This is a long post, but I just have to vent…

Is it just me or is “New and Improved”, “Energy Efficient” or whatever else “they’re” saying to sell today’s garbage just not what it’s cracked-up to be?!?!?!

After almost 20 years of faithful service and a few repairs over the last few years, I had to “retire” my washer and dryer and buy new ones.  I’m not rich, so I didn’t buy top-of-the-line, but I didn’t buy the cheapest, either.  I bought middle of the line units and absolutely hated the washer!!!  Two weeks after having the machines delivered, I made arrangements to return them and bought the cheaper ones.  I’m still not totally satisfied, but I think they’re better than the middle of the line… plus, I had no other choice.  They’re all made pretty much the same.

The mid-priced washer did not have an agitator.  I’ve never not had an agitator before, but the salesman told me that within the next five years, this would be our only option.  I looked at them and found one with a super large barrel, large enough for me to wash blankets and comforters at home instead of running out to the Laundromat… which I hate to do.  I thought I made the right decision until they were delivered and I washed my first load.

The highest the water would fill was less than half the height of the barrel.  I found myself having to split my loads into two loads, thus doubling the soap and doubling the electric.  How is this energy efficient???  As far as the water is concerned, I don’t feel like I was using double the water because if the barrel would have filled to the top in the first place, my two loads would have been a full load.  And, forget the blankets and comforters.  There would be no way I’d be able to wash them in such a small amount of water!!!  What good is manufacturing such large barrels if there isn’t enough water to fill them???

Anyway, as the machine was running, there was no way of knowing how long the cycles ran, whether the machine was washing or rinsing, and if I missed the rinse cycle to add my softener, on my old washer I could re-set it for just a rinse cycle and add my softener.  With the new ones, there isn’t that option.  Oh, and I almost forgot, with every load, unless I physically set the machine to actually have a rinse cycle, there wasn’t one.  The soapy wash water would empty and, while the barrel was spinning, clean water would just run for roughly five minutes.  I guess the water being sucked through the spinning clothes was supposed to be how the soap was rinsed out.

That wasn’t the case with my machine, though.  The water would run through the center of the barrel but, because it was on the spin cycle, the clothes were around the edges, thus the clothes didn’t get “rinsed”.  How is the soap supposed to be rinsed out of the clothes if there isn’t a true rinse cycle… and what a waste of water since the so-called rinse water was just running into the center of the machine, not on my clothes at all, but going straight down the drain!!!  I know because I had a glass top and I could see what was going on!!!

So, I went back to the store, made arrangements to have the set picked-up and ordered the cheaper model with the agitator… but not before talking in great length with another salesman about what I didn’t like about the first washer and what I wanted in a different model.  So, what I was told is that Uncle Sam has put restrictions on the height of the water in new washers, thus their “so-called” Hi Efficiency.  I was informed that today’s new machines can only be filled up to 18 inches high!!!  No higher!!!

I’m not totally thrilled with the replacement, but I lucked-out somewhat with the cheaper model.  It has an agitator and fills more than 18″.  Problem is, it only fills to 3/4-full.  It’s more than 18″, but just not enough.  So… I fill an 8-quart pot with water two or three times and pour it into the machine.  Oh… and the hot cycle… when the hot water is supposed to be filling, it’s only hot if the lid is open during the fill.  If I close the lid, it switches to cold!!!  (Another energy saver, I guess.)  I use hot for my whites and towels and to dissolve the Borax®, so, needless to say, when I’m doing whites, I have to leave the lid open and close it when the water stops filling.  What a waste of my time, too, because I have to wait by the machine so I can close the lid, because if I leave my laundry room, I get into doing something else, and I forget to go back to close it… more wasted time!!!

So, had I known all this before buying the new set, I would have just kept my old set and kept repairing it until I couldn’t repair it anymore.  I could keep going but, I know this is really long.  So, sorry for the length of this post,  but I wanted to say BUYER BEWARE!!!  If you’re looking for a new washer, do your homework and I wish you lots of luck!!!


My Homestead and What I’m Striving For …

For me and where I live, my goal is working my little backyard, growing organic vegetables, fruits, berries and grapes, hopefully being able to raise a few chickens (if the chicken laws in my town get changed) and keeping a beehive; doing whatever is practical on my little suburban lot to attain the wholesome life I am striving for.

I’m trying to learn how to live without big-business as much as possible.  Besides growing my own produce, I’m in the process of learning how to make homemade beauty products.  I’ve got the whole natural cleaning supplies thing down to a science.  Well, not everything, but what I do make for myself works very well.  And, because it’s possible to treat our medical needs naturally rather than always filling our bodies with prescribed or over-the-counter chemicals, I want to learn how to make my own health products… responsibly, of course.  I plan to do a lot of research on this before actually growing plants for this purpose.

As far as energy conservation goes, I’m very frugal with the electric, but would like to install solar panels on the house.  I’m also going to look into wind turbines.  I don’t know if turbines are allowed where I live, but I’m going to check into it.  And, money… we all need money and we should all save for that so-called “rainy day” that might come around.  Living a frugal lifestyle by purchasing second-hand items and, whenever possible, reusing and re-purposing what I already own helps a lot and isn’t new to me.  I grew up with frugal parents and I carried what I learned into my adult years.  My husband, on the other hand, didn’t grow up this way, so we’ve have “words” over the years about whether purchasing an item was, in fact, truly necessary or not.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to ever live debt-free, but I’m sure going to try my darnedest to get there.

Right now, my homestead consists of veggies in the backyard and herbs in the kitchen window.  Until this year, my “hobby” garden was planted in traditional rows.  This year, my garden isn’t so much a hobby, but my new way of life.  I’ve planted more of certain veggies than in years past for canning, hopefully growing and canning enough to last throughout the winter and spring.  We’ll see.

I still have some traditional rows because that’s what I’m just used to doing, but have planted some veggies using the square-foot gardening method.  The squares are doing well, so next year there will be less rows and more squares.

I want to plant some dwarf fruit trees and some berries and grapes, but I have to figure out where I’m going to plant them.  My husband isn’t as thrilled with this whole idea as I am because he’s primarily a meat and potatoes kind of guy and doesn’t eat many fruits and veggies, so I’m not going to be able to use as much of the back yard as I would like… unless I can figure out how to grow steak in the garden!!!  lol

I’m planning to venture to the front yard with the berries and grapes, but I have to find a way to camouflage them.  I can’t have the front yard looking like a food garden, which is too bad.  My front yard faces southeast and has the sun all day long.  I wish I could plant the whole garden out front!!!

I guess homesteading may be a little overwhelming to some, but I think that with a little determination and elbow grease, it’s absolutely doable.   I know I won’t be able to do everything that a homesteader with multiple acres is able to do, but I will do whatever I can the best way I know how.   I know I can’t do everything I want to right now, but I’ll be adding a little more each new planting season.

I’m far from being where I want to be as a homesteader, but I’ve begun.  I’ve researched and read everything I could find online.  I’ve gone to the library and found many wonderful books on homesteading and bought the ones I like the best.  I now have quite the library myself of gardening, homesteading, DIY and frugal living books.  I haven’t been able to do everything I want, yet, but I’m learning.  And, little by little, My Little Backyard Homestead is expanding!!!

Happy Easter…

Happy Easter 2017

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”     1 Peter 1:3

I had yesterday, Good Friday, off from work so I did some cleaning, rearranging and purging in the house… and it looks pretty good if I do say so myself!!!  Today, Saturday, is supposed to be in the mid-60s and sunny.  Since I haven’t been outside to do much of anything yet this year, I’d say it’s a good day to get out there.  I’m going to do some cleaning-up and check my garden tools to see what needs fixing or replacing.  After that, it’s back into the house to do some baking… yummy!!!  (Shower first, of course!!!  lol)

Just a few words today, but I wanted to stop by to wish everyone Peace, Love and Much Happiness this Holiday Season and always.  See you next Saturday.

Why I prefer to grow my own …

For my family’s health, I buy Heirloom, Organic, Non-GMO seeds and I don’t use chemical fertilizers or pesticides.  If there is something I haven’t planted, I try to go to a farm market first to buy, but if for some reason I have to buy something at the supermarket, I buy organic.  I only hope I’m getting what I’m paying extra for… at both places.

Another health plus to gardening is that working in the garden is great exercise.  This is especially beneficial for the girl who knows she should be exercising, but isn’t doing it.  OK, I admit it… that’s me!!!  lol

I believe homegrown fruits and vegetables taste much better because in the home garden, produce fully ripen before harvesting.  Whereas, store purchased fruits and vegetables are harvested way before they are ready so they can withstand shipping and being delivered before spoiling.  Plus, the way I understand it, other than organics, some of the fruits and vegetables are sprayed with something to prevent them from spoiling.  Before I started buying organics, I once had a bag of Russet Potatoes and, being pushed to the back of the pantry, forgot I had them.  I found them more than two months later and they were still in good condition.  That’s just not normal!!!

And, the produce in the supermarkets are more than likely grown from modified seeds.  I don’t care if my produce looks perfect or has perfect color.  With modified produce, it’s possible that I can plant a seed from, say, a beautiful red, but modified, pepper and get an ear of corn on the plant that grows from that seed… that’s just so wrong!!!  OK… I’m exaggerating, but I want to know that what I’m eating is whole!!!

Modifying also changes the taste.  I’m no spring chicken, so I remember what “whole” foods really taste like.  A lot of what we’re eating today just doesn’t measure up!!!  And, I believe there isn’t enough documentation for anyone to convince me that GMOs are totally safe for us to eat.

Let’s talk money… buying a bunch of packs of seeds and considering the amounts of food they produce doesn’t nearly compare with the price of the same amounts of the same foods in the supermarkets.  Even if you don’t start your own seeds, purchased seedlings cost more than starting from seed, but are still more reasonable than buying fruits and vegetables from the supermarket.

OK, so it takes some work to get a sustainably producing garden, but that’s alright.  I’m good with doing a little more work in my garden to get healthy foods to put on my table.  And, let’s not forget we get a lot of sunshine for Vitamin D, exercise and peace-of-mind while being out there.  Oh, I forgot something else… a kick-ass tan, too!!!  lol

Gardening is also good for our environment.  If you’re anything like me, you compost.  My kitchen scraps (no meat, of course), garden waste, grass clippings and leaves go into my compost pile to make “pure gold” for my garden, hence, less garbage going to the landfills.  I also repurpose our newspapers (not the color inserts) into seed starting pots, thus the newspapers don’t go to the landfill, either.  And, let’s not forget, fewer trips to the supermarket means less car emissions going into our air.

And, if we need more… fewer trips to the gas pump means more money in our pockets; not going to the supermarket means not having to deal with crowded stores (I hate crowded stores!!!); and, besides mixing compost into the soil, I feed my plants with easy-to-make “compost tea”.

So… I could probably keep going, but I won’t.  I just think it’s so cool that gardening is a win-win proposition.  Healthier foods, saving money in the supermarkets, saving money at the gas pump, fewer car emissions in our air and more!!!  What can be better than that?

That’s it for now.  See you next week!!!

Let’s save a little energy…

… running the dishwasher!!! Is this even possible? Yup!!! First of all, when I run my dishwasher, I only run with a full load, usually every other or every third day. Unless I’m baking or cooking a lot for company, I don’t usually have a lot to wash so I guess I could probably do them by hand, but there’s always something going on that I just don’t have the time, or the oomph, to do them. And, not only that, I feel like I’m using more water when I hand-wash, so I feel like I’m saving water by running the dishwasher.

I also save by using the Air Dry option!!! I’ve used the air-dry option on my dishwasher forever and ever!!! My normal routine is, when the rinse cycle has ended, I shake the racks back and forth a little to get the sitting water off the tops of glasses, cups, etc. I also shake plastic containers and lids to get the water out of the rims. This only takes a couple of seconds. Then, when I’m done with that, I leave the door ajar. (Leaving the top rack pulled out a little will hold the door open.) Because the inside of the dishwasher and the dishes are still hot from the rinse cycle, the heat dries everything beautifully as the steam escapes from the top of the door. I have friends who leave the door completely open, but then the heat escapes too quickly and they wind up having to dry everything with a dish towel because the water has cooled off before it evaporates.

I don’t usually let the dishwasher run when I’m not home, but it’s set for air-dry for, on the rare occasion, if I have to leave the house before the rinse cycle has finished, I’m not using extra electric to heat up the drying element. And, if a small plastic item should fall to the bottom, it won’t melt and possibly cause a fire.

Well, just a little tip. Have a Great Week.

Thanks for hanging around…

For those of you who haven’t given-up on me yet, thank you for hanging around.  I’m sure you know by now that my silly, little catch phrase is, “Life Got In My Way… Again!”  So, again, another long break between posts because… well, nah, I’m not going to say it!!!

I always have so many plans and dreams during the Winter months and so much excitement for the coming growing seasons.  Winter of 2015/2016, I again made my plans, went through the seed catalogs over and over to find, in my opinion, the best of the best seeds and, of course, I bought Heirloom, Non-GMO and Organic.  Still having seeds left over from the year before, I ordered the seeds I was in need of and organic starter soil.  Over the next couple of weeks, I made about 200 starter pots from newspaper to start my seeds in.  What a job that was!!!

My order came in and I quickly filled all those little pots with the soil and planted the seeds.  I then found space at nearly every window in my house to put them all.  I watched and waited for those little seedlings to poke their little leaves through the soil and they came in beautifully.  I had such high hopes of having the best garden I’ve ever had since, well, forever.  Then reality set in.

When Spring came, there was always something else that needed doing, so I wasn’t able to prepare my garden and plant the seedlings.  When it became obvious to me that I wasn’t going to be able to have my garden, I gave my baby seedlings away to friends who were good enough to share the bounty with me!!!  Yummy!!!

Well, it’s 2017 and another growing season is upon us.  I, once again, have high hopes of getting my garden planted!!!  So, I ordered more seed, made more newspaper pots and started planting the seeds.  My seedlings are coming in nicely and I look at them every day with such anticipation.  I’m going to have my garden this year!!!  I have to… I just have to!!!

It’s near the end of March and still kind of cold outside.  I went out to my garden the other day to see what really needs to be done.  My veggie area is so overgrown with weeds and grass that what I think I’m going to do is put my lawn mower on the lowest setting and cut the weeds down.  They aren’t very tall, but there are a lot of them.  Then, and I hope this works as well as I’ve been told, I’m going to cover the area with several layers of newspaper and cover with mulch.  Hopefully this will choke out the weeds and I will be able to get my garden started again.

So, what I’m really hoping is that this will be my year!!!  I’m hoping to never again have to say, “Life Got In My Way… Again!”

See you again soon!!!

Again, life got in my way…

Sorry to have been away so long, but, as I said in my “About” post, “Life just gets in the way!”  Between my husband and myself, after FOUR LONG YEARS of unemployment, not receiving unemployment benefits at times, only being able to find part-time jobs to barely make ends meet, we both finally found full-time jobs.  Yay!!!  We won’t become rich, but they pay the bills and we’re comfortable again.

The downfall of the part-time hours is that I never got my garden totally back in shape and planted.  I had two part-time jobs and my hours didn’t give me the opportunity to get out into the garden during daylight hours!!!  Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but they didn’t give me time to do much of anything else after doing housework, cooking, laundry, etc.

At the end of this past winter, I did start my seeds and, as soon as I was able to, I started digging up the garden area, but I never got it finished.  My seedlings came in nicely (so I’ll definitely plant from seed again), but, since I never finished digging up the garden, the seedlings never got planted.  They eventually got too big for their little peat pots and suffered.  Sadly, I eventually added them to my compost pile.  So, needless to say, I didn’t have a garden this year.

Once again, life got in my way.

One more garden-less year for me, but it’s OK.  I’ve already started planning next season!!!  I’m back into a routine.  My full-time job gives me plenty of daylight hours for gardening, so I’ve gotten back out to the yard to begin digging up the garden, getting it (somewhat) ready for next spring.  I’ve gone through the seeds I have left from this year and made a list of the ones I need to re-buy for next year.  I’m on my way.

I’ve gotten my proposal to change my town’s chicken law pretty much finished.  The winter months should be a good time to get things started.  It would be nice, but I’m not counting on it, to be able to have chickens next spring.  I wish I knew of others in Beachwood who would like chickens, too.  It would be so much easier if I had people behind me, supporting this change.  We’ll see what happens.

I’ll be back from time to time over the winter months to let you know if anything interesting is happening, but not weekly as I planned.  After the new year, I’ll try, again, to post weekly… or, at least, every other week.

Anyway, hope to be back regularly soon.

Happy Spring…

… or so I thought!!!  Mother Nature threw us a curve ball yesterday… or was it that darned groundhog that gave us the 6 extra weeks of Winter?  Either way, we had snow on the first day of Spring… eight hours and three inches of heavy, wet snow.  We had temps in the 50s and 60s most of last week so, because the ground was so warm, what fell in the first few hours melted, but then began to stick, giving us a sloppy mess.  It should be gone today (or most of it, anyway), because it’s supposed to be in the low 50s again.  Because the prediction was temps in the 50s for the weekend, I was hoping to get outside and, at least, do some clean-up in the garden, but that’s not happening now!!!  I’m glad the snow was heavy and wet.  Had it been light and fluffy, we might have ended up with a foot, if not more.  Maybe I’ll be able to get outside next weekend.

I’m going to start some of my seeds today… indoors, of course.  I’ll be starting my Broccoli, Cabbage, Lettuce, Onion, Pea, Pepper and Tomato seeds.  I’m so looking forward to seeing those little bits of green poking their little leaves through the soil.  In a short time, I’ll have all my seeds started and hopefully, the winter will be gone and I’ll have worked my garden in time to plant them.  Fingers Crossed!!!

I’m also going to try to make dishwasher tablets, today.  I’ve been thinking about green cleaning products for quite some time now and have been searching the web for natural products to buy or make.  I found a lot of sites to purchase products and a lot of sites with instructions to make different products.  I’ve decided to make them myself and have taken the best of each “recipe” and will concoct my own version.  I’ll let you know next week how they came out and how well they work… or don’t work.

I read an article about using newspaper as a mulch.  I’m going to try it in the garden this year and I’ve saved quite a lot of it over the Winter.  I would have had more, but I bagged what I had a while back and my husband thought it was for recycle and put it out for pick-up after I left for work one morning.  Boy, was I mad when I got home and saw that the bags were gone.  Now, I’m just leaving them in a pile because my husband won’t bag them; he waits for me to do that.  So, if I don’t bag them, he won’t put them out… problem solved.  lol  I just hope I’ll have enough and I hope it works as well as what I’ve read.  I hate to think that I saved them all Winter, only to find out that it doesn’t work as well as I thought it would.  Has anyone ever used newspaper as a mulch?  How did it work for you?  Let me know what you think.

Well, that’s all I have for today.  I’ll see you next Saturday.

Winter is behind us… I hope!!!

Well, it’s looking as if the worst of Winter is behind us… Yay!!!  After not being able to have my garden for a few years, I so want to get out and start digging again.  Since I haven’t worked my garden in so long, it’s so disheartening to look out my window to see what bad shape it’s in.  Come on warmer weather!!!

At the end of October, I ordered every seed catalog I could find online and started receiving them mid-November.  I must have gotten two dozen, if not more.  I looked and looked and looked again through each of them to make sure I was choosing the right seeds.  I wanted organic and I also wanted Heirloom.  None of those GMO seeds for me!!!  And, cost was also an issue. Many of the catalogs had the same or similar seed stock, but some of the catalogs were less expensive than the others.  It took me quite a while to go through them all to get the best, and the most, for my money.  I finally narrowed it down to three catalogs which I thought were the best and, in mid-January, I ordered everything I think I’m going to need to get started.  Usually, I buy seedlings from my local farm market, but this year I’m going to try my hand at starting my seedlings from scratch.  I’ve never started my own seeds before, so this should be interesting.  I ordered a lot.  No, not just a lot, too much!!!  I just hope I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew.  lol

I received the first of my three seed orders the first week of February.  It was the smallest of the three orders (only the corn and the eggplant), but I was so excited!!!  Ironic, though… I was opening the mailer which contained my seeds while watching the snow falling outside.  The snow is all gone now, but the ground is too soggy to start doing anything to it.  I can’t wait until it warms up a bit outside and the ground is dry enough to start preparing my beds.  Very soon!!!  I want to get dirt under my nails again!!!  lol

I received the other two seed orders about a week later.  I also ordered two mini tabletop greenhouses (with 72 peat pods in each… but, I think I’m going to need more) and I’ll be starting my seeds within a week or so.  It may still be too chilly to plant outside, but soon I’ll have a little bit of Summer inside!!!

Every day, I go over the list of seeds that I ordered, trying to figure out where everything will be planted.  I measured my garden space and drew it out on graph paper.  I have little squares, big squares, dots, Xs and Os marking where the green beans will go, where the tomatoes will go, the corn, the eggplant and so on.  Every time I think I’ve got it figured out, I start moving things around again.  I guess my “plan” won’t be finished until the seedlings get planted in the ground.

I’ll be taking pictures and will post them to share my progress.  See you all again, soon.