facebook pinterest twitter google instagram rss

7 Tasty and Entertaining Food Treats for Chickens

Treats for chickens are good for a number of reasons. If you’re wondering what sort of treats your backyard flock might like, here are several ideas that they will love to eat and play with too!

treats your chickens will love

7 Tasty and Entertaining Food Treats for Chickens

Giving your chickens treat is a great way to supplement their feed, and is also a way to keep them entertained and healthy. While you can spend a lot of money on chicken treats, you certainly don’t have to. You can find many of the items on this list in your own backyard or even your trash! If you’d like to save money on chicken feed by feeding your backyard chickens weeds and food scraps you might otherwise throw away, keep reading! 

bee on dandelion

Dandelions make great treats for chickens! 

Who knew there are so many treats for chickens growing right in your yard? Chickens will eat your entire dandelion, roots, stem, flower and all. Unfortunately, you have to pick them for the chickens first. I’m a big fan of leaving dandelions alone {much to my husband’s chagrin} as they are good for bees and pretty too, I think. So if you need to make your spouse happy or need some other reason to rid your yard of dandelions – here you go. Just make sure not to spray them first.

Clover 

Clover is another great chicken treat you might have growing in your yard. Pick a big handful and give it to your chickens. They will most certainly thank you! I would love to plant my front pasture in clover and quit mowing! Then the chickens could eat to their hearts’ content!

Chickweed 

Here’s another weed your chickens will love, the aptly named chickweed. Like clover and dandelions, just pick a big bowl full and give it to your chickens! Again, make sure these weeds haven’t been sprayed if you plan to give them to your chickens.

Watermelon & Rinds are treats your chickens will adore

You will be shocked to see how your chickens eat melons. And they love them all – watermelon, cantaloupe, any type really. It’s a lot of fun to give them the melon on the rind and watch them eat so much they leave only a thin layer behind. One of our favorite things to do in the summer is give our chickens half a melon and then come back later to look at the bowl that’s left when they’re done. It’s so amazing!

treats for chickens in the chickenyard

Corn on the cob, or just the cob!

We harvest lots of corn in the late summer and always have an abundance of corn cobs leftover after freezing a bunch of corn. If you need a way to amuse yourself and your chickens, hang a corn cob on a string from a tree in your chicken yard and watch your chickens peck away. We love giving our chickens not only the occasional cob that was harvested too late, but also the cobs after we’ve stripped the corn off for freezing. They pick them clean because they really do love corn.

Sara with a chicken

Cabbage

Another fun food item you can hang for your chickens is cabbage. Not only is a hanging cabbage a great snack they will enjoy, but it’s also another fun way to keep your chickens entertained.

Mealworms –

Mealworms are a yummy snack that chickens go crazy for! You can buy them at the store (I find them to be a little pricey) or you can even raise them yourself, if you’re up for a task like that. Sounds a little gross to me, but that’s what our kids are for, right?

treats your chickens will love

If you liked this post on treats for chickens, you may like these posts too:

Beginner’s Guide to Raising Baby Chicks

How to Choose the Perfect Chicken Breed for Your Homestead

Why You Might Consider Raising Chickens for Eggs

How to Prepare for Mail Order Chicks

Even chickens love treats, so make sure to give them some! What type of treat do you enjoy giving your chickens? 

Sweet & Tangy Whole Wheat Rhubarb Scones

Whole wheat rhubarb scones are a delicious way to use up fresh rhubarb from your garden! A sweet tang makes these crunchy scones a family hit! If you’re looking for rhubarb recipes, do give this one a shot!

scone on a plate

Sweet & Tangy Whole Wheat Rhubarb Scones

Rhubarb grows all over around here and is pretty much free for the taking if you are brave enough to knock on doors and ask! Rhubarb is one of the first crops of the spring and is the earliest crop that resembles fruit. It seems like a lot of people don’t like rhubarb, but I think it’s delicious. I read with interest about Barbara Kingsolver’s experience with rhubarb as she ate only local food for a year in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life – one of my all time favorite books.

fresh rhubarb with leaves

One of my favorite recipes to make with rhubarb are these whole wheat scones! I love a crunchy scone and the added tang from the rhubarb is such a nice complement to the sweetness of this sugar in this recipe. I try not to use much sugar in my cooking, but we love this combination, and this scone recipe is one I have made over and over again.

Notes about making these scones

As with any cooking, having the right tools is the key to success. A couple things you will need to make these scones include a stone baking sheet and a masher.

The hardest part of making these scones in incorporating the butter, I think. I have a cute little masher that I use for guacamole that I use, and I also use my fingers.

scones on baking sheet before baking

To make them extra tasty, make sure to dust with sugar before baking. It shouldn’t be a lot of sugar, but a couple tablespoons will go a long way!

The last key to success in making scones in my opinion, is to give them plenty of separation on the baking sheet. I prefer my scones to have a crunchy outside and pulling them apart from each before baking other will help them to get a nice crunch.

Yield: 8 scones

Whole Wheat Rhubarb Scones

Whole Wheat Rhubarb Scones

Crumbly delicious scone with a sugar crunch and a tangy rhubarb pop.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 23 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar {I use coarse raw sugar}
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 2 cups rhubarb, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • extra sugar for dusting

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Stir together all dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Cut in cold butter until the mix resembles peas.
  4. Add rhubarb and milk and stir gently until combined. Mixture will be dry.
  5. Turn mix out on a baking stone and form into a 9" circle. Sprinkle extra sugar over the circle, if desired. {It's really good with the extra sugar - adds a nice crunch!} Cut the circle into 8 pie shaped wedges and gently move them apart so they are not touching each other.
  6. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  7. Enjoy!

Notes

If after 23 minutes of baking time the scones are not crispy enough, bake them for a few more minutes until they look perfect! 🙂

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 306 Total Fat: 13g Saturated Fat: 8g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 4g Cholesterol: 32mg Sodium: 450mg Carbohydrates: 44g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 13g Protein: 6g
whole wheat scones

Looking for more rhubarb recipes? Check out these:

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Whole Wheat Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

German Pancakes

15 Different Muffins from One Base Recipe

Do you like rhubarb? What’s your favorite rhubarb recipe?

 

American Gothic House Center & More Fun in Eldon, Iowa

Visiting the American Gothic House Center in Eldon, Iowa is must for all Iowans as well as visitors to our great state. Our family visited in the fall and had such a great time! Here’s what to expect at the American Gothic House and other things to do in Eldon, Iowa.

American Gothic House

*We visited the American Gothic House Center and Eldon, Iowa on assignment for Travel Iowa. All opinions are mine.*

American Gothic House Center Eldon, Iowa

Off the beaten path in Eldon, (southeast) Iowa, population 927 in Wapello County , you’ll find the American Gothic House Center. If you’re familiar with the famous painting the American Gothic, or are a Grant Wood fan, you’ll immediately recognize the house that inspired this iconic painting. The exact house is still located on the exact spot where Grant Wood originally painted it and you are invited to visit!

Visitor's Center at the American Gothic House

In addition to the house, there’s also a free visitor’s center featuring information about Grant Wood’s life and family. We watched an educational cartoon video for the children, but they also have a version for adults. A small museum and information center and a gift shop round out the Visitor’s Center. If you plan your visit for the second Saturday of the month from April to October, you can also visit the downstairs of the house. We were not there on the second Saturday so we did not get to tour the home, unfortunately.

harry potter style at the American Gothic House

The highlight of our visit was donning costumes and taking pictures in front of the house. The Visitor’s Center will suit you up in costumes. They have a large selection of costumes and we found sizes to fit all six of us for the most epic family pictures ever! The helpful staff from the Center took several family pictures of all us and then we took a few more too. I really think they could charge for pictures, but they don’t.  Make sure to get your own family picture if you visit!

Other things to do in Eldon, Iowa

Chommy's Bar & Grill in Eldon Iowa

Eat Lunch at Chommy’s

Located in a nondescript building near Eldon’s Train Depot is Chommy’s Bar & Grill. Best known for their huge pork tenderloin, this restaurant is a fun stop if you’re in Eldon. Our kids enjoyed playing pool and Dan enjoyed the one canned IPA they had left the day we were there, the All Day IPA. I laughed when they said they literally had only ONE can. As promised (and out of necessity) it did last Dan all day. LOL!

food at chommy's bar & grill in Eldon Iowa

It’s pretty standard bar fare food – fried pickles, reubens, tenderloin sandwiches.  We enjoyed our lunch there. Chommy’s has good online reviews and came highly recommended by the folks at the American Gothic House Center too, so many people seem to enjoy it.

Rock Island Train Depot in Eldon, Iowa

Visit the Rock Island Train Depot

Featuring railraod and depot history as well as a refurbished Chicago Central Caboose, the Rock Island Train Depot is another place you might want to visit in Eldon. It’s fun to walk around the outside even if you can’t go in.

train museum in Eldon, Iowa

There aren’t posted hours for this museum, so if you want to visit or arrange a tour of the Rock Island Train Depot,make sure to contact Merle! He’ll hook you up. 🙂

Wooden train playground in Eldon, Iowa

Right next door to the Rock Island Train Depot, you’ll find a cute little wooden playground little kids might enjoy.

Train Murals in Eldon Iowa

And there are also several fun train murals to find in Eldon, if you like street art!

While you might not think about Eldon, Iowa as a must visit destination, it is worth an afternoon! The American Gothic Center offers occasional events, including gingerbread house decorating coming up on December 2! Make sure to add Eldon to you weekend road trip list. It’s worth a stop. To learn more about weekend road trip destinations, visit Travel Iowa’s comprehensive website.

Have you been to the American Gothic House Center in Eldon? I’d love to hear!

American Gothic House Center and fun things to do in Eldon, Iowa (located in SE Iowa USA). Eldon is a fun place for a weekend road trip!

 

Wondering What to Do After a Tick Bite – 7 Steps to Take

Do you know what to do if you are bitten by a tick?  The following tips will help you know exactly what to do to minimize the risk of infection and also help you catch any potential infection early on for best treatment outcomes. Quick treatment is key to recovery!Do you know what to do if you are bitten by a tick? Quick treatment is key to recovery & these tips will tell you exactly what to do if you get a tick bite.

Photo Credit 

Medical disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, nor do I want to be. Consult your doctor for any specific concerns you may have about ticks and tick bites.

What to Do if You are Bitten by a Tick

If you are hiking, camping, or just spending time outdoors, it is important to do tick checks on everyone in your family. Ticks can transmit devastating illnesses to humans and animals, so tick checks are important any time you spend time outdoors. If you do find a tick attached during your check, here are the steps you should take. (If you’re looking for natural ways to prevent tick bites, this post might help.)

First, it’s very important that you don’t panic! Not all types of ticks cause disease (primarily the very small deer tick). In fact, according to Science News, fewer than 5% of tick bites lead to any illness at all. Stay calm and understand that most tick bites are gross, but not necessarily dangerous. However, given the severity of many tick borne illnesses, it’s important to take the following precautions anyway.

Steps you should take if you are bitten by a tick.

Photo Credit

First, remove the tick properly

Tick removal is not as simple as just grabbing it and pulling. In order to lessen the chances of the tick releasing more potential illness or parasites, get a pair of tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the head as possible. With a straight out and up motion, pull the tick out without twisting it. If you leave the head, that’s OK. You can try to grab it after, but if it won’t come out, don’t ‘fish’ for it as this can lead to infection. Your body will push it out on its own.

Clean the skin around the tick bite properly

Once you’ve removed the tick, it’s important to clean the area properly. Using an antibacterial soap, clean the area well. This is important to ward off skin infections. Don’t listen to old wives tales about how to remove the tick. Trying to drown the tick with soap, rubbing alcohol, or lotion to get it to un-attach itself will not work. Also, it goes without saying that holding a match to burn the tick off your skin is a bad idea. Both of these methods are not only ineffective, but can actually make the tick spill more saliva into your body. Since saliva is what causes the infection in the first place, it’s important to minimize how much is transmitted into your blood stream.

Decide what to do with the tick: get rid of it or keep it.

To dispose of the tick

If you just want to get rid of the tick, it’s recommended to flush it down the toilet. After you flush it, verify that it goes down and keep flushing until it is GONE.

To keep the tick for testing

Instead of flushing the tick, though, I recommend keeping it as you might want to have it tested. This is especially important if your tick bite happens to develop the bull’s eye rash or you start feeling poorly shortly after the tick bite. Some places, like the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, will test your tick for free if you fill out their form and mail in the tick. You can find more free labs by Googling ‘free tick testing.’ If you decide to keep the tick, put it in a ziplock baggie and then put the baggie in your freezer. You might want to label the baggie.

Watch for signs of illness or infection

Watch the area of the bite over the next couple of days for signs of infection or illness. Tick borne illnesses often carry symptoms such as fever, severe fatigue, headache and body aches. Often, but not always, there is a bulls-eye shaped rash at the site of the bite in Lyme disease. Watch for any signs of rash at all by drawing a circle around the bite spot so you will remember where it was. Unfortunately, the bulls-eye rash is not always totally obvious, so be vigilant when observing the body after a tick bite.

Be tested by a doctor if you are concerned

If you are concerned, make sure to see your doctor right away and ask for the Elisa and Western Blot tests. These two tests are the most common tests used to determine tick borne illnesses. However, they can have false negatives and sometimes one might be positive when the other is negative. Most people think only Lyme Disease is caused by ticks, but there are other tick borne illnesses as well. It’s important that your doctor considers more than just Lyme when examining you.

Get a second opinion if you don’t feel you have been heard

Tick borne illnesses are not something every doctor is educated in and some doctors don’t take them as seriously as they could. Make sure to seek a second opinion if you feel your voice was not heard. You can look for a LLMD (Lyme Literate Medical Doctor) to answer questions and for further testing. To find a LLMD in your area, visit the International Lyme & Associated Diseases Society website.

Are you concerned about tick bites? Make sure you read this post on natural ways to prevent tick bites too.

Delicious and Easy Pineapple Jalapeno Relish Canning Recipe for Summer Grilling!

Pineapple jalapeno relish is a fresh summer condiment recipe you need to try this year. Delicious on grilled pork, brats, and more, this small-batch canning recipe is perfect for beginners and also makes a great gift! This post is sponsored by Newell Brands, makers of Ball® Home Canning products.  All opinions are my own. 

ball canning recipes pineapple jalapeno relish

You Need this Pineapple Jalapeño Relish Recipe for Summer Grilling!

I’m always looking for delicious ways to preserve my summer garden bounty, and one thing I struggle with is what to do with the hot peppers. One plant can yield so many and we certainly don’t eat a bunch at a time! This pineapple jalapeño relish is one of my new favorite Ball® canning recipes.

ingredients for Pineapple Jalapeno Relish Canning Recipe

How to make pineapple jalapeño relish

Making this relish is really quite easy. You can make it even if you’ve never canned before! The longest part is simply chopping the pineapple, onions, and jalapeños. Once that’s done, the rest is easy. 

If you’ve never canned before, this is a good recipe to start out with! Canning is not hard, but it is important to adhere to a few simple concepts for food safety reasons. Even if you are a veteran canner, it’s a good idea to re-read these steps to make sure you’re doing it right. 

pineapple jalapeno relish and ingredients

Canning basics and safety tips

  1. Use the jar size indicated in the recipe. This is important because processing times changed based on jar size.
  2. Make sure to sterilize jars and fill them while they’re hot. A good way to do this is wash empty jars in the dishwasher so they’re clean and warm when you’re ready to fill. Alternatively, you can heat them in your canning pot on the stove.
  3. Fill your jars one at a time and place them in the canner to wait while you fill the remaining jars.
  4. Fill to the the correct headspace and remove air bubbles before putting on the lid and ring. The Ball® bubble remover/headspace tool makes this a very easy task.
  5. Wipe the rim of all your jars with a wet cloth to remove any food particles before putting on the lid.
  6. Make sure your canning pot includes enough water to cover the jars by 1-2 inches.
  7. Start the processing time when the water begins to boil – not before.
  8. Leave jars in the canner for 5 minutes to cool before taking them out.
  9. Let jars rest on a kitchen towel or wooden cutting board for 12-24 hours before checking the seal.
  10. Check the seal by removing the ring and making sure the lid is concave, then wipe the jar, and store in a dark, dry, and cool area.

Ball preserving starter kit

If you’re ready to give canning a try, I highly recommend picking up the Ball®  preserving starer kit at Target. Check for in-store deals and coupons on Ibotta to save some money! This 9-piece kit is designed to be the all-in-one solution for first-time canners! It includes a lot of the really handy tools you’ll need for your first small-batch canning recipe, including  jars, bands, and lids, pectin (perfect for early summer jams and jellies), a jar lifter, the really handy bubble remover/ headspace measuring tool, and a funnel! If you’re a veteran canner but know someone who would like to try it out, this kit also makes a great gift!

ball canning jar giveaway

Ball® is celebrating their 135 anniversary this year! To celebrate they have released the cutest Ball® Aqua Vintage jars and I’m giving away a set. Head over to instagram to find that giveaway! 

sweet tangy relish for summer grilling

Ready to make this easy pineapple jalapeño relish? Here’s the recipe!

Yield: 4 pints

Delicious and Easy Pineapple Jalapeno Relish Canning Recipe

Delicious and Easy Pineapple Jalapeno Relish Canning Recipe

Sweet and tangy condiment with a little bit of spice.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 cups diced pineapple, 2 medium pineapples or from frozen
  • 1 medium red onion diced about 1 1 /2 cups
  • 4-6 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground coriander

Instructions

  1. Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready to use, do not boil. Wash lids in warm soapy water and set aside with bands.
  2. Pulse pineapple, red onion, and jalapeno in the bowl of a food processor just a few times to finely chop, being careful not to puree.
  3. Combine remaining ingredients in non-reactive pot set over medium heat. Bring to boil, lower heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Add pineapple mixture and simmer, stirring, until liquid has reduced by half, about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Ladle hot relish into a hot jar leaving 1/2 inch headspace.Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim. Center lid on jar and apply band, adjust to fingertip tight. Place jar in boiling water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
  6. Process jars 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid. Let jars stand for 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool for 12-24 hours. Check lids for seal. They should not flex when center is pressed.

Notes

Wear gloves when working with hot peppers.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

2 TBS

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 84 Total Fat: 0g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 293mg Carbohydrates: 21g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 17g Protein: 1g

April Grocery Report + Is a Costco Membership Worth it?

Here’s my grocery report for April – what we bought and how much I spent to feed our family of six last month. I’m also including my thoughts on is a Costco Membership worth it. Do you think a Costco membership is worth it? I’d love to hear!

April grocery report

April Grocery Report + Is a Costco Membership Worth it

If this is your first time reading one of my grocery reports, you might want to read the explanation I included the first time I did this. I started these reports in January of 2018 so that I could better understand our spending and see how we compare to other families. Each month, I share all the food I buy to feed my family of six – two adults and four kids (15, 13, 11, 8) and compare it to the USDA Cost of Food at Home.

USDA Cost of Food at Home

Here’s what the website says about the USDA Cost of Food at Home: “The Food Plans represent a nutritious diet at four different cost levels. The nutritional bases of the Food Plans are the 1997-2005 Dietary Reference Intakes, 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and 2005 MyPyramid food intake recommendations. In addition to cost, differences among plans are in specific foods and quantities of foods.”

It’s actually worth revisiting the USDA Cost of Food at Home, as it was updated in February 2019. Here’s what it says about my family:

  Thrifty Low-Cost Moderate Liberal
8 yr old child 138.90 192.00 234.40 276.90
11 yr old child 158.10 208.60 272.70 317.90
13 yr old boy 168.90 240.20 300.80 354.10
15 yr old girl 165.50 206.10 245.30 304.40
Male Adult 186.70 242.10 302.00 369.50
Female Adult 165.90 210.00 257.00 329.80
  984.00 1299.00 1612.20 1952.60

According to the USDA Cost of Food at Home, I could spend anywhere from $984 to $almost $2000 each month to feed my family which I think is just crazy. I don’t feel very thrifty – I buy as much organic food as I can and we certainly don’t go hungry. However, I don’t think we have ever spent over the Low-Cost plan – and rarely do we go over the THRIFTY plan. I think we eat a pretty balanced diet full of high quality food.

What do you think of the USDA chart? All righty then, here’s what we bought in April!

What Groceries I bought in April

If you read my monthly grocery reports, the following list won’t be a big surprise. I pretty much buy the same stuff over and over again. I’m not the only one, right?

4/1/19 Jeff’s Market – $4.70

  • Cottage cheese – 3.89
  • Bananas – 1.81

4/2/19 – Costco – $83.17

  • Organic strawberries – 5.99
  • Asparagus – 5.99
  • Dried cheese tortellini – 6.49
  • Pecan halves – 13.49
  • grape tomatoes – 5.99
  • Organic carrots – 5.49
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese – 10.79
  • Organic half & half – 5.99
  • Organic basil hummus – 6.99 (not very good)
  • Bananas – 1.49 x 2 = 2.98
  • Organic spinach – 4.49
  • Frozen blueberries – 8.49

4/5/19 ALDI – $64.59

  • Organic frozen strawberries – 2.89 x 3 = 8.67
  • Mini cucumbers – 2.49 x 2 = 4.98
  • Avocados – .49 x 6 = 2.94
  • Cilantro – .69
  • Hash brown patties – 3.29
  • Sliced mushrooms – 1.69
  • Tortillas – 1.99
  • Cabbage – 1.59
  • Bananas – 2.36
  • Organic gala apples – 4.69 (I don’t usually buy apples off season, but for some reason I did this day)
  • Limes – 1.69
  • Pineapple – 1.89 x 2 = 3.78
  • Organic whole milk plain yogurt – 2.89 x 4 = 11.56
  • Organic mini peppers – 3.29
  • Organic diced tomatoes – 1.65 x 4 = 6.60
  • Organic grape tomatoes – 2.39 x 2 = 4.78

4/12/19 – ALDI – $55.40

  • Pineapple – 1.89 x 2 = 3.78
  • Salami – 2.59
  • NEVER ANY lunch meat – 3.29 x 2 = 6.28
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese – 1.49 x 2 = 2.98
  • Sweet potatoes – 2.39
  • Navel oranges – 1.99 x 2 = 3.98
  • Corn tortillas – 1.99 x 2 = 3.98
  • Bananas – 1.13
  • Organic grape tomatoes – 2.39
  • Chocolate bunny – 2.29 x 4 = 9.16
  • Easter chocolate – 1.69
  • Organic blackberries – 2.99
  • Easter chocolate – 1.99 x 2 = 3.98
  • Organic roma tomatoes – 2.49

4/15/19 HYVEE – 28.74

  • Veggie juice – 2.99
  • Organic beef stock – 2.99 (should have made my own)
  • Organic whole milk – 2.59
  • Organic half and half – 4.99
  • Bean sprouts – 1.89
  • Green cabbage – 4.86
  • Organic peppers – 2.50 x 2 = 5.00
  • Snow peas – 3.53

4.18/19 Costco – 202.51 (paid with my yearly Costco credit card rewards and got a refund of 44.75!)

  • Wild caught Alaska salmon – 33.79 x 2 = 67.58 (I’m a little confused by this. Normally I only buy one bag of salmon at once, but I can’t remember if I may have bought 2 for some reason. It would totally be out of character for me which makes me wonder. It’s always a good idea to double check your receipts quickly before leaving stores!)
  • Asparagus – 2.69
  • bananas – 1.24
  • Organic tortilla chips – 4.59
  • Organic half and half – 1.97 x 3 = 5.91 (The expiration date was approaching and these were marked down. I bought 3 for about the regular price of one. When I got home, I opened the two extra, dumped a little out, and then froze them. I just pulled the last one out of the freezer!)
  • Organic triscuits – 9.59
  • Frozen strawpres – 6.99 (Can’t figure out what that was! Any ideas??)
  • Organic maple syrup – 10.79
  • Frozen cherries – 8.99
  • Organic strawberries – 7.49
  • grape tomatoes – 5.99
  • Organic whole chickens – 18.07
  • Frozen blueberries – 8.49
  • Organic frozen strawberries – 9.59
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese – 10.79
  • Organic ground beef – 19.99

4/20/19 ALDI – $8.78

  • Hamburger buns – .85
  • Frozen french fries – 1.65
  • Winking Owl wine – 2.89 x 2 = 5.88 (includes deposit)

4/28/19 Costco – $125.15

  • Organic frozen berries – 11.69
  • Organic tortilla chips – 4.59
  • Bagels – 5.99
  • Organic carrots – 5.49
  • KS U/S QTRS – 10.35 (Some kind of chicken?)
  • Anjou pears – 5.89
  • Mini peppers – 5.99
  • Pine nut hummus – 5.99
  • Organic strawberries – 6.99
  • Frozen blueberries – 8.49
  • Organic eggs (2 dozen) – 5.99
  • Organic romaine lettuce heads – 4.99
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese – 10.79
  • Cucumbers – 3.49
  • Bananas – 2.48
  • Snap peas – 4.49
  • Asparagus – 4.49
  • Rotisserie chicken – 4.99
  • Grape tomatoes – 5.99 x 2 = 11.98

So, how’d I do in April? Well, out of pocket, I only spent $370.53. If you add in the cost of the groceries I got for free using my Costco credit card Rewards, I spent $573.04. Either way, that’s the lowest amount of money I’ve spent on a month of groceries yet this year. To be fair, Dan and I were gone for a week so all four kids were fed by their grandparents for a week.

Costco_Logo-1

Is a Costco Membership Worth it?

I have been a Costco member since they first came to Iowa City several years ago. I was excited when they opened because I was looking forward to access to more organic food options. Iowa has been slow to offer organics, in my opinion.

Anyway, I splurged and purchased the Executive Membership for $110 annually. I also applied for the Costco credit card – currently a Visa. You can get a basic Costco membership for $55, but the EM gives you 2% back on your purchases, compared to 1%. I always make back my annual fee. You only have to spend $2750 per year (or $230 per month). You can tell from my monthly grocery reports that I have no trouble spending $230 a month at Costco.

I also enjoy the credit card rewards. I spend those rewards at Costco in April to reduce my out of pocket grocery expenses. You do not have to spend the money at Costco – and they will give you cash back on whatever you don’t spend. Mind – we pay our credit card off in full each month. I do not recommend using the credit card if you carry a balance and pay interest.

I just checked on my store rebate and see that I am at $110 currently. My rewards come out at the end of May – so basically I’m shopping at Costco for free. I’ll get a little over the $110 annual fee back, but not much more, and that’s fine with me! 

What do I buy at Costco

You can see from these monthly reports that I buy a lot of organic food:

  • organic half and half
  • organic ground beef (in between farmer beef purchases)
  • organic tortilla chips
  • organic chicken when I need it
  • organic frozen berries
  • organic produce, fresh and frozen
  • wild caught Alaska salmon

I also started buying Costco brand dog food this year. I get the Kirkland Salmon / Sweet Potato. Our dogs started having skin issues so I switched their food and they seem to do be doing well on it. Other miscellaneous items I buy at Costco:

  • clothing for my kids
  • flower bulbs for the garden
  • the occasional bottle of wine or booze

I hear a lot of people talk about how cheap Costco gas it, but it’s almost always cheaper in my hometown than it is at Costco, so I rarely get gas there. Occasionally, I’ll buy a rotisserie chicken -their $4.99 price tag is just too cheap to pass up some days.

In all, I like Costco. I have a large family so their bulk items work well for us. I like that the company pays its employees well and provides health care. I’m happy to support Costco.

What do you think? Is a Costco membership worth it to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts on April’s grocery report!

Curious how my April Grocery Report compares to other months? Read these:

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

The 12 Best House Plants that You CAN Keep Alive!

If you’re looking for easy to care for plants to add to your decor, we think you will find the perfect one on this list of the 12 best house plants you can bring back to life after neglect!

The 12 Best House Plants that You Can Keep Alive

The 12 Best House Plants that You Can Keep Alive!

It’s spring and lots of people are outside in the garden working with outdoor plants. That doesn’t mean you should neglect the houseplants though. We think houseplants are a wonderful addition to any home. They add an instant pop to a drab decor and they also can help your health! Did you know houseplants help keep your indoor air clear? If you don’t open your windows much, it’s even more important to add a few plants to your home.  Potted house plants also make great gifts for gardeners too!

Based on my experience with houseplants, and from scouring the internet, I’ve come up with a list of the 12 best houseplants you can grow. Most of them can tolerate abuse and neglect and somehow keep on thriving. I’ve owned most of these myself. Just a heads up – you CAN eventually kill them if the abuse and neglect continues indefinitely! Just a heads up that they are not 100% foolproof.

snake plant is an easy house plant to keep alive

Tall House Plants

Tall house plants are lovely to add visual interest to your decor. Not only are each of these three plants pretty, but like every plant on this list, they are easy to maintain.

1. Dracaena Marginata – I love the way this plant looks – especially the tall ones. True story: I bought a small dracaena at ALDI and then completely forgot about it for MONTHS! My husband recently pulled it out of the dark and put it in a sunny window. We started watering it and it looks great after only a couple weeks! It’s great for low-light spaces and is durable and easy to care for.

2. Snake Plant – This plant is supposed to be nearly indestructible so if you have really bad luck with houseplants, this might be the one for you! Let the soil completely dry between waterings on this low-light tolerant beauty.

3. Rubber Plant – Rubber plants are also very forgiving plants that tolerate sporadic watering and different levels of light. They’re a pretty, and tall plant that will add beauty to you house.

succulent grouping

Succulent House Plants and Cacti

I love succulents. In my experience they are so easy to grow. If you have a window with lots of light and can commit to watering them occasionally, succulents might deserve a place of honor in your home. Here are some of my favorites:

4. Aloe Vera- Not only is aloe easy to take care of, I love it because it’s medicinal as well. We love to smear fresh aloes on sun burns, when we accidentally get them. Aloe grows well in a variety of light conditions and tolerates people who forget to water it.

5. Jade Plant – Low water plant, great for people who forget to water! Jade plants do like lots of light though, so find a sunny window to place it near.

6. Catci – We can’t forget about the lovely cactus. There are lots of varieties of cacti – some very prickly and some not so prickly. My kids know not to touch the tiny cacti we have and so the spines don’t pose a problem at my house, but do take the spines into consideration before deciding on cacti. The key to growing catci well is choosing the right soil and making sure it drains properly.

pothos plant
Image by Luisella Planeta Leoni from Pixabay

Indoor Hanging Plants

7. Pothos – I have had the same pothos plant for years, and I can attest that this plant will not die. I forget to water it for long periods of time and it keeps on hanging on. Of course, it does much better if you water it, but I have not been able to kill this plant – despite killing off almost every other plant we’ve owned.

8. Spider Plant – This is another hanging plant that’s very easy to take care of. I love spider plants because they grow little babies that are easy to propagate and turn into new plants. Spider plants are also tolerant of sporadic watering and will do well in a low light environment. 

9. Wandering Jew – I’m not sure who named this plant, but I love this one because it thrives on neglect and it’s so pretty! You can forget to water it and it will do just fine, as long as you eventually get back around to it. I also love it, because like the Spider Plant, it’s very easy to use cuttings and propagate new plants too.

african violet

Lovely Plants but Require More Consideration

10. Peace Lily – This plant will thrive in low light, but if you want it to flower, it needs adequate light. It’s a very forgiving plant that will come back if you periodically forget to water it. A word of caution – the Peace Lily is poisonous, though, so if you have small children or pets who enjoy chewing on your plants, the Peace Lily may not be for you.

11. Dieffenbachia- This plant has very pretty leaves. It does well in low to medium light, but it does need to be kept evenly moist so don’t forget to water this plant.

12. African Violet – These plants are easy to keep alive if you leave them alone. They’ll do well in a low light environment but are a little pickier about how they’re watered as they don’t like to get wet and don’t want to be overly saturated. They key to African Violets is to find them a nice spot and then don’t move them as the acclimate to their area and don’t tolerate being moved that well.

Do you have a favorite house plant that I didn’t include on the list? Let me know in the comments! 

Here a few more posts you may enjoy:

Colorful Shade Loving Perennials for Show Stopping Containers

Poinsettia Care Tips for Beautiful Flowers All Season

5 Minute Succulent Planter

Colorful Shade Loving Perennials for Show Stopping Containers

Here’s a list of colorful shade loving perennials for show stopping containers to spruce up your curb appeal and add a splash of color to your landscape. Shade plants don’t have to be boring or ugly when you use this list as a guide.

Colorful Potted Plants for Show Stopping Shade Loving Containers 

Heavy shade can be one of the most challenging garden situations for gardeners to deal with, but often porches, patios or overhangs create deep shade.

Whether you want to create a porch or patio container accent piece, or increase curb appeal with colorful plants in an entry way garden, these shade-tolerant plants can help gardeners working in full shade. You need to take the shade into consideration when choosing the right plants for your space.

Lily-of-the-Valley and Coralbells (Heuchera) are some of the best potted plants for shaded porch

Coralbells for Foliage and Flowers Make a Beautiful Shade Loving Plant

Coralbells (Heuchera) do well in shade container combinations because they need well-drained soil and will tolerate even deep shade. This lovely perennial is hardy to USDA plant hardiness zone 3, so they can survive a pretty cold winter.

Heuchera plants grow 1-3′ tall and wide, making them versatile to use in a variety of container combinations. In large shade containers, they act as filler plants, giving lots of body and filling in the gaps around larger accent pieces. 

In small shade containers, heuchera becomes a taller focal point by using one of the larger cultivars and more eye-catching foliage color choices. Coralbells are available in a very wide variety of color options from dark maroon, to bright green chartreuse colors. Make sure you give them room to grow if you plant them in containers.


lily of the valley

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Lily-of-the-Valley for Fragrance – Make Great Spring Shade Plants

These delicate looking flowers are some of the hardiest bulbs to grow in containers and tolerate full-shade. Like many shade flowers, lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) blooms in the spring and prefers moist, rich soil. This perennial also needs lots of room in containers.

The bell-shaped flowers are usually white, but there is a cultivar that produces pink blooms as well. Hardy to zone 3, lily of the valley plants are a great addition to many garden landscapes. I love adding lily of the valley plants into the shade gardens and containers for their sweet fragrance.Colorful caladium foliage is one of the potted plants for shade

Caladiums offer Bright Foliage and Long Lasting Shade Color

One of the absolute favorite shade plants of all time, caladiums do very well in deep shade and are one of the easiest bulbs to grow in containers. That’s because caladiums should also be planted in well-draining soil, so they tend to do well in container combinations. Gardeners who are wondering how to grow caladium bulbs are sometimes just told – put them in the ground and let them do their thing. Caladiums are perennials in zones 9-11 and treated as annuals in colder climates.

Caladiums grown for their attractive foliage which is  usually variegated in two or three of the following colors; green, white, red, pink, rose or salmon. The leaves grow in rounded, heart-shaped leaves or thinner lance-shaped leaves with a variety of edgings as well. Hundreds, if not thousands, of cultivars are available but most caladiums grow around 1-2′ tall and wide.Shade Plants like Begonia can be One of the Best Potted Plants for Shaded Porch

Shade Plants like Begonia can be One of the Best Potted Plants for Shaded Porch

While not perennials, begonias can be brought inside to over winter. Not only are they beautiful flowers, but some cultivars have highly attractive foliage. One cultivar I saw at a garden center recently called ‘Benitochiba’ was a stunning purple color! Choosing purple or maroon foliaged begonias makes a great contrasting choice to the green, white or silver caladiums in a container combination.

Begonias make excellent container plants for shade containers because they need well-drained soil that isn’t too soggy. They also have long growing seasons so you won’t have to switch out the container plants very often. Plant begonia tubers in the spring and enjoy the wide variety of flower colors. Add  interest to containers  or shade gardens by choosing a rounded, or weeping, begonia and then watch them trail!

bleeding-heart

Image by RitaE from Pixabay

Bleeding Heart

Dicentra spectabilis, or Bleeding Heart, is a beautiful perennial that blooms pink or white arching heart-shaped flowers. Cool areas with moist, fertile soil and shade, are the conditions Bleeding Heart prefers. They do well in containers as long as you give them room to grow without overcrowding.

Do you have a favorite shade loving perennial I didn’t mention? Share it in the comments!

If you liked the post on the colorful potted plants for shade, you might like these posts too:

Grow a cutting garden in containers

Flower and Herb Companion Plants that Keep away Bad Bugs

Tips for beautiful veggie gardens from Moss Mountain Farm

12 Best House Plants that are hard to kill

 

Impactful Earth Day Tips to Benefit Our World

Earth Day is on April 22! To gear up for it, I’m sharing impactful earth day tips that will benefit our world. Earth Day 2018 is on April 22 is this year. To gear up for it, I'm sharing 5 easy healthy spring choices you can make to have a positive impact on the environment. From the the coral safe sunscreen we wear, to the food we eat, to the clothes we wear (organic cotton t shirts anyone?!), small choices can really add up.

Impactful Earth Day Tips to Benefit Our World

From the cleaners we use, to the coral safe sunscreen we wear, to the food we eat, to the clothes we wear (organic cotton t shirts anyone?!), small choices can really add up. What can you do to make a difference this year? If you’re wondering what to do in honor of Earth Day, here are five healthy choices you can easily make this spring! Think of what am impact we could have if everyone made even just one of these changes!

1. Ditch the plastic shopping bags, once and for all!

If you’re anything like me, you’ve said over and over that you will ditch the plastic shopping bags and use reusable bags instead. But then reality hits and you’re at the store with NO bags. This has been my life for too many years. But not any more. Now, I just keep reusable bags everywhere. They’re in my car. In my purse. In my locker next to my coat. AND, it helps that I prefer to shop at stores that don’t provide bags too, like ALDI and Costco.

However, do know that not all reusable bags are created equally. A recent Danish study found that plastic bags are less taxing to produce than cotton bags. A recent article in Quartz called Your cotton tote is pretty much the worst replacement for a plastic bag claims the best reusable bag might not be what you think.  According to author Zoe Schlanger, “If you had to choose just one, and had nothing at the moment, maybe a really durable plastic bag that you can use for a very long time and not throw out.”

2. Switch to a Coral Safe Sunscreen

Coral reefs are disappearing twice as fast as rain forests. Did you know that? A big reason for the kill-off is chemicals in sunscreen. It’s easy to switch to a coral safe sunscreen even if you aren’t going anywhere near a coral reef. You still want a sunscreen without oxybenzone like this Stream 2 Sea or this Alba Spray for KidsEco-friendly mineral sunscreens are also better for you as well, so find a coral safe sunscreen this year and say no to the harmful chemicals.


3. Switch out one Chemical Cleaner for Something Homemade

Household cleaners contain all kinds of unsafe ingredients that leach into the ground and our ground water. It’s really easy to make your won cleaners with only a few ingredients like vinegar and baking soda. Think of the impact we could have if every person made even JUST ONE homemade cleaner in 2018. Here are recipes for five safe and effective cleaners to make quickly at home!

bowl of potatoes, tomatoes, and home grown flowers, broccoli, and cabbage

4. Grow even just ONE tomato plant in a container!

It’s really easy to grow your own food, and you don’t even need a huge garden to do it! This spring, make a commitment to grow something you can eat! Maybe you like fresh herbs, or lettuce. Or maybe a patio tomato container might be for you. Whatever you decide, grow a vegetable that you like this year and then eat it. 🙂 If you’d like to start a garden this year, check out these tips for gardening for beginners (or anyone who would like to make gardening easier and more productive.

#GoOrganic Water

5. Buy Even ONE Organic Article of Clothing – soft organic cotton t shirts!

By choosing even one organic clothing article (even Organic Cotton t shirts!!) over a non organic counterpart, you can help prevent soil acidification and regenerate life and biodiversity in the soil; help protect farmers and their families from chemical exposure; and  save hundreds of gallons of water. Learn more about the impact of organic cotton here – BUT all it takes to have a meaningful impact is to switch out ONE conventional cotton t-shirt for an organic cotton t-shirt.

If you liked this post on Earth Day Tips, you might like these posts too

5 Easy ways you can help save the bees

12 Green Gift Ideas for Eco-Friendly Mamas

How to Eat Organic on a Budget

Must Know Tips Save Money on Organic Meat

What’s in Your Cleaners?

How to Save the Bees – 5 Easy Ways YOU Can help

I’m sure you’ve heard that bees (and other pollinators) are on the decline. If you’re wondering how to save the bees, here are five easy things you can do right now to make a difference! We need bees – see how easy it is to make a difference.

bee inside a poppy According to a White House fact sheet, “The number of managed honey bee colonies in the United States has declined steadily over the past 60 years, from 6 million colonies (beehives) in 1947 to 4 million in 1970, 3 million in 1990, and just 2.5 million today.”  This is a very alarming trend because we need pollinators to grow most of our fruits, nuts, and vegetables! Without the bees to pollinate our crops, we don’t get crops, folks. I’ve read various reasons for the decline in pollinators, but most often pesticides, specifically neonicotinoids, are blamed. If you’d like to help the bees in your area, here are 5 easy things you can do, right in your own backyard.

How to Save the Bees – 5 Easy Ways YOU Can help

1. Don’t use pesticides on your yard.

Pesticides are not discriminatory and kill most bugs, including beneficial bees and other pollinators – which we desperately need. I’ve seen sad memes about the amount of money we waste on lawn care in the US. We waste a lot of energy throwing away grass clippings and spraying our yards to make them “beautiful.” But the reality is, many of our current lawn care practices are harmful to vital pollinators. It’s better to let the dandelion, clovers, and other weeds live as they provide food not only for bees, but also butterflies and other beneficial insects too! And I’m sure we can all think of better things to use spend the money! Or if you must use pesticides, use them very very sparingly.

dandelion field
There are so many dandelion haters, but dandelions are a very important first food source for bees. Embrace their beauty and leave them in your yard!

2. Plant bee-friendly plants.

Bees need lots flowers for food, and they’re very useful because while they eat, they pollinate many, many, many of our fruits, vegetables, and nuts. If you’d like to add bee-friendly plants to your landscape, it’s best to find plants that are native to your area because bees are already adapted to them and can easily get their food. If you’re unsure of what types of flowers to plant, here are a few they love:

5 Easy Ways to Create a Bee Friendly Habitat - plant flowers that bees love from SimplifyLiveLove.com

  • black eyed susans
  • coneflowers
  • geraniums
  • tulips
  • lilacs
  • daisies
  • sunflowers

Planting a variety of flowers that will bloom at different times of the year is a great idea to give bees nectar throughout the year. Bees also love herbs, too! They’re easy to grow and great for cooking. So add a few herbs to your landscape as well.

5 Easy Ways to Create a Bee Friendly Habitat - shallow water dish from SimplifyLiveLove.com

3. Incorporate a shallow water source in your garden.

Bees need water like most other living creatures. Water helps them make honey and keeps their hives cool and healthy. A shallow water source, filled with rocks to provide a safe landing area, will provide a good place for bees to get water without drowning.

5 Easy Ways to Create a Bee Friendly Habitat - featured image from SimplifyLiveLove.com

4. Add a bee habitat to your landscape.

It’s nice to encourage non-aggressive mason bees to stick around. I love this Bamboo Mason Bee Hive House Friends of the Earth sent me!  It looks so nice hanging on my garden shed and I can’t wait for bees to move in.

If you get a house like this, you’ll want to find a location that’s protected from the wind and that will get warm light in the morning and shade in the afternoon. You’ll also want to mount the house 3-6 feet above the ground, on a flat surface using screws.

If bees scare you, or you can’t have them around because of allergy issues, check out this post on how to great a butterfly habitat in a pot.

5. Get to know your farmer

Organic farming is the bee friendly, so if you can buy organic as much as possible, you are supporting the bees. Sometimes, though, the organic certification process is just not feasible for producers. Plenty of small-scare growers aren’t certified organic, but don’t use harmful chemicals on their crops. Get to know your food producer! Buy organic if you want, but more importantly, talk to your local growers and support the ones who don’t use pesticides or other harmful chemicals on their crops.

If you liked this post on how to save the bees, you might like these posts too:

Beautiful Bee Friendly Plants for your Landscape or Garden

Companion Plants You Need in Your Garden this Year

Create a Butterfly Garden in a Pot

How to Start Beekeeping

What do you do to make a difference?