Sunday, September 26, 2010

A little rain.... and a rare find

When's the last time I saw one of these guys? Well, I can tell you it's been a while. Ever since the last turtle in the compound escaped I haven't seen one. Trevor has on the occasion seen one going downhill in the backyard toward the ditch. You'd think living in the country that we would cross paths more often than we do.

But today, seeing this girl, makes me remember the days of:

Walking in the rain, jumping in mudpuddles, carrying umbrellas and keeping an eye out for a hidden turtle in the leaves.

Rescuing forlorn turtles from sure road death.

Finding turtles at auctions.

Naming turtles after the ever so famous Ninja turtles.

Naming turtles girl names like Madeline or Samantha.

Being brought turtles by concerned neigbhors who knew of our turtle compound.

Watching newly hatched turtles, with their shells so soft, head toward the small pool.

Yep, today it's not surprising to see her out an about, after all we were always more sucessful of finding them after a rain.

Enjoy the memory!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Stranger in Town

Today I saw this butterfly or maybe it's a moth? for the first time. The orange dots lining the wings have me stumped and even after googling to help identify it, I am no closer to finding out what kind it is. Probably something common, but who knows?

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Dream

You know, dreaming doesn't cost a thing. It is one of those things most of us do quite frequently. Dreaming we could do this or maybe do that. Heck, some people are already living their dream.

My dream of course is to live quite simply and I am amazed at how many people think they could never downsize or do without. Although alot people have been forced to rethink their goals and face their debt, there's whole another group of people who wouldn't even consider changing the way they live.

I, for one, am not the least bit interested in working until I die. You know the ole saying of "Wake up and smell the roses?", well I'm there. I do not want to work for the "man" any longer. I'm ready to downsize, cut back at work and build my "little house".

My dream is to have a little house, a garden spot with a tree lined small yard. Let's not forget the bird houses, bird feeders, flowering shrubs and of course a big front porch with rocking chairs . A fun and comfortable place.

That's my dream, what's yours?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Who am I?

One nice thing about simplfying your life is you learn to appreciate everything.

Today I was greeted by a butterfly convention on my lantana. There were probably 10 or more going from bloom to bloom. However, by the time I ran for the camera most had already fluttered away. I was able to catch a few, but with the wind blowing it was quite a challenge to get one to hold still. And let's not forget the dragonflies. I have been seen several varieties this summer flitting in and out.

So if you know the names of these lovely little specimums feel free to enlighten me!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fresh Fruit $1.79

Seed cost = $1.79 for 1 package.

Planted 6 seeds.

Yield = 6 fruits. Of those 6, 2 were rotten.

End result= a lot of work for 4 cantaloupe. The first one tasted slightly bland, not so sweet and it had a funny texture to it. I had found it unattached from the vine so I'm not sure how long it had been that way. After picking the second one I decided to leave it on the counter for a couple of days to further ripen. It was great, texture was like the store bought ones. Currently one on the counter and one on the vine.

Savings = approx. $6-7 dollars

Such is the lot of the backyard gardener.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Free Nature Show

Nothing like kickin back and checking out what's in your very own yard. We have of a late been treated to a variety of insect creatures in our neck of the woods.

Last weekend I saw my first praying mantis this year. He was actually quite "alien" like. As I was admiring the size of it, the darn thing very creepily pivoted his head and looked at me. Mind you only the head turned. I tell you it was right out of a Sci-fi movie.

We also have a very large spider web in which our resident garden spider lives and protects. She has been very successful in catching other unsuspecting insects and her ?abdomen has grown larger and more yellow. A smaller spider hangs out close by and we wonder if it is her mate. If so, he has made it a least a week and she hasn't killed him yet.

I should have taken a picture of the cow killer which had the audacity to sting me while barefoot last week. He packed quite a punch and my foot ached for hours. It has now made me afraid to strike out without shoes. Or should I say strike out without watching where I step.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Food Composting

I've been food composting now for several months.

It's going great and I am continually amazed at how much food scrap we produce.

Until you actually put all your waste in a container and start collecting it, you just don't realize the amount you produce in a day's time.

I'm currently adding my scraps to the flower bed which held the zinnia's. I am slowing pulling them up as they grow leggy and unattractive.

I also added some left over saw dust to the top. Most days I go out and dig several holes and empty my container. But sometimes I just sprinkle it the on top, mainly to discourage the cats from using it as a litter box. So far so good.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Automatic Garbage Disposal

Know what's nice about having chickens?

Well they'll eat most anything. Leftovers such as rice, potatoes, veggies are devoured by the girls and Jeff(rooster).

I love the fact the scraps aren't going in my trash. I love the fact the chickens get more variety in their diet.

It's a win-win situation.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Saving time

Nothing new really.

I fried up 6lbs of hamburger 90/10 today.

Packaged in 3/4lb packages - it's dinner made easy for the next couple of weeks.

Taco salad, burritos and spaghetti casserole.

I love saving time at dinner. Who doesn't?

But and this is a pretty big but.

I used the ziploc vacuum seal bags. Not so good for the environment.

After these are used up, I plan to use freezer paper only. I use freezer paper most of the time, only I've had these for a while, so might as well them and be done with it.

1) I saved money by buying in bulk
2) I saved time by frying it all up today, making meal prep a breeze later in wk

All in all, I'm good, but working on eliminating plastic products for food storage.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Faux Fungus Among Us

This is really not a fungus at all, but the "dog vomit slime mold," Fuligo septica, which belongs in the phylum Myxomycota in the Kingdom Protista.

Kayla...aren't you proud of me, for googling and finding this interesting little tidbit about this happy little organism growing on my squash?

How nice of it to find my little garden spot.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

One is the Loneliest Number

Bluebird update.

Our pair ended up laying 4 beautiful little eggs.

1 little baby chick hatched on Tues.

The remaining 3 eggs were not fertilized. We candled them and no developed embryo was seen inside.

Parents are breathing a sigh of relief. Only 1 mouth to feed. lol

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saving my Plants

Last week 3 of my pumpkin plants were killed by the vine borer. I slit the stem and sure enough the ugly white grub looking insect was inside. As usual you don't know you have it, until the damage is done and the plant starts to die. I have had very limited success by cutting the worm out and having the plant live but most times not. After googling and reading about this nasty little pest, I found a site that said panty hose wrapped around the stem at the base could be effective in not allowing the larvae to penetrate.

Not having a pair of panty house, I resourcefully used coban. It actually worked great since after you wrap it, it will self seal closed. Took me about 30 mins to cut strips and apply it. So far so good.

Coban comes in pretty flourescent colors and I only had pink and orange. Looks funny, but I hope it will work!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Simple Cabin, BIG views

Cold Mountain

Inside of cabin

Looking at Mount Pisgah to left of cabin

To the right - Cold Mountain

Again Cold Mountain

We had a great time in Asheville, watching Skronsk graduate, porch sitting at the cabin, and enjoying our 28th wedding anniversary.

Such a simple cabin design, small but seemed much bigger than it was. The deck went all the way across. Trevor much enjoyed the hot tub(out on the deck), but alas I did not take any pictures of him, whatever was I thinking!

The View. Killer views. To the right was Cold Mountain and to the left, Mount Pisgah. No houses on either mountain. It was so nice to just look out and be surrounded by those majestic mountains. We had a huge thunderstorm Saturday night with lightening and hail. It was so loud on the tin roof we could hardly hear ourselves talk!

Sunday we went up on the Blue Ridge Pkwy to bird watch and of course the scenery was breathtaking.
Sweet memories and fun times. We'll definitely have to go back!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Being resourceful

Today's newspaper featured an article on making little girl's sundresses from pillowcases. Such a neat idea, probably been around for a while, but bears revisting. Especially if you are like me and hadn't run across the idea.

I think it probably originated from recycling old feed sacks. Some resourceful woman probably figured it would make a sundress and there you go. My grandma used to get feed sacks from a neighbor and she would use them in quilts. But this is such a cute idea using a modern approach by using a pillowcase. Just think how many pillowcases out there with no mate. Yardsales and thrift stores with one lonely pillowcase. How fun to go on a "hunt" to find them.

Check out this site for the instructions.

Here's one done up in a very cute fabric.

I think you could also do these into summer tops for young girls or teens. They would be pretty cool done in retro fabric.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Two for one

Free sunflowers sprouting from the spilled seed around each of our birdfeeders. Nice way for the birds to pay it forward.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Straw bale update

The gourds have been planted!

The tomatoes are in....

The pumpkins are up!

Next up, the squash and cukes. Moving right along.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Recycled pots

One of my sweet coworker's surprised me with these red, white, and blue pots. She recycled some of her older pots by painting them. Aren't they so 4th of July?

But hey, in the mean time there's Memorial Day and Flag Day, so they'll get to grace my patio for several months. By the time the 4th gets here they should be full and colorful!

What a great idea, thanks Kimberly!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Simple Gardening

Today's the day..I planted the first straw bale with pumpkins!

To start out with, the bales have been watered and have been composting now for 3 weeks. They were still somewhat stiff but I was able to scoop out a hole about 6" in depth.

I filled the hole in with miracle grow potting soil to form a mound. Now 3 seeds go in each mound and the wait begins!

I hope to get 1 or 2 pumpkins per vine.

Cost= $4.25 for straw bale
Pumpkin seeds = $1.09

More straw bale gardening coming in the next couple of weeks. Gourds going in next. Stay tuned!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Porch Sitting

Years ago, it was common to see people retire to their front porches after eating dinner. Often with their favorite drink in hand, sitting in gliders or rocking chairs discussing the days events. I can only imagine the lively conversations that would take place, all while watching their children and pets frolic on the front lawn. You hardly ever see families on front porches now. As a matter of fact I can't remember the last time I passed a house out here and saw anyone hanging around in their front yards.

For the past several years we have routinely "retired" to the porch after cleaning up after dinner, weather permitting of course. Birding watching, discussing our day at work and planning our week are all done from a chair on the front porch. Our neighbors drive by and always cast a glance over to the porch, some wave or nod, but mostly I think they think "What in the world are they doing out there?"

Let's look back to those folks raised during the depression and in the years that followed . People during that time approached their lives in a very simple manner. They saved for what they wanted, bought only what they could afford, worked hard and appreciated what they had. And they were a generation of porch sitters. No TV, computers or video games to keep them inside... they enjoyed the simple things.

They definitely had the right idea. So, grab your favorite drink and mosey on out to the porch.

I'm heading out there now.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Small houses

For several months I have actively been researching small house living. The idea of having a small "paid for" house, no mortgage payments, lower utility bills and property taxes and has definitely got me interested. The underground movement of living small, living simply, and living off the grid is gaining momentum. And I can see why. The last several years of economic strife has made a lot of people realize self suffiency is a good thing.

What I like most about these small houses is their simplicity. They are built affordably, often by the same people who will inhabit them. They are built to be energy efficient and laid out to be totally functional. Many are constructed with recyced materials and enviromentally friendly products. Smaller houses mean smaller footprints. People are finding "stuff" doesn't bring you happiness and are instead opting for a debt and stress free life. A simple life.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


We decided to lower our thermostat this winter to see what effect it would have on our Progress Energy bill. Cutting it down to 64 degrees at the beginning of December proved to be quite chilly and we used our gas logs to help out. It was soon apparent after having to order another propane tank 3 weeks into the season, that using our logs daily to help out wasn't going to save us any money. It would take hours of running the gas logs to raise the temperature from 64 to 68 degrees, especially since our home's living room, dining room and kithen are open to each other. No partition walls between rooms means you have a greater area for the heat to dissipate and lose warmth(or at least it sure feels that way).

So, we upped the thermostat to 66. If we needed to turn on the logs to take the chill off, it of course didn't take as long to raise the temp up to 68. We started layering our clothes and have found 66 degrees to be quite tolerable by doing so. I put an electric radiator heater in the bathroom and turned it down to the lowest setting. Surprisingly it has done the trick to take the morning chill off when we shower.

Did we save any money? Well, yes we did. To the tune of $40 less this month compared to the same time last year and we did it during one of the coldest winters our area has had. The proofs in the pudding, lowering the temperature down a couple degrees has definitely saved us a few bucks this winter season.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Well, I'll be!

Waste management systems for dog poo. I'm not sure how long these have been around but I just heard of them yesterday. Monty said Lowe's Home Improvement has started to carry them and for ~ $25 you can buy one.

The idea is very simple and here is a little information taken from a website that sells them:

The Four Paws Waste Manager is the easy and “green” way to dispose of dog waste. The Waste Manager was designed to perform like a mini septic tank. The Waste Manager works “naturally” with rain/sprinkler water and enzymes as a catalyst to speed the breakdown of pet waste. Four free Natural Enzyme Tablets included. Additional Tablets are available for sale separately.

Since we have a pretty large lot, Monty long ago quit scooping every time Nina does her business. Instead it just lays out there on our lawn until it decomposes or gets stepped in, which usually elicits a loud #@#@. When that occurs he usually takes the initiative to search for and clean up the piles. Maybe having this system ready to go will make it easier to just get rid of it to begin with. No more hurling it down the hill, burying it or worse yet just letting it lay out there.

Sounds like something I should definitely check out.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


We have attempted in the past to compost, even going so far as to buy a composter. As a matter of fact, we have 2. They are placed down the hill in our backyard out of sight. Only problem is they are truly " out of sight, out of mind". Needless to say, we were good about it to begin with but in the last year have become quite slack in using it. Maybe I should clarify that statement. It was the ole DH's job to empty the kitchen container in the compost bin and "he" has become quite slack in keeping up with it. So, I have now taken over the job and started it up again, only this time I am emptying the food scraps into the raised flower bed in the front. Walking down the hill, fighting briars isn't exactly my cup of tea. I figure it can't hurt to use the flower bed right now while it is empty. Once the flowers are in I'll have to find another spot or move the composter up in the back yard where it is more accessible.

I'd even like to start a worm composting operation, the worm castings are great fertilizer and of course totally organic.

Really the hardest thing, is just getting into the routine of doing it. My grandmother kept an old milk carton beside her sink that all her vegetable waste went into. She emptied it out daily in her garden. It was her routine to do so, but then again, she was recycling way before it was the "thing to do". She never forgot the hard times during the depression, never took for granted electricity, wasted nothing, repurposed and reused everything she could.

Taking her lead, instead of using a milk carton, I am using the bottom half of a soda bottle. Not to big, doesn't hold more than a day's worth of scraps and it forces me to go out and empty it. It is quite amazing how fast it fills up with lettuce scraps, coffee grounds(with filter), orange peels, etc.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

365 Days of Trash

I am always on the look out for new blogs and here's the most recent one I've discovered...quite interesting.

Ok, we finally got on the "green" wagon and bought one of those grocery cloth-like reusable bags. I had already gotten another one from our benefit's fair last fall, but had never used it. The DH(and myself)have never been big fans of the plastic ones. The paper ones are ok, but are subject to ripping if packed with heavy items. After light discussion, we've decided to stop using both. Since we are proud owners of 2 "green" ones, the ole DH tried them out last week. He has reported them to be very satisfactory and definitely something we(he) can get used to. Notice I said he had tried them out, as you know I am not one to love grocery store shopping. I have to give Kudos to the DD who has been using them for quite some time. She too, is moving toward using more reusable "green" items and less disposables.

I don't know why buying that darn bag has made me so happy, maybe because we are reducing what goes into the landfill?

Yes, that's it exactly!

And, now to provide you with a little inspiration...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thinking small

Small house = less stuff. For some time, I've been telling the DH that downsizing to a small house is the way to go. He's onboard 100%, but getting there is of course another matter. But, it is fun to think about and certainly has it's perks. To name a few.....

Small house = less to clean
Small house = little yard = less to mow
Small house = less property tax
Small house = less insurance needed
Small house = less utility bills

Now that I have you thinking, tell me what's not to like about living "small"?

Small house = less to clean = have more free time
Small house = little yard, less to mow = more woods for birds and habitats
Small house = less property tax = OMG who doesn't want to pay less tax!
Small house = less insurance = you have to have it, so pay as little as possible
Small house = less utility bills = oh how I hate to pay Progress energy
Small house = less stuff = well, less clutter and that = a very good thing!

Do you know most people work just to pay their mortgages? And that you will spend 20-30 years of your life doing just that? Hmmmmmm

See less is coin a well known phrase. I tell ya....I'm likin the idea!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Carpooling, week 3

Well, as most of you know or maybe you don't, I am now into week 3 of my carpooling experiment.

What, you ask...carpooling? If you can believe it, yes. It all started after reading the book, Ishmael over the Christmas holiday. This story was written to make you think, be aware of how we came to be and how we have become insensitive to what is happening on our earth; how we only have one earth, and so forth. It was very inspiring and I decided I should do what I could to lessen my impact on "mother earth" so to speak.

We began to think about how many miles Monty drives to work(16 miles one way)and how many I drive(11 miles one way)to get to work. We figured it really wasn't that much out of his way to drop me off first and since we work the same hours, it was a no brainer to at least give it a shot. Funny thing is, total mileage one way is 17 miles. So, in essence we are saving 20 miles a day, therefore reducing at least one car's toxic emissions into our air, not to mention the gas saved.

We're settling into a routine of sorts, and even on the days I'm not working he still drives the car since it gets the best gas mileage. The only problem is I have to wait on him in the evening. I rationalize this wasted time as being no different, as if I were waiting to catch a bus to take me home.

With several successful weeks behind us, we are now looking at how we can combine shopping trips to save even more miles driven. But, to stay organized I am going to need to purchase a weekly planner so I can keep up with our route. After several months I hope to be able to see if it also will positively affect our budget, which will be a nice little kickback.

Sometimes being "green" just takes a little effort on our part and yes, we are feeling pretty good here at the ranch.