Carly Learns to Sew - A Video

Friday, January 29, 2016
There are some pretty important life-skills that you need to learn if you want to become self-sufficient. Actually I think they are important to learn no matter where you live or what you do for a living. Some of these include:

  • Cooking
  • Gardening
  • Learn to can
  • Home maintenance/repair
  • Woodworking
  • Sewing
To me it is important to teach my kids these skills and start as early as possible.  By the age of 2, Carly could crack an egg into a bowl (without getting any shells into it) and mix it up ready to be cooked for scrambled eggs.  By age 5, Drew could cook the scrambled eggs with some supervision of course.  They learned at an early age how to sort their clothes, put them in the washing machine, add soap and start it.  They also help me every summer in the garden planting, weeding, and picking.  They each have their chores to do when it comes to the animals, and Steve has already started teaching Drew how to build small items.

My mother-in-law and I have been working on reupholstering a footstool.  This is something that I have wanted to learn how to do, and there really is more involved than I thought there would be. Don't worry there will be a series of posts in the near future so you can see the steps involved and the finished project. :-)

While we were working on this, Carly wanted desperately to learn to sew with the sewing machine. She has already had lessons in using a needle and thread, learning the blanket stitch and the running stitch, but the sewing machine was calling to her.  (She takes after her mama.)

So we took time out to let her sew a little pillowcase.  I videotaped it and it is on our YouTube channel.  Be sure and watch to the end and see what happens.  

If you haven't watched any of our videos, now is the time to start.  You can see some tutorials as well as some fun stuff, our adventures that we have on the farm.

Don't want to miss any of our videos?  I don't blame you!  Be sure and subscribe and you can catch them all!

The Easiest Guacamole. Ever.

Thursday, January 28, 2016
The Easiest Guacamole

One of our favorite meals to make is Mexican. Tacos, burritos, enchiladas, it doesn't make a difference. I especially love it because these meals are usually quick, easy, and budget friendly.

Last week I bought a couple of avocados at Aldi when they were on sale, $0.39 each!  The only problem was that they were not ripe yet.  In the past, I have tried to ripen them by putting them in a paper bag, but I found that it didn't work that well. I have also heard that you can put them in an oven on low heat to ripen, but that method just scares me to death!  I just know I would forget about them and end up burning them.  The best way I have found to ripen them, but the longest, is to just put them on your window sill until they turn dark green and slightly soft to the touch.  

Last night the avocados were ready to use!  So of course that meant Mexican night! I had let the avocados get slightly softer than I would have if I were just slicing them and eating them on a sandwich or by themselves. I did this because I knew I wanted to make guacamole out of them.  I absolutely love guacamole!  My little girl loves it too.  So in our house, while the boys will eat their sour cream, the girls will eat the guac.

I have tried many different recipes when it comes to making guacamole.  And I have to say that my niece's husband makes some of the best guacamole around!  Of course he used to manage a local Mexican restaurant, so he had connections.  While there are great recipes out there, I wanted to share with you how I like to make it.  Not only is it yummy, but it is the easiest guacamole you will ever make.

Ingredients The Easiest Guacamole
Salsa and avocados.  That's it!
 All you need are your avocados and your favorite salsa.  That's it!  Normally we make our own salsa and can it, but it is a little on the hot side.  So I buy this mild salsa from Aldi.  It is one of my favorites because it has only natural ingredients and the kids love it!  

Halved Avocado The Easiest Guacamole
These avocados were beautiful!
First you want to slice the avocado in half.  Just take your knife and slice it in a circle long ways around the seed.  Then to open it up, twist the avocado and pull apart.  

Next, use a spoon and spoon out the insides from the peel.  If the avocado is nice and ripe, it will come out very easy and usually in one piece.

I go ahead and put this straight into a bowl (no picture, sorry) and I do use a third ingredient that I forgot to mention.  I add a little lemon or lime juice just to keep it from browning.  Then I mash it up with a fork.

Mashed Avocado The Easiest Guacamole
My avocados all mashed up.

Next you want to add your salsa.  Of course there is no exact measurement.  It really depends on your taste preference.  I used a serving spoon and put three spoonfuls into the bowl.  It was probably equivalent to a little over 1/4 of a cup of salsa.  

Salsa Added The Easiest Guacamole
Salsa added
You can see above how much salsa I added to two avocados.  Then be sure and mix well and taste.  At this point you can always add more salsa if you like.

The Easiest Guacamole
And now you have the easiest (and some tasty) guacamole!  When you taste it, it may seem like you need to add a little salt.  A word of caution, if you are using chips to eat it with, remember the chips can usually be pretty salty. I never salt my guacamole because of this.  I don't want it too salty.  Plus I really like the creamy, buttery taste of the avocados to come through.

The Easiest Guacamole
Mmmmm so good!
This went fast.  And to be honest there was none left, but I did want to give you another hint on how to keep your guacamole from turning brown if you do have any leftover.  When you cover it with plastic wrap, be sure and put the plastic wrap directly on top of the guacamole.

The Easiest Guacamole
Doesn't look appetizing in this picture, but it works!
So I hope that you give this recipe a try.  I love making guacamole like this, and knowing how easy it is, I will never buy those little packets of guac again.  

Thanks for reading to the end.  Do you have any comments?  I would love to hear from you. :-)

An Easy T-Shirt Skirt

Tuesday, January 26, 2016
I have had a pile of old t-shirts that I have wanted to make into skirts for quite some time.  It seems like there is always something else that needs to be done.  Like now, I am working on a baby afghan, and trying to clear out our clutter, and trying to deep clean the house as well as enlarging our master closet.

An Easy T-Shirt Skirt

But the other night my sewing machine (a 1961 Singer Slant-O-Matic "Rocketeer") was calling to me.  This was a Christmas gift last year from my parents.  I had been wanting a new sewing machine and I was painstakingly trying to decide which machine to purchase.  I was surprised when my parents presented me with this gem of a machine that they found at a garage sale.  They of course took it to a sewing shop and had it serviced and now I am the proud owner.  However it had been about six months since I had even used it.

An Easy T-Shirt Skirt

Even though I didn't really have the time to spare, I decided to go ahead and do something I have wanted to do for a long time.  I decided to finally make me a t-shirt skirt.

A t-shirt skirt is a great way to upcycle an old t-shirt into something new.  I love being able to refashion something old into something new.   And this project is about as easy as they come.

An Easy T-Shirt Skirt
The old t-shirt
This is what I started with.  It is a men's size XL.  You do want to get a t-shirt that is overly large for you.  I normally wear a women's medium, and a men's large would probably be big enough for me to make a skirt out of.  However I was already given this and wanted to use it.

The first step is to cut the shirt right below the arms.  This will be your skirt bottom.

My skirt bottom An Easy T-Shirt Skirt
Bottom part of shirt cut off.
You really don't have to do anything else to this.  If you wanted you could cut the sides to make it an A-line, or you could sew darts in the back to take it up a little.  I didn't do either on this one, I wanted to try and refashion it as simply as possible.

The next step is to measure your waist.  For me, I also had to try and not faint dead away when I saw what my waist measured.  Seriously people, I just about croaked!!  So for my fantasy I am going to say I was a 28 waist.  (Please just let me have my little dreams).  Keep (your real) waist measurement in mind, you will need it.

I decided to make a waistband out of the rest of the t-shirt material.  I cut off the collar and the sleeves and discarded them and used what was left of the t-shirt to fashion my waistband.

Removing collar and sleeves An Easy T-Shirt Skirt
Removing the collar and sleeves
I thought I wanted a plain white waistband, but then I thought that the graphic would look cool as part of the waist band and keep with the overall look of the skirt.  So I made sure and cut off enough so that the plain white part would be the back of the waistband and the graphic would be the front part.

Now this is where the waist measurement comes in.  If you have a 28" waist, you will want to divide that in half and add at least a 1/2 inch for a seam allowance.  To keep it simple, let's say we do want a 1/2" seam allowance, which would mean that I want to cut two strips, each 14 1/2" long.  In this case, I want  14 1/2" of the plain white and 14 1/2" of the graphic part of the t-shirt.

I then had to cut and straighten my pieces I was using for the waistband.  I wanted to get rid of the ragged part of the material so that I would have a smooth and straight piece to work with.

Ready to become the waistband  An Easy T-Shirt Skirt
Straightened and ready to sew...however the ends did like to roll on me. :-(

Next you want to determine how wide you want your waistband to be.  I just used the width of what was left of the t-shirt material, then folded it over, wrong sides together.  The width of your waistband will help determine what length your skirt will be.  The width of this waistband created a skirt that was knee length which is exactly what I wanted.  Next I sewed the front of the waistband to the back of the waistband using a 1/2" seam allowance on both sides. Once sewed, be sure and try the waistband on to make sure that the fit is good.

Finished waistband An Easy T-Shirt Skirt
My finished waistband
After the waistband is done, you need to pin it onto the top of the skirt.  The waistband will be much smaller than the top of the skirt, so you can either gather the skirt  as you go, you can sew darts in the back, or you can create a couple of gathers on the side.  I decided to create a couple of gathers on the side to keep it more uniform and not have to try making gathers all the way around.  This is the option that I chose.

An Easy T-Shirt Skirt
Pinning waistband to skirt

Be sure and pin the right sides together, and then sew around the edge allowing for a 1/2" seam allowance. Press the seams open and trim as needed.  And voila!  You are done!  The bottom hem of the shirt is now the bottom hem of your skirt, so you don't have to worry about hemming which is my least favorite thing to do when it comes to sewing.

An Easy T-Shirt Skirt
Finished skirt
I wore the skirt to church the next day and was complemented on it.  It made me feel good knowing that I was able to create this from a shirt that might have just ended up in the rag pile.

An Easy T-Shirt Skirt

An Easy T-Shirt Skirt

You can see I'm not really a model, but I do love how this skirt turned out!  Plus knit skirts are some of the most comfortable skirts that I have.  I love that I left this a little big on the sides since I don't like clothes that cling either.

I hope that you try and make a t-shirt skirt yourself.  Look for the ones with great graphics at Goodwill, or if they are marked down to $1.00 at your local store.  Keep in mind what would make a cool skirt.  Let me know below what you think about this project.

Happy sewing!

Homemade Grape Jelly (It's Easier Than You Think!)

Thursday, January 21, 2016
Our winter weather has finally hit.  After a very warm and rainy December, the snow and ice are here.  I guess I should have known that the warm weather was too good to be true.  And to be truthful, I really want a good snow and cold weather.  It will help with the garden come spring.  Snow will put nitrogen into the ground and the cold weather will help kill some of the bugs.

Even with the winter weather, I have been bitten by the canning bug.  I really didn't get to can much this past summer because of how horrible our garden did due to the massive amounts of rain we had. Our fall garden did very well, but not enough to can, just enough for us to eat as I picked it.

Some years back, my dad made the best apple jelly.  I asked him how he did it and he told me he used apple juice that he bought at the store.  I was shocked, I didn't even know at the time you could do that!  I was used to my parents making jellies, jams, and fruit butters from actual fruit that they either grew or bought from a farm.

Homemade Grape Jelly

Fast forward a few years and I have finally made jelly from juice.  I decided to make grape jelly because my family loves grape jelly and the kids eat a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I want to make sure that they jelly that they eat is as wholesome as a jelly can be.  So making it myself would not only ensure that, but would also save money in the long run.

I had all natural grape juice on hand and found the pectin I wanted to use which requires little to no sugar added.  I just can't fathom adding 7-8 cups of sugar to something that is already sweet!

So here it is, some of the easiest jelly I have ever made.

Ingredients Homemade Grape Jelly
Jelly ingredients
Pictured are the ingredients.  That's it.  That is all it took.  You can add in a cup of sugar if you like.  I didn't for my first batch.  Please note that I used Lite Fruit Pectin.  If you do not want to add sugar or very little sugar, or even a sugar substitute you must use a pectin that says it is for low to no sugar.

Put 4-5 cups of juice into a pot and bring to a gentle boil. I used 5 cups.

Grape juice Homemade Grape Jelly
Grape juice ready to cook.
Once boiling add in pectin.  Cook for 1 minute while stirring.  DO NOT OVERCOOK!  If you do, it breaks down the pectin and it will not jell.

Once you have cooked for 1 minute, skim off the foam that has formed on top.

Removed film Homemade Grape Jelly
This is the foam that I was able to take off the top.
Then ladle the juice into clean sterilized jars.  I used pints because we do use quite a bit of this at one time.  You could also use jelly jars.  I was able to get 2 1/2 pints from one batch.

Ready to can Homemade Grape Jelly
Ready to go into the water bath canner.
Put it in a water bath canner and process for 10 minutes.  Once processed, let sit for at least 24 hours to make sure that they have sealed.  If any have not sealed, put in the fridge immediately and use. We put the 1/2 pint jar in the fridge and are using that.

Like I said earlier the first batch I made was with no added sugar. The next batch I will make I will add sugar.  I decided that no sugar was going a little too far.  One cup of sugar should be enough to help give it some added flavor.

The jelly jelled very nicely.  I will absolutely use this method again.  In fact the pectin that I used has detailed instructions on how to make jelly using juice you have bought.  After grape, I will be making some apple jelly using store bought apple juice since that is one of my favorites!

Since I had the canner out and I had several jars cleaned and sterilized, I decided to can some other items.  I ended up canning spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce.  I love using Mrs. Wages brand seasonings because it is so easy (just add canned tomatoes if fresh are not available) and the seasonings are really good!  (I am not getting paid to say that.)  I really would suggest trying them.  The only thing that I have not tried of Mrs. Wages is their pickle seasonings.  I like my own version of dill, sweet and spicy, and bread and butter, so I don't see a need to buy the premade seasonings.

Canned goods Homemade Grape Jelly
Pizza sauce, grape jelly, and spaghetti sauce.
Remember that canning does not have to be just a summer thing.  You can can food at anytime of the year.  I realize it might not be with food out of your garden, but it is still better than store bought canned versions.

Do you can in the winter?

Listening When God Speaks

Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Listening When God Speaks

We like to listen to Old Time Radio in our house and one of our favorite shows is Fibber McGee and Molly.  On that show they have a running gag of the infamous hall closet.  Every time they open up the door to the closet, everything in the closet falls down on them.  Well, we have a closet that is very similar to it.

It is supposed to be an entry closet where we hang our coats.  Then I started storing gift wrapping supplies in it that includes wrapping paper, gift bags, bows, tags, and boxes to put gifts in.  Then whenever we needed to put something away and we didn't have a place for it this closet became our go to spot.  So now it includes flower pots, sleeping mats for camping, a sleeping bag, my jewelry making supplies, and who knows what else!

Listening When God Speaks   Entry Closet Before
Entry Closet before...what a mess!
Ever since we moved into this house, we have had storage issues.  We gained square footage which I love, but I had to give up all the built-ins we had in our little bungalow.  I do miss those built-ins.  We also had an attic and a basement which was also very nice to store things.  But we don't have those here.  In my mind, all I could think was we need more space!  We need a new, bigger, grander house!

Not too long ago, we talked about building.  In fact, we picked out the plans, talked to a builder and were on our way to the bank when we found out that my job may not be stable at this time.  We decided to wait on building as we didn't want to be in the middle of a big, costly project and I lose my job.  To be honest, looking back on it I realize that God was stepping in and saying "Not now."  

I started thinking about why we wanted a new house and the answer pretty much slapped me in the face.  I wanted it for us.  I wanted it to hold all my stuff, the majority of things that I don't ever use.  I wanted it to show off to others.  I wanted it to be able to brag.  God knew my heart and he knew that it was not for His glory, but for my own.  If we had continued on in the process, it would not have gone as planned.  I know that now.

There are some issues with the place that we live.  But ever since we decided not to build, God has opened doors for us in ways I can't even explain.  I have a small list of needs for this place, reasons that I thought were good enough to build a new house. What I have found, is that almost every need has been, or is going to be met through our existing house.  

For the time being, we decided to just clean out and get rid of items that we no longer need or use. The hall closet was first on our list, but it is not the only thing that we have tackled.  

Listening When God Speaks   Entry Closet After
Entry closet after...much better!
I also cleaned and organized my pantry and we started doing the same thing to our master closet...but I'll get to that story in a little bit.  

Listening When God Speaks  Pantry Before
Pantry before...actually it was worse than this, I forgot to take a picture before I started cleaning.

Listening When God Speaks  Pantry After
Our pantry after.  I can actually find things in it!
As we started our cleaning/organizing/decluttering, something happened.  We started looking at our house in a little different light.  It wasn’t the horrible place that I had made it out to be as I was dreaming of bigger and better things.  For once I started seeing the good in it, the potential.  God has helped me see the wonderful, in the blessing that he saw fit to give us.

Now back to our master closet.  It is long and narrow.  It is walk-in, but barely.  I do want a bigger closet to help organize things better.  As we were cleaning out the closet, Steve and I were looking at our bathroom that the closet is off of.  It is huge!  It has more walking room than we need.  So after measuring and talking, we looked at each other and said do we want to do this? Well the answer was a resounding yes.  A wall has come down and we are enlarging our closet by about 2 foot.

Listening When God Speaks  Inside our Closet
Inside our closet, long and narrow.
Listening When God Speaks  Closet Wall To Remove
The wall that we are taking down.

As for the other complaints about our home, we are figuring out ways to make those go away.  As we listen to God, doors are opening, we are able to thrive, and we are more content with our life.  I never thought an organization project could bring me closer to God.

It is amazing how God works and how he gets our attention.  He can do it through miraculous works, or he can do it through small whispers.  The most important thing that I have learned is to listen when God speaks.

Is God speaking to you? 

Lentil Sloppy Joes

Thursday, January 7, 2016
I love sloppy joes!  I haven't always.  Growing up, my mom used to make sloppy joes from scratch and I really didn't care for them.  I think she used a mixture of ketchup and mustard and probably added in some of the homemade tomato juice that they always canned every summer.  It was on the runny side and it just didn't have that sweet and tangy taste that I have now grown to love.  I disliked her sloppy joes so much that she had to make me a plain hamburger patty every time she made them.

Lentil Sloppy Joes

The first time I tried the canned version of the sauce, I was in heaven!  I thought that was the best stuff that I had ever eaten.  From then on I loved sloppy joes!  But that was back in the 90's.  A time when we were young and carefree and the price of beef was where a poor 20-something could actually afford it.  In fact, hamburger used to be considered a budget meal! Now, not only is beef NOT a budget item but it is not all that healthy, unless you are lucky enough to raise it yourself or buy from a farmer that you know is raising their cattle grass fed.

I have my sister Lori to thank for turning me onto lentils.  Last year, we were looking for substitutes for meat during a time when we really needed to watch our money.  Before I go any further, I have to add that my husband is all about eating meat.  He would eat meat and potatoes for every meal if I let him, so the idea of substituting a couple of meals a week with vegetarian meals did not exactly thrill him.  But my sister assured me that lentils were very tasty, were inexpensive, and could be substituted as a meat in just about any dish that calls for hamburger.

I first looked up the benefits of lentils which include: good source of iron, great source of protein, low in calories, and the list goes on and on.  Next I looked up recipes and found a ton of recipes with lentils.  Things like chili, salads, lentil loaf (instead of meatloaf), taco lentils, and of course sloppy joes.

The first time we made the sloppy joes, I followed a recipe I found.  It was okay, but not great.  The lentils were under cooked and the sauce didn't have any wow factor.  But, it was good enough that I knew, if I started tweaking the recipe, it could be great!  So that is what I have for you today, my tweaked version of lentil sloppy joes that my family (kids included!) love!

Green Lentils for Lentil Sloppy Joes
Green Lentils

You can get green, red, or black lentils.  We usually gravitate towards the green because they are easier to find in regular grocery stores.  We like to cook our lentils till they are soft, but just before the mushy stage.  Like I said the first time I cooked them, they were under cooked.  I believe the recipe said to cook them for 15 minutes.  That was not long enough for us!  We really wanted it more of the consistency of the hamburger meat that we were replacing.  Also, I need to mention that before you cook your lentils, you need to go through them and wash them just as you would dry beans.

The sauce for this recipe is a cross between my grandmother's swedish meatball sauce and what I use for baked beans.  I decided to stick with a sauce I was familiar with and play with the amounts and add and tweak as needed.  So here is our version of lentil sloppy joes.


  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
Lentil Sloppy Joes ingredients
Ingredients...just missing the Worcestershire and tomato sauce.
Bring 4 1/2 cups of water to a boil.  Add in 1 cup of dry lentils.  Reduce heat and let simmer 25-30 minutes.  This is double the amount of time that the original recipe we tried said.  For us it was trial and error and this is the consistency we liked.  I would suggest cooking them for 20 minutes, tasting one to see the texture and then if too hard, continue cooking.

While the lentils are cooking, you can prepare your sauce.  Add the tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, minced onions, garlic powder, and Worcestershire sauce to a sauce pan and cook over low heat.  You want the sugar to dissolve and the flavors to meld.  Let it simmer until the lentils are done.

Once the lentils are cooked to your desired consistency, drain off the water.

Cooked lentils for Lentil Sloppy Joes
Cooked lentils
Add your cooked lentils to your sauce.  At this time, you can keep them warm on the stove, which is what I had to do, just be careful not to overcook the lentils or they will turn into mush.

Cooked Lentils in sloppy joe sauce
Cooked lentils in sloppy joe sauce.
You can see from the picture that it is pretty saucy!  We like sloppy, sloppy joes.  1 cup of lentils more than fed our family of 4.  In fact we have quite a few left-overs.  

Lentil Sloppy Joes
If only I would have had time to make my own buns, that would have made the meal.  However I was able to pick these lovely buns up for 1/2 price because of the use by date.  I didn't mind that they were expiring that day since I was going to be using them the same day.  The whole sandwich was delicious!

I really hope you give this recipe a try.  Want a printable version of the recipe?  Then click HERE.

And please let me know in the comments below what you think about using lentils or if you have even tried them before.

A No Spend January Challege

Tuesday, January 5, 2016
For the past three years we have participated in a no spend January. If you have never done that before it basically means that you pay your bills and buy only the necessities.  You spend as little as possible on gas and groceries.  And if you don't need it, you don't buy it!

The first year we participated in this went great. We didn't spend any extra money and I'll never forget that we spent a total of $75.00 on food that month. In fact I strive to do the same every month, but have never been able to duplicate that month's food budget.  

The next year went ok. We had to buy tires for Steve's car but we had money saved and was able to use that. When we did go shopping I made sure what we got was what we needed, not what we wanted. That meant that I put several items back on the shelf after having them in my cart.  As I walked around the store, I asked myself, is this something my family can live without?

Last year (our third year) just seemed to fall apart from the beginning.  Drew needed new glasses and insurance didn't cover them. We had several repairs that came up and it seemed we were shelling out money for the kids for this activity or that. 

I really had not planned on doing a no spend January this year, but after looking at our finances and knowing we needed a way to recover from Christmas and taxes, and everything else that cost money in December, I thought it would be good if we went ahead and did a no spend month.

A No Spend January Challege

I know that this year, we are not going to have a true no spend January.  My car needs tires and really that is a necessity.  We will also be getting new glasses, but this time the insurance should cover the cost.  I plan on using up what I have in my pantry and freezers.  Flashback to November. ;-)

We will also be going through our house and purging anything that we do not need or use.  We have already tackled the hall closet (post coming soon) and I have gone through Carly's clothes.  It had been over a year since I have went through her clothes and gotten rid of the ones that don't fit. Needless to say I have two trash bags full of girl's clothes.

I hope that you will join me in this challenge.  I have started a Facebook group as a support to help each other out.  You can find it by going here.  

Let me know in the comments below if you have ever participated in a no spend month, and please join us on Facebook!

Gardening in Winter: A Cold (Frame) Story

Monday, January 4, 2016
It has been a very mild December for us here in Missouri.  We were thankful for the weather that we did have as we laid Tippy to rest in our orchard.  Tippy was our dear sweet kitty.  She will be missed, and there is quite a void in our house without her.  Sox our other cat grieved over Tippy.  I didn't realize how much her passing would affect him, but it did, it affected all of us.

On the day we buried Tippy, the weather was very mild and we decided to take a little walk around our farm.  As we went buy our raised garden beds, I noticed some growth.  Some of our onions and spinach are growing.  I knew we had some old windows that we were saving to use for a greenhouse, so I asked Steve if he could fashion a cold frame for me.

Gardening in Winter: A  Cold Frame Story
Little onions and spinach growing. 
I have wanted to try and grow vegetables during the winter months, and I thought this was the perfect time to start my hand at it.  I'm not sure if this is going to work, but I will let you know.  With the raised beds, all we did was use one of the covers that Steve built, and then put the windows on top to create a greenhouse effect.  I will have to keep a close eye on them to make sure that they are getting enough water, and sunlight, but not burning up either.  A true cold frame would allow you to raise the glass so that the heat it generates from the sun does not burn the plant up.  At this time, we do not have this feature which is why I need to keep a close eye on it.

Gardening in Winter: A Cold Frame Story
Our windows sitting on top of the cover on our raised garden bed. 
If you would like to watch the video I have it shared below.  It also shows you a beautiful view of our creek. If you would like to see more of our videos, then check-out our YouTube channel. 

Let me know in the comments below, have you ever gardened with a cold frame?

7 Tips to Making New Year's Resolutions That Last

Friday, January 1, 2016
For several years I have been like so many and have made resolutions at the beginning of the year.  And just like a lot of those that made resolutions, most if not all were soon forgotten.

The other night we were watching an older Phineas and Ferb episode. Doofenshmirtz was (of course) trying to take over the tri-state area during New Year's eve. He made a resolutioninator that changed everyone's resolution to follow him as a leader. *Spoiler Alert* At the end the resolutions of the people were changed to follow him but it only lasted for a minute. The plan didn't work because people never keep their resolutions.

While the ending was funny, it was kind of sad at the same time. Most people make resolutions every year, but very few follow through on them. I started thinking about how I treat my resolutions and thought I would share with you 7 tips to follow to make your New Year's resolutions last.

7 Tips to Making New Year's Resolutions That Last

1. Don't Make Resolutions
Wow, that was pretty easy. End of post, right? Not quite. A couple of years ago I stopped making resolutions. Why make resolutions that I was not keeping? In fact, there were some that wouldn't even last a month! Instead I make yearly goals.  There is something about calling it a goal that makes it seem more attainable.  And it's safe to say that we have all achieved at least one goal in our lives. In fact I think setting goals is more important than resolutions so for the rest of the post, I'm only going to refer to resolutions as goals.

2. Don't Set Yourself Up For Failure
There is nothing wrong with dreaming big.  We have our dreams here at Henslee Farm that we know some day we will achieve. But for the time being, I need to focus on the little things. The things that I know can be accomplished. We want to become debt free. Is that something that we can accomplish this year? Not unless a big wind-fall comes our way. However I can create a goal of paying off three debts. I know that is attainable and it is a step toward the bigger goal down the road.

3. Don't Be Too Specific
Sometimes being too specific can set us up for failure. One of your goals may be to become healthier.  If your goal is to exercise every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday for 45 minutes each day, chances are something may happen that you wouldn't always be able to follow that schedule.  Instead you could say that you want to increase your amount of exercise to 3 days per week. That goal gives you some wiggle room with the days and the amount of time you exercise.

4. Find an Accountability Partner
Find yourself someone that can hold you accountable. It might be a spouse, a friend, or a sibling. Share your goals with them. In fact if it is your spouse it is important to work together to have some shared goals.  If someone else knows about your goals it is easier to stick with them.

5. Put Them on Display
I'm sure you have heard of the saying out of sight, out of mind. Don't write your goals down and then put them away where you won't see them or will forget about them. Put them in a place where you can see them on a daily basis. It might be on the fridge, the bathroom mirror, beside your bed. Just somewhere that you can see your goals and be reminded of them.

6. Do a Periodic Review
When I create goals for my job, I review them after 3-6 months. I look at what I have accomplished,  what still needs to be done, and what if anything needs to be tweaked. You should be doing the same for your personal goals. Just like you put them on display to remind yourself of them, be sure and take a good hard look at them and see where you are in accomplishing them. It is okay to make adjustments to them. Life always throws us curves and it is important to be flexible. That is another reason why #3 above is important.

7. Celebrate Your Accomplishments
It is important to celebrate and focus on the goals you were able to complete. Even if you were only able to complete a part of a goal that is awesome. Don't focus on what you didn't do. Cut yourself some slack and realize that completing any goal or part of a goal is awesome. Not completing a goal this year does not mean you can never complete it. If you want to continue it just roll it forward into the next year, or maybe it is not something that is important to you anymore.  That's okay!  Look at what you did accomplish!

I thought I would share some of my goals that affect you guys for the 2016 year.
  • I want to post on a more regular schedule. The holidays really threw me off.
  • I want to include more posts on home improvement. We will be doing several projects this year that I can share with you all.
  • I want to include more craft posts using recycled material.  Okay that one is specific, but I'm hoping with the leftover material from our building projects, I'll be able to transform some things into crafts.
  • I want to provide some free printables for you guys to use.
  • And the big one is I want to work on an ebook that will be available by the end of 2016 or beginning of 2017.
I hope that your family has a wonderful 2016 and that you accomplish your goals for this year.  I also hope that you will continue to come back and read and comment.  Speaking of comments...please share with me some of your goals for 2016 in the comments below.

Happy New Year!
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