How To Make A Citrus All-Purpose Cleaner

This citrus All Purpose Cleaner is completely non-toxic and costs only pennies to make! #homemadecleaners

When my kids were babies, I would spend their nap times in the bathrooms with the vent fan running, scrubbing away and trying not to breathe the toxic fumes.  However, the day came when they no longer napped, and, even worse, they wanted to help!  I didn’t want them in the room, much less handling the chemicals in those cleaners.  So, I set out to find a better way to a cleaner home. 

Honestly, I didn’t think natural cleaners could live up to the cleaning power of chemical products.  But, for the most part, I have been pleasantly surprised.  In the cases that I do have to turn to a chemical cleaner, I simply rest in the fact that our exposure has decreased substantially.  

This citrus All Purpose Cleaner is completely non-toxic and costs only pennies to make! #homemadecleanersThe staple of a great natural cleaning arsenal is a great all purpose cleaner.  This easy-to-make cleaner combines citrus (which works as a degreaser, stain remover and freshener) and vinegar (which serves to break down mold, grease, mineral deposits and bacteria).  It’s completely safe for the kids, cheap to make, and smells amazing!  Use it to clean and deodorize sinks, stovetops, countertops, bathtubs, floors, toilets, and more. 

Grab the printable recipe below!

How To Make Citrus All-Purpose Cleaner
  • Glass jar
  • Orange peels (or any other citrus fruit peels)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of salt
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  1. Fill your glass container with orange peels. (You can save orange peels in the freezer until you have enough and are ready to make the cleaner.)
  2. Lightly coat the orange peels with salt and let them sit for at least 30 minutes. This will pull the oils from the peels for a great citrus smell and more cleaning power.
  3. Fill your container with vinegar and water. I like about half and half.
Any combination of citrus fruit peels can be used. Experiment to find a scent you love! Essential oils can also be added along with the vinegar and water.

Now that you have a cleaning product that’s safe for your little ones, check out these tips for getting your toddler to help around the house!

Do you cringe when your toddler wants to "help" you around the house? Read why you should let them help and how to deal with the messiness. #parenting #momhacks #toddlers
Are you concerned about the chemicals in your home?  Have you made any of your own cleaners?

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How To Make Powdered Laundry Detergent Without Grating Soap

Last week, as I was grating a bar of soap to make another batch of homemade laundry detergent, I decided that there had to be a better way.  So, after a little poking around on-line, I learned that Ivory soap expands and turns to a foam when heated in the microwave.  Aside from being a really cool science experiment to do with the kids, I found it to be the perfect solution to my soap-grating woes!

When removed from the microwave, the Ivory will be brittle and flaky but will retain all of it’s cleaning power.  So, it’s super easy to run it through your food processor and end up with a fine powder–perfect for the powdered laundry detergent recipe below.  Or, you can simply crumble it with your hands and add it in place of the grated soap in this liquid detergent recipe.

Do you want to make homemade laundry detergent but don't like grating soap? This post will show you how! (Plus, it's a really cool science experiment!) #laundrysoap #homemadecleaners

Remember, this only works with Ivory soap.  Oh, and be sure to check out why it works

Update:  A reader informed me that this will also work with Fels Naptha.  Just keep a close eye on it and don’t “overcook”. 

Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase, I may (at no additional cost to you) receive a commission.  Thank you so much for your support!

Powdered Laundry Detergent 

Tools you will need:  A microwave, food processor, and a recycled container for storage.  (Here’s a quick way to remove the label.)


Place Ivory soap on a plate in the microwave and cook, watching constantly. It will turn to a foam. Once cooled, use your food processor to turn it to a fine powder. Add remaining ingredients. Stir and store in recycled container. Use 2 tablespoons per load.

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Wool dryer balls both save you money and cut down on the chemicals in your home. Plus, they are super easy to make! Here's how. #frugalliving #greenliving #homemadecleaners

The Envelope System–5 Reasons You Should Give It A Try

Does it seem like you blow your budget every week? The cash envelope system really works. Read to find out why you should give it a try! #envelopesystem #debtfree #frugallliving #budgeting

It happens so easily.  You run into the grocery store to pick up two things, and $200 later you are loading a whole buggy full of stuff into your car.  From bright, enticing displays to candy bars right at your 5-year-old’s eye level, retailers have a plan to get you to spend!  In order to keep your hard earned cash in your pocket, you have to have a plan, too.  Enter… The Envelope System!

Does it seem like you blow your budget every week? The cash envelope system really works. Read to find out why you should give it a try! #envelopesystem #debtfree #frugallliving #budgeting

I know.  I know.  Using cash is SO 1980, but stick with me here while I tell you why I LOVE the envelope system.

1.  I always know how much I have to spend.  When I go to the store, there is no question how much I have left in my budget.  All of the cash I have to spend is right there.  When it’s gone, it’s gone!

2.  It’s guilt free.  When I make a purchase, I don’t have to feel guilty about spending the money.  It’s already been set aside for that purpose.  And, once the purchase is made, I don’t have to think about it anymore.  There’s no receipt to keep up with or deduction to be made from my account.

3.  I don’t go over budget.  I don’t spend money that’s not in my budget because it’s not there!

4.  I spend less!  I am attached to my money.  When I spend it, I have to leave it there at the store.  When I use plastic, I swipe it, and they give it back to me.  I just don’t feel the same loss that I feel when I spend cash.

5.  It helps us reach our goals.  Sometimes when we are really working at a goal, I will get creative at the grocery store or with our entertainment and put the money I saved towards our goal.  I love the challenge and the extra boost it gives our financial situation!

I challenge you to set up an envelope system and use it for the next few months.  Grab a few envelopes, write the categories that are influenced by your spending on them–things like groceries, entertainment, and clothing.  Don’t worry about making envelopes for things such as utilities and rent payments.  Put your budgeted amount in each envelope, and you’re good to go!

If you would like something besides plain envelopes, check out these options for every budget!

Have you ever used the envelope system?  If you, would you give it a try?

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groceries on a budget
Check out all of the frugal uses of oatmeal:

Oatmeal is healthy and inexpensive! Check out all of it's uses both in and out of the kitchen! #frugalrecipes #homemadebeautyproducts #oatmealrecipes


7 Ways to Save Money on Food

Save on food

You’ve written a budget and gotten your envelope system started, now what?  The best next step is to take a closer look at each category and decide where you can cut back.  Food and entertainment are probably the two categories that you have the most control over.  So today, lets talk about ways to save money on food.

Great tips for saving on food! I'm especially excited about the bonus tip! #savingmoney #debtfreedom #frugalliving

(This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase after clicking on one of them, I could get a small commission which I will probably use to buy more chickens.  Please see my full disclosure.)

If you search around online, you will find hundreds of “right ways” to save money on food, and, frankly, if you try to do all of them, you’ll drive yourself crazy.  We all have different lifestyles, budgets, and dietary needs, so what works for me probably won’t work for you.  So, as you go through this list, consider how each option fits for you and your family.

1.  Couponing.  When we lived in town, I was one of those “crazy coupon ladies”.  You know, the ones that get shopping carts full of food for $5?  However, when we moved out here and I started working towards a more natural lifestyle, I had to let a lot of my couponing fall by the wayside.  But, I still go on coupon binges when I can get a product that I use and love for really cheap or free.  There are a lot of great couponing sites out there that show you the deals and tell you how to get them.  One of my favorites is Hip 2 Save.  I find her match-ups (weekly articles that “match up” the store deals with coupons) to be well organized and timely, plus she just seems like a really fun person.  🙂  And, of course, coupons are everywhere from newspapers to iPhone apps to sites like  

2.  Buying in bulk/stocking up.  While I would like to produce all of our food, getting to that point is a very long road.  So, I love buying in bulk.  It gives me the opportunity to learn to preserve food (by canning, freezing, dehydrating, etc.) before I am sitting there at the end of summer with hundreds of pounds of produce rotting away and no idea what to do with it!  I save money, and, many times, bulk packaging cuts down on the waste we produce.  For example, I mentioned buying 50 pound bags of organic oatmeal for 87 cents a pound.  That is a great price, plus, the waste from that 50 pounds of oatmeal is a paper (compostable) bag!  Imagine how many containers would have been thrown away if I had bought the same 50 pounds in the standard 42 oz oatmeal containers.  And, in case you’re wondering where I keep 50 pounds of oatmeal, I store it in 5 gallon buckets with gamma seals (a screw-on lid).  🙂  My favorite co-op is Azure Standard.  I can order on-line and meet their truck at a monthly drop-off point 20 minutes away from me.  Check out Michelle’s tips for ordering from Azure Standard and maximizing your Azure Standard order.

Great tips for saving money on food! I love the bonus tip! #frugalliving #savingmoney #debtfreedom

3.  Growing your own.  This is, of course, my ultimate goal.  No matter what your situation is, I encourage you to do what you can, even if it just means a few tomato plants in containers on your apartment balcony.  Of course, if you have a yard, you have so many gardening options.  Some municipalities even allow a few hens for fresh eggs.  Animals such as chickens and rabbits can also make cost effective meat sources.

4.  Discount stores.  Look for discount stores in your area.  Bakery outlets can be great money savers.  Be sure you check for discount days and rewards programs.  Ours gives you a free item for every $5 spent and runs manager’s specials and % off days!  I also LOVE Aldi‘s.  If you have one in your area and haven’t checked it out, please do!  You need to bring a quarter to “rent” your shopping cart and your own shopping bags, plus they have shorter hours (8am-8pm).  But, their produce prices can’t be beat, their store brand stuff is good, and they have a growing selection of organic and gluten free options.

5.  Cook from scratch.  Both your checkbook and your health will thank you for this one.  I know it can be intimidating if you’ve never really learned to cook.  Trust me I’ve been there!  But, the best advice I can give you is take one thing at a time and don’t be afraid to experiment.  I’m definitely still learning and am sure that I always will be, but I’m so far beyond the girl that couldn’t cook a grilled cheese without Parkay Margarine in the squeeze bottle.  Here are some super easy recipes for that oatmeal we mentioned above–and they’re not all for the kitchen!

Great tips for saving on food! I'm especially excited about the bonus tip! #savingmoney #debtfreedom #frugalliving

6.  Seek out local farmers.  Depending on your area, farmer’s markets and roadside stands can be great places to get in-season produce.  Plus, you are supporting a local small business!  

7.  Meal Planning.  This is the one thing that I think EVERYONE should do.  Make a meal plan with a grocery list and stick to it.  It will help you avoid impulse buys, multiple trips to the store, and waste.  As you plan, consider recipes with overlapping ingredients.  For example, a whole chicken can be roasted chicken one night, the leftover meat can be shredded for a casserole the next night, and the bones can be used to make broth for a soup the third night.   

Planning a menu can be as easy as writing your meals on a calendar or you can purchase programs that will let you enter your recipes, select the ones you want for the week, and print a grocery list.  I personally use Build A Menu.  I am more likely to plan my menu if I can do it on the computer, so the cost it worth it for me.   

Bonus Tip:  Confession time.  I usually do pretty good about not getting sucked into impulse buys.  But, for some reason, Wal-Mart gets me every time.  So, I am so excited about the new service they are rolling out in some of their stores!  In select locations, you can order your groceries on-line and pick them up without even getting out of your car!

It’s super easy!  Go here, choose at least $30 worth of groceries, select a pick-up time, and pay on-line.  I just tried this out, and, on the day of my pick-up, I received a call letting me know that my order was ready.  The employee asked me to let them know when I was 10 minutes from the store.  As soon as I pulled into the reserved space, he came out and loaded my groceries into my car!  No checkout lines.  No unloading all of the kids.  No run-ins with the people of Wal-Mart.  No impulse buys.  And, best of all, it’s FREE!  What’s not to love?

Want to give it a try?  Use this link to get $10 off your first order of $50 or more!

Do you meal plan?  What do you do to save money on food?  What would you like to try?

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Does it seem like you blow your budget every week? The cash envelope system really works. Read to find out why you should give it a try! #envelopesystem #debtfree #frugallliving #budgeting

How To Make Wool Dryer Balls

Wool dryer balls both save you money and cut down on the chemicals in your home. Plus, they are super easy to make! Here's how. #frugalliving #greenliving #homemadecleaners

After we started making our own laundry detergent, the logical next step was to find a way to replace those expensive, chemical-filled dryer sheets.  Enter wool dryer balls.  As wool dryer balls bounce around in the dryer, they separate your clothes, allowing more hot air to circulate through of all the garments as the wool soaks up moisture.  This results in a shorter drying time, fewer wrinkles, and softer clothes. 

Wool dryer balls both save you money and cut down on the chemicals in your home. Plus, they are super easy to make! Here's how. #frugalliving #greenliving #homemadecleaners

Shout out to reader, Leisha, for the beautiful pictures of her homemade dryer balls!  Don’t they make you just want to do laundry?  Well, almost…

Betsy over at DIY Natural outlines the benefits.

  • They decrease drying time, saving you money on utility bills. (Especially helpful in the winter months!)
  • Commercial fabric softeners and dryer sheets are filled with harmful chemicals and perfumes that coat your clothing, eventually ending up on your skin. These chemicals can be especially harsh on sensitive skin. There are no chemicals in wool dryer balls!
  • Commercial dryer sheets can be costly, and are thrown away after use. Wool dryer balls can be re-used for years, saving you hundreds of dollars.
  • Commercial fabric softeners shouldn’t be used on cloth diapers. Wool dryer balls are perfect for keeping your cloth diapers soft and chemical-free.
  • Wool dryer balls won’t affect the absorbency of your towels, kitchen cloths, or cloth diapers – commercial softeners will.
  • 100% wool dryer balls increase fluffiness and reduce static as dryer loads tumble.
  • Dryer balls help to soften clothes naturally.
  • Dryer balls are made from a renewable resource.

With the cold temperatures outside, our highest energy usage is currently our dryer, so I can’t wait to give these a spin.  (Pun intended!)

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase something through one of these links, we may receive a commission at no cost to you.  Thank you for supporting our blog!

What you will need:

**100% wool–NOT wool labeled “superwash” or “machine washable” (We are blessed to have a local farmer to buy from.  If you don’t, try a craft store or one of these links:  Wool roving, Wool yarn, or wool scraps)
**old panty hose
**a washer and dryer
**essential oils (optional)

Stretch, twist and roll your wool into a tight ball about the size of an orange.  Tuck in the end and put the ball in the toe of the pantyhose.  Stretch the hose over the ball and make a tight knot.  Make additional balls and insert into pantyhose, separating by knots.  It will look like a pantyhose caterpillar.  🙂  Now wash you caterpillar in HOT water (preferably with other laundry) and dry completely.  (Note:  Please make sure that the dye in your wool does not run.  I’ve never had a problem with ours, but I wouldn’t want a load of laundry to get ruined!)  Cut the pantyhose off and admire your new dryer balls.  Optional:  Put a few drops of your favorite essential oil on each ball.

To use, simply throw them in the dryer with each load of laundry, and let them go to work.

Do you use an alternative to dryer sheets?  How about any other homemade cleaning products?

Are you working on your budget?  You may also like these posts:

Does it seem like you blow your budget every week? The cash envelope system really works. Read to find out why you should give it a try! #envelopesystem #debtfree #frugallliving #budgeting


7 Tips to save money on food. #frugalliving #moneysaving

How And Why I’m Adding Diatomaceous Earth To My Homestead

How to use diatomaceous earth to get rid of potato beetles.

In the years that I’ve been reading about homesteading, there are certain things that seem to pop up repeatedly.  Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is one of those.  Now, I’m not an early adapter of anything.  I’m more of a “sit back and see how that turns out for everyone else” type of girl.  But, I’m finally ready to give DE a try.

How to use DE against potato bugs. #DE #diatomaceousearth #gardening #potatobeetles

Photo courtesy of Erica Mueller

According to, diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring substance mined from old lake beds. It’s composed of diatoms (algae) that have fossilized in old fresh water lake zones. As time has passed, these fossilized diatoms have accumulated together and formed huge silica deposits. When mined and ground into powder it becomes diatomaceous earth.

It has a wide variety of uses, but two little words convinced me to give it a try–potato beetles!  Those little creatures were my archenemies last summer!  

You see, we try to keep things as natural as possible around here, especially in the garden.  But, it wasn’t long until my beautiful potato leaves had holes eaten in them by those nasty potato beetles.  Once I figured out what the problem was, the only effective non-chemical solution I found was to pick the beetles and their eggs off of the plants.  Now, that would have been okay if it was a one time occurrence, but it seemed that for every one that I destroyed, two re-appeared the next day, and, well, picking potato beetles is just not my idea of a fun summer afternoon activity.  

DE is a mechanical pesticide because it scratches the waxy or oily outer layer of soft-bodied insects, causing them to die of dehydration.  Therefore, there is no buildup of tolerance like there is to many chemicals because the method of killing is not chemical, but physical.  So, I am comfortable with using it on my potato plants.  (Note:  If you give this a try, be sure to use FOOD GRADE DE.  DE is also used in pool filters, but has been heated and could contain harmful additives.  Here are some tips to see if your DE is food grade.)

To use DE to kill potato beetles, sprinkle the powder on the soil around the potato plants, or dust the undersides of the leaves.  It does need to be re-applied after rain, but I’d rather re-apply DE than pick potato bugs any day!  If the potatoes have already flowered, use an old sheet to cover the plants after treatment to protect bees and other beneficial insects from coming into contact with the DE.

How and why I'm adding diatomaceous earth to my homestead. #gardening #de #homesteading

I am really excited to have DE as an additional weapon against potato beetles and about exploring it’s many other uses around our homestead!

Have you ever used DE?  What for and was it effective?


DIY Compost Pail

As part of the Great Homesteading Challenge, we are learning about composting.  So, I gathered up my very favorite composting articles.  One of my favorites was this DIY composting pail from Bye Bye Brooklyn.  I initially thought of it as an option for people that were trying to compost in an apartment.  However, I very quickly found out that I didn’t want to walk out to my compost bin three or four times a day.  So, after a few weeks of leaving bowls full of compostables on my kitchen counter, I decided that I needed a counter top compost pail for myself!

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  Please see my full disclosure in the sidebar.

I found this great pail at a boutique in town.  It was more expensive than the $8 pail in the post, but it was perfect for my kitchen and on sale for $15.


I picked up a cat litter box air filter and a strip of Velcro at the dollar store, then used the Velcro to attach the air filter to the lid. (Note: If you attach the “hooked” side of the Velcro to your lid, it will stick to the air filter–no need to put the other side of the Velcro on the air filter.)  The filter should keep odors at bay for three months.

how to make compost pail

Last but not least, I wanted to keep my cute little pail clean, so I repurposed a 5 pound cottage cheese container as a liner. Here’s how to remove the printed label from the container.

countertop compost pail

And, there you have it, my DIY compost container! And, best of all, no more bowls of compost on my counters!


Buying Chicks At The Feed Store

Chicks in tubThere you are again, at the feed store gazing longingly into those peeping tubs of cuteness.  You pull yourself away, and go fill your buggy with the gardening stuff you came for.  But, before you make it to the checkout stand, the peeps draw you back in like a june bug to a bug zapper.  You try to turn away, but your kids’ longing eyes implore you to stay.  And…  You give in.  Today is the day you will finally buy chicks!

But, then as you look at the various tubs, you panic.  Pullet, bantam, heavy breeds, straight run.  What does it all mean?  You can’t leave now because you already promised your kids, and the teenage worker you just flagged down isn’t much help.  So, before you get stuck in this… ummm… all-too-familiar predicament, take a minute to read through these commonly-used terms.

Heavies/Heavy Breeds – Heavies are what you would think of as a “normal sized” chicken.  They may also be called standard breeds.  Common breeds include barred rock, rhode island reds, australorps, buff orpingtons, and leghorns.

Bantams – Bantams are smaller than your standard-sized chicken.  They may be an option if you have space constraints, but remember their eggs will also be smaller.  Typically, you need two bantam eggs for every standard egg.

Straight Run – Straight run means that the sex of the chickens has not been determined.  They are typically less expensive.  However, having a rooster (or multiple roosters) in your flock presents a unique set of issues.  And, even though roosters are great protectors for the flock, they are not necessary to get eggs–only for the eggs to hatch.  😉

Pullets – A pullet is a young hen, generally under a year old.  Sometimes the feed store will label them as banded because a band has been placed on their wings to show that they are a females.  These chicks will be a little more expensive, and sometimes they are incorrect on the sex, but, in my opinion, these are your best bet when getting started with chickens

Broilers/Meat breed – I have noticed that feed stores carrying broilers (generally Cornish X)  has become more common in the last few years.  I definitely don’t recommend purchasing broilers without a large amount of research.  They are bred to grow very quickly (reaching maturity in 6-8 weeks), and are not intended to live a long life.  Special care is needed to avoid leg and heart problems.

So, there you have it–a quick rundown of chicken terminology you need before buying chicks.  Next, I will explain what you need to take home with your new chicks.  🙂

Composting Article Round-Up


COMPOSTING ARTICLESThis month, for The Great Homesteading Challenge, we studied gardening.  It’s been a great distraction from the seemingly endless cold days, and we’re going into the spring prepared with a great plan for our garden.  This week, we are going to start composting! 

Composting is another one of those things that I put off for a long time.  And, once I did finally start a compost pile, I didn’t build a proper bin and the chickens made a mess of it.  So, I am excited about this week.  By composting, we can take stuff that otherwise would have ended up in the garbage and convert it to a rich soil additive, which, in the end, will make our gardens even more awesome!  For a more in depth description of composting, check out this article


Since I’m new to composting, I started a Pinterest board full of great composting articles, and I’ll share my favorite finds with you today.  I’ve pinned tips for composting no matter what your homesteading situation, so I hope you will check it out!  😀 

How To Make A Compost Bin (I’ll be making some combination of these):
If you want to buy the materials from the hardware store
If you want quick, easy, and basically free (assuming you have some pallets hanging around)
If you want a $30 DIY Spinning Composter
If you want a simple 3-Bin Composter
If you want the Cadillac 3-Bin chicken friendly composter
If you just want to buy one (affiliate link)

Now that you have your compost bin, here are some great info-graphics:
Why, How, What To Compost
Composting 101
The List of Compostables (I’m printing for my fridge.)
Composting Guide

Compost pail for your kitchen (so you don’t have to run to the compost bin 3 times per day):
Quick and easy tutorial to make your own!
If you want to buy one, this one has good reviews. (affiliate link)

Do you currently compost?  What tips do you have for someone starting out?

Shared on: Homestead Blog Hop, Green Thumb Thursday, Farmgirl Friday

Starting From Seeds – Gardening


STARTING SEEDS FROM EGGSHELLSGardening is one of those things that you never fully master.  There’s always something new to learn, and five minutes on Pinterest will present you with countless methods and options.  After having a somewhat successful gardening experience last year, I decided to try my hand at starting from seeds instead of buying plants this spring.  This will make me more self-sufficient and save money.

 After doing some research, I decided to experiment with a few ideas I saw online.  Since I had never started seeds indoors, I used this post from Farm Whisperer to guide me. 



tp rolls to start seeds
I tried planting one set of seeds in toilet paper rolls.  The idea is that you can move the plant into your garden toilet paper roll and all, and the cardboard will deteriorate.  I started out very meticulously using a funnel to get the soil in the tp rolls, but the soil kept clogging up the funnel.  So, I gave up on that idea, dropped soil in the general vicinity of the rolls, and gently tapped the container to settle the soil. 



eggshells to start seedsThe next set was planted in eggshells.  We have an abundance of farm fresh eggs around here, and I love finding uses for them.  Ideally, the eggs will provide calcium for the seedling, and can also be planted along with the crop.  Getting the soil into the eggshells was a bit messy, but we got it done.



window planter seed starter
Last, I planted in a windowsill greenhouse with peat pellets.  At $5 for 24 plants, his method is definitely cost prohibitive.  And, honestly, it was much messier and more of a pain than I thought.  The peat pellets had to be moistened until they expanded, then I had to remove some netting from them before planting, and add more soil after planting.  I don’t think I’ll be using this system on a consistent basis.



Personally, I really like the idea of planting in eggshells and hope that it works well.  But, only time will tell.  I’ll update you on the results soon!

This post is part of The Great Homesteading Challenge of 2015, where we learn a new homesteading skill each month.  Right now, we are working on gardening.  Be sure to check out last week’s post on garden planning.  It’s full of my favorite gardening resources.  If you’d like to join us, subscribe in the left sidebar.  🙂

Shared on:  Homestead Blog Hop, Green Thumb Thursday, Farmgirl Friday