Homestead Skills: September

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You guys, I have been on a planning and goal setting spree! In my Homestead Skills Checklist post, I outlined all the things I wanted to learn, and I love to schedule, so I wanted to share my September schedule with you all! Now I have some accountability and will be able to have you all call me out if I don’t accomplish something. I have some fun new things in the works for those of you that subscribe to my emails too! September is going to be such a fun month!

September Homestead skillsWeek 1: Get some plants in their pots! I consulted many gardening websites and the Farmers Almanac and came up with some veggies I want to grow. Lettuce, spinach, and sweet potatoes are on my list. For the potatoes, I am going to use a potato bin!

Week 2: I am going to knit myself a sweater! I have been looking at a ton of different patterns, but I really need to level up my knitting game, plus I have so much found yarn in my house, that everyone I know will be sporting something I’ve knitted for them. I know I live in Florida, but we’re going back to Kansas for the Holidays, so I am getting the kids outfitted with hats, mittens, and scarves. You can follow my Knitting board here!

Week 3: Composting! I am gearing up to have my family go on a ZERO WASTE challenge. This is going to be tough, especially after a summer of easy foods and we had more waste than I have ever seen. My aim is to get us on track to not wasting and create great habits for the future!

Ginger soda
One of my first ferments, Ginger soda!

Week 4: FERMENTED FOOD! This is something that I have loved for a long time, and I cannot wait to start brewing kombucha and adding fermented salsa and pickles to my meals and get my stomach back in order.


Week 5: Home organizing and tracking. With all these new ideas and challenges, I really need to stay on top of what I am doing, what is working, what needs to change, etc. I am still trying to figure this out, but I NEED this in my life. If you are an organizing guru, drop your link in my comments, because I want to interview you!

That is it! This is a jam packed month, but I am ready to really begin to tackle these homestead skills! I’ll be sharing the books, tools, and links I use to figure this stuff out, and if you all have any handy advice, please don’t hesitate to drop a comment and let me know what has worked for you in the past.

Back to School Tips-How I prepped for the new year.

We went back to school this week, and I hate to say it, but it totally snuck up on me. Again.

The boy will be in third grade this year, and we have totally changed our lives. This year’s routine will be totally different. I work at home now, and we live just about a mile from the school, so we’re walkers! When I was on maternity leave, I loved the routine of walking the kids to and from school and the boy actually talked to me about his day. I want to believe that it’s because he cherishes our time together, and not just because there is nothing better to do.

I’ve been prepping for about a week for this first week back to school, and I wanted to share with you all what I did.

Passion Planner
My trusty planner!

I scheduled each day. With the new life changes this year, my toddler is at home with me. I decided to run a couple hours of “homeschool” in the morning before her nap. Each week is a different letter focus, we’ll be doing some sensory play and counting. I have this Pinterest board just for her, so all of my homeschool parents, feel free to send me your best stuff! I’m also a part-time virtual assistant, so I need about six hours each day to dedicate to clients and business, which I have broken out into two-hour blocks throughout the day.

I meal planned and then scheduled those meals. I have always meal planned, but I haven’t been planning what days each dinner will occur. This way I can have things chopped and ready to go, meat thawed, etc. on the night that I need it.

I prepped everyone’s breakfast and lunches. Even though the girl and I are at home this year, I went ahead and prepped our breakfast and lunches to make life easier and to make sure I have a better meal structure than I did over the summer. I did easy egg and cheese cups for breakfast, and everyone got their own lunches.

meal prep final
My fridge after everything is done!

Boy: Turkey sandwich with carrots, ranch dip, and an apple.

Girl (toddler): turkey pepperoni, cheese, peas, and crackers.

Mom and Dad: Salad with sliced turkey.

My family is honestly cool with eating the same things every day and I hardly have a complaint. I switch up the meats and types of veggies, but essentially it’s all the same stuff every day.

kid lunch
Back to school lunch!

The night before we made sure the boy had all of his stuff together. We discussed the new routine, walking through everything we’d be doing from sun up to sun down. I made sure he understood my expectations for the morning and evening routines, his chores, his behavior and the activities he’d be allowed between the hours of 3 and 8 pm.

 

I am going to repeat these steps each week, and my goal is smooth sailing all year long! Subscribe to follow and see if I make it!

Let’s make this the best back to school season yet!

Homestead Skills Checklist

In my suburban homestead planning post, I talked about how I wanted to do as much as I could on a smaller scale. So, I really wanted to create a homestead checklist to work through things I either need to brush up on or learn entirely.

homestead garden
Our garden back in 2014

I originally had the idea for this homesteading blog before our daughter came along. In those days, we were still tending to nine raised beds, six chickens, and two ducks all in our back yard. We were also on a mission to find at least five acres with a modest home and I was so excited at the idea of the new journey we were headed towards.

Homestead chickens
Our girls! I miss their eggs!

Soon, our jobs grew, our family grew and the dream of having our homestead with gardens, orchards, chickens, and animals faded to the back. It has been sad for me to leave this dream in the back of my journal to make way for my family and all that we need to accomplish on a day to day basis. This checklist is my way of reaching out to that dream and work on the skills that I will rely on when the dream becomes alive again.

homestead skills checklistThanks to everyone that I follow on my Pinterest boards, I got some amazing ideas on what skills are being used and what categories I need to brush up on.

Let me share a few things I have done over the past few weeks that fall in line with this thinking. First, I made enchilada sauce from scratch! It was so great and only took me a few moments to whip together in my Vitamix.

Then, when I was decluttering, I found a ton of yarn and my knitting stuff. Knitting was one of the very first things I taught myself using YouTube videos, and I am really proud of what I learned over that time. So, I have been working on picking it up again, but I keep getting frustrated and putting it down. I am currently in the market for some quick and easy projects to boost my knitting confidence (Knitters drop me some links or send me some pins on Pinterest!)

Little by little, I am going to be building on these skills and getting back into the swing of preserving foods, learning some home and garden care, and reconnecting with the outdoors.

You can download my Homesteading Skills Checklist! These are just my starting skills, feel free to add your own and have fun with it.

What are some things you want to accomplish in your home?

We are going to have so much fun y’all!! I will share my wins along with my failures and undoubtedly ask questions to all of you!


Tell me about your self-sufficiency dreams and things that you are already a rockstar with! Comment below!

 

 

Declutter Pt. 2: How to get your family to let go of their stuff.

declutter car
The back of my car after the declutter!

In this post I shared the reasons I felt my family needed to declutter and showed the end result, but let’s really talk about HOW I accomplished this, with a husband, toddler and an eight-year-old.

1. I did not make my husband get rid of anything. When I told him what I was doing, he agreed that it was great, but “don’t touch my stuff.” I get it, he holds a high value and purpose to all of his stuff, and he even ended up getting rid of some of his t-shirts. My husband is a pretty purposeful shopper, and his stuff is neatly tucked away, for the most part, so I didn’t press the issue.

2. I got rid of all of my own stuff first. I let my family watch me go through my collections, clothes, bookshelves, kitchen, and drawers before asking them to do anything. I let my son help me make decisions and talk about memories with certain items. Then, I tossed them out, I wanted him to see that the decision to get rid of things was not effortless, but not really a big deal. We talked through why I wanted to keep some things over others, and it was actually really helpful to me.

3. The baby obviously didn’t have a choice. Her room was the easiest. At 20 months old, she has collected so much extra stuff. Duplicates of pretty much everything and so many toys that she doesn’t know what to do first when going into her room. I easily set aside toys I hadn’t seen before, clothes that were too small and left the things I thought she would love to play with most. Honestly, I kept things that I really liked to play with too.

4. I let my 8-year-old make all of the decisions regarding the stuff in his room. We started with clothes, and I did make him keep three nice outfits for visiting the great grandparents and going golfing with them, but other than that he kept the items he loved and we let go of the rest. Surprisingly, he was ready to let go of a lot of old toys and even less surprising, so much of his clutter was TRASH. Actual trash…an entire bag of it. (I did show him where our actual trash can was and let him know he is free to use it at any time. hahaha!)

5. This was only part ONE. My plan is to do this again right before summer is over (which is in TWO WEEKS now), to assess if we need to replace any clothing or find that we haven’t touched any of the stuff we kept. I may just do it quarterly till we run out of stuff. Personally, I had a rough time getting rid of kitchen items, and I know there is more that I could get out of there. So I will be doing another after the holiday season since I am sure some items are seasonal, so I want to see if I dig them out.

6. I am now asking our friends and family to stop with the stuff giving. I know it feels great to give children stuff you think they would like and see the joy on their faces and it makes you feel fuzzy inside. I get it, but as soon as it gets home it gets lost in the abyss of their other items and never seen again.

Instead, I am asking that our loved ones give our children the gift of spending time with them. Take them to the park, come grab them for a special visit, chat with them on the phone or Skype. Make a memory and create something far more special than a thing that will probably end up under my couch for six months. Also, I need to clean from under the couch more often, because that actually happens.

Do you all strive to clean out the stuff in your house, or do you have an organization of the items you have?

How I keep my house clean by doing half the work!

clean house pinI make my kids do quite a few chores, plain and simple. I feel that kids should learn responsibility and independence early on to foster long-term habits.

Also, I also don’t want to be doing everyone’s laundry and picking up toys till the end of time. So it is a bit selfish too, I will never lie to you. My summer cleaning schedule is designed to teach the kids some household skills and give me some time back so I can actually have some fun too.

There are affiliate links in this post for products I love and use. If they are used to purchase, I may receive a few dollars. 

After much research and lots of trial and failure at keeping my home neat and tidy, I believe I have finally come up with a cleaning schedule that works for my home. In my days working outside of the home, I did everything over the course of Saturday and Sunday and totally ruining my weekend. When I decided to leave and come back to homemaking, I knew things had to change, less work and more chill. End of story.

Now that it is officially summer, I can include my kids in my grand plan and cut my work in half!

Each day, I have a set of four to six chores that I now share with my children. Mostly the eight-year-old, but as little sister follows him around, she is learning good habits as well. I have put him in charge of showing her the basics, and he thinks that is pretty darn awesome.


The thing is, most children are more capable of doing more than we think they can. Yes, most times my son sort of half does things, which means he has to do it twice. Yes, it’s not always the way  would do things, but who says I’m right? My point here is that I am setting my kids up to already know how to take care of themselves when they leave my house.

Here is a list of chores for my eight-year-old:

  • Laundry-from start to finish!
  • Trash and recycling; take out of the house and down to the curb.
  • Vacuum
  • Bathroom cleaning
  • Pulling weeds
  • Watering plants
  • Pick up rooms
  • Dust
  • Wipe kitchen counters and tables after dinner
  • Clean baseboards

I am sure there is more, but that is a TON of stuff off of my plate! Which gave me the time to write this post and drink an extra cup of coffee. Call me lazy or call me genius…I prefer the latter.

The baby is just starting, but I already have her taking her own diapers to the trash, picking up her toys and putting dirty laundry in the hamper. My mission is to basically never do ALL of the cleaning ever again.

Click Here to get a printable with how we really structure our cleaning schedule!

 

Do you have your kids help you clean? What are some innovative ways to include your youngest children?

 

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!

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.