Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summer Vacation – Week 4

Planter box made from wood scraps.

Tomorrow is July 1st!  I can’t believe June is ending already but WOW!  What a June we had! 

With the chicken coop project we veered off course a little bit from our original plan but we still managed to do a lot and we were able to get back on course by Tuesday. 

Monday – we started out our day with a little tidying up around the house and then we got back to work on the chicken coop.  It’s done!  The girls have really enjoyed working on this project and have been anxious to get going every day.  Our peeps are doing great in their brooder.  We have really been enjoying them.  My oldest and I built a planter box out of wood scraps and planted petunias in it.  We were also blessed with sod scraps from a neighbor so we got those planted in our bald spots in the lawn.  We finished off the day with a “Date Night” to Applebees.  Saturday was supposed to be our night but we were too pooped out from coop construction to do it.  We used their free meal coupons from the summer reading program so I only had to pay for my meal plus a tip - $15! 

Tuesday – our day started out with rain, of course - I washed the windows yesterday.  We began our day with a quick trip into the library to pick up a couple of books I put on hold as well as the grocery store to redeem coupons for soda and wieners on the way to the nature center we visited.  We walked through the nature center.  It was really nice and tranquil until we came upon a group of exuberant cub scouts.  We ate our lunch at the park and checked out the mileage map for a planned bike excursion along the greenbelt in the not too distant future.  Off to Fred Meyer to redeem store coupons for milk, cheese and sour cream.  We are getting a jumpstart on our July grocery shopping.  Then I took the girls to the hazardous waste station to drop off used batteries, expended propane cylinders, used anti-freeze and our dead TV.  They kind of thought it was cool and we discussed why it was important not to just toss these types of things in with the regular trash.  Finally, home to water the garden and for the girls to dive into those new library books.  I pretty much sat in the yard and watched the sprinklers.  I’m still pooped out. 

Wednesday – the girls and I went on a “field trip” to the Boise Watershed, the facility that processes our wastewater and then returns it to the earth.  They have an educational center and on Wednesdays they have booths set up for fun activities and crafts.  They made crystals, silly putty and did some mud sculpturing.  We had a great time and learned a lot about what happens after we flush the toilet.  We stopped at the grocery store to pick up some loss leaders – pork chops, chicken, wieners and root beer.  Home for a picnic lunch in our yard, lawn time with the peeps to get some exercise and explore, read our library books and just took some time to enjoy our pretty little yard.  It was a very nice day! 

Thursday – we started our day sanding the deck in preparation of new stain.  I told the girls we would be doing this project in stages.  After two hours we called it quits, got cleaned up and headed out for some fun – thrift store shopping!  I bought one vintage quart sized canning jar, that’s it!  We still had a great time looking, however.  We picked up our tickets for the rodeo next month turning in the girl’s vouchers from the summer reading program.  After fees and taxes my ticket came in at $14.  Not bad for taking three people to the rodeo.  We stopped at the store on the way home to do our July monthly grocery shopping and then home to get our bikes and head to the park to eat lunch and relax.  It was a beautiful day! 

Friday – a free day today.  The girls got to do whatever they wanted and so did I.  I worked on the deck for a little bit and then did some housework and a load of laundry.  We rode our bikes to the park and spent about an hour there.  Not too much to report on today.  Nice and quiet.   

How was your week?

Friday, June 29, 2012

We Have A Coop!

Our coop is done!  We started it last Friday, a week ago, and finished it on Monday.  The girls and I did it ourselves and the best part is that most of the supplies we used we already had.  We raided the lumber scrap pile from our fence building project last spring and my bucket of miscellaneous supplies I keep in the garage.  A lot of re-using and recycling came into play.  I love that!

We began Friday morning preparing the area where it was to be built.  We had to dig up landscaping pavers and rock, move a couple of plants and level the space.  Then we laid down chicken wire to cover the ground for two reasons – so varmints can’t get in and the chickens won’t dig big holes when they are dusting.  We surrounded the perimeter with pressure treated 2X4s and a row of bricks along the fence.

The majority of the coop construction was done on Saturday.  We worked our tail feathers off!  (pun intended).  Saturday we headed to Home Depot for a few supplies early that morning and then once back home we got out the tools and got busy.  My oldest sorted through a coffee can of miscellaneous screws to supplement what I already had on hand.  My youngest held the ends of a lot of boards while I cut them on the saw.  She was also awesome at helping me keep track of where I left my pencil. 

We took a couple of breaks throughout the day but we literally got started at 8:00 am and stopped at 8:00 pm.  It was a very full day but we got so much done! 

Sunday morning I woke up stiff, sore and hardly able to move.  My hands had cuts and blisters and ached something else.  We took it easy and only spent two hours on it by finishing putting up the chicken wire, adding a latch to the door and repairing the landscaping.

Monday we finished the coop adding a back door for easy access, finishing the roof and trimming it all out. 

All in all I had to buy a roll of poultry wire, a box of staples, two boxes of screws (the price on screws – holy cow!), a pressure treated 4’X4’ and some extra fence boards for the roof.  I think it made for a very economical project.  Final total came in at $110.89 including sales tax!  If I hadn’t already had so much lumber and other stuff on hand my total most likely would have doubled. 

I like that I used the fencing for siding and roofing.  It not only was a wise use of leftover materials, but the cedar will hold up really well, it blends with my little yard nicely (no eyesore here!) and it looks really good.  My girls think the chickens will be spoiled.  I hope so!

It was a lot of work but it was also a lot of fun.  The girls and I had a great time working on it.  We are amazed we got it done so quickly but we were pretty motivated.  We are really proud of ourselves. 

I told the girls, if nothing else, you now know how to build a chicken coop!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Camping – Packing Items That Perform Double Duty

You can pack a lot of items to take camping and before you know it you are practically taking the whole house with you.  In that case I’d rather just stay home.  Through trial and error I’ve found that I take a whole lot less than what I used to.  The biggest reason is because I pack things that I can use in a variety of different ways. 

My cutting board is quite large.  While I can cut up just about anything on it, including a watermelon, I also use it to cover the sink in the trailer to give me more counter space when I’m cooking as well as to set on top of the stove to hold my dish drainer while I do the dishes. 

The big tote holds our pillows and bedding for the trailer.  On a long trip we use it as a bathtub and then on the last day we load it up with all the dirty laundry for the ride home.  It makes it super easy to haul all that into the house too when we get home.  Once the laundry is done I clean the tote and re-pack the bedding, then stick it back into the trailer.  Keeps everything neat and dust free until we need it again. 

My big vintage dishpan was a $3 thrift store find quite some time ago.  I was thrilled when I found it.  I use it to transport breads in.  Once we get to camp I unload it and set up our “Sanitation Station”.  I love having it ready for anytime someone needs to wash up.  I hang a hand towel on one handle and set it on a small folding patio table next to the trailer.  A milk jug of wash water is at the ready along with soap in a pump.  I like that the milk jug, when set in the sun, allows the water to get nice and warm. 

Frozen milk jugs are great for cheap ice plus as they thaw you don’t get much water in the cooler other than what occurs from condensation.  The water will also make great drinking water if you run out.  The milk jugs can be refilled and frozen time and again so they are recycled before they are recycled.  They fit in the freezer nicely and I think they last longer than a purchased block of ice. 

A big pan can be used to cook with, heat wash water and be used as an extra dishpan if you need one.  A five gallon bucket not only can haul firewood, tools, rope or just about anything you throw in it but is also much needed for hauling water.  You can even buy a snap on toilet seat and make your own port-a-potty.  I do think if I used one as a port-a-potty that would be its use exclusively, however. 

Use a food safe bucket for hauling water if you plan to drink it.

Snap on toilet seat and lid fits on a five gallon bucket for a port-a-potty.
Shower curtain liners from the dollar store are a fantastic and thrifty investment.  They are thick enough to use as a tarp or a rain fly for a tent.  I love to use one as a table cloth on a picnic table.  They hold up great and are the right size to cover the table completely.  You can use it to cover your firewood or lawn chairs if it rains.  They make a great shade cloth or wind breaker too. 

Clothespins do more than just hang up your clothes.  They’ll help you put up your shade cloth or wind breaker, clip an open bag of chips, make a nice improvised clamp and help you post a note on the tent if you need to.  They also work well to secure the shower curtain at the corners of the table to keep it from blowing off. 

Duct tape – need I say more?  Charcoal lighter will take pitch off your hands.  You can make a toothpick out of a matchstick.  Bacon grease makes a great fire starter.  Trash bags can be made into rain ponchos. I could go on and on but I guess I’ll stop for now. 

Do you have any great tips to share?  If so I’d love to hear them.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Urban Farming/Homesteading

Last week I had the opportunity to speak, at great length, with my parents about homesteading.  They have purchased a few books on the subject and nicely lent me two of them to read.  I am completely hooked on the concept.  It has always intrigued me. 

My father came over the other day to take a look and help me decide if I had the room for a chicken coop.  It turns out I do and as a result we have already moved forward on that.  We are allowed to keep up to three chickens within city limits and they are currently working on raising it to six.  Two of my neighbors have coops right now.  Growing up my parents kept a large coop and I always enjoyed the chickens.  My brother couldn’t stand them and hated everything about them, especially cleaning the coop.  We only raised them for eggs.  As a family we couldn’t get into the whole butchering scene which was weird since we all hunt and fish.  Chicken butchering just really grossed us out. 

We also looked at ways to make my garden area more efficient and ways to expand it and make it better.  I know I can plant more than I did this year and put some things a little closer together.  Also I am looking into going vertical and making additional space that way.  Another thing on my list is to construct a greenhouse on the lower portion of our deck. 

My parents own acreage and are seriously looking at putting in a much larger garden and raising chickens next year; far more than my three, I suspect.  My lot is 1/8th of an acre and is long, narrow and has a lot of angles which makes the whole urban gardening a little more of a challenge, but not impossible.  I also have a lot of large shade trees on my property.  Still, I am serious about making it happen. 

We also talked about going elk hunting this fall and fishing more this summer.  I need to get a license and a new pole if I am to get serious about this.  The last time I went hunting I was in my early twenties so it has been awhile.  I haven’t fished in the last five years and that is unfortunate because I really do enjoy it. 

I think anytime we can take the opportunity to become more self sufficient and sustainable we owe it to ourselves to do so.  Not everyone is a hunter or a fisherman (person) and I recognize that, but I do think there is a multitude of different ways to be more sufficient and gardening is definitely one of them.  Carefully choosing what we plant in our yard and tending to it so it produces well is key to that.  It does take time so in order for us to make it work we all have to be involved and make it a family affair. 

We are learning a lot and learning a lot about ourselves and each other in the process too.  My girls are having a great time and, as a result, we are spending more quality time together.  That in itself makes it all worth it.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monthly Meal Planner - July

Over the weekend I posted our monthly meal plan on the side of our refrigerator giving our family a glimpse into their culinary future.  I thought I would go ahead and share it with you as a source of inspiration, if nothing else.  I enjoy checking out other’s meal plans to give me ideas too. 

I may not get everything made depending on how the leftovers work out.  Here is a list of what we will be enjoying next month: 

·         Spaghetti & Meat Sauce
·         Fajitas
·         Cheese Omelet
·         Grilled Steak
·         Roasted Chicken
·         Soup, Salad & Bread
·         Chef’s Salad
·         Minestrone Soup
·         Grilled Ham & Cheese Sandwiches
·         Broccoli Beef & Rice
·         Pesto Chicken Pasta
·         Tacos
·         Pizza
·         Grilled Chicken Panini
·         Pork Verde
·         Spinach Quiche
·         Italian Black Bean Soup
·         Savory Beef & Noodles
·         Meatloaf
·         Cheese Quesadilla & Tomato Soup 

What is on your menu plan this month?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Summer Vacation – Week 3

I am still trying, and I think succeeding, in making our summer fun, eventful, entertaining as well as a learning experience in the process.  So far I keep getting a big thumbs up from the kids. 

Monday – we started out our day with a little tidying up around the house and then we got busy and got started.  We headed to the library to return our books and pick out some new ones to check out.  The girls turned in their first reading program voucher and received some great prizes.  After the library we headed to the grocery store for milk and cream to make homemade ice cream and a box of cones.  We headed home and made the ice cream.  Then rode our bikes to the park and ate lunch.  After we got home the girls enjoyed some down time to read their library books and I sewed.  I was able to make the girls two more sundresses. 

Tuesday – I made applesauce bread and banana bread for breakfast.  We had that with homemade yogurt and frozen raspberries I thawed.  Delicious!  Then we got dressed and the girls set up at the patio table for some watercolor art.  That project kept them busy until it was time to ride our bikes to the park and eat lunch.  After we got home we had just enough time to unload our daypacks and put our bikes away before heading out to catch a matinee.  It’s $1 Tuesday at our neighborhood theatre.  We saw Chimpanzee – great movie! 

Wednesday – we spent the day at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  I took a pan of lasagna, a salad and fresh made garlic bread.  It was a great time spent visiting with my parents and checking out my mom’s garden and flowerbeds.  I was also able to go through my dad’s scrap lumber pile and score pressure treated wood to build a new strawberry bed.  Mom gave me some raspberry plants and when I get my strawberry bed built she has starts for me too.  Yeah for me! 

Thursday – our day was spent working around the house.  My oldest elected to work inside cleaning the bathrooms and dusting.  This left the outdoor chores to me and the young one.  We started out by mowing and raking the lawn and then hanging up a load of clothes on the line.  Then we headed to the very backyard to water the garden and pull weeds (fortunately there weren’t many).  We got the raspberry bed turned up and amended.  Then we planted the raspberry starts.  We were so motivated after that we ended up building a four foot raised bed extension to our garden!  We even got the soil in.  Now we are ready for the strawberry plants.  Next we got the end roll of wire fencing my dad gave me out of the back of the pickup and made tomato cages out of it.  In the late afternoon (we were completely pooped out at this point) my parents came by to check out the chicken coop idea and it looks like we are going forward with it!  We found the perfect spot for it and I already have the coop planned out.  The girls are very excited.  We are going to be urban farmers. 

Friday – I can’t believe it is Friday already!  I started my day out sorting and going through my canning jars and supplies.  It looks like I’ll need one more box of lids and a box or two of pints.  That should do it.  I’m glad I have that $3 coupon for the jars. 

After breakfast went to the feed store for chick starter and feeders; then off to Home Depot for chicken wire.  We cleared the area for the new chicken coop and built the base frame.  We put wire under it so the raccoons, skunks and voles won’t dig their way into the coop and the chickens won’t dig big holes when they dust.  I plan to cover the wire with a nice dirt and sand mixture so they can dust and it won’t get sticky muddy when it rains.  We constructed a brooder out of a huge box my next door neighbor had.  I had plastic quart sized mayonnaise jars for the chick feeders so we go those set up and the brooder all ready. 

After lunch I took the girls to the Dunlap Hatchery in Caldwell, Idaho. They were able to look at a huge variety of peeps and make their selection.  We are now chick parents to three of the cutest little peeps.  The girls are absolutely thrilled with them.  They gave us a catalog with care information in it and the girls have already gone through it cover to cover.  For them this is very exciting. 

It is hard to believe this week is already over but what a way to end it.  We’ll spend the weekend working on chicken coop construction and tending our flock.  We are definitely becoming urban farmers. J

Friday, June 22, 2012

Applesauce Bread

This is another hit at our house.  I made it for breakfast on Tuesday and the girls and I loved it. 

Applesauce Bread 

1½ c. flour
¾ c. sugar
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. applesauce
1 egg
¼ c. canola oil
¼ c. milk, sour milk, buttermilk or apple juice 

Combine flour, sugar and baking powder in medium mixing bowl.  Make a well and add remaining ingredients.  Stir to combine.  Pour into lightly greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350° for 55 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool about 15 minutes and remove from pan to cooling rack. 

I served it warm with a little butter on it along with homemade yogurt and fruit.  It made a delicious breakfast and a fantastic snack later that day.  Not too sweet either.  I’ll be making this one often.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer Reading Program

We are very fortunate to have a great library system.  We utilize the main library because it is closest to our home but there are several satellite locations throughout the valley so the library has become much more accessible to everyone.  They still have a bookmobile too. 

Every summer the library offers a program to kids and teens that rewards them for reading throughout the summer.  My kids love to participate.  It fires them up to read even more than they normally do during the school year.  I love the practicality of the prizes they offer. 

This week when the girls redeemed their first reading voucher they received two restaurant coupons for free meals – one to Applebees and one to Marie Callendars.  They also received a voucher for a free general admission ticket to the Idaho Stampede Rodeo next month. 

The restaurant vouchers mean we can enjoy going out to lunch or dinner this summer at a very affordable price.  This will make for some very nice family outings for us on our tight budget.  I also checked online to see how much an adult ticket to the rodeo will run and found it will cost me $11.75 for a general admission ticket.  Again, another very affordable family outing!  The girls have never been to a rodeo before so this will be a real treat. 

I am excited to see what prizes they earn in the next couple of months and see what family adventures we can make of it.  I also found out they are having an adult program as well.  So for every two books I read I can submit a ticket into the drawing pool.  They are giving away a lot of prizes including a Kindle.  Who knows, I may get lucky and get my ticket drawn for something fun. 

I am amazed at how many things there are to do within our community.  So many at a low cost or even free!  I plan to take advantage of as much as I can to stretch our budget and add some family fun.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Canning List

While we were camping I had the opportunity to do some list making (one of my favorite things to do) and I made my list of all the things I plan to can this summer.  This is what it is looking like so far. 

·         Salsa
·         Peaches
·         Pears
·         Pickles
·         Plum Jam
·         Pear Butter
·         Tomatoes 

We are down to our last two jars of salsa that I canned in August so I am planning to make more next month.  I canned 12 pints and 12 half-pint jars last year so I will plan to do the same again this year too. 

We still have plenty of applesauce and other jams and jellies.  The plum jam is everyone’s favorite so we’ll do more of that this year and we are completely out of pear butter.  My oldest daughter loves pear butter. 

In order to get prepared and not feel the added expense of canning supplies I have been buying lids gradually over the past few months.  I add a box of lids to my grocery list every month to supplement the ones I have leftover from last year. 

The other day while I was at Walmart I was pricing their jars and supplies and I grabbed an extra box of the white plastic lids.  I love to use these to close up an open jar or when I am using my canning jars to store my pantry ingredients.  They cost me $2.88 for eight lids.  I use them a lot. 

I also clipped an online coupon for canning jars the other day.  I found it on  Save $3.00 on two cases of Ball or Kerr jars.  That is a great savings!  I also clipped a coupon from the Sunday circular for pectin.  I will save $1.00 on two boxes of Sure-Jell which is all I’ll need this summer. 
I am getting excited to get started and the fruit is already coming on.  Strawberries and cherries are ripe right now in our area.  Raspberries will be along soon too.  After that it will be time for plums, peaches, pears and tomatoes.  Later in the summer the blackberries will be ripe.  In the fall the apples and elder berries will be ready. 

Are you ready to get started?  What is on your list this summer?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

About Us

Wild Sunflowers - Lowman, Idaho

I thought I might share a little bit of my story with you so you can get to know me and my family a little better.  Up until now I have hesitated to share too much but now I feel comfortable doing so.  I love to write and share my ideas and thoughts and although I’m not the greatest writer I just love my blog.  I look forward to it every day and I really love the blogging community and those I’ve met through my blog.  You are all a terrific group of people. 

I married young in 1985 and we had a baby that same year.  A big beautiful boy born with a significant heart defect that was inoperable and unfortunately we lost him three days later.  It was a loss that rocked me and my husband to our very core.  We were so young and unprepared to deal with such a devastating event; we had no idea how to cope.  I got pregnant again the following year and two months later my marriage was over.  I think my husband was totally freaked out because he completely disengaged.  We separated in November of 1986 and divorced in February of 1987. 

I remember leaving my home that cold November night.  I was scared to death and had no plan whatsoever.  I had a high school education, a part-time job and a car.  At least I had that much. 

I moved in with my brother and his college roommate for three weeks until I was able to get my own place.  They were so good to me and slept on their couches so I could have the bedroom to myself.  His roommate even offered to beat the hell out of my soon to be ex-husband for me.  I didn’t take him up on the offer but it was a thoughtful gesture. J 

My new apartment was a dumpy little one bedroom attached to the back of my landlord’s house.  It was quaint and cozy.  I was very fortunate to have the best landlords ever.  They watched out for me and kept me company, helping me whenever I needed it.  I have stayed in touch with them to this day. 

In May of 1987 my son was born and I began my life as a single mom.  I’ve been one ever since.  I remember at that time thinking I’d probably be re-married in a few years and starting a whole new life.  It didn’t exactly work out that way; not for a lack of trying.  Instead I made a whole new life on my own. 

I went back to school and earned my certification in Ophthalmic Technology.  After graduation I went to work for an optical shop and moved to another town to be closer to my new job.  After three years I was promoted and transferred to their Bend, Oregon store. 

We stayed in Bend for nine months.  There was a serious housing shortage and we were still stuck in a hotel room with no end in sight.  I made the decision to pack up and move back to Boise and get a new job once we got there.  I was lucky and found one right away at an optometric practice.  I stayed with them for eight years. 

At age 30 I had paid off my debts, student loans, car loan and had put aside enough money for a down payment on a house.  I bought the home I live in now.  I got busy right away updating and refurbishing, making it my own.  I love to work on my home. 

Restlessness caused me to change careers.  In 1999 I was hired by an accounting firm as their receptionist.  I loved it.  I worked my way up and stayed with them until 2007 earning my license as a Certified Public Bookkeeper. 

During my time with the accounting firm I adopted my two girls.  In 2000 it was obvious to me that I wasn’t getting married anytime soon and I wasn’t getting any younger either.  My son was almost twelve and when I told him I wanted to adopt a little girl from China he surprised me.  He was all for it and my greatest supporter.  I started the process and in May of 2002 he and I travelled to Nanjing, China to pick up his new baby sister.  They gave her to me on Mother’s Day!  You can’t tell me that wasn’t meant to be. 

As soon as I got home from China I started the process all over again to adopt a second child.  I just knew I needed to repeat the process all over again.  Three years later my oldest daughter and I travelled to Guangzhou, China and picked up our newest addition.  Our family was now complete. 

Shortly after adopting my youngest daughter, my son enlisted in the Army.  It was his lifelong dream and he was determined.  I gave him my blessing and sent him off to basic training in August of 2006.  He is now married and stationed in Colorado with his wife and son. 

So it is now just us three girls.  We are pretty close and tight knit and I hope and pray it stays that way.  I just love my children so much.  I miss my son as I rarely get to see him.  Two long tours in Iraq and a busy training schedule keep him away a lot.  When we do see him that time is precious.  Every day with my family is precious.  I am so fortunate and so blessed.  I can’t imagine that life can get any better but every day it seems to.  Isn’t that amazing? 

So that is it in a nutshell, a little of our history to share with all of you.  It has been an amazing journey so far and I love continuing it every day.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Our Yard

Like our cozy little home we have a cozy little yard.  Long and narrow it runs from the end of my driveway, along the side and wraps around the back of my home.  The stretch along the driveway used to have some grass and too many trees and shrubs.  I felt it was a waste of water so I removed all of that and replaced it with gravel to make an extension of the driveway for much need parking.  This is now where I park my camp trailer and pickup. 

From the front of the garage to the back of the house is fenced and gated with a brand new 6 foot cedar fence I installed last year over Memorial Day weekend.  That is where our little oasis of a yard resides.

We have just enough lawn to make it comfortable and pretty with curved flowerbeds and nice shade trees.  The very back yard is hardscaped with a sizeable deck off the back door and paving stones that lead to the raised garden beds and another curved flower bed. 

Maintenance is simple.  I use a push mower and hand clippers to keep the lawn mowed and trimmed.  It takes me less than 15 minutes once a week.  I water three times a week (Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday) for 45 minutes (15 minutes per section) and fertilize monthly.  In the spring I reseed the bald spots that crop up from time to time and spray for dandelions. 

We prune our trees as needed in the spring and pull a lot of weeds all season long.  I spray for weeds about twice a month during the summer.  We live next to an unkempt field and weeds are a constant problem for us to stay on top of. 

Our garden and flower beds in the backyard are watered and weeded as needed and we are really enjoying them this year.  This section is entirely new to us this year.  This area used to be were the dog resided and although she has been gone for 5 years now this is the first time we’ve been able to finally get back there and get it done.  Having a garden is what I’ve always wanted to have back there and now we have it. 

We have a little water feature as well.  A cute little pond for a cute little yard.  I built it out of a stock feed tub I picked up at a farm supply store.  I dug a hole in the ground to put it in, surrounded it with rocks and plantings, added a spitting frog and pump from Home Depot, added water and plugged it in.  It adds a nice effect to counter the city noises. 

We enjoy setting up our patio furniture under one of our big trees in the summer to eat outdoors.  Unfortunately the deck gets too hot.  We are hopeful, in the future, to add an awning to our deck so we are able to use it more.  I also plan to add more planter boxes to it next spring so we can have additional garden space.  Right now we primarily use it to barbeque. 

Several years ago I installed two retractable clotheslines at the end of the house.  They stretch clear across the yard and can hold two loads of laundry.  I love hanging the laundry up to dry.  It smells so fresh when you bring it in.  There is nothing nicer than sheets dried out on the line. 

I like the carefree maintenance my little yard requires and that I am able to spend much more time enjoying it instead of working on it.  I also love that I mow it with my energy instead of using gas or electricity to run the mower and trimmer.  We try to keep our water usage to a minimum as well.  It is the perfect size for us and we love it.

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