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Homemade by Jade

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  • Tracey Boyer
  • January 17, 2015 02:23:21 AM

A Little About Us

A blog about homesteading and getting back to a simpler lifestyle. Posts include subjects such as cooking from scratch, backyard gardening, canning, cooking, crafts, sewing and household DIY.

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Ten Tips for Successful Container Gardening

​​I have been container gardening for years. It started back when I lived in an apartment. I had no ground, so I had to plant vegetables in pots on my balcony. The harvest was not huge, but it was very satisfying to pick fresh peppers and lettuce leaves to put in my dinner salads.  Gardening in containers can be done anywhere you have sun!  But this was just the beginning of my adventures in container gardening! ...


I have been container gardening for years. It started back when I lived in an apartment. I had no ground, so I had to plant vegetables in pots on my balcony. The harvest was not huge, but it was very satisfying to pick fresh peppers and lettuce leaves to put in my dinner salads.  Gardening in containers can be done anywhere you have sun!  

But this was just the beginning of my adventures in container gardening!



My next bout with container gardening was when I moved to a house in the suburbs.  It had a rather small back yard, but some nice flower beds, so I got rid of the blooms and planted bell peppers, chives and radishes.  I wanted to plant so much more, but I had no more space, so I decided to go with containers!  ​ I started with what I call a greens tower.  I wrote about that in my post How I Made My Vertical Salad Greens Garden  

​Then I moved on to planting Romaine lettuce in pots which I wrote about in my post  
How to Grow Your Own Lettuce - No Land Needed. 


​After that, I got out my large flower pots, about 10 to 12 inches accross and planted sweet banana peppers, green beans, broccoli and a large tomato plant.  This is what the containers looked like after growing for a little while:


​This container garden was pretty successful.  I had lettuce all summer and fall, enough green beans to feed us and freeze a few bags, not to mention fresh peppers for cooking and salads.  I was hooked on container gardening!  

Over the years I have made a few discoveries about container gardening, from trial and error.  Use these tips and save yourself a lot of grief!
  1. Never use metal pots, they overheat and can burn and cook the roots.
  2. Make sure the container has generous drainage holes. Without proper drainage, the soil stays wet and roots will rot. Rocks or gravel, in the bottom of the pot, do NOT take the place of drainage holes and are a bad idea.
  3. Use good potting soil, never just dig up dirt from the ground.  Do not buy top soil!
  4. Fill the whole pot with dirt, don't put filler junk in the bottom. The more dirt in the pot, the less you have to water and the more medium you have to retain fertilizer, which help promote root growth.
  5. Mix slow release fertilizer in the soil once a year.
  6. Save the tags that come with your plants. Read them and take the information to heart. It is very important if you want healthy plants and lots of produce.  Stick them in the container, for handy reference.
  7. Water in the morning or evening, and not in the heat of the day.
  8. Mix a pinch of fish of emulsion in your watering can once a week to keep the soil nutrient rich.
  9. Make sure veggies have at least 6 hours of direct sunlight for best produce.
  10. If a plant looks bad, dont be afraid to trim, Trim, TRIM! If you have a plant that looks like it is dying, cut off all the brown parts and trim back the whole plant. Don't be afraid to cut a lot of it off, it may be the only thing that saves it.

I hope that you will give container gardening a try, it really is fun and easy!  If you don't want to grow vegetables, you can grow fresh herbs or mini fruit trees!

Have fun gardening!

Jade    :)


My Favorite Pot on Amazon
Self Watering - Comes in 6 Colors



9 Veggies That Grow in Mostly Shade

It is often thought that you had to have full sun to grow your own vegetables. This isn't really true, some veggies will grow with as little as 2 or 3 hours of sun per day. That means direct sunlight shining upon them. Of course, you must still fertilize and water, if you want a good crop.​ What are these vegetables that grow is shade, you say? Well, they are the following:Broccoli - four to five hours sunBeans - four hours sunPeas - four hours...


It is often thought that you had to have full sun to grow your own vegetables. This isn't really true, some veggies will grow with as little as 2 or 3 hours of sun per day. That means direct sunlight shining upon them. Of course, you must still fertilize and water, if you want a good crop.

What are these vegetables that grow is shade, you say? Well, they are the following:

  1. Broccoli - four to five hours sun
  2. Beans - four hours sun
  3. Peas - four hours sun
  4. Kale - three hours sun
  5. Leafy Greens - three to four hours sun
  6. Radishes - four to five hours sun
  7. Asian Greens - two hours sun
  8. Spinach - four hours sun
  9. Most herbs - three hours a day sun

Make sure to follow the directions on the seed packet or plant sets regarding how close together to plant them.  Seed packets will also give you information on how much sun a plant needs to grow properly.  They can say full sun, partial sun, partial shade or full shade.  But what do those terms actually mean?

  • Full Sun - at least 6 hours a day, more if possible
  • Partial Sun - at least three hours of sun a day
  • Partial Shade - no more than 3 to 6 hours of sun a day, preferably in the morning or early afternoon
  • Full Shade - Less than three hours of direct sunlight and filtered or dapples sunlight the rest of the time.

The sun is much stronger in the late afternoon, so partial sun plants are better planted in a location that gets late afternoon sun, whereas partial shade plants should be positioned out of the late afternoon sun, if possible.  Full shade plants still need some sunlight, no plant does well with no sun at all, other than mushrooms!



​​​​If you want more complete information on planting and caring for vegetables, I highly recommend  The Vegetable Gardener's Bible   This book has all the information you need to grow vegetables, I use mine all the time!


As a ​rule of thumb, you can loosely go by these numbers:

  • 6 to 8 hours of sun - vegetables that bear fruit, like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and squash
  • 6 hours of sun - root vegetables, like carrots, potatoes and onions
  • 3 to 4 hours of sun - leafy vegetables, like lettuce, kale, spinach and mustard greens

I planted broccoli, peas, and greens in containers this year, and radishes, cauliflower and beans in raised garden beds. They all seem to be doing great, and it's nice to know that some of them can be grown in partial shade. There is nothing quite like growing your own food. Knowing it is pesticide free and not GMO (genetically modified) means a lot to me and I feel good feeding home-grown food to my family.

For more info on growing plants in the shade, this video has great information on the challenges of shade gardening:

I hope you enjoy your garden this summer and get a great harvest.  I think you will find growing your own food to be very rewarding, not to mention healthy!

Jade    :)

  • Heirloom Seeds
  • 100% Non GMO
  • Includes planting and harvesting instructions
Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/56278705@N05/9644479651/sizes/z/


3 Unusual Uses for 10 Normal Household Items

‚ÄčI love to find off beat uses for everyday things that I have on hand.  I have been collecting these little gems for a while, so I thought I would share some of them with you.  I hope you find some that are useful!Unusual Uses for Everyday ItemsCurtain RingsUse one or more as a latch to keep your cabinets closed against toddlers or petsUse one to hold together mittens, gloves or socks and hang them on hooks in the closetUse them to attach things to your backpack or hang tools off...

Picture

​I love to find off beat uses for everyday things that I have on hand.  I have been collecting these little gems for a while, so I thought I would share some of them with you.  I hope you find some that are useful!


Unusual Uses for Everyday Items

Curtain Rings
  1. Use one or more as a latch to keep your cabinets closed against toddlers or pets
  2. Use one to hold together mittens, gloves or socks and hang them on hooks in the closet
  3. Use them to attach things to your backpack or hang tools off your belt.

​Car Wax

  1. Use to remove white rings on furniture; just dab on, let dry and buff.
  2. Put a thin layer on shower tiles and let dry and buff off.  Prevents mold and mildew from growing on tiles and grout.
  3. Rub on shovels, let dry and buff.  Keeps dirt and snow from sticking to it.  If you use a tiller or snowblower, wax the inside to keep it clean.
Oven Cleaner 

NOTICE:  Most oven cleaners have lye and other caustic ingredients.  You MUST wear long rubber gloves whenever spraying or touching anything with oven cleaner on it.
  1. Remove the gunk that is burned on your curling iron barrel.  Lightly spray it with oven cleaner and let it sit for one hour.  Wipe off with a damp cloth and let dry for two hours before using.
  2. Clean glass bakeware, like Pyrex.  If your glass pans have baked on stains, spray them with oven cleaner and place in a garbage bag and close tightly with twist ties.  Let sit overnight and take outside to open (don't breathe the fumes that come out) and then wash with soap and water.
  3. Clean oil and other stains off your concrete driveway by spraying them with oven cleaner.  Let it set for an hour or two and then scrub off with a stiff bristle brush.  It may take more than one time, but most stains will come off.
Mayonnaise​
  1. Remove road tar or pine tar from your car.  Cover it with mayo and let sit for an hour and then wipe off.​
  2. Safe and effective way to kill head lice.  Apply a liberal amount to your childs head and scalp and massage in well.  Cover with a showercap over night and wash out in the morning.  Comb with a fine tooth comb.  Repeat in 7 days.
  3. Clean yellowed piano keys.  Apply with a soft cloth and wait 30 minutes, then wipe off and buff with a clean cloth.  Your keys will be white again.
Hair Conditioner

  1. Shine stainless steel and chrome, just apply a layer and leave on for 15 minutes and then rub off with a soft cloth.  You will be amazed at the shine!
  2. Protect your shoes in bad weather, just rub hair conditioner on your boots or shoes and keep the salt and chemicals off them.  Leather, plastic or rubber only.  Do not use with suede or any type of fabric.
  3. Use hair conditioner instead of lotion on razor burned skin (legs, armpits or face).  It also is great at removing makeup and keeping skin soft.  (Don't get it in your eyes!)
Salt

  1. Rejuvenate wicker.  If you have wicker baskets or furniture​ that are yellowed or dirty, scrub it with a stiff bristled brush dipped in salted water and set it in the sun to dry.  Do it every spring to keep it looking clean and natural.
  2. Clean discolorations and scorched or burned food marks on glass.  Mix a  half a cup of salt to a quart of vinegar and soak the glass piece overnight.  The next day you will be able to wash it clean.
  3. Set the color in new towels or clothing.  If you have new dark blue jeans or brand new brightly colored towels, you can set the color so it remains fast by adding a cup of salt to the washing machine on hot water.  Use the soak cycle and your colors will remain new looking longer.
Petroleum Jelly

  1. ​​​Shine and restore leather.  Rub it in with a soft cloth, and then wipe off with a clean cloth and let it sit overnight to fully absorb.  Works great on leather jackets, leather wrapped steering wheels and car seats, baseball mitts and boots/shoes.
  2. Help your pet's cracked and dry paw pads by rubbing a little petroleum jelly on them and let it absorb.  It will help them heal and feel better.
  3. Make perfume last longer.  When applying perfume, rub a bit of petroleum jelly on your pulse points before spritzing.  The delicious smell will last much longer!
Chest Rub
  1. Repel ticks and other bugs by rubbing a liberal amount around your ankles, lower calfs and arms.  It can deter mosquitoes, biting flies and ticks.  Bugs hate the smell! 
  2. Soothe the itching of bug bites, just dab a liberal amount over the bite for immediate relief.  The menthol and eucalyptus ingredients are the key!
  3. Soothe aching feet by applying chest rub and dab some on calluses and wrap overnight to smooth them.  May take a few times to get rid of some calluses.
WD-40

  1. Clean dried glue, decals, and bumper stickers off just about any hard surface.  Just spray, wait a few minutes and wipe.  If it does not wipe off, scrape gently with a no scratch spatula.  
  2. Remove lyme and other water stains from your sink, bathtub and toilet.  Just spray it on, wait a minute and then scrub with a toilet brush or any plastic bristled brush.
  3. Condition and shine leather furniture.  Just spray it on, wait a few minutes and wipe and buff with a soft cloth.  It will condition and shine the leather and keep it looking gorgeous!
Aluminum Foil

  1. Re-attach vinyl flooring.  If you are having trouble with your seams or your vinyl tiles coming up, take two layers of foil, lay it over the trouble spot and iron with a hot clothes iron.  Keep going over it till you feel the glue softening and then remove foil and lay some heavy books on the area till it is completely cool.
  2. Sharpen your scissors by cutting through 2 or 3 layers of aluminum foil a few times a year.
  3. Hide worn spots in mirrors.  If you have an old mirror with worn spots, tape a piece of foil across the back, shiny side facing the mirror back.  The trick?  Never tape the foil directly to the mirror, make sure you tape it to the frame, it works ten times better.

Have a great weekend everyone!

​Jade    :)


Decoupage Organizer with Multiple Compartments

If you do any kind of crafts, or have lots of smaller things you need to keep separated, you need organizers.  There are all kinds of organizers that you can buy, but if you are like me, you find they are never the right size or shape or have the right number of compartments.  It is so much better to make your own and it's easy to do.  Let me show you how! The first thing you need to do is to come up with the size and...

If you do any kind of crafts, or have lots of smaller things you need to keep separated, you need organizers.  There are all kinds of organizers that you can buy, but if you are like me, you find they are never the right size or shape or have the right number of compartments.  It is so much better to make your own and it's easy to do.  Let me show you how!
The first thing you need to do is to come up with the size and shape of organizer that you want to make.  I needed an organizer for my craft paint brushes, and I needed four compartments, so that was the basis for my organizer.

The next step is to find the boxes to make your organizer.  Most of the time I can find what I need in the kitchen.  If there are no empty boxes, then I usually just "lift' a few.....lol.  Just empty the box into another bag, and place it back in the cupboard.  Voila, you have a box.  I find mac and cheese boxes are great, as well as cereal boxes.  For this project I used mostly drink mix boxes.  

IMPORTANT NOTE:​  If the identity of what you removed from the box is not readily apparent, don't forget to LABEL it.  You don't want to end up rolling your fried chicken in powdered sugar instead of flour.
After you have a plan and obtain your boxes, it is time to put them together.  I used masking tape because it is easy to remove an adjust, without tearing up your box, if you make a mistake putting it together.
When the construction is done, it is time to start covering it with your newsprint, or whatever pretty paper pieces you have decided to use.  You can use just about any kind of paper as long as it is not too stiff.  If you don't have any storebought sealant, you can make your own. If you are not familiar with how to decoupage or make sealant, you can find our how in our post:  How to Decoupage and Make Your Own Sealant

I would suggest using smaller pieces of paper instead of trying to cover the boxes in one big piece.  Smaller pieces are easier to deal with and keep out air bubbles and wrinkles.
After you get done covering the whole thing, it looks something like this:
I thought it looked kinda plain, so I decided to dress it up a bit with some twine.  I only had white twine, so I put some black paint in water and put the twine in to soak for an hour.  Pulled it out and set it on a paper towel to dry.
After it dried, I tied it on this is what it looked like:
I love the way it looks!  Here it is will all my brushes in it.  The perfect width and depth for the place I had to put it.

This organizer was easy and fun to make, if you would like other posts about making decoupage projects, I have a couple more here on my blog:


I hope you spend some of your time while you are stuck at home making some organizers, now that you know how easy it is!

Have a great weekend!

Jade    :)


Fun Things to Do When You're Stuck at Home

​So many people are home from work these days and they are not used to having so much free time.  Boredom is rampant!  If you are looking for some fun things to do that don't require going out, I have some great suggestions!​ These ideas can be for you alone or for your kids or whole family!  Some of them require practice to really get good at it, so if you enjoy doing it, it's even more fun!​ Learn To Do Some Magic Tricks​...


​So many people are home from work these days and they are not used to having so much free time.  Boredom is rampant!  If you are looking for some fun things to do that don't require going out, I have some great suggestions!
These ideas can be for you alone or for your kids or whole family!  Some of them require practice to really get good at it, so if you enjoy doing it, it's even more fun!

Learn To Do Some Magic Tricks​ - Everyone loves magic and it is a great ice breaker when meeting new people.  
 
​Learn Some New Solitaire Card Games - If there are two of you, see which can go through their deck first!  Click below for a video of easy instructions on how to place each.
  1. Clock
  2. 4 Corners Solitaire
  3. Pyramid Solitaire
  4. Spider Solitaire
  5. Gravity
Teach your Dog Some Tricks - or just teach them some manners!  This takes time and patience, but in the end you will be glad you did!


Learn a Useful Life Skill - There are so many to choose from!  You can also teach your children useful skills like how to do laundry, cook a simple meal or vacuum and dust.

Try Making Something from Scratch You Never Made Before - Could be anything from bread to hand sanitizer
  1. Easy Bread
  2. Hand Sanitizer
  3. Almond Milk
  4. Pancakes
  5. Cake Mix
  6. Refrigerator Pickles (not canned)
  7. Salsa
  8. Raised Donuts with Glaze
  9. Farmer's Cheese
  10. Lemonade
Learn to Mend and Hem Your Own Clothing - Stop paying for repairs or just tossing a piece just because it has a frayed seam or a button came off.  Stop rolling up your jeans or pants because they are too long.  Learn to fix it or hem it yourself!
  1. Five Ways to Patch and Mend Your Favorite Clothes
  2. Ten Best Methods for Mending Tears
  3. 10 Ways to Mend and Repair Clothes Using Embroidery

Make Organizers from Cardboard Boxes - This is a really fun project and it givea you great results if your drawers or cabinets need organizing.  You can make organizers of any size or shape you want.  Make one to fit in places you could never buy one for!  If you are short on boxes (especially small ones) you can rob your cabinet of cereal boxes, Mac and Cheese boxes, etc.  Just put the contents in a plastic bag, label it (very important) and put it back in the cabinet, and voila, you have a box to use!  You can leave them plain or you can decoupage them to make them pretty! If you don't know how to decoupage or you need some Mod Podge like sealant, learn here:

  1. How to Decoupage and Make Your Own Sealant
  2. Make Organizers from Cardboard Boxes
  3. DIY Cardboard Closet Organizer
  4. DIY Socks | Baby clothes | Innerwear | Hand Towel Organizer
  5. 20 Easy and Quick Ideas with Cardboard Boxes

Get Creative and Decorate Your Jeans
- There are many ways to do this, with lace, beads, gems, even bleach, paint or sharpies.  Here are some videos with some innovative ideas!

I LOVE this one - the splatter effect!
This is also a really cute idea!

Try playing an MMORPG -That is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game.  There are many free ones that are lots of fun!  These are not your regular video games.  They can be a competitive as you want them to be.  If competition and fighting and killing monsters is not your thing, there are many other things you can do.  Make a character,  choose a profession or two and spend time getting better at that, or if you like traveling, there are continents of interesting lands you can explore.  You can play totally alone, or you can make friends, join a guild and have fun with people from all over the world.  Some characters have pets that travel with them and help them fight, others have healing powers to keep themselves and their allies alive, while some others are best at fighting one on one with other players.  You can do and be whatever you like in this imaginary world.

If you are thinking:  I am too old for "kids" games, you could not be more mistaken.  AARP recently did a study that showed an increasing number of people over 50 are playing MMO type games on the computer.  Read the article HEREPersonally, I have played an MMORPG for the last 14 years and I still love it!  My husband and I play together and it is such fun, even more when you can't go out, like in bad weather or when you are not supposed to be leaving your house!  I play World of Warcraft, which is not free (you can play 20 levels for free, after that it costs about $15 a month) however, there are many other games that are totally free to play.  Find a list of them below.  If you see one you like, click on it, download the game, make a character and go in and explore.  Tons of fun, totally free and the whole family can play together!
I hope you have found a few things here to help you have some fun during this awful time.  Please stay safe and follow all the guidelines.  We will get through this together.

Jade    :)



How to Make Protective Masks

If you have tried to get your hands on a face mask, to help protect yourself when you have to go out, you know that they are almost impossible to get.  I have personally looked on Amazon, Tractor Supply, Walmart, and other places and either they are out of stock or they cannot promise delivery till late April.  It is a scary situation, but I have the answer:MAKE YOUR OWN!! ​The information for these patterns come from this...


If you have tried to get your hands on a face mask, to help protect yourself when you have to go out, you know that they are almost impossible to get.  I have personally looked on Amazon, Tractor Supply, Walmart, and other places and either they are out of stock or they cannot promise delivery till late April.  It is a scary situation, but I have the answer:

MAKE YOUR OWN!!


​The information for these patterns come from this website:  ​Sewing Surgical Masks


If you can make these, hospitals and first responders desperately need them.  If you want to donate them, please put the masks in a plastic bag before dropping them off at hospitals, firehouses or police stations.  They will be washed before use, so you don't need wash them before taking them.  

​Everyone stay safe, and please follow the safety directives.  We will get through this if everyone cooperates.

Jade    :)


Image Credit:  ​Sewing Surgical Masks


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