Planning for Sustainability

Sustainability isn’t a fast process. It takes careful consideration and planning. It requires a deep understanding of what you have, what you need, and overcoming what you want. It requires having a strong understanding for your wants, your needs, and the delicate balance needed to produce for your needs.

Part of this planning requires looking far ahead to see where you want to be and what is standing in your way. For most people obstacles include money.

Two years ago, I wrote about getting our finances in order in an effort to meet our sustainable living goals. At that time, our goals seemed out of sight. Today, it doesn’t feel that way. We’ve managed to avoid major lifestyle inflation while maintaining our general principles of life and although we’re still 10 years from our goal of ultimate freedom, we can see it will happen.

So how do you plan?

  1. Identify your goals. We want to avoid being held down to anything. We want to be able to pick up and leave for anywhere, pursue careers of our choosing despite pay decreases, and maintain the knowledge that our relationship satisfies us more than anything our dollars will ever buy us.
  2. Identify your obstacles. For many of us it’s money. How will we pay our bills? We’ve gotten ourselves to a position that allows us to have relatively few bills. We have our house, our utilities, and for a few more short years, our student loans.
  3. Find ways to overcome your obstacles, no matter how small. We want to be 100% debt free inside of 10 years (mortgage included). We need to save major amounts of money to reach our goal.
  4. Plan for the unexpected. Things happen, the unexpected comes up, and the only way to avoid this is to plan for the question mark. Save for emergencies.
  5. Stick to your plan. This requires constant re-evaluation. Do you have the same goals, are you sticking to your principles, what else can you be doing? This is how I recently found ourselves sliding off our path (read about that here).

What are some of your goals?

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A Mother’s Day Wish

Mothers Day


Today I wish all you mothers out there a Happy Mother’s Day.

May you remember today and everyday just how special you make this world!

How will you be spending your mothers day?


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5 Inspirations for Your Garden

I had every intention of sharing one of my garden projects with you this week.

This of course was working under the assumption that I actually completed the project over the weekend. I had just assumed I would- I mean, there was plenty of time, the weather was warm, and I already had all of the materials.

Well of course, I neglected to pay attention to the nasty dust storm paired with Sunday’s warm weather forecast. So as you might imagine, I found myself unexpectedly standing in  a storm cloud while in the middles of my own yard- I was caught a bit off guard.

And since I’m from the Midwest, my initial response to strong winds and dark clouds is the thought that a tornado is coming. So naturally I panicked, I started yelling for the dogs, and running like I had the next ticket for a cyclone to oz.

Of course there aren’t tornadoes in the desert. It was just a dust storm. I had overreacted a bit. But it was nasty. So I didn’t finish my project.

And, rather than share a half-finished project, I thought I’d share some of my favorite online garden inspirations. Because these are the things that keep me busy from sun up to sundown every weekend.

Garden fencing– We’ve been looking for something to create paths through our property to connect the backyard, outdoor kitchen, chicken run, and garden. This is a cute option.

Hose storage– Living in the desert, we have more hose than we have space to organize. This branch is a fun re-purposing project.

Landscaping with a purpose– We have some gathering spaces we plan to build as we enter int  the summer months. We’d like to give these spaces a warming atmosphere and a bit of privacy. If we add decor we want it to have a purpose. Lemon grass in containers could be our solution. And as an added bonus we could have fresh lemon grass for cooking, tea, and bug repellent.

Upcycled decor– While we’re on landscaping, what fun is the backyard without a little upcycled garden art? I’ve already hung my old tire, now I’m just waiting for my plants to look as beautiful as these.

Help– Plenty of times on The Homespun Journal, I have shared how my green thumb has not always been so green. The info-graphics and advice available online have helped me profusely, and I expect they will continue to as the season moves forward.

What are your favorite pieces of garden inspiration? Pinterest has given me a lot to work towards. But we’re getting there, one project at a time.


**All photos and graphics in this post are the work of the original author, not The Homespun Journal. Follow the links to see their original work.

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Strawberry Vanilla Jam

Each year when strawberry season rolls around I find myself looking for reasons to buy exceptionally large amounts of fresh berries because they smell so good as I walk buy them in the store.

This year, I dove in and purchased an abundance of strawberries with the mindset that I would have to find a way to use them all before they went bad.

Luckily, a few weeks ago, just before Grandma June Bug passed away (you can read all about that here), I rescued a few forgotten cookbooks from her pantry. I flipped through them at her bedside, laughing with her at some of the more unusual suggestions, such as turtle soup and sauerkraut balls.

And while those less common recipes stood out, the abundance of recipes for fresh homegrown goodness caught my eye. What a perfect time to put good old Grandma June Bug’s church cookbooks to the test! So now that I’ve read through just about every strawberry recipe from 1950, I’ve found something to do with all those berries.

I’ve landed on this irresistible Strawberry Vanilla Jam; it’s a combination of a few simple recipes I had found with some added flavor for fun. We’ve been spreading it on toast, mixing it in yogurt, dripping it over cheesecake, and eating it straight from the jar. You’ll probably do the same.

Strawberry Vanilla Jam
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 2 pounds strawberries, hulled, and cut into large chunks
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 ½ cups raw, unrefined sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  1. Place the water and strawberries in an uncovered thick bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Stir to prevent sticking and cook until the berries begin to break down.
  2. Add the sugar, stir to combine, and bring to a boil. Boil for about 3 minutes.
  3. Reduce the mix to a light simmer. Simmer uncovered for 22-30 minutes, or until the mixture becomes thick. Do not stir the mixture during this step.
  4. Add the vanilla extract, stir to combine.
  5. Remove from heat. Squeeze the juice of ½ a lemon on top, do not stir and allow to rest until cool.
  6. Portion the jam into clean jars. Process in a water bath for 15 minutes.

For some extra homemade goodness, try using this homemade vanilla extract.

As a side note, what ever happened to church cookbooks? I’m talking the plastic bound, recipes from the neighbors, hometown goodness cookbooks. They have a charm no bookstore could ever sell. Good thing I found some old gems.

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Returning Home

My family buried my grandmother this past weekend.

She turned 79 in February and she died of ovarian cancer last week after a 3 year fight. My sisters and I referred to her as Grandma June Bug. She had one of those young-at-heart type attitudes- wearing lipstick until the day she could no longer get out of bed.

Going home for this final farewell made me very sad and it’s difficult for me to say anything other than it fills me with sadness to have to say good bye.

But I was fortunate to have had so much time with my grandmother.

Yesterday, I returned home to the ranch. I was welcomed by all my crazy animals jumping at my feet, and I can’t help but to think of how Grandma June Bug would be reacting to all these crazy characters.

She truly would have enjoyed one more family road trip West. She would have loved the endless attention from these cute puppies. And, she would have laughed at these crazy chickens chasing each other around the chicken yard.

And as I sit here 3,000 miles from family, I can’t help but find comfort in the idea that she has found a way to watch all of this- whether through the floor of heaven or the door of the TARDIS- she sees all this madness. And I know she is watching, why else would all these crazy characters be running around making me laugh in the middle of the desert?

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