Tuesday, December 23, 2008

How to save hundreds with sewing.

I've been sewing since I was a very little girl. You see, my mother was the Martha Stewart of her time. Since I grew up doing what she did, I grew up knowing how to sew, knit, cook, garden and lots of other handy things.

Today I realized how much my sewing has helped me save money. We have a king sized bed with a nice mattress pad. The pad has a large elastic band that wraps around the bed. This pad had a 2-3 foot long rip in it, so it still attached to the bed, but kept ripping more and more. The unfortunate thing is it costs at least $100 to replace the thing. So today I sat down and sewed the rip and a few other rips in about 15 minutes.

Then Rich called. He's been gaining weight due to a medication change and very bad fast food habits. His work pants don't fit and its becoming a major issue. He had ordered some bigger pairs, but they are about $50 each. So I went into the closet and got the pants that almost fit. I took those up to my handy dandy sewing machine and took out the waist. The years I worked for a tailor really come in handy a lot. I was able to take out the waist enough for him to be able to wear these pants comfortably until he's able to hopefully take off some of this weight. The pants he ordered were cancelled and saved us another $100.

I've put on multiple patches for work saving $5 per patch. Since I've probably put on about 50 or so in our time together, that is lots of money. I've also altered clothes for the kids, hemmed pants and fixed a nasty gash in my $40 jeans( I didn't actually spend that). Since I'm a rather fluffy gal myself with a small waist and large rear end, it is hard to find pants that actually fit me. My only option is generally to find a pair that fits my rear and take in the waist. When I look at it, I have saved thousands over the years. Not bad.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Savings and shopping

I just got back from shopping. I got all of The Little Princess's stocking gifts at CVS and all the candy for the stockings for everyone. There was a nice surprise when I realized that my shampoo was on sale and I had coupons for lots of sale items.

Then it was off to Roche Bros for a few odds and ends. I've been trying to only buy fresh items and the few things that I need to add to my stockpile. So far that has meant only spending $200 this month. We're halfway through the month and I won't need to buy much else. I got lots of deals at RB's today as well and got to restock the supply of hot chocolate for less than it costs me to make it. The kids like it better as well. The rest was fruit, veggies, milk and bagels and cream cheese.

Today also brought my big box of craft supplies from Oriental Trading Co. It was all on sale and a good price, plus I got free shipping. In addition, I got cash back on Ebates. I'm loving getting things I need and getting cash back through them. It would be even better if I could get my curriculum from them as well. I had to buy some midyear additions from Rainbow Resource and although I got free shipping, I didn't get cash back.

The bread for the next 2 weeks is now in the oven. I also have the turkey carcass in the pot for more broth to be canned up. This time the turkey was drier than usual, but it still got eaten up anyway. I'm not really sure why it was dry this time, maybe it was the fact that it was a bigger bird. Tonight will be turkey pot pie with any meat I can get off the carcass, the broth and veggies from the garden. The crust will be made with the lard I rendered. It's a pretty inexpensive meal from things that most people throw away. My family loves it as well.

My parents sent out their Christmas letter last week. My mother decided to write it this year as my dad has a tendency to get a little morose some years. She decided to have a little fun talking about all the wierd things that I do. Things like the ever increasing garden and rendering my own lard. Things that wouldn't be so weird 100 years ago. Oh well, I enjoy it.

Now I'm off to help R get a bunch of computers into his truck. He's been incredibly busy so I got to learn how to rebuild a machine. I did the grunt work on 7 computers this weekend to help out. If I hadn't he probably wouldn't have slept for a few days. We also cleaned up and rearranged the attic workshop to make it much more functional. Its truly amazing what moving a table to a different place does to a room. I feel great for all that I'm able to do to help him. Of course the rest of the world thinks I do too much. Sometimes you just do what you have to do.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

This and That

Here we are well into December and I'm still not ready for winter. Winter doesn't seem to care. It went and sent snow this weekend and frigid temps. This all just makes me wish we lived someplace a little more temperate. I'd like a longer growing season and less snow and cold. Too bad I'm not getting those things. ::sigh::

I'm ready for my seed catalogs to come. It seems like everyone else has gotten lots more than me. All that has come so far has been Totally Tomatoes. That's nice, but I want MORE!! The seeds most be ogled and then lists must be made. Then the plans need to be played with. I must figure out how to use Excell or some other program to map things out. Mustn't waste paper! By the time Spring comes, I'll be ready to stop gardening before it has even begun. I should learn patience, but then there is that little voice at the back of my head. This year I'm very anxious to get my seeds ordered. There is lots of talk in the gardening world of seed shortages. Last years gardening was pretty poor for lots of us and seed savers were not immune. That is combined with a large increase in the number of people gardening. Between the two, we could have difficulty finding seeds later in the year.

Along the same lines, I'd really like to be able to save seed for coming years. Some things are easy, others not so much. I'm trying not to grow squashes from the same family, so that I can save seeds. The problem is that my neighbors' garden is very close to mine and their seed can cross with mine. The tomatoes shouldn't be too much of an issue. I grow too many pepper varieties to safely save those without intervention. Then I need to learn how to save seeds from the biennials like carrots, broccoli and cabbage.

I spoke to my Mother yesterday. She wrote the Christmas letter this year. Normally my Dad does it, but he tends to get a little gloomy at times and that doesn't make for a good letter. Apparently, she had a good time describing how nuts I was with all the things I do. I guess making and using lard is not a normal thing to do. Who knew? All the things that I'm trying to learn to do are not normal these days, but I sure wish they were. I think we'd all do much better if we went back to a more self sufficient lifestyle. What would happen if everyone stopped buying Hamburger Helper and started planting gardens and preserving their own food? If we stopped using overprocessed and chemical based yuck and went back to the basics. No more shortening or corn syrup.

I could go on and on about a world without all the convenience. Where people could actually create things instead of buying them. I'll stop there. It may be something that happens whether we like it or not.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Baking and being green

This morning I started to make chocolate chip cookies when the kids started talking about being green. This is apparently something they are pushing on Nickelodeon these days. I can't really complain about that. I explained to the kids that we already do lots of 'green' things and how they helped our earth. I also talked about things we could do to help even more. They don't really get it completely yet, but I figure the more they hear it, the better. There is at least an interest right now.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

MMMM Cow manure

It's reached that time of the year that I have to spread the poop. It's amazing how much you can get this time of year. There is a dairy farm a few miles down the road and they deliver 4.5 yards of manure for $75. I like my poop delivered right to my door. The guy was super nice. I actually stood out in the yard in the cold and dark and talked to him for a good 15 minutes. The poor guy, his family has been doing this for over 75 years and it just keeps getting harder and harder. What they get paid for 100 gallons of milk is a crime. One thing he did tell me is that the milk from Cumberland Farms or any other grocery store and Garelick all come from the same milk farms. There is one large Coop here in Ma. All the milk goes there and then is sold to various places, so don't pay more for Garelick, its the same as Joe's.

So today I went out and started to attack the mountain of poop. The little Princess came out in her pretty pink boots and helped me do some of it. The little Man wanted nothing to do with it. Toby(our lab) just wanted to eat it. I think that I got about 1/3 of it done, but that may be wishful thinking. My back started to ache and I have blisters on my hands. Pretty pathetic for only 30 minutes work. I really need to get the rest done in the next few days. The garden ought to be in pretty good shape for next year when I'm done. There is quite a bit of compost finishing up as well. That will get put in the holes when I put things out. I never seem to get enough compost. It's even worse this year since we had to cut down 4 trees on the property. The leaves really help out a lot as well.

The seed catalogs started coming the other day. It always gets me going. This year was overwhelming for me with the garden. I expanded so much that it made it hard for me to keep up with it. It also rained so much, that it was hard for me to get out and do what needed to be done. Then I would get overwhelmed with the size. The kicker was that I really didn't design it well. Next year it will be divided into sloped beds about 4x10. There will be walkways in between that will be covered with cardboard. This will make it easier for me to intensively plant, like I was used to. It will also make weeding easier and more compact.

When I started gardening I used a modified square foot plan. I had multiple 4x4 beds that were separated by paving bricks. I could go out and week 1 or 2 squares easily without getting overwhelmed. I also had very definite borders to grow things in. This will be the basis for next years garden as well. I will still have a much larger area, but it will hopefully be more manageable. It is now going to be well fertilized and looser soil as well. I'm always hopeful that we'll have a huge harvest. Of course, in September when I've canned up the 75th jar of tomatoes, I'll be cursing it all.

Its all a cycle and I love that cycle. I love planning all the wonderful things we'll have in the garden. I love planting the seeds in the winter and carefully keeping them growing in the basement. I love planting out the seedlings and seeds and watching them grow and grow. I love the anticipation of that first tomato. I love feeding my family food that I have grown and prepared and that I am absolutely certain is healthy. I love going to my basement in December and getting a jar of tomatoes and some carrots that have been preserved that summer. I love it all. Even when I'm exhausted and don't want to deal with it. I still love it. If you're going to have an addiction this is the one to have.

Next years plans will of course involve some expansion. I plan to plant at least 2 more fruit trees, probably apples. There is also the 6x6 area next to the garden with the broken down sod to deal with. That will probably be prepped and become either a strawberry patch, or my onion and garlic area. The back, where the trees came down has plans as well. Jose(my neighbor) has talked about building us a chicken coop. I'd really like a chicken tractor, but we'll figure it out. If we end up with a permanent coop, then it will go back there. If not, I'll plant some blueberry bushes back there to surround the whole area. The bushes I planted this year all died. They got way too much sun and couldn't handle it. Back there they will get partial sun and lots of water, so they should thrive. Of course, I have to clean the mess up back there first. My last area will be in the back between the houses, I want to plant an asparagus patch. Jose likes that idea as well, so we'll have to get some crowns planted.

Next year will also be the first year for the cold frames. Jose spent last summer making us some cold frames to split from windows they had just replaced. They will go around the perimeter of my garden. He just doesn't have the space on his side. I also get much better sun. There are 4 total. I think they are 2x6 ft. The plan is to plant them next summer to feed us next winter. We've been reading too much Elliot Coleman. I would love to someday be almost completely self sufficient in the fruit and vegetable arena. If we add in the eggs and meat from chickens, we're really be doing well!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Update on canning beans.

I finished doing the kidney beans. They all sealed and look great. They also look a smidge too full, but ok nonetheless. I'm doing black beans and white beans tomorrow(7 of each) and used just under 3/4 cup in each. We'll see if they are a little less full when done. I'm ridiculously excited about this. Then again, I am a little weird anyway.

Dinner was wonderful tonight. We had The Little Man's best friend over for dinner. I made pizza sauce from my canned tomatoes and homemade crust. The kids each got a cake pan to make their own pizzas in and loved it! Now I'm off to return the best friend to his home up the street.

Reality Bites and canning kidney beans

R and I have been talking about me taking over the bills and Quicken. He just simply doesn't have the time anymore. I'm busy as well, but have far more disposable time. Yesterday we finally got around to it. Oh my, I hadn't realized that we were tight. He's been doing so well with the computers and we always seem to have cash around. Apparently he's been letting a few things build up and spending the cash. It isn't bad. I guess I shouldn't be too upset, but it is more than I thought. The good thing is that it will be easily fixed. As long as the business continues to be busy.
Overtime at the station hasn't been very plentiful, but he did get a 14 hr night last night. That will certainly help.

R has always taken care of the bills in our 12 years together. I never really liked doing it and he has always loved numbers. When we met, I had 2 uncashed paychecks in my car door. He still thinks that is funny. At the time, I just couldn't have cared less. He took care of my mess of a checking account and made sure everything was paid. Well, times have changed. I'm more interested in making sure that we are financially sound. I really want to make sure that we can track spending and pay things off as quickly as possible. There are a few things that need to be paid off and I have a plan, but also think I may need to wait a month or 2 to see where things really go. It may be a little soon for me to jump in and start sending money off when it may be needed.

Along those same lines, I decided to can up some of my dried beans. I got them for very cheap and have tons and tons in the basement. While I am certainly capable of dealing with dried beans, it is much easier to open a jar or can when I feel the urge to make something. Also, lets face it beans are cheap and good for you and if I can use them more it will help with our health and our finances.

So, onto the process. These are being canned in pints which will equal a can in the grocery store. I found a recipe online that makes it quite easy. I got 14 jars from the basement and put them through the dishwasher to clean them. When they were done I put 3/4 cup in each jar and filled with water. Then I went to bed. This morning all the jars were nicely filled with rehydrated beans. How cool! I dumped the water and refilled with boiling water. The lids and rings had been washed and heated in water. I lidded them and put them in the canner. They are just coming up to pressure now. They will be canned at 11lbs pressure for 75 minutes.

I'm really excited about this and plan to can up 7 jars each of the rest of the bean types I have in the house. I have black beans, pintos, garbanzos(chick peas) and white beans. The kidney beans get used the most, so that is why I did 14 of them. When I'm all done with my canning, I'll make some Pasta Fagioli soup for the kids. They love this soup and it ends up being very much like an Italian chili. The recipe is adapted from a few recipes and is almost identical to the soup at Olive Garden. It can then be canned up without the pasta, which isn't safe to can. When I open a jar, I heat it up and cook the noodles in a seperate pan. It's nice healthy, hearty winter fare for lunches.

I really enjoy canning up these soups and meals in a jar. In the basement there are already a bunch of goodies. There is Minestrone soup, chili and turkey soup. I'd like to try canning my meatballs, but for the time being I make them and freeze in meal sizes. All of this is in an effort to save money and prevent the desire to go out to eat. Since many of these items are made with veggies from my garden and things that many people throw away. All my chicken and turkey carcasses are made into stock. The stock is then canned for later use. Since we eat a lot of turkey(its cheap, let's face it), there is a lot of turkey stock and turkey soups down there. It makes me feel good to do all this and help my family.

Friday, November 21, 2008


I just got back from Roche Bros. They have such great loss leaders and are so close, that it very often makes sense for me to shop there. This year turkeys have been on sale for .49 /lb and they also had cranberry sauce for .88. I went and stocked up on various things. After coupons and sales the total was 77.46. I had saved 69.66, not too bad. The freezers are ridiculously full and I really don't need to shop again except for fresh items for the next several months.

It's a nice feeling having all that food for the winter. I feel like a good squirrel mom. The economy is so bad right now. Even though it hasn't affected us yet, it is a frightening thing. There are so many businesses crashing. Now the auto industry is gasping for air and it could mean so really tough times for a lot of people. The unfortunate thing is that we really need to take our lumps at this time. This country has lived on bad credit and overinflated lifestyles for way too long. If it doesn't happen now, it will be soon. There are only so many bandaids the government can put on things before the whole thing collapses anyway. Then we still have to pay it all back with higher taxes. I just want to get our debt paid off as soon as possible and not have to worry about that.

We have been much better about limiting the restaurant meals. We went out last night for the first time in over a week and only spent $25 for the 4 of us. I can't feel too badly about that. Someone gave us a $75 gift certificate to a Japanese place near my parents. They have buy one get one meals on Monday and Tuesday so we're taking my parents out for a very nice meal that shouldn't cost us anything except possibly part of the tip.

Along the same lines, I've been diligent about meal planning lately. It helps to know ahead of time what we'll have. That way I can't really make any excuses. A friend suggested saving the menus to look back on for ideas. Great idea! We'll be having lots of turkey. I've already made 2 this year and still have 5 in the freezer. Yeah, we really like turkey. That will be interspersed with all the beef I have from the 1/2 cow we bought this year. There are also quite a few veggies from my garden this summer to eat up.

It feels good to me to save money for the family. R works so hard, that I feel like I need to work just as hard to stretch the money he makes. While talking to some friends the other night, I realized how well I really was doing. I was talking about things that I do and they were thrilled to hear about it. Everyone is trying to stretch a buck these days. I'm always so thrilled to talk about the things I do. I sometimes forget that not too many people cook from scratch, bake from scratch, knit, sew, garden and can the produce. I'm very lucky to have grown up with a mother who did all these things. I didn't appreciate it at the time, but I sure do now.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Adding photos

This is Little Man doing his read aloud. Right now he's reading Henry and the Clubhouse by Beverly Cleary. These were books that I loved when I was his age and figured he'd like them as well since the main character is a boy. So far, he seems less than impressed. However he isn't really thrilled to read anything but Garfield these days.

I think I may be getting this photo thing after all. it just may take a bit. This next photo is of Little Man'sSpelling lesson. We have been using Spelling Power and I'm very happy with it.

The lesson has a rule at the beginning and then words that use that rule for him to spell. Once I got him to truly listen to the rule, he's done very well with it. He likes to spell it outloud and then write it. The biggest problem, as with anything, is if he gets a word wrong, he loses his mind. He doesn't take getting things wrong very well. That might be a normal thing, but it is still frustrating.

Ok, so we'll have to play with the photo thing a little more. I'm happy with this though.

Continuing with week 1

We're very happy with everything so far. Noah has been doing well with fractions. Here is a picture of some of his work.

We've also been working with a new program called Writing With Ease. I started him with the 1st level and we're working through it at double pace to get caught up. Here is some of his writing work. He needed some prompting to get the letters done properly for some reason.

I'll continue this post soon. I'm still playing with blogger to figure out adding photos properly.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The First Day of School 2008-2009

Today was our first day back at school. The Little Man is in second grade and Pooh Bear is in Preschool.

After playing outside with his friends this morning, Little Man wasn't very happy about coming in to start school. Public School doesn't start until tomorrow, so he wanted to play today. I was the mean mommy.

After some tears, the day went rather well. He seemed to like the currriculum we had for the year. We'll see how it goes in the next few weeks.

Here he is doing his math. We started fractions today in Singapore 2B. He seemed to like doing them today and since there was no writing involved, he was very happy.
I didn't get any pictures of Pooh Bear today, but she was thrilled to start school. We worked on learning the letter E and reviewed the letter A. She did some handrwiting practice from the Donna Young site. We also did some math work on the number 5 in a Rod and Staff workbook a friend gave us. More pictures tomorrow.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Continuing to plant

We went out today and weeded. I got the beds along the front fence done. The parsnip, carrot and beet beds. I also weeded and planted on the back area peas, beans, beets and zucchini.

The first zucchini flower appeared today! It won't be long until we have tons. I also picked 2 more quarts of sugar snap peas. There are flowers and fruit on the tomato and pepper plants, so they will be coming along soon as well. I'm sure in another month or so we'll be inundated with produce.

The weather hasn't been ideal. It's been cloudy and muggy, threatening to rain, but not doing so very often. We really need more sun right now.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Notes for next year.

We just got back from a week long vacation. This morning I went out to check on things. There are plenty of weeds, although many of those are clover, so I'll leave them alone. I picked several quarts of sugar snap peas, and lots of lettuce. The spinach has gone to seed, so I'm waiting to harvest the seed.

Next year:
-don't just scatter the small seeds
-plant something different and hardy against the back
-put the onions and garlic in an out of the way corner
-plant the potatoes in containers and put more other things in the garden

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Today was strawberry day. Mom and I went to the farm to pick berries with the kids. We each got about 30 pounds of strawberries after a little over an hour of picking. Pooh helped quite a bit, but Little man did not want to be there at all. I must say that 30 pounds of strawberries is quite expensive and it kind of takes your breath away. It is very worth it though.

When we got home I got right to work. The kids helped for the first batch and then lost interest. After 4 batches, which is 20 pints of jam, I was finally finished. Bending in the fields and then making all the jam about killed my back. Luckily the neighbors were out in their quickset pool and we were able to relax in the water. It felt glorious!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Straw and weeds

The weeds are out of control and its only June. I went to the farm here in town and got some straw. I got 3 bales, it covered only the 1/3 of the garden that has the squash in it. Must go find more straw.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


We just finished having quite a bit of rain and now its in the 90s. It seems a little early for a heat wave, but here we are.

I harvested a bit of spinach, but for some reason it is already going to seed. I didn't get nearly as much spinach as I thought I would. The lettuce seems to be stalled. I think its the little starter things I used that is keeping them hemmed up. I planted some more, so we'll see how that does.

The peas are getting tall and so is everything else. I hilled the potatoes and they're too tall again. We'll see if I can rehill again. There are jalapenos on my plant and flowers on a few of my tomato plants. Everything is really getting big, and should get huge with all this heat.

Today I plan to plant a bunch of broccoli and try again to get it to grow. I would really love this to work, since this is a favorite veggie with all of us.

Friday, May 30, 2008

More progress

I met with Gordon's church friend about the gardening they are doing. I'm not sure I was too much help, but she was very nice. They are trying to teach people to garden using pure square foot gardening techniques. I hope it goes well for them. Just teaching people to garden would be great.

My garden is doing well so far. I talked to the neighbors about the pesticide and was told they had not put any down yet, but would be soon. They said they would try to stay away from my garden. I guess that is all I can ask.

Pretty much everything is up now. The beans are up and looking pretty. All the root veggies are coming along slowly. The watermelon is up. I have flowers on one of the plants that Lori gave me. I'm hoping its the black krim. Now we'll just sit and wait for it all to come in.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Today I went out and looked at all the squashes. The zuchini had 2 hills come up, butternut 3 hills, pumpkin 2 hills and watermelon none. The cukes I think had a few hills come up, but hard to tell. I replanted a hill of zucchs, another hill of butternut, all the watermelon and all the cukes. According to the moon chart it should be a good day to plant them.

The row covers came off because the wind we've had lately ripped them in multiple places. I'm really not happy with the row covers. I think its time to try something else. Today will be research for another fix. I've heard of peppermint soap, but maybe I can just crush up some mint and spray that on. Anything but the row covers.

The root crops look like they are coming up now. Either that, or uniform weeds growing. I still can't figure out what is killing my broccoli. They die near the fence, so I'm wondering if the neighbors sprayed something on their lawn and it killed my veggies. They like they're chemicals over there. I'll have to talk to them today and find out. How should I diplomatically ask if they are killing off my garden?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Broccoli hates me

All of my broccoli has died. The cabbage is ok and 4 of the 6 cauliflower look ok. I have no idea why they died. I just direct seeded some more broccoli in between the potato mounds. We'll see how it goes.

I also planted more sugar snap peas, more bush beans, beets and lettuce. None of the other direct seeded things have come up yet. I'm getting a little worried. Maybe it just needs to warm up a bit.

I also got a new stirrup hoe. I'm in love with it. It makes weeding so easy, I can't even believe it. I told hubby that I was going to leave him for the stirrup hoe. He thinks I'm crazy anyway.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Today I was out putting row covers on the squashes. I had to take 2 lengths of row cover and sew them together to get them wide enough. The zucchini, butternut and pumpkins are poking up already. The zucchini is making the most strides at this point.

It has been pretty damp lately, so I haven't had to do too much watering. The fruit trees and bushes are looking good as well. The potatoes are up and the cole crops seem to be holding their own so far. The cabbage even looks like it is starting to head up. Peas are about 12 inches long and the spinach will be ready for harvest in the next week I think.

So far we have had no animal activity. This is despite neighbors having seen them and in 1 case having their garden eaten. I'm so far attributing it to a combination of the fence and the dog.

The tomatoes continue to look a little sunburnt, but they are also holding their own, so I don't think it will be a major issue. Next year I'll have to spend more time hardening them off. Live and learn.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


It's all in. Today I planted the last 4 blueberries, and Jose and I planted the fruit trees. Then we went to the farm and got some more plants. He got a bunch for his garden. (I'm so proud) I got 6 cauliflower, 3 cherry peppers and some rhubarb. I also planted the 6 tomatoes from Gordon and my bush beans.

To top it off, we finished the fence!!! It's so nice. Everything is coming up beautifully. I still haven't decided if I'm going to plant the dried beans. I need to put in some more peas, but that is it. It all looks great. The transplants are doing really well and the seeds are sprouting. Since it is about to rain again, I don't even need to water.

Since the squashes are starting to come up, I need to get the row covers on. I also need to get some more tomato cages. We'll go to the store at some point in the next day or so. The back screen door is rotted, so we need a new one.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

My little farm

This week was another busy one. I decided to plant the tomatoes and peppers this week on Thursday. They had been in the cold frame for 4 days and we are now having partly to mostly cloudy weather with rain in between. They look a little pale today, but otherwise just fine. One got broken at the ground level at some point, but the rest look ok. I think they just need some sun right now. We're supposed to get that this afternoon. The only thing left to plant is the beans. I just still need Rich to help with the fence. Maybe I can get Jose to help me.

We went and got some fruit trees yesterday. We got a cherry, peach and 2 apples a corland and yellow delicious. Jose and Jen and going to split the cost and care of the trees as well. We also got 4 more blueberry bushes for a total of 8. Jose is supposed to help me plant the trees this weekend. I'm not holding my breath. Today is just too wet, so it will have to be tomorrow.

I talked to Mom this morning. She is telling me that she never plants tomatoes this early. I think she's losing her mind. The reason that I plant mine this early is because of her. She got out her little notebook where she puts when she plants things. She had recorded for the past 7 years when she planted the rest of the garden, but never recorded when she planted her tomatoes. I'm so glad she isn't working anymore and can keep up with things much better now. My tomatoes are looking good, so I'm not really worried about it.

The zucchini are starting to sprout and the beets seem to be doing the same. We really just need some sun and warmth now.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Into the cold frame

We were supposed to get rain today and tomorrow. However, because there is apparently a front sitting on top of us, it doesn't look like it will. Instead it will be cool and windy and cloudy. I decided to put the tomatoes and peppers into the cold frame to begin their move into the garden. They will be protected from the wind by the cold frame and because it is cloudy the next 2 days they won't get sunburned. Hopefully. This is all still so new.

The rest of the garden is looking ok I guess. A few of the broccoli and cabbage are looking like they won't make it. They seem to be the ones that had 2 plants growing together that I had to pull one out of. I'm going to replant inside and add some cauliflower to the mix. They'll plant out in a few weeks. It should actually end up being a good thing. This way I'll have a staggered harvest. Nothing else is up, but I didn't really expect them to be anyway. It has been cool, so I'm thinking they'll start coming up in a few days when it gets warmer. Today should really be the last of the truly cool days. We should stay in the 60's and 70's from here on out.

Lori gave me some tomato, pepper and eggplant starts. I thought we were trading 2 plants (mine were the Berkely tie dyed) for 2 plants. Instead I got 6 or 7 tomato plants, some unidentified pepper plants and an eggplant. Since I already had too many tomato plants and nobody likes eggplant I gave 2 tomatoes and the eggplant to Nancy. I got farm eggs in exchange! Good deal to me.

We were supposed to get the fruit trees yesterday and finish the fence. Mother's day got in the way though. We had to go to Myrna's and out to eat with the whole clan. It took far longer than we had anticipated and by the time we were done I was a bit overdone. I mowed the lawn to get rid of my nervous energy and frustration instead. If Rich isn't too busy we'll get the rest done on Wed or Thurs. He's just always so busy.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Big Day

Today was the big planting day.

First this morning was potatoes. I got 5 lbs of potatoes out in 7 hills. I dug a whole put the potatoes in and just covered them. They are now in a trench with high sides. As they grow I'll have dirt to pile up on them. We'll see how it goes.

This afternoon I got all the seeds put in. I planted carrots, beets, parsnips, 3 hills of zucchini, 3 hills of butternut, 3 hills of pumpkin, 3 hills of watermelon and 5 hills of cucumbers. The Pooh helped in her own way shoving seeds into hills. Then she went over to a pile of sod and planted some zucchini in her own garden. It will probably do better than mine.

The cabbage and broccoli are doing well and the wild life hasn't found them yet. I think I'll cover them tomorrow anyway. Then again they'll probably get eaten to the ground tonight. The row covers for the squash will go on after they break the ground I think. The spinach is really looking good, but the chard didn't come up, so I planted beets in its place. The lettuce is starting to progress now that it is warming up. The peas are about 4 inches high.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Finally planting out!

I am so happy to have nice weather again. It has been rainy and cold for the last week and I've been itching to get out and plant.

In the ground went 12 broccoli plants, 6 cabbage starts, 3 basil, 6 parsley, 27 onion bulbs. We have to run off to class for the kids, but hopefully more will be planted out this afternoon. The ground is still a bit wet, but it should dry out a bit by this afternoon. My coldframe is empty! Now to get the tomatoes and peppers out of the basement. I think next week I'll start with them in the coldframe and see how we do.

The spinach is doing well and so is the lettuce and peas. The swiss chard doesn't seem to be doing anything though. I think I'll put some beets there instead. Or maybe some more lettuce. I need to put out a few more peas in the area that the little man skipped. Soon we'll be eating fresh from the garden!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Repotting and waiting for better weather

Well after all the gorgeous weather we had in the 70s last week, we have returned to reality. May 1st we had a frost down to 28. It has been cold in the 50s and rainy almost constantly. I had hoped to have enough of a break in the weather today to get the brassicas into the ground. It didn't happen.

Instead I potted up the tomatoes into larger pots 24 of them that is. Then I ran out of peat pots and space. The remaining 10 will have to wait a bit. They are getting a little big for their pots, with roots coming out the bottoms in some cases. However when I potted them up, they were definitely not root bound in any way. We'll see if they can wait another 2 weeks in their current pots. At least until I get the energy to wash out the old pots in the shed and pot them in those. The peppers are still pretty small and will be ok until plantout in their current pots I think. I'm planning to get a 6 pack of pepper plants at the farm to supplement my pepper stock. Other than that, I'm all set.

I went to the farm the other day to drool over the plants. I got some russet potatoes and onions. The potatoes got cut up into seed size and are sitting and crusting up. They will go in the ground with almost everything else on Tuesday or Wednesday when the weather improves. The kids are really excited to help plant the seeds. I just can't wait to have everything in the ground instead of in the basement, living room window and cold frame.

One last thing. The jalapeno plant that I overwintered is blooming and since I put it outside even has fruit forming on it! Jalapenos in May!

Monday, April 28, 2008

It goes on

Well I decided to go and get the manure. It was all spread nicely on the garden. The fence is still not completed due to lack of hubby, but hopefully this week.

The weather has turned yucky again. We're back to more typical New England spring weather today. The temps are in the 50s and it is rainy, raw and yucky out. Wednesday should be rain free, so hopefully Thursday I can get all my cabbage and broccoli starts out. I also want to get seed in the ground. With a quick trip to the farm, I'll get the onion starts and potato starts in as well. It will then just be a quick 2 weeks until plantout for tomatoes and peppers. The blueberry bushes got put in the ground, but I'm still not sure if it is possible to put in the fruit trees that I want. We'll see.

Friday, April 25, 2008

What to do next?

Well here I sit trying to decide what to do next. I turned over the garden and fertilized it with organic fertilizer and compost. It just doesn't seem to be quite good enough though. There is a place not too far away that is selling composted cow manure for $3 a bag. I think 10 bags ought to do it. Then I can turn it all 1 more time and wait patiently for planting time.

We went to Lori and Al's this week hoping to get the blueberry bushes. That was until we realized that they were 20 years old and very difficult to get out of the ground. We nearly broke my shovel trying. Fortunately there was a sale at the garden center down the street and we were able to get 4 really nice bushes for the yard. We also looked at fruit trees and drooled over the varieties available. I would like to cut down 2 nearly dead trees in the back and plant some trees down there. We should be able to get 2 apples and maybe a self pollinating peach down there. It will be a few years until we get a real harvest, but that's ok. At least they'll be there.

Little Man was going to try his first sleepover at Auntie's house. I was feeling quite apprehensive, but allowed it. I headed off to my parent meeting to chat with all my friends. At about 9 I got a call saying he was throwing up. I ran home and beat them here by a few minutes surprisingly. We were up until 3:30 with him very sick. He seemed better to a small degree yesterday, but still not really eating. Daddy let him sleep with me and we slept quite well last night. This morning he woke up looking pretty grey and feeling weak. I got him some water to drink and he and Daddy are sleeping away up there still. The poor kid is sicker than I remember him being before. I'm just hoping to keep him hydrated enough to avoid the trip to the ER for fluids.

Pooh Bear and I have been cleaning and working in the garden. Hopefully we'll get the blueberries in the ground and get the cow manure turned in today. She would also like to make some brownies as well. She loves to be able to stir everything together and then put the sprinkles on top. She is such a great little helper.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Last of the potting

I got the last of the seedlings potted up. This time it was peppers, a few more herbs and some flowers. The tomatoes are really looking great. They are putting on true leaves and getting big and strong. There are also more seedlings coming up in the pots, so I'll have even more seedlings than I previously thought. Since I have more than enough people that will happily take them, its a very good thing.

I went to the LDS cannery with Lauren this weekend. It was quite an experience. We got there and started to place our order when one of the workers approached us. He asked how much we were looking for. A group from Vermont had arrived with a Ryder truck and purchased almost the whole wharehouse. We were able to get what we wanted just barely. We literally got the last of the wheat. The price was 6.25 for 25 lbs and we got 15 bags between us. He said that this would be it for the wheat because anymore wheat would be $44 per bag for the same stuff. Very scary indeed. They won't be carrying it anymore because people can't afford it. I feel that we have enough of the basics for a year now, but this needs to be ongoing. I just ordered mylar bags and oxygen absorbers to put it all away.

We have beautiful weather this week and so the last of the garden ready to go. Noah and I are just finishing school right now and then we'll be out in the dirt!

Lastly is teaching canning. I have had quite a few people ask me to teach them to can. I don't have the space here, but one of the moms has a bigger kitchen. The plan is to wait until the gardens start producing and then teach a bunch at the same time. I hope I remember to teach all the important things. It is really interesting to me that there are so many people that are getting interested in growing and putting up their own food. It is so exciting and wonderful. There is nothing better for our planet and our bodies in my not so humble opinion.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Before the Rain

I realized today that the area of the garden that is not yet prepped is really not an issue right now. The things that needed to be planted were not going over there, so it could wait until the nice weather next week.

So... Noah and I flew through school and headed outside. I was determined to get the cold weather stuff in the ground before the rain started. We went out and turned over the row closest to the front part of the fence and raked it flat. Noah helped me plant the peas along the fence. We used about 150 seeds! I can't wait for all those yummy peas to be up. They are one of our favorite veggies.

In the original section of the garden I planted spinach and swiss chard as well. Noah is all excited to try them. I'm excited that he's excited! He's really embracing the garden this year. He's been helping me to loosen the soil and plant the veggies. He actually thinks its fun, which is the whole point of all this.

Now I can relax a bit and after the rain, I'll finish prepping the rest of the garden. There won't be anymore planting for the next 3 weeks or so anyway, so plenty of time. I hope that by then we'll be seeing the peas, spinach and chard poking their heads up.

One last thing. So far the cold frame is working beautifully. The seedlings have been out there for 2 full days already and are doing really well. It was really sunny on Wed and Thurs, so I threw a sheet over them for part of day so they wouldn't get burnt. Today it is cool and cloudy, so they are fine as is. It is supposed to be cool and rainy the next 4-5 days, so we'll see.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Making Progress

It has been beautiful the last few days. The weather has actually been springlike. This will of course change tomorrow and be cold for the next week, but its nice while it lasts. I've been outside working on the garden as usual. the fence is 3/4 of the way in and the garden is almost ready for planting. I still have about 25 sq ft of sod to remove. The rest of the garden will be turned as it is planted for the most part. I had wanted to finish this week and get the peas in, but I have run out of time.

I finally got the guts to put the broccoli et al in the cold frame and so far so good. Yesterday was the first day and for much of the day I had a sheet over them so that they wouldn't get sunburnt. The same will happen today. I'm a little worried about the next several days because it will be rather chilly. The plus is that they will get more used to being outside without too much sun. It will also not freeze as far as I can tell. This is all a learning curve for me, so we'll see what happens. I just hope not to lose all my babies.

The tomatoes et all in the basement seem to be doing quite well and are growing normally. I think that they'll be about perfect sized in 5-6 weeks. I just wish I could get it a little warmer in the basement. If I had a space upstairs, I'd bring them up.

Today we're going to Myrna's house to pick up some stuff. She is having chest pains, she says and doesn't want to seek treatment. She doesn't want Lori and Stacey to get some stuff, so we have to come and get it before she dies. It all seems rather dramatic, in typical Myrna fashion. The catch is that even though we don't want this stuff and have no place to put it, she doesn't want us to sell it until she dies. We'll see about that. Rich is working an overtime shift tonight and his regular shift tomorrow, so hopefully I'll get some stuff done indoors.

Saturday will be a busy day as well. I'm going to the LDS cannery to stock up on things with Lauren in the morning. I'm really looking forward to it, I can't wait to see what is there and how much I can get. We can't can anything up yet, because they are too busy, but we'll get stocked up in the meantime. After that we have Nick's 5th birthday next door. Then we have to run to a photo shoot. Then it's off to Mom's for a dinner with the family. She says she told me that Heidi would be down, but I don't remember any such thing. At least I don't have to cook that night.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Potting up

Well after being sick all week, I'm finally feeling better. I've also overdone it, but what else is new. I woke up and promptly scrubbed the revolting bathrooms and took a shower. All the bedding and the rest of the laundry went off to the basement to be cleaned as well. I usually wash everything in cold water, but today it all went in hot. All those nasty germs had to be destroyed!

Then it was time to pot up the seedlings in the basement. I'm very happy with how things are doing so far this year. All the broccoli and cabbage got put into individual pots and placed in the window. I have WAY too many broccoli starts, so friends will be growing broccoli as well. The lettuce went into a gallon ice cream pail and in the window as well. The window is officially full. I really need to get up the nerve to put everything out in the cold frame. I'm going to try a few things out there next week when all this rain and cooler weather has gone away.

The tomatoes were next. They did super well for the most part. A few varieties haven't come up yet at all, so we'll see how they do. I already have enough tomato plants, so it doesn't make a whole lot of difference. The peppers are just starting to come up, so they haven't been potted up yet. Thyme and basil are doing well, so they were potted up. The echinacea and hostas were no shows and I just don't have room for them, so off they went to the trash.

When I took it all to the basement, I realized I didn't have enough room under the lights. This is even with the broccoli and cabbage upstairs now. I got out the aluminum foil and tented it around the plants so that the light is reflecting off and causing more light in there. I think it will also keep them warmer. This is fun!

I had to then go to Lowe's for some more peat pots. It was hard to resist buying more seeds. they all look so yummy and fun. The kids decided that we needed new bird feeders and happily each picked one out. It's pouring out today, so we won't be able to get them out for a bit. We're supposed to get a couple days of rain too.

Everytime I go outside, I realize how much needs to be done to get the garden ready to be planted. There is still some sod left to be removed and if Al doesn't come up and till in the next few weeks, I'll be turning it by hand as well. Exercise is good! The fence also needs to be completed soon as well. My goal is to get all of this done by about April 21st or so. We'll see if the weather and everyone I'm depending on work with me on this one.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Eating Out

I love to eat out. It's so nice to have someone else cook and clean for me. All that yummy food brought out to me so nicely.

Then there is the remorse. I have a full(usually over full) tummy. I also have a bill in front of me for an amount that could feed us at home for a week. Pretty pathetic. Why do I keep doing this to myself? Rich is no help. He loves to go out as much as I do. We really have no other vices. We don't drink, smoke, do drugs or anything else. It's just the restaurants. Good grief.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


What a productive morning and its only 9:30 AM. We had a turkey last night so I threw the carcass and any meat still clinging to it into a pot with the requisite carrots, onions, celery, bay leaves and pepper corns. It smells awesome and will be made into open faced turkey sandwiches later today. The remainder of the broth will be canned up later.

They had ham at the fire station this week. Rich asked for the ham bone and brought it home to me. They all thought he was nuts, but I love it! I had the white beans that Loni had given me and so we have free ham and bean soup!

Ham and Bean Soup

2 cups white beans
1 meaty ham bone
1 onion chopped
2 bay leaves
6 peppercorns
water to cover

Soak the beans the night before. The day of drain the beans and throw them in the pot with the remainder of the ingredients. Put enough water in to cover the beans by about 1 inch. Probably about 4 cups. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 2 hours. Pul out bay leaves and pepper corns as best you can. Pull meat off of bone and discard bone. Mash soup slightly with a potato masher. Yummy with crusty bread or corn bread.

Now on to the bread. I've been reading a lot about no knead bread and finally decided to try it. You combine all the ingredients with a spoon and let it sit for 12-18 hours. In the morning you fold it over once or twice and let it rest for 15 minutes. Then make it into a ball and place it on a floured dish towel and cover with another towel. Let it rise for 1-2 hours. Put a dutch oven in the oven and turn it on to 475. When hot turn the dough into the pan and cover it. Bake for 30 minutes then remove cover for 10-15 minutes. It looks awesome and I can't wait to eat it.

I'm also trying an experiment with the celery. I took the root end of the celery and put it in potting soil and put it in the window. I'm told it will grow more celery from the one root. Since we don't use much celery, this could last for quite a while.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Getting things done

It's been a productive morning so far. School with Noah went quite well today. He finished his 1st grade grammar book that he loves and we'll be starting grade 2 on Monday.

Then it was off to the basement. I had to clean off the work bench that Rich had been using since we bought the house 5 years ago. It was a mess and I know he has no idea what is truly there. Everything just went into boxes for now and moved to another section. I needed his workbench for the plants. He had the only area with a bench and electricity. I set up the second grow light and made sure it worked. The plants started the other day haven't started sprouting yet, but seem to be doing ok otherwise. I compacted all the boxes and paraphernalia and put them in the recycling pile. We bought a new set of shelves to go in there when Rich has a chance to help me.

After that Morgan helped me repackage the whole wheat flour, cornmeal and oatmeal that I had gotten in bulk. It made things much neater and safer from bugs etc. Everything got labeled and dated and neatly stored. I'm planning to go to the LDS cannery with Lauren next week, so I need space to put my new stuff. There is so much in the basement and as long as it stays neat and organized, its fine. Unfortunately it has been a big mess lately, so I needed to fix that. I made lots of headway today. The rest will get done when Rich can come and help me.

The next project was more plant starts.

I planted

broccoli 24
cabbage 6
lettuce 12
hostas 6
echinacea 6

These and all things planted will be split with my mom and any extras will go to friends. I'm trying to encourage any and everyone to start a garden this year. Even if they only put in a tomato plant or some herbs, its a start. I feel very strongly that we need to be more active in our food production. Its all well and good to guy local, even better to grow whatever you can for yourself. Food not lawns!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Planting day

In the ongoing effort to do it all, I have planted 72 cells of veggies, herbs and flowers today. I got one of the 72 cell starter kits from Walmart and happily went about planting anything I could. Strangely, I hope it is way too much.

Tomatoes planted
Delicious 12
Berkeley Tie Dyed 6
Zebra 1
Bull's Heart 1
Wisconsin 55 2
Wayahead 2
Yellow Pear 2
Super Marmande 2
Super Beefsteak 1
San Marzano 1

Peppers Planted

Mini Bell 6
Quadrato D'Asti 6
Chili De Comidia 2
Cayenne 3
Hot Cherry Pepper 3
Long Red Slim 2
Pimento 2

Herbs planted
Sage 2
Thyme 4
Basil 4

Flowers planted

Marigold 5
Zinnia 3

I also set up the heat mat under it and set up the first set of grow lights. The grow lights won't get lit for a few days until the seeds sprout, but I wanted to make sure they worked. I need to go downstairs to set up the other set for the same reason. Lowes had peat pots in multiple sizes, so I got small and big 5" pots to transplant into.

The basil Lori gave me and the parsley are growing like crazy. The onions are in the compost heap, because they died. Noah planted 6 egg carton cells with broccoli and they seem to be doing well. There are a few that are starting to poke up through the soil.

Lori and Al are coming up in a week or so to till the garden for me. Then I can get busy planting the peas and any other early things out. Rich is going to have to move the rest of the pavers for me so that I can put the fence posts in. Then whenever Al has a chance he can come and til without us even being here. He's such a handy guy to have around.

I can't wait to see how all the plants come up. Its so exciting!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Frugality, or the lack thereof

I like to talk about being frugal. I like to make plans to be frugal. I like to harrass my poor husband to be frugal. Then I like to go out to eat. Its pretty pathetic.

There is a wonderful list of what we'll be eating this week up on the refrigerator. Somehow, that hasn't happened this week. Rich has been at the station, or out on a job for just about every night this week. I went out with some of the moms from our homeschool group on Tuesday night as well, so I haven't done a whole lot of cooking this week. Last night I had chicken all pulled out ready to make into something fabulous. Somehow that didn't happen and we ended up going out for dinner.

Yes, I feel terrible. We could have used that money to pay off the myriad of bills. Somehow that just didn't happen though. I have no willpower. Tonight we are shooting a wedding so we'll have really dry tasteless chicken for dinner and the kids will be at Grandma and Grandpa's. I promise I will use my culinary talents and cook all next week. I promise.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Starting veggies from seed

This is the first year I'll be starting things from seed. I have already started a few things and learned a few things.

Onions- These were started 3 weeks ago in a plastic bin that formerly housed some of the kids art supplies. I washed it out well and filled it with starter soil. This was then covered with plastic wrap and set in the window. The seeds sprouted a few days later and I was very excited. However, I think I left the plastic on too long. There is now fuzzy white mold on the soil and the onions are dying. Lesson learned is to take off the plastic as soon as they sprout.

Parsley- These were started about a month ago and took a little over a week to sprout. I started them in paper cups and put them in the same from window. All 7 seeds sprouted and they are doing quite well. The problem became that the bottom of the paper cups started to mold. So on Saturday I replanted them all into their own little styrofoam cups and returned them to the window. They seem to be doing quite well. I think there will be a lot of friends with parsley planted in their gardens this year.

I've been anxious to get a cold frame made. The idea of extending the growing season is very exciting to me. There have been some windows that were removed from the kitchen last summer sitting outside waiting to be used. I had talked to quite a few people about helping me to build one, since I have no idea how to build anything. It seemed pretty easy. Just a box with slanted opening and glass on the top on hinges. I even went and got some lumber to do such a thing.

Then I chickened out and called my wonderful new brother in law Al. He's such a sweetie. He's been busily getting their own land ready to start a market garden. My SIL Lori had wanted one as well and so while he made one for her, he made one for me! It is so nice and he used plexiglass instead of the windows. We went and picked it up yesterday from their house. I got to see what they are doing and what they are planning. My goodness is that going to be lots of work! Lori and I swapped some seeds and talked a bit before she had to run off to work. I'm hoping to be able to get down there and help them plant all those wonderful veggies this spring.

We got the fencing for my garden. This year it will be just over 1000 sq ft. Since that is about 5 times the size of last years garden its a big leap for me. My mom actually thinks I'm insane and she's probably right. I would love to be able to grow the years worth of certain veggies for us. There will be various squashes, cabbage, broccoli, beans green and dried, beets, carrots, parsnips and of course tomatoes. I can't wait to try all the new varieties of tomatoes this year. There will also be a number of varieties of peppers both sweet and hot. The plan is to dry theses and use them for chile powders. I also have some garlic planted, but since we use a ton of that, I won't have nearly enough for the whole year. I can't wait to get started. The bulk of the seed starting will happen this week under the grow lights in the basement. It's all so exciting.

Let's start bloggin

I'm hoping to be able to track things here. Recipes will be posted and gardening and the like will be tracked for me to look back at in the future.