Friday, May 30, 2014

My Tips for Gardening

Today I'm linking up with Kelly's Korner Blog where gardening tips are the topic.

Since this is one of my favorite hobbies while being at home with my boys, I thought it would be fun to snap some pictures around our Homestead.

I love landscaping, and starting with the bare bones. When we first built our house I shopped around, and drew up some plans on how I wanted to landscape our new home. 

So I went to our local greenhouse and just looked around for a LONG time. I thought about what plants would go well in the front of our house with the morning sun, and what plants would do better in the shade. That is a BIG factor when deciding what to plant. I have wasted a lot of money, simply because I wasn't careful about reading the tags and just stuck it anywhere because it was pretty.

One of my favorite things about our home, is the front porch. One of the first flower purchases I make each spring are ferns. I just love them! I had my husband put hooks in each of the openings, and then hang a white chain. Ferns require a lot of water. Some good boost for them are miracle grow (once a month) and also Epsom salt. That is a trick I've learned over the years. I mix it up with water and let it dissolve. Then use a mason jar to give a scoop to each fern, just like I would with Miracle-Gro.

Here are some shots from our front flower beds. This weeping willow tree has pink blooms in the spring, but only for about 1/2 weeks.

Finding an edging is also key to a great landscape. It helps keep the grass out when you mow, and keeps the mulch neat and clean.

I don't plant annuals in my actual flower beds. I've found that I was spending too much time and money taking them out and fixing the mulch when they died. Now, I only plant annuals (not coming back each year) into pots on my porches. I find a good dirt with fertilizer in it, and they grow like crazy!

Winter/Spring Pansies 

Knock out rose bushes are a big hit here in West Virginia. They are good for height and for color. However, you MUST dead head them after they have bloomed. It is almost June, and I only have a few blooms. They are really a summer blooming bush. I try to plan my bushes/flowers around how & when they bloom. Then I will have color year round in my flower beds.

I love petunias, but they do require a lot of water. I have tried many times to grow them and I've found that the smaller ones are easier. I found this old galvanized bucket in my parent's barn, and thought it would be great to use as a pot. It has a country look to it. I found this star pick at a local country store. I love to stick them in different pots around the house.

The boys and I have really become bird watchers. O how life has changed :) 

Out back of our house I have many potted flowers on the porch, and some bushes to give height. A Crape Myrtle sits on the corner and gives lots of greenery.

I just found this interesting oriental grass this year at our local greenhouse. It's fiber optic grass. It has little white balls on each piece of grass and lights up. So COOL!

Each spring, we do a big garden in the back area of our property. It keeps getting bigger and bigger with each passing year. Normally my husband tills it up in March, and adds horse fertilizer. He tills it up about 3 or 4 times before we plant anything. Each year we get wiser about how and what to plant in our garden. 

This year we have 5 rows of corn, bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash. 

We also have pumpkins planted, but this past year I learned that pumpkins will take over your vegetables. So I've gone with a different plan, to move them completely away from the vegetable garden. Pumpkins do like sandy bottoms. It's good to plant them near a creek where sand may be, or even bring in bags of sand and till it in with your dirt.

I think pumpkins are very hard to grow because deer, chickens, and birds all like to peck them. Last year I planted over 100 seeds, and got 3 pumpkins. But I was pretty proud of those 3 pumpkins!

You can see here how I use my egg shells in the garden.

Here are my TOP 5 TIPS for growing a garden:

1. Use egg shells around your plants. Break them up into tiny pieces and sprinkle them around the roots of your vegetables.

2. If you have chickens, let them peck around in your garden. This is free fertilizer :)

3. Use your left over coffee grains and put them around your vegetables. This is an all natural way of giving your plants an extra boost without using harmful chemicals. I'm all about NATURAL!

4. Till up your garden 3 or 4 times before you plant anything. Add in any type of compost you can from the winter. Dried up leaves, horse/cow manure, chicken poo, store bought soil, and even sand.

5. Use a plant food like Miracle-Gro every month or so. Mix a scoop with a gallon of water and go around with your bucket and give them a little drink. It really helps get them growing in the right direction.

I hope these tips have helped. Gardening is so fun, and can really be therapeutic. 

Hope you'll come back to visit our Homestead soon!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Being a BOY Mom

When we found out that I was expecting our first child 6 years ago, I had thoughts of baby girl things instantly. The cute bows, dance classes, shopping for pink, and playing baby dolls. However, GOD had other plans for me and my life. 

I would consider myself pretty girly. I started taking dance and baton lessons at age 3, and didn't stop until I graduated college at 25. Being in dance, you are really doing "girly" activities all the time. 

I'm not quite sure I could call myself a girly girl anymore though. Life has changed, and I am okay with that. I know that in a days time, I will be dirty myself with the messes and the outside chores that are waiting for me.

 I still love to dress up for church, and dates with my husband, but the day to day normally consists of boy activities. I really enjoy watching them "be boys".

I didn't know you could mow a creek.....did you?

Playing in the creek, fishing, playing in mud puddles, catching critters, feeding the animals, mowing grass, jumping on the trampoline, splitting firewood, planting and watering, playing baseball or football, and hiking in the woods are some of the fun we have at home. I sure do love being a boy mom.

I will say, I am so thankful for Karson when we go fishing. Many times when daddy is at work, the boys ask to fish. I'm no fan of pulling a hook out of a fish's eye. Karson keeps us all ready with worms on our hooks, and taking off the fish. I tell him that he is a true fisherman now that he can do it all. He puffs out his chest and says "Just like daddy?" I say "Yep, just like daddy!" He sure comes by it honest. I think they could both fish every single day.

So if you're new to this whole "boy mom" thing, don't worry God will help you through. It may not be what you have invisioned for your life, but the rewards will be endless.

Choose to embrace the choas!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Homestead Happenings

Hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend! 

Even our chickens enjoyed their summer treat. These watermelon were gone within 10 minutes. 

Our garden is growing pretty good. I had to replant a few plants in a fertilizer soil instead because our hard rock just wasn't helping them grow. I keep the egg shells after we eat our eggs and put them in the garden. 

The main ingredient in eggshells is calcium carbonate (the same brittle white stuff that chalk, limestone, cave stalactites, sea shells, coral, and pearls are made of). The shell itself is about 95% CaCO3 (which is also the main ingredient in sea shells). The remaining 5% includes calcium phosphate and magnesium carbonate and soluble and insoluble proteins. (source:

We have planted four rows of corn, green peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, sunflowers, and zinnias in our garden. Below our house we have started a pumpkin patch. I've been wondering if it's a good spot for the pumpkins because I will be relying solely on the rain to grow them. If we have a long drought they could not make it. I will have to see how this year goes with this new spot. Last year I planted the pumpkins in our garden with the vegetables, and they just took over everything. 

This weekend, we just stayed HOME. It's really one of the best places in this entire world. So peaceful, and the boys just play and play outside. Karson asked to use Kevin's hacksaw. I told him he could and I would watch him. He wanted to cut some trees down that were around his little tree stand. I never dreamed that he could actually cut them down. To my surprise, he cut down 4 small trees yesterday! (they were in the way of a soon to be tree house anyway)

He showed and explained to little brother, how this would all work. We found some great grapevine on our property too. I would love to make some crafts with that soon!

We've had some pretty crazy chicken stories to tell over the past 4 weeks. It sure has been a whirlwind of a spring here. We started with 18 baby chicks in March, and are down to 6. Every year, we feel we are ready for the predators to come out of their dormant stage. Once again, they win. It is very discouraging as we put many hours of our time, and money into growing up our farm. I know these things are just part of the nature circle, but they still hurt quite a bit. I have tried nursing a few back to health, with no luck. 

However, we are trying to move forward with what we have left, and stay hopeful we are doing our best. 

Life in the country is never easy, but the rewards are more than you could ever imagine!

Saturday, May 24, 2014


Karson is an official preschool graduate! He had his last day this past Thursday. It felt like yesterday that he was standing in front of our front door for his 1st day in 4 year old preschool. He has really grown!

This comparison is from last year. It is from his 3 year old year in preschool. The 3 year old year was much harder than his 4 year old year. He had a lot of separation anxiety to get over, and being a worrier didn't help matters. I am so thankful we choose to get him in preschool that 3 year old year as well to help him be in a better place for Kindergarten. We have been at his preschool both years just 2 mornings a week from 9-12. It has really been a perfect situation for us all. A little time away from home, but not too much. 

Friday: May 23rd he had his little graduation program. As I took his picture out front before we left, I was reminded I did this exact same picture just a year before. Time flies, seriously! So fast!

                                                   2013                                            2014

If you can tell, the picture on the right was this year and he has his hand in the right place. Boy, we have come a long way! He has gained knowledge, maturity, and friendship along the way these past two years. We still have many things to work on this summer, but I feel like we have a pretty strong hold on going into Kindergarten in August. I know that Kindergarten is something everyone goes through. However, I am TERRIFIED of Kindergarten. Yes you read that right. I have a teaching degree, but am TERRIFIED! I am just not ready, but I'm pretty sure he is. It's not about the educational part, but the time spent away from our home. I pray for him daily, that it goes smoothly and he will keep to his ways that we have taught him.

I am praying for strength for me this summer as well. To be able to teach and speak love, patience, importance, manners, and respect into him as much as I possibly can. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014


The power of brothers is so strong. There are many loud and messy times, but there are even more loving days. These two are together all day long except for sleeping and Karson being at morning preschool 3 days. I can honestly say they are best friends. 

I think a big part of that has to do with the fact that we live in the country. Don't take this the wrong way, I don't want my children isolated from the world. However, being in the country forces them to play with each other rather than neighborhood kids. When we moved to our current home 4 years ago, we left friends from the subdivision who they both really enjoyed playing with. Now, it's a different type of play. Learning to play and get along with your sibling. It's a sweet time of togetherness. 

They are never really bored. They are pretty good at keeping entertained. 

The water hose is a great entertainer, as well as our creek in the back yard. Both are a big blessing on those hot summer days. 

Karson has really been interested in catching butterflies, and looking at the colors of their wings. 

He even shares with little brother. Who often ends up killing them from too much love (oops!)

These wildflowers are everywhere on our property. They seem to really attract the butterflies.

I am so thankful to have these brothers home with me this summer with no interruptions.

"A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."