Seeds ordered to start “greening the desert”!!!

So I’m beginning my research on Permaculture by reading the book “Gaia’s Garden (home scale guide to permaculture)” and previous to that I was searching the interwebs for information and I did that for a few weeks in the place of the time I’d normally spend watching TV daily. So you could say I have become obsessed with this idea of Permaculture and now I am officially wrapping my mind around so I can figure out exactly where to begin with it on my homestead.

 

So I still have to finish the book BUT after Christmas (the day after actually) I got really motivated and decided to spoil myself and order a few seeds from Amazon. I’ve been researching different places to get seeds, what types, all that jazz. A YouTuber that I follow did a video last year on how to track and organize all the information about your seeds and plants so I’m going to do that. And once I get my spreadsheet done I’ll share some screen shots of that with you guys just to show you how it is working out.

 

But today I want to share with you in my juvenile excitement, what seeds I ordered!!!

 

Trees or bushes!

 

dragon fruit seeds

Dragon fruit seeds!

 

Japanese Flowering Apricot Plum

Japanese flowering apricot plum! Gorgeous!

 

Organic Northern Highbush Blueberry

Organic northern highbush blueberry!

 

Purple Bamboo plants

Purple bamboo! (this is gorgeous AND it will serve as a wind break on the eastern side of the property/food forest)

 

Non-edible plants & vines!

The purpose of these is to add color, life, nitrogen to the soil and also encourage bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and all other insect life to happily move into our area to encourage and promote our new “ecosystem” we’ll be developing here!

 

Butterfly Garden Flower Seeds

A butterfly garden flower seed mix

 

Electric Blue & White HALF MOON LOBELIA Erinus Flower Seeds

Electric blue and white half moon Lobelia

 

Japanese Wisteria Vine

Japanese wisteria vine (this will go on my pergola by the front porch to add much needed shade)

 

 

Low Growing Wildflower Mixture

Low growing wild flower mixture (these will go in the front yard area and also by the well)

 

STAR JASMINE VINE

Star Jasmine Vine (this will go between where I park my car and the front gate to the porch since it puts out such a wonderful smell)

 

TRUE ENGLISH LAVENDER

True English lavender

 

Wildflower Butterfly Hummingbird Mix

Wildflower butterfly hummingbird mix

 

So, I am very excited about all of these! They will be coming in the mail almost at all different times between now and the 2nd week of February. So I’m going to focus on finishing 1-2 books on Permaculture before they all come in so that I can make sure I’m well prepared on how to handle these seeds, germinate them in doors and exactly when to plant them outdoors. Everywhere you read it says “after the last frost” but here in zone 9b in the lower Sonoran Desert we rarely ever get a frost. I think it got down to the low 20s two days last week and that even is rare. So I need to figure out how soon I can plant these things outside so that they can establish before summer heat in July!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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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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What we have done so far to move towards self-sufficiency…

As I write posts and find myself sharing on Facebook homesteading and self sufficiency groups I have people asking me how I wish to be 100% self sufficient and how that isn’t really possible these days. I guess I should explain what I mean by being 100% self sufficient and we can start from there.

 

To me this is what being 100% self sufficient looks like:

All your meat comes from your own animals

All your produce, fruit, berries, herbs and medicinal herbs come from your own gardens

Using solar panels, wind turbines and a well to be “off the grid” of society and also remove those bills

Using rain water, swales, trenches and gray water to be useful on your property for watering to cut down on use from the well

All your food intake comes from somewhere on your farm or possibly bartering with nearby locals doing the same with resources you don’t have yet

Being 100% debt free, maybe aside from a mortgage

Making your own clothes and bedding

Having the skills to hunt for meat, not for sport

Having the skills to survive in the wilderness for a week with just a backpack if you had to

Having the skills and equipment to protect your home and land

Having a way to make your own ammo

Having a general understanding of how electricity, plumbing and building structures all work

Having a GOOD understanding of how to care for your livestock animals for their health and your safety

Using medicinal herbs or homemade essential oils for all medical treatments

Having enough general knowledge AND equipment for most first aid or medical safety skills to not need a hospital other than a life threatening emergency

Making all your cleaning agents and personal hygiene items yourself so that you know there aren’t toxins or heavy metals in them

Using all glass dishware to avoid the hysteria of possible toxins

Knowing how to do laundry the pioneer way for when it is necessary

Knowing how to play at least 1 instrument…(hey, we all need amusement, right?)

Having all the basic tools you need to do any task for the home or on the farm, even if it’s harder work or more physical labor, as long as it gets the job done

Knowing how to take care of any issue in your home yourself without having to call someone for help or hiring something out

 

Now THAT is a long list but I think I about covered it. Now in the ways that we cannot be TOTALLY self sufficient unless I didn’t have to work and we rarely ever left the house…I’d still need to buy gas for the car to go places and general maintenance and upkeep on the car. But I have to say, to be frank, if I never left the house again and we survived financially and healthfully I think I’d be okay with that. Of course, I’d still want to go see family and friends and we’d have to use our transportation to go barter for items. But I do hope to one day have a road side farm stand where I can sell our excess produce in season and also sell my homemade hygiene items for the health conscious people and maybe even sell some quilts. But those things I can do from home. I would still have to have our satellite internet so maybe that is what people say when they say I can’t be all self sufficient. But I will say, I want to do what I want to do for a couple of reasons.

 

The reasons I want to be AS self sufficient as possible are because:

It makes me feel good, strong and capable!

It makes me feel like I’m teaching my son invaluable lessons he can’t learn elsewhere or wouldn’t learn in society

It is very affordable to live if you’re producing all your own stuff

You have less bills when you don’t need all the “extra stuff” like cable, multiple computers, video gaming consoles, etc.

It reminds me of an old way of life that has always intrigued me.

Maybe I was born in the wrong era…

I want to not have to have a day job of any kind and still be able to have our homestead because the few “bills” we have to pay for I can supplement with the items we sell from the homestead.

 

 

So now that I’ve said that I want to share what we’ve been doing and the things I’ve been working to begin our SLOW but steady MIGRATION to one day NEAR self sufficiency homesteading!

 

What we have been working on the last 6 months:

Stopped buying ALL frozen food EXCEPT Riley’s damn chicken nuggets =/ *grunt, roan* (will explain later in another post)

Started stocking up on all “pantry essentials” that thrifty single Mom’s usually don’t keep.

Making homemade cleaning products

Homemade facial products

Not using paper towels or napkins, instead dish towels.

We hang dry all of our laundry

We recycle items

Burn trash instead of using trash service

Redirecting gray water to be useful in gardens

Homemade spider killing spray

Homemade bug repellent

Homemade anti itch spray

Homemade febreeze

Monthly preventative septic treatment instead of hiring a pro once a year

Fixing small plumbing issues ourselves

Bartering with neighbor for fresh chicken eggs

Selling unused items to have additional funds to go back into the homestead

Homeschooling instead of relying on the public system

Find a reuse for everything we possibly can. Thinking twice or 3 times before putting something in the burn pile.

Making homemade dog food

Buying all of our grocery items in bulk at Sam’s club

Prepping homemade meals and freezing them so they’re just as easy as store bought frozen meals

Doing a TON of research on how to make and cook as many homemade things as possible, with the least amount of preservative type items in it.

Stocking up on Mason jars and glass bottles to use and reuse.

Working on getting rid of most of our plastic storage containers due to the potential toxins when heating

Buying organic meat and produce until we have our own to fill our freezer and pantry with.

Finding new uses for old warn out clothes we’d otherwise just donate

Working adamantly to pay off my one car loan so that I have one less debt…and possibly something big to barter with!

Continuing to teach Riley how to shoot a gun and a bow and arrow with efficiency, part of his home schooling “life skills”.

Teaching Riley how to drive so that when we have a tractor or quad he can be my go to man if I need him, even though he’s only 11 (useful farm skill).

NETWORKING with a large variety of people nationwide but also in our backyard to help teach us about raising animals in Az, homesteading do’s and don’ts from people nationwide, joining local bartering groups, etc. All in an effort to get “in the know” with the homesteading thing and hopefully learn from others! Which has already happened tremendously!

 

 

What we are researching to do next:

Doing a TON of research on how to make and cook as many homemade things as possible, with the least amount of preservative type items in it. (This is a huge thing for me and I’ll do a whole other post to go into this and what all I’ve learned that is just plum fascinating!)

Research which seasonings we need to buy and keep in bulk for cooking until we can get the herb garden going.

Currently researching homemade soaps, shampoos and deodorant to get our hygiene products 100% homemade.

I have spent COUNTLESS hours researching the most effective way to garden productively and “with nature” in the low desert with our hot summers, year round cross winds, small predators and late summer monsoon rains. Researching this BEFORE setting it all up to make the first trial run as effective as possible, assuming there will still be some stumbling involved.

Researching how to dig a root cellar since I’m going to need somewhere to store all that canned goodness.

Researching how to grow wheat and what plants and trees I need to grow to one day produce all of our own oils and flowers used in cooking, baking and skin care.

Also researching what types of solar power and wind turbines will be useful and efficient on our specific property and how to set those up.

Researched how to get the house on our private well so that we can be off city water 100% and that project is in the works, easier than I thought. So then we’ll have 1 less utility bill.

 

 

If you have any insight, advice, suggestions or anything at all to share PLEASE DO! Consider me an eager baby bird ready to be fed knowledge from any source I can find it in because that is just about how I live my life 24/7…always learning! Thanks for reading!

 

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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DIY Laundry Stain Remover

Every time I mention homemade laundry stain remover on my Facebook here I get questions and comments and asked for the recipe. So this last time I made it I decided to do a blog post to share with you guys and I’ve also pinned it on my Pinterest board “DIY home products” here. There is ample information for all things homesteading, DIY and self sufficiency on my Pinterest profile so please check it out when you have a chance!

 

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Let’s get down to the recipe!

I first found the recipe on Pinterest on this woman’s blog here so let me give credit where credit is due! The ingredients are simple things that almost anyone has at home.

You need equal parts of:

-Dawn

-Baking soda

-Hydrogen peroxide

 

(Insider tip: In case you didn’t already know 1- Dawn is amazing and 2- Hydrogen peroxide almost always gets out blood!)

 

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So I was originally going to put this in a cute glass bottle and then I realized I really don’t need that much mixed up at one time so I thought this small little bowl with a lid would better do the job, although not as pretty. This little guy holds maybe a cup. In my mixture I did 2 tablespoons of each product so that in the end my final mixture was about 6 tablespoons total. Keep in mind, for a stain you may only need 1 TEASPOON to treat a spot. So make however much you feel your family may need.

 

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I put in my baking soda first, add my hydrogen peroxide and then pour over the dawn. You can see when they start to have a natural reaction or a “bubble party” as I like to call it. These ingredients are happy together AND they also do a good job!!!

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You just mix it all up and you’re good to go, it really is that easy!

 

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Here is a photo of my finished product. This sits on the shelf above my washer in my laundry room and over time you might see the ingredients separate a little bit. All you have to do is give it a little shake then take the lid off to use however much you need.

 

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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05-23-15 Deck lattice removal & yard clean up

I knew we had some things to clean up around the property before we moved in because it had been on the market for about 6 months and the last time I had been there to clean up the weeds had been about 2 months before. On the day we actually were to move in I wanted my only concern to be moving in and unpacking. So Riley and I spent some time at the property before moving day working on some things.


From the first day I set foot on this property a couple of  years ago I hated this lattice on the deck on the front of the house. If you want privacy then I guess it’s a good idea but I like looking out to the yard or the mountains and enjoying the view. So it had to come down! And Riley man is always up for demo work!






We brought our puppies out to the farm to see what they’d think about it. And on this first day that Riley and I spent about 4 hours there, our yellow lab Bella would not sit still. She ran her heart out around that whole property, all over the place and back and forth. Now Max, our pitbull mix, is much lazier! He would follow her and check things out but he’d end up on the porch with us before long.




The lattice is down! Yay!!!




A before and after of the same area! I can’t imagine why anybody would ever put that up.



Riley helping blow the huge tumbleweeds after I raked them up.



Working away!


Side yard clean up done!




Here is a nice before and after of the small yard side! It was BAD before!

XoXo,
Elizabeth
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