24
Aug

We Got It! Our Suburban Homestead…

by Tiffany in The Homestead

new houseYay!!! I am so excited to share with you all that I am a new homeowner. My husband and I closed on our homestead in June. We bought in a suburb of Columbus (20 minutes away from downtown). It has over half an acre, a nice patch of woods, and a creek running through it.

The urban/suburban part has always been important to me. I am not a fan of rural living (been there, done that) and I personally feel that the vehicle for change…for our environment, our food system, and for our society in general needs to happen in cities. We need to green the cities, not move out of them.

I would like to tell you how we planned and planned for this moment but we actually didn’t. It just kind of happened. My family had been renting a duplex and we deliberately picked a more run down neighborhood because we wanted to pay less for rent and have more money for play. I was able to garden in raised beds, collect rainwater, compost, and even grow food and fish with aquaponics.

The duplex was a cozy 1100 square feet that I actually loved. It required us all to be together…a lot. Our family/living area was also a home office for two, a gaming area, and a TV watching area. In general I loved the money we saved living there (rent, utilities) and I loved small house living.

On the drawbacks list was the lack of a fourth bedroom, since my two autistic boys have issues that make sharing a room a bad idea all around. The kitchen was dated and in need of a remodel, we couldn’t have pets or farm animals, the garage was tiny and could barely fit a car in it, and we were limited on what we could do inside and outside the home.

So what made us move?

Well, it is a long story and it involves the death of my mom recently. But the short of it is that I finally committed to staying in this area and laying down roots in a place of my very own. A lovely creek, called Blacklick, winds all through our city and I thought it would be out of our budget to own a home that backed up to the creek but I found a creekside home that had just been listed for under market value because it needed some serious updates. Well, that house had five offers in a matter of two days so our realtor directed us to another creekside property just down the street that was a bit pricier but included over a half acre. It was being offered via short sale and had been on the market for a year due to some sticky issues with flood insurance requirements.

Short story…we now own the house. We can raise rabbits, chickens, and ducks, and we can keep bees. I can have a huge garden, I have room for lots of fruit trees, and we have the most insanely beautiful creek (with plenty of fish) right in our back yard. We have already started our orchard with two apple trees and two pear trees with more to come.

A view of our backyard from the house…I think that playset will be upcycled into a chicken coop next year. You can see the beginning of our orchard front and center.

suburban homestead with fruit trees

Go past that expanse of lawn (which will soon be garden) and you come to a lovely patch of woods. Here we have the compost bin, a firepit, and plenty of trees for firewood.

Woods, compost bin, firepit

Go through the wooded area and you come to a real gem. The creek looks tame in the picture below…it hasn’t rained in a couple days. During heavy rains though that creek rages and raises about 6-8 feet. We often see kayakers go by.

creek backyard

Also love the existing garden at the house. It is all ornamental…lots of hosta and flowers but I often overlook the “pretty” plants in favor of edibles, so to have that part taken care of is awesome.

flower collage

The drawback, at least for me, is that the house is huge. It is 2500 square feet. I don’t want or need all that space but did get our four bedrooms, a nice finished basement, and a two car garage. I have a suburban homestead that I pretty much adore and I am dropping hints to my Dad that he should move in with us and utilize some of this extra space. Though one extra bit space I love is my new home office with a large window that overlooks the yard. The wood burning fireplace and a bathroom just for the husband and myself are kind of nice too.

What excites me most is that this property will allow us more room to homestead. We plan to start slowly, not wanting to alarm any neighbors or bite off more than we can chew at this time. In the garage we are starting to construct raised beds, set up a 250 gallon aquaponics tank, and build rabbit hutches. We have many projects to keep us busy through winter.

 

This is what I call prime city living!

20
Aug

Why is One-on-One Time with your Kid So Important?

by Guest in parenting

mom and child quality time

Each day, most of us struggle to complete our necessary chores. In the midst of all these necessities, it’s easy to forget to slow down and pay attention to the little things, like spending quality one-on-one time with your kids. Everyday chaos means that some of life’s opportunities to create good and long lasting memories are often missed. Children won’t remember whether or not you took out the trash or made dinner, but they will remember the time that you built a fort out of sheets and blankets in the living room.

These times matter because they make each child feel special and loved. At the same time, you get to know your child better.

Why One-on-one Time?

Family time is excellent for building strong relationships, but these moments don’t work the same way as alone time with each child. All that time telling kids to do this or that makes it seem like everyone is operating on autopilot. One-on-one time is a great chance to really teach your kids with actions. This time is especially important for younger kids.

During this time, it’s easier to get your point across because there are fewer distractions from brothers and sisters. You may even find that you pay better attention to your child during one-on-one time and get to know how they think and what’s going on in their lives. This strengthens your bond with each other. If your child has been acting out in order to get your attention, this time will help to reduce these negative actions. You may even be able to help build your child’s self esteem as you show them that you value their individual needs, desires and strengths.

Spontaneous or Scheduled?

One-on-one time with your child can be either spontaneous or scheduled. Some spontaneous time might involve doing some household chores together, running errands, taking care of the family dog, playing a game or doing some volunteer work. A planned date is also a fun way to spend with your child, as the anticipation makes it more special.

Plan the event in advance by putting it on your digital calendar or a paper calendar that your child can see. Make it something that your child likes but that your other kids won’t feel jealous about. Leave the electronic devices at home and don’t fall into the temptation to finish any errands. Just enjoy the moment.

How much time is enough?

The number of minutes isn’t what is important. The important part is that your child has your undivided attention. Be available during these moments and really listen to what your child is saying. If being spontaneous doesn’t suit your child’s personality, schedule things and start small, such as a half hour trip to the park or a pet shelter or whatever suits your child’s abilities and interests. So long as you both enjoy the time together, you’ll both benefit from the experience and be more likely to do it again.


BIO: Patricia Dimick is a Denver based freelance writer and a fun stay-at-home mom. This passionate coffee drinker loves to write about parenting topics and enjoys DIY projects. Patricia spends her free time playing table tennis or enjoying trips to nature with her precious daughter and loving husband. You can reach her @patricia_dimick.

17
Aug

Planting Fruit Trees in the Fall

by Tiffany in Gardening

Planting trees in fallGrowing your own fresh fruit is as easy as 1-2-3; the right planting location for a fruit tree, the right fruit tree variety and a plan of attack for pests and disease. This approach will provide you with fresh fruit, fragrant blooms in the spring, landscape beauty, bird lodging and wood for the BBQ or smoker that will add flavor to home cooked meals.

Fruit trees can be planted any time of the year but fall is especially good because cooler temperatures are less stressful on the trees and less water is required to help establish them. Plant them in the fall and they have time to take root (literally) before the fast growth of the following spring. This planting approach gives your trees a head start that can lead to heartier growth and earlier fruiting.

Another benefit is that you can get trees very affordably this time of year. For most nurseries and growers their boom is in the spring. By late summer and fall, they are willing to let go of trees for rock bottom prices. Just this week I scored four trees for $10 each. They were very mature, potted fruit trees that were going for about $65 each just a month or two earlier. Save some pennies and plant when it makes the most “cents”.

Use these tips and get ready to plant some fruit trees this fall in your own backyard.

Planting Location

Select a planting location that will receive full sun and has good air circulation. A fruit tree will not bear well if it’s planted in a ‘frost pocket’ either. Observe the location on a few chilly fall mornings, if the location has a spot of frost on it while the surrounding landscape is frost-free, the spot is a frost pocket and another location should be selected for fruit tree planting.

Amend the Soil

In early fall, clear away all debris on the soil surface and till the soil in a 4 x 4 square or circle and 18 inches deep. Take a soil sample to your local county extension office to be tested and add whatever nutrients the soil may be lacking, then let the soil rest for two days before the planting the fruit tree.

Tree Selection

There are many disease-resistant fruit tree varieties on the market, but you need to know which ones are best suited to your particular growing climate. Your county extension agent or local nurseryman will be able to provide information and help you select fruit trees best suited for your climate. Do your research and be aware of what kind of diseases and pests your trees may be susceptible to. A plan of attack can be formulated before hand if you know what might come your way. One tree variety may sound better than another too when you take all factors into consideration. Another aspect to consider is the possibility of selecting historic or heirloom fruit trees.

Planting

Dig a planting hole in the center of the prepared soil that is twice as deep and twice as wide as the root ball of your fruit tree. Back-fill the hole half-way with compost, then gently remove the fruit tree from its container and set in the center of the hole. Make sure the top of the soil around the root ball is even with the ground surrounding the planting hole, then finish back-filling the hole with soil. Water in well, then gently pat the soil down to ensure that all tree roots are in contact with the soil, then add a four inch layer of organic mulch on top of the soil to help retain moisture.

Organic Pest and Disease Control

Use a clay-based protectant spray on the fruit tree in the spring after the blooms have fell off. The organic clay spray will form a thin film on the tree foliage and budding fruit to create a chalky barrier that discourages most pests from invading the tree. A clay-based spray also protects fruit trees against sunburn and heat stress. Tree guards and tree wrap are also good for keeping rabbits, rodents, and winter weather from damaging the trunk.

Happy Planting!

5
Aug

Celebrity Moms Support GMO Labeling. Do you?

by Tiffany in Political Action

Just Label It just released a really inspiring video featuring some of our favorite celebrity moms who stand with us (and the vast majority of Americans!) in support of GMO labeling. I am super excited too see moms like Jordana Brewster of Fast and Furious fame, Jillian Michaels, Sara Gilbert, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Sarah Michelle Gellar (Go Buffy!). I love that they are using their star power to support GMO labeling because they are moms first and we moms all want to know what our kids are eating!

They came together to sign the Just Label It’s Conceal or Reveal petition too. Have you signed it yet?

It is just one more way in which we are trying to get the attention of the large food manufacturers who are throwing millions of dollars towards efforts to conceal GMOs. The petition asks Quaker Oats of PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogg’s and Campbell’s to stop blocking Americans’ right to know if there are GMOs in their food and to support mandatory FDA labeling.

Large food companies combined have spent more than $100 million to fight GMO labeling campaigns across the country. Their trade association, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, is supporting the anti-consumer DARK Act, which will make it even harder for consumers to get the transparent labeling they deserve. This dangerous bill just passed in the House of Representatives. What we buy in grocery stores should never be a mystery or a surprise. It is outrageous that our legislators think this okay.

We need these big food companies to stop blocking our right to know what’s in the food we feed our families. The video highlights the question, “What do moms care most about when it comes to their kids?” The importance of food, and specifically, knowing what’s in the food we feed our families was a common trend for every mom.

If what’s in your kids’ food is important to you, be sure to sign the petition here and share this video to help spread the word!

gmo labeling

3
Aug

Unique Kids Lunchboxes

by Tiffany in Children

school lunch over blank blackboard

You lovingly pack your child’s lunch for school each day. You fill that adorable Frozen or Transformers lunch box that you bought from a big box store with healthy items, tasty treats and enough nutrition to get them through the day. Unfortunately, that adorable lunch box may be leaching chemicals into their food and actually hindering their learning experience – the exact opposite of what you are trying to accomplish when you pack it. Here are a few safe lunchbox alternatives, lead free and still completely adorable.

What makes some lunch boxes less than desirable?

In short, a large percentage of lunch boxes contain lead or they leach other harmful chemicals. This means your child may be eating their sandwich you lovingly made that morning while also consuming dangerous levels of lead with their PB&J. Many of the culprits are vinyl lunchboxes made by major lunchbox manufacturers and sold at standard retail outlets. Lead causes behavioral and learning problems and prolonged exposure can lead to cancer and death. Many plastic lunchboxes have BPA or PVC in close contact with food which is also never a good idea. BPA or Bisphenol A is a hormone mimicking chemical that can cause a lot of health problems for children.

What Can You Do?

Buy safer plastic lunch boxes or stainless steel. Many children are image conscious or prefer to have notable characters on their lunchboxes. Be it Spiderman, Elsa from Frozen, or My Little Ponies, they want the image on their lunchbox. No matter how cute and adorable they are I cannot get behind purchasing potentially harmful products. I think I have found some lunch boxes and bags your kids may like just as much. They are safe lunchbox alternatives and will be sure to make you AND your kids happy. Check them out below.

trex lunch bagCrocodile Creek LunchBoxes

These are pretty snazzy lookings bags and they are safe for kiddos. In fact Crocodile Creek is one of those names I know I can trust as a mom. Their lunch boxes are PVC free, Phthalate free, BPA free, and Vinyl free. Seriously how much more could you want?? Well, they are cute too. The T-Rex lunchbox is adorable but they have many other options too and all are colorful, fun, and appealing to kids.


laptop-lunch-box-flowerBentology Lunchboxes

This is the system that I used with all three of my kiddos. I even have one myself. Laptop Lunches features removable inner containers that can accommodate a variety of food sizes. The tray-like feel makes lunch exciting for kids and keeps things separate. Sealable lid prevents wet foods from leaking onto other foods. Dip container for sauces, salad dressings, and dips makes eating vegetables fun. Made in the USA using high quality materials. BPA, PVC and Lead Free.


lunchbot-greenLunchBots

We have several of these. Mom, dad, and kiddos all use them. We have Uno, Duos, Trios, and Quads…anywhere from one to four separate areas for food. They are so versatile, you just grab what you need for what you are packing that day, you just need a bag to put them and if you have more than one, you can rubber band them together for security. They are great for little kiddo snacks (like Pre-K) or for older kids who don’t want an actual lunchbox anymore and would prefer a reusable bag/sack. Plastic free, BPA free.


shark lunchboxBixbee Kids Lunchbox

These lunchboxes are made from PVC-free, phthalate-free, lead-free and BPA-free canvas. They are insulated and they have a nifty pocket in the front for notes form home, napkins, or reusable utensils. They are sturdy and nice looking too. I like the shark camo print on the right but they also have green dinosaurs, pink leopard spots, and other lovely prints.

Link Love List!

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

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