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I skipped the hubbub of New Year’s resolutions, and all of the new year, new me nonsense. It may have been a new year, but what makes January 1st so special? Why not recover from the holidays first, and then set a few goals to work towards? That’s where I am this year. I gave myself a pass on the new year’s resolutions and setting year-long goals. This year, I am tackling things one month at a time. Sometimes, one week or day at a time, so that life doesn’t get so overwhelming.
Each February we have a no-spend month. This doesn’t mean we skip the bills, but rather we scrutinize our budget and do our best to not have any unscheduled expenses. In addition to our mortgage, car note, insurance payments, utilities, student loans, and credit card payments, we also budget for gasoline, groceries, scouts, and homeschool materials. We give each and every dollar in our budget a job to do.
We cut items from our budget that aren’t necessities, allowing us to put more in savings. The hardest is the random meals, drinks, and snacks purchased when we are out running errands and going to activities. I always feel like our no-spend month is the perfect way to break those bad habits.
40 Bags in 40 Days
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on February 14th. Each year, I participate in the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge. This year, I am looking forward to decluttering our home. I have a lot of baby items still, and my youngest will be five in June. It’s time to let it go! Our basement has also become a dumping ground for all the things we have no idea what to do with around the rest of the house. I am hoping to get one bag of stuff out of the basement and either to the curb or donation site each day during Lent.
You can join in with the 40 Bags in 40 Days in my Homemaking Basics community on Facebook.
In the next few days, we will be going to Schober Orchards in Monroeville, NJ to stock up on apples. We plan on purchasing several baskets of seconds. By purchasing seconds, we will save money and be able to purchase more fruit while keeping with our budget. The goal is to make and can applesauce, apple butter, apple pie filling, and cinnamon apple slices.
My children have also put in requests for a Jewish Apple Cake and apple crisp, and I will happily make both in the next few weeks. I also want to figure out how to make apple bread similar to what I’ve gotten at the Amish markets. I have a few recipes to play around with and tweak to see if I can get it just right. If I’m successful, there will be an apple bread recipe coming your way!
In the Garden
February is the start of my gardening season. I need to finalize my garden plans for this year, and then start my seeds. I have quite a few seeds on hand already, but I’m hoping to also purchase seeds from my local garden centers. I’m also looking for deals on summer bulbs which tend to go on sale around President’s Day and get planted in late April or early May. I would like to add gladiolas and ranunculus to our existing flower gardens.
On the warmer days, we will be clearing the debris from last year’s garden and adding compost and organic fertilizer to our existing garden beds. We also have fruit trees that need pruning before they begin to put out new growth.
I have several very large hosta that has been going for 11 years or more, and they need to be split before they completely take over that side of the garden. If it warms up really early, and we can see the hosta breaking through the soil, we need to split them and continue planting along our fenceline. Considering the cost of purchasing new hosta plants at the nursery, I’ll happily split my existing plants instead.
I have always been fascinated by the process of tapping maple trees and turning the clear sap into beautiful amber maple syrup. We have several maple trees on our property and this year, we will be tapping them for the first time once our supplies arrive. There is still so much to learn, but that’s not going to stop us from giving this a try. My goal is to get enough sap so that we can produce enough syrup for a single meal. I’m realistic that this will not be productive enough to keep us from purchasing maple syrup, but rather it will be a fun experience to have with our children.