Flower bedSalvaged brick flowerbed border.
This weekend being one of the most beautiful weekends this beautiful autumn has provided, my husband and I decided to knock out some outdoor projects on our little homestead. Progress has been limited by our lack of funds so far, until we sell the other house, so unfortunately we have been unable to install our geothermal system this fall as planned, and we will have to suck it up and make it through a long Ohio winter with a 30-year-old fuel oil furnace, and a propane fireplace. (We intend to replace the fireplace with a wood-burning stove, but this will be a rather involved project which will include cutting a large hole through the wall, which we would prefer not to undertake so close to winter.) So, our winter may be chilly, but we are still newly-weds, so we will cuddle up and make do! :-)

So we are learning what all new homesteaders have to learn early on: how to get creative and use existing resources to accomplish our goals while spending little money. My two outdoor projects this weekend were a perfect case-in-point. As we are hosting a Halloween party next weekend, my main goal this week is to get some things cleaned up outside. The previous owner left quite a few piles of junk in the yard, mostly covered with leaves and overgrown with weeds. Most of it is turning out to be broken furniture, wood, and tree branches, along with a few tires, wooden pallets, etc. But among the trash, a frugal mind can often find treasure, and so we did.

A recent study shows that for the majority of Americans, a mere $400 unexpected expense would force them to have to either go into debt, or sell something just to cover it. The same report found that while just over half of Americans are saving at least some portion of their income, a full 1/5 were spending more than they earned. (Source: Federal Reserve Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2013.)

Meanwhile, another Federal Reserve report, the 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances, showed that the combined retirement accounts per household nearing retirement averaged only $111,000, which would equate to approximately $500/month in retirement income. How well do you think you and your spouse could live on $500/month?

Genetically modified seed corn
One of the fiercest debates raging in the food community these days (or maybe ever), is the debate about genetically modified organisms - and particularly, foods. In truth, the debate is more about politics than it is about health, but health is where we need to start. The pro-GMO camp swears that GM foods are totally safe, while the other side counters with a range of arguments, from the seemingly reasonable contention that GM foods should be labeled as such, to the extreme position that GMOs could be the end of life on this planet.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you probably can guess that I fall somewhere in the middle. But I still think it's an important topic to address, especially considering how much of our food now contains genetically modified ingredients.

For one thing, the contentions that GMOs are "safe" for humans to eat really don't have a lot of long-term evidence to back them up.

Our HomesteadOur new home on 5 acres.
I didn't have much time to work on a big blog post for you today, but I thought it might be fun this week to share some pictures of our new home, and some of our plans for the future! Ever since my childhood on a farm in the Ozark mountains, a part of me has always longed for my farm-girl roots. No matter how large a city I have lived in (Houston, TX), or how nice a suburb (Dublin, OH), and how long I stayed there, it just never quite felt like home

That's why I'm so excited to finally have a house and land of my own! My husband and I recently purchased an old home on 5 acres of beautiful farmland, and now comes the challenging part: figuring out what we want to do with it!

If you've been reading our Green Living blog lately, we've been doing a series on homesteading, and I guess that is as good a word to describe it as any. We aren't trying to be large-scale farmers. I don't know that we will ever even try in any way to make a living off the land.