Handwriting Without Tears is – hands down – my favorite handwriting curriculum for little people. It’s a manuscript-style (as opposed to cursive) program that specializes in reducing all pen strokes to two basic shapes: straight lines and curves. I find this reductionist approach simplifies handwriting for little learners and makes it approachable.
If you want to read more about the HWT philosophy – which really is extremely well thought out and quite excellent – see their website. I love that the program is simple, easy to understand, approachable, consistent, affordable, and FUN. Continue reading
I get asked all the time: “Is the Instant Pot worth it?”
To which, I respond with a resounding YES!
I happily gave away my slow cooker for the Instant Pot and haven’t regretted it for one minute. After all, look at everything the Instant Pot can do: Continue reading
You remember that game called Desert Island? (You know — the one where you pretend you’re stranded and can only take three things with you?) I detest playing that game (and not because I think it is a waste of time). Rather, it’s unrealistic. The point of the game is to name your three most precious items you couldn’t live without. But let’s be real: if I’m on a desert island, the last thing I’m really going to want is some precious memento. Give me a knife, a field guide to non-poisonous plants, and Robinson Crusoe to help keep me alive!
But I have given great thought to my book collection. When we recently sold our house, I packed away 90% of our book collection. There were only a few books that got to stay out for 6 months. Which made me think: if I lost all of our books in the move (or worse, we had a fire), what would be the first 6 books I would immediately purchase again? Continue reading
“Women make do.” That’s what we do and the garden is no exception. When something does not work, we make it work because at the end of the day, things need to get done. As ladies have twisted, pulled, pushed, and toiled in the soil over the centuries, we have done so largely with the aid of tools designed for men.
Over the last few years, we have been given some fantastic farm related gifts and have tried out dozens of products. There are more and more companies making things specifically for hard working women (including work clothing!). Continue reading
It wasn’t long after purchasing my Instant Pot that I became interested in accessories. Yes, that’s right. Your Instant Pot can have accessories.
If you’re around the Instant Pot Facebook group much, you’ll see people raving about their accessories. There are certainly a lot of specialty items and doo-dads you can purchase to make cooking in your Instant Pot even more exciting.
People ask me all the time – which accessories should I get?? But here’s where I struggle. At heart, I’m a kitchen minimalist. I don’t want to just buy stuff to have stuff. So I’m going to present these accessories in order of ranking: Absolutely Necessary (because there are some that simply are!), Really Helpful To Have, and Fun If You Have The Extra Money. Continue reading
I never thought I would say this but I have a love affair with overalls, specifically my Rosies. I wear my Rosies so much that I had to buy a second pair for when my primary pair are in the wash.
They are the most functional pair of clothing I own and I recommend them to everyone. If you are a back yard gardener or a full time woman farmer you need to own a pair (or three!) of these overalls.
But don’t take my word for it. There’s good reason why Rosies are amazing. Continue reading
Weeding the garden is not something I would say we enjoy doing. We spread wood chips in the garden for a number of reasons, but one of the most important is weed control. The wood chips make it easier to pull the weeds up, but it is backbreaking and dirty work.
This year we wanted to try something different. The way we have been weeding the garden requires pulling up the weed and as much of the root as possible. This is slow and causes two problems in the garden. The first problem is the piles of weeds that end up laying in the rows and the second are the holes where the weeds use to be. This fall we decided to skip weeding by hand and try using a flame weeder.
We ordered a Red Dragon Flame Weeder from Amazon. The flame weeder is not much more than a valve with a pipe. The weeder comes completely disassembled and required about fifteen minutes to put together. The parts are sturdy and the fittings are all brass. The kit came with everything needed to assemble the weeder including a small pouch of liquid pipe sealant for sealing all the connections. All you need is a wrench or two to put it all together.
The weeder went together really easily. It comes with a good length hose and connects to any standard propane tank. The theory behind a flame weeder is not to burn the weeds to the ground, but to cook them just enough that the leaves can no longer perform photosynthesis. I will admit going all scorched earth on the weeds growing in the cracks of the driveway was overly satisfying. Heating concrete can be dangerous so do it at your own risk. The theory with a flame weeder is once you cook the leaves the plant cannot feed itself and will wither and die. Multiple applications could be needed to kill the tougher weeds.
The final hurdle is lugging around the propane tank. They make a backpack so you can wear it, but we did not really feel comfortable with that. Our solution was simple and free. We simply sat the tank on our two-wheeled dolly and strapped it down with a bungee cord. This works fine for the time being. The hose is long enough that you can weed a good sized area before having to move the tank. I don’t know why but I just feel better with the tank a few feet away instead of strapped to my back.
Our final opinion of the Red Dragon Flame Weeder is very positive. It is easy to light, it even comes with a lighter, and easy to use. We have used this weeder a few times over the past few weeks and it works great. I can see flame weeding becoming less of a chore and more of a break from other tasks. Not to mention I see this being a great way to get a younger generation to help in the garden, once the kids are old enough . I see a time where the boys argue about who gets to use the flamethrower!
Please remember to read all instructions and warnings provided by the manufacturer and follow them accordingly.
Evil prickly weed around the garden well. Now they are all dead and returning their nutrients to the soil.
After the failure that was the “rugged” wear gloves from a few weeks ago, we found another type of glove to review. These look more like what we are used to and like.
We are fans of leather gloves because they wear well and last a long time. During our last trip to Costco we found a three pack of Wells Lamont leather work gloves. Normally a good pair of leather work gloves costs more than $15. Finding a three pack for less than $30 was very exciting. Doing the math that is less than $10 per pair of gloves not to mention we now have enough pairs to put one in the car, one in the barn, and one in the garage. No more running around the property looking for my “good” gloves.
To be fair, we did perform the same tasks as we did with the rugged wear gloves. The big difference we put in three times as many posts and moved a lot more fence. It is not fair to even compare these two pairs of gloves. The Wells Lamont gloves are hands down a better product. The single pair that was pulled out of the package has been in constant use for the past two weeks and they are just not showing any wear.
At less than $10 per pair, these are definitely the way to go if you need affordable gloves for the homestead. Wells Lamont offers these gloves in multiple sizes from medium to extra large. They even have a useful outlined hand diagram on the back of the package to help determine what size will fit you best. I will be buying gloves from Wells Lamont from now on. Another bonus you can order these gloves through Amazon, so there is not even a need to go to the store to get them.
This past weekend we had a perfect opportunity to review some work gloves. On the homestead, we often wear gloves during chores. This past weekend Clint was setting fence posts for the new chicken area, and setting up some cattle panels to keep pesky ducks our of the garden.
While at Menards we picked up a pair of Rugged Wear Grain Pigskin gloves. At $4.99 the price was right for a light weight pair of gloves. They appeared to be breathable leather palmed gloves. Normally items we get from Menards are great, but these have to be the worst leather gloves I have ever used. We prefer deerskin gloves and have been using them for years, these are usually $15 a pair. In my opinion leather gloves just work better. They form to your hands and typically last a long time, but they do not always breathe well.
Menards carries an entire line of Rugged Wear gloves. The style we bought were mechanic style gloves. We have used this type of gloves before, but the fingers and palm always wear out fast. We had hoped that the leather palm on a mechanic style glove would fix both the breathing and durability problems. These Rugged Wear gloves from Menards did not last 6 hours. The palms both had developed holes before the day was over.
The description for these gloves labels them as heavy-duty, in our opinion simple hand tools do not qualify as heavy-duty tasks. We would rate these as worthless unless your heavy duty tasks include making beds or folding laundry. Those are the only heavy-duty tasks these gloves are suited for.