Oh, how I love the month of June when the garden is full of surprises with nearly trip outside. The squash is starting to produce and there are tiny tomatoes all over tomato plants and we’re eating so many fresh vegetables and beginning to preserve our harvest.

We started gardening around mid-February when we planted our sugar snap peas, kale, collards and carrots. Our kale did very well and was harvested in early May and our sugar snap peas did very well this year too. We picked lots of sugar snap peas over nearly a 4 week period. Our kiddos favorite way to eat them was straight from the vine but we also added them to stir fry, ate them with hummus and I even tried a quart jar of refrigerator pea pickles (the kids love pickles but don’t love these just yet!)

Around mid-April, we had planted most of our garden for this summer. We planted onions, tomatoes, cabbage, squash, zucchini, cucumber, sweet corn, popcorn and peppers.  In early May, we added even more tomatoes, potatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe and sweet potatoes.

We also added in 3 new raised beds this spring and I want to expand our garden even more!

Garden - April 24

This is our garden as it looked on April 24th.

Garden - June 6

This is the garden from earlier this week on June 6. It had rained nearly every day the previous week and all of our plants had experienced explosive growth (it had been very dry).

Sugar Snap Peas

Here’s one of our large pea harvests.

Broccoli and Squash

This is our very first squash of the summer and two broccoli crowns. Since we don’t spray, we battled cabbage worms for a couple weeks. Since we only had two broccoli plants this spring, we simply picked worms off every evening to try to prevent them from completely destroying the plant.

Little Farmer

Last night, Weston joined me and we harvested 3 squash and 1 zucchini. Harvesting is always fun for me but harvesting with my kiddos is even more fun.

Our garden is the largest we’ve ever had and we anticipate eating from our garden quite a bit this summer and hopefully preserving quite a bit, especially tomatoes. However, it’s still not large enough to fully feed us so we decided to join a CSA this summer.

We purchased a half share from a local-ish farm which has a drop in our area. The half share was $400 for 24 weeks which breaks down to just over $16.50 per week. We’re 3 weeks into our CSA and receiving our boxes each week has been such fun, I feel like a kid at Christmas every week when I dig into our box.

We joined the CSA to support local farmers as well as to try new vegetables and hopefully find more foods that we enjoy.

CSA Week 1

 

Week 1 box – This one included cherry tomatoes, peas, broccoli, baby collards, radishes, turnips and cabbage.

The baby collards, radishes and turnips are not vegetables I normally purchase. In fact, I didn’t even realize that radishes were a spicy vegetable. And, nobody in our family is a fan of the radishes, at least not yet!

I sautéed the baby collards, chopped them up and added them to a quiche, it was delicious.

I had cooked turnips only once before and nobody liked them, including me. I found this recipe for Scalloped Turnips which was super simple and very, very good. John David said they were the best turnips he’d ever had.

CSA Week 2

Week 2 box – Lettuce, cabbage, zuchinni, squash, tomato, broccoli, cucumber and daikon radish.

I was thrilled to have my first fresh tomato of the summer. I promptly made a loaf of sourdough bread and enjoyed a tomato sandwich which is my favorite way to eat tomatoes!

No one in our family loves cucumbers, unless they’re pickled. I’ll eat them but they’re not my favorite. I ate one with hummus and then added it to a salad, then other I tossed into pickle juice to make refrigerator pickles.

The daikon radish was a completely new vegetable, I had never even heard of it. I chopped it up and added it to a stir fry which seemed like an easy way to eat it. Neither John David or I liked it, the taste was pretty mild but it was quite stringy and I did not like the texture one bit.

CSA Week 3

Week 3 box – Tomatoes, turnips, cauliflower, squash, cucumber, collards and beets.

My kiddos were super excited about this box because it had beets! They watched an episode of A Chef’s Life a few weeks ago where Vivian made a beet cake and they’ve been hoping beets would show up in our box so we could make a beet cake.

I found this recipe for Fudgy Beet Cupcakes. I followed it exactly, except I did substitute milk for almond milk. The kids helped me prep the cake and were super excited to eat the cupcakes. They were surprisingly delicious. They were very moist and chocolatey but had a slight earthy flavor from the beets. Weston wasn’t a huge fan of these but everybody else really enjoyed them.

And, following the ‘waste not, want not’ motto, I even used the beet greens! I sautéed them in olive oil with onion and added them along with potatoes to a quiche was was pretty good.

We’re having the collards for dinner tonight with beans, cornbread and zuchinni relish which I’ve made from last week’s zuchinni from our CSA box and our zuchinni we’ve harvested.

I’m looking forward to harvesting even more, branching out and trying new veggies and recipes with our CSA veggies, preserving as much as I can and planning our fall garden in the weeks ahead.

Do you garden? What are you growing? 

The More of Less

If you’re a reader of Intentionally Simple, I’m pretty confident that you’re a fan of simple, minimal, intentional living.

I also enjoy reading other simple, minimal, intentional living blogs that encourage and inspire me. One of my favorites is Becoming Minimalist, written by Joshua Becker. I’ve been a Becoming Minimalist reader for 6+ years now and I thoroughly enjoy Joshua’s writing and practical encouragement.

I have enjoyed reading his previously published books (Simplify and Clutterfree with Kids) and was excited to read his newest book, The More of Less. It is a small book but it is packed with inspiration and encouragement for minimal living. After reading many books in this genre, I wasn’t expecting anything life altering from this book but I was really surprised that I was inspired to let go of even more material possessions.

In this book, Becker shares his story as well as the stories of others who are living a minimal lifestyle. He points out through these stories that minimal living doesn’t look the same for everyone. There is no right way to do minimalism, you find what is right for you. There is great freedom in knowing your minimalism doesn’t have to look a certain way or be like anyone else’s.

For us, minimalism is contentedly living in a small home and intentionally living with less by only purchasing things we need and limiting clothing, toys, homeschool related items and such to the space with have within our home.

There is a chapter called ‘The Fog of Consumerism’ where Becker writes about how, in America, consumerism ‘surrounds us like the air we breathe, and like air, it’s invisible.’ This is a very insightful chapter, too often books about living with less never touch on the fact that continual consumption will never allow you to break free from your clutter.

The More of Less adequately explains the philosophy of minimalism as well as practical, how-to advice such as questions to ask yourself about your possessions, experiments to help you realize whether you need things or not and how donating your unwanted items (versus selling) empowers your generosity.

Clutter

Reading The More of Less, has already inspired me simplify my home even more. The day I finished the book, I filled up two boxes of extra stuff that was lingering in our home and have plans to tackle our garage. (Time to give away more things to friends and donate, donate, donate!)

This is a book I will read again, there’s just so much information, inspiration, encouragement and practical advice that it’s nearly impossible to soak it all up in just one reading. My plan is to read it with my husband very soon and hopefully he’ll be as inspired as I am to take yet another step in our journey of minimalism.

If you’re tired of feeling like your stuff is stressing you out, leaving you overwhelmed and taking over your home and life, I highly recommend The More of Less

*Disclosure – I was provided an Advance Reading Copy of The More of Less in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links that help support the maintenance of this site.

Helping a Spender Learn to Save

As our children grow, it has been such a joy watching their personalities develop. It’s amazing how children who have the same parents, live in the same home and spend almost every day together can be so different. Our boys are complete opposites, especially when it comes to money.

Paxton (6 years old) is a natural spender. If he earns or receives a money, he wants to spend it. Over the past year, he’s purchased several small Lego sets, random items at thrift stores and even vending machine stickers. Saving his money for a larger purchase is not something he’s naturally drawn to.

Our Weston (4 years old) is a natural saver. If he earns or receives money, he wants to save it. He’s such a simple boy, he has very few wants and rarely purchases anything. Most of the items he has purchased he has saved for or he has found an animal to go with his farm. Lately when he gets money, he tells us to just put it in savings (referring to his savings account) because he’s saving up to buy a farm and a tractor. He’s thinking about the future and not worried about material things in the present!

We want to raise our children to be wise when it comes to finances so they hopefully will be financially free their entire lives. And, we also know that just because a person has a natural tendency, such as the tendency to spend, it doesn’t mean that they cannot learn to change their ways.

Around Christmas, Paxton found a Star Wars Lego set that he really liked but it was way out of his spending money price range at $59.99. He talked about it for several weeks and pointed it out when we would look at toys.

We thought it would be a great item to set a savings goal for and encouraged him to save his spending money to purchase the Lego set.
Lego Savings Goal

We created a savings goal chart as a visual that we hung up in his room so he could glance at it and see how far he was progressing towards reaching his goal.

We set a goal of saving $70 to cover the Lego set and taxes. Each row on his chart represented $2 but we also allowed him to fill in half a row when he put $1 into his Lego Savings jar.

He had some Christmas money that he decided to go ahead and put towards the goal so he started out with $22 which was a great jump start towards such a lofty goal for a 6-year-old.

At the beginning, he started out slow, putting just a little bit of the money he’d earn or receive into his savings. He preferred putting more of his money into his wallet for spending. Every time he decided he wanted to spend money, we would remind him that he could use that amount of money, even if it was only $1, towards his Lego savings and get closer to his goal. Then, we’d let him make up his mind if he wanted to spend his money or not.

He chose to purchase several small things over the first few months and then he started to get more serious. He received some money from grandparents and great grandparents for Valentines Day and put all of that into his Lego savings. Then he earned some money when he, his daddy and brother helped our neighbor with some farm work and put all of that money (minus his giving) into his savings. After earning that money, he started asking about ways he could make money and we gave him some odd jobs to do to earn a little money.

As his savings grew, his spending decreased and he starting putting more and more of his money towards his savings. With his birthday money, he was able to reach his goal of $70 and he was so excited to finally be able to purchase his Lego set.

Paxton's Legos

We completed the chart and then starting looking for the best deal we could find. We knew the Lego set was $59.99 at WalMart and ToysRUs but we wanted to shop around. We first checked out Craigslist, hoping to find a used set (we always try to buy things used instead of new), then we looked on eBay. With no luck there, we saw that Amazon had the best price online at $54 (it was around $57.50 after tax).

I told him that we could go to WalMart that day and purchase the Lego set for $59.99 plus tax or we could order it on Amazon. By ordering it on Amazon, he’d have to wait 2 days but would save around $6. He decided to order online, save the money and patiently wait. We were a little surprised and very proud that he chose to delay gratification!

We placed the order together and he handed over all that cash. Then we counted up what remained and he had $12.50 that he can apply towards his next savings goal (which we’re not quite sure of at this point).

Opening Legos

Paxton was so excited while waiting for his package to arrive. The day that it arrived, the mail ran very early and we were in the middle of our lessons. That was motivation, he’s never done his math faster! He was so excited to open up his Legos and start building.

This was the biggest set that he has received or purchased and it took him a while to get it all together. I sat with him and helped him build for awhile (and he loves when I play Legos with him since his love language is quality time!)

We hope reaching this financial goal will be remembered in the years to come and that he has learned a little bit about the value of saving.

Related Posts:

Teaching Kids About Money

Teaching Preschoolers About Money

Living a Frugal Life

Living a frugal life is a fitting way to describe our family. We’ve been frugal since the early days of our marriage.

In many ways we’ve mastered the art of frugal living.  Over the years I’ve couponed, shopped clearance racks, consignment sales, yard sales and thrift stores. I’ve rarely purchased boxed or convenience foods, preferring to cook from scratch, have made many of our own beauty products, our laundry detergent and use very few disposable products, preferring reusables (cloth napkins, rags, diapers, etc.)

We married young, lived in a small campus apartment and had a very modest income. We’ve lived simply and frugally our entire marriage but the reasons why we live the way we do have changed.

In our early days of marriage, we wanted to avoid debt. We were committed to living within the income we had. We saved quite a bit for a house downpayment but we also enjoyed consuming. Now, we weren’t able to go buy the latest and greatest or pay full retail for the things we wanted so we consumed frugally. (One of our favorite activities was browsing the local Goodwill.) We weren’t exactly consumeristic but we did enjoy shopping and bought things just because we liked them and not because they were needed.

Now, we’re still frugal. As a family of five living on one income while trying to pay our home off early, frugality is a necessity. We enjoy stretching our dollars as far as they’ll go. However, the focus of our frugality is not so we can consume as much as we possibly can on as little as we can. The focus of our frugality is to live contentedly on the income we have, focusing on our needs and not so much on our wants.

Many of the frugal things we do now are not simply to save money, we do them for environmental reasons. Saving money is just a bonus!

I try to buy as many things as possible used to avoid buying new products that require new resources to produce. I cook from scratch to avoid the excess packaging that comes with convenience foods. We have cloth diapered our babies because each diaper was used over and over (many of them on all 3 of our babies) and they are not sitting in a landfill after one single use like a disposable diaper. I have reusable menstrual products (DivaCup and cloth pantyliners/pads) to avoid single use disposables (and as a bonus they’re so much more comfortable!)

We live on a planet with finite resources. Many Americans give little thought to the fact that each thing they consume and each single use disposable item that gets ‘thrown away’ is using resources and destroying our planet.

We’ve been having conversations with our kids about landfills, how there is no ‘away’ when you throw things away and how cheaply constructed toys and items break quickly and are a waste of resources as well as money.

We’ve been working on reducing our waste by buying less, trying to avoid items with excess packaging (I saw single bell peppers at the grocery store wrapped in plastic!?!), recycling and reusing things we can.

We’ve been only buying things we need (we keep a running needs list) and we’re not shopping as a leisure activity (even when thrifting, I go with a list).

We’re focusing more on needs than wants and as a result, we’re living more frugally than ever.

Related post: 10 Ways to Change Consumption Habits

*Disclosure – There are affiliate links in this post.

Living a Frugal Life - Square