Friday, February 28, 2014


We had a great soaker a few days ago.
Ahhhh, you can just feel the garden's delight.

According to the Farmer's Almanac,
March 1st is when we should start planting above-ground crops, 
so we might be persuaded to put in a few more things.
Want to see what to sow in your area?

Backyard Farming Connection

Tuesday Garden Party

Tuesday Greens - Crafty Garden Mama

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thrifty Thursday-Living Debt Free

 Most folks who are debt-free have to work at it.
But the freedom it offers is well worth it.
There are some practical ideas that
can help you get there too.
This recent news article caught my eye
and I thought it worthy of passing on.
You can find the whole article here.

Whether you’ve resolved to get debt-free in 2014 or you have a long way to go, it’s good to be inspired. Look at people you know who are already living debt-free lives. 
Whether it’s a friend, family member or co-worker, the person you are thinking of probably shares similar qualities with other debt-free people. 
Here are 10 common characteristics you can copy to live within your means.

1. They Pay Attention to Details
You won’t notice that recurring fee on your credit card for the gym you’ve stopped using if you’re not checking your statement regularly. People without debt monitor their personal finances closely. They are less likely to waste money by forgetting about payment due dates or overdraft fees.
 Try looking at your credit card statements every month. Next monitor all of your spending. Now add up your income. Compare the two and see where you could cut back.  
Revisit this a few times a year to stay on track.

2. They Know Their Stuff
Debt-free people do their own research. They might have an accountant, but they don’t send over paperwork or sign their taxes without looking them over. If you want control over your finances, you need to learn about them. It may feel overwhelming, but the sense of security you will feel in understanding what’s happening with your money will outweigh the discomfort.

3. They Pretend They Make Less
Even if you are already deep in debt, you can start to improve your situation by immediately changing the way you look at your money. Imagine you make 10%, 25% or even 50% less than you do.  Make a budget using that math. It may be impossible at first, but start making cuts to your spending.
Debt-free people live on less than they make. 
This allows them to put money aside for buying a house, retirement and an emergency fund. 
This provides a financial independence that allows you more options in the future.

4. They Think Long Term
When the focus isn’t on immediate gratification, you can make smarter decisions. Sure, it would be nice to have this season’s hottest shoes, but how will they help your long-term financial goals? This doesn’t mean you can’t ever buy shoes. It just means you have to save up before you buy them. This also gives you the time to consider if you really even like the shoes and avoid impulse purchases.

5. They Aren’t Afraid to Ask
Ask for help. Ask for lower interest rates. Ask for forgiveness when they make one late payment.  If you know someone who has met a financial milestone you admire (saved $1 million for retirement, bought a car in cash, etc.), don’t be afraid to ask how they did it.
*We have experience with this idea.  Just calling a company
to ask if the late fee can be waved really works if your overall credit is in good standing.

6. They Save
Whether you got a significant bonus or a $25 check from Grandma, you should think first of paying yourself. This is true of your regular paycheck as well. You know you have to pay the rent (or mortgage), so treat your savings account the same way. Make it a habit. 
And better yet, make it a mindless habit by setting up automatic deposit. 
Debt-free people know adding even small amounts now will give you more financial freedom later.

7. They Set Goals
You’ll find it easier to put aside money if you have a strong sense of what it’s going toward. This works for when you are saving up for those shoes, planning a vacation  or thinking about retirement. Debt-free people set specific goals so they know what they are striving for. This helps you stay on track. Think about what sounds appealing about retirement. If it’s travel, imagine the places you will visit. 
Now the goal seems more specific.

8. They Say No
You may get lots of tempting offers throughout the week for lunch with co-workers or dinner with friends. Don’t be afraid to say no. Debt-free people know that saying no to smaller expenses can add up to big savings. This doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun. 
Host a potluck dinner instead of trying out the new, expensive restaurant. 
Meet up with friends in the park for a walk instead of taking an expensive exercise class.
**This is simple to do.  Staying focused on goals makes it easy to avoid "keeping up with the Joneses".
We just don't feel that temptation.

9. They Know the Value of Cash
Debt-free people know the value of a dollar… because they see it! It can be easy to overspend when you are never seeing actual money. Having to part with some cash can remind you the transaction you are making is real. Plus, once that cash is gone, it’s gone. 
Try only using cash for a while and see how it changes your perception of purchasing.

***10. They Value Experiences Over Stuff
Debt-free people aren’t focused on things. They value experiences more than having the latest things. The average person will list family and friends high on what they value.
To become debt-free, you are going to have to shed some of your current bad habits and take on some new, more constructive ones. Use the people who already living debt free as inspiration.
***This is the item that's been easiest for us to follow.
We'd rather make a memory than buy more stuff.
Just say no to commercialism.  
Less to keep track of, less to maintain, less to clean, less to upgrade. 

It's still early enough in the year to make changes.
If you want to get out of debt, or avoid acquiring it,
put conscious effort into your choices.


SchneiderPeeps - Simple Lives Thursdays Link Up

ABFOL One Project at a Time

motivation-monday-6 hosts

Simple Saturdays Blog Hop

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Homesteading Where You Are Series-Failures/Successes/Goals

In our final installment of the 
Homesteading Where You Are Series,
we talk about failures, successes and goals for the future.


I guess I need to excuse myself from the first catagory entirely,
because as far as I'm concerned,
any attempt at becoming more self-sufficient is a step in the right direction,
no matter the outcome.

As Thomas Edison once said,
 “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. 
The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time.”

Any effort toward set goals counts.
The garden doesn't always provide for our table,
but if we were able to enjoy a month's worth of salad greens
or a few months of garlic cloves,
it's worth it.
Recently a liquid laundry recipe was made.
It didn't work as well as I'd hoped,
so I'll be going back to the powdered form.
It's only a failure if I deem it so.
Every experience has value.
Live and learn.

Cooking from scratch is a lifestyle choice.
We wouldn't have it any other way.
Although it was chosen for us initially
due to dietary sensitivities,
we now enjoy eating our own home cooking
as well as making scratch goodies for friends and neighbors.
Homemade comes from the heart.
It just doesn't get any better than that.

Clean eating is a part of the homesteading lifestyle
that we gladly embrace.
We make every effort to know what's in our food,
and use that nourishment to fuel our bodies
so that we can accomplish what's important to us.
It's a way of showing appreciation for all we have, 
including good health, fresh food 
and loved ones with which to share it all.

We currently help to support a couple of local farmers,
one for produce and one for eggs.
Finding community resources for not only food,
but materials, services and volunteer opportunities
is vital to our long-term goal.
We've started right here in suburbia.
Once we are living a more rural life,
we plan to be the source for others,
by selling eggs and donating any extra gifts from the garden
to neighbors or a local charity.

Living in a deed-restricted community has been a great lesson for us.
We know that it doesn't work for us and our goals.
We need to be in a place where we can propagate our dreams, right along with our garden.
We can foster a sense of community
without being in such close proximity to neighbors.
The big goal is to create a homesteading farm for learning.
The hope is that those who visit our teaching farm 
will keep the lessons moving.

Goals are simply dreams with a timeline.
We are working on a two-year plan
to get our farm up and running, 
but that doesn't mean that we can't keep right on dreaming...

"Our life is composed greatly from dreams, from the unconscious, 
and they must be brought into connection with action. 
They must be woven together."
-Anais Nin

It's been a pleasure working on this series with this talented group of gals:

*Jackie, at Born Imaginative, grew up as an avid 4-Her, on a 50 acre hobby farm, with parents who pursued a homesteading life. Now, with a husband and two small children of her own, she is bringing an 1880s farmhouse/30acre farm back to life in Southern Coastal Maine.

*Mary, at Homegrown on the Hill, lives in Southwestern Ohio with her family on a 5 acre homestead. Their goal is to be as self sufficient as possible. In helping with this goal, they raise a big garden and keep chickens, rabbits, and cattle for food.

*Staci, at Life At Cobble Hill Farm, was bitten by the homestead bug in 2006 and although she began her homesteading ventures in a rented condo, is now homesteading on less than an acre in Upstate NY.

*Sue, at The Little Acre that Could, shares her body with an auto-immune disease, and life with her husband. They live in a once-working Victorian farm cottage now bordered by a modern subdivision. She has dreamed of homesteading as long as she can remember and continues to strive toward that goal in rural Atlantic Canada.

Five bloggers, 7 weeks,
Big Ideas!

Homesteading Where You Are-Intro
Homesteading Where You Are-Make
 Homesteading Where You Are-Grow
Homesteading Where You Are-Preserve
Homesteading Where You Are-Save
 Homesteading Where You Are-Raise

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Maple Hill Hop 19

Maple Hill Hop

Welcome back to The Maple Hill Hop.
Here we share what is happening outside our doors,
no matter the season. 

This weekend's mild temps had me starting seeds.
Supplies were gathered and we were underway!

Eggshells have been saved for a week or two,
so that they can be readied to start tiny lettuce seeds.

We're using recycled strawberry containers
as mini greenhouses to keep them covered at night
until they germinate.

 We also use toilet paper and paper towel rolls created this way.

Using empty plant pots to hold the smaller ones
keeps things tidier and makes watering easier.

We've sown two kinds of lettuce, dill, tomatoes
as well as some verbena and passionflower.

dried passionflower vine bud

A few sweet potatoes were harvested from the side of the house.

I'm so glad I found these sweet pansies on the dead rack a couple of weeks ago.
They are adding cheer to the garden as well as in pots in front of the house.
On dreary days, they warm my heart.

bicolor iris

Some dill has gone to seed, which is fine by me.
It's been planted out in the back bed for the caterpillars to enjoy.
We plan to host black swallowtails, monarchs and gulf fritillary cats again this year
and give them away on Craig's List.

star jasmine

Last week, we transplanted a few beets to make more room in the square-foot bed.
A few have made it, but we went ahead and sowed more in the same area.
Carrots were also added as a border, as we explore edible landscaping.

It's only a matter of days until we're munchin' on these sugar snap peas.

They live up to their name!

The square-foot bed is filling out with
beets, carrots, leeks, green beans, eggplant, scallions, lettuce and peas.

The beets have a little while to go, 
but my fork will be ready.
This is the first time we've grown these.

More beet, carrot and lettuce seeds were added to fill in empty spots.

Hopefully, we'll have enough green beans to share with others.
These are the Slenderette variety.

This was an unwelcome sight on the garlic stalks.
They were jarred, and taken down to the pond area in our neighborhood
to find something else to eat.
(No critters were hurt in the making of this post.)

Here's a more welcome visitor.
These anoles eat bugs that might otherwise be pests in the garden.

It's so thrilling to wake up each morning and go out to check on the newbies.
It's empowering to know that we can grow what we eat, at least in part.
Thanks to my farmer friends, Faye and Lynn,
I feel like a confident gardener.
There's always more to learn,
but I'm on my way!

What's going on in your neck of the woods?