How is my container garden growing?

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container gardenEverything is coming up here in my container garden! You may remember the “planning” post I did a few weeks back.

So you may be asking yourself, how did I choose what I was going to grow? I had little or no method to my madness, I really planted herbs I love and know I will use and the zucchini said it would grow in pots through the summer, so I thought I would take a chance. All of this is trial and error for me, as it has always been. I will definitely be sharing my fails along with my triumphs as we go through this process. I want EVERYONE to learn something here.

Just an FYI: I grew the zucchini and the herbs from seed, and I purchased them from My Patriot Supply, they have a huge catalog of seeds and have had the best of luck with them. The tomatoes were purchased and not grown from seed.

I really wanted to share the things that we are growing around here:

TomatoesOur tomatoes, same kind of plant just planted two different ways. The one planted upside down looks a bit sad, I think I need a taller post, but if anyone has any experience with planting like this, comment below! This is my first time planting in pots and upside down, so I am bound to kill a few things, but I am really trying not to.

 

 

baby zucchini plantsThe baby zucchini plants I started from seed. I think I want to make them climb and put them up against our brick wall in the back.

I have been thinking a lot about vertical gardens and how to maximize container space. I am definitely doing more research on this.

 

I also have some things that aren’t in pots that are making my landscape more beautiful.

Aloe plants

Aloe plants, I love these every summer! I usually have a few leaves in my fridge for sunburn emergencies. This was originally one plant and just populated all on their own, I think I am going to find ways to give them out before they get out of control.

 

 

Pineapple

My pineapple!! I am really hoping this guy will be ready before the end of July. This will be our third pineapple, and I will plant a new one from this one. This particular plant was put in the ground about two years ago, and we patiently wait for more.

 

 

Avocado tree

 

Our avocado tree is exploding this year! Last year we had a couple, but this year we basically have an avocado farm. I have yet to try one, I am waiting for them to get a bit bigger, but I will let you all know as soon as I get one and try to create a few recipes. I am so excited about this one too.

 

How does your garden grow?

Declutter your life and live simply.

Declutter pinMy tag line is “Creating a simple life.” Looking around my home, you can see that we have lots of STUFF, and I am truly overwhelmed by the presence of these items. This does not scream simple to me. So, I have had the great declutter project brewing in my head for a couple of years now. I would always say, this is the weekend/month/year that I am going to do it. I have had a plan written of what I want to get rid of, how I will space it out so it won’t be so painful. I have never even begun to begin. Now that I am working out of the home, and don’t have work as an excuse, and the boy is out of school, so he can do his room; I have zero excuses.

Project declutter and get rid of the STUFF is now live! Yesterday, I got tired of staring at my computer so I started with my room. All of my corporate clothes, OUT. I had some books on the shelves (oh so many diet books…more on that on a different post, though.) so I will donate the ones that are in good condition. I did keep all of my cookbooks though, I have a real soft spot for them, and maybe I will get rid of them later. I had things that I literally said out loud, “this is trash, why did I shove it in my nightstand?” Lots of papers and millions of notebooks, half used because I can’t stay focused.

Decluttered armoire
This is actually the AFTER photo!

You know, I was really surprised at the things I couldn’t bear to get rid of and the other things that I was easily able to let go of. I had a couple of books that I could not get rid of, simply because of the memory attached to it. How can I truly strive for a simple life when I am keeping items around just for the sake of a memory?

What does living simply truly mean to me? I am not sure that the answer is minimalism, but maybe something that feels similar to me. I know that simple means less choice, fewer items to dust and move around the house. Simple means making the things that should be easy actually easy, which outfit to wear, what to make for dinner, which book to read. For my children, they have a million toys they never touch, or they have so much they don’t know where to start.

Decluttered Bookshelf
This is another after photo, obviously, I have more work ahead of me.

I am coming out of my skin thinking about all of the items in my home that actually do not add value to my life, but are kept because of some emotional pull. So, I say to myself, “Let it go”. I am hoping this declutter project will actually be good for my soul and help my children to be more grateful for what they do have. It’s time to be free from all the stuff and stop dusting so much.

Click to receive my FREE Declutter Checklist!

Support your local farmers! Blueberry Edition

local farmers blueberryI believe that the support of your local farmers is unbelievably important, not only to those that run the farms but to our communities and our own families.  I have a favorite blueberry farm here in central Florida that we go to every year. Their blueberries are the best I’ve had and they have really created an experience out there, and I love for the kids to be out in the open and doing some manual work to get their sweets. The girl is in love with berries and loved the process of picking them. While the boy is militant in his picking decisions and constantly tells me my choices are subpar. Thanks, bub.

boy blueberry pickingTowards the end of April, the kids and I went out to the farm, and I originally was going to use this experience to write my blueberry jam recipe and canning tutorial for the blog, but the kids had a different idea.

They ate ALL OF THE BLUEBERRIES. In a week. So no jam, but we had an amazing time picking and eating them out in the sunshine and running around the farm getting our toes dirty and fingers purple from the fruit.

girl blueberry pickingTake your children, family, friends, and go take a look at the local farms in your area, you will probably be surprised at how many exist and the amazing memories you will carry with you long afterward.

As a re-starting out suburban homesteader, going out to locally owned farms is the next best thing to growing your own. I have plans to go out to several more with my children over the summer, so keep an eye out for future posts! farm overlook boy
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Why I started my container garden

I have always wanted to be a gardener, the idea of working the land and bringing food inside from the back yard has always been so appealing to me. We first started a container garden when we lived in Italy, and I was learning about nutrition and really wanting to grow some of our own food. We started on our huge balcony with some giant pots and some seeds; and we were able to grow a decent amount of tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries through the summer.

2011-Wy and hubs potting balcony plants in Italy.

When we moved back to the states we decided to settle in Florida, and as soon as we closed on our house we began talking about getting a fence so we could have a couple of backyard chickens and a garden. Once the fence was up, we set to work. My husband, son, and I built an adorable chicken coop, and nine raised beds to go around our back yard. We grew anything that we could, we failed a whole bunch of times and excelled in others.

2014-Our first full-size garden in Florida

Once we decided that we definitely needed more space, and we could no longer keep up with everything, we tore everything out to start to grow back the plush green carpet that is so desirable in the suburbs.

My dream is to get back to the chaos, the muck, the growing and raising of our own food. For today though, I am working on my container garden that will take up some space in our back yard, and contain a few summer vegetables.

2017-seed starting for the indoor herb garden

I am starting with some indoor kitchen herbs, and a couple of tomato plants, my daughter is obsessed with tomatoes! I received an “as seen on TV” upside down planter as a joke gift when I had my huge garden, and when I found it I was so excited to try it out!I have a few different things I want to try in the world of container gardening, my container gardening board is stuffed full of amazing ideas, and I hope to try them and share how I’ve been successful or a grand failure. That is the fun part to me, the experiment of trying out new things and finding what works and then eating it.

Any other container gardeners out there? Comment below!

Why I chose to return to homemaking

This is an accurate depiction of what I look like on a daily basis.

I have spent the last five years in a corporate executive assistant role for a large healthcare provider; and for the most part, I have enjoyed my work.  I earned my Bachelor’s degree in the field and almost immediately found this as my career. I love the people that I support, but over the past year or so, this work has not been fulfilling to me, and although I am gaining more responsibility, I am feeling like I am wasting my time.

This feeling is what led to my decision to come back into the home to be with my family, support my husband in his endeavors, and create a home that we all can enjoy and be proud of. I once was a homemaker when my son was small and my husband’s work sent us overseas to live in Italy for three years. When we returned to the States, I was excited and beyond ready to “get back to work”. Everyone would say, “I bet you can’t wait to get back to work, you must have been bored.” I’d agree and update my resume and continue the hunt.

 

My son and I back in ’09.

Thinking back on that time though, the time when I was home with my son as a growing and learning toddler, I was NEVER bored, we were always on the go. We would travel, be with our friends, volunteer, and still have time to keep a clean home and cook a good meal. Now that my daughter has become a full-fledged toddler, I was really wanting to come back home.

 

I mean…look at that face!!

I want to share in my daughter’s new learning experiences, I want to do actual activities with both my son and daughter and not just taxi them to school and soccer, and try to squeeze in some fun stuff while trying to keep my home the way that I want it.

Really, this is an admission that I cannot do it all, I cannot have the full-time career, the beautiful home, the experiences with my children and my husband. When thinking about what I was willing to give up; my career was on the top of that list. I am okay with that. I know that I can do work that I enjoy here in my home, with my husband, with my children; and feel completely full and accomplished at the end of each day.

Meal planning from a busy mom

I take pride in my meal planning and preparations for my family. I love to cook, and since I am still working, I never get time to prepare the meals that I would really like. Sometimes I find it really difficult to be inspired to create meals for my family of four. Generally, I am incredibly lucky that they are just fine eating the same things the entire week.

This allows me for prepping most of our meals on Sundays and grab and go during the week. My process is fairly simple: look for store ads for sales and coupons, (Thank you BOGOs!!) then build my meals around those items.

A few things that I have to keep in mind: I am a busy mom, so casseroles and crock pot meals are my best friends. My eight-year-old has soccer at least two nights during the week, so at least two dinners need to be portable for him.

I have a toddler in the house, so soft finger foods are her whole deal right now. Lastly, the husband also cannot cook during the week, everything must be heat and eat style.

1. Take an inventory of everything that you currently have in your pantry and freezer.

I think a bunch of people miss this part and constantly clearing pantry of old items they haven’t used. I let this step be the start of my meal plan and helps me save dollars by using up my current stock. This week, my husband is smoking a giant pork loin we got on sale a while back. I also have two pounds of beef in the freezer, from when I bought three pounds at a sale price last week. So I know there will be a spaghetti day and a taco day (I know I am boring right now, but it’s so fast.) I have also take inventory of my self-canned foods and dry goods, I just keep a running list from week to week and mark off as I use them.

2. Download and use your local grocery store app.

My local grocery store has an amazing app that lets your put together a shopping list. I use it to remind me which aisles and brands are having the BOGOs. This also gives me online coupons, since I am far too lazy to buy a paper and clip coupons by hand.

3. Put pen to paper and start to formulate your plan for that week.

I do keep the grocery store app stuff electronic, but it just helps me to think to be able to write it out the old fashioned way. I take my simple template and spell it all out, this is to prevent impulse buys and make sure I get everything. I also keep my meals in a column on the page, so I don’t forget what my focus is.

How do you all keep it together and make sure your family and loved ones get fed every day? Share in the comments below!

My Suburban Homestead Plan

My view after tending my garden. A view I long to return to.

Now that I am returning home, I got to thinking how I can small-scale homestead here at home. I want to start learning skills that I will eventually need when we finally find the property that we are looking for.

I do have some experience, we did raise chickens for a couple of years, and I miss them dearly. We also had nine raised garden beds full of vegetables and fruits. I canned food on a regular schedule and cooked things fresh often. Once we decided that we were going to start to actively look for a larger space, we took all of that out to begin to grow back the desirable suburban green carpet. This is still in recovery, so I am not allowed to have huge garden beds.

Containers are going to be my gardening plan and I know I can find a way for them to serve my purpose.

So I went on a search, and thanks to Pinterest I now have an entire board dedicated to container gardening. I think I hear the garden store calling my name!

Scratch-made biscuits!

Another layer of my homesteading plan is to learn old-style cooking skills: fermenting, canning, dehydrating. I want to begin to make things from scratch and teach my children as well, so keep an eye out for my kitchen adventures…kitch-ventures?? It’s a working title.

 

How do you integrate homesteading type skills in your life? I’d love to know! Leave me a comment below.