Time is just flying by! We are nearly half way into October already, but I wanted to share the highlights of September 2017. If you don’t already follow Scott Family Homestead on Facebook and Instagram, you are missing out! The Instagram stories feature is my favorite place to post day to day happenings. You can check it out at Instagram.com/scottfamilyhomestead.
September was an amazing month for our garden. We harvested over 20 lbs of tomatoes, 2 dozen cucumbers, and many carrots, zucchini, and green beans. We also collected about 15 cups of blackberries, which made 8 delicious jars of jam. This year was my first “real” garden, and I am so proud of our harvests.
Ryan was successful in getting the Little Blue Truck running with minor repairs and breaks. It is now road ready, with insurance and registration. We received our “Collectors” licence plates and are ready to go. Ryan likes to use it to run errands and I hope to learn how to drive it soon. I’ve never driven a manual, so I’m a little bit nervous.
We traveled quite a bit in September. We started the month out with a camping trip and visit to the Twin Cities for the Minnesota Renaissance Art Festival. We had a good time at the festival and we able to visit family too. It turned out to be a great trip. The boys shared a lemonade at one of the food stands and it is a favorite picture of mine.
We also spent several days during the week at a waterpark resort in Wisconsin Dells. The kids are at a great age to enjoy the water as well as the playgrounds and arcades. For more details of the trip, I wrote a detailed post. We had a blast, and most of it was chronicled on Instagram stories, including a trip to a lumberjack breakfast and Harrison’s first mini golfing adventure.
We ended the month with a beautiful wedding in the Madison, WI area. My cousin and his beautiful wife were married in a small little chapel on a gorgeous day. The boys loved dancing the night away and meeting some of their cousins for the first time. We stayed in our camper at Governor Dodge State Park, which was so convenient and fun.
September ended with beautiful but warm fall weather. We captured some great pictures of the boys in the same place as last year. You can read the details and see more pictures on the blog. I put together a collage of 2016 and 2017 to show the difference in these handsome boys. They have changed so much and have really developed their personalities.
September 2017 was quite an adventure and we have enjoyed settling in for the first bit of October. We like to be busy, but time as a family is what we love the most. Stay tuned for more updates, as I have been trying to make a better effort to keep everyone updated on our adventures!
I have a great, easy, and cheap project to share with you today! We desperately needed a coat rack by our front door, and if I knew it would be this easy, I would have built it a long time ago. With just $12 of hardware and some scrap wood, this project can be put together in less than an hour. Even if you need to purchase the wood, you are still saving in comparison to the pre-assembled coat racks you can purchase at the store. Most of the coat racks wide enough for this space that we saw ranged from $30-$50.
Our front door opens right into our dining and living room. While I love walking into a nice open floor plan, we don’t have an entry closet. This results in a mess of coats and bags hanging on the dining room chairs. We don’t have much room for coat or shoe storage, but a simple coat rack behind the door was just what we needed.
The materials for this project are simple.
- 36″ 1×4
- 36″ 1×6
- Coat Hooks
- Small Metal Brackets
- Hanging Hardware
- 1 1/4″ Screws
I am a big fan of using a Kreg Jig for these types of projects. The secure and sturdy bond created with a pocket hole gives me confidence that the shelf can hold a good deal of weight. The down side to this approach is the small holes on the top of the shelf if you put the 1×4 in front of the 1×6. In our case, you won’t see them once the rack is hung on the wall, but if it bothers you a few screws will do just fine.
Once assembled (our brackets fit best with the 1×6 behind the 1×4) it really only needs a light sanding and a coat of stain or paint. I used a fast dry primer first to hide the knot holes, but depending on how distressed you want it to look, you could settle with just a coat or 2 of paint. Then attach the brackets and hooks. With 5 hooks, they should be centered every 6 inches.
Ryan helped measure for the location of the studs in the wall and attached keyhole hangers. If you don’t know where your studs are, I highly recommend using drywall anchors. There’s really no reason to have a coat rack and shelf if you can’t put some weight on it!
With a little bit of seasonal decor, this is my new favorite part of the house. It is beautiful, functional, and affordable. That checks everything off of my must-have list. It fits in our small entry perfectly.
The hardware on this is from Hobby Lobby. It is so elegant and the hooks come in many different colors. I will link all of the Hobby Lobby goodies below, including that metal tree, because I know you want it (and it’s on sale!):
5 years ago when I started to blog, it was just Ryan and I. We purchased a fixer upper and wanted to share the projects we were working on. Now, we have 2 little helpers that seem to want to be involved with everything. At first, I was resistant to letting the kids get involved in my projects. It took me a long time to decide that I could keep doing what I love with littles under foot. Having kids takes patience I never knew I could have. Letting them help with things I want or need to get done takes even more patience. When it really comes down to it, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Let’s be honest. Little hands aren’t always that helpful. They are more likely to spill paint than to get the job done quicker. They are more likely to crawl on your new table than to help assemble it. They are more likely to eat the vegetables right from the garden before you can get them inside. They are more likely to drop the fresh eggs than to crack them neatly into a bowl. Sometimes, it really is just a mess.
It’s important to remember though, for every bit of spilled paint, Harrison has seen how his mom can paint neatly and clean up a mess. Even if he isn’t as careful as I would like, he is more likely to be careful next time. He knows how to make a mess and he knows how to clean one. If my boys help with a project, they have to follow through with the clean up. Sometimes it is easier to give them their own project or a pretend one, but they still get the experience.
This week, not only do they have a table sturdy enough to climb on (against my wishes), the boys watched their Momma build one from scratch. They know that anyone can build something if they put their mind to it, and women are no exception. Watching their mom and dad work hard is just their “normal”.
As far as eating from the garden, well, my boys like vegetables. I credit a lot of that to the fact that they grew them from tiny little seeds and watched them grow every step of the way. I may never see a full sized carrot at the rate the boys pull them out of the garden, but they will both tell you that is their favorite food.
Harrison cracked his first egg when he was just under 2. When I would cook he wanted to be involved. I bought him a cute little apron and we started to keep an extra chair in the kitchen for him to stand on. I always crack eggs into a bowl before adding them to the recipe just in case of egg shells. Harrison gets his own egg and bowl. Now at just 3 years old, he can crack an egg into the bowl perfectly and he is so proud. If the kids prefer to play with their toys nearby while I cook, that is alright with me. I don’t want to force my hobbies on them, but while they are interested I will teach them everything I can.
These are just a few examples, but let them spill the paint, check out your work, eat the food they grow, and help you cook. It isn’t always convenient, and it isn’t always fun, but their little minds always learn something. I won’t lie, they almost always make the job more difficult. I like to give the boys an easy job, like using a sanding square on furniture I am planning to paint. When I am cooking, the boys are great at stirring, or I measure the ingredients and they pour it in the bowl. The job doesn’t have to be big, they love it all the same. I am easily overwhelmed and stressed, but letting Harrison and Micah help with things has gotten easier over time and my patience has grown. Obviously, there are some things that kids need to stay away from. The boys aren’t allowed anywhere near a saw or the hot oven. They know that, and Harrison will tell you exactly how excited he is to grow up and use a chainsaw. Not today little man, not today. (It is important to make time for hobbies that aren’t kid friendly too, but that is a topic for a different day.)
As a stay at home parent, it is especially important for me to let the kids help me. Without my little helpers, I would never get anything done. For a while, I stopped building and crafting. Now, it does take longer when the kids get involved, but I still get to do the things I love while teaching them what hard work looks like. I really do believe our boys have found appreciation in what we do and how much work it takes. They also take pride in the things they have worked on. If appreciation, hard work, and pride come at the price of slowing down what I am working on, I think it is worth it. So, get back to doing what you love or start something new together. Now is as good a time as any!
This year Harrison has started preschool at home. We don’t have a 3 year old program here, but Harrison is so excited to start school (mostly because he thinks the school bus will take him to Disney World, but that’s a whole different issue). We have been working from a workbook, reading, and doing a little bit of crafting. Today we decided to go on a search outside for some colorful leaves to make fall wreaths. These are such an easy project anyone can do it, and Micah helped too!
We collected leaves of all different colors, shapes and sizes. This is the perfect time of year to collect, because the leaves are about 50% changed at this point. If you don’t have colorful leaves in your area or it is past that time of year, you can buy colorful leaves at your local craft store.
*If you want your wreath to last for quite some time, you should press your leaves to dry for several days once they are collected.*
Once the leaves were collected, we headed back inside. The best part – this craft only takes 2 other materials, a paper plate and some glue. We cut the center out of the plate to make a ring and started to glue down the leaves.
That’s all there is to it! Put as many or as few leaves on the ring as you would like, set it out to dry, and find a place to display your work! Harrison is just 3 and was able to do this project completely on his own. Micah, who is 18 months, needed a little help. He liked collecting leaves and placing them on the plate, but I helped him finish it off.
What kinds of crafts have you been up to this fall? I look forward to seeing them!
Last year I took some fall photos in our driveway and they are some of my favorite pictures. I couldn’t pass up a chance to make it a yearly thing and put the boys back in matching plaid outfits.
The leaves are changing colors and falling fast. Ryan picked up some pumpkins and mums from the store yesterday and they are beautiful! The kids were very excited to take pictures with the pumpkins. I’m not going to lie, taking the boy’s pictures isn’t always a treat. They like to wiggle and crawl away, but this time they made it easy.
Keep in mind I am far from a professional photographer or blogger, but I need to capture these memories. It’s true, the days are long, but the years are short. My boys are growing fast and I feel like I’ve just blinked.
Make sure you check out last years pictures too. It is amazing to see the difference a year makes. Harrison is losing his baby look and is becoming a little boy (big boy if you ask him). Our little 6 month old, dark haired Micah has turned blonde and is almost as tall as his big brother. Make it stop!
Fall is a really great season around here. I’m harvesting what is left of the garden. Last night we canned 12 pints of pickles and I baked 24 zucchini muffins. It even smells like fall in here now! I hope you are able to get out and enjoy the fall weather. Pull out your sweaters and jackets, the best season of the year is here!
We have been in desperate need of a family vacation. Ryan has been busy with work and keeping everything running around here, while I have been in over my head with the kids, garden, and chickens. It is that time of year when everything needs to be cleaned, organized, and put away before snow flies. We had a great chance to step away for a few days and really enjoy the kids. They are at an awesome age and we don’t want to miss anything because we are too busy.
*This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.*
We had a list of things we wanted to do while on our vacation. The Wisconsin Dells are full of fun things to do, but we definitely wanted to go to the waterparks, mini golfing, shopping, ride a Duck, and eat good food. I’d say it was a successful trip, although we did have to skip one item on our list.
We took a trip to Wisconsin Dells. This is a great time of year to go (September), because even though the outdoor waterparks are closed up, the crowds are low and the rates are cheap. We got a suite at the Wilderness Resort for a great price, and the 3rd night was half off! The Wilderness Resort has everything you could want including several indoor waterparks, mini golf, arcade, ropes course, playhouse, restaurants and bars, shops, spa, and more. Between it being during the week and in the off season, the place was practically our own. We have stayed at other resorts (Kalahari, Chula Vista, etc) but the Wilderness is by far our favorite.
Harrison loved the multi-level playhouse. Micah loved it too, and it is big enough for parents to supervise (and have a little fun too). I’m sure it gets a little crazy in the busy season, but it has a lot of space for the kids to run and play. The boys also liked the arcade. Harrison figured out how to swipe his card to activate the games all by himself. He ran around playing games and winning tickets for cheap prizes we don’t really need…but he loved it!
The lazy river in the waterpark is my favorite part. They have double tubes with a mesh bottom in the front. Micah and I spent a ridiculous amount of time floating circles around the park. He was terrified of the dumping bucket, and the river kept him far away. Harrison was busy riding the big slides with Daddy. They did all of the adventurous stuff while Micah and I took it easy.
We also enjoyed a few other things around town. We enjoyed breakfast at Paul Bunyans. They have an all you can eat, lumberjack themed breakfast. The kids got Babe the Blue Ox hats and ate until their little tummies were all filled up! We have also loved going to Moosejaw Brewing Co. in the past. They have great pizza and homemade beer and soda. I highly recommend it!
We also couldn’t visit the Dells without a trip to Pirates Cove Mini Golf. Harrison hasn’t ever golfed before. It took a few practices before he had it all figured out. We had a blast and Micah fell asleep in the Tula carrier. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. It was a beautiful, warm day.
Of course, no trip is complete without a little shopping. The Dells have an amazing outlet mall and we scored some great deals, including a few fall outfits for the boys from Carters and Gymboree. Since becoming a mom, I find it much more enjoyable to shop for the kids than to shop for myself.
One of these times, we hope to take a Dells Tour with the Original Ducks. They have vehicles that are both trucks and boats that take a tour of the beautiful parts of the Wisconsin Dells. We planned on going (because they have a fall discount) but the boys fell asleep after lunch and we decided to just get on the road while we had quiet kids in the back seat. Next time!
It was good to get away for a bit. We only have one more camping trip planned and then the camper and boat will be put away. The leaves are already changing color and dropping leaves, and the yard needs to be mowed at least one more time. The coops are in good shape, but we will be adding windows to encourage more light for egg laying during the winter. The garden has handfuls of cucumbers and tomatoes that need to be processed. The list goes on and on, but we sure do love this life.
These days it is difficult to really understand what is in our food and how it is processed. It is especially hard to know how animals are treated when used for meat, milk, eggs, or other animal products. In many commercial operations, chickens are often caged without access to the outdoors. When egg production slows, food is withheld to force quicker molting to return to maximum egg production. Chickens are often debeaked to prevent pecking injuries. Commercially raised chickens are rarely able to practice normal scratching and preening practices in the limited space they are given. They also have high rates of foot injuries from standing in cages their whole lives. There are definitely some practices that are better than others, but it is important to know what to look for. Here is a summary of what egg labels mean in the grocery store.
What do egg labels mean?
Cage Free: The cage free label is used for chickens living in a warehouse without cages. However, they may have 1 sq ft or less of space. Cage free chickens may have a higher mortality rate than caged birds. This may be due to pecking injuries or disease spread in a small space. They do not have access to the outdoors and can be debeaked to prevent injuries.
Free Range: Free range chickens have access to the outdoors, however, they may not actually use that outdoor space and it can be a limited time during the day. To be considered free range, a farm just needs to provide some sort of outdoor space connected to their covered barn. Unfortunately, many times that space is not accessible by most of the birds.
All Natural or Farm Fresh: There are no standards or regulations set on using the term “all natural” or “farm fresh”. These labels don’t mean anything.
Hormone Free: Chickens can not be given hormones in the US. If your egg label reads “Hormone Free” that is simply a marketing term and does not mean those eggs are better than any other available in the store.
Pasture Raised: Pasture raised chickens spend the majority of their time outdoors and have a safe indoor place to sleep. Our chickens would be considered pasture raised, and this is the term I would look for when buying eggs elsewhere.
Organic: To have the organic label, the eggs must come from a certified organic farm. The chickens must be cage free and have outdoor access, but they can be debeaked. In many family farm cases, the label will read “From Organically Fed Chickens” or something similar, because the investment to become certified isn’t worth it for small farms.
Omega-3 Enriched: This label doesn’t mean anything as far as living conditions. It only means the chickens are fed a diet with added Omega-3s.
We are proud to have pasture raised, organically fed chickens. We are lucky to get enough eggs to sell a few to cover some feed costs and provide others with eggs they can feel good about. Our eggs generally have dark orange yolks, a sign that they are truly pasture raised and free range more than they eat grain. The eggs come in various sizes and colors, which varies by breed. Store bought eggs generally have a pale yolk, indicating a grain fed chicken.
It is also important to know that while store bought eggs generally have an expiration date a month away, they are often already 30+ days old. Fresh eggs will often be perfectly good 3+ months from when they were collected. As eggs age they are better for hard boiling. Store bought eggs peel easier than farm fresh eggs because they are older. For fresh eggs, try steaming them instead of boiling. They will peel great! When in doubt about how old your eggs are, you can test your eggs with the Float Test. To test for freshness, put an egg in water. If it sinks it is still fresh. If it stands on end, it is still good but should be used soon. If it floats, it is no good. You might be surprised at how long your eggs can last.
Food labels really can be deceiving, so I hope this has given you some clarity in what to look for. It might just make you want to get a few chickens of your own! If that’s the case, check out our Chicken Basics article. Support your local farmers and happy egg hunting!
Another month has flown by, and we have more photos to share! August was a busy month for us on the homestead, but also very rewarding. The weather has been great and we have been able to get quite a bit from the garden while also enjoying the camper and boat. We started the month by harvesting a big batch of green beans.
We were also able to spend a few days camping. With Ryan’s work we are even able to camp during the week sometimes, so we took advantage of that. You can’t have fun without a little bit of work though, and both cars and the camper have required a bit of work this summer (not even counting the F100 truck work Ryan has been doing).
August 14th is our wedding anniversary and this year we celebrated 7 years! We spent the weekend out on the lake and finished the day off with pizza and ice cream on the boat. The kids had a great time and spending the day as a family was the perfect celebration.
The boys are becoming more independent and Micah weaned this month. It is a bit easier for me to leave them home for little while. Ryan always does great with the boys, but going out is a little more guilt free now that Micah doesn’t need me all day long. I spent a nice long time on a Hobby Lobby shopping trip. I got all kinds of goodies to help decorate the house and make it feel a little more “grown up” along side the toys and sippy cups.
It has been a beautiful month around here. I’m excited for September though, it is one of my favorite months. While the weather gets cooler, the tourism slows down and our town begins to feel a little bit more like home. Fall is coming but we still have plenty of nice summer days to enjoy, and I hope you get a chance to enjoy too!
I picked up a dresser a couple of weeks ago at an estate sale and couldn’t wait to get it painted and put into our master bedroom! We haven’t had a dresser in our room before and it has added much needed storage. Last year we put Micah’s crib and rocker in the master to keep him close, especially because he had acid reflux and would often wake up coughing or gagging. Keeping him close was a blessing, but now he is doing well in his own room and we have a bit of space back.
We currently have an antique white farmhouse bed and end tables. We also have a small fireplace and mantel. The room is a light lilac color (husband approved) with a darker purple accent behind the bed. The pine dresser definitely didn’t match the room, but it was a steal at $50. I already had paint to match the bed, so after $10 in primer and sanding pads, we were ready to go.
Of course, I couldn’t have gotten the job done without my helpers. Harrison helped take the hardware off, sand the drawers, and even helped with paint. Micah helped me give the dresser a good cleaning after sanding. They might slow the job down a little, but they love to help and I would never turn that down!
The key to a good coat of paint is a good primer, especially when you are trying to hide dark spots or knots. After a light sanding and coat of Zinnser 1, 2, 3 primer/sealer, I used dutch boy self priming paint in Antique White. This is my favorite shade of white and is currently the color of our kitchen, as well as several pieces of furniture.
My original plan was to replace the hardware. The bronze hardware made the pine dresser look dated. I looked online and in stores for new hardware, but everything I liked was in the $5 range, which would double the investment in this dresser. I decided to try spray painting with some paint I had on hand.
I actually love this hardware in this color more than any of the expensive options I looked at. It seems very elegant with a new coat of paint. This is also the first time I used this krylon spray paint, and it is love.
To finish off the project, I made a little trip to Hobby Lobby. I haven’t had a place to put my Precious Moments and didn’t find much online for ideas. I know they aren’t as popular now as they once were, but each one has a special place in my heart and I want to display them. I found some nice grey crates that contrast nicely and they could actually be hung up on the wall if we decide to go that route.
I really like how the master bedroom is coming together. We have slowly been adding to the room to make it our own and with 2 crazy boys, we look forward to bedtime now more than ever. I will be doing a little update on the rest of the room soon, so stay tuned!
If you have a garden, I hope this summer has been good to you! We have had our garden just take off over the last month. We have been lucky to have avoided many pests and weather problems. I hope we can have a garden like this every year!
Our zucchini has already given us enough to make 3 loaves of zucchini bread. I made 24 muffins and put them in the freezer for the kids to eat over the next few weeks. We’ve also been eating broccoli and sweet peppers from the garden, but they haven’t produced the way I would have liked. The cucumbers and tomatoes on the other hand, have so many fruits started that I fear we will be eating them all winter long. The pumpkins are beautiful, but I have struggled with getting the fruits pollinated. They have been growing to golf ball sized pumpkins and then falling off due to a lack in pollination. It will be interesting to see if we get any pumpkins by fall.
The real winners are the green beans. I have picked about 4 lbs of green beans so far and we have been eating them nearly every day. I froze a pound of them before we left for Micah’s appointment because we couldn’t eat them fast enough. I am currently picking about 8 oz every 1-2 days and the 4×4 box hasn’t even started producing. They are delicious.
The cucumbers are just starting to get to a picking size. Harrison loves to check on them. He was showing Ryan yesterday that you need to move the leaves to see them. Harrison spends almost as much time in the garden as I do. The cucumbers are going to start being ready by the dozen, so I see some canning in my future.
I like to measure how much produce I pick, just for fun. However, I will never know how much broccoli or carrots we get. The boys pick them as soon as they look ready and eat them right in the garden. Yesterday the boys passed around a great big carrot. If they all grow to that size by the end of the season, I will be very happy.
This homesteading adventure is relatively new to us, but we have enjoyed doing it as a family. Harrison has been a part of the garden from the very first seed. He has really learned how to take care of the garden and now he knows what kind of sweet rewards you can get.
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