2014 Garden Update

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In spite of the fact that the neighbors chickens and one wayward dog completely leveled 5 trays of seedlings back in April we have managed to put together a garden anyway, albeit much smaller than we planned for this year.  I can’t tell you how happy I am that there are hundreds of blooms spring forth from this tiny backyard garden.  If all those blooms survive and produce fruit, it will definitely be an added bonus to help our little family save and make healthy choices.

The brown, Goodwill special garden bench in the pic above is my favorite seat at the house.  I spend a lot of time sitting and thinking about things on that bench.  It’s by far the most peaceful place in my life.  I don’t know what I’d do if this little patch of land wasn’t a reality for me.

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Check out the tomato and zucchini babies!  I am growing only organic, heirloom variety seeds in my garden.

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In the next month or so we are tilling the ground to make three more garden patches like this one.  So the back yard will be four garden patches of vegetables.  There is an old barn/shed on the back edge of our property and we plan on clearing off the vines and brush that have grown over the structure in the fall when all the green dies away and leaves dry, brown, fibrous stalks so it’s easier to trim.  I’ll be putting in supports all along that structure and planting blackberries, raspberries and blueberries in the spring along that area.

How is your garden growing this year?


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2014 Growing Season Is Here

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And what we have here ladies and gentlemen is jalapeno, bell pepper, eggplant, parsley, and leek seedlings.  I started all these on January 23rd on the advice on the Farmer’s Almanac.  2014′s growing season is here and I couldn’t be happier!  I know I didn’t update with last year’s bucket garden results the way I intended.  But let me show you my plants about July at the beginning of harvesting.

July Bucket Garden

If you turn and face the other direction on my porch you would see my her garden area and the onion/leek spot and rainwater catchment container.  For a first time bucket garden we had a pretty good season.  I learned alot.  And will definitely use that knowledge to my advantage this year and share with you.  Here is one morning’s harvest in early July off four tomato plants.

Tomatoes

I use heirloom seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company.  The tomatoes above are the yellow pear, pearly pink, mini orange, and genovese.  I highly recommend Baker Creek’s selection of seeds.  Every variety I grew was the best tasting I had ever had.  You won’t be disappointed.  and don’t feel like you have waited too late to start.  Last year I started my seeds at the end of February and first of March and I still had more tomatoes and peppers than we could eat.  Plus the plants produced late into the year since it took a while to get cold.  I was still harvest at the end of October and first of November.  I saved seeds from last year’s harvest to plant this year and have $0 out of pocket expense to start my bucket garden this year.

One thing I am doing differently this year is I am using seed trays instead of egg shells for growing my seedlings.  And I’m also using continuous light to help them grow big and strong indoors before transfer.  I didn’t have alot of money for artificial grow lights and stands and all that so here is my cheap solution.

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Yes, that is my stove with the hood light on.  The seedlings are loving that light, warm place.  If I’m cooking I move them to the table out of the way.  Otherwise, this is their home this year.  So here’s to great gardens everyone!

Have you started seeds indoors this year?

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Fresh and Clean from Scratch

Thanks to my sister in law and her BFF, their blog is Recycled Soup, I had a pre-researched and pre-tested recipe to start making my own homemade liquid and dry laundry detergent, fabric softener, stain remover and dishwasher detergent.  I have been looking into doing this for a while through Pinterest and other blogs I follow.  But I just hadn’t actually gotten up the gumption to do it.  Well, I ran out of dishwasher detergent.  It wasn’t on sale anywhere.  And I was being cheap.  So, I thought now is as good a time as any to start making my own.

I followed all their recipes linked to above and learned a few things in the process.

  1. It’s not that hard to make your own.  If I recall correctly, the longest part of the process was waiting for the soap to melt into the water of our soap pot.  The other thing is, to make the powdered laundry detergent you have to grate the soap bar.  That takes a minute and some muscle.
  2. It works!  I washed a blanket I had left at a relatives house that was a smoker.  This blanket was soaked to the core with stale smoke smell.  I put it in the wash with my new homemade liquid laundry detergent and presto-NO SMELL.  The smoke was replaced by a clean, soap scent and the blanket was clean.  As was my next load of white with very dirty socks thanks to the 15 year old.
  3. The best thing I learned, IT’S SO CHEAP!  Here is a breakdown of the cost:
  • borax-$4.09
  • vinegar-$.65
  • citric acid-$4.29
  • fels naptha bar-$1.29
  • washing soda-$3.15
  • baking soda-$.50
  • kosher salt-$2.00
  • one large soap pot-$5.00 at Goodwill

 

Ingredients for liquid laundry detergent

I agree with the Recycled Soup girls in that the dry laundry detergent is a little more cost effective and less time consuming to make since you don’t have to melt the soap.  After I finish using all my liquid detergent I will be making a bucket of the dry with my leftover ingredients.  We made a total of 2 gallons of liquid laundry detergent, one batch of dishwasher detergent, and 2 pints of stain remover.  We spent $22.91 for everything, no coupons were used on ingredients.  You CAN buy some of these products with coupons to make your initial investment cheaper.  We have enough products left to make lots more of everything!

Liquid laundry detergent after adding Borax and washing soda

My cost breakdown boils down to this:  $0.33/batch for 1 pint of stain remover-not sure how long it lasts yet, $0.78/batch for 192 loads of laundry-liquid recipe (0.004 cents per load), and $3.38/batch for 12 loads of dishwashing detergent (0.28 cents per load).  I’m pretty sure I can find a cheaper, online source for the citric acid to make this more cost effective in the future.  But, all in all, I will NEVER go back to store bought laundry products again.  Because even on my BEST coupon deal I have never been able to score free laundry detergent and stain remover.  And as cheap as this is, it’s practically free!

Has anyone else tried making their own homemade products?

Have any recipes or tips to share from your experience?

Shared on the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop.

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Make Money Online: Blogging Version Part 1

If you have ever thought about starting a blog, or are already on the blogging bandwagon, here are some companies  you need to check out.

1.Bzz Agent  is a company that lets bloggers review products and create circles of influence.  I have been sent several free products through them.  You write a review on your blog.  Then you earn points for higher level access.

2.  MyLikes lets you search for social media campaigns and choose the ones you like to post to your Twitter account.  The amount of clicks you have determines what you will earn.  My last three month earnings was over $22.  Not much, but a free tank of gas every once in a while adds up!

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3.  B2B, or Business2Blogger is great at finding review campaigns.  The bonus is, most of the companies there offer the product that is reviewed as a giveaway for your blog.  You just read through a weekly email of campaigns, apply to the ones you are interested in, and wait for responses.  They even have an affiliate program now.

 

4.  Commission Junction is an affiliate marketing company offering hundreds, maybe thousands, of affiliate marketing opportunities with companies across the U.S.

5.  Escalate Media Network is an affiliate marketing company offering opportunities for deal bloggers for pay per click links and other merchant ads.

And last but not least, Swagbucks, Sponsored Tweets and YouData.  If you don’t know about Swagbucks yet, find out!  This is hands down the easiest way to earn $$ online for anyone today.  Simply surf the net as usual and earn Swagbucks to trade in for merchandise, giftcards or PayPal cash!  Sponsored Tweets allows you to earn money with sponsored tweets on your Twitter account.  This is legit and I have earned a decent amount of extra money from this service.  YouData is literally seconds long for pennies. But hey, a penny saved is a penny earned.

Coming up next week:  write from home opportunities and more affiliate offers.

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post. Here’s my disclosure policy.


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Basic Car Maintenance for Moms

The above picture is how I imagine myself with car trouble…  You  know, calm and collected with everything I need at the touch of a button.  Car trouble would be just a hiccup in my morning, another task to delegate and conquer.

On occasion, I have even been the resourceful woman above and changed a tire, jumped a battery, changed a windshield wiper, change a head or tail light and maintain all the fluids in my car.

But let’s face it,  I’m really the girl above who just kind of stares into the car praying for supernatural intervention, machine ESP or some other miraculous event to occur when something goes wrong with my car!!!  No friends into car repair, no extra money for repair bills, and definitely no time for not having a car mean a working car is mandatory, no matter what the cost!

Here, we are going to talk about simple car maintenance tips and strategies you can use to help keep your car in working order, and give you peace of mind on the road.

Are there any resources or suggestions you can offer

to help us maintain our vehicles now to save us problems later?

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