Monday, June 15, 2009

My "Victory" Garden

I love to garden. LOVE it. There is just something about digging in the soil and watching the plants grow that gives me an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and contentment. I've found the more I work in my gardens, the less attention they need. There's a life lesson in there somewhere.  I'll just leave it at that for now.

We have a few different gardens. We have our flower garden (front of the house). We have an herb garden-my first attempt at edible plants. We have a veggie garden and we also have fruit trees and berry vines. All this on less than 1/4 of an acre.

My husband and I have put in over 50 bushes/shrubs in our yard since we moved in 4 years ago. When we bought the house, there wasn't one tree, bush or flower to behold. There was barely grass since we bought the house in January. Our first order of business was putting in a flower garden with some really nice bushes and trees. Since we didn't have a lot of money, we bought very small, inexpensive evergreen/cold weather hardy shrubs as a base for our front flower garden. Bushes that started out as 12" tall are now 60" tall.
Within a year, I wanted to grow edible plants.  So, I baby stepped into an herb garden. This was the easiest garden I have ever started. Right now, we have camomile, oregano, parsley, thyme, stevia, chives, lemon balm (a lot of lemon balm), sage, rosemary, St. John's wort and calendula. This is our third season of herbs.  I give herbs away to poor unsuspecting family and friends.  I get weird looks.

Last year, we added a trail of lavender. It's really growing nicely this year. I even managed to dry a few bunches. I sitll don't know what I'll use the buds for yet

Also last year, we added a vegetable garden.  Here's what I planted in early May.
As of mid-July, this garden has completely filled out and producing.  Right now, I think I'm being overtaken by zucchini and squash.  Fear not. I have lots of zucchini and squash recipes!  I also have poor unsuspecting friends and neighbors.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and what's that last one?

Oh yeah. Refuse.

I have spent the last 30+ years living pretty modestly. Well, modestly in my opinion anyway. My parents lived modestly and taught me the value of good planning and saving. My husband and I certainly live within our means. We have a modest home with a not so modest mortgage, two cars that we own outright, a credit card we pay off monthly, and money in the bank. We even have money left over for vacations and special treats. I keep track of our budget in spreadsheets.

Sounds good, right?

Well, it looked good to me until I really started to analyze our budget. Not that husband and I are doing poorly. Far from it in fact. I just happen to notice that we have been very wasteful with our income. We are wasting a whopping $800.00/month on junk or miscellaneous gifts. I really have no clue where the $$ went. Ouch! I have secretly prided myself on my lack of waste. We recycle, compost, reuse or buy used all the time. But, I forgot a very key point-Refuse. So, I am going to look into this black hole and find out not only where the $$ are going, but also reduce my spending.

Goal: To reduce spending by 50% over next 3 months

How I plan to accomplish that goal
1. Stop shopping online-oh how I love Etsy.
2. Stop buying things I do not need-used, or not if I don't need it, I don't need it.3. Keep a spending journal. I'll do this online.
4. Use cash only-my allowance.

Obsticals to goal
1. DH's spending cannot really be contolled as he is currently deployed with the US Military overseas. He really cannot get a lot of free entertainment.
2. Shopping for gifts for others puts in front of temptation. I have a lot of birthdays coming up too.3. Laziness

I plan to blog about my daily spending as well as some of my challenges. Maybe this will keep me accountable? Let's hope so.