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When life gives you grapes, make Jam!

I have been meaning to post this, but I wanted to wait until I had a chance to try out the final results.

A few weeks ago I was gifted roughly 12 pounds of Concord grapes. I love free food. I immediately decided we were going to make jam. I am not a fan of jelly, and I have been itching to can something all season.

So I found a recipe. I will not include it here because we did not follow it, not even a little bit. So I recommend finding a recipe and then making it your own.

We peeled and deseeded the grapes by hand. This was harder than I thought, but easier than it sounds. Once both my husband and I were both working on it it went quickly.

Then we cooked and pureed them. We added sugar and lemon juice, and pectin as needed. Then cooked that some more. Finally we jarred them up and water bath canned them.

Now we have Christmas presents for the family all for the cost of sugar!

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All I have left is to add these labels and they will be ready to go.

 

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WE ARE NO LONGER A 2 INCOME FAMILY

So a few weeks ago something happened, and without giving out all the details of our personal lives we are now living on 1 income. This has come at the perfect time for our homestead. It frees us up to have more quality family time, but also more time to work on building the infrastructure of our homestead.

Already we have put into place a few small things that will help us earn extra income online. We take surveys, and test products, to have a little side cash.
We also joined  Amazon’s Affiliate Program , after reading about it on several other blogs.

None of this has actually generated any additional income, but I am optimistic that it will generate at least a little.

The most important thing is that we will not be paying someone to care for our children anymore! They have more time at home to finish homework, get their house chores done, and still have time to play and be kids.

We have also completed a few projects that were not priorities.

We installed a clothes line to reduce power consumption! I love this I hang 2 loads of laundry when it is sunny, or even just windy. I still fluff the clothes in the dryer for 5 minutes, but that is down considerably from what it takes to dry a load of clothes.

Solar powered clothes dryer!!

We are moving forward full steam with the compost bin, and garden plans. We have laid out our expansions for the next 2 years, and have planned a rotating plan for the food we actually eat, and can preserve to save us some money.

We are making plans for a chicken coop and chicken run to add in the spring, and I hope to get some chicks from someone here locally, but I am not against getting 25 from a hatchery. Any that we don’t need to keep for egg layers can, and will be, eaten. Having a chef for a husband always comes with perks, like pie.

PIE

He is also quite skilled at making things. He put a pallet wall in our living room, and plans to sell crates online, or at the farmers market, or both.

I have set a SwagBucks goal to save enough up to get a PayPal transfer to pay for my strawberry, blackberry, and apple starts by January. Usually I use all my points for Amazon gift cards, and buy Christmas presents. This past year we have had a cash budget that has allowed us to slowly buy all the Christmas gifts over time. It is a lofty goal, but it is doable.

We have come to accept that Homesteading is not a goal. It is a journey.

 

Solar powered clothes dryer!!

Also known as a clothes line. I suspect there was one on the property before, but it was gone by the time we bought the house and moved in. Today while my husband was helping pull well lines to make repairs, he learned a lot about how to repair an existing well. He also scored us a free set of clothes line poles. These are huge, and are going to help combat our ever growing summer power bill.

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We decided to put it beside our garden. Where we want to expand it out to. It gets plenty of sunshine too! I am way too excited about this. Normal people do not get this excited over metal poles.

Sharpening My Skills

My little sewing machine

I saw somewhere online a list of homesteading skills to learn. One of those skills was sew your own clothing. I took a sewing class in high school. I made a little black dress, and it was very poorly made, but it fit and I wore it…once. I have had a sewing machine most of my adult life. It sat in a corner of my bedroom gathering dust for several years. I also have a bag of things that need repaired.

A few months ago I cleaned up a corner of my bedroom and found a cheap computer desk to use as a sewing table. This is the one I picked:

http://amzn.to/2vmrkPQ
Last night I opened the bag and repaired 2 pairs of my husbands dress pants he wears to work and to my disbelief a coat, dress, and 2 skirt’s for my 10 year old that have been in the bag since my 16 year old wore them. I know, I know, shame on me.

 

I threaded bobbins with different colors and went to town. Now don’t get me wrong. I know that sewing a few repairs is not the same thing as making your own clothes. However it is a step in the right direction. If I can stay on top of repairs then maybe my children will not outgrow the clothes before I get to making the repairs. Also by having it out and accessible I might be more inspired or inclined to actually make something from a pattern. I also learned how to use a pattern when I took that class. I’m sure I remember how to do that.

All in all I have come to accept that homesteading is not an end goal. It is the journey we take to get there.

 

COMPOST BIN

I have been reading this book about Urban Homesteading. http://amzn.to/2vnmzUB 

I like this book, and this idea because it best resembles our situation. We have little more than half an acre of land, and are technically inside city limits. We are literally 3 houses from the city limit. One of the many things I have already learned from this book was that starting a compost bin really needed to get higher on my priority list. So… Essential Project #1

Step 1: Acquire a box. I saw an idea online about using a large pumpkin box as a compost bin. They last about a year when left outside, and they are really easy to find (I just went by my local produce stand and asked they even loaded it into my car for me).

Step 2: Figure out where I want to place my bin. I think I am going to place it where the second addition to the garden will be going at the end of next summer’s growing season. By then this bin should be finished compost and i can just till it into the new area and put it all to bed for the winter.

Step 3: Fill with stuff. there are millions of posts about what to put in a compost heap so I won’t repeat all that here.

Step 4: Water as needed, and add more stuff. I really like when they said that they were lazy and weren’t going to turn their pile. I felt a deep connection with the writers at that point.

When this box is full, or by next spring whichever happens first I will get a new bin and start over while this one cooks.

What do you think? What is everyone using for compost bins out there? Have any of you read this book? Do you have any suggestions?

Hard Work

Hard work pays off. I have 3 tomato plants. I know it’s not much, but I didn’t want to can any just grow enough to supplement our uses. Well I am certainly on the road to that. I am getting roughly 10-15 fresh tomatoes every 3 days. After a 4 day camping trip with my family we returned home and I knew I had to get in the garden. I haven’t weeded it a much longer than I should have, and I needed to clean up after my corn and get something else started there. I spent several hours out there, in pants and long sleeves (in NC heat) I was sore but feeling accomplished.

The next day I had an Orthodontist appointment to get braces. Yes I am a 30 something adult getting braces. On my way down to the basement to get a load of laundry started I slip on the steps and take a tumble. Nothing broken, just really bruised up.

Today my body aches, and my teeth hurt, and I can’t even eat the fruits of my labor.

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