Sunday, April 23, 2017

April- the first of the canning season- some strawberries

The strawberries are coming!!!

I'll just be honest- I've been busy lately. Work has been busy, around the homestead has been busy- we've gotten new chicks, new baby bunnies- we've been planting the past few weekends and we have just been busy.

But the strawberries are here. I bought two flats last weekend, and we ate most of them- packing them for lunches, eating them as snacks and all that goodness. Then I frozen only 4 pints for the freezer, and then experimented with dehydrating strawberries and they turned out pretty good. I hope to be able to get some more strawberries soon this season to put up some more frozen berries as well as make some jam. I've kicked off my canning season though here around the homestead. Keep up with my progress at my 2017 Freezer/Canning total page. 

Besides that- our garden is producing just a bit of lettuce mix right now- enough for us to put on our hamburgers we had for lunch but that's about it.

I've got out tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, zuchinni, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbages, beets and carrots.
The beets and carrots honestly aren't doing that well right now and honestly don't grow well around here it seems so we'll see.

How is everyone else doing this season? Have you gotten your plants out? Are you planning for an amazing canning season?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

January- No Clothes Shopping- complete (almost)

So I have written about our financial distress, and how even though we have nice jobs and nice salaries, we also have a lot of debt. A. LOT. We also got caught up in the cycle of spending money on this we didn't need. I slacked on the grocery budget, I slacked on the clothing budget.

January 1 I implemented a NO CLOTHES BUYING MONTH. I actually hope that I can go the whole year without buying myself anything. Not even stuff from the thrift store!!
The kids are a bit different because they are growing. Literally growing like little weeds. So with them I will just try to be extremely frugal with their purchases.

My husband has a super plain wardrobe anyways, and I'm thinking he may need a pair of shoes soon, so he's not going to be in on my little experiment. I do plan on documenting what I actually buy for him though as well.

So even though it's only January 26th so not technically a whole month. But so far this year I have bought NADA. No underwear, no socks, no shoes. Nothing. For some of you that is not a big deal, but for me and my family and me trying to get back into a super frugal habit, it's something. So we'll start with that.

I don't want to be restrictive or have lots of rules. I don't want to wear ugly things that don't fit or aren't comfortable. But what I do want to do is get back into the habit of really examining our purchases. Contentment! Yes I should save money in the mix, but I also want to learn to be content with what we have and not feel the need for more. I want to teach my kids that contentment also.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Content with being me

I didn't ask you to be her. 
I asked you to be you. 

You may remember that this year I chose my 2017 word to be "Contentment". You can read about that here

I found the quote above scrolling through instagram and thought. Whoa. I work in the world with women. I go to church with some amazing women. My children's friends have some amazing mothers. It's easy sometimes to get carried away with comparing ourselves to others. She's taller, she's thinner, she's smarter, she has a better this or that or seems closer to her kids or husband or this or that. It's easy to do that. SO EASY!

But God didn't ask me to be like her ( and of course her could be lots of people here). He wants me to be the best ME I can be. He's given me my family, my job, my body, my home. Yes it's important to try to keep ourselves healthy which may result in a fitter body, and we need to keep our home nice. But we have to stop comparing ourselves to other mothers, to other women. I've really trying to be content in the life God has chosen for me. A beautiful family, a beautiful love with my husband. We all have issues, but I chose to be content with the greatness God has prepared for me!

Do you guys ever struggle with this? What are some solutions? 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A few ways I save money on groceries

I've talked a bit about the need for our family to be better with our money. There are a few shopping apps that I use in order to maximize the things that I buy. Two things to remember though before I share these apps:

1) Don't buy junk just because you get cash back. There are offers for many items on these apps that I don't buy. Be careful not to buy the sugar sweetened beverage that you normally never buy, just because it's a good deal. On the same spectrum there are always great produce deals on these sites. This week for example on Savingstar you get %20 cash back on bananas.

2) Don't buy something just because there is a cash back coupon for it. Many people may get into the same trouble with normal coupons, just because you can get a bit back for it, doesn't mean it was on your list. Make a list, plan your meals THEN check the following apps to see what you may get cash back for.

Now the apps I use MOST:

Checkout 51
Checkout 51. Click above to look into it. I like this one because they always have a "pick your own" type of produce offer. The likelihood that I bought something on the list is always high. This week it is .25 cents back for either oranges, raspberries, grapefruit or bell peppers. I bought a big fat red bell pepper for .49 cents and then got .25 cents back for it. There are other things also such as popcorn, coffee creamer, Heinz mustard etc. Normally there is at least $2-$3 a week of stuff on this app. Again, these are things I normally would buy anyways. So once you hit $25 you request a check and boom a week or so later it is in your mailbox. I cashed out 2 times last year, each time was effortless and that money went straight to debt.

SavingStar, Inc. Save on groceries with no clipping and no printing today
Savingstar always has some neat Buy X of Whatever and get X amount back. For example there currently is a buy $10 of Bush's Beans and get $3 back. I had some $1 off coupons for Bush's Beans, I bought 10 cans when they were on sale for $1 and got back $3. So 10 Free cans of beans for my pantry plus $3. They also have freebies every so often so buy for example a box of jiffy cornbread mix and get the price back in your app. You can cash out for paypal, starbucks gift card or bank deposit. I normally do the paypal, then transfer it to my savings account or whichever debt we are working on.

The last one is Ibotta. 
Here you search by the store you are shopping at and it gives you the items you can purchase. There are some called "any brand" for things like a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread. They don't care the brand, which is nice because I buy a lot of generics. They have bonuses often also for things like redeem 5 offers get $5 extra dollars or something. This really is a great one to use. You can cash out for paypal or e-gift cards. I had $50 worth of Target gift cards I got from here that I used to purchase some extra baking supplies and gifts for Christmas.

All of these can be found in your app store on your phone. They are all free to download. You normally either have to scan the bar code of the item you purchased or take a picture of the receipt, or sometimes both. The apps are all super easy to use and tell you what to do.

There are some others one I use that I'll try to write about soon. Any apps that you guys MUST MUST use you would like to share with me for grocery savings?

Happy Homesteading!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Here we come a caroling....

Ever since I can recall, our church has gone Christmas caroling a few days before Christmas. Last night was our annual excursion. The last few years have been especially fun because my own children are old enough to kind of realize the importance of serving others in our communities.

We visit a few church members that may be older, or in bad health, and those that have lost a spouse and may be lonely.

It's such a rewarding experience to see them smile ( and in many cases cry!) with tears of joy. We normally give some small little token gift, some home made cookies, some fruit, some home made jam then sing 3-4 songs. Last night we sang.

Joy to the World
Away in a Manager
Silent Night
We Wish you a Merry Christmas

One house we went to were the couple are both in their late 90's, both the husband and wife cried, then the lady gave all the kids suckers.

It's not too late to go this year! Just bundle up a few of your kids and friends and visit a few homes of families that may need a bit of extra Christmas Cheer this year.

Something free, easy and so rewarding we can do this Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Word of the year? 2017 is coming

I'm sure we are all still excitedly getting ready for Christmas- and rightfully so! What a beautiful and serene time of year. However I wanted to share something I've been doing the last few years. I'm not sure if I came up with it myself, or if I read it on a blog or in a book somewhere, but I've picked out a "word of the year".

In 2015 I chose the word " thankful".  I tried my hardest to really teach thankfulness to my kids and to show them what it meant to be thankful. I took special time each day to give thanks to my Lord for his abundance and his blessings. I really tried hard to embody the word. Every time we had a testimony at church, I felt lead to share my thankfulness. Overall, it was just a good year of spiritual growth. But of course when January 1, 2016 came around, I didn't stop being thankful. Just the contrary, I became aware of what a year of super thankfulness did for me and my family and I've tried to continue it.

In 2016 the word I chose was "prayer". I had always prayed. We always prayed before meals and such. But this past year I really made an effort to get more involved with my prayer life. I read the book ( and watched the movie) The War Room- which really encouraged me. I have been studying prayer more in my Bible readings and have been trying to elevate my prayer life. I have had some personal victories in my prayer life and feel myself drawing closer to the Lord. I feel like this extra commitment has just given me incentive to really make more time for prayer.

So here we are almost to 2017. I've been searching for my word for the year. Of course I still hope to keep up with my thankfulness and my prayer life, but my new word for 2017 is.....


I hope to really get in the frame of heart to be super content. I want to study the word, pray for contentment, be thankful for what I have and learn to appreciate all the little things that are truly amazing.

Anyone else want to throw in a word for the year? Anyone been thinking about what your word could be for 2017? I'd love to hear about it?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Teaching Giving at Christmas

I strongly believe that giving is something that can be encouraged and taught at a young age to foster a giving spirit when older. You may recall that my husband and I are trying to pay off our debt and really focus on family, fun and memories. Even though we are paring back our Christmas overall ( as far as gifts, wow did we buy the kids too much!), there is one tradition we love keeping.

We give goats. Or chickens. Or geese- to people in need through 

We've been giving to this organization for a while ( 15 years maybe?) and when my oldest daughter started Kindergarten, she wanted to give a goose in her teacher's name for Christmas. Talk about making this momma proud.

To backup just a bit, according to the website Heifer's mission is to:
We empower families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity – but our approach is more than just giving them a handout. Heifer links communities and helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. Our animals provide partners with both food and reliable income, as agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey can be traded or sold at market.
When many families gain this new sustainable income, it brings new opportunities for building schools, creating agricultural cooperatives, forming community savings and funding small businesses.
I love that Heifer promotes "passing the gift" meaning that when a family accepts a gift, they are trained on how to care or manage that gift, then are expected to give the knowledge to others around them. They have projects all over the world, even right here in the United States. They help provide everything from actual heifers.... to ducks, geese, goats, sheep, rabbits, vegetable gardens, bee hives and more. It's a great way for us to teach our kids about sustainability as well. 
Once you donate, you can order free "honor cards" in a variety of beautiful prints, to give to whomever you are honoring. 
This year both of our older daughters decided to get this: USE THEIR OWN MONEY to purchase a gift for their teachers. One "bought" a flock of geese, the other a flock of ducks. I also purchased a gift of a gardening project in honor of my boss who has been extra amazing this year. 
We love to give at the holidays, I think this is an amazing way to share our blessings with those that can benefit from it. It's not a handout, anyone that has hand milked a cow twice a day, or made goat's milk cheese, know that these families work hard, but just giving the initial gift of an animal can make such a difference in their world. 
Happy Homesteading Y'all!