homesteading

18 Great Things I Did, Bought or Discovered this Year

We have a little 2018 flashback for you all today, in the form of things we did or bought that we loved this year!  For the first time ever, we are also doing a joint post!!  So without further ado…

From The Peach House:

  1. Happy Not Perfect App – I downloaded this about 6 weeks ago and really love it.  It helps me to start my day with positivism and calmness and usually helps to stop a bad day in its tracks (not always but it has helped me).  It contains a few exercises, such as moderating your breathing, journal your grievances, and listing things you are grateful for.  Every day is a bit different, which helps keep it fresh.  It is a free app, however I am thinking of paying for the deluxe addition for additional content.  Anyway, I encourage you to give it a try!!
  2. Powr Charger for my car – Oh, I really love this thing (my husband does too and requested one for Christmas!).  It is a stand charger for your phone that has wireless charging functionality.  You do have to have a phone that charges wirelessly, so I guess that is key.  It has been great not to have wires all over the front seat of the car!
  3.  Ugg liners for my boots – I didn’t know this existed!  My Ugg boots are still in great shape, but the lining wasn’t soft and furry anymore.  Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t stop me from wearing them but man, the joy is back with the new liners in!!
  4.  Monthly Subscription Watercolor Box – I signed up for one of these, and have only received one so far but I really loved it!  I enjoy watercolor painting but am not great, so am hoping that these kits will help me with the technique.  I also adore the designs, so that helps!  Just a little something for me to enjoy.
  5. Cuticle oil – I started putting this on my nails every night sometime last spring and it has made my nails amazing!!!  They are stronger and any bumps I had were gone, plus they grow faster!!
  6. Eyelash Elixir – I have tried several different brands, some made my eyelashes worse, some no change, so if you want to do this, keep it in mind!  You might have to try a couple of different brands.  I have been using this one for over a year and my eyelashes look amazing.
  7. The Ring doorbell – ok last “thing” I bought…we got the Ring doorbell as a Black Friday deal and love it!  I love being able to look at the live feed to see if it is a package or a person on my doorstep.  I drive 2 of the kids to school each day, and I don’t ever see the third, so I love that the doorbell alerts me (given the time of morning I know it is him leaving).  And lastly, the sounds are from my phone and not the door, so it doesn’t drive the dogs nuts or cause them to bark!!  WINNER!
  8. Visiting Versailles – It has always been a bucket list item for me to go to Versailles in France and this year we made it!  It was so beautiful and everything I wanted it to be, even if it was early spring and not in bloom yet.  Maybe someday we can go back a little later and see it in all of its glory, but for now, I am good.
  9. Participating in Plastic Free July – I have to confess, I did terrible at Plastic free July; I really hadn’t anticipated how much plastic was everywhere on things you buy/consume/encounter.  I tried to focus on plastic straws, lids to takeout coffee, and plastic bags.  But the best thing about doing that month-long challenge was the lasting effect it has been on me AND my family.  We try to use only biodegradable straws (I bought these) or refuse them altogether, I have been bringing my own bags into the store consistently (including produce bags, which I really love!).  The kids, my daughter especially, and my husband have become so aware about it and are pretty fierce advocates for better alternatives, which makes me feel amazing!  I encourage all of you to sign up and give it a try next July.  Every little bit helps!
  10. Growing Red Beans – it just wouldn’t be a twosistersmn wrap-up without talking about the garden!!  This year was the first time I grew red beans (Lin is the master, I am just her student) and they were SO FUN and soooo easy!!!  We don’t eat a ton of red beans, so the few plants I had were perfect, but they were so satisfying to grow!!  I let them go until they died and got shriveled up and dry!  I mean, COME ON.  What is better for a busy mom than something that can literally die on the vine and is THEN ready to harvest?  Gonna branch out to other dried beans next year!!

From the Crow Homestead:

  1. The McQuackin’s!!:  We added ducks to the flock this year and love these fun little creatures!  We got them because we had a major slug problem in our garden and they find those slimy pests delicious!  We have two female and two male Khaki Campbell ducks from our local feed supply store.
  2. Pressure Canner:  We finally got a pressure canner (similar to this)  and we were finally able to can corn, green beans, stock and meat this year.  We looked for a smaller pressure canner as water is at a premium and we never have huge amounts to put up at once.  We have found it easy to use and a great addition on our path to self-sufficiency.
  3. Bringing mason jars to buy bulk goods at the Co-op: In July, Dee and I both signed on to eliminate as much single use plastic as possible.  This exercise made me fully realize the amount of plastic in my life.  As I looked around my community for plastic free options, I learned that I could bring in my own mason jars for all the rice, nuts, beans, oats, spices and peanut butter I buy.  I have been able to keep this up for the rest of the year!
  4. Starting plants from seed:  2018 was the first year I started all of the Crow homestead’s (and some of The Peach house’s, too!) seeds myself.  We used no electricity and just our southern windows and wood burning stove to give them the light and warmth they needed.  We had success with all the plants and greatly increased the varieties of vegetables we tried.
  5. Reducing my hours at work:   I continue to work to a perfect work-life balance and made some progress this year. I was able to negotiate going from 40 hours to 30 hours at my job!! I was able to maintain our health insurance, which is the most difficult thing to juggle when trying to get out of full-time work.
  6. Hunting Rabbit:  Mr. Crow has totally figured out how to get a snow shoe hare for dinner whenever one is wanted.  This has allowed us more consistent protein in our meal planning and has reduced our reliance on purchased meat.  Plus, it is absolutely delicious!
  7. Radio Lab:  This isn’t new to 2018, but it is something I really continue to love year in and year out.  The radio program (and podcast) covers scientific topics in the most engaging and thoughtful ways.  I tune in every Saturday afternoon on MPR and it is something I look forward to every week!
  8. Madd Adam trilogy by Margaret Atwood.  This dystopian, three novel series by the master of literature Margaret Atwood was amazing!! I continually find myself thinking about it months after finishing the last book.  I will admit I have a real soft spot for post apocalyptic stories…but I believe this is one of the best!!!

None of these links are affiliated or sponsored or anything, FYI.  And leave us a comment and let us know if there is something you tried this year and loved, or if you give one of our loves a try!!

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