Sheet Mulching my zone 1 Permaculture gardens *YouTube video*

So in just the first 1/4 of the book Gaia’s Garden it dives into soil fertility, reviving life in your soil and that you really have to start…for lack of a better phrase…”from the ground up”. And you do that by starting with your soil. Yes you can plant things in crappy soil and then just add fertilizer but why make yourself need to have to buy something that only gives you temporary “fertility” and then you have to redo quarterly or year? If you promote healthy soil life and then take care of it (which is actually less work than you might think) then your soil becomes living soil and it will go through the normal ecological cycles of life all on it’s own and take care of everything you have planted in it.

 

I just cannot say ENOUGH about the huge kudos I give to the author of this book! It has changed how I look at EVERYTHING in relation to gardening. And I have utmost confidence that I will be able to put certain things in place that will make my land here in the “barren desert” very fertile and fruitful! I just know it!

 

Yesterday I started working on the sheet mulching project for 2 beds in my zone 1 garden and I decided to do a video about that. I’ll be wrapping up this project in the next few days and so there will be more videos to come.

 

For now check out this video I put on YouTube of the sheet mulching process, layers and stages.

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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Our chicken coop situation, project & video on YouTube!

When we moved to this property we knew we’d have animals in the future. We also knew there was an existing chicken coop attached to the shop and a detached tack shed but otherwise no other animal “structures” on the property. The coop hadn’t been used in years and the run was pretty demolished by who knows what.

 

So since I’ve spent the first 5-6 mths on this property cleaning up around the 8 acres, fixing up the house and doing minor repairs inside I decided it was time to start on animal projects. I’d love to get my chickens and pigs before we come out of winter just because I want to have them here and give them time to adapt to their new home before we go into summer, as I presume that will be the hardest time of year for them here in southern Arizona.

 

So last week I decided to go ahead and start doing something about this chicken cook situation. Below I’ll show you photos of what it looked like before and also some photos of the work we did on it last week PLUS a video tour I posted on YouTube! The link to that is near the bottom of this post!

 

HERE ARE PICTURES OF WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE WHEN WE MOVED IN AND UP UNTIL JUST RECENTLY.

 

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This is the outside storage area, like a “carport” off the coop.

 

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Inside the coop

 

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Inside the coop

 

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Inside the coop. It has a little shelf over there in the corner and there is power in here to YAY, I can add a light on an automatic timer switch if I need to give them either more light in the winter or put a heat lamp in there. In the summer I’ll have a fan on each size of the breeze way circulating air in there to try to keep them cooler.

 

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Behind the coop, the old run. With a big desert bush in the middle.

 

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I’m not sure what is up with that half way behind the storage area but it looks rough!

 

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That bush.

 

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THEN I GOT TO WORK ON CLEANING UP THE OUTSIDE STORAGE AREA AND FIXING THE COOP DOOR.

 

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Outside storage area as of about 2 weeks ago.

 

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Over the last few months as I have been removing or trimming trees I have been saving certain limbs that I thought would be useful in the coop. I read an article about having some limbs attached to the inside of the coop and that the birds like to “chill” or “play” on them, lol! So that is what some of these are for!

 

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I cleared out all the stuff I had in there and just raked out the whole area. It was just all nasty. I moved these little storage shelves I had in the shop out there as temporary storage. Then once I did that I got to thinking about how that opening faces the south and how this little area gets good sun exposure but not direct all day long. So I got to thinking this might be a good area for a temporary green house type experiment. Or maybe when I start seedlings inside I can bring them to this spot to transition to outdoors before I plant them outside. More research to be done on that though later!

 

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Then the door wouldn’t open more than 1 foot…

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So I started raking all the dirt out of the way blocking the door and quickly realized it wasn’t just that but 1 of the hinges on the door was broken.

 

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I got the hinge repaired, added some support nails and got the dirt all cleared so now she opens 75% of the way and closes perfectly since it’s all level now! Yay!

 

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I put some pots here because I’m just trying to envision really what it’s going to be like. I know there are a few herbs that are really good for chickens and since I’m also studying Permaculture at the same time I have decided there is at least 1 fruit tree that I’m going plant right beside the run so they can eat the fruit when it drops (plums) and then also I’m going to plant blueberry bushes along their fence line for them to eat as well and I can harvest the other side they can’t get to. But to start I’m going to plant some herbs in pots near the door so that those can start growing and I will use those to cut some off and give to them as treats as I walk by all the time.

 

THEN WE GOT TO WORK ON CLEANING UP THE FUTURE RUN A LITTLE BIT.

 

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What you see here is the coop in the middle, a covered storage area on the left, to the left of that is the wood fence to my backyard, on the far right is the outdoor storage area beside the coop that I showed you above and to the right of that is the gate that leads to my house and where I park. I had to tackle removing this big bush since it takes up (what I presume) is all of the OLD run. The new run will be much larger.

 

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Before I started this project I put out a reqeust on Facebook on local farming/homesteading pages asking for advice on how to remove this bush/tree and if anybody knew what kind it was. Since this is the desert and that thing was surviving all by itself just fine without being watered or cared for I knew it had to have deep roots. Which would make it harder to remove.

 

Luckily, within a few minutes I had some very helpful people sharing great info with me! Turns out it is a Greasewood bush also known as a Desertbroom bush. These guys not only are natives to the Sonoran Desert and DO have super deep roots BUT they are also very beneficial! They need no maintenance technically and their leaves have medicinal purposes. So upon researching the type further and confirming it is in fact a Greasewood bush I found that the leaves when crushed and used in numerous ways are anti bacterial, anti viral, relieve muscle aches, help upset stomachs, you name it! I’m all about having “useful” plants on the property so I was very glad to learn all about this guy here on the farm and how really there is no reason for me to get rid of him. The birds will like some shade and might also want to play in some of the lower limbs so I decided to keep it.

 

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Since it has a bunch of smaller limbs I didn’t think my chainsaw would work, I thought I’d have a lot of kickback. So I did first try my jig saw and a hand saw and neither went very well. So I went and got my chainsaw and Riley helped hold the smaller limbs down while I cut so that they weren’t popping back.

 

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We got the majority of the bigger ones along the bottom cut out and pulled away.

 

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Then got to work on the smaller ones around the bottom with the pruning sheers.

 

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So we got a lot cut out but the run was still a mess and the sun was setting.

 

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This is what this guy looks like close to the ground. Lots of big and lil limbs just going all over the place. I’ll have to make sure to prune this every few mths so it doesn’t get all wild again but that’s totally fine by me.

 

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Finally got the whole area raked out of debris, trash, horse poo, etc.

 

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She’s all cleaned up! The biggest thing left to do for the run is build all new fence around it, put in a gate/door, predator proof the bottom with hardware cloth, put netting over the top and add some features inside the run that I want to do like you’ll see below in my Pinterest inspiration photos. So yeah, still a lot to do but cleaning this up motivated me to keep at the project finally!

 

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MY FAVORITE BEFORE AND AFTER WITH THIS PROJECT SO FAR!

 

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I’m still amazed at how it actually looks like a tree from a distance even though it’s just a bush. It is so tall it has to be at least 3-5 years old. And something that has survived that long on it’s own I just couldn’t dare remove.

 

Here is the video on YouTube I just published today talking about this chicken coop project, doing a tour of the inside, introducing my puppies to you all (lol!) and a photo collage at the end of all these photos I just shared on here!

 

JUST SO THAT YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF WHERE I WANT TO GO WITH THIS COOP HERE ARE SOME IDEAS I’VE FOUND ON PINTEREST THAT I’VE SAVED AS MY INSPIRATION PHOTOS!

 

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I want a run built like this but with netting over the top!

 

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I like the idea of having a super cute door like this on the run as a “gate” just because it’s so cute! And I may have an extra door or two I could use for this it is just a matter of making it work. But I do love the pop of color as well!

 

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I’m going to plant some things in the run in boxes like this for the chickens to eat as they grow UP because I just think it’s such an awesome idea! So this will go outside in the run!

 

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I’ve also read that chickens like to “play” on stumps and I have plenty of logs big enough for this so I’ll jam a few in the ground in the run for them to play on.

 

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Not only am I in love with the “fresh eggs” sign and just have to have one but I also love that they have all these potted plants and flowers right outside the chicken coop. I probably won’t do any non edible flowers unless I’m trying to bring bees to the area (there’s an idea….) but I will definitely do herbs and cumfrey right outside the door and also along their fence line.

 

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I love this PVC automatic chicken feeder idea!

 

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I want the chicken coop to be on solar for the minimal things that will be running out there and not really because it needs to be because there is already power to the coop but just as a step to gradually move all structures on the property to solar and all NEW structures will be only on solar.

 

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This is one of the ideas I saw where they use tree limbs in the coop for the chickens. In fact, I hope my coop looks a lot like this one because I’m going to paint it white in there and I also have to do the ceiling and I have enough limbs to do a setup just like this one for my chickens.

 

Well, thank you again for stopping by and checking it out! I hope you enjoyed the post and the video! If you have any suggestions on what I’m working on or what type of dual purpose bird to raise here in the Sonoran Desert that can handle the heat, I’m open to suggestions!

 

Please subscribe to stay up to date on what we’re doing here on our start up homestead! =D

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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Our First Hugelkultur bed

So upon getting this land and quickly diving into research about farming, gardening, farm animals, homesteading, etc I stumbled upon Permaculture. Shortly after that someone on a Facebook homesteading (nationwide) group mentioned a Hugelkultur bed. So then, of course, I had to research Hugelkultur and I was just blown away!!!

 

Hugelkulture is where you dig a small ditch or trench (depending on what size you want) down into your soil and then place old tree logs  down in it. They can be any size, any length, any thickness as long as they fit into the area you dug out. So you can dig an area to fit whatever logs you have and what you’re working with on your land! Which is fantastic! Then you layer on top of that dirt, twigs, more dirt, water each layer and then finally cover with dirt so you have a mound and top that with mulch! The REASON you do this is because (it is totally genius I’m not sure why everybody isn’t doing this with their extra wood laying around their property…if they don’t have or use a wood stove) as the wood begins to rot and decompose under there it is putting nutrients (GOOD nutrients) into all the soil around it. The dampness from you putting water on that layer when you first built it in combination with the dirt and leaves added to it to retain that moisture, aid in that break down process. Also, when you do water that mound in the future, those logs help the entire mound to HOLD ONTO every bit of water you put onto it, as does the mulch. So you’re keeping more water right there where you need it to do what you need it to do without irrigation. And since the bigger logs could take years to break down, you have a setup that takes you maybe an hour tops and it is a self-fertilizing gardening mound for YEARS! Brilliant!

 

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So I knew I’d incorporate this on the homestead somewhere but I didn’t know where. The big site I plan to do the food forest on is going to need a lot of prep work before I can plant anything or even put in hugel beds to sit and break down for me as I’m not sure where I’ll want them yet. So one day raking up some leaves in my small front yard area (fenced in in front of the front deck) I decided I could totally do it in one of these raised beds that goes around the front deck. It is a large deck so there are 3 pretty good sized raised beds.

 

So I got to looking around for supplies because I knew I had wood logs, twigs, mulch, top soil, etc and so I just wanted to make sure I had what I needed. Then I remembered another video I had seen where they talk about using dead, dry leaves as part of the layering and I had those as a few of our trees just started (or finished) shedding the very few pitiful leaves they had, lol! So I got to work!

 

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This is the bed I started out with. Pardon the extension cord running out to Christmas lights, haha! There were some nice little weeds that started growing in there with some recent rains we had. Also the overhang of the porch waters this area pretty abundantly when it rains (until I add a water harvesting system in the future, of course!). So I pulled a lot of these by hand and dug out some of the peskier ones with a shovel. I didn’t worry about getting them all.

 

So I had my trench area dug out.

 

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Then I grabbed cottonwood tree logs I had cut up and set aside for outdoor bonfires but hey…this is way more important than that! =D Put those guys in there. As soon as they were in I watered the area down so those logs would be wet.

 

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Then I covered that with a little bit of dried leaves and debris from the yard, not a ton.

 

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Then I covered that with some of the dirt I had dug out.

 

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Then I covered that with cottonwood twigs and kindling.

 

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Then I covered that with some potting soil because I had some handy and I didn’t think it could hurt. Then I sprayed this down again with water.

 

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I put more top soil on this and then spent some more time digging out additional weeds on each side. And then watered it down again.

 

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Then once I felt the twigs were mostly covered and the ground around it was all good and I had covered it in water then I added my final layer which is mulch. This was the last bag of this stuff I had so I can’t do the other beds until I buy some more supplies, which will hopefully be here soon.

 

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I just finished by cleaning up that concrete area to the left, which is what is just off of my deck with a pergola above. And she was done!!!

 

THE PLAN is for these to sit and develop and let the wood start breaking down. I won’t plant anything in these until spring and I need to do a little more research about what I want to plant right up by the house. I know a Wisteria vine is going up on the pergola but that is a few feet further to the left here that you can’t see and doesn’t have anything to do with this one bed. I’m thinking I’ll do a mix of herbs, maybe a flower or two (something like citronella which will repel the mosquitoes come spring and summer) and then some lettuce type crops that you can frequently harvest from since these are so close to the house.

 

I will water this weekly just to give it a little soaking and help aid in the process as we do not get regular rainfall here. And I’ll probably take weekly pictures just to kind of keep a record and keep an eye on it and how it does.

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

 

If you have any suggestions on what I should plant here in Zone 9 in southern Arizona that would be great to have right off the front deck, also an area all visitors see and walk passed as they walk up to my front door, I’m open to suggestions. Please comment below with ideas and don’t forget to subscribe to the page so you can get a quick email any time I share a new post about our homestead setup adventures! Thanks so much for checking us out!

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DIY twin bed frame FREE!

So a couple of weeks ago I decided Riley needed a new bed frame. Let me clarify, he has one…but it is at my ex’s house still and so when we moved here we just put his two mattresses on the floor and he didn’t care because…he’s a boy…and…he was glad he could go plop down or throw himself on his bed, lol, without having to worry about breaking anything! Ha! Boys! Well it got to bothering me and one day in the backyard taking clothes off the line the pile of old wood 1x4s caught my attention and I GOT AN IDEA!!!!

 

The idea to TRY to make a twin size bed frame totally out of just our mind’s creation was born! I could have looked it up online to get some guidance but I was just pumped to go at it, do it with Riley and us figure it out together along the way through good ol’ fashioned trial and error!

 

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Here we go!

 

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This is a pile of 1x4s we had laying around from a trellis we tore down.

 

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This is a 2×2 post from what used to be part of a porch or something on the back of the house. Now it just hangs out there all alone so I cut that off with the chainsaw to use as the 6 feet or supports.

 

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We did measure the mattresses and stuff to figure out what our final width and length would need to be once assembled, I let Riley do the math while explaining a few things to him and then we cut some pieces down to the size we needed.

 

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I let him do A LOT. Because once we started the project he really got intrigued and had a genuine interest in building something tangible which is probably the first time he’s ever done that. Typically if I need something demolished, he’s my guy. But now, I’m fostering this love of building in him as we both have much to learn and it’s a very good thing!

 

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I must say that he approached this project with this idea that (based on HIS experience in his video games and especially Minecraft) that he can just build and do anything. Even though in real life he lacked a lot of the actual skill and really had zero experience. And I quickly noticed his “Get it done attitude” quickly changed to “What in the world am I doing here” because he realized his ideals of what he thought he knew how to do were not really in line with reality. This was a beautiful thing for me to see as a Mother!!!! I took it as an opportunity not to criticize him on the false security his video games give him but rather to sit and show him how to properly hammer in a nail, ways to hold it, how to hit it in straight, how to fix it if it isn’t straight, etc. Once he realized he didn’t know a thing about it, lol, he was willing to listen to Mama Bear.

 

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A frame is taking shape! AND we lost daylight. This idea was born at like 4 or 5pm and it got dark quick so we put the tools up and headed in and Riley himself (I totally was too) was super excited to work on this again the next day. Anything I can do to encourage him to be self motivated to get outside and especially work on a project (being as he’s home schooled, basically an only child with his younger brother living in Arkansas, we have no neighbor kids nearby and he’s an introvert anyway) then I’m all for it!

 

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So Day 2 we set out and since he had gotten a handle on a lot of the basics on day 1 with just using a hammer and nails and putting stuff together, I did a lot of over-seeing. Proudly, might I add.

 

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Max had to come out and meander around, wondering what we were up to. Once he laid down right in the middle here, lol, until he was in our way. Riley liked having his best buddy around to watch or “help”! 😉

 

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Well now that is kinda lookin’ like a bed frame! =D

 

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We measured our support pieces, nothing here is perfect, let me say that. I made sure that the frame was level, were the right final dimensions and all the feet were level. Beyond that, we left the wood that old peeling blue paint that was on that aged trellis for at least 10 years. We cleaned off each piece and actually came across a few pieces that had termites on it so those got pitched to maybe use later for something else. So these were all cleaned up, dust free (mostly) and bug free but definitely is not perfection, which we’re totally fine with.

 

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He has a navy blue bed skirt somewhere but for life of me I couldn’t find it so temporarily so we could revel in the accomplishment of the completed project, I put this green one I had on there.

 

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Tada!!!! <– As Riley would say! =D It is done! He has this Angry Birds blanket my Mom got him years ago and now that we have our sewing machine I plan to quickly learn how to quilt to make both of my boys awesome bed quilts in their favorites themes. Riley’s will be a Minecraft quilt and I’ve already picked out the inspiration and pattern so hopefully I’ll get that done this winter!

 

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Here is an over view of the final few steps!

 

Riley, is SO happy with the project! Not only did he do probably 80% of the work but we did this in 2 days, just an hour or two each time, he learned a lot, I learned a lot, I immensely enjoyed watching my child’s knowledge and experience grow in a subject I’ve never been afforded the opportunity to teach him until NOW and he has a bed up off the floor.

 

Even though when I first mentioned this idea he wasn’t even sold on having a bed frame because he liked his mattresses on the floor NOW he is convinced. He loves it, our dog Max who sleeps with him loves it, everybody is happy!

 

I kid you not for days when I’d walk into Riley’s room and he’d be laying on his bed watching a video on his phone I’d just look at him and say “Omg, you’re on your bed! How awesome is that thing!” and we both would just beam with pride!!! That is a feeling INSIDE that you can’t replace and you sure can’t buy!!!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

 

If YOU know of any other super, super easy wood working projects my son and I could try together please comment below here on the blog so that we can look into them! Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss a post! <3

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Many uses for old tires!

How many of you have either come across tires, have a pile at your place or  just see them thrown out on the road side or in empty fields in the boonies next to your home? *raises hand* I do!!! I see them all over the desert out here and the reason why is because here we can’t take them to the dump or when there is a place to take them, they CHARGE you to drop them off. But thankfully, due to Pinterest, I came across an abundant re-uses for old tires!!!!! How awesome is that!

 

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Check this out! This first collage is a big gathering of 13-15 of my top favorite tire uses I’ve found on Pinterest. Every single one of these I personally want to do. And when I do, you can bet that I will share each project when they happen!

 

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This is just a few samples of all the different ideas to REUSE old worn out tires in a garden! Whether that be a vegetable garden, a potato tower or just flowers!

 

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This is beautiful! I can see this in many cute areas around my farm! They take the inside of the tire and cut it so they can then fold it out and it create this flowering look! Of course, you then paint the outside of the tire any color you want. I love how they layered short flowers around the edges with tall ones in the center!

 

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Here is another idea to make a w hole flower bed look like an actual flower itself!

 

 

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This is cute! This might be a little girly for my taste but I think any little girl would love to help make this for our special little spot in the flower garden!

 

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This arrangement of tires that almost looks just randomly thrown in something that really speaks to me. It almost looks like tires were painted red, thrown on the ground and nature took over and grew within it. I love the  mix of green plants in the red tires. This may be something I do near my front porch area to add some green and color! Maybe an herb garden off the front porch?

 

 

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There are so many uses for tires OTHER than in the garden. These ideas above are my favorites!

 

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How cute are these tire swings! I want to do at least one of these for sure!

 

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This is a cute remake on a tire swing but they planted some flowers in it instead and I think it’s just plum adorable!

 

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I love the “seats” in the background where they stack two on top of each other, secure them together, make a top out of (I’m assuming) plywood cut into a circle covered in foam and cloth to create an outdoor seat! So this project wouldn’t be totally free but it’s super adorable nonetheless. A good way to throw some random seats around the porch, shop or garden when you or visitors want to just take a minute to sit down.

 

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This is cute as well and if you have an extra piece of glass of find one at a flea market or garage sale or something then you could put together this table in a snap!

 

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This is a personal favorite of mine because it is super cute! In the picture though you’ll see a little sign on the seat portion that says “Do not sit”. I would have to make these secure enough people could sit on them because how do you make seating so adorable and not allow people to sit on it. Maybe I could do 2 tires from the floor up and 1 as the back that way there are 2 forms of support and there ya go!?! This would be cute in a she shed, a tiny house, a gardening shed or in the shop!

 

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Reuse old tires to make a waterer or feeder for animals! I love this!!! I will definitely be doing this for those future pigs of mine!

 

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A dog bed! How adorable! You literally just clean it up, paint it however you want it and stuff a big enough pillow in the bottom of it! Simple!

 

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This one is a little more artsy but super adorable still! They put feet on the bottom and I’m assuming plywood support in the bottom as well as on the top above the padded seat portion. Just another take on the same idea above but with feet, very cute!

 

SO….

 

After I came across all these ADORABLE and amazing ideas and ways to reuse tires I got to thinking and I remembered my dear neighbor telling me that she accumulated some great building materials and items a few years back because she just asked family and friends to bring her anything that they were going to be taking to the dump, that she might be able to use! It would save them money and she would get some useful items for free!

 

THANK YOU, ROSE!

 

The idea was born! I have plenty of room to pile and sort items and a blog I follow recently made a bartering poster that they posted up on a bulletin board at a local small gas station to let others know they were looking for certain materials and eager and willing to barter. Then my idea was born!!!

 

I decided to make a poster (made in PowerPoint turned into a jpeg file so I could share it online easily) and instead of printing and taking it around to places I just got to sharing on a bunch of local Facebook pages and groups I’m on. I put it in every one I could that was no more than an hour away from me, as I assumed most people wouldn’t want to travel or haul anything more than an hour to dump it for free.

 

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Here’s the ad I made! I made sure to be clear on it that not all items would be accepted, did not provide my exact location so people don’t come and randomly dump things on my property (although it’s entirely fenced and locked so they’d have a hard time actually getting in, lol, thank God!) and I just invited people to reach out to me and let me know what they had they’d like to get rid of!

 

AND IT WORKED! Within 30 mins I had people commenting on the numerous posts and one Facebook friend of mine asked me right away if he could bring me an old washer and I said yes! Because I had heard that you can reuse the motor parts out of a washer and you can also use the guts to make fire pits! He was at my house within a couple of hours dropping off my first free items ready to be reused, yay!!!!

 

Then I had a guy ask me if I’d take tires and I said ABSOLUTELY (thinking of all these wonderful ideas) and he said he had 50!!!!!!! I said, “Bring ’em on!” It was the weekend before he had time to get them to me but I’m sure glad he did!

 

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Look at all those tires! We stacked them up nicely, 3-4 tall on each row and, man….50 tires is a lot when you get them all in one place, lol! I’m not overwhelmed by this at all. I have no rush or timeline to do these projects but I’m sure glad I have ample tires to work on all the above mentioned projects! And aside from that, I’ve had other people reach out to me to bring me other items and we’re working on getting a time right for everybody. If I score anything huge and wonderful from this poster in the future I’ll make sure to write about it.

 

This is something you can implement where ever you are as well! You can do the paper flyer in a shop method or you can go viral online and post on craigslist (I did that, too!), share on Facebook groups, tweet about it, share wherever online you can. Just make sure not to put any real personal info on the flyer so that people have to contact you to make it work. And then that way you can quiz them on what they have.

 

Another tip: Don’t say yes to everything. Just because someone has 2 items to get rid of and 1 you could use but the other you can’t, don’t take an item you can’t find a use for. If you don’t KNOW if you can reuse it just research it online. A woman messaged me yesterday and asked me if I’d take OLD asphalt roof tiles and I thought “What in the world would I use that for?” assuming that they were damaged and that’s why they were re-roofing the house. And then I realized I could totally use that on the roof of future animal shelters, even if I had to do 2 layers and maybe do some patch work, that is at least free roofing materials for any future out building! So I told her “Hell yes!” and we’re going to sort that out this week!

 

Side note: Another woman asked me if I’d come take a car from her. It peaked my curiosity so I asked a bunch of questions about the car. Turns out her ex had it, did some work on it, then he left her and left the car and she doesn’t need it and she’s just pissed it is taking up space in her garage. It doesn’t run so she can’t take it anywhere to sell it. I have 3 good local friends who are great mechanics. So after talking to my friends they said they’d take their trailer and go pick it up for me if I ended up getting it and they’d help get it running order while also teaching ME how to do said work (which I’d love!) so I’m working with her to research the VIN and make those arrangements on the car. If I do end up getting a free car out of this flyer….believe you me…I’ll be ecstatic and will definitely do a while post devoted to that!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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Making bed rails out of reclaimed wood!

So here on our little farm we’re all about reusing, up-cycling, no waste, etc. I have this gorgeous wrought iron headboard and foot board I snagged from a local friend about 2 years ago now. At some point in the process of a move the side rails were lost and then this sat in storage for a long time because we had a king sized bed. Upon moving to the farm the only bed I had was an old set of full size mattresses and then this head board and foot board. When we moved in I was able to buy side rails somewhere (I don’t even remember) and so I eagerly put the bed together. To my dismay, (and it was great dismay) the full size mattresses just BARELY fit into the rails and so basically every other time I got in bed the mattress would fall through onto the floor and I’d get super, SUPER irritated.

 

After re-fixing that probably 5 times I gave up and took the bed apart and had the mattresses on the floor for a few months. I mean, I’m not fancy and I have no shame. My mattresses are comfortable and the whole house was really “in transition” AND we rarely have company over so who cares anyway.

 

Then one day a couple of weeks ago I was walking around in the backyard while taking a break from digging in the future garden and came across this pile of 1x4s that we set aside when Riley demo’d part of the backyard pergola and I thought of my bed! It just hit me!!!! How I could cut them down to the size I need and make supports across the bottom part of my bed. My Mom had told me months ago that’s what I needed to do to fix the bed issue but I just kept thinking I needed to go buy 1x4s and since I just have a car and didn’t want to spend the money on it I just put it off.

 

Alas, a new project was born!

 

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With Riley home schooling now I like to take every opportunity I can to teach him anything hands on, useful, homesteading skills, building skills, etc. And honestly about half the time we’re learning something new TOGETHER as I’ve never done it either. It all makes for fun times! Here is Riley using a jig saw for the first time, right after I used it for only the second time ever!

 

We cleaned off the old boards, took nails out and then cut them down to the size needed for my bed frame.

 

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Then we brought them in and laid them across my bed frame put together again and they all fit perfect. I mean, it took us maybe 15 mins total and that includes gathering the jig saw (got from a yard sale for $5 back in the summer) and the saw horses (got for free as a salvage find on an abandoned property) and getting everything ready to measure, cut and go! Super easy project! And totally free, which is my favorite part.

 

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Well…no…maybe my favorite part is having my beautiful little bed all set up again for the first time in a long time! I love how old it looks and it just fits in well with my room decor and my old quilt! Love, love, love!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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How to re-use washer gray water!

So in early November walking around my back yard I noticed some water standing at the back of the house and after some curious poking around I realized it was the gray water draining from the washer to the side of the house and then due to improper setup and slope it was running under the house. Standing water anywhere is a no no, but especially near, under or up against your home!

I didn’t want to call a handyman out to fix it and I got to thinking with all the research I’ve been doing lately about gardening, permaculture and especially desert gardening with minimal or the least amount of water. So I got to doing some research on the uses of gray water…and quickly landed on this idea to redirect the washer gray water INTO the side yard where it is supposed to go but to then dig a trench so that the water will be gravity fed into that side yard in certain areas SO THAT I can have my future rose garden there. Ever since we moved in I wanted this small area to be a rose garden one day and this water drainage “issue” can now be the SOLUTION for that. As Geoff Lawton of Permaculture always says, let the problem be the solution!!! Think about it!!! =D

 

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So I quickly got to work on that. This project took me about 2 half days maybe, all by myself in early November and the only tools I used were a shovel and a rake. After the project was finished to make it look cuter I gathered some bricks and river rock laying around on the farm and “fancied” it up a bit and that’s it. So the project was 100% free, very necessary to not cause damage to the house and will be free water for a future non-edible garden AND…reusing something that would have otherwise gone to “waste” and just been absorbed into the ground elsewhere and non-contained, non-purposeful way! Those are all major bummers!

 

This is a heavy picture post as I took pictures throughout the whole process, as I always do. The visuals are very necessary for me to see my way through a project and to ALSO help me feel more accomplished. I also decided to do some videos of this project strictly to send to my Mom to show her but then I ended up sharing them publicly on You tube and since they help you see the water in action and everything I decided to share them on here as well.

 

VIDEO DISCLOSURE: I am no professional film maker (I know there is a word for that??) and in fact I’d call myself a super newbie to “recording videos” of anything other than family and kids playing! So these are a little shaky and there is no special editing or anything, very cut and dry and less than 1 minute for most of them.

 

Let the fun and pictures begin!!!

 

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As a fun little reminder, this is what that side yard looked like when we moved into the home about 6 mths ago now.

 

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Then this is what it looked like early summer after we cleaned up the weeds and junk. There used to be a chainlink fence there that a tenant’s animals knocked down, I guess.

 

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In early Fall I was poking around outside on a windy day and I thought I’d reuse these trellis’ we took off the front deck and put them up as a “temporary fence” since I had the posts so I just cable tied them up there. No it doesn’t look fancy or even pretty but it serves its purpose for now and when we redo the front fence, I’ll put new fencing up here as well. But free is always nice!

 

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Day 1 of the project!

This is what the area where the washer drain comes out goes to. This is the side of the house, directly under the laundry room and also next to the Ac. You can see there are bricks there I guess someone else had this intention of the water flowing towards our view (towards the camera) and out that way….it does not do that. Lol!

 

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Here is what that area looked like the day I walked over and decided to do this project.

 

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Step 1 for any project for me is always CLEAN UP! I have to start with a clean slate. Some people say that wastes time but I will tell you there is nothing more productive than working on a project with a happy, positive outlook and having a “clean space” is what gives me that outlook. Therefore…I always clean up first.

 

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This is the area just between the house and the fence, where the AC and electric meter live. These are also between myself and the majority of the side yard where those future roses will go. So I knew before starting my first trench would have to come out, around the AC and go between these two guys to then lead out into the main part of the side yard.

 

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I removed one of those bricks that was in the ground there to create an opening and got to digging the trench. I just used a regular rounded edge shovel because it is the only one I have. Thankfully the ground wasn’t too bad on this side of the house, I’m assuming from periodic soakings from the washer. Although you’ll see in the first video below the majority of the washer water does not actually come THIS way, as you’d think it does.

 

So I dug that first trench and then dug it around the AC then straight out into the side yard only maybe 2 inches deep the whole way. I really started was starting my outline and seeing what shape I wanted to have, where I wanted it to go. After doing that I dug 4 channels off of that main trench. And THEN I turned the washer on to drain so I could see what would happen after that little bit of work. This video below shows what happened the 1st time I ran the washer…

Digging a trench from washer drain part 1

Let me just say, at 20 seconds in when that water starts to go into that channel it made me feel like a Mama Bear proud of a kid doing something on their own for the first time. It was like I immediately thought “OMG, this is going to work!!!! How cool!!!”

 

So in this video we learned that with the trench obviously not done and not deep enough, after that water fills up that initial basin it then rises up and runs UNDER the house! Which is then where all the remaining water goes, preventing it from entering new said trench! Progress!

 

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So then I got to work on digging these existing trenches and channels all a little bit deeper and making some parts wider. At this point I just have 1 trench with 4 channels off of it to the left and right.

 

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A little deeper…

 

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Then I shift my focus back on that basic and I dig it deeper and wider as well, to catch more water initially.

 

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Then, thinking of that water running under the house I start shoveling mud from the pile of what I had dug out and start mounding it around the drain. I put it all up against the side of the house and all around, to block water from OVERFLOWING anywhere other than into the new trench!

 

And then I filmed video #2!!!!

Digging a trench for washer drain part 2

 

You see about half way through this video that this is the first time the water in the trench had MADE it around the corner and passed the first channel! It ALSO starts filling the basin and spilling over that brick wall on the front side AND a little bit starts spilling over on the right side going under the wire for the AC unit and back behind there. =( Add to that that once it got about half way down the channel, none of it was really deep enough so then it just started flooding the banks and overflowing. Lol! Learning as we go!

 

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Overflowing the banks because all the channels were too shallow at this point.

 

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Adding more mud around the main basin to keep water in the places I want it, without over flowing.

 

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I dug every trench deeper and as the water would flow through I’d watch curves or corners where it’d slow down so as that would happen I’d be there with my shovel to make certain areas wider or deeper as needed.

 

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At this point I still only have 4 channels off of the main trench. But I had dug them all to 4-5 inches deep, which was as deep as I felt they probably needed to be. So I ran the washer (not videoed) and with the washer draining TWICE with each load, it put out just enough water to fill the trench, all 4 channels and then over flow the very last channel but ONLY after that second drain cycle. So I concluded with a 5th channel, then it should be fine to hold (and trap, to soak into the ground to water nearby flowers) the water from 2 cycles from each load of laundry. I didn’t plan for it to hold more than that as we typically do about 1 load of laundry per day and that’s it, rather than doing a ton all in a day.

 

 

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With water standing in the whole system it made for digging and trenching THAT much easier. Thank God for that with our Arizona hard, clay-like soil…if you can even call it soil!

 

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I put 2 stray bricks on each side of the wiring for the AC unit just to try to keep water away from it and then put up a mud mound on the left side of it as well so that water won’t even go that way. I also put a mud mound on this front side of it where you used to be able to see the bricks in the ground, now you can’t.So it made that berm type thing about an inch taller.

 

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By this time, I added that 5th channel off the end since it was still overflowing at the end after a second drain (2 per load).

 

Digging a trench for washer drain part 3

You can see in the video that channels 3 & 4 weren’t as deep as all the others yet.

You will also see by the time of this video I no longer had issues with escaping water at the start, from the drain or the basin! Yay!!!!

 

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Day 2!!!

 

Time for clean up and small modifications!

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I started working to level all the dirt at this starting point because although you can’t see it, where I’m standing to take these pictures is a small chain-link gate. So once I started this project I decided this gate and this area would need to stay clear for myself or handymen to come access the AC to work on it or when I clean it seasonally. So in the future there may be a cute little mulch or gravel walk way here. So I leveled out that mud that was just all in a pile before I got to raking everything BEAUTIFUL!

 

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With all the trenches perfectly deep enough and 2 drain cycles putting out JUST enough water to fill all channels to the top but no more…the big work was done. So here I just leveled out the mud piles and started raking so that finished look I love so much!

 

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Main trench, channel 1 and part of channel 4.

 

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Channels 2, 3, 4 and part of 5!

 

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This side that butts up against the house I noticed while working the ground slopes down to the house so all that excess mud I had I threw that way and at the end I leveled it out so that it is a flat surface but also berms up a tiny bit at the house so that rain water or anything will flow away from the house, as it should.

 

Digging a trench for washer drain part 4

Video 4 is just a picture, video collage I put together on my phone to try to show some photos of it start to finish. Again, video disclosure, no sound or music or anything fancy. =)

 

A FEW DAYS LATER…

 

Riley man came outside and offered to remove 2 stumps from some old bushes that used to be here. As far back as 3 years, any time I’ve ever been to this property, there were never bushes here. They were always just those stumps. So I think we could resolve that they were 100% dead. And Riley loves destroying things, being a typical 11 year old boy so he got the shovel and went to town.

 

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ABOUT A WEEK LATER…

 

I was doing laundry and decided I’d come out to watch my little system with pride just to see how it was holding up a week or so after finishing and I decided the basin area just had to look a little cuter. So I gathered some bricks and river rocks from around the property and just made it cuter! My goal is to actually fill the trench and drains with sand one day so it looks cuter when it is empty and then of course I’ll plant roses. I recently decided I will be adding hibiscus to this flower bed with my roses and I can’t tell you how excited I am about that!

 

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This is how the channels are holding up about a week later. You can’t really tell I raked which is a bummer but that’s fine, the dogs had to run around and explore what I had done differently of course. Plus after Riley removed the 2 stumps I didn’t rake so that is all disheveled as well but oh well! (You see that little green patch of grass that came up where channel 1 ends and some water pools right there? Nature is a beautiful thing!

 

Digging a trench from washer drain part 5

Video 5 I filmed one morning early after I had started laundry AFTER everything was done and I added the rocks to the basin. You can hear the birds chirping, my dogs eagerly running around for the first time in the morning and my son Riley off in the distance in his chonies (not pictured, of course!) because he came out to see what I was doing, lol!

 

I love how in this video within just like 20 seconds the water is marching down that main trench like it is on a mission and it knows exactly where it is supposed to go. No issues in the way, no confusion, nothing. Just on it goes to fill up the whole system with ease. Bliss. And perfection! Pride swells!

 

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True before and after of the whole thing! =D

 

3 WEEKS AFTER THE PROJECT WAS COMPLETED…

I was outside walking around and I hadn’t done laundry in maybe 2 days so these channels were just dry (which is fine) but I noticed something green. So upon closer examination I found 4-5 spots where little grass is shooting up in the trenches or on the sides! How marvelous is that!!!!

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Since I’ve spend this whole last week currently studying Permaculture like it was my last dying wish or something (seriously, about 45 hours this week of studying and researching) these little green patches of life make me so happy and proud. Because Permaculture teaches that Mother Earth will rebound and heal itself and become lush and wonderful with a few simple techniques. These trenches I dug to redirect washer gray water are a small scale version of exactly what Permaculture is all about. All I did was redirect a wonderful resource like water and although I haven’t planted anything here yet, nature is responding, the dirt is happy, it is moist and it gets ample shade and sun and it is coming to life all on its own! It is just such a wonderful thing for me to see in action! Someday soon…or maybe in the spring, there will be happy roses and hibiscus of 10 colors here!!! And…as expected, I will smile every time I come home and walk passed this garden to get to my front door as I see the beautiful colors and smell those glorious roses!!!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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5 mth update – work done on the homestead!!!

Hey there! Thanks for checking out our blog! This post today is lengthy and full of pictures, my favorite type of blog post! This is our 5 month update on what we have gotten done in our first 5 mths living on this small farm, working to turn it into a one day self-sufficient homestead. I know I had lofty goals and plans when we first moved in but I’ve always been an over-achiever. And honestly, as I have seen how slow many projects end up being when it’s just 1-2 people doing things manually, the old school way, I have come to accept NOW that progress IS very much gradual and I constantly remind myself to celebrate the small accomplishments, rather than ponder on the giant to do list!

 

We currently have a few projects “in progress” but for the sake of this post and the celebration of completion, I’m sharing projects that are done and/or just things we’ve dolled up that I’m proud of!

 

Let’s start at the beginning…of the property!

 

The Gate!

 

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Before…

 

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I just cleaned up some weeds, put up a welcome sign, put up a scare crow and corn stalks for our fall decor, put a metal H on the gate (not pictured) and hung my gun warning sign! =)

 

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The mail box needed some lovin’…real bad! I would love to get a new one, something cute and shabby chic or possibly even make one. But for now, I had to save this one’s appearance with some simple black spray paint and new numbers.

 

The Driveway! Ahhhh, the elusive driveway!

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This project I worked on for probably 5 weeks, on and off, as I had time and the weather permitted. I shared about this big project in 3 posts last month and you can see the first post here and in each post at the end it has the link to the next one in the series. This project was near and dear to my heart…and…curb appeal!

 

 

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Finally giving this little farm a proper “entrance”. Someday, there will be trees lining the driveway, #dreams *sigh*…

 

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Me, in my element, working on that driveway! I am happiest with a tool in hand and being in the outdoors!

 

The Front Fascade

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This poor little girl was overgrown with half dead bamboo, 1/3 of the trees around the house dead, no real driveway and this hideous dead leaning over tree you can see just there on the left that was in front of the fence line of bamboo. Every time I came home the first 2 mths I’d curse under my breath with just how pitiful the place looked. Which was fuel…for all these projects.

 

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Now, I just have 1 dead tree on the right side left to remove that is sadly not salvageable at this point and this whole front appearance will be better. The driveway outline (which is phase 1 of the big overall driveway project) is done, a lot was cleaned up, that tree was removed in the front. In the coming months a friend and his tractor are going to help me remove all that bamboo so that you can see the front of the house and the large deck.

 

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This was a frontal shot of the shop with the two mesquite trees in front of it just prior to our move-in. Before the move-in we did a bunch of yard work cleaning up all those random weeds just so that we could move in.

 

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The goal is for there to be a hammock between those mesquite trees in the future. But so far what we’ve done is create a walk way around that area and the parking area by putting down river rock. We then moved an old rail road tie from the “back 40” to use as an official “parking spot”. The mesquite trees have been trimmed up a little bit but for the most part they are doing great.

 

 

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This is the parking area, just to the left of the house. There are 4 cottonwood trees there as well as 5 pomegranate trees on the other side of the fence over on that right side. This is what they all looked like when we moved in. They were definitely extra pitiful and needed pruning, shaping and much love!

 

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I have trimmed all 4 trees and the 5 pomegranate trees and cleaned up the ground area. We put river rock down here to create a walk way and hopefully that will be a lovely flower bed next spring. After much love I have concluded 2 of those 4 cottonwood trees are beyond saving, they are losing bark all over and have major cracks. So 2 of the trees will be removed this winter. The pomegranate trees, are doing just wonderful!

 

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This is a good shot of the parking area from further back. I moved another rail road tie over to make 2 “parking spots” in front of the mesquite trees.

 

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This was the side yard that greeted you as soon as you got out of the car when we first moved in. I hated it…

 

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We cleaned up the weeds in this area right away upon moving in. Later, when we took all the trellis off of the deck I got the idea to put those up along the broken fence line just to create some separation there. It doesn’t look like a pro but it at least creates a fence for the dogs not running through there all day.

Then just about a week ago I decided to dig these trenches. Behind the AC unit is the out drain for the washer. Since we are on a septic here, the previous owner had put the out drain to just drain into this side yard. I noticed a few weeks ago that it was flooding the area and going under the house, which is no good.

So I dug a pit off of that and then a trench that runs off of that with outer channels. I did this because since we moved in I wanted this area to be a rose garden. So these channels will provide ample gray water (proven reusable on non-edible plants) every 2 days when I do laundry, to water the future roses! Each load of laundry drains twice, the first run fills up all of these channels to about half full. Then about 10 minutes later when it drains again it fills them all perfectly to the top without overflowing any of them! (Once almost done I had to add another channel just because it was overflowing a bit at the end. Now it is perfect!) It will keep the area saturated. Once the flowers go in you probably won’t even be able to see the channels. And I plan on putting some tiny river rock in the bottom of the channels just to make them look cuter, in case you can see them after flower growth.

 

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Here is a good before and after shot of the side yard project! Yay for future roses! And this spot in the east facing side yard has the best view of sunrises so I’ll have to put a little table set or bench out there for enjoying those! Things to come!

 

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Front west side yard…a mess!

 

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After we put in some sweat equity just cleaning it up. This has turned out to be both of our dogs’ favorite spot to chase each other around and run circles because the dirt is so loose here almost like sand. They love it!

 

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The deck before…I didn’t like how closed in it was. It was obstructing all of our pretty desert, mountain and sunset views!

 

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This is what it looks like now! We took all the trellis’ down, hung the flag and just did some general cleaning.

 

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Me, enjoying said deck! =D

 

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The back side of the house. There used to be a deck here that’s why there is a gap from the house to a concrete pad. I think I’ll add a deck back one day or at least pave that whole area so it doesn’t look so odd.

 

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This took about 3 hours of weed eating and raking to get it all cleaned up. Then I just put some chairs out under the mesquite tree.

 

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This is the corner area off of the back door, that door comes out from the kitchen/laundry room.

 

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I cleaned up this area and just setup that corner as a temporary place for trash when we bring it out before we burn it. I just sat up a piece of trellis to keep the dogs out of it and it works for the most part. This winter we need to build a trash bin so that it is animal proof, as they have “broken into” this setup twice now, haha!

 

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A view of the back portion of the backyard. These beams are left over either from an old pergola or an old porch, we’re not sure. Those weeds were ample and relentless. It took me probably 7 or 8 different days throughout the summer in short bursts of 2-3 hours each time working on it to get all these weeds gone and burnt because it was so hot this summer.

 

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We just took down some of the pieces of wood on that structure that were falling off or could risk a head injury, haha! And then that is where we decided to put up the pool this summer!

 

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In our first 5 mths living on the farm I conquered my first plumbing job! It took a lot of research online and I had to go buy tools or supplies 3 different times because I kept getting the wrong size. This is my sink in the master bathroom and we lived in the house a month before I was able to use my bathroom sink!!! That was a happy experience!

 

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After getting the project done and having a mess under there I decided after cleaning it up why not paint it, haha! So I taped up some paper and I painted the bottom silver for a girly twist and then the back and side white just to cover up that old wall paper.

 

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This picture is to commemorate the first tree I ever removed! This tree was obviously dead and was the reason I was so stoked to buy a chainsaw back in July, 2 months after moving into the house. I hated that tree! I mean, who wouldn’t!?!?! It was a wonderful experience and made me feel powerful and accomplished! I took on many trees after this one but she was the first!

 

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Remnants of the tree trimming on those 4 cottonwood trees by the parking area.

 

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Who doesn’t take selfies while they work? Lol!

 

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We lost our first small, frail tree to a Monsoon storm…

 

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Which urged me to remove another dead ugly tree. A large part of the trunk is still there because it shoots off into like 4 and I got tired that day, haha! I will remove the rest of it and maybe I can find something useful to do with it.

 

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After much research I learned how to tell for sure if a tree is dead…

 

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Or if it still has some fight in it so that you can save it! This is one of my cottonwood trees which I trimmed and fertilized as soon as we moved in. Then the green new growth came and now I just have some more trimming to do once I learned a crack in a branch means it is a goner and needs to go. Hopefully in a couple of years you won’t even be able to tell it looked like this at one time.

 

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I have seen positive signs of improvement on most of our trees but this one in the backyard, which I now know is another Cottonwood tree, is taking a little longer. I haven’t babied it as much as I have the ones in the front just because we aren’t in the backyard much after summer but she’s still trying and I’m so glad! (I am currently working on a project with this tree to dig a swale around it and a trench to water it with gray water from the dishwasher. I’ll post more about that when it is done.)

 

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The pomegranate trees before and now! Just gave them a good trimming and now water them regularly. After this “after” picture I dug a swale around the base of those pomegranate trees so now when I water them twice a week I fill up the swale and it allows it to slowly soak in over 10-15 mins rather than wasting water in run off.

 

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We did a lot of busy work, like cleaning up burn piles and stuff!

 

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I setup an official burn pile area to burn out trash and tree debris. Before we were just doing it on the ground and I just wanted to get a spot a little further away from the house and make a permanent place in the wide open. I just used some blocks I had on the property so the project was free and so when I have time I’ll buy some more and do them another layer higher.

 

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We started home schooling!!!!! After much thought and then a TON of research, I finally started home schooling Riley using the Charlotte Mason Method. You can read all about why I decided to home school as a single parent here! And I went into depth on why we chose the Charlotte Mason Method in this post! So far, we are just a few weeks into it and we both love it! I went over both of our thoughts on home schooling after the first few days in this quick post!

 

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I made homemade Febreeze for the first time and it turned out wonderfully! I make it new every month now and it has been fantastic AND free!!! I went over how I made this Febreeze-diy and the two items below in this post.

 

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I also made a homemade sugar face and body scrub and a sugar shave cream! Fun times! Just taking small steps to become more self sufficient and having to buy less.

 

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I gave blood for the first time in my life! I’m not sure why I never did before, but it made me feel useful!

 

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A local friend/farmer donated some lemongrass to us and we had our first experience potting a plant to keep it alive through winter so we can plant it in the ground in the spring. This plant will help naturally repel mosquitoes and we can also use it in cooking if we want! We did this as part of our Gardening “work” for our Charlotte Mason home schooling method and I shared a post about the lemongrass experience here.

 

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I got a few of my first power tools ever!!! <3

 

Let’s go INSIDE!!!

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This was the dining room when we moved in.

 

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This is our dining room now. (One chair is missing because I started working on a painting project with it. I’m going to paint the chairs teal and then the table and the buffet white!)

 

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The living room before.

 

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The living room now! (I am working on plans to get a smaller couch and some chairs because this sectional isn’t even all put together now because it doesn’t all fit. This was great at one point in our lives but now it is just too big for us and the sage green color doesn’t go with the new white/gray/blues scheme I want to do in the main living areas.)

 

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I got my first chainsaw AND had to fix the chain for the first time! It took some time reading the manual and looking up videos on YouTube but I finally figured it out myself! I was very proud of that!

 

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I took Riley to his first concert ever! Rascal Flatts!!

 

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I love these guys! They are my life! <3

 

ANIMALS!

Not farm animals, unfortunately….

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We had a road runner come visit the front porch a few days in a row. I was later told it is a good sign to have these around because they’ll kill a snake in a heart beat. That’s awesome! And…there are lots of videos on YouTube that show they can, haha!

 

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Saw my second snake on the property and this one was a big one (about 4 ft long) and it was being “chased” by a desert squirrel, lol!!!! It was the oddest thing I’d ever seen!

If you want to check out the video I uploaded to Facebook of this odd snake situation you can find it shared publicly on my profile here!

 

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We have lots of cottontail rabbits on our land!

 

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I found this neon green beetle on the front gate one day. I’d never seen one so bright, colorful and glittery before! Lol! I’m still not sure if that’s normal or someone painted him, ha!

 

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In late summer we have our Monsoon season which is our wet time of the year where we get lots of rain, big storms, strong winds, etc. And during that time these Sonoran Toads come out after a rain and they are poisonous to dogs and small children. I came home in the evening MANY times and they were chilling on my side walk from the parking area to the front door. They were HUGE…bigger than my fist, I swear! Ugh!

 

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We got a new stove!

 

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We had several of our first monsoon storms on the property. Flooding isn’t major here ON the property, thank goodness! But we do gets lots of water here in the desert when these storms dump it out in 30 mins! It really doesn’t take too long for the dry land to soak it right up! This photo is our vacant 4 acres on the west side, where there will hopefully one day be cows!!!!! #dreamdreamdream

 

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First storms mean storm damage. Not only did we lose a few weak trees but we also had a part of our back fence in our backyard fall down. =(

 

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We realized with the installation of our new handy, dandy outdoor electronic wireless thermometers that what the weather stations say the temp is is actually WRONG! This gauge IS in the shade, I swear. So in mid August, in the shade, it was 123 degrees. I didn’t get much work done outside between mid July to mid September because of this. I tried but I quickly learned my limits! We now know we will work from now (fall/winter) until NEXT summer to try to get as much outdoor stuff done as possible before the next major heat wave because we won’t be able to do much out there after that. So the goal is to make sure that the animals we get this winter and early spring will be cool enough and have ample water and shade before the summer hits. Same goes for the future garden.

 

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We learned 2 more things!!! 1- you shouldn’t put any grease down your drain (period) but especially when you have a septic tank. So not only do I put leftover grease in a jar to dispose of but I also put vinegar and water down the drain once a month to keep our plumbing lines cleared and “healthier” and I also put vinegar down the dishwasher once a month to keep it running well and not have any build up. And then the second thing I learned is that people with chickens keep the egg shells and crush those and use those to feed to the chickens again in their food and the calcium in it help them. So since my neighbor gives me free chicken eggs, I save all the egg shells for her and take her a bag of those any time I go to get more eggs! What a wonderful thing that is!

 

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Riley is learning to climb trees, lol, like a real country boy! Too bad most of our trees here are too small!

 

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I colored my hair back to my natural color (dark brown) for the first time in 5 years! I am happy with it! Maybe the blonde and red highlights can just signify my 20’s as I’m now 30 and I’m loving this solid dark brown enough that I think I will just stay “all natural”! =)

 

Well…without going over every single little thing, I think that is the most I can share with you for now! I can’t wait to update you come February or March with our successes, trials and learning experiences we figure out this upcoming winter! How fun will that be!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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How to cheaply decorate your dining room!

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When we moved into our 1,000 square foot little house in the country a couple of months ago I knew our dining room would be a multi-function room, which is a very common occurrence in American today. I put off sprucing up the place as I had to sort through a mountain of boxes that had been in storage for a few years. Let me break it down easy peasy! 

 

De-clutter your space

The first place to start with a room you’re unhappy with is to get rid of the items you know you don’t want in the room. Or maybe you have items in there that you need but they’re a big ol’ mess. Take the time to relocate those items out of the room so that they aren’t in your way. For me, this was removing the few boxes I had yet to unpack. I knew they didn’t belong in the dining room so they were just hindering the overall appearance.

 

Clean up EVERYTHING

Once you have your room broken down to just the furniture pieces that are going to stay in it I think the next best step is a great deep cleaning! I clean the walls, clean the windows and window sills (vinegar and water all the way), sweep and mop, dust baseboards, dust all furniture, etc. I do this so that I have a literally “clean slate” to start with and build upon.

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Use a piece of furniture for a different use

This is a great new trend but I’ve been doing it for ages; using furniture pieces for other uses. One of my favorites is to re-purpose an old dresser and use it for numerous other things. I haven’t had a chance to paint this dresser the way I wanted to just yet but I knew I wanted to use it as a dining room buffet because it provides so much storage which is paramount in a tiny house! So I used this to store all of our off season dishes, holiday dishes and small appliances not regularly used. The top is used to put decor items on and sometimes the theme will change up throughout the seasons.

 

Organize items in your room

Bringing the dresser/buffet into the room I made sure to organize the items as I put them in the buffet. I used the top row of drawers to put in small holiday decor items like silverware, napkins, napkin rings, etc. Then I used the middle row of drawers to house the fancy platters and dishes and the bottom drawer for small appliances. Putting these in an organized manner will save me TIME when I go to look for items I need in the future.

 

Bring in some color

In the next few months I’ll be painting the walls in the dining room and I know at that time they will be a very pale gray. But I couldn’t tolerate that temporary sheet over the window anymore. The old curtains I had from previous homes were all in this beige color tone that I just didn’t want in this house so I sold them after we moved in, which left us with no curtains. The heat got to be ridiculous over the summer so I threw a sheet up there, knowing we wouldn’t be having company right away anyway. So when I decided on my future paint colors I knew what accent colors I wanted and that is aqua/teal blue and pops of sunny yellow. So I ordered a double curtain rod on Amazon, ordered these great sheer panels from Amazon because it was the best price around and then picked up these chevron panels at Wal-Mart one evening! It adds much needed color to this area of the home and the curtains are the first thing that get my attention when I walk through the room!

 

Don’t forget window treatments

Some people like blinds, some like open windows, some like curtains that don’t allow in any light. As for us we live in Arizona where in the summer it can literally get up to 120 degrees (or more, truthfully!) and so we do need something to help with heat BUT I am a lover of all things outdoors and I hate feeling closed in. I need to be able to SEE outside, at all times. So I opted to go with the sheers on all the windows in our home (except bathrooms) and then added other panels to them for balance and a pop of color. This works for me because we have abnormally large windows, although not giant, they just aren’t your stand window size. So if I wanted my chevron curtains to be “closed” all the way across, I would have had to buy 3 panels anyway and these came in a pack of 2. If you are of the mind that you feel curtains make no difference one way or another, but you feel your room is bland, that might just be why. Even if I hadn’t wanted the beautiful, elegant or dramatic look of curtains I would have still had blinds on the windows with maybe a roman shade to “dress up” my windows. It totally makes a room feel complete to me, almost like hanging a picture on a bare wall.

 

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Make a flower arrangement

Flower arrangements make a table look beautiful and they’re so easy! I wouldn’t call myself exceptionally creative (although some might) but the day I decided I wanted a fall flower arrangement (because it is my favorite “season” for home decor) I walked into my office where I had recently bought a bunch of orange flowers, yellow flowers and orange leaves from the DOLLAR STORE. I had a random clear vase in a closet somewhere and I used those to put together this arrangement. I honestly don’t know why I even had the orange paper pieces that I put inside the vase but I do know those and the orange bow I got at the dollar store as well. I put those together and it took me a few minutes of tweaking it with my OCD tendencies and I loved it! It got some rave reviews on Facebook as well from my friends! You can do this with any type of flower, any vase, for any occasion!

 

Back to point here which is CHEAP! How to CHEAPLY decorate your dining room! I did use all the furniture I had (dining room table and chairs) but moved in another piece of furniture (the dresser) which I already had in another room that wasn’t useful. But if in your room  you don’t have a dresser but love this idea keep in mind that you can find dressers at yard sales or on Craigslist or even Facebook Buy-Sale-Trade groups ALL the time for $40 or less, and even free on the side of the road. Just put a little sweat equity into them and dress them up a bit.

 

The flower arrangement cost me about $10 in materials with items primarily from the Dollar Store.

 

The 4 curtain panels and curtain rod cost me about $45. Being as they have the biggest visual impact and reward, it was so worth it!

 

So with some cleaning up, organizing, rearranging and $55 in new items I was able to revamp our dull dining room at our new house!

 

Are there any sites you use online to find good online deals on used furniture?

 

I also contemplated making my own curtains with a painter’s drop cloth for MONTHS until I finally gave in and bought the chevron panels.

 

Have you ever made curtain panels by hand? If so, did they turn out or was it a “Pinterest Fail”? Lol!

 

If you like the content of this blog post please considering following my blog and subscribing to new posts by email over on the right side! And if you have a blog that you would like me to check out please just comment with it below and I’d be glad to check it out. In the future be on the look out for more content on home decor, homesteading, home schooling, doing everything as a single parent, etc!

XoXo,

Elizabeth

 

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09-28-15 Phase 3 of driveway “redo”

Here in this post we pick up on Phase 3 of my driveway “redo” project which is explained in the post about Phase 1 here and then you can check out what I got done just before this in Phase 2 here! I spent the majority of the day working on this project because I wasn’t able to start until mid-morning and by then it was already hotter than I had expected. We were blessed with a few mellow days with temps in the low 90s after the rain we had gotten and on THIS day it decided to get back up around 105-110. But I was at a point in the project that I was very eager to continue and pick up on, excited to be reaching a point where it looked near done, at least to the level of done I plan to get it to for now. So I would work and take breaks and then work some more, using up the better part of a day.


I decided to start with the new driveway part that branches off to the right from the main driveway and leads to that double gate to the future pasture. You can see from this picture that those rocks weren’t necessarily in a good place so they had to be moved again. But what you can’t see is just how many weeds there were up by the fence and to the left of it. I wanted to go ahead and get rid of all of those. 

I began by raking all the loose debris and small weeds from that burn pile over to the gate, raking them up towards the new line for the driveway to “clear the path” if you will.



This took awhile but I do actually enjoy work like this because I’m one of those people who enjoys raking, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, etc because it feels like happy work for an OCD person. =) And then the result was pleasing which was what appeared to be an “intentional” path big enough for 2 cars or a large truck or even tractor! Success!


Here is another view from the other side of the debris and junk ALMOST raked away…


Me, happy to be working outside but it was pretty hot!!!


I am a huge fan of before and after’s and even before and now’s because it is a visual reminder or gratification for me of the progress that has been made. It gives me that jolt of contentment that refuels me to push on.


Once I got the rocks placed where I wanted them to remain, I got all the weeds up to the left by the gate removed and the only thing up there now is that bamboo, which will eventually be removed as well. And then I got everything raked out of the way.


This made me happy and was about the most I plan to do with this area for awhile, other than removing the bamboo and adding gravel. We won’t have a need or use for that gate until next year some time so for now this is what I set out to accomplish and from now on I’ll just keep the road way clear of weeds until the gravel goes down.


Here is a good before and now! I say “In Progress” because obviously this area of the project is not finished but it won’t be awhile and that is alright by me! For now!



Once I got the gate area cleaned up on the far side of this photo I just had to do an In Progress photo of this area, too! But the top photo in the collage above is from the other day before I got all those weeds removed.


Here is a great before and now photo collage of the work done just in front of the house, where the driveway splits left and right and where there will soon be visitor parking room by a new front gate (after the bamboo is gone)! I love this photo collage!!!!!! <3


Then I moved over to the driveway. The other day I had gotten the rocks placed and some of the weeds on the left knocked down but not all of them. So after that side gate area was cleaned up I focused my energy on getting all the weeds off this left side so you can see both rows of rocks and it look like an intentional driveway.


Here I had gotten the weeds at the end of the driveway taken care of and just had a few smaller ones up at the front to tend to.


I got ALL the weeds out of the driveway! Except you may notice that small little bush RIGHT there. Haha! I must say, when I was chopping down weeds I saw this little weed/bush of wild flowers that were blooming  beautiful yellow and I just couldn’t! I thought “Maybe it won’t be too much in the way”. So I get all the other weeds down, I put UP my weed eater and TWO extension cords it takes to reach this side of the yard, haha, and then come back out and spend an hour RAKING the entire driveway end to end. I raked from the middle off to each side to clear any other debris, small weeds I had missed and level out the existing minuscule gravel. So then once all that was done I came and stood back here to take my “after” photo, Yay…only to find just how much that little bush really bothered me. Again…OCD much?!?! So…I had already put away all my tools to get rid of it with AND I was tired and hot and felt just annoyed with the idea of getting everything back out, throwing my cords around and all that fuss just to come remove that one plant. Talk about slapping yourself for wishing you had done something the first time around.


When my pants and boots are this dirty and covered in dust, I know I’m getting something done and working with my body and it makes me feel proud, happy, capable, able and content! <3 Who said a single Mom can’t setup a homestead mostly on her own? =)


View of the driveway “done” for now from the south. I still need to remove the debris from that burn pile and, of course, remove that little bush…and then I’ll feel like it’s truly done until I move onto the next phase in a couple of months. And that next phase is gravel, trees and water lines.


View of the driveway BASICALLY done from the north. (That damn bush!) Ahhhhhh! 


People often know me as Elizabeth, the Realtor, single mom, woman who loves her aviators and who has very long, thick curly, wild hair. And the majority of the time when I’m out and about being social or working they’ll see me with my hair down and I’m typically in a long summer dress and sandals. It is my go to outfit, my “make me feel pretty and girly” outfit. But what most people don’t usually see (only a handful have really) is me when I’m the happiest which is when I have no make-up at all on, hair up in a knot, jeans on, boots on, sweating my butt off, calluses on my hands, bottle of water in my back pocket, etc. Being raised in Arkansas you might think I grew up this way but I really didn’t. We lived in city limits the majority of my life until I moved in with my sister when I was 12. At that point we lived in the country. Prior to that I had summer’s with my Dad or his parents and those were the real boonies and times when I spent as much time outside as I could, being a lil country girl playing in the mud, climbing trees, riding four wheelers, hanging out with my boy cousins! But throughout life I have come to find I am happiest outside. Being raised in the Phoenix metro from the age of 15 to 21, some “city” rubbed off on me but when I started hiking the local mountains for exercise, I realized how much I loved it. That grew and fostered a love of the outdoors in Arizona, even though it is insanely hot. But hiking and running outdoors even in the summer, over the years, I came accustomed to the weather we have here. And so this all brings me now to where I am 30 and I’ve been itching the last few years to raise my son in the country so he may have a childhood covered in mud as I did part of mine. And I do think if I never had a reason to dress up ever again and spent every day on this property working on clearing land, growing a garden, tending to animals…I’d be just fine with that! <3 I have finally found what makes me the most happy in my life and that is being far away from other people, tending to everything myself and learning a lot along the way, teaching my son useful skills he needs to know for adult life!



For good measure, I can’t forget the progress photos of the driveway!


And of course, lastly, the final before and now photo of the driveway from the gate to the house! To some it may not look like a whole lot was done but this took me probably a good 20-25 hours total over the course of numerous days to get this work done being as I did 90% of it on my own. Riley helped with the fire and hauling around some rocks and firewood but for the most part I knew he didn’t need to be working outside in 110 degrees weather because he isn’t used to it like I am.

I am excited for the near future when I can share with you the next phase of this project. As of now, there isn’t a planned date for what we’ll do next but it will include; gravel, 6 new trees and running irrigation lines from the well to said new trees. Until then…

XoXo,
Elizabeth
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