Monday, April 25, 2011

30 Day Family Challenge: The Final Update!!!

My Girl enjoying our UH

I'm baaaaacccckkkkk!!!

So last week was the 30 Day Family Challenge, the challenge where we tried to spend nothing (exception only essentials). It BOMBED this week, BOOM!

The excuse? I was admitted to the hospital and was put on bed rest for the remainder of the week. It was a fairly serious situation but my baby and I are doing fine now. So with the worry and constant doctor's visits, we did buy a lot of convenience items and stuff we didn't need. But after not being able to care for my daughter or really have her in the room with me :-(, buying her a mickey mouse doll seemed essential at the time.

The experience? The whole journey is tough but worth it. It seemed to be tougher on non-payday weeks. I dunno why.

The results? We saved a lot of money and its chilling in a savings account with a nice APR. This makes me feel at ease with our finances because for the first time in our marriage we aren't living from paycheck to paycheck. It didn't take more money but thoughtful spending habits. For example, I want Tom's shoes and Jorg wanted green coffee beans for roasting (he roasts his own). Instead of buying them now or waiting until we have the money, we are saving a little money each week. After all, these aren't things we need immediately but things we want that can wait. Common sense, right. But sometimes we need to learn things that are common sense :P

I haven't done many crafty things, or cooking this week. Believe me I was going stir crazy. Especially as my house got messier and messier during the week. I have been reading a very interesting book about including herbs into pretty much everything. So next week, I plan to make croutons, make bread, fudge brownies, shrimp and grits, finish the 5 dresses for my Girl, plant ginger, jalapenos, basil, wildflowers, finish my Boy's nursery, clean my house big time, and make a sign for Jorg!

Jorg is running in our cities 5K race! Its his first one. I'm so excited for him! I know he'll do very well but its important to have fun!

Here's some pictures of this week and last:
Easter egg hunt... more like raid.

12 Eggies!

Was happy to meet the Easter Bunny, but not enough to be alone with him.

Climbed the rock for the first time!

Strawberries have green berries!

My peas are getting bigger... lolz!

Jorg took this picture of the garden for me!

My sweet Sookie! YAWNING!

The first rose of the season!

This plot just exploded to life during my week out! all the flowers are starting!

Pea flower

My Girl running laps around our plots in her cowboys boots.
Anyone know what this plant is???

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Special Guest Poster

Special guest poster today is:  Jorg!

Greetings!  Tami is a bit outta commission and not able to sit at the computer, so she asked me to say a few things about her homesteading.

I gotta say, I love it!  We have radishes growing in the spiral mound, and we save bottles to turn them into greenhouses.  I swear, things grow so fast in them. I've planted the corn and Tami planted strawberries in some rows that I made.  We have pumpkins in the back square, some spices and such in the front square, tomatoes in the pots, and some peas on the fencework.  I love it all, but the best is the Lemon tree!   I hope we get loads of lemons this year.

We live in such a dry area, it makes it hard to grow stuff sometimes, but it looks like most of the stuff we planted will end up growing nicely.  I cant wait!  Homesteading has really brought us together, we spend lots of time in the backyard and doing things with each other.

Tami will be resting up and will be back to posting as soon as she can. 

Posted by: Jorg

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Prayer Flags

"A prayer flag is a colorful panel of rectangular cloth, often found strung along mountain ridges and peaks high in the Himalayas. They are used to bless the surrounding countryside and for other purposes."
I looked up from pulling weeds in my soon to be garden, the sun was beating down, my back was aching, and there was a nice breeze cutting through my backyard. I could only think that some prayer flags wafting in the breeze might ease the heat and the pain in my back. I stewed on the idea for a few days, doing late night research sessions on them and finding some amazing examples. This was my favorite: Mouse House Art.

I cut out some rectangles of cloth from my scraps of fabric and laid them out to be painted on by me and my daughter! Here's some of our flags: 

Our Prayer Flags

We let them dry before sewing them together with some thick thread and tying them between the clotheslines. It was few days before I sewed them together... maybe a week or so :P so they were very dry.

Everyone reach for the Flags!

I had wanted to hang them from the patio to the tree but it wasn't long enough and it also seemed like something I shouldn't do... you know balance on the chair and reach to tie something on the tree... nope. So I tied them between the clotheslines because it needs some color over there. Its a play area it should be colorful and fun. My Girl loves them there too. She kept saying she needed a mickey mouse tool to help her reach them!

I want to hang something in the middle of the line but I haven't figured out what yet... any suggestions? I'll definitely be doing this again!  It was fun to paint them and it was fun to watch them. Plus, It adds a bit of color. But the best part is the positive vibrations its sending to my garden and my community and that carries on all that wind we get.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Skirt to Capris: Overcoming Anti-Pants!

I am getting bigger each day of this pregnancy... anyway, it feels that way. I have 3 pants that fit comfortably and only 1 pair is presentable to wear out of the house. The other 2 pants are basically Pj bottoms. I had more before I was pregnant but LOL they don't fit. So I need more bottoms, especially since I misplaced my two fitting PJ bottoms (been wearing ill fitting bottoms). I have this skirt that though it was awesome at one point. I hate wearing skirts, especially now, but usually as well. I decided this skirt would be my new pants.

The original skirt
I searched the internet for turning a skirt into capris (then pants). My frustrating journey began... nobody makes a skirt into pants. Tons of people turn pants into skirts, which I myself have done also. I was mostly concerned with how to place the crotch of the pants. The rest seemed (seamed... j/k) easy enough. But alas, all the information I found told me:
  1. The crotch would cause massive ballooning on the butt or front
  2. The crotch would be too small
  3. Go buy a pattern and fabric instead of using what you got... cause theres not enough fabric to do this.
  4. (Surprisingly) Anti-pants people, not the people who sue and stuff. But people who hate pants and wear only skirts. I saw that it was a sin to wear pants for a woman. People who expressed hatred of the restrictive pant, instead of the freedom of the lovely skirt. And people who were mortified that someone would butcher a perfectly good skirt to make *shudder* pants.
         I guess its shocking to me because... I LOVE PANTS!!! I'm anti-skirt...

Nothing to do but just do it and hope for the very best.

Its cut on the seams... still time to go back!
I used a seam ripper and painstakingly ripped open both sides of this lovely skirt. It was  a really nice skirt I was murdering, but there was still time to change my mind. I could always just sew the seams back up if I was using a seam ripper. Right?

Guessing on the crotch...

Okay, its all pinned and I try it on. It hurts, duh, and the pins slide out of the fabric... O_o Its okay. Just sew it. Its just a skirt you never ever wear but try on when you forget you hate skirts, right? Right!

WHAT did I do!!! I sewed it. My beautiful skirt, how could I do this I love this skirt, I hate pants! Skirts are so freeing and flowing! WHY? I'll just try it on and... wait a minute... this fit perfectly!!! YAY!!! *insert happy nose in the air snoopy dance* Take THAT SKIRTS!!!

I so didn't take a picture of me in the skirt. A celebration picture!
These pants are very awesome. The waist band works well on my 6 month belly bump and the legs are wide and flows... it still sort looks like a skirt. These are pants, and I know that! YAY! I did it!

Wordless Wednesday: Sookie Sprint

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

1000 Cranes for Japan

Everyone wants to help Japan during this time. Its tragic what's happened and is unfortunately still happening. If you can't give money, fold a crane and take a picture. This company donates 5 dollars for everyone done (up to 1000) but they haven't reached that yet. Its really easy to fold a crane and its a good cause.

Miya Company Facebook Page
Miya Company Homepage
Miya's How to Fold a Crane

30 Day Family Challenge... (Update 3)

We are three weeks in to the challenge and this week went by so quick. We did spend money on fruit, apples and bananas, milk, diapers (I am so curious about cloth diapers but have not met anyone who could make them work), cat food, and a little bit of meat. We were able to put away a nice chunk of change in the savings account! Woo Hoo! We have one more week left in the challenge and I'm honestly excited for it to be over soon. I enjoy saving money and having only like one bag of garbage a week. Yah, one bag. We were a 5 bag family, but with recycling, composting, and just being more mindful about how we use certain items we are down to 1 bag!

I don't want to give up our new family dynamic. We instead of spending money for entertainment, we spend time together. But will be happy when I can finally buy bias tape for My Girl's dresses I haven't been able to finish or to buy some capris for this summer cause its miserable as a pregnant women in 100 degrees! I am gonna try the thrift store for the clothing we need to get. I think my husband, whose quite thrifty by nature, will be way on board for this... he's been working out so he's lost weight and needs some shorts for this summer anyway.

The Urban Homestead is doing well! The things we were trying to get done this week were:

Get shade plot built-plant in it (didn't do this... corn is ready to go into the ground like yesterday)   
The corn is ready to be planted!
     We checked the starters in our bottle green houses are realized, the 16 corn we'd started was  bursting from the containers. Eek! We hadn't expected it to do so well, so quickly. So we had to  scramble to setup this plot.

Get root plot laid-plant in it (didn't do this... strawberries and onions needed to be plotted)             
My Girl working on the Corn
     I have not been at the top of my game. I have had the worst time trying to sleep. So my husband let me sleep in this weekend and he did everything in the backyard: moved the swing set, set up the other pole for the clothesline, started weeding the plot for corn, weeding the existing plot, built the compost pile, and watered everything. It was so sweet and I was quite impressed! My Girl was a great helper too.
Build compost cage (we  decided not to make a cage either. Its just a large pile.)                                                                                        
The Compost pile spot
      We were going to put a 3/4 cage of chicken wire around the pile but the chicken wire can be used else where (dunno where yet) instead of ornamentally here.

Build a compost pile (DONE!)

Our slow compost pile!

Plant the flowers in the Flower bed
The Phoebe and Seamus Memorial Flower Garden

     We lost our two dogs this year. Phoebe we'd had for 10 years, died of old age, and Seamus for 1 1/2 year, the fence broke and yeh. So this is in there memory.

     I still want to add chamomile, hibiscus, more pansies, marigolds, calendula, and jasmine. Obviously, everything that I want to plant in this garden is able to be used in food, tea, or medicine.

Put up the clothesline
The Second pole for the clothesline
     Just need to drill the holes and string up the strings... I was going to use jute cause its what I have... I wonder if that will work.

Pull lots of weeds!
The start of pulling weeds for the corn plot
     Spend 2 hours pulling weeds and then look around and say... where are the fruits of my labors o.O

We got a lot done this week, mostly thanks to my Jorg! This week we plan to:
  1. Plant the start corn in the grow
  2. Build a space for the strawberries and onions
  3. Get rid of the gopher... cats are staying outside until the job is done. oh yeh, theres a gopher back there! UGH!
  4. Finish the clothesline
  5. Start a pepper plot! its small and will be a lot easier than the shaded garden
  6. Weed the area near the clothesline and My Girls Play area
  7. Start weeding the fronts of the plots to the patio
  8. Do something with that scrap wood...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Meatless Monday!

I don't dig a whole lot of foodie blogs. I am an avid A Cozy Kitchen reader. She posts it and I read it. Then I cook it. I forget how I stumbled upon this amazing blog of sweet yummy deliciousness that makes being a vegetarian look completely doable. Unlike when I was in middle school and only ate bean burritos for like 3 months. That soured me on it, a little. But this site solely has been convincing me that it still can be totally yummy! My first thing I made of hers was Salted Caramel Rice Krispie
and they were magnificently delicious. I am forever re-posting her recipes on facebook and getting yelled at for making people hungry. I love red curry and my husband loves fried rice so this is the perfect meal. Coconut Curried Fried Rice is the perfect combination of our loves. Its like our baby in food... and My Girl loves eggies (which it has). Its a delicious meal for everyone. Please make her stuff... its crazy good!

And they called it BUNNY love...

I wanted to keep Easter a really inexpensive holiday. My daughter has more than enough toys and I am trying to get the family excited about a homemade Christmas sort of thing. I decided to make my daughter a cute stuffed bunny rabbit to go in her Easter basket. I have made dolls before but no matter what my intent, my hands always make a very dark and twisty doll. I tried so hard to make it cute and cuddly and not murder-you-in-your-sleep doll. I got the tutorial from Stitch Village, it was a wonderful tutorial! I just like my stitches on the outside... which might add to the franken-bunny look. I still love my bunny!
Village Stitch's Bunny
My Bunny

The last doll I made was about a month ago... 

I had started it two years ago, it was a robot. I hadn't finished it because we had to move and it got packed away and forgotten about. I got my sewing table and finished it to give to my daughter who loves robots! It went horribly wrong. The arms were too narrow so I cut them off and sewed it up... Its truly botched completely. But my daughter found it on my desk and fell in love with "baby robot!" He not scary like my other dolls but he's not right.

My daughter's bedtime and favorite doll- baby robot

A Happy mistake I guess...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The 30 Day family Challenge (Update #2)

Its been 2 weeks of not spending money and by far week 2 was the hardest. We didn't accomplish it this week, we spent about 30 dollars on some fresh food and soap. We could have eaten the assort cans of vegetables, but I'm pregnant and want more protein and citrus fruit. I lame cope out excuse. But we are still doing very well! Nobodies perfect and its not quite how we expected do. We will continue for the remaining 2 weeks.

I have noticed that a couple changes. Besides looking for outside entertainment we have been doing a lot of crafts and working on the urban homestead. Its starting to shape up well. The television is off alot more than it used to be (I am a TV junkie!). Its been off probably all but 2 hours a day.  We also spend more time preparing food as a family. Even when we broke down and bought some chicken, we walked to the grocery store together and picked out the best deals. We are doing more as a family. 

But all this work and family time has exhausted me. 6 months pregnant and I am starting to physically feel it. Its hard to work but I have to push myself. If I miss a day of working in the backyard it'll just make it easier to do it again and again. Today, I filled my plots with heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, and I still need to plant some strawberries and cucumbers in the very soon to be slightly shaded plot and root garden plot.

We have a few goals to do by next week:
  1. Get shade plot built-plant in it
  2. Get root plot laid-plant in it
  3. Build compost cage
  4. Build a compost pile
  5. Plant the flowers in the Flower bed
  6. Put up the clothesline
  7. Pull lots of weeds!
Wish us better luck this week!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Is it Sunday already?

Static Shock Slide!
Or rather the end of Sunday? My Jorg took an extra day off and we have had just the most wonderful past 3 days. My Girl enjoyed all the extra family time too. We went to the park, picked up books at the library on composting, foraged the neighborhood for dandelions and seeds and got a ton of cardboard from the grocery store I used to work at for the compost pile. Truth be told we did have to spend money this weekend but I'll post more about that on Tuesday.

Grandma sent us these wonderful quilts she found at a yardsale! One for My Girl and one of Soon to be My Boy (in July he debuts). They are so beautiful and My Girl went crazy for hers, she demanded to put it on her bed and went to bed without a fuss for the past couple days just because of this quilt!

The Root Spiral has SPROUTED!!! Those are radishes, I have red onion planted in it and like 5 carrots too. Mostly onions and radishes. I was so excited to see it sprout which means my root spiral is successful so far and it looks like the herbal spiral in the future.

We worked on the backyard for a while this weekend with a few goals of building the container garden area that my Mom really wants to grow her tomatoes in. She can grow tomatoes like a pro but thats the only thing she has a super green thumb for lol. It needs about six more pavers and she has the joining patio too. We had a issue with perhaps the hose being pulled through the container garden and knocking the pots over, we solved this by burying a foot board from an old futon on the side of it. We are going to do the same at the other end for a "bed" look, clever eh? (my Jorg's idea).
Building my Mother's container garden and getting our Compost Pile started. We didn't get as far as I idealized but we did get a lot done. The weeds were very thick near the patio. But we read the books we got at the library about composting and got wonderful advice from the facebook homesteading group I'm in, and found a location we wanted. We expect to be turning our pile by next week. We still want to build a 3/4 cage around it. We have started saving vegetable peelings, egg shells, egg cartons, citrus peels, and tea bags.

I also had to replenish my rosemary cleaning spray and made some homemade air freshener. Here's the recipes for them.

Rosemary Cleanser
7 large bushy rosemary braches
1 Qt of water

1. Simmer the 2 in a pot for about an hour.

2. Strain through cheesecloth (I don't have cheesecloth, I use a cloth dish towel. Whatever you can use to make sure the plant bits don't get in with the liquid)

3. Put about a 1/4 tsp of natural dish soap (this makes it cut through grease)

4. Pour into a spray bottle after its cooled.

Lavender Air Freshener Spray
(This recipe I got from a book at the library, 1,001 Old-Time Household Hints: Timeless Bits of Household Wisdom for Today's Home and Garden by the Editors of Yankee Magazine, p53)

5 Tbs lavender flowers
1/2 teaspoon mace (I didn't use this)
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves (I used whole allspice)
1/4 teaspoon saffron (I didn't use this)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I didn't use this)

1. Simmer in a pot with water for 60 minutes

2. Strain.

3. Put in spray bottle.

This is the first time I have made it and I have only used it once or twice but it smells great. Amazing when its simmering!

Chicken Taco with Guacatillo!

I also wanna give you this delicious recipe for Guacatillo! My favorite salsa/sauce(?). I got this recipe from Chef Dopp's Cookbook:

Guacatillo (Tomatillo Avocado Salsa)

5-6 Tomatillos (lime size)
2-3 Avocados
1/2 Onion
1-2 Jalepenos
1-2 bunches Cilantro
1 garlic clove
1 1/2 TBSP Lime juice

Blend and eat!!!