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So what in the world is EEME anyway? EEME is an acronym for Electrical Engineering Mechanical Engineering. EEME - makes hands-on projects and FREE online lessons to teach kids electronics - to foster their curiosity for how things work and prep them for the STEM opportunities of tomorrow.
Each project kit is paired with online curricula to not only show your family how to assemble the kit, but more importantly, teach them how it works.
There are also FREE interactive online lessons to teach your family the fundamentals of electronics. Sounds complex, right? Not so much. I have been homeschooling for a number of years now and I have struggled with my 10 year old and his inherent desire to take everything apart to see how it works.
I am not mechanically minded, in fact if someone messes with the Wii too much I can't even use it any longer. As you can imagine my son's tinkering is beyond me and often leaves me befuddled with a pile of parts from his most recent "invention." However, this is a learning path that I want to encourage my son in, so I am always open to seeing what is available out there to help him learn and experiment with.
We began with the Tinkercrate subscription (blog post here). The Tinkercrate was fun and was greatly anticipated every month when my son would begin incessantly checking the mailbox to get his latest box. The only problem that I had with it was that the projects were only able to be done once. What that meant for me was that there were other children in my homeschool (I have 5 kids afterall) and he was the only one able to use it because once the project was completed, it was completed. The project was a one time shot and there was nothing more to do, being"used up" there was no way for another child to get any use from it.
The other bit of a downfall for me was that my son, though gifted in certain areas, is not a good reader. The Tinkercrate directions were all very helpful and thorough, but they were written directions so if he was too quick to get to the crate he just dove in and kind of followed the directions as best as he could (there are some pictures) but many times he would skip a step or jump ahead. I found myself wishing there were videos or something that would allow for him to do the projects on his own without any guidance from me.
Enter in an ad I saw for EEME. A monthly subscription service with projects mailed to our home.
I was intriuged as it kept popping up in my newsfeed on facebook and I saw a number of people following and "like"-ing the pages put up. I found my way to the website and was quite intrigued by what I saw.
I reached out to the creator and I was given a trial of the product to review for all my readers, let me tell you the creator is very responsive and helpful and appears to be a dad with the desire to bring learning to a lot of kids, just like my son.
We waited in anticipation for our box to arrive and as soon as it did my son was so excited to get to work. We unpacked the items and I was surprised that it didn't take up very much room, just a small box with a number of electrical components.
The directions were clear and directed us to go online to the website and look up our project, it was an LED Genius light. Described as follows:
With the Genius Light project, you will assemble a simple LED circuit system that does the smart thing - lights up when it is dark and dims when it is light.
Your family will learn about:
- LED light bulbs
- Project build time: 1.5 - 2.5 hours
This is where I was sold...my son logged on to the computer and I watched the videos over his shoulder. I didn't have to do a thing! The videos were very clear and concise allowing him to see a "hands on" project being built with a voice over while he was doing the project. There were so many projects that the build time of 1.5 - 2.5 hours is to complete all of them, something that can take as long as you want it to. My son decided to work on the project for awhile meandering through a number of the lessons and then decided to take a break for a day and go back at it again where he left off the following day.
The other factor that I really was impressed by was that this project can be used again and again. I can run another child through this exact same process and that child can also use the components to make the genius light. The project is not "used up" after just one child. This is a huge plus for a budget minded mama!
We found the project to be a hit and my son felt like a little Benjamin Franklin. The service runs a $19.99 month fee, no additional shipping and all of the tutorials and lessons are available online for your student to watch and learn the how and why of it all. We were very pleased with the service, the project, and this homeschool mom was pleased with the ease of execution that did not involve me!
If you are interested, check out EEME at http://www.eeme.co/. You won't be dissapointed, I sure wasn't!
With all the information out there about hybrid and GMO seeds it can be hard to muddle through the mire about what is actually best. I am here to offer you a breakdown of the different types of seeds and why, most of the time (there are a few exceptions) an open pollinated heirloom variety is by far your best choice.
OPEN POLLINATED: a seed of this variety is one that is pollinated by natural means (birds, bees, insects, etc)
HEIRLOOM: a seed or plant that has historically been shared within a group, area or family. (think of it like a family treasure that has been passed from grandma to grandchild on through the generations, like a steamer trunk or valuable piece of glassware).
HYBRID: This is seed produced by a carefully controlled pollination of two different varieties of seed or species of seed that has been crossed by human intervention. This method has been around since the 1920's and is not the same as GMO seed production.
GMO: Not to be confused with hybridization, GMO (genetically modified organism) seed is seed that has been modified in such a manner as could NEVER occur in nature.
Okay, now that I have shared all of that information let me just show you what surprised me and made me happy yesterday. I went out to the garden with the intention of planting some spinach, lettuce and kale (all cold weather crops) in this beautifully warm spring weather we have been having. I was bending down to weed my lettuce bed when I saw this...
Back by popular demand is the series that I have not posted for awhile, the way grandma used to. Sometimes this is a section I share personal stories from my very own dear grandma, other times its the notion or idea of the way things were in times past always in an effort to connect is to the way things used to be.
"Henhouse Linen" is the name of the memory that my grandmother wrote in a book full of beautiful stories that she has shared with all of us, memories of how things were in her childhood growing up, and in her young married years as well. These are grandma's words and memories.
Come with me as I take a peek into times past when money was tight and the depression was raging...
Henhouse Linen, that was just one name for the feed sack material. Barnyard linen, as it was also called, wasn't just for dresses- they made good aprons, table cloths, curtains, quilts and children's play clothes.
Back in the days when no amount of money was considered "chicken feed" folks made do with what they had.
Feed sacks were plentiful on most farms, and the fabric they were made of clothed countless families during the depression.
Mother raised rabbits when I was young and the feed for the rabbits came in colored printed sacks. After the contents were used the sacks would be put into a salt solution to set the colors, then washed and ironed to be kept for sewing projects.
Mother didn’t sew much. In school I had a teacher, Miss Mary Ryan who taught me everything I know about sewing. Our class was made up of farm girls. Sewing opened up many new ideas for us. Miss Ry7an had books of decorating ideas and she encouraged us to make good use of the feed sacks. We were proud of the dresses that we could make form the material that was available to us
We would always tell my daddy to get at least three bags of feed in the same pattern design. If we had a special project going, often my daddy would buy more feed at one time than he had intended to, just to get the bags alike.
The dress that I made for my sewing project was made from feed sacks and all of my mother’s aprons were made from the sacks as well. My daddy would proudly show me the newest feed sacks that he had purchased feed in knowing that I would have ideas as to what to make from the material.
My mother had a special drawer in the dresser that she kept the sacks in. Anytime that I needed material for something, I always knew that I could check out what was in the drawer. When I had children of my own most of their little dresses were made from that same feed sack material, the girls were able to have pretty little dresses with very little expense that way.
I read this memory of grandma's and I found myself wishing that the feed we buy for our livestock came in such feminine and pretty patterns rather than the plastic type ugly bags that we often toss to our burn pile.
I also began searching around the web a bit and I came across a book on Amazon that looked quite interesting, there are just so many things we could learn about the way women did things when times were even more tough and women still liked to appear neat and tidy.
Here is a blog post from another blogger about her quest to reproduce the classic feed sack dress. The Feedsack Dress.
Do you know of any other good uses for feed sacks? Comment below.
How to grow your cabbage
As spring is starting to sneak and peek around here I am getting ready for planting season. This will be the 3rd year that I have planted cabbage from seed and I am always amazed at just how well this crop does even when planted outside as tiny as the plants you see in the picture. I have found that sometimes I even have to put flag markers up when I plant these little ones outdoors in the ground because they are so small, you can hardly see them, but they keep on chugging towards becoming thick round heads of cabbage.
Cabbage is a pretty hardy plant and it does well enough in the cold that dipping temperatures don't phase it too much. As long as I am able to keep the cabbage worms from turning my heads of beautiful cabbage into Swiss cheese remnants, I have enjoyed a bounty every single year that I have planted these from seed. This year I am opting for some floating row covers to keep those nasty little cabbage worms that I have to hand pick off, far far away.
This is a cost saving venture as well. Usually a head of cabbage runs around $2 at my local store. However, I am able to plant 20-30 heads for the cost of a packet of seeds and some dirt (seeds $2 and my tried and true dirt mix $8 for enough to plant all my seedling crops for the entire growing season- not just the cabbage). That breaks down into a huge savings in my book. Also, when harvesting cabbages, if wrapped in newspaper and kept in a cool dark location (basement anyone?) they can last for months upon months in cold storage and still be just as good. A great way to make your own saurkraut as well!
If you've missed my previous posts on my 4-1-1 potting soil mix I use, the mix is 4 parts soil, 1 part vermiculite and 1 part pearlite. You can purchase all of these items at your local Walmart, Lowes or Home Depot. The pearlite and vermiculite that I purchase are always more than enough for several hundred seeds that I start for the year and there is usually some left over to start next growing season as well.
When I run out of seed cells for planting I just opt for styrofoam cups from my local dollar store. Be sure to poke holes in the bottom though so you can have adequate drainage. I also write on the cups with a sharpie noting the date that I planted them.
It's really that simple, get on out there and get planting!
A farmgirl's makeup stash...
Years ago I was interested in the all natural makeup phenomena, but when I viewed some of the prices for the natural makeups from companies like Bare Minerals and the like, I had to forgo that luxury for frugality. I just sorely stuck to my tried and true drugstore brands. However, last year I came across a company that changed all of that for me. I have been a loyal customer since. The company promotes itself as all natural and vegan, though the vegan part doesn't seduce me (have you seen my post about our turkeys?) the rest of what the company stands for are favorites. I decided to give them a try, I was hooked.
The very first thing I ever ordered from them was the "GET STARTED GREEN KIT" for $23.
I honestly wasn't expecting much, and I was SOOOO impressed. I was able to try so many colors to find the EXACT match of a mineral foundation. The samples were generous enough that I was able to get several days wear out of the foundations and going on 2 weeks worth of wear from the eyeshadows. When I ordered the mineral foundation of my choice, it ran within $1 of what I pay for drugstore brand foundation. I loved how if felt. I prefer to use it over a moisturizer in the winter and it is great to take the sheen off your skin in the summer.
Since that first go round I have now favorited the company's liquid eyeliner, shimmer eye shadows, foundations, eyeshadow primer, and brushes.
Go give them a try and let me know what you think. The All Natural Face
I also couldn't forget to mention the Lip Shimmer by Burt's Bees. This is a drugstore find, but I love the tinted, not so lipsticky look of this product. And bonus, it has a tingly peppermint-y essential oil in it. Makes my lips soft but doesn't leave marks all over my babies, win-win!
What are your favorite make up bag products? Share with us in the comments below.
So I have to admit that this idea was not mine originally but borrowed from a local friend (myshire farm) and sustainable gardener. I don't know why I didn't think of this but the fact that I have friends with good ideas is pretty awesome.
So it goes like this...you purchased some heads of garlic at the store, only to find that many of them have already sprouted, bummer. But wait, don't pitch them because of a desire not to use them in your cooking after they have sprouted (the taste changes) instead, just start growing some garlic!
I took these garlic cloves that were already sprouted straight out of my refrigerator.
Then I simply planted them in my 4-1-1 mix of potting soil, Vermiculite and Pearlite.
I planted them and covered the green sprouts, watered and waited. Within just a few days those green sprouts were poking up out of the soil.
Thanks for the idea Jenna. I love not wasting food, and each of these cloves should produce a healthy head of garlic for me to hang dry and enjoy!
Do you ever get to feeling a little crafty? Need a quick fix for your crafty side on one of those rainy spring days? Maybe you are just wanting to find something cute to make for yourself or as a gift, here is a list of some of my favorite crafting ideas from around the web (feel free to follow me on pinterest too where you can see when I am looking for new ideas- incidentalfarmgirl on pinterest) Click on the pink links to go directly to the tutorials for these great crafts.
#1: book page wreaths on Vintage Paint & More
#2: Aromatherapy pendants on Incidentalfarmgirl
#3: Handmade scrapbook envelopes on DIY real
#4: Your own DIY keyfobs on Dabbles & Babbles
#5: Hand stamped necklace on Incidentalfarmgirl
#6: Tea towels with old recipes on Spoonflower
#7: Framed Monograms on Tuck & Cover
#8: Hair accents on Dream Patch
#9: Glass pendant necklaces on Sabby in Suburbia
#10: Stick letters on hello little house
Top 10 New Gardener Mistakes
Mistake #1: Going too Big
I mean by this is that if you are new to gardening, start small. Don't till up your entire yard and plant every variety of plant you might have an interest in all at once. I'll say it again, start small. Start with just a few varieties of different plants. Maybe a breed or two of tomatoes, a few squash, zucchini, cucumbers and the like. Gardeners who start too large often end up frustrated because their big dreams of bountiful harvests turn into a tangled web of weeds and diseased plants that are a waste.
Mistake #2: Planting in the wrong spot
All too many well meaning gardeners have started out with good intentions but only to be disappointed because their garden location was not well planned. Study your environment, study the shadows during your growing season. Study your soil, is the spot where you will be gardening too wet when it rains? Does it receive long shadows during the early and latter parts of the day? The best garden location is one that is in full sun from early in the morning until late in the evening with no long shadows being cast over the location.
Mistake #3: Overwatering or Underwatering
Many a new gardener knows that seeds and plants need water. However, newbies often fail to realize that you can actually over water your plants as well as under water them. Over watering your plants causes them to begin yellowing as they beg for mercy from the flood. Under watering and they scream for liquid nourishment like a desert lost wanderer. A good rule of thumb is to stick your finger in the soil near one of your plants, if the soil is muddy and slimy wet, no more water. If the soil is dry, brittle and crumbly, more water is needed.
Mistake #4: Cross Pollination
Laugh if you must but I created some of what I am sure were the most interesting veggies my first year or two gardening. I unknowingly planted my squash right next to my pumpkins. Right along side that were what were supposed to be birdhouse gourds. What many a new gardener doesn't realize is that bees will travel from one flowering plant to the next causing cross-pollination, some species of plants will cross with one and other which, though producing interesting offspring, often results in unedible veggies. Think of what might happen if a dog and cat could breed with one and other...a cadog? Yep, pretty much what happens in the garden. Word to the wise, don't plant squash and pumpkins anywhere near each other, and do a quick google search if you are concerned that some of your plants may be closely related enough to cross pollinate.
Mistake #5: Planting too late
I still use my grandmother's advice, plant on Mother's day, not before. I also think that more than a week after Mother's day is too late. The reason I say that is because while your neighbors are harvesting their beautiful Beefsteak and Better boy tomatoes you will still be staring at small seedlings that haven't even flowered yet. Tomatoes love the heat of summer, but not as seedlings and they have to have plenty of growing time to be able to set fruit. Some other varieties like bush and pole beans can be planted later in the season (I often plant green beans both on Mother's day weekend as well as a second planting in July for a September harvest) but if you put out your longer maturity rate plants at the same time, you will be disappointed.
Mistake #6: Not weeding
If there is one thing that you will notice when you garden, its that weeds can go from non-existent to overpopulated in 24 hours after a good drenching rain. You need to keep an eye on your garden. All too many will plant a garden and walk away until they think that they should harvest, you cannot do this. It is kin to getting a new puppy and walking away only to return months later and expecting it to be housebroken and well mannered. When you garden you need to at least walk by your garden every other day to check on things, when you notice the weeds springing up, pull them when they are small, it is so much easier that way. I love to get out in the garden just after a fresh storm has come though because the weeds nearly jump out of the soil with barely a tug when the soil is drenched.
Mistake #7: Planting too close together
Not only do seed packages talk about thinning but they also give you a good start by telling you how far apart to put your treasured plants. If you purchase plants there should be a little plastic stick inside with the name of the plant breed as well as basic instructions for planting (pay attention to the distance apart). If you plant your seeds or seedlings too close together they cannot properly develop their root systems and they will not thrive. Overcrowding can also cause issues with air circulation, when there isn't proper air circulation disease can set in on even the most well cared for garden.
Mistake #8: Planting too deep or too shallow
Back to those instructions again. If you are planting from seed it is a really good idea to follow the directions on the seed packet. A general rule of thumb is that the larger the seed, the deeper you plant, however, by deep I don't mean very deep. A carrot seed for example is one of the tiniest seeds found in most gardens, it barely needs to have dirt sprinkled over the top of it. A bean seed usually goes down into it's home approx 3/4 to 1" depending on the variety, so you see, not too deep. What happens is that if the seed is planted too shallow it can wash or blow away. If it is too deep then it will exhaust itself trying to reach the break into the environment and often it will just die.
Mistake #9: No drainage
I am referring here to either raised beds or container gardening. I can't tell you the number of bonehead pins I have seen on pinterest about creating a beautiful raised garden box by putting sides and a bottom on it...no drainage holes. Let me tell you that this would be a pretty bad idea. (sidenote, I think the pins about raised bed gardening with a mesh weed control or wire on the bottom are stupid too, how will the beneficial earth worms be attracted to your raised beds if you do that?) Plants need drainage, if you are doing some container gardening be sure that your container has drainage holes or we go back to mistake #3 where I discussed plants begging for refuge from the flood
Mistake #10: Not keeping track of what you planted
This is important for the following year. What I mean is with any level of success most gardeners find that they are greatly benefited by getting their hands dirty and they become "bitten by the bug," a further desire to cultivate begins to grow and they want to do it all again next year. However, you need to keep track of where you plant your species. You do this so that the following year you can rotate your crops, not planting the same thing in the same location year after year. The reason for this is that different plants rob your soil of different nutrients so rotating them keeps the soil from being depleted. In addition to soil nutrient depletion you need to rotate to reduce soil pathogens. If your tomatoes wound up with blossom end rot, you certainly don't want to put them back in the exact same spot again next year, rotate things around, plus it keeps things interesting!
Don't let this list intimidate you, if you are a new gardener, just use some common sense and ask friends or family who garden, other then the mistakes mentioned there really is no right or wrong way to garden, you can ask 10 gardeners how to grow a tomato and I guarentee you will get 10 totally different answers, and they will likely all work. Happy gardening!
How to make Compost Tea
You've been reading for awhile and you have finally decided that your garden will have some rich compost this year. But wait, you want a BIG garden and you don't yet have enough compost to mix into the soil, and since we are gardening organically around here, I know you don't want chemical fertilizers on that garden. So, how do you stretch that black gold that comes from the deep parts of the compost pile?
You make tea.
Yes, you read that right, you aren't going to drink it so no worries. However, it will help you spread the nutrients all around your garden with minimal compost. I run out of that black gold every year because I continuously make my garden bigger. Plants really do flourish and are so much larger in size and production when treated with compost, so here is the winning answer.
Here's what you need:
5 Gallon Bucket (Lowes for $3.99)
Some type of Stick to stir
A couple hearty shovel fulls of aged Compost
Fill your bucket about 1/3 full of aged compost (not fresh stuff, but the beautiful black gold at the bottom of the pile) If you don't have aged compost, ask a friend, or start your own compost pile so you can do this step next year! Here's how I do it.
Fill your bucket the rest of the way with water. If you want you can also add things like Fish Emulstion or Powdered Seaweed, or even just some unsulphered molasses. This will make your tea a more balanced organic fertilizer.
Stir every few hours and let sit 24-48 hours or until you get some bubblies and a sort of yeasty kinda smell sets in. If you want, leave your tea for longer and it will be an even more concentrated form for your plants.
Use an old Tshirt and pour the tea through it into another bucket to strain out your solids, these can be put back into the compost pile. Dilute your remaining tea in a 10:1 ratio for use on new plants.
Use this as a root drench on your plants, this can also be put into a squirt bottle for use as a foiler spray.
HERE is a great tutorial with pictures.
Have you ever used Compost Tea? What tips would you share?
photo courtesy of home composting made easy.
Wife to a wonderful husband, Daughter of the King, Mother of 6 (one with an xtra chromosome), and an incidental farm girl.