Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Monthly Goals: July 2016

 When it comes to goals, a big portion of this month, and coming months really, is going to revolve around getting ready for Christmas as much as I can and getting the pantry in order as much as I can. 

I went out to check the garden yesterday and found my Swiss chard looking like Swiss cheese as the slugs seemed to have been helping themselves to it since it started raining.  Since some plants are still rather healthy, I went through and thinned the chard back to about where the package of seeds told me I should and got two decent side servings of chard for the freezer out of it.  I saw the kohlrabi leaves were turning color and looking like they weren't doing well, so I figured I'd see if I actually got a root vegetable in my planter.  Turns out, nope, I didn't, although it was terribly root bound.  You live, you learn there.  I'll know next time not to plant kohlrabi in anything but the ground.  I did mix the kohlrabi leaves in with my chard when I processed things for the freezer once I learned that the leaves were edible too.   So, a few more greens for the freezer there.

Went by my potato plant in the smallest planter and saw it was starting to succumb to some type of curly leaved blight (probably due to too much rain and too dense of soil in the planter) so I harvested that plant ASAP to avoid any damage to the actual potatoes.  Actually got a decent amount (2 bigger potatoes and a bunch of little new potatoes) out of the plant, but it was sad as there were so many little budding new potatoes still.  I'm keeping a close eye on my bigger planter of potatoes to see how it does.  So far, so good.  Went by the garlic and saw something (I'm thinking my air craft carrier cat might be to blame) had stepped on one garlic plant and just basically killed the leaves off.  I dug it and turns out the garlic hadn't yet put any effort into growing, so all I got out of it was a mini-bulb of garlic.  I'll throw it into dinner one night sometime soon, but depressing as I was hoping to get as much garlic as I could from the garden this year with the unexpected plants I found.

I wasn't really planning on harvesting chard and things in the rain, but it was better than them going to waste.  So, while it was kind of depressing having to harvest things early and not getting as much as I'd hoped from them, but silver lining there is at least I got something out of them.  Glad I check the garden pretty much every day or some of my chard might have just plain gone to the bugs.

I am trying to think ahead to winter and things I want to be able to get from either the garden or the produce stand/you pick farm to see us through and how best to store them.  I researched how to store turnips and other root veggies and things (I haven't had much luck storing them in the past) to find that turnips, beets and carrots like it a little humid but also cold.  Colder than my pantry gets during the winter, but not freezing (which is where my problems come in as all of my outbuildings the vegetables would just freeze in).  Cabbage was the same way.  Apples and potatoes I can store in the fridge, but I couldn't figure out where to store other things where they wouldn't quickly rot on me or take up needed room for other things.  I have a spare fridge in storage, but it also is big, has a freezer I'd have to worry about too and I have no idea where I'd put it as my husband uses his garage and the only place I could think to put it I already have a standing freezer in it's place. 

I finally came up with the idea of a mini-fridge (like they use in dorms) or something similar in size.  I could store that easier, even in the corner of my kitchen if need be and between it and my fridge I think I have a good shot of storing vegetables over the winter months without having to can them all.  So, now, it's going to be keeping my eye out for a free mini-fridge as I plain don't have the money to buy one if I can help it.  Hopefully God will send me in the right direction :).

As for other goals this month, I have plenty.  I somehow have to get a back pack for my daughter for school (her zipper is broken on hers and is just plain beyond my ability to repair) and school supplies.  I forgot that I would need to start worrying about that stuff this month.  Blah!  So, I need to dig out what I have for supplies around here and see what I can come up with on that end before I end up spending a fortune at the store that I don't have.

Oh and my husband's birthday is this month.  So, yeah, it's going to be busy!

Goals for the Month:  July 2016

Sewing Goals:
  • Start Christmas projects
  • Repair t-shirt holes and other mending
  • Repair husband's work jacket (before winter, preferably there, Erika!)

Gardening Goals:
  • Collect seeds from heirloom plants as they bolt/seed
  • As things bolt/seed pull them out and plant turnips or other cold-winter veggies
  • Keep an eye on garden and take care of it like a third child.
  • Continue to make different types of rat tailed radish pickles as they produce.
  • Continue to dehydrate herbs as they grow.
Cleaning Goals:
  • Continue to clean out and deep clean kitchen cabinets (I've been ending up doing these one at a time over the last little bit).  Figure out if there is anything that could work better somewhere else and reorganize if necessary.
  • Keep cleaning hallway closet (this is my back up plan for somewhere to store veggies this winter if finding a fridge fails to produce anything as it is drafty and cold during the winter, which MIGHT work for vegetables.  Might).
  • Clean kid's rooms some more
  • Shampoo all carpets thoroughly
  • Dust ceiling fans and chandeliers (I hate that chore)

General Goals:
  • Keep eye out for free fridge
  • Keep eye out for excellent deal on back pack (we might be hitting used stores a lot this month)
  • Dig out school supplies and figure out what needs to be bought for back to school
  • Figure out birthday gift for husband (keep it simple)
  • Keep eye out for deals on meat and produce
  • Glean what I can for fruit.  Talk to friends about going to pick wild blueberries when they ripen for the year (I've never done that up here and need someone who knows where to go and hold my hand while I do it the first time *laugh*). 
  • Work on non-sewed Christmas gift ideas and start on any that need extra time.
  • Go insane (already done!  Ha!)
So how about you?  Up to anything this month?


  1. I sent you an email! Posting that here in case you don't check often!

  2. Rotten luck on your garden. I'm so sorry the bugs are eating it all. I want to try potatoes myself next year. I keep seeing all these things on pintrest like grow 50 lbs of potatoes in a trash can, and I'm pretty curious about it.

    I need to finish cleaning our guest room, my in laws plan to visit in a few weeks, so that's on my list. Also taking the cars in for recalls to be done, and the eye dr for myself. I'd like to get to goodwill to check for shirts for my oldest son before giving in and getting them at target, if my youngest will cooperate!

    1. Potatoes are pretty easy if you make sure to grow them in the right location (I found that out the hard way with the potatoes I grew next to a tomato plant last year. I didn't get many because the tomato has such a huge root system the potato plant didn't have room to produce). Big thing is to make sure there is good drainage so they don't get standing water around them as too much water will give them blights. If you see a blight on the leaves early you can harvest the potatoes right away but if you leave the blight it'll travel down the stems and effect the potatoes themselves.

      I'm lucky when it comes to potatoes. They grow super well up here. Throw a sprouting potato into the ground and 99.9% of the time you can just leave the potato to it's own devices and come harvest time you'll end up with a decent amount of potatoes. It's pretty neat :).

  3. I hope you will post your Christmas gifts as you make them. I'm always looking for inspiration on gift making. Since you are making them so far in advance, you might give me some ideas that I can make for this years gifts as well.

    As for storing root veggies, I will be interested in hearing how it goes for you. I bought a big bag of carrots one year and put them in the fridge, only to have them go slimy within a month. Very disappointing! Last year I didn't take the chance. When I bought something like 10lbs of carrots while they were on super cheap, I blanched and froze them all. We at those carrots throughout the entire winter!

    My goals this month are to buy or harvest produce as they come into season and preserve them to use later. Also, my daughter goes to camp later this month, so we have to get her packed and organized for that. She's so excited to be going again this year! Other than that, I just try to go with the flow and deal with whatever comes up.

    1. I surely will share gifts as I make them. I'm still working out the details myself, but I know a bunch of gifts that I at least want to make for my own kids, so I figure if nothing else I can get started on that beforehand. With my extended family all being in financial arrears (my sister still hasn't found a job, my mom's hours got cut at her part time job and my younger sister is waiting for her hours to get cut once summer is over and my step-mom is in a mess trying to sell her house) I know we're not going to be getting anything from them this year (completely understandable) and we're going to need to pinch pennies too, so I'm thinking home made gifts are going to have to make up the majority of Christmas for my kids as well as extended family this year. I think I can make it all work, but I'm definitely going to need extra time to get it all done :).

  4. Hi Erika,

    I hope you'll post your gifts too. While you're hunting for the dorm fridge be on the lookout for Debbie Meyer Green Bags and/or Green Boxes. They are invaluable for the kind of storage you're talking about. I found some unopened packages at the thrift shop and have been hooked on them ever since. The bags store root vegetables, I would say almost indefinitely in the fridge. I know I've had beets and parsnips in them since last fall, and they're still good to go. I check them every few days to see if any moisture has accumulated and just wipe it out if it has. Not at the thrift shop the bags sell for about $5 for 12. They can be washed out and each reused about 9 times.

    My goals for the month and until fall, is to harvest,freeze and can, and dehydrate as much as possible, work on Christmas gifts, wash windows after so much rain we've had, scrupulously plan menus, make some more uncured pepperoni and summer sausage from the ground turkey supply, today's goal is to get banana bread made with the 10cents a pound bananas that I got last week and then freeze the rest. Cleaning -- I don't even want to go there (lol). I still need to somehow juggle the budget to account for the $200 a month increase in health insurance. I think this will be the biggest goal this month. Wish me luck. It's all too mind boggling. Dorothy

    1. Woah, those bags sound neat. Is that something a local store would carry or would I need to order something like that online?

      I love the "scrumptiously plan menus" description. I need to start using words like that to perk myself up when I plan menus. Instead of, say, putting down "salad" five days a week I could put, "Farm fresh summer salad" or something similar. I'm a marketing major. You'd think I'd get more into stuff like that *laugh*.

      Good luck with the 200.00 budget increase. We just got a notice that our health insurance provider is moving out of Alaska at the end of the year, so no cheap health insurance for us next year it looks like. I'm not even thinking about it until I have to at the end of the year, so I can imagine how you feel. Sorry you are having to go through that :(.

    2. I've seen them on HSN and asked the manager of one of our grocery stores if they had them and they did. The Kitchen Store here also carries them. Amazon might, but I haven't checked. They will also keep any other fruits and vegetables that you have fresh for at least 3 weeks, sometimes more. I would sometimes windup with unidentified science projects in the back of the fridge, but no more. I think they're so worth it, especially since they're reuseable and large.

      Sorry you're going to have to go through the insurance drill too. Do they have the CHIP program in Alaska for school children? One of our friends has it for their kids in West Virginia. They amount they pay per year is small compared to what they'd have to pay on the outside.

    3. Yeah my daughter is on the Alaska consistency of CHIP I think right now. My son is on Medicaid with his disability, so it's my husband and I that I have to worry about next year or goodness knows what the penalty for not having insurance will be. Depressing to be sure as I was just getting used to having some type of insurance.

  5. Hi Erica, i'm just wondering how you prepare your Swiss chard after you've frozen it or is it only good for soups. Does your family really like Swiss chard? I've never had it but I hear it's kind of bitter. And turnips. Your family will eat those? I think I'm working with some pretty picky eaters at my house. Lynn

    1. We LOVE Swiss Chard around here. When it comes to chard, I've found if you don't grow the red Swiss Chard, but instead look for the rainbow chard (it's a mix of red, yellow and white) the other colored chard is much milder and not bitter tasting (which is PROBABLY why the slugs love it so much *grumble*). Cut off the leaves from the stalk too as that helps stop it from being bitter as much as you can (the thick stalks are bad, thin stalks up near the top of the leaves are okay to cook). I blanch the chard for 2 minutes in boiling water and then put it in ice water for another 2 minutes and then just bag and freeze. I use it in any application that calls for frozen spinach. I'll add it to soups, fritatas and things and I'll use it for a side dish like you would frozen spinach (but like all home grown things it tastes MUCH better than store bought frozen spinach and things). I also use it fresh in salads as well.

      As for turnips, my husband and I LOVE them and would eat them pretty much all winter if I could find a way to preserve them when they are cheap. My daughter hates vegetables of all types, so I have to bribe/extort her to eat them by holding out dessert *laugh*. She'd like to think that ketchup is a vegetable. My son currently won't touch pretty much anything that isn't starch, so we haven't had any luck with him on the turnip from either.

      One way to prepare turnips/rutabagas that my grandfather (on my dad's side) turned me onto to is to mix mashed potatoes and mashed turnip/rutabagas. Awesome with sausages for dinner :). That man could out cook me on my best day.

  6. Thanks. I'll have to give it a try.

  7. Erika, I have a dorm-sized refrigerator with a small freezer unit in the top (has to be defrosted every three months or so) that we will be getting rid of sometime later this month. There is nothing wrong with it, except it is older and the compressor is kind of loud. :-) But it works great at the moment. We live in Palmer. Let me know if you would like it. We were just going to donate it or (boo-hoo) throw it away.

    Karen R

    1. I sure will let you know! My husband reminded me that we have a couple smaller full sized fridges we own that are in other places, so we're going to talk about what it would take to get one of them up and running when he gets back in town. If we decide it's not cost effective though, I sure will take the fridge.

      Can you e-mail me at makedohomemaker (at) gmail (dot) com so I have your e-mail/contact information? Thanks again!!!