Celebrating Earth

We love the outdoors and enjoying everything the Earth has to naturally give us year round. On Earth Day this year we took the kids to the museum for an event they were having.

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They got to make little bug catching cups that could hang around their necks and they got bug tattoos

and did little animal/insect crafts.

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We stopped by the plant table but because of the drive home being over 30 minutes long we didn’t want to risk the soil cups dumping over in the van. We also stopped by the table discussing the Sun safety and what it does for our planet, about the eclipse coming up in August and how to watch it, and of course more tattoos.

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In between going table to table the kids wanted to walk through and look at the museum things. Nothing had changed from the last time we came, but they still enjoyed walking through.

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We have many more outdoors plans this year and I got a new camera, so there will be a ton of great pictures I look forward to taking.

My flowers are blooming beautifully at home and they make the front patio smell nice when the breeze hits just right.

Look at these adorable little guys (Yellow Bellied Sliders), ready for a feeding, they all gather when I walk by and all I can think of is “Feed me Seymour” (Little Shop of Horrors)… then “mine, mine, mine” (Finding Nemo) as they are chasing down the pellets.

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Celebrating Earth

First Time Pickler

I followed an online recipe for dill pickles and I really hope it turns out alright. I made a dozen jars with this recipe. For the next dozen though, I’m going to follow a different recipe just in case.

We were given a bunch of pickling cucumbers fresh from the farm. We went through and found all the cucumbers that could be baby dills. I found some good looking ones to make spears and slices. After putting some away for our own use. I sorted through the cucumbers to share with family, neighbors and husband’s co-workers.

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Then I set out to brew the brine from a few different recipes I found. Some didn’t exactly have a length of time to set. When I used this recipe, I just bulked it up to fill more jars. This one alone only filled 2 small jars.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. spices (dill seed, peppercorns, ¬≠coriander seeds, ¬≠mustard seeds)
  • 2 cups water

STEPS:

  1. Cut the cucumbers the way you want them.
  2. Place them in the jars. (I put the jars in the sink to make less mess)
    If you are making spears make sure they are 1/2 inch from the jar lid.
  3. Bring all the ingredients to a boil in a saucepan.
  4. Pour the brine over vegetables in jars.
  5. Close the lid to seal.
  6. Let cool
  7. Label and store

 

With this recipe I’m going to let them ferment for about 6 weeks before testing. I’m really hoping they turn out delicious. My husband and kids are addicted to pickles.

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If you have a good recipe to recommend for my next batch, feel free to share in the comments. Thank you.

First Time Pickler

First Day of Summer

It’s officially the first day of Summer as well as a full moon. We celebrate Litha, the Summer Solstice.

The kids and I colored pretty Sunflower pictures because I didn’t have any means to the real flowers. I’ve been trying to grow Sunflowers, but they haven’t sprouted at all. It’s fine though because coloring allowed us time together, allowing us stress relief and bond our energies.

coloring sunflowers

This evening we set out the pictures to help with our ceremony’s energy. We laid out our crystals to provide strength. We wrote down our wishes and each of us read them before placing them in the flames “blessed be”. After we finished we had smores over the flame which represented Sun/Fire in celebration of Summer and how the Sun provides for us and everything. Once we were through adoring the blaze, we headed inside for the night. Leaving our crystals outside to cleanse in the Full Moon.

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full moon

We thank our mother earth and we are grateful for the sun and it’s entirety. We are trying to grow our own garden. It is our first garden at our house. I failed my first couple seedlings last month. I redid them and they are successful so far. My husband and I are currently in the process of building my garden space for the plants and I hope they grow plentiful. So far we have 4 sprouting corn, 6 cucumber and 2 watermelon. We also need to move our tomato plants because they are not getting enough Sun where they are. Next year I want to have a lot more in our garden, so this year is full of trial and error and first attempts.

Starter plants

 

First Day of Summer

The Chicken Scoop

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We got our chicks when they were 5 days old. We’d never raised chickens before and honestly didn’t even know where to start but we did some online research and did the best we could. These 5 chicks are now six weeks old! They have grown so much! They are beautiful, some have timid and some have spunky personalities, but all of them are wonderful to be around.

Lucky

We built them a nice chicken coop out of an old cabinet, well my husband did – I helped, it includes laying boxes for when they lay in the future and a roost for them to perch on. We also built their run which is a decent size for just 5 chickens (hoping that all of them end up being female, but we have yet to figure it out)
Here’s a video of the chicken coop tour on my YouTube Channel.

Here’s a video of the chicken coop tour on my YouTube Channel.

Here’s a video of the chicken coop tour on my YouTube Channel.

I still need to finish painting it (ran out of spray paint) I used Rustolieum sage and black colors from a home improvement store. Since these pictures my husband has added waterproofing on the roof, so I no longer need to paint that. I’ll just paint the beams and the walls of the coop.

These are our girlies. At least so far we haven’t been able to figure out if any are not girls. They have quite the personalities and everything I read was right. They are VERY stress relieving. My husband and I love to sit down there and watch them. I already love birds and I’m fascinated with birds. To me, chickens are just a really large breed of bird that I find intriguing. It really is therapeutic to go down there and sit with them, talk to them and interact with them because they really do make me feel better.

The benefits I found in raising chickens:
1. Added more responsibility to our home, the children see and understand the cause and effect from being responsible.
2. The children love going down and seeing the chickens (which in turn could help with their own emotional distresses)
3. They are good therapy for me. I found that I feel better when I go spend time with them and I enjoy watching them. They are a huge stress reliever for me.
4. I already get outside every day at some point but this helps me have even more of a reason to go outside at different parts of the day when I normally may have stayed inside.
5. They are easy to take care of. I thought chickens were going to be the biggest messiest animals that were too much to take care of. I know they are still small, but our setup is really easy to clean and maintain.
6. They are fun to watch and if you actually take the time to handle and raise your chickens from babies, they tend to be quite fond of human interaction and are fun to be around.

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left Nugget, right Sunshine13413722_1716832041920062_6530415513530146531_n
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Me and my girl Lucky (she’s the sweetest)13428409_1716832168586716_5315460764596026892_n
Chicken Selfie

I never really thought I’d ever have Backyard Chickens, but now that I do, I couldn’t imagine not having them. They are 6 weeks old now and are so neat and full of personality. Eventually going to be generating eggs and will have a purpose other than for our entertainment and therapy.

The Chicken Scoop

Kids & Bird Watching

I’ve always been intrigued by birds since I was a child. They are such an incredible species and quite beautiful to watch. My grandparents used to have a hummingbird feeder and other bird feeders outside where they could view it from their dining room window. I enjoyed eating breakfast with them as we watched birds come and go. I remember they had bird books to help identify some they may not have known. Still to this day I love viewing birds in the wild and identifying the ones I’m familiar with.

We have chickens and 2 parakeets, among our family pets, but we love to watch the wildlife around our home. From the deer, squirrels, chipmunks and of course birds.

We already have a lot of beautiful birds in the neighborhood that we see come and go from our fountain, but I wanted to attract them even more to our own yard so I added a bird feeder. Ever since the first morning with the feeder it’s been a busy busy feeding frenzy. The kids and I have had a blast peeking out the window and seeing all our visitors. The kids and I are even going to build our own bird feeders to add.

So far we’ve seen Cardinals (both male and female), Bluejays, Crows (which hasn’t been common before), Chickadees, Mockingbird, and some that I’m not 100% sure I’ve identified correctly. [the bird on the pole I can’t seem to pinpoint, I thought it looked like a female bluejay, but I would need to get a better look next time]

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We always try to capture any wild life photos we can in our yard and when we go on nature hikes and spend time in the woods. But I really wish I had a better camera to capture their image. Probably doesn’t help I’m snapping pictures through our blinds in the dining room so they don’t scare away.

5 Benefits I found for Bird Watching with my Kids

  1. Respect for nature and wildlife
  2. Teaching them what types of feed/seed attracts certain birds
  3. Helping them identify birds
  4. Involving them in a hobby together (quality time)
  5. Watching all the different birds come and go, adding beautiful wildlife to our yard.

 

Kids & Bird Watching

Sprouts and Our Growing Garden

I can’t say for sure that I’ve ever really had a green thumb per say. I have only bought slightly matured flowering plants/trees for our yard, so I’ve never started anything from seeds until our Flower Moon planting day when we sowed our seeds. I am super excited that the watermelon seeds we planted are now sprouting.

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The corn has also shown signs of rooting. I’m waiting on the cucumbers and peppers to show signs, but so far nothing. We have 4 tomato plants in the yard also and so far only 1 tomato is forming.

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We also have several berries popping up on our premature blackberry bush around the side of the house.

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I was waiting to build our raised garden until I had some success at the sowing the seeds part. I didn’t want to waste time and money on that project until I could prove to myself I could do it. I’m still not even confident enough. I really want our food garden to strive.

As far as our flowers go, they are doing great. We’ve been here a tad over a year and we have 2 mature day lily plants about to bloom for their 2nd year and a third we just bought has bloomed it’s first year and looks good. I love lily’s and we plan on planting many different color varieties from bulbs next year. I’m excited. I still need to lay weed fabric down and add mulch to the addition of this flower bed, so you can see a lot of grass around this plant for now.

We also just added rocks in a circle around out front water fountain (which is green because we need to replace the pump) and transplanted 4 Hostas (from my mother’s yard, so one of them is a little snipped from a lawn mower) in this section, it will also have weed fabric laid down and mulch added when we get a chance. The rocks in the center at the base of the fountain are positioned looking at picture North (behind fountain) South (front) West (left) and East (right), that information will help us with certain gardening aspects.

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We had to replace two of our Lavender plants on the hill the other week. Not sure what happened but out of our transfer of 6 plants, two didn’t make it. They are all looking very healthy now and growing taller and taller.

Our Flowering Pear Trees have grown about 6 inches too. They are looking great. I can’t wait to see them matured in several years. Our Pink Magnolia is looking great too. It only got one bloom on it earlier this Spring, but I’m hoping next Spring it will have many more blooms on it so I can get pictures. The yard is going to transform so much once everything is matured. We plan to have many plants that stay green all year and some that bloom in spring, summer and autumn so we have color all year round. Eventually for esthetic purposes I want a PVC picket fence across the front and on left and right of yard.

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One day we’re going to aerate the yard and put down some weed killer and grass seed because honestly about 97% of our yard is nothing but weeds.

Above, picture on the left is the part of the yard where we will most likely have the raised garden for the watermelons and the picture on the right side is where we want to build some layered raised garden beds about 1-2 feet wide down the side of the house so that we can plant strawberries and other plants in there.

I really enjoy being in the yard and gardening with my husband and our kids. Being outside is so serene for us, watching the kids play and just enjoying the fresh air. We want to create an oasis for us and a fun space for the kids to enjoy as well and so we’ll have a beautiful view all year round. Which means that there is so much we want to do, there’s just no way of knowing what we’ll do next.

Sprouts and Our Growing Garden

It’s okay to get your hands dirty.

After a comment on my post about my addiction to gardening that I shared on Facebook, someone was talking to me about the microbes in soil and how it acts as an antidepressant. These good bacteria actually boost the immune system and allows the body to release more serotonin which makes you feel better. (I’ve shared a link to an article about it at the bottom)¬† I was intrigued with this discovery (especially since I do suffer from depression). I knew there was a reason why I love playing in dirt. I mean who doesn’t right? I love the smell of soil and getting my hands dirty. I could stay outside all day with the kids just playing in the dirt.

My Poppy used to have a homemade dirt/sand box in his backyard when we were young and my cousins and brother and I would dig trenches and fill it with water. We constructed buildings all over and bridges over the trenches. It was hours and hours of fun.

The bottom of our yard is mostly, well… dirt. Sadly though we do not have a dirt/sand box, but that doesn’t stop the kids from getting super dirty. They make mud cakes and build little houses with wood, rocks and dirt for their outside toys. They play restaurant and other imaginative things kids do. They would stay outside all day if they could.

We go hiking or walking every clear weekend we get, since my husband does not work weekends, it’s the only relaxing time we get to enjoy the outdoors. We usually collect nature things on our walks. The kids bring home neat looking sticks, moss, leaves and rocks they’ve come across. We used to have a shelf inside designated for all the rocks and things, but with 5-6 kids bringing home little treasures, it filled up fast and we ran out of room so we started just keeping their discoveries in the garden.

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I’ve been doing some reading on the antidepressant microbes in soil.
Here’s a link to a website with a good article about it. Gardening Chemistry…
It’s interesting to say the least. I never would have thought something such as dirt would actually have some health benefits for us. I’m always looking for new methods of self-help considering I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety for 12 years. I prefer to be non-medicated because of all the side-effects from the medications I used to be on. I’m always reading and looking for natural remedies and techniques for handling my depression and anxiety on my own. I’ve been doing good overall for the past few years, some days though, are harder than others. I’m going to be doing my own research and experiments with soil and see what the conclusions are overall. I already know being outside in nature (in the woods, near streams) and in the garden and in the dirt makes me feel better, more calm, more grounded, but now if I do get a dark day I’ll know what may help. It’s worth a shot.

All this talk about dirt has me thinking. I’m going to build a new play station in the backyard for more dirt play and soil exploration for the kids. I’ll make a post about it when it’s built and in action.
It’s okay to get your hands dirty.