you do not want one with many dead flowers or leaves. One that looks sick or has ripped flowers.  I have never personally seen one of these be sold as beautiful as they look once they are replanted so do not be discouraged if you end up with a plant that looks droopy at first.(then again I get most of my plants at Homedepo....)
~you can grow this plant from seeds! It is hard but do able.
~Find a sunny spot, Petunias can grow in shade and I have a pot of them in shade but they grow slower and produce fewer flowers.
~Water every few days, I keep it to about once every 3 days unless I can see that they really need it.
~Keep fertilized
~Keep in well drained soil
~There are four different groups of Petunias..the two I know and focus on are theses~ (Grandiflora) Witch is better for pots and (Multiflora) Witch is better for beds. The difference is the way they handle a lot of rain when it does rain a lot.
~Remove dead flowers to keep the plant blooming for longer. This is called deadheading and you must make sure to get the base of the flower where the seeds are.
~Break up the soil before planting
~Watch out for pest, know that deer and rabbits will eat these plants if hungry.
~They are great to grow with vegetables, they help repel certain pests from plants.(also great for grape vines)
~They attract bees, butterflies, and moths witch can be beneficial to a garden. 

...and last the update on the lavender plant....Last fall I was asking around to see how to keep this thing alive during the winter so it would grow back. Many said just let it be, few said to cover it with leaves or small branches. I did end up covering it with small branches and here it is late April. It is turning green again!...very green....the ones in the pots that I kept inside did not make it but this one did and I couldn't be more happy it did....So THANK YOU to everyone who helped!! 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Growing Tulips

These flowers are so beautiful for spring, I am in love with the ones that grow around here. 
~The first thing to grow these beautiful flowers is timing. Bulbs should be planted in late fall before frost. They stay dormant all winter and come up in spring.(September/December are good planting times) 
~Next is to choose the right bulbs. Bulbs should be planted within 5 days of buying. Always go to a nursery and look at what you are buying before hand. Never get any bulbs that have defects. Stay away from mold and split bulbs, go for firm and light brown in color. They love to be planted in groups so make sure to get enough. They also look amazing planted with Forget-me-not's.
~Now that you have the right bulbs you need to plant them correctly. Find a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sun a day and plant with about 4 inches space in between. One bulb can sprout between 4-6 stems.  Till soil, add compost and make sure it is a well drained spot. (raised garden bed?..they work very well) Plant about 6 inches deep(what ever 3 times to length of the bulb is), but remember the bigger the bulb the deeper you should go so it stays cool. Always plant pointed side up and give them a good watering after but then not again till leaves start growing. 
Note~ they can be planted in pots but we grow in ground so I do not know much about that..yet..
~Once your plant starts growing its time to keep it healthy so it can grow back next year! Make sure to remove any dead flower heads before they start falling and any leaves when they turn yellow and most of all... Fertilize in the fall, every fall. 

So remember....
Tulips do not like over watering and need good drainage to stay healthy
There is many kinds and colors of tulips
Tulips can be planted in pots but that takes on a whole new experience
Rodents love these little bulbs and will dig them up
Leave them be in the winter
As long as the plant and bulb are healthy they will come back year after year
Some tulips grow tall some grow short, sun and water can also effect the growth
Unless conditions are perfect most bulbs only bloom for 3 years before dying off for one reason or another  
Sudden warm weather will make these bulbs bloom too early, it happens
Do not get discourage! If your bulbs fail to bloom, try again!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Pine cone fire starters, how well do they work?

I have seen plenty of people swear by pine cones for great fire starters so of course out  I went collecting them from near by trees. I got home and wanted to make them pretty so I used old melted wax and covered the bottom of each cone. That step I know is not needed but it was a way to use the wax and I was bored...Anyway I got really happy to set my next fire, so I stacked up some wood and placed bills...I mean trash mail at the a pine cone to the side and went to light it....I'm sure you could imagine my disappointment when it didn't light....Tried again with another and nothing....So I just lit the paper and poof the pine cone light up after being laid on the paper. It burned for a good amount of time too, but my question is why did the pine cone not lit itself? They were dry for the record. When I herd them being good fire STARTERS I thought they would actually start the fire lol maybe I miss herd. Either way  I would keep using them as they are free and help a fire continue to grow. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Healthy? dollar store meal challenge

I have been seeing these every where and  I am a big fan of the dollar store so it was time to try this out. Yep I did the dollar store eat healthy challenge. I knew it wouldn't be easy but here is how it went.
So this is my local dollar store. Well the food part, the other parts are way better. 
So there was about 10 doors to the freezer food part and only about two were anything I could use and out of them two there was not a lot of choices. Like above one door was almost all cheese, so I ended up picking out Feta cheese. Then the next door was what ever they had meat wise and that was ham and hot dogs. I ended up with ham. Then to go with the ham and cheese I picked out pasta and sauce. For dessert I ended up picking out frozen fruit to make smoothies. 

Here is everything! Only $5. It was high in protein but also high in salt. :/ dang ham...

So I cooked the pasta, baked the ham and added cheese on top. 

 And in the end everyone ate and we ended up with extras cause I didn't cook the whole box of pasta or use all the sauce. So it is possible to make a healthy meal form the dollar store though it is proven to be hard! If you have ever attempted this challenge let me know what you made below!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

DIY Swiffer reusable clothes

I love Swiffer products but the replacement things can get pretty expensive. Well  recently I had on a shirt that I swear  collects every single piece of hair, pet fur, and anything small that I pass. No matter how I wash or dry this shirt it was plan annoying. So I figured it would make a great swiffer cloth. I measured the size of the swiffer and cut a little extra on the top and bottom so I can tuck it in like a normal cloth would. It worked amazing. You can really use any kind of fabric you feel like would work and you can do the same thing for the swiffer mop, just add a strip of velcro. If you do not have the mop try making a swiffer head using a hand towel and that way you can spray the floor and easily spot clean. These are reusable, just throw in the washer or hand wash and let dry.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Cattail fire starters

The best fire starters I have ever used and I just realized I have tried a lot. As a city girl growing up cattails are something I did not see so when I did and found out all the seeds they carry and how fun they are I started to think of ideas to do with them. I let my kids play with them in a sensory bin and then ended up with a huge bin of cattail down. So I figured why not make fire starters. I cut up a egg carton, placed rolled up cattail down in each cup and topped it with hot wax. After I wrapped it in newspaper and tied it off with string. The newspaper and string is not needed though. I have been using some that I made without it and it works just as fine. These are long lasting and very worth the work of putting them together. 

Here is a video I put together of the how to instructions~

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

One way to carry in fire wood....hey it worked!

 I was actually looking up different ways people carry wood cause I am all of 4' 10" and my arms are not much bigger lol. I seen many things you can buy but trying to save for a puppy right now so buying is not a option. I seen a picture of someone trying this idea and I figured it was worth a go. It worked!. As you can see it was pretty easy to make and only took two sticks  and some rope. I could have easily carried more but it was storming out and I was not staying in the woods with 50 mph wind gust. For sure something I will use again to help.
Now if only my cat would stop eating everything, swear he is like a dog..chews on everything.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Beef bone meal Benefits and easy recipie

I am trying to focus on eating more then just muscle meat of a animal and decided to grab some beef neck bone from local store. (no we don't raise our own meat, wish I could :/ ) 
The benefits to cooking with the bone, fat, and bone meat of a a animal is huge. Immune support, stronger bones, and  more energy is just a few. (lets not forget gives a use for bones that otherwise might just be thrown out) Bone marrow itself contains lots of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. Bone marrow also helps by carrying oxygen threw out the body. 
So what we did first was start making the bone broth. In our crock pot we placed all the beef bones, some water, and veggies. (carrots, onion, celery, and garlic powder) Let it cook for 24 hours then made our first meal with it. We picked out all the meat and marrow and placed it in a jar with our favorite marinade and let that sit for a little. Then just placed it over rice and added a few bones for show. It was so good! Ended up tasting like beef jerky. After that was done all the bones went back into the water mix and sat for another 24 hours. After that was done I put some in the freezer and some in the fridge to use as broth in later meals. So next time you hit up a butcher or store look for the bones, it is worth it! (side note butchers in my area sells bones for cheap cause a lot of people just never buy them, worth a try)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

ways to recycle egg shells...and other things :)

Before you throw out them egg shells why not try to recycle them a different way like~
~Feed for chickens to boost calcium intake
~Sprinkle around your garden to keep pest away
~Calcium boost for tomato plants (place them in the hole before planting)
~Make egg shell powder to add to your food for a calcium boost
~To start seeds
~Compost or just mix straight into the soil
~Make sidewalk caulk
~Add to broth
~Crafts (we dye them and crush them, kids love gluing them to paper to make pictures)
~Bird treats(bake for 20 mins at low, crush and add them to a bird feeder)
~Crushed egg shells can help get off stuck on food when washing
~Blown eggs for Easter or any craft time
~Egg shell candles
~To stop itchy skin (drop shells in some apple cider vinegar let it soak and dab on itchy skin)
~Keep stray cats away (unsure about this one :/ )

Other things you can reuse!~
~Banana peels to add potassium to a garden
~Chicken feathers to add nitrogen to a garden
~Old tires and bottle to make planters
~yogurt and k cup containers to start seeds
~Water from boiling eggs helps add calcium to the soil and feed plants
~Aspirin water mix spray to help seeds grow(google how to do it first lol)

Friday, January 13, 2017

Newspaper starter pots

Great way to reduce, reuse, and recycle
Line up a piece of newspaper horizontally then fold in half so you have one long piece of paper. Roll a glass jar along the paper so the jar is now covered and fold in the bottom. Remove the jar and fold in the top now. For anyone that doesn't get what I am saying cause you know what it is something that is easier to show here is a youtube video of it lol~
It is really not hard to make and when transplanting the sprout to the ground you can just plant the whole thing.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Ways to reuse egg cartons

~Ice cube trays. Make sure to wash them out first.
~Fire starters
~Paint palette
~Package padding
~Storage for small items
~starting seeds
~Organize small spaces
~Make into a bird feeder
~compost (cardboard cartons only)
~cupcake holder
~Eggs! Reuse them for what they are made for :)

Friday, January 6, 2017

ways to homestead, it is easier then you think

You do not need to have land or animals to be a homesteader. It all starts with the little thing you can do right now. So here is a list of some things you can do, any other ideas I do not have listed feel free to add in the comments!

Remember~ Do not get overwhelmed, the worse thing you can do is start a bunch of projects at once  and end up with to many new things to do.

~Shop at second hand shops. Some times used are just as good as new and cheaper.
~Fix the old broken items. Make sure to use something as long as you can before spending money on a new one.
~Raise/grow your own food. We personally can not have "farm" animals so we use every space we have to grow food.
~Compost  One of many ways  to keep useful things out of the trash. Also great for a garden and lawn. Below is our small storage compost bin
~Make your own clothes, learn to sew and more. I personally love to crochet.
~Live smaller, down size. Empty space is wasted space. Try to rid yourself of things that just sit and haven't been sued or worn in months.
~Make your own cleaning products and soap. Many different ways to do it, google can be a huge help and Youtube also.
~Learn to fix it yourself. Many times workers charge ways more to fix something then the cost of the items to fix it. You can never learn to much.
~Collect rain Make sure its legal in your state first.
~Shop deals. It is not always a option to fix something or barter but shopping deals, looking at a paper or asking around can save you a lot of money.
~Save seeds
~Cook from scratch, it is a lot heather that way too.
~Forage for wild food. This comes wit ha "duh" warning to know what you are eating before you just go out and starting eating wild berries and such.
~Can and dehydrate food
~Use cloth instead of disposable ....Like napkins, diapers, and shopping bags
 ~raise bees They will do wonders for a garden and environment

Over all the best thing you can do is never stop questioning and never stop learning. Question and learn where your water comes from, what it took to make the clothes you wear and of course where your food comes from.