Saturday, November 30, 2013

Monetary Diet

Three weeks ago I strolled into church not really expecting to be changed.  However, the sermon was on financial freedom, and it was if the Heavens had opened up and God was talking directly to me.  After we left that service I was determined to change my life, and since then Reluctant Farmer and I have under taken the huge task of reining in and eliminating our unsecured debt.  This is something that has been bothering me for several years, but not something I was willing to face.  No one likes to admit they are $20,000 in debt to a credit card company.  It feels terrible, and I am tired of being Citi Card's bitch, so we have been working our tails off to remedy this situation.

While on my "monetary diet" I have made a lot of changes and there have been a million "ah-ha" moments.    They haven't been easy, and some have been quite painful, but I will live and much better than a lot of other people in this world.

- We now have a budget.  This was a foreign word to me 2 weeks ago.  I grew up in a family that never hurt for money.  We as children always had lavish Christmas mornings, birthday parties, and if we wanted something it was ours.  Now each week our paycheck is divided out to where it needs to go immediately.  There is no more free money sitting around in my checking account in case I find a "must have" at the local store.

- After realizing that we spent $700.00 a month going out to eat, we now have a weekly allowance and each get $25.00 to spend every week to do with what we wish.  Chipotle, Starbucks, and McDonald's are now treats instead of the norm. Please note:  If you own stock in those companies sell now.  There is about to be a significant drop in revenue without us shopping there on a daily basis!

- We have stopped being "Disneyland Parents".  As I started this budget, my initial thought was "Who starts a budget this close to Katzya's birthday and Christmas?!"  I now see this was a brilliant move.  Last week was my daughter's birthday, and in the past I would have rolled out the red carpet.  There would have been party favors, a matching cake, the house would have been decorated in the same theme, and I would have managed to squeeze $300.00 worth of presents into the day as well.  This year, I was determined to stay on budget for her birthday.  We took my daughter to the movies with a few of her friends, skipped the party favors, and I bought her a $25.00 gift card to her favorite book store.  Guess what?!  She was perfectly fine with her birthday party and had a great time.  I have realized "Disneyland Parenting" is truthfully for the parents, not the kids.  A child who has been raised to be grateful doesn't care if it she receives 20 present or 1 present. (At least I did something right in the parenting department!)

-  The entire reason we homestead is to save money, eat healthy, and be self-sustaining.  I am not sure how/why we have gone astray, but it feels good to be on track!

My goal is to continue this momentum into the Christmas holiday.  It's not going to be easy, but I just have to remind myself that nothing I buy is going to be as great as being debt free will be.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Over and out...

The 2013 garden season is over for us here On the Urban Farm.  We spent the afternoon clearing out the raised beds and tiding up around the farm.  The biggest challenge was rounding up the bottle neck/birdhouse gourds.  We ended up with 53 gourds for $1.99!  What we will do with 53 birdhouse gourds?!  Lord knows...   

Our raised beds served us will this growing season.  We grew enough produce that I feel pretty secure going into winter with what we were able to preserve.  I don't have an exact count on what we ended up with, but I know this is the biggest bounty that I have ever had in my pantry.  (We have actually had to use the racks from our grow lights as storage shelves!)

As usual, the gardens were not just about nourishing the body by way of stomach.  My mind was nourished as well.  I often refer to my garden as a living breathing class room, and have taken away a few things for next year:

1)  Don't start your seeds in February no matter how much you suffer from lack of sun and dirt.  Where it is possible to keep the plants alive, it is A LOT of work, and pimping out your living room with grow stations and 72,000 lumens of lights makes the neighbors mildly suspicious....

2)  Don't over crowd carrots when you plant them.  We sowed rows of carrots, but should have planted the seeds thinner.  Instead we over crowded and didn't thin, so we ended up with a bunch of 1" long carrots.  Oops....

3)  The makers of the "plant safe" weed killers are liars....  My cucumber crop is proof of such things.

4)  Squash bugs are proof that Satan exhists here on earth.  We tried a million different home remedies and still ended up with no pumpkin crop and a minimal squash crop.  Just remember this squash bugs:  Next year, we are back.  I have all winter to research how to kill you.  You have been warned....

5)  Fungus on vine plants can be cured if you catch it in time.  Thankfully The Reluctant Farmer is diligent about inspecting the garden!

With winter approaching, I can say I am happy for the break this time of year gives.  I will research, and plan for 2014, hoping to improve what I am able to produce.  I would also like to add a bee hive or two to the ol' urban homestead, and possibly a turkey for the freezer.

What did you take away from your gardens this year?  Anything you wish you would have done different?  Any crops you wish you would have tried, or won't ever try again?  What were your successes and failures?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Monday brings out the beast....

Monday brings out the beast in all of us....

The Reluctant Farmer was scratching Tru tonight and he was grinning from ear to ear, in total doggie ecstasy.  I love when he smiles and decided to snap a few pictures while he was "cheesing" for the camera.  Sadly, none of my photos turned out the way I envisioned, but this one made me laugh because he looks like I feel on Monday morning.

So my friends, as you go about your day I wish you all the best and hope this picture brings a smile to your Monday morning.

Emily and Tru

Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Veteran's Day!

Happy Veteran's Day to all of the men and women who protect my freedom then and now!  I appreciate the sacrifice that you and your family have made so I can live in this amazing country.  Land of the free and home of the brave?  Not without you!

Pictured above is my Uncle Ug.  He made a career out of the military, and retired several years ago.  Growing up, I was always so proud of him, and loved watching him leave in the morning dressed in his fatigues.  He taught me to love animals, farm life, and can fix anything!  

Thanks for being my hero Uncle Ug, today and everyday!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Buyer's Remorse and A Budget

Several weeks ago I went to one of my favorite antique stores downtown, and was warned by The Reluctant Farmer that I was NOT to buy anything that I could not carry home, because I didn't need anymore "stuff" and we were on a budget.

She gave me this warning with a snarky attitude which I think I was to take as gospel.  Instead I viewed her passive aggression as a challenge.  

Now, I realize I didn't really need to purchase anything, and probably would have come out of the store empty handed, but as I was puttering around the store looking at a barrage of antique awesomeness, I glanced over at the shop keeper, and above her head was a mirage! 

I fell in love with the same speed and intensity of a middle schooler, and immediately asked the shop keeper, "How much is that?!"

She cheerfully exclaimed:  "It's ONLY $40.00!"

I was blinded by cheap love and an competitive attitude:  "Really?!  Only $40.00?!  I'll take it!"

I knew this painting was meant to be mine, otherwise why would the universe have aligned at this exact moment, providing me with:

- An obnoxiously large painting of a dog for only $40.00!
- A way to challenge The Reluctant Farmer's passive aggressive warning that I didn't need more "stuff".
- And a seemingly obvious win, because I could most certainly carry this home!  

So, I hiked home with an obvious prize, and realized one tragic piece upon arrival.  In my haste to win a silent competition with The Reluctant Farmer, I failed to measure the wall where I planned on hanging the painting.  

Did The Reluctant Farmer gloat?  No, that is not her style.....

Instead, she took down another painting that is near and dear to my heart, and replaced it with "the dalmatian on steroids" painting, promising she would rehang my other painting soon.  The other painting has yet to be hung, and after walking past that dalmatian 500 times a day, do you know what I have realized?  

I have a terrible case of buyer's remorse, and if we're going to be completely honest with each other I don't even like that painting...  (Ouch, that hurt to admit!)  But we can't get rid of the painting now because The Reluctant Farmer says it is a waste of money to take it to the Goodwill.  Guess this will be a lesson in budgeting for me, because I will be reminded of this mistake until I find a buyer for the painting.  How about it friends, know anyone that wants a 4'x4' painting of a dalmatian?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The middle will be great....

Last night on our way home from dog class Katzya insisted that as soon as we got home, she wanted to knit.

I looked at her strangely and said:  "Did you say you wanted to knit?"

She said, "Yes, I have been meeting with some people at the library after school and I have been learning how to knit.  I am pretty good at it!"

Part of me was skeptical because the last time I tried to teach her to knit, there was enough whining and crying in the first 5 stitches that I contemplated homicide by knitting needles.  The other half of me, the half that's a fiber whore, was so excited she wanted to knit I could hardly contain myself.

As soon as we got home we dug out the knitting supplies, and I asked:  "Why the sudden interest in knitting?"

Katzya replied back, "Before, I wasn't very good, and I was wrapped up in my scarf being perfect.  My scarf was different widths, I dropped stitches, and I was afraid to do something I was not good at."

"Well, what changed?", I asked.

Smartly, she replied:  "I did!  I still don't know how to start and I don't know how to finish but the middle is great!"  I cast on 20 stitches and  away she went with a look of pure concentration on her face, and you know what?  She was right, the middle was great!  

 The more I thought about this today, the more I thought about all the possibilities the universe holds for those who aren't afraid to try and who aren't afraid to fail.  To fail something is scary, and that fear is often times enough to paralyze someone.  I would be lying if I said that I haven't been paralyzed by this same fear especially as of recent, during the book project I've been working on.  I'm blessed I have a daughter who is wise beyond her years, to remind me that even if the beginning is not perfect, and I don't know how it's going to end, the middle will be great.      

Saturday, November 2, 2013

DL: Letterboxing, Your Families Next Big Adventure

If you are looking for a free, family oriented activity that the entire family can enjoy, please check out my article on letterboxing featured in Dayton Local this morning!