What to do with your #Free #non-GMO #Seeds

Free non-GMO seeds

My Free non-GMO Seeds from Sow True Seeds

By now most of you should have your free non-GMO seeds from Groundswell International. If you have not signed up yet then be sure to head over and get them while you can!

Everybody who signed up to receive the free non-GMO seeds from Sow True Seed will receive either Buttercrunch Lettuce, Red Russian Kale, or Organic Marketmore Cucumber (that is the one I received). Groundswell said they purposely chose seeds that can be easily grown in containers so those of you who are in apartments or have small yards will not be left out!

The blog at Groundswell posted some great instructions on how to get started. It is a good step by step post with lots of pictures! The main thing to remember is to read the instructions on the package that you receive. All seeds have different requirements as far as depth and spacing goes. Here is a quick synopsis of the steps (but be sure to head over to the Groundswell blog to see the details and pictures):

  1. Read the instructions
  2. Place the seeds in the soil
  3. Water your seeds
  4. Find a place with good sunlight

Sprouting should occur in 3-17 days and you should have veggies in about 2 months.

Remember to take pictures! I can't wait to see all the wonderful plants. The picture used in this post is the package of seeds I received and I hope to update you with a picture of some wonderful cucumbers! Pinterest is a great place to show off the photos of your own plants, hope to see you there soon!

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#Legoland California #Trip with a #Review!

family in San Diego

At the Beach at San Diego

Well, sorry for the slight delay in this weeks posts!  I am running two days behind schedule because we took an impromptu family trip to Legoland California!

My sister in law had four free Legoland tickets, which meant that we only would have to purchase one. We were planning on going April 23rd and 24th, but she called late Monday night to tell us that Legoland was going to be closed those days. Since my husband has Tuesday/Wednesday weekends we had to go in the middle of the week. The tickets expired at the end of the month. That left one day… the next one!

I packed the car and we left at 2AM. We pulled into San Diego at just after 8AM and we spent seven hours at Legoland California. The next day we went to the beach and then we made the drive back to Marana.

Sometimes family life is unscripted.

As for Legoland itself, I thought I would post a review for those of you considering going.

Legoland vs Legoland Discovery Center

There are two Legoland locations in the United States (California and Florida). There are five Legoland Discovery Center's in the United States (Chicago, Kansas City, Atlanta, Dallas Fort Worth, and Westchester). This is a review of Legoland California. I have heard great things about the Legoland Discovery Center and I hope to go to one someday, but I have NOT been to one yet!

Cost of Legoland California

You can get hopper tickets (so you can see Sea Life and the Water park as well as Legoland), but we found we did not have time to use them! Seven hours was not near long enough to see the entire Legoland park, so the extra fee on the hopper tickets was wasted. If you go more than one day then you are better off purchasing a yearly pass (which is paid for in less than two visits). The cost for a Legoland California ONLY pass is as follows:

  • Children (3-12) – $68 (membership $99)
  • Adults (12+) – $78 (membership $129)

The cost for a hopper ticket is as follows:

  • Children (3-12) – $87 (membership $149)
  • Adults (12+) – $97 (membership $179)

A Legoland California trip for a family of four (two adults and two children 3-12) costs:

  • $307 + tax for one day at legoland (includes a $15 parking fee)
  • $456 + tax for a one-year membership to Legoland (add $15/day for parking)
  • $383 + tax for one day “hopper” pass for Legoland, Sea Life, and the water park (I don't recommend this, there is too much to see at the Legoland park to bother trying to go to the other two locations in one day)
  • $656 + tax for a one year “hopper” membership (includes a few other locations not in California and includes free parking)

The Good (about Legoland Califonia)

  • The Lego models are really neat! We took the boat tour and most of the models in that area alone had 100,000 Legos or more in each. Some of the models moved.
  • Squashed penny lovers will be happy to know that there are three machines in Legoland. It makes a great souvenir for kids.
  • The Coastersaurus was mild enough for a younger child (my three year old enjoyed it) and The Dragon was their favorite.
  • They have some AMAZING play areas throughout the park. If you have an annual pass then this would be a great place to go. I'm not sure about spending $300 to go to the play areas alone, but if I was closer I would consider getting the annual membership so we could just show up and enjoy the play areas all day.
  • Pirate Town is a water park within Legoland. You will get soaked and it is included in a general Legoland admission price.

The Bad (about Legoland California)

  • The shops are not “affiliated with Lego” according to a retail worker. They are souvenir shops and so you cannot get lego VIP points when purchasing Legos from them. The Lego sets are the same price as the Lego store so I wouldn't plan on actually purchasing Legos at the park if you are a VIP member.
  • There is a timeshare set-up right at the entrance with a Lego model of the new hotel that they are planning on building. The model is really neat, but they want you to sign up for a timeshare presentation. If you sign up you will have to come back for a 3 day stay (you will pay for that part) and they will give you free childcare during the timeshare presentation and a $100 Legoland gift card (at the time that you come back). Honestly, I thought it was tacky to have it right at the entrance and the kids are drawn to the model made out of Legos.
  • The lines were not long, but the waits were. Loading and unloading cars is a process that would take about 20 seconds at Worlds of Fun or Disneyland, but the employees at Legoland were not as good with time management and it was taking 2-3 minutes per group. They chit-chatted with each other and slooooowly walked to let people off and on the rides. If they had a smaller group they would not ask others in the line if they could fill the car. We went on quite a few rides that were only half full because we had a group of 2 and they could fit 4-6 in each car (2 to a row). It would have made more sense to put another group of 2-4 in the row behind us. This was happening on rides that had a 30-60 minute wait time (which is a very long time for the age group they cater to).

The Ugly (about Legoland California)

  • The models were neat, but were faded and many were in disrepair. Many had things that were supposed to move and they no longer worked. Miniland had a sign saying they donated coins that were thrown in the water to local charities, but it appeared as though they were never collected (there were coins that had oxidized to the bottom of some of the boats, which would take a very long time – some coins were no longer even recognizable). Many times we would push a button and nothing would happen. I did not see anybody picking up trash, tending to the grounds, or even cleaning tables (we had to clean our own to eat). Although, there were at least 3-4 employees per area walking around selling photos.

Overall

I wanted to love it. My kids are obsessed with Legos and we have been planning to go for a while now. But… it just was not what either of us thought. If we were close we would definitely get a year membership so we could utilize the play areas, but as far as a family vacation, we were not thrilled.

My best comparisons are with Worlds of Fun (Kansas City) where a family of four would cost $176 instead of $307. Planet Snoopy (in Worlds of Fun) had a lot of fun kids rides that never had a long wait. The rides were comparable and the kids enjoyed it.

Disneyland would cost a family of four $336 instead of $307 and they do a much better job immersing the kids into a “different world” and it feels clean and kept up.

There were a lot of things that we just couldn't see in 7 hours so we may have missed something amazing. Have you gone to Legoland California? What did you think?

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Bread Making Tips (For Homemade Bread)

I wish I had these bread making tips when I started making homemade bread! Found at www.PintSizeFarm.com

Baking Homemade Bread is Easy!

Baking homemade bread is one of my favorite “chores”. Once you get used to using homemade bread making for your sandwiches, you won't be able to stand the store bought sliced loaves anymore! Not only is it better tasting, you also know exactly what goes into it.

I started my jump into using only fresh bread by purchasing it from Deli's. It tastes wonderful, but the cost does add up. Making homemade bread saves a lot of money. Baking homemade bread at home is actually pretty easy! Here are a few bread baking tips:

Bread Making Tip 1: Get a Bread Machine

I love my bread machine! You do not need one, but it does make things fast. The extra time spent making bread is in the kneading and rising steps. With a bread machine, you can skip that.  Well, you aren't really skipping it, but the machine will time how long it takes to rise and knead the dough for you. It can make bread making a lot easier. In fact, if you are making rolls or another dough that you need to bake in the oven, you can still use your bread machine to do the mixing and kneading for you. I find that this saves me a lot of time.

A bread machine does not have to cost a lot of money. I have an Oster Express Bake that costs less than $60 at Amazon (and you will make up that cost quickly if you bake your own bread!). You can also sometimes find bread machines at rummage sales for less than $10!

Bread Making Tip 2: Organize with Mason Jars

Mason jars are amazing! One of their many uses (besides canning) is for organization. The Quart sized jars are perfect for the dry bread ingredients in a two pound loaf (normal bread machine size). You can find the jars at Ace Hardware or online at Amazon. They will run you around $15 for a set of 12. I make up around 6 jars at a time. All the dry ingredients go in the jar and I write the amount of liquid ingredients, yeast, and the type of loaf on the lid. When it is time to bake the bread it takes me less than 3 minutes to put it in the bread machine and push start!

6 homemade bread making tips - post at pintsizefarm.com

Make Bread Fast using Ball Jars

Bread Making Tip 3: Buy your Yeast in Bulk

Costco carries yeast in bulk. A two pound package will run $3-$4. A two pound package of yeast is the equivalent of 128 of the packets they sell in the grocery store (which usually sell in groups of three for around $2.50. So, you end up spending about $0.03 per loaf of homemade bread instead of $0.83. That means making your bread at home is both healthier and cheaper.

Bread Making Tip 4: Buy your Flour in Bulk

You can do the same with your flour! A 25 pound bag of flour will keep you from having to buy a small bag every few weeks and works a lot better if you are going to be using the mason jars. A 25 pound bag of flour will make approximately 38 two pound homemade bread loaves and costs $6-$7 at Costco (about $0.17/loaf).

Bread Making Tip 5: Learn How to Store and Slice your Homemade Bread

I quickly found out that storing homemade bread is a lot different than the preservative injected loaves you buy at the grocery store. When I started out bread making I would wrap each loaf in saran wrap, but it would still get hard quickly (within a day or two), especially if the kids grabbed a slice without fixing the saran wrap afterwards. I now use the Progressive Bread Keeper and I love it. It has a vent on one end that I can adjust based on how humid it is. It was less than $12 and well worth it to me. There are a lot of other options (including bread bags or a bread cabinet). Now a loaf of homemade bread lasts as long as about 5 days (if it is ever around that long!), which makes homemade bread making more practical.

Slicing homemade bread can also be tricky. For some reason that was a mental block for me. When I bought bread from the deli I always had them slice it. When I switched over to homemade bread making I learned a few things about slicing that delicious bread. Head over to my post on the best way to slice homemade bread if you have the same troubles with it that I did.

Bread Making Tip 6: Use mesquite flour!

Mesquite flour is healthy and delicious! It is gluten-free and it is a great addition for those of you who are on a diabetic diet. You can purchase mesquite flour, but it tends to run $15-$20/pound. If you have mesquite trees in your yard you can make your own mesquite flour! Generally you can replace a quarter to half of the bread flour with mesquite flour, but you can experiment to see what works for you!

Making Homemade Bread: Cost Analysis

The cost of homemade bread really depends on the recipe you use. For comparison purposes I am going to use my basic white bread recipe:

  • 1 cup warm water – FREE
  • 1/3 cup sugar – $0.08 (I also buy sugar in bulk so it may be a bit more expensive if you don't)
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast – $0.03
  • 3/4 tsp salt – $0.02
  • 2 Tbs oil – $0.15 (I use the Kirkland extra virgin olive oil)
  • 3 cups flour – $0.21

So, my basic white homemade bread costs $0.49 per loaf. I go through about two loaves per week. My grocery store sells one pound deli loaves for $3 each (each of my loaves are 2 pounds) so compared to that, my homemade bread making is saving us $11.02/week. You will even save money if you compare it to the generic 1-2 pound sliced loaves in the bread section!

With those savings I would pay for the bread machine in 6 weeks and the bread keeper in another week. After that I will be saving $47.75 each month. The taste of homemade bread is worth paying more for so saving money makes it even better!

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#Sunday #Homestead Sum-Up

homesteading posts

Catch up on this weeks homesteading posts!

It's Sunday, time to start a new week! This week Pint Size Farm is going to have posts about the differences between red wigglers and earthworms, how LED bulbs can save you money, talk about what seeds you received from Groundswell International (and what you should do with them), start going over the different breeds of chickens, and give tips on homemade bread-making. Sign up for the email newsletter (in the right sidebar) and you won't miss a thing! I send out 2-3 updates each week and it will link to all the new posts.

This is what Pint Size Farm posted about last week:

Here are a few good posts from around the blogosphere!

Do you have any favorites from this week? Tweet them, email them, or leave a comment and I will put them in next weeks Sunday Sum-Up post. Have a great week!

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Saturday #Savings – #Free #Homesteading Materials

homestead

Get Freebies for your Homestead!

On Saturdays I am going to be posting a round-up of deals on homesteading materials. Some of these will be referenced in posts earlier in the week and some will be new ones I find today! I will always post deals I find during the week on twitter so if you are on twitter, follow me!

Free Home and Garden Items

Free Homesteading Kindle Books

You do not need a kindle, you can download them to other android devices or your computer – sometimes these go fast!

Giveaways/Contests

  • $500 Giftcard to Whole Foods (you have to click “like”)

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Vegan Black Bean Burgers Recipe

Delicious vegan black bean burger recipe

Eat your veggies!

I recently tried a recipe I found in Vegetarian Times and I would like to share it with you. I am not a vegetarian, but that magazine does have some great recipes. If you would like to get Vegetarian Times (or another magazine) for cheap then scroll to the bottom of the post and I'll show you how to get a great deal. Here is the recipe I tried:

Now or Later Vegan Burgers

  • 2 Cups cooked or canned beans (black, white, or red beans, chickpeas, or lentils). Drained, liquid preserved
  • 4 Carrots (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped (1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbs chili powder or spice mix of your choice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Pulse ingredients until combined, but not pureed. If needed, add water or the bean liquid until the mix holds it's shape. Let the mixture rest a few minutes before shaping patties. For best results chill for 30 minutes or overnight.
  2. Shape bean mixture into four 1-inch thick patties (you can cover and refrigerate patties for up to several hours before continuing, or wrap and freeze. Bring them back to room temperature before cooking.
  3. Coat bottom of large, nonstick or cast-iron skillet with oil, and heat over medium heat. Add patties, and cook 3 to 5 minutes or until browned on 1 side. Turn carefully and cook 3 to 5 minutes more or until firm, browned, and crisp in places.

My thoughts on the recipe

I used black beans and cilantro. The burgers were good, but not something I would repeat simply because it was messy to make and it wasn't one of the families favorite dinners. That said, they were very good and a great way to get your kids to eat some veggies if they normally do not! If I made them again I would cut back on the garlic a bit and make the patties thinner. The 1 inch patties were just too thick to turn easily. I would make 6-8 patties out of the recipe instead of the recommended 4.  These were vegan burgers so I may try a vegetarian version next time. I think an egg would really help hold them together.

To Get Vegetarian Times

If you would like Vegetarian Times then start at Mr. Rebates. After you sign into your account there, use their link to go to magazines.com. That will give you an additional 30% rebate off of the price and sometimes it also gives you an extra coupon code. Right now you can get Vegetarian Times for $12 and you will get $3.60 back via the Mr. Rebates rebate. That makes your final price only $8.40 for the year. Vegetarian Times has some great recipes to use your garden goodies!

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Calculating the #Soil You Need for a #Raised #Garden #Bed

calculating soil needed for garden bed

It's easy to calculate how much soil you need!

I just saw a great infograph on pinterest that was supposed to show you how to create a 4′ x 4′ x 10″ raised garden bed for $50. It was a beautiful infograph and had been re-pinned a few times. Unfortunately, the information was not correct. The author claimed that you could fill your bed with one cubic foot of compost, one cubic foot of peat moss, and one cubic foot of vermiculite. At $3.97 a bag, it made up $11.91 of his $50 budget.

While that soil mix is great, that amount is not going to get you far in a 4′ x 4′ x 10″ garden bed. It really is unfortunate, because the infograph contained some great starting information and I wanted to re-pin it, but I thought that information (and the cost of two untreated 4′ x 8′ x 10″ boards, which will run you $17 at both Lowes and Home Depot and yet he claimed you could purchase them for $6), made the infograph extremely misleading. Especially since the focus of the picture was that you could get started for less than $50.

There are many tips for creating a raised garden bed on the cheap. But, for this post I am going to show you how to calculate the amount of soil you will need to fill your bed.

Purchasing your Soil

Generally, the soil bags they sell at box stores and nurseries are 1.0 cubic feet. That is enough soil to fill a space that is one foot high, one foot deep, and one foot wide.  If you purchase soil from a landscaping company they sometimes sell it by the cubic yard. That is enough soil to fill a space that is three feet high, three feet deep, and three feet wide. It doesn't sound like much of a difference, but that means that a cubic yard is the equivalent of 27 cubic foot bags.

Calculating How Much Soil you Need

To figure out the amount of soil you need for a raised garden bed, you need to multiply the length of the bed by the width of the bed by the height of the bed. Make sure all the dimensions are the same (everything needs to be in inches or feet).

I will assume that the 10″ garden bed will have a 1″ space at the top (so you need 9″ of soil). Nine inches is the same as 0.75 feet (nine inches divided by twelve inches). 4 foot x 4 foot x 0.75 foot is 12 cubic feet of garden soil.

 4 Foot (Length) x 4 Foot (Width) x 0.75 Foot (Height) = 12 Cubic Feet

The three bags that he bought to fill his bed will actually only fill the bottom 2.25 inches. The cost of the soil (if you go with the $3.97 bags) to fill your new bed will be $47.64, not $11.91.

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