Saving And Winning With Money: Food

Saving And Winning With Money: Food

Several years ago, I was working full-time in a corporate environment with a two-hour daily drive. To say it was draining is an understatement. My husband and I had several discussions about me quitting work and becoming a one-income family. The plan was for me to do some virtual assistant work but not to count on any of that money should I make a go at it. I’ve shared our story in More Was My Catalyst. Check it out for some further background.

With the decision to become a one income family I had to learn some new skills. Scratch that – LOTS of new skills. While I knew how to cook I wasn’t the one who did the majority of the cooking when working the full-time job. We were like a lot of households in that we were normal, with consumer debt and a consumption mindset. Debt and no savings. Doesn’t that sound stressful?

We had to ask ourselves, what steps could we take to reduce that stress and succeed in our plans to start homesteading?

Start with the Food

June 2014 began my foray into being a homesteader and home economist. All the skills needed to be successful in both endeavors don’t just happen overnight. Well not most. The first thing I had to do was become more proficient in cooking from scratch. And while I was pretty good at planning and organizing I had to get better. Menu planning is of utmost importance when trying to reduce the grocery budget.

How can a pre-determined menu help lower the grocery bill? Planning helps avoid waste and stretch the food longer. I purchase my bacon from Zaycon Fresh. The packages are three pounds of thick cut bacon. Best bacon ever in my opinion. Anyway, my family cannot eat three pounds for one meal so I’ll cook up the entire package. We can then have eggs and bacon for breakfast, freeze some to have BLT’s in the future, save some to have on a cobb salad, and use some for a bacon wrapped chicken dinner. Yes, I started with three pounds but I’ve also saved myself time to do something else because I bulk cooked that bacon at one time. It wasn’t spread over four different meals.

Stretching Meals

Want to know another way to make food stretch and save money? Buy a whole chicken instead of the parts. It’s much cheaper and you get more meals out of it. Cook the whole chicken. That’s meal one. Use the leftover chicken for chicken salad, or on a BBQ chicken pizza, pick off the smaller pieces of chicken and freeze to be used later for chicken quesadillas. Or leave it on and use some of the chicken to make chicken soup. Did you know you can use those bones more than once to make chicken stock?

Tiffany at Don’t Waste the Crumbs has more great ideas on how to stretch a whole chicken to feed a family. She also has some great suggestions for stretching pork loin and using it in different ways. I hope these examples give you some ideas on ways you can make your money go further. Another great website to check out for budget-friendly meals is Budget Bytes.

How else can you save money on groceries? Grow some of your own! Most fruits require a long-term plan, think fruit trees that take several years to produce, but there are some that may produce the first year (although the second year is better) like strawberries and some raspberries. My raspberries produced first year (planted spring and had a small harvest in the fall). If you know you’re going to stay in place for long-term you may want to consider investing in fruit trees. Otherwise, try planting some berries for a quicker harvest.

Grow Your Own

Most people think of vegetables when the topic of growing food comes up. Is gardening easy? Yes. And No. If you have no experience there is a learning curve. And if you’re really interested in growing food year-round it’ll take research into techniques, what varieties will work best for your particular climate, and by understanding your growing zone! Most people though focus on the summer garden. Which is ok. There is nothing wrong with that at all. That’s mostly what I did the first year. Tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic, peppers, summer squash, and beans were what I concentrated on most. I’ve added on every year since incorporating more of the cool weather crops like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, beets, spinach, lettuce, etc. Have they all been successful? Nope, not at all. But I keep trying. My biggest nemesis has been groundhogs…and weeds. Oh man, those weeds! I could probably write a full page just about my feelings about them.

But you know what? I keep trying because it’s so worth eating homegrown food! It tastes so much better. The freshness just cannot be beaten! And there’s a pride to be taken in putting in the work to feed your family high-quality food. And do you know what else you can do with this food you grow? Can it! I just love pulling a jar of crushed tomatoes off the shelf to make my homemade pizza sauce. Best sauce ever! And it only costs about 50 cents (that’s if I don’t grow the tomatoes and buy a bushel from the local farmers market). That’s a pretty good savings from what you can get at the grocery store. I don’t even know what that cost would be because I haven’t bought pizza sauce in three years!

Cook From Scratch

Earlier I mentioned cooking from scratch. Do you know how easy it is to make pizza dough? When I was working full-time we would plan our menu (mostly) because we never got home until 6 at the earliest. This means we would get out whatever meat needed to thaw the night before (it’s still a habit) and whatever else needed done. Back then we didn’t make pizza sauce but we did do the dough. We’d make it and then just keep it in the fridge overnight lightly oiled and covered with plastic wrap. I say this to show you that if you are still working full-time you can still do many of these habits. It just takes a little planning.

One thing that has also been helpful and this is something we did back before I became “retired” as my husband would say, is to make up several meals to put in the freezer. We’d set aside a weekend to fill the freezer with things like chicken pot pie, lasagna or baked ziti, homemade chicken nuggets, etc. Many of these will yield more than one meals worth. If you find it hard to set aside a whole weekend try to find a day that you can do just a couple meals. It really is worth it. All else fails, double up on dinners (or breakfasts – we make extra pancakes, waffles, breakfast burritos, etc. to freeze for quick on the go meals during the week) and freeze the extra half.

Don’t Waste Food

Do you know what has been a huge cost saver for us? As a general rule, we don’t buy “lunch” food. I may purchase a package or two of sliced lunchmeat but that’s about it. My husband and daughter usually take dinner leftovers for lunch. For example, I’ll make a big pot of soup and that will feed us dinner and about two lunches worth for all of us. It’s pretty easy for my husband as he has access to a microwave to heat his lunch. For my daughter who doesn’t have access to a microwave, we purchased a Hydroflask thermos. We have three and have never had an issue with them. They work great for her to have a hot lunch without buying something thru the school cafeteria that is of questionable nutritional quality.

Buy In Season

It makes me feel really good knowing that my family is eating food that I prepared and possibly grown. If I don’t grow it, I try to get it from the local farmer’s market. I’ve gotten fruits and vegetables, honey, and eggs there. Often times I’ll buy stuff in bulk while it’s in season and at its peak and preserve it by canning, dehydrating, and possibly freezing.

For those items that I can’t get from the farmer’s market, I’ll try to find a local supplier (for example, I recently learned that there is an organic grain farm not too far from me so I’ll be purchasing my flour from there). Other items that I don’t have a local supplier, such as cashews, pecans, sugar, dried beans, etc. I’ll purchase in bulk from Azure Standard. It’s just like Zaycon Fresh in that you are given your pick-up time, meet the semi-truck and take your delivery from the back of a semi. It’s really easy and pretty seamless. With both, you need to check their website for local drop locations.

Buy In Bulk

Did you catch that I mentioned a bulk purchase of flour? I buy 50 pounds at a time. And I go thru it in less than a year. I make bread, pizza dough, pastry dough, tortillas (NOTHING like the taste of homemade!) and other baked goods. I’ve had friends say to me that they don’t know when they last used flour and it astounds me. Homemade just tastes so good! And it really isn’t hard. Homemade pasta sauce is to die for too. My recommendation is to choose one thing and start with just that. Perfect it. Then pick something else. For us, it was pizza dough first and then the sauce. We have homemade pizza every Friday. To get the same pizza (pepperoni, black olives and green olives – Yes, I know how much salt that is) from our favorite local pizzeria is about $14. As previously mentioned, the sauce is about 50 cents homemade, the dough is roughly the same cost. We use turkey pepperoni which is about $3–4 per package (I need to see if I can find this elsewhere!) and use about ½ a package. Then the olives come in less than $1. That homemade pizza feeds the three of us dinner and two of us lunch for $4. (Side note: in case you’re curious we’ve started incorporating other types of pizza for variety.)

Are Coupons Worth It?

You’re probably wondering, what about using coupons?? Many people will say that one key to saving money is to clip coupons. In my experience, you can save some money but in the overall scheme of things, if you’re cooking from scratch and buying store brands vs. name brands, you won’t have much savings. I personally still go thru the coupons but I don’t clip nearly as many as I have in the past. It takes me five minutes to go thru them and put them in my coupon sorter (something I got years ago for $1. It doesn’t have to be expensive!). Then, before I go to the grocery store, I pull out the coupons I’ll most likely use based on my grocery list, which was made based on what is needed (close to being out, what I may be buying extra of because it’s on sale – like pasta, and what is absolutely necessary for the meals on the menu or something that is purchased every week, like milk). This week I had $2.65 in coupon savings. Some weeks it’s only $0.25. In the long run, it adds up.

This is a multi-part series on how my family has taken action to save and start winning with money.   Next time, I’ll review another area where we’ve achieved some wonderful savings and talk about apps that I’ve used in my endeavor to keep as much of our hard-earned income.

Please share…

Do YOU have any tips you would like to share on saving money with food? 

Is there something specific YOU do to control your food costs?

My 5 Favorite Canning Resources

My 5 Favorite Canning Resources

My 5 Favorite Canning ResourcesCanning and preserving food is one of the most essential survival skills we can have. If the grocery store foods are no longer available we will be left with our knowledge and skill to survive.

Many simply shy away from canning because of fear of the unknown, but canning is a very fun, rewarding and again essential skill that is not near as complicated as people think.

I have canned many things along the way and shared those experiences on our YouTube Channel. There is a whole playlist dedicated to canning and preserving and I encourage you to take time and watch those videos. I honestly LOVE to preserve my food. It is a time that I often spend with my son and we have such a fun time

Additionally, I understand your struggle when you enter the interwebs and find SO much information available, but how do you know which information to trust because not all information on the internet is correct?

You’ve come to the right place…

My 5 Favorite Canning & Preserving Resources

First and foremost, I must mention my dear friend Sharon Peterson of SimlyCanning.com for her devoted work with her website and educating, her ever growing community. She also has some amazing books available to you which I feel are a MUST for on your shelves. I especially like The Pantry Journal, but I must say all her books are on my shelf and I go to them regularly! She also has her new Home Canning Basics Course to which I highly recommend!

Another dear friend that you hear me mention often is Melissa K. Norris of MelissaKNorris.com. Her website is loaded with heritage recipes from her family that have been passed down for generations and she continues to keep the tradition alive by sharing them with you. She is also the author of The Made From Scratch Life: Simple Ways To Create A Natural Home which is a wonderful book of alluring stories and recipes. To boot, I have the honor of being mentioned on page 111 with my Gluten Free Bread Recipe… Melissa’s heart is to share the Lord, her knowledge and to help people to better feed their families. She has an amazing course available to you which will take you step by step through the entire canning process. Her course, Home Canning With Confidence is another course that I highly recommend!

For those of you that struggle to learn online or have limitations with your internet, you may like this next choice. My dear friend Kendra Lynn from NewLifeOnAHomestead.com has an amazing dvd titled At Home Canning From Beginner To Beyond available to you. She too is a wealth of information when it comes to canning and her dvd is perfect for those of you that like learning from the comforts of your home and detached from the internet.

You may be familiar with my dear friend Jennifer at the SelfReliantSchool.com has a wonderful program available for those of you that are seeking guidance.  She specifically has a wonderful dehydrating class that I recommend.  She is a wealth of information and has a lot to offer.  She also has her SelfReliantLife.tv which I also highly recommend.  She has great information and guests and I am blessed to be on her schedule!  YAY!

Another dear friend of mine, Diane Devereaux, otherwise known as the Canning Diva can be found on her very informative site CanningDiva.com where you will find meals in jars. She focuses in great detail on not just canning your fruits and vegetables, but also canning soups, stews and meals in jars. She also has a product line of unique items for sale including my favorite, her silicone canning mitts which can be found here.

What About Purchasing The Equipment For Canning ?

Honestly, I am truly blessed to have so many wonderful friend’s and you will definitely want to stop by and visit my friend Chaya at PantryParatus.com where you will find not only everything you need to can and preserve your food, but so many other essential items for your kitchen! She has a nice selection of amazing and useful items.

Now Chaya at PantryParatus.com does not carry canners on her website and although I am affiliated with other companies that do have canners, I find them to be WAY too over priced so I recommend that you just visit Amazon and do some searching around. I got my (2) 23 Quart Presto Canner’s on Amazon for an AMAZING price delivered to my door with FREE shipping so I really feel that is the way to go or check grandma’s attic or the thrift stores and yard sales. I just last week, got an Excalibur Dehydrator which retails close to $300 for a mere $20 and it was in perfect shape and has been running like a charm since the day I got it with zucchini and yellow squash dehydrating for my winter soups and stews!

Another very important piece of equipment for your canning needs is the Tattler Re-Usable Canning Lids which can be found here. These seals are unique in that they can be used endless amounts of time unlike your metal flats or lids. In my opinion, with food being our most important need, I choose the Tattler Re-Usable Canning Lids as a safeguard which will allow me to continue putting up food continuously!

The Truths About Canning

For those of you that have never canned before, the time is NOW!! Learn this important skill and find a new love as the rest of us have. Keep in mind that us canning lovers often question our level of love when we are canning for two and three days straight because we are so obsessed. It can be tiring and taxing, but when you pull those jars off the shelves during the winter months or put together a care package of canned love for a new neighbor or friend in need it does make the heart skip a beat! Not to mention, the incredible food you are providing for your family!  Canning time is one of my favorite times I spend with my son – pricely conversations and memory making going on!! ♥

Share Your Thoughts With Me

Now I have shared all my favorites with you, how about those of you that enjoy canning as much as I do share your favorites in the comments below!

For those of you that have not started canning or are new to canning, what questions might you have or what is holding you back?

I would love to know, please leave your comments below….

2016 Goals & Weeding: What do they have in common?

2016 Goals & Weeding: What do they have in common?

2016 Goals & Weeding: What Do They Have In Common?There’s no way 2016 objectives and weeding the garden have anything in common.  Maybe not from first glance but really they do.  I’ll get to what that is later on.  First, I want to share with you (because many have asked) our 2016 goals. We set our objectives for the year on New Year’s Day while on vacation on Hilton Head Island.  Does that seem like a long time ago to you?  It does to me.  Of course, it was June when I wrote this so six months have already passed way too quickly.
Here’s what we came up with for 2016:
  •      Conquer Paperwork/Filing
  •      Be more organized/plan more
  •      Clear clutter
  •      Coop & Chickens
  •      Pole Barn
  •      Lean to on garage
  •      Improve garden watering system – rely less on sprinklers
  •      Set-up water catchment
  •      New flooring for basement
I’m not going to tell you right now how we’re doing, you’ll have to wait until next year for that. It’s only six months away so I think you can handle the wait.
Still not seeing how goals and weeding have anything in common? I’ll get there soon.  I promise.
Recently I was out in the veggie garden weeding a section that was particularly weedy.  As I was sitting there on the ground pulling out more creeping Charlie and grass a few thoughts filtered thru my mind. First, it’s just not possible to not get dirty when gardening.  Those magazine articles with the pictures where the woman is wearing white pants while weeding and not a spec of dirt on said pants is just so unrealistic.  You all know what I’m talking about.  When I weed I’m literally sitting or kneeling on the ground pulling those bad boys out.  So by the end of the day my legs are covered in grass clippings or straw and dirt.  And it’s sweaty work.  Those women in the magazines look like they just came out of a salon.  So not the case here.  My face is all red and I’m dripping sweat despite many water breaks. It’s hot, sticky, dirty work.
Work that I could have avoided.  Ok, maybe not avoided but lessened dramatically. How so?  Well, I could have mulched this area in the fall.  Some good mulches that I’ve used are chopped leaves and straw.  Others that could be used are wood chips, cover crops, or grass clippings.  Mulching does a multitude of things from suppressing weeds to retaining moisture in the soil.  The reason I use leaves and straw is that I can easily get them either free or cheaply (well, the straw was cheap in previous years, not so this year.  Looking for a new source.) And because they break down fairly quickly, especially so in the case of the leaves, they don’t need to be rototilled in.  I don’t till for several reasons: I use raised rows and beds with permanent pathways so every bed and row doesn’t get compacted by walking on it, my soil has a clay base, and creeping Charlie. I in no way want to propagate many little new creeping Charlie plants (which is what would happen because it roots so easily) nor do I want to bring weed seeds in the existing soil to the surface.
Mulched vs Weeds 2
So instead of tilling every year, I typically mulch in the fall which then turns into organic matter. A win win for my garden: the leaves suppress weeds while at the same time feeding the soil.  Then in the spring, I can pull back the leaves to plant, then use those leaves to mulch around my veggie plants.  When I don’t have enough leaves I’ll use straw, although it doesn’t break down as quickly as leaves.
Are you seeing the commonality yet?  Maybe I’m stretching a bit, but, planning ahead is key to weeding.  When I mulch in the fall, weeding takes far less time than when I don’t mulch.  Below is an example of an area that was mulched next to an area that wasn’t.  See the difference there? So one thing I plan to do this fall is to mulch all my beds and raised rows.  It will save me hours in the spring.  If it weren’t for my Mom, daughter, and husband helping me weed this spring, I may not have gotten my plants in on time.  And yes, they all will reap the benefits of their hard work in the way of produce from the garden.
And wouldn’t you consider weeding clearing clutter from your garden?  🙂

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Goals vs. Reality – Gardening, Canning, and Building

Goals vs. Reality – Gardening, Canning, and Building

[guestpost]This is a guest post by Michelle Hedgcock. Be sure to read more about Michelle at the bottom of this post![/guestpost]

Goals vs Reality Gardening Canning BuildingIn my previous post, MORE Was My Catalyst,  you read about how I got started on my journey and the progress made.  Now that I have another year under my belt I still feel like there is so much to do.  Initially, I thought that we’d be able to get everything how we wanted it within three years.  Yeah, not so much!  So let me tell you about our goals for 2015.

Our plan was to get chickens in the spring, put up a pole barn or update our garage, put in a greenhouse, start seedlings for the garden, add to the orchard to include some nut trees, plant grapes, hardy kiwi, rhubarb, blueberries, strawberries, and cranberries, as well as expand the garden with raised beds and in ground.  Additionally, I wanted to increase the amount of canning to be put up to not only include things like fruits, veggies, and broth but meat as well.  And the plan was to do all of this in addition to our normal everyday things, stock up on wood for the winter to keep our heating bill down, and a couple week long vacations (we don’t usually take more than one so this was an exception for 2015).

Pretty aggressive right? Do you think we accomplished everything?  Nope.  Not a chance.  What do you think was our set-back?

Our set-backs were money and time.  So typical right? The year started out well for the most part.  The garden plan was created with the knowledge that the raised beds would be finished in the spring (hubby started in the fall but with getting firewood ready for winter he wasn’t able to complete that particular project).  The seeds were planted during the correct time according to the garden planning calculator from Seeds for Generations. Finally, when the weather cooperated, the raised beds were completed.  We put in two 4X12, two 4X8, one 4×24 and one 4×4.  The 4X4 was claimed by my daughter so she had a hand in every step of the building of it.

Now, can you imagine filling those darn things with soil?  It was back breaking work using the wheelbarrow but I did it with a little help from the family.  But before I did that I put some wire down in the bottom to prevent moles and such from disrupting the plants during growing season.  Next I threw in some small branches (my version of hugelkultur) with the soil/compost mixture on top.

goals vs reality building

Around the time that the raised beds were being finished a friend of ours contacted us and asked if we wanted a free pole barn.  Who can say no to that??  The catch was that we had to dismantle it. So we made a trip out to the farm where it was and found that there was a small shed with some damage to the roof and sides that needed to be removed as well.  And we could have that for free too.  My husband worked tirelessly to get everything taken apart and brought home.  The only problem is that it took away from his time to find and cut wood for the winter.

2015 was also the year that my best friend got married so I made a trip out to Nebraska during prime planting season, over Memorial Weekend, to spend a week with her.  Because of this trip, several plants were delayed getting into the ground.  And then there were nutrient deficiencies in a section of the garden.  And come to think of it, the seeds that I planted in that section in 2014 never took off.  So that may be why.  I normally don’t buy anything to add to my soil but I had to make an exception in this case because my tomatoes were severely stunted and sickly looking.  After a quick internet search to figure out exactly what the deficiencies were, I used a combination of things for this area: bone meal for phosphorus, crushed egg shells for calcium, and an Epsom salt water spray for magnesium.  My tomatoes started doing better but my harvest still wasn’t very good due to the combination of late planting and then having to fix the nutrient deficiency.

Goals Vs Reality Gardening

One of the best parts of the summer was spending time with my daughter picking strawberries and then preserving them by canning, dehydrating, and freezing.  While we planted both 4×8 raised beds with strawberries and they filled out nicely from the runners I’m not convinced that we have enough for this family.  I may have to find a spot to put in a big patch.  Good thing is that I won’t have to purchase strawberry plants anymore.  Those plants send out a ton of runners!

goal vs reality canning

August was extremely busy with canning new things.  I never knew that when processing corn that it smelled like buttered popcorn.  And no butter was used!  It took a bit of time because there were so many pints filled.  And trying to remove the pit from peaches was a difficult task for me.  I’m sure it was user error though as that was my first attempt at that.  One of the jams that I made using the peaches was the Maple Vanilla Peach Jam found in the Preserving with Pamona’s Pectin book which is great on waffles!

We have an apple tree on our property that was there when we moved into this house in 98 which we always thought was a crabapple tree.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that we realized that it wasn’t!  I took the plunge and decided to make applesauce with the windfall apples from it and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was and how little sugar had to be added.  Those apples are absolutely perfect for applesauce.  I’ll be making applesauce every year from now on.  And the apple butter from those apples? Delicious!

My daughter’s little garden did really well.  She had decided to grow onions, carrots, cucumber, and a small pumpkin.  The pumpkin seeds never germinated but everything else grew well.  The onions were huge!  The carrots were a cool purple color (Purple Dragon from Baker Creek Heirlooms (rareseeds.com)) and grew big.  In fact, we used them on the veggie tray for my husband’s 40th birthday party and everyone loved them.

goals vs reality gardening carrots

In November, I picked up my order from Zaycon Fresh which I had heard about from Tammy in this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwyQxdq22JA).  Her How to Can Chicken videos gave me the courage to try it myself.  I’ve included the links here so you can watch yourself either in another browser by clicking the links below or you can watch the same videos directly below.  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCe6IIOVX28 & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUpfGMu8fOA)


Canning chicken is a long process due to the processing time and with the amount I had it took me well into the early morning hours (like 3 AM early).  After having this experience as well when I canned the corn, I decided I needed to have two pressure canners. I can’t fit two on my stove side by side but I can remove one and put the other on to get it going while the first one is depressurizing which still saves time. I love having Amazon Prime and being able to get my order within two days.  I now have two Presto canners . Since I have a glass-top stove the All American Pressure canner can’t be used.  Always refer to your user manual to verify if the Presto canner can be used on your glass-top stove.  Whatever you do, don’t slide the canner across the top of the stove.  Unless you like the scratched look.

Wondering how we’re doing on the chicken coop and pole barn?  Well, we have the pieces here except the big metal siding as we need to borrow a flatbed trailer for that.  And everyone’s schedule just hasn’t worked out to make that a reality.  So nothing has been built.  And how did we do in gathering wood?  Well, if it hadn’t been for my brother-in-law, it would have been a cold winter.  He gave us at least 4 face cords even delivering some of it himself.  And a co-worker of my husband’s knew of someone who needed a tree removed.  The best part was that it was already felled and mostly cut up.  We’re very fortunate to have others looking out for us.

Here’s a list of what we did accomplish in 2015:

  • get chickens in the spring put up a pole barn or update our garage
  • put up a pole barn or update our garage
  • put in a greenhouse
  • start seedlings for the garden √
  • add to the orchard to included some nut trees √
  • grapes
    hardy kiwi √
    rhubarb
    blueberries √
    strawberries √
    cranberries √
  • expand the garden with raised beds and in ground √
  • increase the amount of canning to be put up √

We ended the year with a road trip to Hilton Head Island, SC where we enjoyed some unusually warm weather and got to see dolphins.  It was awesome!  There’s nothing like spending that week between Christmas and New Year on vacation (we left Christmas night and returned on Jan 3rd).  During the trip I reflected on how the year went and what’s ahead.  I’m happy to say that I TRIPLED the amount of food put up!  In 2014 it was 106 jars and 2015 was 320!  It truly was a busy year of learning and growth from starting seedlings effectively for the first time out of several prior attempts, making food from scratch, preserving enough to feed my family to being more realistic in our goals. While we didn’t get the pole barn built or the garage fixed up we did have to get a small inexpensive shed out of necessity.

I hope 2015 was a good year for you and am really looking forward to all the good things to come in 2016.

What is on your list for 2016?

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#TrayerWilderness  #Gardening  #Preserving  #Inspiration

MORE Was My Catalyst

MORE Was My Catalyst

MORE Was My CatalystHave you ever thought “There’s got to be more to life?”  Yep, that’s where I was at September 2013.  I was working a full-time job with a minimum two-hour commute daily and an elementary child in before and after school care (known as Latchkey here in our school system).  I was dissatisfied with my job and just knew that there had to be more than just going to and from work to pay bills and spend money on things.  I wanted MORE quality time with my family.  MORE time to garden.  MORE time to take care of my health (I had been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in February 2013). I wanted to feel like I was making a difference.  At the same time, I started perusing Pinterest where I kept coming across homemade laundry detergent posts.  And from there I started finding other homemade items.  This led to finding homesteading blogs, including Trayer Wilderness which quickly became one of my favorites.  My eyes OPENED!  That was what I had needed.
So I made a plan.  I made a list of pros and cons to quit my job to be a full-time homesteading Momma.   I ran budget numbers…over and over and over.  Then I presented it to my husband.  It took several months to convince him but we had many great conversations about what we wanted for our family of three.  From there plans and goals were developed.  It took us about three months to get everything in place in order for me to quit the job that I  thought I’d retire from.  This included paying off as much debt as possible. In May 2014 I gave my notice and my last day was the first week of June.
 More Was My Catalyst Garden
Part of the preparation for me being home was getting the garden in.  In previous years I had planted a garden, but could never keep up with it.  So the weeds had taken over.  So it was a ton of work to not only plan what and where to plant but to till it, mound up raised rows, and put cardboard down in between all the rows .  In addition to a garden, we wanted to put in an orchard right away because it will take several years to see a harvest from it.  The orchard included apple, pear, peach, apricot, plum, cherry, mulberry, and fig trees as well as blackberry, raspberry, and elderberry bushes.
 MORE Was My Catalyst Orchard

Other goals included increasing our food storage thru canning and dehydrating, neither of which I had never done before in my life.  All the tools to do this were purchased before I quit my job as that was part of the plan.  So, there I was with a water bath canner AND a pressure canner.  My first foray into canning was water bath canning making strawberry jam and sauce and strawberries in syrup.  I also dehydrated strawberries (which were excellent in oatmeal and cereal).  Blueberries were next on my list.  By this time, I was becoming a regular at the farmers market.Finally I was brave enough to use the pressure canner.  I was tense the whole time but I successfully canned chicken broth.  I haven’t bought broth or stock since!  In all I successfully canned and dehydrated 106 jars of food.  Not bad for six months and just learning!  I also learned so much from all the homesteading and preparedness blogs that I knew 2015 had to be even better.

What was your reason?  What led you on your journey?

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#TrayerWilderness  #Gardening  #Preserving  #Catalyst

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Paid Endorsement Disclosure:   This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through an affiliate link I will make a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting TrayerWilderness.com and keeping us up, educating, inspiring and running!  ♥

Mutlipurpose Hand Forged Herb Drying Rack

Mutlipurpose Hand Forged Herb Drying Rack

Multipurpose Hand Forged Herb Drying RackThe Mountain Man is always fabricating, creating and manufacturing useful items for our homestead.  Sometimes it is necessary for us to manufacture things to fit our needs, to improve the modern day counterparts and to allow us to do unique and creative things here.

Many of these tools will benefit you as well so once we create these items we add them to our site so they benefit you as well.

Our Multipurpose Hand Forged Herb Drying Rack is not only perfect for those of us that are drying our home grown herbs, flowers and medicinal plants as well as all those wonderful things in nature that we forage.

Multipurpose Handforged Herb Drying Rack with Lantern Hook Broken Down

In addition to its drying abilities this whole hand crafted unit comes apart for easy storage and cheaper shipping.

You can put this together and only utilize the top rack for drying extremely long things.

This hand forged rack could be used to hang kitchen utensils, jewelry, scarves, hats, lanterns and honestly the sky is the limit based on your creativity, but I personally can envision SO many uses for this.

If you would only want to use this rack for drying and would put it away at the end of the season, you will be able to utilize our lantern hook that comes with it for an indoor plant, lantern or what have you.

I think this is such a useful hand forged piece and I am excited to present this to you.

We are accepting pre-sales on this item right now at a discounted rate and upon our return from GA and my surgery, we will start packaging and shipping them on March 1st.

To see more of our hand forged items, visit: http://trayerwilderness.com/store/hand-forged-metal-art/

8″ square by 12″ between layers

 

Price: $75.00

10″ square by 12″ between layers

Price: $85.00

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#TrayerWilderness  #HandForgedMetal  #Blacksmithing  #Herbal

email trayer wilderness Trayer Wilderness on Facebook Trayer Wilderness on Google+ Trayer Wilderness on Twitter Trayer Wilderness on Pinterest Trayer Wilderness on YouTube Trayer Wilderness on Instagram Mountain Woman Radio from Trayer Wilderness on iTunes Tammy Trayer of Trayer Wilderness on LinkedIn  Trayer Wilderness RSS Feed

Paid Endorsement Disclosure:   This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through an affiliate link I will make a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting TrayerWilderness.com and keeping us up, educating, inspiring and running!  ♥