Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Posts tagged “gardening

Living Playhouse

Sunday morning I went over to my BFF’s house for coffee and brunch (she made this and cooked up some deer link sausage – so tasty. She’s an amazing portrait photographer; here’s her Facebook page – tell her I sent you!). During the course of the afternoon, she mentioned that they were about to plant sunflowers for a living playhouse.

Naturally, being the curious and sometimes copycat crafter that I am, this piqued my interest. I’d never heard of such a thing, so we got online and started looking them up. They’re so nifty! When I was little, we used to make play-spaces underneath bushes and in low to the ground trees, but I’d never thought of actually creating a frame and then planting or encouraging vines to cover it to make a playhouse.

Loverly Husband and I have seen the websites that ‘grow’ furniture and art pieces many times. We have a couple of mimosa trees in the backyard that he intertwined to make an archway, and the kids have adopted that space as a fort-making spot. It’s had several different versions of a base (of operations, I presume), but they recently vacated it for another corner of the yard (leaving a huge hole in their wake…) so I thought that this would be the perfect spot to try to make a playhouse since we already had the arched mimosas.

Now, we wait… and hope that in a yard that is positively teeming with vine growth, the frame will not be the only vine-free spot. Actually, I guess ours is more of an arbor of sorts. We’ll not have sides per-se – more just a lovely shady spot once the flowers and vines grow up.

Once you have the basic idea in place, there are infinite ways in which to accomplish this project. I hardly think you’d need a step by step process, but here’s what we did: We have box hedges that have just grown wild. They make lovely straight and flexible stalks, so I cut a bunch of them to make the corners. PeaGreen and I dug holes and planted the stalks, two in each hole. We also used several mimosa branches that were out of place (we have a bunch of those, too), then bent the stalks together to create the arches. I used a few plastic zip ties to hold some of the more stubborn/sturdy branches in place, then added more cut branches on top of the structure. I used cotton string to create the framework for the vines to follow and to secure the rest of the branches in place.

We planted two types of sunflowers (American Giant Hybrid & Summer Evening Mix from Burpee) and climbing sweet peas (Early Multiflora Mixed Colors) around the legs of the arbor, and we have a ton of fast-growing vines all over our yard, so I dug up a few and replanted at the base of the vines as well. Since they grow so fast, we should have a fully shaded arbor in a few weeks while we wait for the flowers to grown and bloom. We also have several wisteria vines around; I may see if I can relocate a couple onto our frame. They smell so good this time of year and have such pretty purple flowers; that will make a fragrant and shady little hideaway when summer really hits.

Total cost: $6 (for the seeds). I could not believe that this was so inexpensive. We had everything already here. That, plus a little bit of work (we still have to fill in the hole in the ground) and add a blanket and a few pillows and we’ll have a great little spot to read or just relax in. All in all, this is one of our faster projects – the whole thing was up and planted in a few hours (over the course of 2 days). You could take as long as you want with it, but I’m a fan of instant gratification.

Here are some links if you’re interested in seeing how else they can be made:

BecomingDomestic: How to build a living willow dome playhouse for under $40

NatureMom’s Blog:  Gardening Inspiration for Children

Sunzilla Sunflowers They were bred to grow 12-16 feet tall – imagine how cool that would be for the kids to play under!

Kiddie Gardens Bean_Teepee I’m intrigued by the idea of a completely enclosed space, and the beanpole teepees are super cute – we may make one out of bamboo stalks in the near future. I could see the need/delight in each of the boys having their own creative and created space. There’s another example at Artful Parent: Beanpole Teepee.

The willow playhouses are neat too, unfortunately, I don’t know anyone with willow trees that we could help trim… AcornPies’ Willow Playhouse is really cute.

Anyone else making a living playhouse this summer?




Vermicomposting: Our Worm Bin

Last summer, we ate fresh cherries like they were candy. I kept a bunch of the seeds, and the seeds from several other fruits that we eat frequently with the intention of planting them to see if they’ll grow. Some seeds from store-bought fruit, I’ve heard, are bred so as not to grow from those seeds. I guess we’ll see if that’s true or not in these cases. I planted cherries, oranges and grapefruit. I really need to get some lemon seeds.

I’ve also been using peat pockets to start seeds in, but that can get expensive. I remember seeing seed cup makers last year and decided to try improvising one since I’m cheap and don’t want to fork over cash for something I can do with materials on-hand. I used half-sheets of paper (old bank statements, damp) and a medicine bottle. I wrapped the paper around the tube, then crushed the bottom down on the kitchen counter to make the cup. Mine are not as ‘neat’ or as uniform as the ones made with the tool, but it worked quite well. You could also use egg shells or a cardboard egg container, toilet paper rollers (or any cardboard rollers) in a tray, or use origami techniques to make a biodegradable cup from a sheet of newspaper. I like these because they can be planted as-is – no need for de-potting and disrupting the roots (helpful with kids, since the transplantation process is stressful for the plants, and kids can be stressful for baby plats, too).

When we went out to fill my new little seed cups, I started noticing all these baby earthworms in my bag of soil. So I grabbed a small plastic bin, popped some holes in the bottom and added some bedding (damp, shredded paper), a couple of cups of soil and then started picking through the soil and putting the baby wigglers into the bin. I counted over a hundred babies and I’m sure there are more. I covered the bin with a bigger plastic basket (to let air through) and set the whole container in a crate. I’m excited to see if my little worm bin will flourish!

I’ve been wanting a worm bin for a while; if this one works out, then I may make a multi-level wooden bin system with screens to help with the harvesting process. SFK has a great system (cough*that she should totally blog about *cough) that I am rather envious of. I’ll probably still end up getting a pound or so of red wigglers; I have a sneaking suspicion that these babies are European nightcrawlers (which are the ‘regular’ earthworms that we have in TX). I found a website called Texas Red Worms that has quite a bit of info on vermicomposting and he uses both red wigglers and E. nightcrawlers. Whatever kind they are, I’m sure that they’ll produce lovely, rich castings and possibly some nice worm tea that will be perfect for helping our little seedlings flourish.

Speaking of gardens, have you seen the living wall system for vertical gardening? I’ve never heard of this, but it looks really interesting. I found a slideshow at Environmental Graffiti that showcases some awesome living buildings and indoor farm concepts. I also was quite impressed by jeremusic’s vertical garden tutorial series. He shows the progress his vertical flower garden on his balcony makes from inception to flourishing – it’s really inspirational! Here are some other super cool green wall projects: India: Vertical Garden and hiphophagy’s DIY Patrick Blanc style green wall video and blog. I don’t know if we’ll make one, but I love how the walls look!

Have a great weekend!



Tool Time at the THE Academy

Another thing that’s been cutting into my blogging time lately is what we’re dubbing ‘Tool Time at THE Academy’. If you’ve ever seen the show Home Improvement, then you’ll get the reference, though I sincerely hope that Loverly Husband and I perform better in DIY tasks than Tim does.

We’re on a serious cleaning/organizing/de-cluttering kick around here. We bought our house last year after renting for several years, and so with home ownership comes both responsibility and the desire to make it pretty. LH and I decided a while back that when we got our income tax refund, our priority would be fixing up our house and yard. We’ve even been watching DIY Network shows like Renovation Rookies, Marriage Under Construction and Sweat Equity to prepare. Oy vey! My dad owned his own home construction business when I was a kid, so with his guiding hand and the wisdom of his experience in or corner, I anticipate smooth waters (… stick around to see me eat those words).

One of the big changes we’ll be making is switching bedrooms around. We have a split floor-plan in this house, and when the boys were small, we didn’t want them across the house from us at night. We co-slept for the first three or so years, but anticipated them being in their own room together at some point, so we put our bed in one of the other bedrooms instead of in the ‘master’ (the only thing differentiating the master from the regular bedrooms is an attached second bathroom). We only needed one bath, so we shut the water off in the en suite bathroom and used the master bedroom as a library/office/storage room.

Now that the boys are bigger, they’re ready for their own bedrooms and we could really use another bath, so we’re going to split them up and move our bedroom to the master and open up the other bathroom. With all this switching around comes redecorating and some minor repairs (new ceiling in the master & bath). From the walls out, we’re repainting, re-trimming and re-lighting almost all the rooms. Both bathrooms will get new paint, lighting and cabinetry as well. Then, we move on to furniture.

If you like Pottery Barn or Land of Nod and can swing a hammer, then you’re going to fall in love with Knock Off Wood. Ana White has blueprints and step-by-step DIY instructions that even the most inexperienced carpenter can tackle. With savings of up to thousands of dollars, you can get the look for significantly less – and spend some QT with the fam in the process. I fell in love with Pottery Barn’s Brady 5-piece entry system, but at over $1500, that’s just not in my budget. KOW has a reproduction that will work and is customizable for a fraction of that cost. There are also Land of Nod knock-offs that I’ve been pining over for a while now, and even the loft beds that I’ve been wanting for the boys.

Before we can begin all of this though, we have to clean out and clean up. Cleaning out isn’t an issue. I’ve read tips on how to get and stay organized; I am pretty organized anyway, but I tend to collect things on the premise that we might need it one day. I’m trying to cut down on that. We just don’t have the kind of storage for (or the need to store) that much. Though I don’t use’s program, I do keep a modified version of her system. I have a household book that I use to keep track of things – similar to her control journal. When I stay on it, I notice that things tend to stay neater and more organized; with the addition of our soon-to-be built and installed furniture pieces, we’ll have a better handle on ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’.

As for cleaning up, I got through phases where I really need bleach, and then I go all-organic, all the time, then cycle back to BLEEEEEEACH!! Right now, I’m in an all-organic phase, so it’s Mrs. Meyers (I LOVE that woman’s Lavender products!!) and vinegar/baking soda/citrus oil. Taking a page from SFK‘s book, I put orange peels in mason jars and covered with white vinegar to make cleaning solutions – useful and very pretty on the counters. I’ll make some of Nadine’s Orange Vinegar cleaner next week. If you’re new to natural cleaning products, here are some organic cleaning recipes at EarthNotes that are easy to try.

We’ve been working on the outside of the house and yard, too. With spring finally poking green things out, we’ve all been itchy to be outside. I took our (old, ragged, broken) screen door off the front in anticipation of getting a new front door and glass-front storm door, and planted two big/tall plants on either side of the front doorway on the porch. We lost our carport cover in hurricane Rita several years ago, and just have the concrete car park. We’re using that as a patio at the moment, which is nice – at least until we have a proper patio put in (hopefully this year sometime).

The boys and I also are preparing for our garden this year – last year, we planted in a semi-raised bed. This year, we’re trying our hand at container gardening. We have a lot of clay and rocks in our soil near the house, and if I try to put a garden away from the house I’ll forget about it, so containers are the compromise. We started our seed trays yesterday with carrots, cantaloupe, watermelon, green snap beans, sweet peas, jalapeño peppers, bell peppers, onions and an herb garden with lavender, sage, thyme, rosemary, cilantro and basil.

I have this yard swing that I got through our local Freecycle group. When I got it, it was ragged, but it still had a canopy and the upper portion of the original cushioned swing seat. It’s lived in our yard for five years or more, and been dragged to the front and back and then front again countless times, survived two hurricanes and numerous reincarnations as a ‘fort foundation’ over the years. Suffice it to say, we’ve gotten our money’s worth. A year or so ago, we finally lost the canopy, and have been sitting on the bare netting. I’ve been meaning to fix it, and finally got around to it the other day.

I have a ton of old fabric from my grandmother and big plans to use it all. I can officially say that I’ve begun whittling down the stash! Here’s a before:

and here are the afters:

It’s not perfect, but it is definitely serviceable, and though my Loverly Husband claims to have been blinded by the floral ocular assault, I think it’s pretty… well, pretty-ER anyway. It really should be made with heavy-duty canvas; this is a lighter-weight canvas, and the seat needs more padding, but it’s good for now. By the time this wears out or tears, I’ll make a new set with a less garish print and spray paint the metal while it’s all apart. My next fabric stash-busting project will probably be making curtains. I need some in basically every room, so if I can use what is on-hand, that would be awesome.

Have you started your spring cleaning and/or gardening yet? Do tell!



Cost Effective Eco-Consciousness

I’ve been trying to write this post about the dilemma that I, and I’m sure lots of moms on limited budgets, have. The issue is the high cost of organically and/or availability of locally grown produce, and the cost of ‘green’ or ‘natural’ cleaning, beauty and household products vs. mainstream ones. Thrown into this issue as well are the extremely high and un-covered by insurance alternative healthcare options like homeopathy, herbs and supplements, acupuncture/acupressure and other such things are. It seems that the things that are less chemically toxic, better for the environment and that promote overall health instead of merely masking symptoms are usually out of reach when you’re not in that top 10% of the financial bracket.

This post was prompted, in part, by this article over atPeaceful Parenting‘s blog. The point of the article being posted on that blog was absolutely valid – the question, “Are we really saving money on groceries today if we have a bigger health bill tomorrow?” is definitely one to ponder. The issue I have with this lies in the comments section. I was appalled and annoyed at the judgement and condemnation that I saw there. Only one person mentioned the financial straits that some parents are faced with that makes the grocery game (and learning to play it well) something that some families need to do in order to feed their families.

For me, personally, our situation is not that dire but learning to coupon better and keep track of what we have on-hand and what we need to add to that for specific recipes would stretch our grocery budget. In some cases, that would mean not choosing the ‘greener’ option but choosing to buy what I had a coupon for. That’s not to say that I don’t make better nutritional/less processed choices when possible, but I’m inclined to make my dollar go as far as it can, and if playing the grocery game can help with that then I’m willing to do that. The problem is that articles like that one, and the comments that accompany it make me feel like I’m spinning my wheels – instead of getting healthier by eating better, am I un-doing whatever the good stuff has done by picking something ‘less’?

Then the conspiracy theorist in me comes out to play… the part of me that says, “Sure, you can eat better foods, but you can’t avoid the toxins in literally every other aspect of your life. The air we breathe and the soil our local produce is grown in is tainted beyond redemption thanks to the oil and paper/logging industries that keep our local economy afloat.”  And let’s not forget about the insecticides that the county comes out with to keep the mosquito population from carrying us away (and the Off! that I spray my kids down with when they’re going to be outside for a long time – which we have to use because they’re allergic to the soy-based alternatives we’ve tried – and going bug-spray-less means lots of skeeter bites that itch, which means lots of lidocaine being slathered on because they’re allergic to bites, without which leads to infection and scarring – so, a little deet is the lesser of about four evils in that scenario).

It makes me wonder just how much of the organic/green buzz is pure propaganda. Does it make THAT much of a difference what you eat and what you clean your house with when so many other areas of your life are filled with toxins and chemical exposure that you cannot avoid? I just don’t know.

In the process of trying to write this post (this is the 3rd draft…), I kept getting distracted with the thought that a lot of my complaining when it comes to the cost factor sounds like excuses. Even though some of it is valid (like the probability that companies who make many of the greener products have caught on to the fact that people will simply pay more for those products and have no incentive to bring the cost down to a more comparable level), a lot of it comes down to choice. very time I start to say, “It costs too much”, I get conflicted with the fact that we spent $7 at Chick Fil A the other day. Granted, that’s the only time we’ll go to CFA until the week after next, but still… Then there’s the fact that if I worked, finances would be less of an issue (but then, not really, because at least during the summers, I’d only be working to pay for childcare; and the toll that working would take on my family would be prohibitive as well – so me working really isn’t an option).

What I’ve come to realize is that the good thing about being truly eco-conscious is that as long as you’re willing to forgo the flashy, showy, “Look how AWARE and INVOLVED in SAVING THE EARTH I am!!” stuff, keeping your home clean and eating with organic in mind is not all that hard to do. Frugality goes hand-in-hand with eco-consciousness, so thrift shopping and recycling clothing and household goods happily plays into this as well. Things like cleaning with vinegar, baking soda, borax, essential oils and castile soap – and making your own soaps and bath/beauty products. The fun thing about that is that it doubles as a hobby – so that’s more bang for your buck! Instead of buying re-usable shopping bags, make them from old sheets and clothing. Better yet, help the kids make and decorate them! Call it arts and crafts {smile}. Curtains, toys and decorating can also be liberated from old clothes and sheets. Art quilts, re-purposing old tee shirts and sweaters, even fabric scraps can be made into something awesome.

Let’s not forget about gardening and composting and vermicomposting! If you have boys, this is something they’ll dig most enthusiastically (girls, too – I’m not being sexist, lol). Growing your own little garden is (relatively) easy and requires less work than you might think. Now, I’m not talking about growing huge amounts of food or anything, esp. to start with. But you can grow a few tomatoes, onions and other fruits and veg fairly easily to supplement what you buy. We’ve been saving seeds from nearly everything lately – especially cherries! I have visions of a cherry tree-lined driveway in a few years…. We’re just getting started with the whole gardening/composting thing – but I’ll tell you what – going to visit and having your child finish up a banana and ask, “Hey Mom, where’s the compost bin?” at someone else’s house makes you smile.

I will say that some of the things that are most expensive to start with are good quality essential oils and herbs. Herbs, you can actually grow and dry yourself – and you can infuse them with intent as they’re growing, which is a nice touch, esp if you’re going to be using them for healing in your home. Oils – splurge. Buy from a reputable company and you’ll get more out of the product. Even if you just want to dabble, get the good stuff. Inferior quality oils don’t hold their fragrance and you won’t want to use the product you made. Also, if you’re using herbs and essential oils in a medicinal capacity you definitely want the best you can find. Some oils are more expensive than others. Start with more affordable oils and buy one at a time to build your collection. When you’re literally using drops at a time, they tend to last a while.

I guess what was really bugging me was the judgmental attitude from those who either aren’t faced with the same financial considerations, or just didn’t think before they wrote. It bugs me that most of those people probably have more than a couple of eco-consciousness contradictions in their lives – we all do. For some of us, diet is our main focus, for others, it may be household upgrades (like solar power, rain water collection or the like), for others it may be something else. There’s a fine line between taking advantage of modern conveniences and knowing which of those to forgo in favor of meeting whatever ideal is important at the moment. I think that every step we take with mindful intent, we’re improving the health and lives of our families, and that is what is important.



We Have Sprouts!

We’re so excited to share the news that our garden is sprouting! We officially have tomato, onion and radish sprouts, and I expect to see cantaloupe and watermelon any day now.

Granted, it doesn’t look like much, but we’re super proud, considering that we’ve never grown things before 🙂



“… and the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down”

“… in rushing, rising riv’lets, til the river crept out of its bed  and crept right into Piglet’s!”  Awww, I love that song. And Winnie the Pooh. And Piglet and Tigger, too.

Anyway… so with our grand plans of yester’evening, we woke up to wet, wet, wet. Not pouring rain, but seeping rain. No big huge wet splatters – you can totally walk around and miss all the raindrops – but if you put a pot on the porch and come back 20 minutes later, there’s an inch of water in it. It’s THAT kind of rain. Persistent. And…wet.

After considering the many bits of advice and how-to stories I’ve found on sites like The Labyrinth Society and this video, which is totally awesome and time-lapsed, I decided that it might be a good idea to start small and maybe in chalk on the driveway to see how big and how much work (kinda) it was going to take. Unfortunately, chalk and rain do not mix well, so we opted for an indoor masking-tape labyrinth on the schoolroom floor. It’s not perfect, and it is small – very small for an adult to walk, but the kids love it, and truthfully, so do I.

I think when we built it outside, we’re going to make at least 7 circuits, and it will need to be much bigger than this – I would like to be able to sit in the middle. This one is 3 circuits, and is about 5 or 6 feet across.

I drew it out in dry-erase marker on the floor and then taped the lines out. It took about half an hour or 45 minutes – not bad, I think.

Despite the rain, I was itching to be outside. We donned our … well, nothing special actually – just flip-flops and play clothes, and gathered our gardening tools and started preparing our new veggie/flower bed. I have had these plastic “wrought iron” garden border fences for the longest time. I’ve occasionally toyed withe the idea of planting a flower bed and ended up not sticking with it (warning you now that it’s highly likely that this same scenario will play out again with this new gardening endeavor). I think I had alligator eyes before though and planned out way too much for such a novice. This time, we’re doing a small (SMALL) patch of ground right at our porch. Small enough for me and the boys to at least get our hands good and dirty – and boy, did we!

IN the slush and mud, we picked pokeys (sweet gum balls) out of our space. Our ground had a lot of clay in it, so I wanted to make a raised bed of sorts. I’m sure we’re going about this all wrong, but it’s done now. We marked off our space and filled with (mostly decayed/ing) leaves.

On top of that, we added a layer of newspaper to help hold the new soil we were laying. We added about 3 inches of soil (not deep enough, I know) and some coconut husk planter liners to start seeds in with an organic seed starting mix. I added some petunias and marigolds and started some tomatoes, bell peppers and green onions and the boys started pumpkins, carrots, watermelon, cantaloupe and radishes. I know, I know – too late to start some of that – it’s not like we expect this whole big eatery to bloom in our yard. But we’ll see what comes up! It will be fun to keep an eye on. I’ll add more soil to the bed and when we have sproutlings, we’ll transfer them to the main bed and start new seeds. Here’s a peek at what we accomplished (and you can’t see it, but it’s raining):

This was our science and history lesson for today. We’re still doing ancient history; talking about how people started farming and building settlements. I have a pattern for a tee-pee that uses PVC pipe (Butterick #B4251)  (similar to this one:)

We’re going to do a re-make of the shelter we built last week and see if we can make it more stable and permanent. I have several pieces of trim that we’re NEVER going to put up in the house, so I may try to use those for the supports. I need to drag the sewing machine out anyway and work on those quilts!



Weekend, Spring and the Green Exchange

It seems that whatever new thing I am doing, I end up with a group to tend while I’m doing it. That’s fine; fun, even, because it means that I always have a support network to fall back on or get feedback and validation for my choices. In this case, I have been working to revitalize Triangle Homeschoolers, which is a secular homeschool support group that I started when the boys were very young. We did a few things back when LittleBoyBlue was in pre-home-school, but once he started Kindergarten at the charter school, we weren’t in “the homeschool club” anymore and no one wanted to take over the organizational aspect of running the group, so it became stagnate. I actually had one lady (who is quite the hoity-toity homeschool head honcho in Texas) get quite nasty with me for daring to run a homeschooling group when I wasn’t homeschooling my own kids. My response to that was something along the lines of “good parents don’t let the learning end just because the school day is over, regardless of where their children are educated”… then I booted her judgmental ass off my list.

Over the years, I’ve had people still join the group but my attempts to get things going again, usually during the summer, were not met with success which was frustrating. I considered deleting the group many times but ultimately chose to keep it open since this group is the only secular group in my area. I didn’t want to close the group ‘just in case’ we did homeschool. Of course now that we are actually homeschooling, I am SO glad that I kept the group open!

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been planning activities and trying to get the parents involved. That’s not going as smoothly as I’d hoped; I really expected more of them to be all excited that there was some activity on the list and opportunities to do things – I guess everyone isn’t as interested in that kind of thing as we are. {shrug} Oh, well… we’re still going to do them and if people miss out then that’s their loss. Anyway, Friday, we had our first Park Day with the group. Not many moms were able to come, but those of us that were there had a good time anyway. We ended up cutting it shorter than planned because a local elementary school also planned a field trip to the same park. About 30 minutes after we got there, the park was overrun with 3 buses full of Kindergärtners. Not that that was a huge bad thing; it just makes it incredibly hard to keep up with my children in such a large group. What was nice about it was that one of the Kindergärtners that was there was the daughter of a long-time friend of mine. She and her fiancée came to have lunch with her dd, and we got a few minutes to catch up.

I did bring my knitting, and got a few rows finished on my scarf. I am teaching myself; I learned how after my sister took it up, but I did it wrong and wasn’t motivated to stick with it, so  lost the skill. Now that I am motivated to make something out of my fabulous ribbon yarn, it’s going quite well and I think that by the time I am done with my scarf, the skill will be officially one that I possess. I’m doing a basic knit stitch and my friend Amanda showed me how to purl, so that will be incorporated into my next knitting project. Before you ask, yes, I am aware that I am making a scarf and we’re verging on summertime and I am aware of the oddness of that choice. I am also aware that I still have 2 quilts that I have been promising to work on and complete, but if you know me the you also know that I tend to have a very short attention span and am famous for having multiple WIPs (works-in-progress) at any given time. I’ll finish ’em eventually!

After the park, the boys and I went to a couple of places to stock up on gardening supplies. As long as we’ve lived in our house, “yard work” has always been the very last thing on my to-do list. Now that we’re: a) home more, b) in need of math and science projects and, c) slightly more interested in growing things, fixing up the yard has become more of an attractive to-do. Another addition to that little equation is the monthly Green Exchange that a local organization puts on.

Previously-mentioned friend Amanda and her husband Matt run a group called Please Remain Seeded, whose goal is to… well, check their website and you’ll get an idea. Every month, they’ve been hosting a “Green Exchange”. People who garden or craft can bring items that they have a surplus of to offer to others. It’s not an ‘even trade’ type thing, but you’re welcome to go home with things that others bring. There are no rules other than ‘no money is exchanged’ and ‘bring what feels right and take what feels right’. I brough some sourdough starter and Amish Friendship Bread starters and left with some mint to plant and seeds for a bean stalk and some mountain laurel and gourds.

Tomorrow (Monday), we’ll start working in the yard. If the weather holds, we’re going to be doing school outside tomorrow in true Charlotte Mason style. After workbook lessons are done, we’ll start digging in the dirt, prepping beds and starting seeds. I am going to do an herb box and each of the boys picked out some veggies to start. I’m not usually an outdoors-y type, but after some retail therapy and spiffy new flip-flops and sundresses to help my mood, yard work isn’t looking all that bad!