In many parts of the country there are certain seeds that need to be started ahead of time due to shorter growing seasons. Seeds such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplants must be started inside; they cannot be directly sowed into your garden. Starting seeds indoors is not a complicated process and for the most part no special equipment is needed.starting seeds indoors If you have a sunny window or simple grow light that is sufficient. My first grow light was a shop light that I put special bulbs in. Later I inherited a wonderful grow light from my mother. My husband made a special table out of plywood to support the lights and the growing seeds. For me a sure sign of spring was starting seeds indoors!starting seeds Indoors

 

The first step is to set up your growing area. You also want to keep track of the seeds you’ve started, the date you’ve started them and write down the progress. This will help you in future years. There are several sources online to help you keep track. Little House in the Suburb has a wonderful little booklet that you can download. By determining your last day of frost you work backwards to determine when you should start your seeds.starting seeds Indoors

 

The second step is to set up your containers to start your seeds in. Anything works from eggshells to gardening containers! I have plastic containers that I re-use each year. You also want to have a suitable growing medium, you can make your own potting soil or buy a commercial seed starting mix.starting seeds Indoors

 

One rule of thumb is to plant the seeds 2-3 times as deep as the seed is wide. Leek and onion seeds are rather small and are pretty much sprinkled on the top of the soil.

 

Use only the best seeds. Old seeds or seeds that have not been stored properly may not germinate. If you have time do a seed germination test to determine the viability of your seeds. Check my video on the seed viability test I did on some pepper and tomato seeds.

 

Once my seeds are planted I make sure the soil is moist. One way to do this is to fill a plastic bin with water and float the pot in it until the surface is damp. I then label each container with the date and the name of the plant.starting seeds Indoors This will help me keep track of how many days it took the seeds to germinate and will also help me when it comes time to plant the vegetable plants in the garden. I may be able to tell leeks from broccoli but it is very important to keep track of the variety of peppers and tomatoes.

Cover the seeds with a plastic or glass cover to create a mini greenhouse. I use recycled lettuce containers, I save them year to year and they make a great little greenhouse!starting seeds IndoorsYou need to keep the seeds warm; a heating pad may be necessary. You do not need a grow light until the seeds sprout. Once you see the first seeds sprouting remove the cover and place under your grow light. Keep a close eye on the seedlings, as you don’t want them to dry out. Eventually you may need to transplant them into larger pots before they are ready to be planted outside.starting seeds Indoors

Starting seeds indoors is always a good feeling. It’s a sure sign of spring and lets me know that it won’t be too long before I’ll be able to be outside working in the garden!

My first goal was to update my goal list each week.  I have to say having a post on goal setting has helped me to stay focused on what goals I want to accomplish this year.

The biggest drawback is to remind myself that I have the whole year to work on accomplishing these goals. Hopefully you, my faithful readers will remember this as well and not get tired of reading about my progress! I tend to get a little stressed when I realize just how fast the year is flying by. However, I am making progress!goal-setting 10

 

  1. Find a new hosting site for my blog and make the site secure. Done!! So excited after all this time I finally have a secure website! Currently we are doing a little tweaking of the site behind the scenes. Next step is to work on monetizing the site.
  2. Monetize my blog.  Still on my to do list. Time to put this goal on the forefront! It would be nice to have some money coming in instead of going out. No progress yet on this goal.
  3. Create a cookbook! One step at a time, get the blog running smoothly, increase readership and then I’ll be working on the cookbook!
  4. Be diligent about getting 10 K steps in 5 out of 7 days each week. For the last ten days we have been in Colorado on a business trip. Part of the time there was taking part in movement classes. Didn’t get 10K steps in but I did work out while there. Arrived home to find that a lot of our snow has melted and the roads are very muddy. It won’t be long before I’ll be able to get out walking on a more consistent basis.
  5. As we continue to prepare for an eventual house sale we continue to de-clutter. Get rid of at least 250 items from the house this year!  200 items to go! This week I attacked my sewing supplies. I inherited many sewing items from my husband’s grandmother and from my mother. I tend to hang on to everything thinking I might be able to use it someday. Now that I think of having to move everything I am being little more discerning. I also have a book to go to the library!goal setting
  6. Read more  25 books this year! A nice thing about being away is that I tend to read more! I had four hours on the plane and then any downtime during the week I would read. Managed to finish two books last week. My favorite was Beneath a Scarlet Sky. Takes place in Italy during WW II and is based on a true story. Good read and could not put it down! The second book I finished was The Girl On The Train. This is a psychological thriller and a real page turner! Still keeping track of the books I’ve read on Good Reads, what a wonderful app. I can keep track of all the books I have read, the books I want to read and the books I am reading. I listed on the app that I want to read 25 books this year, 18 to go! Beginning to think my goal here should have been a few more books!goal setting
  7. Have a consistent meal plan each week and prepare ahead! Home again and back to our daily routine which includes meal planning. Trying to eat light and make healthy choices! Meals this week included this delicious Baked Egg with Roasted Vegetables!goal-setting
  8. Finish 4 3 knitting projects.  First project completed, second project started. I mentioned that I had my knitting with me while we were away. Managed to get the scarf almost finished! Still a little ways to go.goal setting
  9. Clean out our freezer. Our freezer is actually beginning to look quite empty. We have used up all the soup I had frozen. Still need to eat the last of the cinnamon rolls! Notice the pizza sauce standing upright in baggies? I think we have some homemade pizza in our future!goal setting
  10. Take a few road trips and visit family and friends on the east coast that we will not see so often once we make a move to the west coast. We came up with a list of three people that we would like to visit while we’re still living on the east coast. Now to take a hard look at the calendar and plan these trips. Contacted our friends in North Carolina this week. I foresee a road trip in our future!

 

So we’re now into April and I’m continuing to think about my goals every week. I think having them on paper and reviewing them each week is really helpful! This might be the first year I actually complete the majority if not all of my goals!

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Exploring Colorado

 

Glenwood Spring, Colorado

 

Last week we were in Glenwood Springs, CO for a business trip. While we didn’t get to explore all of Colorado we did get to explore the small town of Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, and we spent an afternoon walking around Aspen. The majority of our focus during the week was helping a friend get their website launched for their business but we also got to do a little bit of exploring Colorado.exploring Colorado

 

Glenwood Springs is about three hours west of Denver. We arrived late at night so we didn’t really have a chance to view the scenery. The next morning when we woke up I realized just how remote we were! The elevation was almost 9000 feet, quite a bit higher than he 1000 feet we experience in Vermont.

 

Gazing out the window in the kitchen you look over at Sopris Mountain, it was a view I never tired of all week.exploring Colorado

 

We also spent several days enjoying the Iron Mountain Hot Springs. There were numerous pools all at varying temperatures. You could move from one pool to the next depending on how hot you wanted the water. They also had a large pool where you could swim if you wanted. The water felt so good.exploring Colorado

 

Carbondale, Colorado

 

Carbondale was another town that we enjoyed exploring. It is a small town with numerous little shops. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast at one coffee shop called Bonfire Coffee. They make a delicious cup of coffee and an awesome breakfast sandwich! Great breakfast spot.exploring Colorado

 

I was amazed at all the artwork everywhere. Even the trashcans were brightly painted!exploring Colorado Another thing that impressed me was that the coffee shop had cans for both compost and recycling. Carbondale is a fun town to walk around and such colorful architecture.exploring Colorado

 

Aspen, Colorado

 

Aspen was about a 45-minute drive from Glenwood Springs. The ski season is pretty much over but you still saw folks with their skis. There were even skis leaning against the restaurant called The White House, where we went to for lunch! Aspen is definitely a ski town.exploring Colorado Such fun poking in the various antique shops and art galleries.exploring Colorado

 

While we didn’t spend a lot of time exploring Colorado it was the best business trip I’d ever been on! In fact I can’t wait to go back and spend more time exploring Colorado!exploring Colorado

At first glance this may seem like just another macaroni and hamburger casserole. Not so! This Poverty Casserole recipe is good enough for company. The ingredients may start out like a normal casserole, but with the addition of sun dried tomatoes and a little cream this casserole becomes something special! This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Cold Weather Cooking. The story is that Sarah Leah Chase developed this recipe as an attempt to make a quick and humble supper of hamburg and macaroni. Like I’ve said before I’ve never made a recipe from this book that wasn’t absolutely delicious! This recipe makes 4-6 servings.poverty casserole

 

Poverty Casserole or Fancy Baked Hamburg and Macaroni Casserole

 

 

Ingredients:

 

3 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound lean ground beef

8 whole sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained and minced

1 can (28oz) crushed tomatoes in puree

2 Tbsp. Oregano

2 tsp. Dried marjoram

Salt and pepper to taste

1 box (16oz) ziti

2 large eggs

2/3 cup heavy or whipping cream

2 cups shredded mozzarella

3 Tbsp. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

 

Directions:

 

Before getting started preheat your oven to 350. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for five minutes. Stir in the ground beef and cook until it looses it’s pink color. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and seasonings. Let the mixture simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

 

Meanwhile cook the ziti in a large pot of salted water until al dente, and drain.

 

Whisk the eggs and cream together in the bottom of a 3 quart Dutch oven or other ovenproof casserole. Quickly toss the drained ziti with the eggs and cream. Add the meat mixture and stir to combine thoroughly. Fold in 1 ½ cups of the mozzarella. Top the pasta mixture with the remaining ½ cup mozzarella and the Parmesan.Poverty Casserole

 

Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the casserole in bubbling. Serve at once with a salad and some bread.Poverty Casserole Once you try this Poverty Casserole you may never go bake to the basic recipe for hamburger and noodles again. The addition of the sun dried tomatoes gives this dish a wonderful flavor. Enjoy!Poverty Casserole


Welcome to the Simple Homestead Blog Hop!

 

We’re so glad you’ve stopped by for a visit! Every week we get together here for another hop and I hope you’ll join us. The Hop runs from Thursday morning to Sunday evening. Have fun exploring all the great ideas that have been shared, and add your homesteading, homemaking and homeschooling posts with us if you’re a blogger. I’m sure you’ll be blessed and inspired by all these great ideas!

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Each week we’ll feature the most-viewed post from last week’s hop. Each host also features her own picks from the posts linked the previous week. Visit each of our blogs to see if you were featured this week.

This week’s featured post:
Homemade Graham Crackers

 

Our most-visited post from last week’s hop:
He Couldn’t Take It

 

 

 

Please stop by to congratulate the featured bloggers this week.

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Nancy On The Home Front

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Do you have a vegetable garden each year? It’s a great way to enjoy fresh produce and save money.seed starting mixture Another way to save yourself some money is to make your own DIY seed starting mix. The materials you use are easily purchased at your local garden center. These mixtures for making your own seed starting mix must be sterile.seed starting mixture

 

Your soil mixture must be firm and dense enough to hold cuttings or seedlings in place during rooting or germination. You also want the soil to be of a consistency that will not alter drastically either wet or dry, since this could cause root damage. The soil must be porous enough to drain properly yet retain enough moisture so that you are not constantly watering.

 

You can purchase large bags of pre-mixed soil especially designed for seed germination. You can also easily make your own DIY Seed Starting Mix. The mixture I use each year works well for me, as you experiment with various components you will discover what works best for you.Top soil, Peat moss, gardening

 

DIY Seed Starting Mix

 

1 part sterilized garden loam or topsoil
1 part coarse sand or perlite
1 part peat moss

Pearlite is used to increase aeration in a mixture. It is derived from a type of volcanic rock and is processed into light, porous, sterile particles that hold many times their own weight in water.seed starting mixture

Sand is used to add body and drainage to a soil medium, and is also excellent when used alone for root cuttings.

Peat moss is used in heavy mixtures to lighten and increaser porosity; it is derived from partly decomposed aquatic plants.seed starting mixture

Now that you have mixed up your own seed starting mix you are ready to begin planting those seeds, which must be started early. Some plants like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, onions and leeks need time to grown and establish themselves before they can be planted directly into the garden. I always enjoying mixing up my potting soil and starting seeds inside. It’s a sure sign that spring is coming!starting seeds Indoors

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