When the days start to get shorter and the weather turns a little chilly, gardeners tend to start thinking ahead to next year’s garden. But wait – this season isn’t finished! Even though the weather is cooler (even with some frost), there is still ...
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Extend Your Harvest Into the Colder Months

When the days start to get shorter and the weather turns a little chilly, gardeners tend to start thinking ahead to next year’s garden. But wait – this season isn’t finished! Even though the weather is cooler (even with some frost), there is still time to grow vegetables into early winter.

Even though the weather is cooler (even with some frost), there is still time to grow vegetables into early winter. Learn how to extent your harvest.

There are a variety of ways to extend your growing season. First, choose plants that will tolerate the colder, end of season weather. This may mean that you plan a second planting late in the season of lettuce, carrots, cole crops like broccoli or cabbage, or spinach. Almost any variety that will enable you to harvest an early crop in the Spring can be replanted in the late Summer for the next round of cold weather.

Look for micro-climates around your yard

We all have them – little places that seem to thaw first, or those areas that always have shade and the snow never melts. Choose the warmest spots to plant your fall/winter gardens. Those areas will stay warmer long into fall and your veggies will thrive. Avoid the colder shady areas and plant them only in spring/summer.

Use succession planting techniques

Plant crops every couple of weeks so that you will have a longer growing season. Most plants are annuals and have a definite life cycle. Plant the amount you will use in the 2-week time period. Then plant again for another period. Once the original plants are harvested, you can re-plant with another crop of something else. For maximum soil benefits, rotate what you plant (don’t plant the same crop twice in a row). Each crop takes and replenishes different nutrients, and planting the same variety will leave your soil depleted.

Consider protection from the cold

This can be as simple as mulching around the plant base to hold in soil heat to using rigid protection like cold frames. You can also use one of the various garden fabrics to cover your rows and trap heat. If you don’t have acres of garden, an eco-friendly method is to make mini-greenhouses out of gallon milk jugs. Remove the bottoms, keep the caps. Place the jug over the plants and during the day, remove the caps to let excess heat escape. Replace the caps in the evening to keep the cold out.

Cold frames are a great way to extend the season. They can be as simple as plastic sheeting stretched over PVC pipe, or as elaborate as glass windows built onto a raised frame. The one advantage is that they allow plants to have protection from the cold at night and enjoy all the benefits of the sun’s heat during the day. You can keep most vegetables producing for several weeks past their normal end of season by using cold frames or hoop houses. This is also a great way to ripen your late-season tomatoes on the vine.

Keep root crops in the ground, even after the first few light freezes. Cold weather will actually improve the flavor of many root crops like carrots and turnips. Harvest before the ground freezes, though, or your soil may compact.

Move perennial herbs to a shed or enclosed porch. Rosemary, parsley, and many other biennial or perennial herbs will survive over winter on a covered porch. Water lightly, keep in partial sun, and they will be ready to plant back in your yard early spring.

Use artificial lights indoors. Many lettuces and spinach can be grown over the winter indoors. Use specially designed grow lights that mimic sunlight if you don’t have a sunny place to set them. Start seeds a week or two apart, and you can have fresh greens throughout the Winter months.

Protect your plants from the freezing weather, and you will be rewarded with tasty produce. By employing some of these techniques, you can extend your growing season well into the cold, snowy months of the year.

The post Extend Your Harvest Into the Colder Months appeared first on The Happy Housewife™ :: Home Management.


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Join me for the Frustration to Functional Closet Challenge!

Want a sneak peek into my closet? I shared all my closet challenges in this Facebook Live

Have I told you about my friend Kelly? I met Kelly many years ago at a blog conference and I always thought she looked amazing. (She’s super smart too- but I digress)

Kelly is one of those people who always looks good, no matter what she is wearing. I always assumed that Kelly had oodles of money and access to the latest fashion, so I was surprised when one day I complimented her on her outfit and she told me it was from Old Navy and she bought most of the pieces on sale.

The bottom line is that Kelly knows how to dress for her body type, and she knows how to put together outfits so that she always looks amazing. And she does it using math and science, so it takes the guess work out of figuring out what to wear.

This is a before and after of one of one person who took her course. Isn’t it crazy that changing the type of clothes you wear (based on your body type) can make you look like you’ve lost weight?

Lose weight by changing how you dress.

Here’s another example.

what clothes make you look thinner

My sister actually signed up earlier this year and has learned so much about how to dress for her body type! I saw her this summer and she looked amazing and thinner even though she hadn’t lost any weight.

If you are tired of standing in your closet and wondering what to wear you’ll want to join Kelly’s FREE challenge that launches this week. During this 14 day challenge Kelly is going to help you create a functional wardrobe out of the clothes you already have in your closet. Since cleaning out my closet was high on my priority list (it’s such a mess!) I’m excited to join her challenge and I’d love for you to join along with me.

In this free challenge Kelly will give us:

  • Four information-packed lessons complete with videos and worksheets
  • “From Frustration to Functional” wardrobe planner
  • Weekly LIVE video sessions with Kelly (where she will answer your specific questions in real time)
  • Facebook accountability group
  • and more fun surprises

I’m excited to participate in this free challenge and I hope you will consider joining me! If nothing else you’ll end up with a clean and organized closet, and probably a few newly discovered outfits in your closet.

The post Join me for the Frustration to Functional Closet Challenge! appeared first on The Happy Housewife™ :: Home Management.


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Quick Fixes to Make Your House Look Awesome!

How many of us walk into our home and see all the small things wrong with it? Did you know there are a simple things you can do that don’t cost a lot of money and can be done in less than a day? You do not have to embark on a whole house renovation to create some big changes in your home. Check out these quick fixes to make your house look awesome.

Check out these quick fixes to make your house look awesome. These simple tips don't cost a lot of money and can be done in less than a day.

Brighten up your home

Lights do not cost very much money. A quick fix to make your home look awesome is to get better lighting. Perhaps your light bulbs are dull. A few bucks and you can brighten up your home in no time. Also, consider switching to LED bulbs to save money on your electricity bill.

Add a slip cover to the couch or replace your throw pillows

This is such an easy fix and slip covers cost around $50 for a decent one. Slip covers can cover up an old couch (and stains, rips, or tears) in a heartbeat. Add a few pretty pillows and your living room is going to look grand.

I shop the clearance section of Target, Marshall’s, and TJ Max for throw pillows at discounted prices.

Use throw pillows to quickly update the look of any room.

Clean your carpets

If your carpet is looking dingy, spend a few bucks to have it carpet cleaned. You can also add a throw rug to help take the attention off the main carpet. Go a step further and pull up the carpet, if you think you may have hardwood floor underneath.

Update the hardware in your home

One of my favorite ways to make a home look awesome is to update the hardware. Hardware isn’t that expensive and can be added to dressers and cabinets. I have purchased hardware from Amazon.com and Overstock.com for significantly less at than Home Depot or Lowes.

Another way to update your hardware is to spray paint it. Rust-oleum has a collection of spray paints in metallic colors like hammered bronze and brushed nickel. A can of paint costs around $5 and covers knobs for several pieces of furniture.

Change the curtains in your home

Want a quick fix to make your home look awesome? Change the curtains! I have room darkening curtains in my home. It’s amazing how it keeps the light out when I want and brings the sunshine in when I’m ready.

Do you have any blinds that look like this?

Quick fixes that make your home look awesome.

We didn’t even have a pet when our mini blinds looked like this! If you have a window that requires custom blinds, making (or buying) curtains can be an inexpensive alternative to freshen up the room.

A few years ago I made these curtains for my girls out of leftover fabric. If you can sew a straight line you can make curtains for any window in your home. Inexpensive curtains can update any room in your home.

When I want really cheap curtains I look for flat sheets on clearance. You don’t even have to know how to sew to turn sheets into curtains.

You can also update a inexpensive curtain rod with a coat of paint.

Paint your front door and add a kick plate

For some reason, painting your front door can really make your house look awesome. Add a kickplate and you will hardly be able to recognize how awesome your home looks.

If you are feeling brave, go with a bright color on your front door. We painted our front door a blue green color and everyone who comes over loves it!

Painting your front door can make a big difference!

Update the paint on your shutters and trim

There are a ton of things you can do on the inside and outside of your home to make it look awesome. A quick fix on the outside is painting the shutters. This is a job that’s not all too hard and not too expensive. Once done, it’s going to add a lot of pizzazz to your home.

If you really want to make your house shine, repaint or clean your interior trim. Bright white trim inside a home really makes a difference.

Spray paint rusted vent covers

This is so easy I can’t believe I didn’t do it in my other houses. You can spray paint rusty (or dated) vent covers so they match the ceiling or floor. All you need to do is remove the covers, clean them thoroughly, spray paint them (I did 2 coats), let dry, and screw back in place.

Paint vent rusty vent covers for an inexpensive fresh look.

Painting costs significantly less than replacing vent covers and they look brand new!

Clean up the clutter

It’s amazing what a little decluttering can do for a room (or a home). I love to organize using bins and baskets so that random things aren’t lying around my house getting shuffled around every few days. I’m also not afraid to throw things away if they don’t have a home. It’s rare that I’ve thrown something away and needed it later.

Quick fixes that will make your home look awesome.

Paint one piece of furniture

Although I’m partial to white and gray, I do love having one piece of furniture that pops with color. I use chalk paint (read my review on Valspar Chalk Paint here) and it makes the painting process much quicker.

I painted this table in a few hours and it really changed the look of the entire room. (I also spray painted the knob.)

Paint a piece of furniture for a pop of color.

Replace dated bathroom floors with vinyl stick down tile

While this tip isn’t quite as easy and cheap as the other ideas, you can do it for under $100 and the results are dramatic. I recently discovered groutable vinyl tile and it looks amazing! No one can tell it is vinyl and it is very durable.

groutable vinyl tile can update a bathroom

You can lay it right over the existing tile as long as your surface is level. This is a great quick fix for an old floor.

As you can see, many of my quick fixes involve paint, which is my favorite way to update just about anything. Paint is cheap, and the results are almost always fantastic. Before I jump into a big (and usually expensive) DIY project, I try to make little changes and live with them for a while. It saves me time and money.

The post Quick Fixes to Make Your House Look Awesome! appeared first on The Happy Housewife™ :: Home Management.


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Planting Your Garden and When to Plant

Even though many areas of the country are still knee-deep in winter weather, thoughts are quickly changing to the warmth and sunshine of spring. Sunny days, no more frosty nights – what’s not to love? Even in the coldest months of the year, though, it’s time to start planning your summer garden. These tips will help you know how and when to plant.

ven in the coldest months of the year, it’s time to start planning your summer garden. These tips will help you know how and when to plant.

Keep a Journal

Planning your garden takes some time, but it really shouldn’t take more than an afternoon. If you haven’t planted a garden before, start a small garden journal. Keep notes of plants and varieties you’d like to incorporate into your space. If you are planning a vegetable garden, order some seed catalogs from online websites. You’ll learn a lot from reading about the different varieties available.

If you had a garden last year, then you probably have notes, or at least thoughts, about what worked well for your space and what you might want to change. Did you find out that 10 zucchini plants were more than your family could deal with?

Did pumpkins take over your yard? Keeping a small notebook with notes is a great way to help plan your garden from year to year. You don’t need to make anything fancy, but have a place to keep all your garden thoughts together. Before planning this year’s garden, read through to see what you might want to change.

Visit the Garden Center

Next, make a visit to your local garden center. This is for several reasons, but the primary one is that they are familiar with your locale and know when the optimum time for planting your garden is, as well as plant varieties that will perform well in your area.

They have a wealth of information and are available to share it with you. They’ll also know if you need to amend your soil or need other kinds of nutrients in your area. They enjoy talking shop.

Focus on the Estimated Last Frost Date

The important date to focus on is the estimated last frost day. Tender young plants will die if exposed to frost. There are some methods to protect them if you get a freak cold day after you’ve planted, though. But there is nothing more infuriating than having to replant your garden because you planted too early!

Start Plants Indoors

To get a jump on the season, you can start some plants indoors before the beginning of the season. Count about eight weeks before that critical last frost date, and start your seeds then. You can plant them in almost anything from newspaper pots to peat pellets to small flower pots. If they have some sunlight, warmth, and water, they will grow.

Starting your own plants from seed will allow you to experiment with types that aren’t readily available, like some of the new developments, or old heirloom varieties. There is a lot of satisfaction in starting your own transplants, and it’s a great way to get the whole family involved in gardening, too. You can order seeds from companies like BurpeeGurney’s, or Baker Creek Heirloom.

Purchase from Your Local Nursery

If this seems like too much work, make a trek back to your local nursery to find out what varieties they have available. Try to find a garden center that raises their own plants instead of buying them from a larger commercial grower. The plants will be adapted to your day length, humidity, and may even already be acclimated to the environment.

Plants that nurseries purchase – like the big box stores – are usually greenhouse grown, under the best growing conditions, and then delivered to your store. They’re usually not the best plants for your region, and are just a generic variety that’s sold everywhere.

Be Ready to Plant

Be ready to plant your garden when all dangers of frost have passed. In temperate climates where frost is not an issue, gardens may be planted any time of the year.

Pay attention to the specific needs of the varieties you’ve picked. Some plants do better in the cooler months with shorter sunlight, and some need the hotter days of summer, along with the longer sunlight to thrive. Remember to jot down a few notes throughout the season so you can fine tune the process next year.



The post Planting Your Garden and When to Plant appeared first on The Happy Housewife™ :: Home Management.


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5 Simple Ways to Wake Up Earlier

Join us February 1st, as we begin the Early Bird Challenge. Do you think you can wake up early every day for 28 days? If you want to get a better start to your day, be more productive and finally get ahead of your to-do list join us for the Early Bird Challenge

Wake earlier and start your day off right! Join our free challenge that begins February 1st.

I’m writing this article for everyone who struggles waking up early. I know not everyone wants or needs to be an early riser. There were many years when my husband worked shifts that I stayed up later because he worked late.

But there are many of you who want to wake up early but struggle, I struggle too.

I don’t consider myself a morning person or an evening person. My best hours are from 9 am to 2 pm.  I am also not one who feels energized when I wake up super early.

I never thought of myself as a morning person, although I found out that when I did wake up earlier I got more done, had more energy and stuck to a routine. Getting up earlier allowed me to fit in time to exercise, which then gave me more energy and I felt better. It didn't happen overnight- it took me a while to get in a routine of waking up earlier and here is how I did it.

To be honest, I feel tired.

But, when I wake up early I am able to accomplish much more in the morning hours than I am ever able to accomplish by staying up until midnight or one in the morning. So even though I am tired later in the day, I’ve already had my most productive hours in the morning, so I don’t have to be “on” at 8pm.

Since I have struggled in this area I figured I would share some of things that have helped me make the change to become an earlier riser. And if we are being honest, when I say early I mean 6 am. I will never be a 4 am person, I have teenagers, and they seem to want to do all their talking after 10 pm.

Quit the Caffeine

I don’t drink it after 1pm, no matter what. If I do I can’t fall asleep even when my body is exhausted. My mind can’t relax enough to fall asleep.

Turn Off Technology

I’m guilty of surfing the web before I go to bed, especially now that I have an iPad. For many months I even read my bible on the computer in the evenings. I have found that computer, television, tablets, and video games do not help you fall asleep.

Not only do they keep you awake, it is easy to turn on the television to catch the end of a show and end up watching another hour or two because we get sucked in! If you need to do something before you fall asleep try reading a book.

Go to Bed Earlier

Sounds simple, but for some reason it is so hard. I often find myself looking at the clock and realizing it is almost midnight! Give yourself a bedtime and set a timer to remind yourself it is time for bed. If I want to fall asleep at 10:30 I try to go to bed at 10pm and give myself a little extra time for reading.

Reader tip: Set your alarm on your phone for an hour before you want to go to bed. That will remind you that you need to start getting ready for bed and winding down so your bedtime doesn’t sneak up on you.

It is hard to fall asleep earlier if you are waking up later. There will be a few days in the beginning where you have to force yourself to get up early even though you were up late. Pretty soon you will be tired enough to fall asleep at the earlier hour.

This year since we had a change in our school schedule, I need to get up before 6am. This was a huge adjustment since we were really enjoying our lazy days of summer. I eased into an earlier schedule by setting my alarm clock 15 minutes earlier every few days. Now I wake up before my alarm several days a week because my body is use to the new schedule.

Get Enough Sleep

You know how much sleep you need to be a productive person the next day, so make sure you get it! Some people only need 6 or 7 hours, and others need at least 8. Figure out how much sleep you need and create a sleeping schedule to accommodate your needs!

Get a Routine

This is the most important thing for me. I need about 7 hours of sleep, so I try to go to bed around 11pm and wake up between 6 and 6:30. It is important to go to bed and wake up at around the same time every day.

If you are just starting to change your routine I would recommend going to bed and waking up 15 minutes earlier every day until you reached your desired wake-up time. (see above)

Don’t Get Discouraged!

I recently started adjusting my schedule to wake up a little earlier, after two successful days my family was hit with the crud. I wasn’t going to bed until after midnight most nights and was up with sick kids numerous times throughout the night.

I turned off my alarm and got some extra sleep so I didn’t get the crud too! I was discouraged to be thrown off track so quickly, but I realized that the crud would soon pass and I could get back on schedule.

Don’t let little setbacks discourage you, just pick up where you left off and work on establishing a good routine.

If you want help getting a better start to your day- join us on February 1st, for the free Early Bird Challenge- 28 days to jump start your morning. Sign up now! 

You might also enjoy:

The post 5 Simple Ways to Wake Up Earlier appeared first on The Happy Housewife™ :: Home Management.

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