How I’ve been keeping busy…

I’m busier now than I have been in ages! Most everyone has started distance learning, including our family.

Thankfully, Big Kids’ teacher is in communication and sent us an email with tons of great resources and links. I am trying to keep the kids entertained without relying on screens all day (even educational screen time). My kids are not motivated by worksheets either, so we need to do hands-on stuff.

Besides schoolwork, we’ve started our annual spring garden. Big Kid and I donned masks and hit up the local nursery. We picked out Catnip, Rosemary, Basil, and a hanging strawberry plant in addition to a few kinds of seeds. Our patio looks great, and the kids are outside daily tending to their plants and harvesting ripe strawberries. I kept the pots from last year’s garden.

The other night after the kids were settled, I decided to clean out the junk drawer (ok, 1 junk drawer, we have a couple), the utensil drawer, and the silverware drawer.

93842746_2893563864066950_1571496488855404544_o

I threw out old condiment packets, broken serving spoons, knives with broken/chipped handles, lids that had no corresponding cups, and I vacuumed out each drawer.

After I had completed that herculean feat, I dove headfirst (metaphorically) into the pantry.

I pulled everything out pantry and set it on the counter.

I checked all the expiration dates. Anything expired got the boot.

92843855_2893563990733604_4081992026843774976_o92828483_2893564054066931_3193846550136619008_oWhen all of this madness started a few weeks ago, I had gone to the store to do my weekly shop, and so many of the things that I’m used to buying were not available. I decided to purchase some alternate products from what we usually have in the house. Some were met with success, some were not so good- I’m looking at you Fideo Noodles.

As a result, I filled a reusable shopping bag with some food that did not cut the mustard. I took most of those items over to our local blessing box to help some of our neighbors in need. The rest I shared with some of the neighbors on our local free food group.

Our pantry is horribly laid out. It is very narrow and deep.  The dangerous part of our cupboard is you cannot reach all the way in the back without help. Last night I used a very long spatula to assist me. One of the things that I found was baby food. Little Bit is 4 1/2. I managed to clear out the pantry 100% and then refill it and move items around so it is easier to gain access

I get food in the mail or events from brands to cook with and post about on social media. Most of the time they give me a couple of each item, rarely they send cases. There were a lot of odds and ends of food from PR campaigns.

I’m also working my way through our closets to get rid of broken toys, clothing we’ve outgrown or don’t wear, or junk. I’ve come to realize that after all of this is over we’ll need to replace our towels (Our current set is from our wedding 12+ years ago), the kids need new sheets, and Big Kid is getting a new bed (which was in the works before Covid struck). And I’ll probably have enough clothing for a clothing swap- Both kids are mid-growth spurt.

It may seem like a lot of busywork, but we haven’t had a deep clean/in-depth declutter since we moved in- 5 years ago. I go through the kids toys several times a year, as well as their clothing and books. But, I’m bad about doing it with household goods and my personal items.

Today was more of a lazy day for us: We played some games, did some sight word writing, played Bingo, and made this stuff called Ooze Baff, which was 100% gross, do not recommend. If you want to try it, I bought it at Dollar Tree. For a Dollar.  In a little while, we’ll have bath time, and I’ll read to them. We may pull out the couch into a bed and all cuddle on the couch for a bit.

I would love to hear about how you and yours have been keeping busy! Leave me a comment!

Gardening: Fun for the whole Family!

IMG_3932
watering and talking to the bell pepper plant.

Henry loves to garden. He loves planting seeds, watering, talking to the plants , and harvesting the fruits and veggies (even if he isn’t too hip on eating them all-yet!)

I think that it’s because of our heritage. My Maternal Great-Grandfather was a farmer in Minnesota.

Since we live upstairs in a condo, we don’t have 40 acres to plow and sow. So, like many urban farmers, we turn to container gardening. I have a growing Pinterest Board dedicated to container gardening, and I encourage you to join it!

Here are a few ways that we were able to start our garden on a budget:

  • I kept my eyes peeled on Craigslist free section for pots, I also put feelers out on social media for anyone getting rid of pots. That’s how we scored an awesome clay pot for our wild flowers!
  • We purchased heavy duty plastic pots at 99 Cents Only. They have a great selection of basic gardening tools, pots, planters, and tomatoes cages- all for $1.49 or less!
  • I found a great deal on seeds at Dollar Tree. I was able to pick up this box of seeds for only $1.00!  I only used part of the box, since we don’t have a lot of room for our flowers. In addition to American Seed brand, they also had some Burpee brand seeds!
  • Most gardening stores are having sales right now- check out your local shop and see what kind of plants are on sale! We picked up a huge bag of soil, organic tomatoes (complete and in a planter with a cage), Green Bell Pepper, a 6 pack of strawberries, and a lavender bush for less than $50.  We opted to purchase some plants in addition to seeds, just so Henry doesn’t lose interest in our garden (waiting for a tomato seed to grow into a bush is mind-numbing).

We are saving money on water too! Whenever it rains, we get out our rain buckets and collect as much as we can. It usually is only a few gallons, but we are able to use that water and not turn on the tap.

If you are new to gardening and aren’t sure what to plant or where to plant, check out Sunset Magazine’s Climate Guide. It will give you the ins and outs of when and what to plant. Luckily here in San Diego, it’s pretty temperate all year, so we can plant a lot of different plants.

Some of you may be wondering why we are growing wild flowers and lavender, since neither will produce any food. Well, no food for us, but food for bees! Without bees to pollinate the flowers on our fruit and veggies plants, there would be no food for us to harvest and enjoy! I try to plant flowers each year to entice the bees to visit our garden!

Our Garden Stones!
Our Garden Stones!

Last year we hand garden stakes with the names of our crops written on them. The sun faded them in no time. This year, we opted to do garden stones. I found a great project on pinterest and changed it up based on our needs.

IMG_3935IMG_3938

 

 

 

IMG_3957We were recently gifted with two HUGE boxes of craft supplies and they contained these really cool wooden Whirligig/spinners (kinda like these). All we had to do was paint them! We quickly painted them up and added them to our planters!

I think gardening is a wonderful project for any family. It can be as small as a tomato plant on your patio, or as big as renovating your backyard to have a mini-farm! Gardening teaches kids about the life cycle of plants, and how to care for something else. I think it’s important that everyone know where food comes from, and how hard it can be at times (especially when you are waiting for it to ripen), so that we don’t take for granted our food.

Talk Back: I’d love to see your gardens too! Please comment with a photo, or let me know what you are growing!