April Garden Update

Hi there!

Today I worked heavily on my garden. I’m utilizing the majority of the front yard. It’s going pretty well so far.

My potatoes are doing great!

I also have some beets and carrots that are growing… although not as ferociously as I would like.

I like it when things I plant grow like weeds. I don’t like having to baby anything.

One thing that is growing like weeds are the broccoli plants that were in the shade.

There were some broccolis that are in sunnier spots, and they’re not doing so well. There is a lesson here. I hope I’ve learned it.

I’ve not been able to grow garlic bulbs, but the garlic chives on top do fantastically. I can harvest a large bowlful every week.

It only grows in the very early Spring. Soon it’ll have to be ripped out, but the chives have such a nice garlic-y flavor that seasons food so well, and I planted enough so we have as many fresh sprigs during the week and every weekend I can harvest everything and put away an entire ice tray full of oil and garlic. (Did you know that’s a thing? You can freeze fresh herbs in oil.) To get these fun chives, I just buy a bag of whole garlic in the Spring and plant each clove separately. Each clove grows a chive.

The big change to the garden was in planting tomatoes, which meant that I first got to put in the bamboo poles. (Remember, I made these yesterday.)

I’m very proud of this. I chopped those poles down and cut the twigs off and got them into the ground with my own two hands,

With the help of my husband, all the poles got in the ground. They replaced some old, ratty tomato cages that I was going to use, but since the garden is in the front yard this year, it was suggested that I do something different.

By each pole I planted some tomato seed. They should be poking out of the ground in a week or two. (My dad has a green house and can do plant starts. His tomato plants are already a foot tall! I definitely didn’t appreciate the awesomeness of that as a kid.)

In a few days, I plan to plant some more things, and in a few weeks, it should be time (fingers crossed) to harvest most things and plant the second crop of the year.

A Day in the Life

Today’s been super productive.

I recently made myself a weekly to-do list that helps me make sure I get everything done, and I apparently did today’s and tomorrow’s chores without even realizing it. Not that that’s a bad thing – it frees up tomorrow to work on the garden. I need to begin planting tomatoes.

But we’re here to talk about today, not tomorrow.

Let’s see, what all happened today.

Well, first off, I ended up pressing snooze on my alarm a few times. Then, when I did get up I trudged to my iced coffee (past me is so nice because she got it all ready to go).

In the meantime, I pulled out the beans I wanted to cook tomorrow, because I didn’t want to forget about soaking them. By the way, if you put 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar in the soaking water per pound of beans, it takes all the farts out. I eat a lot of beans to get the vitamins I need, and farts were a problem until I learned about the ACV trick.

Top: chickpeas Left: lentils Bottom: pintos

2 of the 3 containers in the picture are repurposed in case you’re wondering where the heck I bought those… because I didn’t.

After I was awake, I fed the dogs and went to spot clean the bunny pen. We recently added rabbits to our homestead. While they’re mowing for us, providing us with fertilizer, and will someday provide us with food, I still have to clean out their pen and take care of them.

It’s a lot like cleaning a big litter box. Yes, it kind of smells like a zoo inside their house, but I deal with it because I like how much of an asset the rabbits are.

Side note – I’m not really a fan of eating lots of meat. It’s not healthy for one, and the meat my family can afford is imbued with sadness and fear. I don’t believe for a second that the animals or the workers are treated as well as I would want. If it were just me, I probably would only eat meat at holiday get-togethers. However, it’s not just me. My husband wants to continue eating meat and, even though I tried for two solid years, I’ve been unsuccessful in getting him to change. So, I did some research, and raising rabbits super humanely is cheaper than the cheapest, inhumane cuts of meat at the store. So, rabbits. What cemented eating meat in my mind was what one YouTuber said, “Livestock will convert weeds, worms, bugs, and other waste into a useable source of food.”

Ok, I’m off my soapbox.

After cleaning the bunny pen, I went inside to rest and watch some Netflix (my alternative to cable).

Then, I went down the street to get some bamboo from a neighbor to make bamboo poles to support my tomatoes.

bamboo pre-pole form

I finished cutting off all the offshoots from the bamboo just as it was turning into evening. (I’ll update after putting the poles in the ground. There will probably be a big garden post tomorrow.) Yes, one could argue that making the poles like this is too much work, but I am time-poor, and these poles are free!

After making the poles and cooking dinner for me, I watched Netflix some more. Usually I would crochet while watching TV, but working on those garden poles took more out of me than I thought.

Next, I made some food for my husband to eat when he gets home from work. It’s mostly a deterrent. He won’t cook for himself even though he can, and he still doesn’t understand why he can’t get 2 (because he’s 6’3″) burgers every night on the way home.

My hands didn’t feel great after working with the bamboo, so instead of hand-washing like I usually do, I rinsed the dishes and put them in the dishwasher. Rather than use one of those dishwasher pods (the very cheapest still being 25 cents each), I put a Tbsp of baking soda in the bottom of the washer and a tiny squirt of dish soap in the soap dispenser.

And, finally, I made up my coffee for tomorrow so I can have iced coffee. In stores it’s $2.50 or more for cold coffee, but I just make coffee the night before (or a big batch every few days) and stick it in the fridge.

All totaled, I saved about $35 today – likely more, but I’d rather round down than up. Granted, a penny saved is not necessarily a penny earned, but that’s still an ok amount for a day for a stay-at-home spouse.

List of Penny-Pinching Ideas

This list is a compilation of ideas to save money. It changes and updates as time goes on, so be sure to check back. Try out the ideas you like and leave what you don’t.

-stop eating out

-have a budget

-stop buying coffee/tea/soda from stores

-measure out your coffee (try about 1 Tbsp per 2 cups of water-this is relatively strong, so adjust to taste)

-cut sponges in half to make 2 sponges

-instead of throwing away old clothes, cut them into rags for cleaning

-use rags to wash dishes

-water down soap

-rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher

-instead of dish washer pods, fill up the soap compartment with white vinegar

-set the dishwasher to cool dry

-turn the dishwasher off before the drying phase and let the dishes air dry

-make your own all-purpose, natural cleaner (put half white vinegar and half water in a squirt bottle

-instead of dish washer pods, put a couple drops of Dawn in the soap compartment and sprinkle 1 Tbsp of baking soda in the bottom of the washer

-keep livestock (or just keep chickens/rabbits in the backyard)

-compost

-grow a garden

-patch old clothes

-hang clothes to dry

-cook dried beans

-cook from scratch

-eat less meat

-buy in bulk

-look at unit prices, not overall prices

-make your own decorations for events

-make your own greeting cards

-shop thrift stores

-use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without

-pull the plug on cable

-unplug appliances when not in use

-put a container of water in the toilet tank

-stop buying bottled water

-buy large cuts of meat and break it down into smaller portions

-learn a new skill

-utilize the library

-wash out plastic bags

Ingenuity

I had a fantastic idea!

I have to eat gluten-free for reasons, and since changing my diet, I eat a lot of gits. Actually, I technically eat a lot of polenta, because I just use cornmeal instead of packaged grits. It’s basically the same thing, it’s just yellow instead of white.

A while back there was a sale on canned corn if you bought a whole case. Corn isn’t my favorite thing, but I’m ok with it, and I figured that I could use it to change up my diet and also to have food on hand pre-coronavirus, so I bought a case of canned corn.

I like corn, but a whole case is a lot of corn. It was going to sit on the shelf forever until I got around to it (which is fine since it’s canned), but then I had my brilliant idea. Cornmeal is just dried, ground corn. If I put a can of corn through the blender, I’ll have wet cornmeal, and I’d add cornmeal to liquid anyway, so I can make grits!

I put my corn through the blender (which I unplug after each use so it’s not using any more electricity) and dumped it into a pot on the stove. I added some salt and boiled it until it reduced down to grit-like consistency.

Now, some of you know that canned corn is sweeter than cornmeal – which I found out.

The “grits” I made were ok enough to eat today, but I won’t be doing this again.

To my credit, I think this would work just fine as an ingredient in a different recipe; however, the blended corn by itself didn’t taste like grits.

Even though this particular experiment didn’t work out, this is the kind of ingenuity that can help you be more frugal. If there’s a sale on something, don’t automatically pass it by if you don’t use it. Consider it for a moment: Is it a good price? Can you use it in place of something else? Would it be easy enough to use that you would actually do it?

Introducing (drumroll please) Katie

Hi. I’m Katie. I’d probably label myself as an extreme homemaker (at least, that’s what I try to be).

I’m in my 20s, and at that age, many people aren’t trying to begin homesteading or cut household expenses. However, I went through a serious medical crisis a few years back. I actually had to relearn how to walk… among other things… but that’s a story for another time. Anyway, that experience aged me by at least a decade.

Also, after I got out of the hospital, I married my high school sweetheart and moved an hour away from everything I know. Then my husband decided to surprise me with a dog, which eventually turned into two dogs. Due to my medical issues, I haven’t been able to find a job outside the home. My spouse’s one job went from comfortably supporting one to supporting four, and we were going through funds like water.

Our 1st dog – Pepper – he’s huge, over 100 lbs

As the person staying at home with a lot more time on my hands, I began looking at finances. I started cutting expenses left and right. I read so many frugality books and blogs (Kate Singh is fabulous) that my head spun. I’m still picking up new things, but I’ve learned a lot and want to share it.

Our 2nd dog – Camo – only a little smaller, about 60ish lbs

I’d like to tell you what I do to give you ideas for saving some money.

I’d also like to inspire you. There are lots of frugality blogs out there, but this one shows my personal journey.

I do all sorts of things, from sewing and cooking to gardening and painting and everything in between. I’m sure there’s something to interest you, so snuggle up under a blanket and enjoy.