Spring Garden

It’s already getting hot in Florida. But my spring garden is looking fantastic.

I have to admit I have been giving myself pats on the back for this one. I am so proud.

I love just looking at it and admiring its beauty.

I have had gardens in the past. But this one takes the cake!

These pictures are from April 21st.

Left side of the garden

Left side of the garden

Watermelon

Watermelon

Watermelon with a fly

Watermelon with a fly

Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe

Nibbles always waits by the fence when his Mama is in the garden.

Nibbles always waits by the fence when his Mama is in the garden.

Right Side of the garden

Right Side of the garden

Right side of the garden

Right side of the garden

Back in the fall, my right side of the garden looked great and my left side was still getting prepped. But as you can see the left just exploded this season. These are pictures from this morning.

Growing a large family

Pea pods

Pea pods

Right side of the garden

Right side of the garden

Left side of the garden

Left side of the garden

Watermelon

Watermelon

Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe

Pickling cucumbers

Pickling cucumbers

Watermelon

Watermelon

Corn

Corn

Green Beans

Green Beans

Pineapple

Pineapple

I am definitely not done. I want to get some wild flowers planted. Oh I also forgot to take pictures of the milkweed with butterfly eggs on it. Brianna is so excited. But the heat is getting bad so I don’t how long some of these plants will last. Summers in Florida is like a winter up north. You can’t plant anything; it’s too hot and too rainy. I will be conditioning my soil during that season and prepping for a huge fall garden.

I am even thinking of another expansion. One in a more shady area to grow plants that can’t handle a lot of heat and sun.

April is here

I feel like screaming too!

I feel like screaming too!

 

We flipped another page in our calendar. Can you believe it’s already April!? But it’s here and so far is looking like a slower month for me. I truly need that and will try my hardest to limit activities this month. Since January, I feel like all I have done is run errands, go to doctor appointments or have some kind of activity to get the kids too. My spring break wasn’t even a break.

I am an introvert. So by nature this kind of schedule has been hard for me. But one of my new years resolutions was to be more present for my kids. And so far I have been doing it. I’ve been saying yes to activities and not coming up with excuses why we can’t go. My anxiety has been under control which has been so nice. We’ve been enjoying life.

But this mom needs a little slow down. I think that is good for everyone. No matter what kind of person they are.

I want to dig my hands in the dirt. Hang out with my chickens. And complete some projects I keep putting off.

I also feel this is a good time to get our eating and budget habits back on track. I have to admit since the holidays I feel like it’s been nothing but sweets, candy and fast food. I told you life has been crazy! But now it’s time to get back on track. With hubby’s kidney problems and our daughter’s behavioral problems, good food is very important. I have noticed a lot of behavioral issues popping up with my girl. So time to catch it before it’s out of control.

Last month, I made dinner menus for the next 3 months. So I am ahead of the game there. I also got the majority of my grocery shopping done for the month last week.

This week I am focusing on organizing and few areas of the house. While also learning how to live without some of my major appliances.

YUP! The well broke. I tell you what…you can tell it’s April because it just poured 3 days into it. We have sand mixed in with our water. And of course it happened on a Sunday. Hubby tried to fix it but couldn’t. Looks like we are looking at a new well.

Like Hubby said we take 2 steps forward and 5 back.

A couple of weeks ago, we finally got the majority of our building project done that we had been working on for months.   We were planning for some other projects and business is going good. We were feeling accomplished. And now this!

My mom was here when it happened and said man, ya’ll can’t catch a break. And it’s true. This is part of living on a homestead. Fix one thing and another thing needs fixing. Mom and I walked through and talked about how to fix the fence until we have money and time to replace it.

So we can take showers. But I can’t run my dishwasher or my fancy washer. Luckily we bought a cheap old washer and will use that. I have to use bottle water for cooking or drinking. Recycling truck is going to love us this week. We are only washing pots and pans. Everything else we are using is disposable. It’s killing me. I all about reuse and limiting our garbage as much as possible.

OH well! (Pun intended) It is what it is. A few days or so; won’t kill me……I hope!

 

Christmas Planning…week 6

Last week, I came across this fantastic post by Christy Jordan. For those of you who don’t know, she runs a blog called Southern Plate and also has published 2 cookbooks. She is my blog idol.

Anyways.

She posted about how she makes a Christmas Notebook. It was so easy and simple. And I thought what better way to get organize than to have one place for everything.

I always have half used notebooks lying around so I put one to use and turned it into the Ford Family Christmas Notebook. Her is very fancy, where I just took a sharpie to the cover.

I did everything she did, but I also added in a page for Thanksgiving menu and grocery list.

And I will be adding pages for Christmas Cookies to bake, Elf on the Shelf Tricks and our 25 days of Christmas activities.

I hope ya’ll will find her blog and post as enjoyable as I did.

OH I forgot… Target and Walmart black friday ads is up on the site.

 

Holidays Upon us..week 6

We have 2 more weeks of Holidays upon us post and then it is here. All the craziness of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.

Thanksgiving: Get your final menu figured out! Hand out assignments of who is to bring what. Figure out your portion of the meal and make a grocery list. Also remember plates, cups and silverware. If you are fancy and use non-paper items, make sure you have enough. I use paper goods, but I like all of my food served in regular dishes. So I will be getting them out this week and washing them up and seeing what I still need.

Black Friday: The ads are slowly starting to roll out. I am still waiting for the 2 bigger ones: Target and Walmart. But there are a lot that have already been posted. Check them out here.

If you haven’t started yet, then start that shopping!!!

You only have 45 days to go!

I know I didn’t say anything about Christmas in this post. That’s because I have a special Christmas post coming on Wednesday.

Eat at Home Challenge

For the last 2 months, we have really struggled with fast food. Our lives have been so busy with at least 3-4 activities on the calendar every week that it was easier to just grab something while we were out. But then there was also moments of how about we go here and there for dinner. Or do you want to get this or that for breakfast. It got out of control.

My proudest moment was when I had to take my daughter for a last-minute, late in the day doctor appointment. After the appointment, I had to make the, normally 30 minute, drive back to our hometown during rush hour traffic and stop at the pharmacy. It would have been easy to get sucked into the let’s just pick something up game. But I refused! I knew I had meat thawed in the fridge that needed to be used up. I knew we had already ate out at lunch time because of a homeschool meeting. I knew we were going over to my mom’s for pizza the next day. And I wasn’t going to do it! I got home and with the help of my middle daughter. I made dinner at home. It was completely from scratch. But it was the best I could do under the circumstances and much better than fast food. We had pork chops, mac and cheese (organic from a box) and broccoli. And I was darn proud. So proud, I turned around and did it again on Saturday. And then again on Monday.  3 busy days that could have been easier to just throw the towel in and hit the drive through. But I didn’t!

So to take it a step further, I am challenging myself to a 2 week eat at home challenge. I am going to start as of this Sunday. That means I am already 2 days into it. I actually signed up for this challenge through Eat at Home Cooks. I really love this blog because it gives some simple tips and makes it easy for all of us to eat at home. Not to mention the recipes are yummy.

And let’s be honest we all need to eat at home to make room in the fridge, freezer and our waistline for all those holiday foods that are coming up.

Why I don’t make my own pumpkin puree

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I am the queen of making things from scratch. I know it’s healthy and I love the taste of homemade better than anything else. I have always been like this. I always like things better when they are homemade.

Last year I decided I was going to try to make homemade pumpkin puree. And let’s just say that is not happening again. I couldn’t find easy instructions anywhere online. So I was really winging it. Then I had problems trying to scoop the pumpkin out of the skin. And more problems trying to get it to that smooth texture that comes from a can.

It really was a hot mess. Like, no seriously, it was HOT! But I tried and really at the end of that project, I stood there and asked myself why did I think this was a good idea? I don’t even like pumpkin!

OY VEY! Sometimes the things I get in my brain, even I can’t explain it!

Why would I go through all this extra steps for something I don’t eat. Because I love my family and they love pumpkin. But in the end, the only ones to benefit from my experiment was my chickens.

So if you’re a lover of pumpkin and have found the detail instructions to make your own pumpkin puree, have a go at it. Me~I’ll stick to the can stuff. And that is probably the only time you will ever hear me say that.

 

This blog post participated in the Simple Homestead Blog Hop

Holidays upon us…week 3

Good Monday Morning ya’ll. I hope this week is so much better than last week. Maybe I can play catch up on my To-Do list. So let’s jump right into it.

Halloween: You should be pretty well prepared for this Holiday. I picked up the last 2 items I needed this past weekend. But I know some of you have kids in school and sometimes they do a Halloween party. Start thinking about what you want to donate for that. Even though we homeschool, I make a big deal out the holiday and make it feel like a fun day. We have special treats and theme lunches or breakfast. Ghost pancakes anyone?

Growing a Large Family

Throwback pictures

Those of you in neighborhoods that participate in Trick or Treating, buy your candy now. And make sure it’s candy you like! This way if it’s one of those years where not many kids came by, you aren’t stuck with a bunch of candy you can’t stand. I personally like to buy plain chocolate bars, M&M’s, Reese Pieces and peanut butter cups. Why? Because they can be frozen and made into yummy desserts throughout the whole year. I also buy lollipops or goldfish crackers for the little ones who can’t eat candy.

Thanksgiving: Make your invite list. And start putting the word out that those people are more than welcome to come over on Thanksgiving. But give them a deadline on when they need to give you a definite answer. Start thinking of your menu and what items you want to be in charge of. I am also making up my cornbread and freezing it this week for my cornbread stuffing. I am changing it up a little bit this year. I will post the recipe later in the week.

Throwback pictures

Throwback pictures

Black Friday: I added this category this week because I know a lot of people are into that day after Thanksgiving shopping. I did it once, with a 4 month old, while being exhausted and sick. Thank god my hubby and brother went with me. But since then I haven’t seen anything that has made me jump up and rush out at 3am! But I do still check the ads, which is what you should be doing too. Starting now, keep checking for Black Friday ads online here. You know everything gets leaked on the internet and these are no exception. As of this morning, there aren’t any out but you can sign up for ad alerts when they do start hitting the net. And believe me they will start coming out very soon! So why not get a heads up!?

Throwback pictures

Throwback pictures

Christmas: Maybe you aren’t the hit all the stores and get everything done the day after Thanksgiving type of person. Me neither! But I do like to shop and I like to shop in my jammies! Shopping online has become my favorite past time. And if I have to buy something why not get a little money back or points towards a gift card for myself. My 2 favorite websites for shopping is My Points and Ebates. My Points also has a store where you can buy gift cards and earn bonus points. Get an account set up and familiarize with the website and how things work. Also look for their daily deals where you can get double or triple the points. Might even see a deal you can’t pass up.

Also if you are one of those people that buy little things throughout the year (like me!) then now is the time to go through all that stuff and make a list. I always have list broken down of who I need to shop for and what I have bought them already. This year I will add an amount category.

I hope you are enjoying this series as much as I am enjoying writing it. See you next Monday for week 4.

Holidays upon us…week 2

I know I am late this week, it’s just been the week from hell. Sickness, Doctor appointments and more sickness has taken over. But I finally have a chance to get week 2 posted.

Halloween: Finalize your plans and costumes! If you wait too much longer, you’re going to be running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to find your or your child’s costume.

Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving seems to be the one holiday I use the most spices. So now would be a good time to go through your spice cabinet and make a list of any that need to be replaced. This will make it easy when you see a really good sale or coupon. Another thing, I forgot to mention, sign up for Fresh Market’s emails. Last year they sent out an email to pre-order your turkey and also sent a coupon for $5 off.

Start collecting your recipes and putting them some place where you will know where they are at. This will save you time when you are making a grocery list and begin cooking on Thanksgiving.

Christmas: Just keep looking for different ideas. This year looks like it will be really tight budget wise for us, so I have already started letting people know that I am shopping for kids 18 and under only; with the exceptions of my Mom and my Mother in Law. And while we are on the subject of budgets: make one and stick to it for Christmas. This is the hardest thing for me! But I am going to try my best this year.

This is all I can think of right now. I am literally running on caffeine. I promise next week will be much better and on time.

Football, Food and Taco Salad Dip

Growing large family

 

Labor Day Weekend officially started football season. College Football on Saturdays~GO NOLES!!!!!! And NFL on Sundays!!!! Go Jameis Winston!!!!

And with that means FOOTBALL FOOD! Chips and Dip, burgers, tacos and more!!! Not to mention all those yummy desserts that can be eaten by hand. I love football, but the food is the real star of the show for me. Our football food season made its debut with a taco salad dip.

This was a quick and easy meal but full of yumminess. And you can customize it.

Cook your hamburger and drain. Add in taco seasoning (according to package directions) or add a can of enchilada sauce. Whatever you prefer to spice up your taco meat. I added a can of enchilada sauce and some homemade refried beans. It was delicious.

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While that’s simmering away, shred up your cheese. Until your cheese grater breaks.

growing a large family

OH well, it lasted a good 15 years. Anyways, I used Monterey this time around. But really it’s whatever you have on hand or prefer.

Assembly time!

Growing a large family Lettuce

Growing a large familyMeat and Corn. Side note: beans would be great. Peppers if I wasn’t allergic. Olives. Any toppings! This is an anything goes taco salad.

Growing a large familyCheese time! Load that baby up! I love cheese! The cheesier the better! And I’m sure my husband would say my jokes are the same way. But anyways….

Now you are going to add the “dressing”. You could add some spicy ranch from a bottle if you want. Remember it’s your salad. But I went with simplicity. I added a heap spoonful of sour cream and salsa.

Perfect Taco salad

Perfect Taco salad

Now you could eat this like a salad. But this is game day! And you aren’t a real football fan unless you are eating something with your hands and getting messy. So grab a fork to mix it all up and then put the fork in the sink. Now grab some tortilla chips and scoop away!

 

What’s cooking Wednesday~ Fruit Salad

A little side note: Yes I know it is Thursday and this segment is called what’s cooking Wednesday. But yesterday I kept forgetting it was Wednesday. And then when I went to write this post I thought I lost my pictures. I looked through all of the SD cards and convinced myself that I had gone crazy and lost them. Then this morning, I was browsing through my pictures I have saved online and VOILA! They appeared here waiting for me to write this post the whole time! I blame this on the time change and Mommy brain.

Here it is! The long awaited Fruit Salad recipe to go with my quiches. My hubby and kids love this super simple recipe.

 

 

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1 20oz can pineapple; crushed

2 small cans mandarin oranges or 1 large can

1 pkg. strawberry jello

1 tub cool whip or homemade whipped cream

2 cups cottage cheese

Combine the cottage cheese, jello and fruit. Mix together.

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I usually make homemade whipped cream by beating 1 1/2 cups heavy cream with a tbs of sugar and 2 tsp vanilla. This is why my fruit salad takes a little longer.

Add either cool whip or homemade whipped cream to cottage cheese mix and fold in gently. Refrigerate for a couple of hours and then serve chilled.

You can add a little bit of nuts. I used to do this but got away from it when my son started eating it because he hates nuts. But honestly, nobody notices  complains about them not being in there.

There you have it folks, simple, easy and yummy! This would make a great side dish to that ham you are planning on fixing for Easter.