I have been absent…

….shame on me! haha! I have only been so absent from the blog because I have been heavily sharing our journey on YouTube! I found some comfort in sharing in a video format and felt a lot of things were easier to convey with that method. However, I have always been a writer at heart and so in the very near future I hope to incorporate regular blog writing into part of what we’re doing to share our journey, spread joy, help others, share our trails and errors, etc.

 

In the meantime, if you would like to check out what has been going on on our YouTube channel here!

 

Also, if you haven’t checked out our Facebook homesteading page yet please do so as I frequently share useful articles, tips and information there from other sources than just my own experiences AND I share photos of the garden and changes around the homestead DAILY! You can find our Facebook page here!

 

As always, thank you for checking us out, sharing our journey and always providing so much information and feedback to help me learn and grow!

 

Xoxo,

Elizabeth

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Let’s take a walkabout my zone 1 garden in the future food forest! *YouTube video*

On the day everything was wet here a few days ago and I did the tour of the future food forest I decided to tour what I call Zone 1. I am only about 1/3 of the way through the book Gaia’s Gardens about home scale permaculture BUT I am learning so much. I had never thought to include my front yard in the design, doh! I had thought I’d have grass and a rose garden and just pretty flowers and that’s it. Talk about feeling like a ditz!

 

So, I have dubbed this my zone 1 garden in the front yard and back yard that all already is fenced in on it’s own on the 8 acres overall and the front yard already has a lot of mature trees for shade to create that “canopy” affect that you really want in a mature food forest, or really that you NEED!

 

So now I’ve got plans in my head, I’ve drawn them out and I’ve talked about them on our Facebook page a lot so today in this video on YouTube I do a walkabout showing you this area in “real time video” and where I plan to put things! There are so many details I do not have planned out but rather just have the frame work figured out thus far!

 

If you have any ideas or suggestions I’d love to hear them!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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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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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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Homestead Video Tour at Little Farm Big Dreams 6 mths in!

Hey everybody! I put together a quick post strictly to share with you my first video tour of our start up homestead in southern Arizona! I wanted to show everybody what it is now as I’ve become utterly fascinated with homesteaders on YouTube sharing not only their farms and many helpful tips but their LIVES with the world. And maybe one day I’ll have so much going on here that I can do a video or two a week but for now I thought I’d start by sharing with you what I’m working with.

 

We have lived here about 6 mths now and in that time it was a huge transition period; getting used to living in the country, doing some repairs to the house that had sat empty for awhile, working on cleaning up and clearing 2 of the 8 acres (which is what the house and all out buildings set on, the rest are raw, as you’ll see in the video) and getting started home schooling.

 

I shared a post here about our big 5 mth update with a ton of before and after photos of what it was like when we moved in and things we’ve done!

 

If you’re interested in our endeavors in home schooling I shared a post about that here with a ton of information about why I chose to home school as a single Mom who is self employed!

 

So, about a week ago on a super windy day (I know, I’m sorry, lol!) I decided to do a quick video tour of the property. This is my first time working with videos and tying them together through YouTube and learning some basic editing tricks. I still have much to learn but I’m excited to one day incorporate more videos into this blog for an over-all experience for those following along for education OR entertainment!

 

Here is the link to our YouTube video, our first homestead tour!

Please give it a like and hey, maybe you’ll even feel like subscribing to keep an eye out for any future videos and/or to make me feel special! Lol! 

 

As always, thanks for stopping by our little piece of heaven here online! =D

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

 

#startuphomestead #singlemomhomesteading #southernarizona #sonorandesert #8acreproperty #littlefarmbigdreams

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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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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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Why I chose the Charlotte Mason Method for home schooling

When I decided for sure in Mid-October 2015 that I was going to home school my 11 year old son (the full story here) I dove into research. I remembered that home schools often have local co-ops so I started researching those. I talked to a friend of mine in the next city over who I knew was a home schooling Mom. She gave me a wealth of information and pointed me in the direction of a few local co-ops that have groups on Facebook and she invited me to those. On there I met a handful of other local women who home school and several were eager to talk to me, hear my concerns and give me advice.

 

Then I reached out to one of my dear friends in Arkansas who I know also home schools 4 kids and her simple words to me were “You have to check out Charlotte Mason. Just research her.” And that lead me down a rabbit hole of 6 hours online (no kidding) reading and researching everything I could find about who this woman was, what she taught and why she was so special.

 

The first website I read end to end was the Wikipedia information about Charlotte Mason which you can find here

All of that information lead me to many more websites and books and inserts from books she had written.

In short, I will tell you briefly about her.

 

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Charlotte Mason was born January 1st, 1842 and although she had no children of her own she spent her life trying to improve the education for children in England. To quote the entry on Wikipedia, “Her revolutionary methods led to a shift from utilitarian education to the education of a child upon living ideas. She based much of her early philosophy on current brain research, on the writings ofJohn Amos Comenius, Matthew Arnold, John Ruskin, and others, and on the collaborative efforts of those whose beliefs about education she admired, as well as her vast experience as both a teacher and a trainer and mentor for new teachers.”

The foundation of her thinking was that parents are the best educators and this was developed because in her time many children did not go to school at all. So she felt like if they were going to stay at home with their parents until they got jobs, they should at least spend that time being taught properly by their parents. So her first few books published were books to teach parents HOW to educate, why it was important, child development, etc.

 

Another quote I love, “We may not make character our conscious objective,” she wrote, but she believed that parents and teachers should “Provide a child with what he needs in the way of instruction, opportunity, and wholesome occupation, and his character will take care of itself: for normal children are persons of good will, with honest desires toward right thinking and right living. All we can do further is to help a child to get rid of some hindrance––a bad temper, for example––likely to spoil his life.” – Wikipedia

 

In my most humble of explanations I will say; the CM Method is to teach the child as a whole being, treat them as an adult and not someone less than, teach above them so they rise to the occasion, treat them with respect and teach in a calm manner, and not let the education end at books alone. The CM Method asks the educator to teach the main subjects but also insure that children spend 1-3 hours a day OUTSIDE in nature studying or playing.

 

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Reading is tied to everything Charlotte Mason. For example, some of her curriculum books, (which can be bought through the website Simply Charlotte Mason here) are lesson plan books that for kids above grade 4 combine learning 3 subjects in a way to tie them together so that the student can grasp a concept fully, imagine it, see art from that time, etc.

 

“She spread before her students a feast of ideas from a wide variety of sources—from Shakespeare to knitting to Bible to tramping through field and stream to algebra to singing to foreign languages. And woven throughout it all, she emphasized the habits of full attention, best effort, and learning for the sake of learning.”

“All designed to help the child grow; for we learn, to grow.”

 

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On the Simply Charlotte Mason site you will find this useful explanation; “The Charlotte Mason method is based on Charlotte’s firm belief that the child is a person and we must educate that whole person, not just his mind. So a Charlotte Mason education is three-pronged: in her words, “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.”

 

Living Methods
For example, Charlotte’s students used living books rather than dry textbooks. Living books are usually written in narrative or story form by one author who has a passion for his topic. A living book makes the subject “come alive.”

 

 

Nature is Paramount!

Never be Within Doors

 

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A nature-diary is a source of delight!

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Children are encouraged to not only BE in nature but to get out in nature to learn about it. There are guided lessons but mainly kids are encouraged to seek and explore and record what they find and what intrigues them.

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“A beautiful and sturdy journal with gentle prompts to give you ideas of what to look for in nature study throughout each of the four seasons. Inspiring quotes, helpful nature tips, and heavy paper with plenty of room for drawing, painting, and writing about your nature finds. A lovely weekly guide to hours in the out-of-doors!”

 

Other VERY useful skills to explore!

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It also asks that children learn about famous works of art and musical composers on top of 3-5 handicrafts and life skills per year. Handicrafts are hands on artistic endeavors that children can learn and grow from.

Here is a recommended list of Handicrafts:

Beading
Calligraphy
Carving
Ceramics
Chalk drawing
Charcoal sketching
Clay sculpturing
Crocheting
Cross-stitching
Embroidery
Finger painting
Flower arranging
Gardening
Iron sculpturing
Kiting
Knitting
Latch-hooking
Leather tooling
Loom weaving
Macrame
Oil painting
Pencil sketching
Photography
Picture framing
Pottery
Quilting
Robotics
Rubber stamping
Scrapbooking
Scroll sawing
Sewing
Spinning fibers
Spool-knitting
Videography
Watercolor painting
Weaving
Weaving pot holders
Whittling
Woodworking

 

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She also recommends that children learn valuable LIFE SKILLS, even from a young age. Where as if these things are taught at home you are creating more well rounded adults who are more likely to become more self sufficient even as teens, as opposed to the children who were not taught these skills.

The CM Method Life Skills could include:

Auto mechanics
Baking
Canning
Changing a car tire
Changing a lightbulb
Checking the car’s oil
Cleaning: mirrors, sinks, toilets, tubs and showers, baseboards
Clearing the table
Cooking
CPR
Driving a car
Drying: clothes, dishes
Dusting
Electrical wiring
Emptying trash
First Aid
Folding: clothes, towels, sheets
Mopping
Mowing the lawn
Organizing: closets, cupboards, sheds, attics
Painting a room
Plumbing
Raking leaves
Setting the table
Sweeping the floor
Vacuuming
Vegetable gardening
Wallpapering
Washing: clothes, dishes, windows, car
Welding

 

Don’t forget the Arts!!!!!!!!

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“Looking for a good art teacher? Check out this encouraging and professional art instruction in a wonderful series of videos, covering a wide variety of art media: watercolor, pencil drawing, pastel, sculpture, acrylic painting, ink, and more!

This wonderful series of instructional videos will introduce to you and your children a wide variety of art media: pencil drawing, watercolor, acrylic painting, sculpting, pastels, ink, and more. You might try several projects that teach one medium—all the pastel projects, for example—and enjoy progressing through the levels with that one art type. Or you might select a variety so your family members can experience several types of art and find the medium that resonates with each one.”

 

Picture Study Portfolios

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“Everything you need to do art appreciation, all gathered into one beautiful package: gorgeous art prints, an artist biography, information on the pictures, and more!”

“We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at even a single picture.”—Charlotte Mason

 

The Stuff They Left Behind Portfolios

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“Awaken your children’s minds to the treasures of the world’s famous artifacts and architecture! These large, full-color photographs, along with background information and leading discussion questions, will help your students gain a deeper understanding of history. All conveniently collected and stored at your fingertips.”

 

Although this is a lengthy post and yes a lot I quoted from wonderful websites to help give you a full understanding of the Charlotte Mason Method better than I could simply put into words myself; I hope this provides you a thorough explanation of this style of home schooling and why exactly I chose it for my son.

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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