Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Living on a Budget: Summertime fun!

Trying to keep kids active and engaged all summer long can be challenging.
Being unemployed makes it that much MORE challenging.

Thankfully, I am up to the challenge!!!

#20 Swim in a Lake
At first, our day went like this:
Breakfast, chores, lunch, beach.
Every day.  In that order.  Each and every day.
I'm not complaining about living in cottage country or 
complaining about living steps from a lake...

But it was time to spice things up a little!!!

We visited family.
True the gas still costs money...but the time spent with family will create memories that will last a lifetime.
Like trying to kid a bike without training wheels!
Thanks for the push Grampa!

#29 - Go to a Musuem
We also sought out free or nearly free things to do.
Like visiting the Railway museum in Brighton!
It was chock full of history about trains, the apple industry and the history of the area.
(I would highly recommend this stop...it was way better than I could have imagined)

#68 Get a Pet Rock turned into a pet rock village!
Then I did something that changed the course of our summer vacation...
I went to Pinterest and found a list of 101 Almost Free Things to do with your Kids this Summer!
Game changer indeed!

#82 Visit a National Park - and go #79 birdwatching while you are there!

We started checking off each activity on the list...with gusto!

#57 Magnify an ant
The magic list became our guide...not that we couldn't have come up with these activities on our own.
It was better to have a ridiculously huge list that we could consult each day
We didn't always follow the list word for word...more to gain inspiration.

#11 Fly a kite
We started to discover piles of lost stuff in our house!
We had 7 kites....just waiting to be used...turns out only 2 worked!
Clean up house AND having fun outside?  WIN WIN!

#31 Blow Bubbles
Even blowing bubbles was still hours of fun for a 7 yr old.

#18 Go on a Scavenger Hunt
Another Pinterest win was the blogger 4tunate.net
Here is a mom of quadruplet boys...so I figured she had this boy entertainment thing down.
I will probably redo the scavenger hunt list with pictures and 
stuff from around our area, but this list was a great start.

#1 Go for a Hike
And because sometimes you just need to get off the road of life and go for a ramble in the woods!
Boys do love their backpacks...

Using up old experiments...making crystals!
Another thing we started up was day of the week activities.
Monday:  Nature day
Tuesday:  Craft day
Wednesday:  Cooking day
Thursday:  Adventure day
Friday:  Experiment day

Experiment day came out of all of those experiments for kids kits just sitting in Owen's closet.
Get those puzzles, board games or science projects out, dust em off and have fun!
(Additional win:  if your child has truly outgrown these things...you can get rid of them guilt free)
BONUS:  Owen learned about stuff and didn't even realize it.

#23 Go on a Picnic
Then there are the simple things in life...like a picnic under a tree.
We didn't even have to go far (you can see our house in behind Owen).
We munched our lunch, listened to birds, then had a tickle fight on the picnic blanket.
Ahhh...these dog days of summer could last forever...

Additional things that didn't get photos:
#12 have a slumber party - Owen's friend got homesick and had to go home at 9pm
#14 make cookies - eaten too fast to get photos...
#8 water gun fight - because water and cellphones/cameras don't mix
#25 have a pillow fight - because pillow projectiles and cellphones/cameras also don't mix
#53 start a garden - not included here - see all previous posts...

What are some of your crafty ideas for having fun with kids on the cheap???

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mystery Bed...

I hope you can follow this logic...
This year, we made a few garden beds....but they won't be ready until next year.

Yeah...no one I told got it either.

Let me go back...

We decided to make some dedicated space for berry bushes.
We dream of raspberries, blueberries and Chester blackberries.
Seriously...there is a type of blackberry that is called a Chester.
Of course we have to plant it!

Out of the way...in the sunlight...near evergreen trees...
This new planting area had to have all of these things.

Ches had cleared out sumacs from the west side of our property last year.
The area seemed perfect!

We moved railway ties.
We layered the beds with straw-like grasses, manure from a friend,
50 % composted compost...basically anything we could find to fill the beds.

I considered the fact that new plants are sensitive to the high nitrogen in fresh food waste.
Our compost isn't composted enough!
Let's wait a season, I said.
Give the area a chance to decompose and settle.  

We still had a buncha beds that were empty this year.
What to do?
Ches thought it would be a good spot to plant several packets of sunflowers we had laying around.
Not a bad idea!
I'm not a huge one for flowers.
I don't have the energy to deal with things that aren't going to feed me back.
I am branching out though...
and perhaps giant dried up sunflower heads might be a nice treat in the winter for our chickens?
We bought a selection of different sunflowers from a fundraising neighbour.
There was a wide variety of colours and sizes.

From shortest to tallest:
Teddy bear (bright orange)
Autumn Beauty (bright yellow and red)
Velvet Queen (dark crimson)
Early Russian (traditional yellow)
Giganteus (bright yellow and HUGE)

I hadn't given a lot of though to where we would plant them.
A temporary fix for an empty garden!
I figured they would do alright in these fresh beds...and even if they didn't...
we already had long term plans for these beds anyway!

What I didn't realize was that I was in for a big surprise!
The compost grew mystery plants!
We have no idea what the above vine is...kinda looks like a pumpkin plant.

We discovered 3 kinds of tomato plants growing!
Some sort of regular red tomato, romas and some type of cherry tomato!

Our sunflowers ended up doing fantastically well!
One of the plants is over 14' tall!!!
We waited patiently to see which kinds of sunflowers actually took.
We didn't cover them with mulch or anything.
We feared the chipmunks took the seeds away.

One of the railway ties we used actually had a wild black raspberry cane in it when it was moved.
It actually came back!
Do you see the strong new green cane vs the dark red dried up version?

Our patience paid off and we are now rewarded with beautiful sunflowers!



Bold sunflowers...

These things might have been an afterthought...but they make my soul soar when I look at them.

Sometimes it is better to be surprised than plan your whole entire life...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A walk on the wild side...

If you live in the Kingston Ontario area and would like to join me on
my first ever Wild Food Walk...please drop me a line!

It should be interesting!
I'll be introducing 15 things you can eat in your backyard.
I'll be talking about their history, benefits and how
to best prepare these wild edibles, based on our experience.

At the end of the walk, we'll enjoy some of my foraged food!

Come by!
Have a visit...
Chat with the chickens...
It'll be fun!

See you there...