Sunday, August 31, 2014

Mod Podge Cabinet Drawers


As you all know I'm a HUGE fan of DIY blogs. I'm constantly linking other blogs in my own entries because I'm amazed by what some of these other women and men can do! I must admit, I'm more average than the rest; Many of my projects don't turn out nearly as good as the work done by the blogger I reference. I am 21 years old and we did just buy our first house around 6 months ago though, so we are still on the learning curve!

To be totally honest, I'm not much of a crafter. I appreciate the arts, and love participating in many, but crafting isn't my thing.. I don't like my handwriting for scrapbooks. I never spent enough time drawing so I need an image to "copy", rather than attempting to draw an original from memory, and I'm not a fan of gluing and sparkling or folding...

Many of the blogger ladies I follow are crafty, or there men are. I have been on several blogs where the blogger or their spouse actually MADE their light fixtures! That is impressive! Young House Love is the blog I'm featuring in this post. They did this:
Notice how you don't see any bubbles and everything is completely flat? Well my first time using mod podge didn't turn out quite as well:
I still won't say it was a total bust because the after picture is still better than the before! The mod podge makes the after water resistant which is great for tooth brushes. My favorite part of the after however is the fact that its new and doesn't have the old homeowners germs on it... I'm really OCD about other peoples germs when I move into a new house.

Clearly there are tips and tricks when using mod podge that I didn't get down 100%. Here are the 3 most important from my experience.
1. Do a "dry" run to make sure the wrapping paper fits EXACTLY with no excess. Cut NOW.
2. Begin in the middle and flatten out to sides to prevent bubbles or lines.
3. Put the Mod Podge on the surface of the object rather than the back of the paper and wait til the paper is dry on the surface before mod podging the front!

In the future I may redo my drawers to make them perfect without lines, but for now I prefer them to the before so its "good enough" =)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Best Shampoo Ever: Renpure!


Alright, so I'm super stoked to share this product with ya'll because it is AMAZING! This is the best shampoo I have ever tried and its eco friendly and safe!
Renpure Argan Oil Shampoo
  • No sodium chloride, sulfates, dyes, harsh salts, parabens, gluten
  • Safe for color treated hair
  • Not tested on animals
  • For all hair types

I personally was most interested in the 1st and 3rd bullets. I'm a huge animal lover so I don't like animal testing and since I love animals its only natural for my to care about the environment so I'm all about switching over to natural products that are good for us and the environment!

All I have tried so far was the Shampoo. I must confess I'm really bad about not using conditioner, I have naturally more oily hair so I don't really feel like I need it! I found the product on sale at Walgreens and anything natural I will try once. The fact that the shampoo is made using argan oil was a major bonus because I feel like the best shampoos have that in them!

Other than the shampoo Renpure has a whole line of hair care products:

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Money Envelopes


So money envelopes... I'm a fan of Dave Ramsey, despite the fact that most of his advice isn't aimed or helpful to me and I'm not his target audience. If you have read a Dave Ramsey book its pretty clear that his target audience is middle aged parents who are currently in debt, I am none of the above! There are Dave Ramsey tips I do find useful though, like money envelopes.

The concept of using money envelopes to stay on track with your budget is simple: You put the amount you have allotted for the month in an envelope and you use the cash from that envelope only- NO DEBIT NO CREDIT CARDS NO EXCEPTIONS!
If your like my husband and don't like to carry a lot of cash you could also do a modified method I just thought of: the gift card method! Same principal only for this one you just buy gift cards every month or two weeks to give you your budgeted amount and only use those... or you could do a combination if you primarily buy from one place but want to keep some cash out for other stores/gas stations/ etc you want to be able to shop at if you choose to!

Just like most people Dave Ramsey wants to make money. He sells tools to help people get on track with their money and one thing he sells is envelope systems . For anywhere from $5-$30 you can get started with his gear for your money envelopes!

When I started using the envelope method over a year or two ago I did it very simply. I would buy the smaller envelopes from the dollar store so $1 for 60 envelopes and would just label them what their purpose was... I would reuse them for a while and throw them when they got messed up. It wasn't ugly nor super attractive, just plain and functional!

Now that more people have gotten into using the envelope system you have those crafty people who want to make budgeting fun and attractive so they create beautiful money envelopes, then you have those people who want the beautiful envelopes but don't want or can't make them so you have stores selling them.
Here are my two favorites, one from the store I hyperlinked and one from a blog I found!


Sold in Stores

Now here is my attempt at homemade:
Mine isn't nearly as nice as Amy Bayliss but I don't have craft tools/supplies. I in fact didn't even have glue and used hodge podge that I had from a recent house project!

Overall money envelopes were a great way for me to keep on budget which is why I'm getting back to the envelope method... but I honestly think I prefer plain envelopes... no muss, no fuss, and I'm not worried about them getting messed up!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Review: Annie's Chocolate Bunny Grahams


So some things are exactly as they seem. The title says it all, I will once again be doing a review and this time its of a food item. I have been trying for some time now to lead a greener and healthier life... I think it started almost two years ago now when I got pregnant for the first time. Although we still haven't managed to have a baby since I still look at the options that are available for healthier choices for babies... crazy I know!

When I visited my sister, who has two children, I was introduced to Annie's bunny grahams. I have tried Annie's macaroni and wasn't impressed, but the girls seemed to love the grahams and they were made with organic wheat so I thought I would give them a try.

I bought these a week ago, and they are great for all ages! One serving is 31 cookies and only 130 calories! Are you trying to diet but love chocolate? These are your answer! They have relatively low sugar and 9g and provide 20% of your daily calcium. I got mine on sale for $2.50 for a box which contains about 220 cookies in it.

I highly recommend this as a snack food. Its more filling than most junky snacks and a whole lot less calories. This is your I want something sweet or want to give my kids a treat but don't want diabetes food!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Painting over wood paneling


I know some people say you should never paint wood paneling, but I disagree! If you have seen our house tour then you know our house came straight out of the 70's: wood paneling, wallpaper, nasty linoleum, orange countertops, the whole shebang! Now, I'm sorry to any seventies children that might be reading this but orange countertops and wood paneling, not really my thing!

After consulting numerous of my favorite DIY blogs I decided that I would attempt to paint the paneling before going with the more costly option of ripping it out and putting drywall up. 

Many people recommend you sand the walls down prior to painting them. At minimum you need to wash them really well... I did neither. My walls weren't dirty and they are 45 years old so they aren't so glossy anymore! I did buy a really good primer and prime the walls first as well as filling in any holes and remove nails!

I much prefer the white walls personally, it really brightens up the space and makes it look more modern and less dingy! I'm debating on what to do about the fireplace and what colors to paint the doors though. I'm thinking of doing black interior doors to provide contrast like I've seen in these blogs: southernhospitalityhouserevivalschapterthirtysevengourleygirlandguy

The fun side of me loves the chapterthirtyseven blogs different color doors but I'm way to ocd for that!

I'm debating between black doors or white... especially since all our doors are plain except two! Vote below in comments! 

For any of you with wood paneling or looking at a house with it, paint really can make a huge difference!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Cons of Carpet


When I tell people that I'm removing the carpet from my living room and hallway and replacing it with ceramic tile most the reactions are surprised and many people where I live are off-put by this idea; I am off-put by carpet!

As anyone who religiously reads my blog knows... so one person, I have dogs. Right now I actually have 3: two of my own, and a foster.  Dogs are worse than kids about staining carpets, especially if they aren't potty trained or get a UTI which causes them to pee inside! My foster has a UTI and I'm not sure she was potty trained to begin with so the old carpet that was in great condition when we bought our house is now kinda yucky in the living room and hallway!
Con 1: Carpets stain easily
Con 2: Carpets absorb and harbor nastiness like dog pee and vomit
Con 3: Mites, Fleas, Ticks, and Lice all will live in carpet
Con 4: Carpet holds dirt and allergens in its fibers

Those four carpet cons were just the ones I thought of off the top of my head relating to my dogs, but lets continue shall we? How about carpet and our health?
Here is an excerpt from the American Lung Association:

How can carpeting impact health?

Carpets may trap pollutants like dust mites, pet dander, cockroach allergens , particle pollution, lead, mold spores, pesticides, dirt and dust. Toxic gases in the air can adhere to small particles that settle into carpets.1 These pollutants may become airborne when disturbed by renovations, vacuuming or even daily activities like walking across the carpet.  In the home, children are more likely to be exposed to pollution in carpets. They spend time playing on the floor and place their hands in their mouths.  If a large area is covered in carpet, it may be very difficult to remove indoor air pollutants and allergens.2
Chemicals used in some new carpets, carpet pads and the adhesives used to install them can harm your health. Some of these chemicals and glues are made with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which emit odors and pollutants.3 New carpet installation also has been associated with wheezing and coughing in babies in their first year of life.3

Con 5: Carpet is UNHEALTHY
Con 6: Carpet has a relatively short life span, 10 years TOPS often shorter due to stains. 
Hardwood and Tile can last MUCH longer! 

Overall I'm not a fan of carpet after reading how it was unhealthy. I'm not a health nut but after TTC for two years I want to bring our baby into a healthier atmosphere... so we are keeping carpet in bedrooms ONLY and keeping the dogs OUT! We also have a steam cleaner though I may have to invest in a HEPA vaccumm! 

Friday, July 18, 2014

College Fund or Tiny House?


Which is a better investment in your babies future? Saving up for their college or building them a tiny house? According to MarketWatch the average amount parents save for their child's education is around $15,000... from
  1. "According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2013–2014 school year was $30,094 at private colleges, $8,893 for state residents at public colleges, and $22,203 for out-of-state residents attending public universities."

That means that most parents have saved up only enough for a semester at a private college or an associates degree at a public college. Their children will still have to find a way to pay for car expenses and housing unless they are attending a college nearby where they can live at their parents house.

Or instead of saving up for college, you could build them their own tiny house! The tiny house movement is newer but I'm in love with it! Rent across the country averages around $1,200/month, with some places much lower and others MUCH higher! While The average cost of a tiny house seems to be around $23,000 people are proving with some hardwork and thrifty shopping you can do it for much less.

I'm not a parent yet, but when I get there I think that the house might be a better option. It is nice to know your child will never have to worry about being homeless! 

Fun Tiny House Links:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Letting Go of Some Dreams, Moving On With Others


Once upon a time there was a little girl who loved nothing more than animals and babies. This girl felt she fit in nowhere better than out among the horses, dogs, cats, or cattle. She spent her childhood and adolescent life being uprooted and moving from state to state and town to town, and spent most of her days daydreaming and planning for the future. In another life she might have different aspirations, but for this one all she wanted was to fall in love, get married, and buy a house... not just any house though, she wanted a ranch. 

In case you can't tell I was that little girl.

I grew up and played with many ideas of what I wanted to do with my life and "be when I grow up", in fact I'm still playing with ideas of a future career. There are some things that never changed: I wanted to get married,  buy a house, and start a family. 

There are also some things that did change!
My husband is many things, but he is not a country boy! Therefore my dreams of buying a hobby ranch in the country didn't match up with what he wanted. Our compromise was living outside of city limits but near the city and on a small lot, where I could have whatever would fit!
Since my husband has been a dear enough to let me get and try different animals I have learned something about myself: I'm not a country girl! I don't have what it takes to be a "cowgirl" or however you want to put it. Neither my husband or I can cause harm to any of our animals even if its for their own good like shots, we just don't have the stomach to hold them down while they panic. Therefore I'm putting the dream of that farm life behind me!

Since buying this house we have tried numberous different animals:

Thats Right! We have tried Ducks, Chicks, Quail, Rabbits, and even goats

Of the 5 animals we tried to incorporate into our lives there are only 2 that we will be keeping. We already got rid of the Quail, I blogged about that. The goats we had for about a week. When we bought them we didn't realize the mama was sick AND loosing an eye. They hadn't been cared for very well and for being first time goat owners and not having cared for a similar animal we decided to sell to someone who knew what they were doing. We loved her and the kids well we had them though! 
The rabbits have been fun! They are sweet and I understand why they are kept as pets, we however got them for food! They are easy to raise, breed like rabbits, cheap, and the produce low fat healthy meat. The only problem is we can't kill them which makes them not cheap but another pet with no return but love and how many do you need?

We are currently selling all of our rabbits but one and her kits which are too young to separate. We are selling extra cages and we never have even tried rabbit!

Trying out different animals has definitely cost me money. It also taught me about myself and my wants. This post is about trying to achieve your dreams because so many of us dream about things that we really don't know that much about.

When we try new things we learn about ourselves. I'm not super country. I'll keep my chickens and ducks, dogs, and maybe a pet rabbit, but I'm not the kind of girl who can raise my own meat. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Losing Kits =/


As anyone who raises animals knows, they don't all make it. I remembered the best aspects of growing up on a farm for a year, but I was shielded from the worst. Animals die, and not just because we decide its their time or we want to eat them.

Cinnamon (pictured above) gave birth to 8 or 9 healthy kits. They all made it to three weeks old and then started dropping. We switched their cage, still more died, we took the remaining three away in case she was killing them and I found a dead one today. We have 2 left and they all made it passed the initial "kill stage", I don't understand.

We woke up and went to care for the rabbits only to discover our favorite kits had passed away sometime during the night.

It is heartbreaking. Even though we are raising these as meat rabbits we had intended on selling or keeping a couple. I'm not trying to discourage anyone but this is where we are at right now... I'm feeling really discouraged and I'm debating selling out of all my rabbits, new kits, and cages.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rabbit Rolls and Natural Chew Toys


I currently have 4 adult(ish) rabbits and 8 kits. Even though we are raising the rabbits for food I still want to provide a good life for them, and I still care about their well being. There are hundreds of things for sale for rabbits on the market, or any kept animal really. For me and my rabbits free is sometimes best though!

When I first got rabbits I had read they need something to chew on to keep their teeth managed. I started looking and found some options. If you go to petco you can easily find different chew toys and most can be found FREE in nature! 

When reading I heard of people giving the cardboard roll that toilet paper comes on to their rabbits as a toy. Mine had lots of fun with it at first, but now have gotten bored of it. To change it up I started stuffing it with greens hence the "rabbit rolls".

I don't give my rabbits tree branches yet, I need to find my clippers and I will give them some plum tree branch sections. I do like to give them pine cones though! You can buy Pine Cones in stores but I just find them in nature and bring them back. Where I live now I just take our dog Shadow for a stroll filling his backpack up with pine cones during our walk! Two of our rabbits love these, the other two haven't had them yet!

Do you have a special toy or chew for your rabbit? Sound off below in comments, and if its free I'll add it to the list =)

Experimenting with Fodder I


Quiet Contrary
How Does Your Fodder Grow? 

My names not Mary but for my first experiment in growing fodder I had a success and a failure. I found the concept of "fodder" quiet accidentally, I was looking up feeding rabbits naturally to see what opinions were on the subject. I found fodder.

I don't know which website first introduced me to fodder, but instantly I was hooked on the idea. Just think a system that takes just a week to grow and can increase your food up to 6x by weight! The possibilities! Fodder can be fed to rabbits, goats, horses, cattle, chickens, just about anything that will eat greens! In researching the subject I saw lots of farmers considering doing fodder on a larger scale as a viable way to supplement feed and save hundreds of dollars of feed costs.

Here are the websites I bookmarked to refer back to:

I am IN LOVE with the dog island farms blog post "What the Fodder"! I also borrowed the picture above from peakprosperity!

I love nature, but it doesn't love me... you see I have a brown thumb. Since I have trouble keeping plants alive and having them grow I didn't want to "invest" much into a fodder system that I was afraid wouldn't work for me. Growing Fodder is Simple, you need: seeds, water, and a container. It is better if the container has drainage but you can use any old container. 

I didn't want to invest in a large bag of seed in case the experiment didn't work so I went over to my local whole foods and got barley and a winter wheat seed. For my containers I went to my local family dollar and got plastic shoe boxes ($1 each with a lid). I used a shoe box and a plastic salad container =)

Since everything I had read indicated it was best to let the seeds germinate in a dark space I put them on used cupboard space and let them grow. 

The barley (which I had read was the best seed to use) didn't grow. The wheat seeds grew but the top was yellow... 

After minutes on the counter that yellow turned to green! 

Today I decided it had grown enough and gave hunks to my rabbits, and left some outside to see if it could successfully transplant and grow (having been unable to find an answer online). The rabbits are picking at it, but not going to town... I guess I jumped the gun buying a HUGE bag of seed!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Getting Rid of the Quail


Shortly after buying our new house and moving in I bought quail and my hubby and I built a quail cage under $35 which I blogged about here

I bought the quail when they were supposed to be 8 weeks old and was told they should start laying any day. Weeks came and passed and not a single egg. I tried leaving them alone, then I tried changing their light, adding a sand box and toys. For weeks we would hear the rooster crow and yet the hens weren't laying. 

From what I had read from numberous different blog posts, articles, and online comments quail were supposed to be a great all purpose solution for an urban homesteader or anyone looking to source their own food. Quail lay eggs, can be eaten like a chicken, are supposed to be quiet (one of my roo's was the other was VERY ANNOYING and LOUD), and they reach maturity (eating age) fast, and on top of all of that they have a small space requirement (1 sq ft per bird) so they can be kept almost anywhere, balconies of apartments, basements, garage, toolshed, etc.

After so many weeks of waiting for eggs 2 of our 4 quail went from the first picture to the last. The quail were the first animal I had every killed, being an animal lover. I had spent time before buying them looking for the fastest most humane way to kill them (wring their neck). After they were dispatched processing was relatively easy and fast, unfortunately we weren't really so much a fan of the finished product. I have heard its better grilled. 

The other hen decided to lay the day we sold them and their cage. I went to grab them and saw a small egg sitting there by their sandbox! I had waited over a month for this egg and there is was, belonging to someone else =)

Quail huh? 

They definately aren't for us, but if your interested by all means try them. Some roo's are quieter than others and if you like the meat then I can see how they could be great for a homesteader!

Rabbits: Weeds and Kits


A couple of weeks ago two of our rabbits gave birth. Isabella, my favorite, unfortunately didn't manage to keep her babies alive. Sadly it is all too common for first time mothers to lose their first litter, in fact breeders do a three strikes rules for new moms. Other than Bella one of our new rabbits, Cinnamon, also gave birth. She was bred before we bought her so we will probably keep one of the doe kits to breed =)

The Kits are all different colors! You can see them huddled up together in the hay and fur. I haven't spent much time with them. Some does will actually kill the babies if owners are overly attentive, which I was with Bella. Knowing Cinnamon has experience and is a good mother I checked on the kits once or twice and left them alone. Cinnamon has begun warming up to us, but when we got her she was afraid so I didn't want to push her with kits involved.

Other than the kits being new, so is part of the rabbits feed: WEEDS! Ever since I got the rabbits I debated this. From everything I have read rabbits plus weeds equals worms, so its generally encouraged to keep meat rabbits in wire cages and feed only pellets... I'm a fan of nature though so after reading this inspired blog post I decided why not! 
Can you tell the rabbits are loving it? I'm also weeding my yard at the same time as getting them a delicious nutritious treat! The benefits of weed feeding rabbits for me are cost, happiness, and discovering new plants in my yard. I have already found and identified some spearmint and a strawberry plant! 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

House Preview


I know this is long overdue, but I decided to take pictures of the house as it is... If I'm embarrassed by my house being dirty than I need to clean it, but I decided to show it as it was.. Unfortunately I didn't take all of the before pictures, because we have already done some work.

Here are some pictures.

                                                                    Living Room:

Hall Way:


Spare Bedroom:



Master Bathroom:

Laundry Room:


As you can see, I have a LOT of remodeling to do. I'm still in the process of painting the hallway, and just got done cleaning the garage =).