Sunday, December 4, 2016

Favorite Things Episode

I heard on the radio an advertistment that Oprah had just relased her yearly list of "favorite things." Since "O" and I live let's say a bit differently it caused me to pause and think what would be on my list?

Of course 1st I'd take the stage and proclaime it's "my favvvooorrrittteee things!" ( you know you just read that in Oprah's voice!
 Grown women would jump until they were winded... then they would weap for joy.. Finally with limited commercial interuptions I'd present my items!

1. Hats knitted by a Mom Mom.
 My Grandmother's are all resting peacefully in heaven, but every local craft fair I find the Mom Mom stand. You know the one with the Mom Mom with the adorable crochet everything. I usually just open my wallet, dump it on her table and say please fill my bag!
So handmade woooollll haaattssss everyone!

2. Diffuser Necklaces
 This cutie is from Kilnfired Diffusers. Check out their Etsy shop. This beauty allows me to diffuse my oils even when on the go. Which with a 1 and 3 year old is pretty much constantly!  So you get a diffuser and you get a diffuser everybody gets a diffuser!

3. A Chicken
 Ok so people might say they are only getting "a few" that translates to 8! I prefer a mixed flock for my own entertainment oh and let's get some ducks too! I mean if you can't be happy in a chicken pen, the we can't be friends. So bring out the chiiiiiickennnss!

4. Popcorn
 If you know my Vaughan lineage you know that popcorn is a major food group. We LOVE red popcorn best, but any ANY popcorn will do! So everyone is going home with Popcorn!!!!

5. Canning Jars
 Have I dug canning jars out of trash cans in strangers homes... yes... yes I have! Canning jars are essential in our life. Here's half of my $1 score from a local estate auction. So 12 canning jars for everyome!

6. A Milk Jug
 We drink raw milk at 2950. We have an ample supply courtesy of Foo Fa and his lovely dairy herd. (No raw milk debating with me folks. It's superb , I know the source, and I'd eat in that barn before I'd eat in some people's kitchens!)
So everyone's getting a gallon of raw milk in their own J-U-GGG

7. Bread Machine
 I don't like "one trick ponies" so an appliance has to be versitle. You can do SO much with a bread machine! I grabbed this guy $10 at the Gucci Goodwill (we gave a goodwill in an affluent area that has killer stuff)
So a bread machine is yours!

8. A Woodstove
 Our woodstove is our religion from October thru April. We worship it daily and spend our weekend cutting wood to stay in it's good grace. It dries our laundry, cooks our food, makes the coffee, and heats the house!  You're getting a WOODSTOVE!

9. Tomatoes
 If you have to can 1 thing that will change your life... can tomatoes!  You don't need a pressure canner and they are incredibly versatile for cooking! So everyone is getting 250lbs of canning tomatoes!

10. A Tula
A Tula! Where do I even begin! LBR is my snuggle bug. I love being close with my ladies and having them with me whether it's the Appalachian Trail, our garden, or the grocery store! Tula has a kinda cult following, but if you get one you'll drink the kool-aid!  So you get a Tula everyone gets a Tula!


I am a momma who is blessed beyond just the material! But... these things are my favorite things I would recommend to anyone who is considering a more simple and joy filled life!

And now back to your regularly scheduled program!

In love & light & woodstove warmth,
♡AVR 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Greenhouse Volume 1

 Back in the early spring the Homestead Engineer set up a little greenhouse I found on sale at Harbor Freight for $200! We started a few little things, but since we got started late we didn't see much of an impact of having the house YET!

I've decided to give a fall garden a try in there. We are treating it like a big old cold frame. In the small pots we have a spattering of kale, salad greens, and spinach. The big feed tub I loaded up with compost ( my 1st year making compost and 1st time using it!!!) to aid in heating, and planted beets, turnips, and carrots.

It was a ton of fun to wade through the attic of our local hardware store to find seeds. So lesson learned I'll buy some extra next spring to put up for my fall garden.

I'm curious to find ways to help keep it warmer there. My dad once made a cold frame with beer bottles of water so I took that idea and went a step farther.
 At our local discount grocery they had salt 15 lbs for a dollar. Thanfully my friends and neighbors entertain me by collecting random crap when I put out an APB and these jugs were kindly brought over by a friend.

 I did some interwebbing and found 1/2 lb of salt per gallon of water should prevent my jugs from freezing and busting.
 With RKR'S help we painted the wall side black. What I read said to leave the inside clear for better heat transfer.
Then... we "installed" the jugs. Our temperature here was around 45 today tonight 4 hours after sundown the house was still in the 40s.

My ultimate greenhouse goal is fresh tomatoes on Christmas, but I'm loving the fact that even though we've had blustery days and even some snow I can seek refuge in 80 degrees in the greenhouse.

In love and light (because it heats me greenhouse)
~AVR

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Island

Any get together with Nate's family usually includes a story "remember that one year at Assateague." I knew the draw the island had on him way back at the beginning of it all.
Our first trip for him back to the island was full of feelings. Reminiscing of childhood adventures with his cousin his best bud who left this world to soon. It was early in our realtionship and life was taking some turns where we had a choice to face them together or alone. This was a trip that was emotionally exhausting but needed to be. We left I remember him saying "I can't wait to bring my kids here someday."
For his 30th birthday I planned another trip to the island. With a growing baby belly the good times were ahead and I always loved this picture where the island and Nate found each other again in a new beginning with our little family.
Now camping at Assateague is not for the faint of heart. It's primitive camping and....
But this trip was worth every mosquito attack to see the pure joy on Nate's face to be back on the island starting all over again.
With his own tribe on the island and to say the ladies are island babies is an understatement!  They were immune to bugs just like daddy and squealed with delight at every chance to see the ocean or bike ride!
So if you'll excuse me I'm off to continue picking sand out of all my personals and doing scads of laundry and enjoying indoor plumbing!

From our island to yours!
Much Love, 
AVR 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Oh for the love of... Laundry...



I am a granddaughter of the depression. A true mix of Chuck and Beth Vaughan a frugal engineer and an eccentric artist. Grandpa could calculate to the bean the best value for a can of kidney beans.
I carry on this trait as I often waive crowds by as I stand with my calculator in the grocery store.

So there has been a lot of chatter about making your own laundry soap. A friend  was recently shocked to learn I don't make my own... I gave it a whirl a few years back and hated it! It was snot like, required an afternoon to prep, and left clothes smelling sour sometimes and was just to inconsistent.

But it's cheaper you say... oh my friend... get your calculator ready!!!

If you follow the most popular version of the homeade laundry soap recipe found on Google it equates to roughly 7 to 9 cents per load. Let's also factor into this the gathering of pots, buckets, cheese grader, etc. To make it and roughly an hour prep and clean up.

So... I head once a month to a local close out grocery store. I picked this beauty up. At its markdown price it equates to 5 cent per load and it is a consistent product I know gets the crap off my crap. 

Because let's face it... it's way more fun to spend an afternoon making dirty laundry!

Yours in Frugality, 
AVR


Sunday, May 8, 2016

This Old House



This old house has been my home for all of my "adult" years. I moved here right after college at the wise age of 22. My RKR was the 1st baby to the house in 92 years!
The L. F. WRIGHT FAMILY
Old farm houses are mystical creatures. Built before a thought of electric or running water. In fact 2950 didn't go on the grid until 1950 becasue the Wright Family simply "didn't need it." A battery powered radio kept them in touch with the world and that suited them just fine.



I love being self sufficient growing tomatoes, foraging for black berries, and switching on the light in the bathroom to take a long hot bath after.


This old house has had an antiquated well system that has been the bain of my existence since coming here. I fondly called it "the pit of despair " We had to pump tons of electric into it to keep it heated all winter, shoo the rogue  heifer off it's roof, and convince the groundhogs it wasn't a time share vacation rental. That all changed yesterday!


After many years we finally hooked a new well to the house! When you embrace homestead ideologies one of the best assets is a supply of amazing friends who are skilled tradesman at the ready in any time of need! We made plans with a friend who is an electrician, bartered to borrow a neighbors backhoe,  and called in a favor to our mule man who also happens to be the best damned well guy around!

For the 1st time in memory  I did a load of wash AND took a shower... a feat never before attainabledue to poor water preassure and a requires recovery time to build back pressure.

It's a happy day indead as I enjoy a long draw of sweet water aftet our first sunshine in days!

These 1st few days we'll have to be vigilant as our pipe system is "talking" a bit with creaks and pops as it adjusts to the new flow of water, but this homestead momma is sure pleased!

Until Next Time,
~AVR


Monday, September 7, 2015

Party of 4

The trailer will soon be headed home from State Fair, I'm back teaching year 10!, the fall asters have started to bud, and in the distance you can hear the whine of a chopper as corn comes off.
Summer came and went in a hurry!
Yet, I couldn't be happier to see this fall.

RKR will turn 2! And..any day now we will welcome LBR to our family! It's a surreal, terrifying, and completely magical feeling to wake each morning and wonder if today will be the day we become a party of 4!

Until then we are lesson planning, meal prepping,  wood stacking, room cleaning, and sometimes resting; )

Reservation for Roland... party of 4...

♡AVR...and by proxy LBR

Monday, November 24, 2014

Winter Weather Advisory= Time to Start a Garden

The National Weather Service in Sterling Virginia.... 
Has issued a ***Winter Weather Advisory***....

QUICK... 
Your probably thinking get the toilet paper... get the milk... 
Here at the Homestead we say QUICK Plant a garden....


Mom called this afternoon insisting she needed Ruthie's "help" to make some Thanksgiving Treats... So I jumped at the chance to work in the garden a bit before we get up to 5 inches of snow later this week. With 70 degree temperatures here in Maryland today, I jumped at the chance to get my cold frames up and running  as this may be the last glimpse of growing weather I see for the foreseeable future...



A cold frame is super simple and any homeowner can quickly build one.Dad built some for mom in their lean times their 1st few years of marriage so I wanted to give it a shot myself. I bartered with Dad that I would do the Wright Farm chores tonight if I could borrow the truck, have those old windows in the shed, and 5 bales of straw....

There is something special about a rickety old farm truck... the scratched CD on repeat in the radio tells me Kelly was at the wheel not long before me, and I am always in awe of the myriad of varmint slaying  objects, animal health supplies, and the fact that you always come out of that truck dirtier than when you got in it...



Snug against the foundation of our 1890's farm house I took old storm windows and put them over a "frame" made from straw bales. The straw acts as insulated walls,  holding in the warm sun that the old windows let through.It's that simple... I then rescued the last of my standing herb plants a sage, and a parsley and moved them to their winter abode, scratched the dirt a bit and planted some lettuce and some spinach. This is on the sunny side of the house so it will stay nice and toasty when that warm sun hits it for the better part of the day, and if all is right in a few weeks I'll have fresh table greens!

The last of the Sage I harvested next to the wood stove onto my vintage drying rack Nate got me at a yard sale for my birthday. I so love that he knows  that I'm all about the practical and that yard sale gifts fit perfectly into our budget :) Sage is an essential ingredient in our deer meat we grind each year so this will all get put to good use come deer season. More on that later...

As for me...
I've moved to a warmer climate inside my cold frames.... come get me in the spring...

With love and sage,

AVR