Sod The Prudent Homemaker

It’s a short month, and I’ve got a ton to do!

Last month the baby cut his first teeth, and wanted to be held all the time. I didn’t manage to get any sewing projects from last month done, and now most of those will have to wait until March.

In addition, we had a lot of rain (for which I am very grateful!) and also a lot of wind. I didn’t finish pruning the trees, so I need to prune and spray dormant oil (rather quickly, as the buds are close to opening!) 

Our last frost date is February 15th, which makes February our busy spring planting time.

I’ve made the decision to remove most, if not all, of my espaliered apple trees. Despite reading that the varieties I chose did well in hot areas, most have not flowered. In addition, they have decided to grow away from the wall, and are taking up precious space in the center of the garden bed. This is an additional plan I’ve made to my original plans for the garden for the year, but it’s one I’ve been debating for several years. Removing them will allow me to plant something else there, making for a more productive garden.

The weather is beautiful (in the 60’s and 70’s!) so working outside is a pleasure.


Garden Goals:

1. Replace sod in a few areas in the garden

2. Manure lawn (spread manure with manure spreader and rake it in)

3. Finish pruning fruit trees

4. Spray fruit trees, bushes, and vines

5. Fertilize fruit trees, roses, and berry bushes

6. Plant seeds in the garden every week for food and flowers

7. Repair leaks in the drip lines

8. Purchase more asparagus plants for the garden

9. Purchase tomato plants 

10. Cement column in the garden

11. Use Liquid Nails to attach garden urn to column

12. Plant roses when they arrive (the replacements from the ones that didn’t make it last year)

13. Run new drip lines in areas where the old lines need to be replaced

14. Remove espaliered apple trees

15. Remove grass that is growing in garden beds


Sewing Goals:

1. Make birthday presents for two daughters

2. Embroider new labels for towels


Personal Goals:

1. Lose 4 pounds. I know it’s a short month, but I also know that if I’m diligent with watching what I eat, I can achieve this goal. The semi-annual garage sale I go to is April 8th, and I want to be at my goal weight by then so that I can buy clothes for myself in a new size.

2. Study French every day

3. Watch some videos to learn new things

4. Read 2 books on French culture: The Bonjour Effect and Bringing up Bébé, both of which I requested from the library



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  1. Wow, talk about goal-setting! I don’t know how you do everything you do, but if anyone can achieve this list, it’s you, Brandy!

    My own goals include:
    – combining existing soil from the pots on my balcony with a bag of soil that I bought, and adding in peat from peat pellets that I tried to grow lettuce in. I figure that once I mix all that together, the soil should be quite good and enough to start my (big) plans for this summer’s balcony garden
    – plant lettuce seeds in a greenhouse tray (indoors, obvs, as I’m in Canada), and finally grow some lettuce! I’ve tried growing lettuce in pots outside last summer (didn’t work, I assumed because the soil was too poor), then I tried growing lettuce in peat pellets inside (didn’t work, and because I’m changing variables one at a time to figure out the issue, I think it was the $ store seeds that were the issue), so now I’m trying new lettuce seeds from a reputable company. If it doesn’t work this time, I’m throwing my hands up and going to ask a horticulturalist at a local garden store what to do. But I think it will work with new seeds! I WILL grow lettuce, by golly!
    – buy a metal rack to put on my balcony. The one I have in mind is from IKEA so it’s affordable, and because it has solid metal shelving, rain pouring onto my unocovered balcony from the condo roof several stories above won’t be able to kill all my plants as it used to, and people dropping cigarettes won’t be able to contaminate my plants or set the furniture on fire (which has happened).
    – set up a contact/work with me page, and also a ‘ethics/promise to readers’ page
    – find another link up to join each week. Any suggestions for one with a good readership?
    – continue to go back through old posts and add in text via picmonkey
    – read up on boardbooster and implement a plan
    – read up on convertkit and start to set up a email system (i.e. intro emails, etc.)
    – deep clean something else, like behind my fridge or underneath the kitchen sink (I cleaned behind my stove last week, which was very satisfying)
    – figure out a gift for my mum for her 70th b-day
    – find the perfect recipe for shortbread cookies (request by my mum for her birthday, as opposed to cake)
    – figure out gift for the DH for Valentine’s Day, that is big on thoughtfulness and also inexpensive. And isn’t food, as he’s trying to watch his weight. He’s a hard one to think of gifts for!

    And once I add in my day job, my usual blogging, and my usual household and family stuff, I think that’s enough for the month!

  2. RE:Planting asparagus. We lived for many years in a neighborhood that had been built in the 1960’s on land that had been farmed since the 1880’s. There was an empty lot behind our house. The first Spring we lived there, the kids came tumbling into the house one afternoon with fresh asparagus! It had been planted by the farm family all those years ago and still came up, just a little, every year. We ate it happily. Asparagus is one of those foods you MIGHT be planting for folks to eat a hundred year from now – which is pretty frugal.

  3. Good Morning Brandy,

    Love the work you are doing in your garden and replacing with sod. We will need to do this to our yard as well soon. Where do you buy your sod? Last year we bought from Home Depot, and it didn’t last. 60’s and 70’s sounds pleasant to be working in the yard~ Enjoy 🙂

    We have a few inches of snow from the storm that came through last evening. It is very pretty. I plan to stay home with the fire going today and read and make a warm soup for tonight’s dinner. Some of our friends are without power near our home, so I will make enough for them should they want to come over today and stay warm.

    Have a wonderful week~ I always look forward to your weekly updates~ You inspire me!
    Blessings~ Patty from the NW

  4. WOW what a to do list. Hubby is trying to lose weight and not doing so good. He watches what he eats…as he puts it in his mouth. LOL I did get him to sign up to a free class at his work’s wellness center to help kickstart him to into eating healthier (not sneaking sweets when I am not around or looking) and exercising more as he won’t walk with the dogs or me or ride the exercise bike that is sitting right here.
    Still too cold here to work in the gardens but I am planning them and have my seeds bought.

  5. Wow, your garden will keep you busy!

    We aren’t past our freeze stage and are supposed to have night time temps in the 20’s later this week.

    I’ve got some sewing to do, too. I want to make four placemats. I have the pattern (free online) and the fabric from my stash. I just need to plan it in. However, I have a birthday present, crocheting project, I have to get finished before the end of the month.

  6. Margaret,

    A couple of ideas, because I am having some lettuce issues as well, and htye tend to be these same two problems:

    1. Are you planting too deep? Lettuce needs to be barely covered with soil.
    2. Are your seeds drying out? Wind and heat are problems for me with this here; yours could be wind or another reason.

  7. My goals for the month are as follows:
    1. Lose 2 lbs.
    2. Keep a fully funded $1,000 emergency fund.
    3. Pay car tags on time so as not to incur a late fee.
    4. Walk 30 minutes, four times a week.
    5. I am going to do a low spend month, which is actually normal. I will buy a few items that are needed, but only if I find a good price. I find that patience helps.
    6. I think I have posted before about not having any kitchen cabinets. They were stolen out of my home before I purchased it. That was part of the reason I was able to purchase the home so cheaply. I have purchased a $40 counter top from a friend and a $20 cabinet. So, I am working on getting cabinets. However, I am going to wait on installing them until I get my home pilings (piers) fixed, so that the cabinets will be level. I am looking around with different contractors for the best price. Again, I am very patient. If I have to wait six months, that is ok. I do not want to overspend. We all have different circumstances, different budgets, and what works for one person, may not work for another.
    7. I am going to do some more decluttering in the bedroom.

  8. I too have been trying to be conscientious about my eating habits etc. I found a very good book at the library that has very sensible advice on losing weight. It is geared towards athletes but so much of it is applicable to everyone. It is called “Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance ” by Matt Fitzgerald. It doesn’t advocate a fad diet and also doesn’t advocate starving yourself either. It is very much about making sure you fuel your body well for the activities you want to do.

  9. I so can’t wait to garden! We have a good 2 1/2 months to go. Last week I gave the whole house a good cleaning. I cleaned the oven even taking the door apart as there were cobwebs in between glass layers that were really bugging me. Looks good now! As I was cleaning got rid of several items to declutter some areas. My husband replaced a broken socket in one of my ceiling fans and I replaced blown out and mismatched bulbs in all light fixtures. He also replaced the seat on the commode. I needed 2 lamps for my living room. I purchased two beautiful ones that were origanlly 59.99 at Hobby Lobby at 80% off for $12.00 a piece. I was so thankful!!! My goal for the next month is to clean out closets and the attic. Have a wonderful week!

  10. I am all over the pace lately and with my unpredictable work schedule (working late or not working late?) I am trying not to overschedule myself.
    I have some projects (mostly sewing) waiting for me but they may need to wait till the spring.

    This month I will do best to work on the following:

    1. Do yoga twice a week (with youtube videos)
    2. Take a relaxing bath once a week
    3. Read 2 books
    4. Organize our shoes area (plus washing and giving some TLC to some of them)
    5. Organize my kitchen and declutter the cabinets (get rid of old copperware, cracked or missing lids, etc)
    6. Wash the stove and the oven

    That’s not much but that’s a start!

  11. The perfect recipe for shortbread cookies is from the Canada Cornstarch box. You can google it — it is widely reproduced. I roll the dough into balls, and flatten them with my hands. I add a piece of pecan to the top of each cookie.

    Don’t cook them too long. I’bve also never had any success making large batches – its better to make multiple small batches.

  12. That a busy month of projects!
    I have some plans, one being to fertilize my cabbages — they are planted at the wrong time, I know, but I’m going to give them a try.
    Another is to plant the pumpkin plants sprouted from seeds I retrieved from a store-bought heirloom pumpkin. This is the right time to plant them, according to the U of F extension office.
    Make a draft dodger– I’m not getting fancy here, my husband has some old long stretched out tube socks he won’t wear anymore, and I plan to stuff one. I had an adhesive sweep on the door, but the cat picked it off. No point in putting one back on for her to pick it off again.
    Finish a book for a class at church.
    Finish painting some vintage carved wooden fruits given to us. They are old, but not valuable, and they are so– brown! I am giving them an antique-looking wash of color, then giving them a nice polish. They look much better that way.
    Continue looking for Christmas gift ideas for next Christmas.
    Keep my grocery bill down — I did it last month, so I’m hoping to do even better this month.
    Practice my Spanish — I’m going on a mission trip to Central America this summer.
    Save money for said mission trip!

  13. Spring has sprung?!? I can’t wait, as here it is windy, snowing and still freezing cold.

    Either in this post or your previous, you mentioned planting leek seeds. Have you grown leeks and harvested the seeds from your own or did you buy these seeds? Just curious as we have planted leeks a couple of times and had ordered tiny leek seedlings. I would be interested in how to collect seeds from our own plants.

  14. I love your blog, I have made it a goal of mine to start commenting this year. I have read your blog from the beginning, and before that your website. I have never posted.

    I read [i]Bringing up Bebe[/i] last year and really enjoyed it. I then tried to read [i]French Women Don’t Get Fat[/i]. I didn’t actually finish it, I didn’t enjoy it like I did [i]Bringing Up Bebe[/i].

  15. I remember reading Bringing Up Bebe, some time ago. What I remember, I enjoyed. It was a different perspective on parenting than I was being introduced to, and as a new mother I really found it made sense. Now I cannot remember the details… maybe I should revisit it. Please let us know what you think of it when you have a chance! Beautiful goals for the garden! It makes me itch to get going on mine, but that will have to wait a few months in Central Oregon 🙂

  16. Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia 🙂 .

    Here is our goals for the month –

    Financial Goals –

    – Bank more money into our saving for our home with cash bank account. – Done

    – Continue to top up home emergency cash fund.

    – Use DH’s paid gardening work money to subsidise fuel this month.

    – Save up my earned craft and seed selling internet money to purchase a food dehydrator.

    – Continue to be frugal to save for our home with cash and replace funds used to purchase 2 new laptops.

    – Put away $245 at the end of each month to cover bills into our dedicated bill account and save $250 to top up emergency fund used to purchase laptops with. – Bill money done.

    – Only use $180 of our $280 monthly grocery budget and save the other $100 a month and any other money under this budget to top our at home bulk grocery/emergency fund back up after buying our bulk meat. – Done our grocery budget came in under budget.

    General household frugalities –

    – Continue to use our solar lanterns to light the home at night without turning on mains powered lights. – Done.

    – Hand water lawns and or vegetable gardens with saved grey water if this heat continues. – Been doing this each day.

    – Meet all planned budgeting categories and hopefully go under. – So far we are under budget in all categories.

    Home and kitchen –

    – Continue to cook all meals and bread from scratch.

    – Preserve by blanching and freezing all excess vegetable produce from the gardens.

    – Make meals to use up items in the vegetable freezer to make room for more growing and items in the pantry that need cycling through.

    Garden –

    – Weed the garden beds.

    – Plant some lettuce and beetroot seeds in the gardens.

    – Mulch between the vegetable garden beds with the woodchips we have made from our free trees. – Done.

    – Mow the house and paddock lawns with the ride on lawnmower. Done.

    – Continue to collect leaves to mulch the vegetable gardens with instead of buying hay. Done.

    – Save seeds from our dwarf strike green and butter beans.

    – Trim by pruning the sweet potato vines as needed to keep them contained in the garden bed they are in.

    – Keep up with picking ripe vegetables from the gardens. Done and will continue throughout the month.

    – Work in the garden in the early mornings and evenings to avoid the heat of the day. Done and will continue.

    – Continue to trench compost in between the vegetable garden rows as we have enough kitchen vegetable scraps. Done.

    – Fertilise the gardens with a tonic of Seasol once/ twice this month and corn, silver beet and spinach with urea once every 3 weeks.

    Sewing and craft –

    – Cut out and sew an A4 notebook cover, curtain tiebacks and 5 layer cotton eye masks.

    Firewood, kindling and mulch –

    – Continue to shred our collected leaves and smaller branches from the 2 free trees we had. Leaves all shredded and done.

    – Cut more firewood from the remaining pile of free ironbark tree logs and branches at side and back of the house and stack at the side of the house.

    – Take a trailer load of larger gidgee tree branches to the tip once finished. Done.

    Read more:

  17. Thanks, Brandy! I’m definitely going to keep your tips in mind. I’m pretty sure that my current problems were due to weird seeds, as they sprouted and grew into long, stringy NON-lettuce type sprouts…and then died. I’m hoping that once I use the good quality seeds that I purchased, proper lettuce will sprout. The only other variable that I can think of is that it might be too cold in my condo; but my other indoor plants are thriving, so it can’t be all that cold. I usually have a green(-ish) thumb, so this is frustrating…but I will persevere! Thanks for your help! 🙂

  18. can also be the type of lettuce…leaf vs butterhead vs romaine vs iceberg… Leaf is usually the easiest. I have luck with romaine but the heads are smaller. It only needs 6 hrs of sun but can grow in shade. I have planted mine under the trellis of cucumber (have trellis leaning against something so there is a shady area under it) Dad did tepee for his pole beans and had the lettuce in the middle with radishes and turnips.With containers I bottom( sit pot in water in a shallow pan)and let it absorb the water water daily when the temps get above 75.

  19. I’ve heard it can take fruit trees a while to start flowering in some cases. Maybe that’s why the apples haven’t blossomed yet?

    I purchased super-cheap fabric at my local thrift store (repurposed sheets and whatnot). My goal is to sew myself a cardigan this month. I got several very comfortable fabrics so I’m hoping to have a variety of cardigans to wear at my cold office. The issue is that I’m still a novice sewer and need to have more patience. 🙂

  20. It can take several years, but as these are 9 years old, I have decided it has been long enough. In warm areas, if there are not enough chilling hours (between 32-40ºF) trees won’t flower. I think we are too hot.

    Two of them started flowering last year, but not enough to justify keeping them. I could put something else in the space and get a lot more food from it.

  21. We are in Zone 9 also. We tried an apple tree but it didn’t do well either. A farmer friend has an apple orchard (organic) and he listed all the things that need done to the tree to make them work here, including spraying them every 3 days for several weeks. We decided it was too labor intensive and took the tree out.
    I have successfully kept lettuce alive this winter. We do get nights of about 28 degrees F regularly, I’ve had hoops over that bed, and clear plastic over the hoops. It’s leaf lettuce, so I’ve cut the outer leaves all winter and the heads are still going strong. I got starts from the nursery in the fall, I have never had success with seeds. But that one six pack of starts for a couple of dollars has kept us in lettuce all winter.

  22. The Dorsett Golden apple I bought locally has done well for us (it is ripe in June) but the apples are definitely sauce apples; they’re a softer, more mealy apple, and we prefer a crisp apple. Annas are also supposed to do well here, but the same factors apply. I am keeping my Dorsett Golden, but taking out most everything else. I took out another apple last year and replaced it with a female pistachio (Kerman). I will be planting a male pistachio (Peters) where I had an espaliered apple. I’m debating adding another female pistachio or two.

  23. for Margaret, and all:
    My mother came from Aberdeenshire in Scotland, I’m enclosing her recipe and directions for shortbread …. there are many recipes out there for shortbread type cookies and many are very good, but this is the real thing, as handed down from my great grandmother (although they beat by hand!!)
    Take out your butter the night before. You cannot substitute margarine.
    Place 1/2 lb. butter in mixer.
    Sift 2 1/2 cups of flour with 1/2 tsp salt.
    Sift 1/2 cup icing sugar.
    Start mixer at high and mix for TEN minutes. (butter) this is the secret to airy, light shortbread.
    Add your icing sugar in 3 additions, letting the first addition be absorbed before adding more.
    Then add flour the same way, in 3 additions. All flours are different, so add two cups of flour then test dough before adding more.
    Test by sticking a finger into dough, if it is sticky, add a little more flour, just a little. Dough should be soft but firm and your finger come out clean. use discretion adding that last half cup.
    Now roll your dough (gently) in icing sugar, not flour. to form rolls or cakes. Traditionally they made it into round cakes but I make cookies.
    Bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes … all stoves differ, so watch those last minutes closely to avoid burning. Use a heavy pan or two together. Your cookie will be white with a slightly tan bottom. You can also drop the dough and squish with a fork. Be gentle, treat your dough like a baby.
    that’s it. Good Luck!!
    Ann Lee S

  24. Hi Miss Brandy~I don’t know if I’ve asked this before but, have you ever shared your record keeping and organizational methods? I’m always amazed at the facts and figures and things you recall from years gone by in your blog and figure you must have some valuable tips on organization. If you haven’t already done a post on this, would you be willing to, please? Thanks!~TJ

  25. I loved[i] Bringing Up Bébé[/i]! It’s a great peek into everyday French culture among the mommy set. I haven’t read the other one, but will check to see if our library has it. I have been refreshing my French over the last 1 1/2 years using Duolingo, too.

  26. TJ,

    For some reason, remembering prices are easy for me. I’ve made price books in the past, but after a while, I get to the point where I can remember what the lowest sales prices are and what months they usually occur. Of course, sometimes the stores like to mix it up a bit (like with the 0.49 pasta sales that come 2-3 times a year, but not always in the same months). When prices change, it takes me a bit to adjust to the new low price, because it’s not always obvious that it isn’t going to go back down to the old low price. That happens with food, fabric, and plants at the nursery. (The local nursery managers just told me to expect new, higher prices, thanks to an increase from their growers in California, where minimum wage increased and water restrictions meant higher water prices).

    If you haven’t made a price book, I would suggest making one, with the lowest sales prices for the items you buy, that notes which stores you found it at (and when).

    For example, I bought some cheese this past week at Sam’s Club. I went to two other stores, and noted again the prices on cheese there, and I was SO glad that I bought it at Sam’s Club. It was $2 a pound for mozzarella at Sam’s Club, but $4.50 a pound at another store! These two stores are within a mile and a half of each other. Knowing where I can find the lowest price is definitely worth it! I bought 10 pounds of cheese, so that’s a huge savings!

  27. This is the book that competitive rowers are recommended – We have it since our daughter was rowing at the national level and was struggling with getting a good racing weight to compete and our son maintained his light weight status thru his senior year in highschool – and promptly put 10 POUNDS on his first weekend that he was free to eat what he wanted and as much as he wanted – there are t-shirts for rowers that say “don’t feed the lightweights” – it is like wrestling and is not exactly the best thing for growing kids but it was his choice. It is a very good, informative book. I am donating ours to the high school rowing team this spring so they have it available to other highly competitive kids.

  28. In my limited experience what you have is “leggy” lettuce which I think means not enough sun and light. Good luck!

  29. Yes! I just Googled that and that’s exactly the issue! Thanks, Libby! I will try again and keep the tray of seedlings by a south-facing window. I also read that a fan aimed at the seedlings for a few hours a day will cause the plants to release chemicals to thicken the stems because the plant is trying to withstand the “wind”. So pleased to know what went wrong. Now, to fix it! 🙂

  30. Brandy, I have been following your blog for quite a while and I have decided you are definitely the Proverbs 31 woman. What an inspiration you are to your reading audience, Thank you!

  31. Thanks for sharing this. It sounds similar to my grandma’s recipe. I have such fond memories of eating these at family functions.

  32. Hi Brandy! Love your blog. Would you mind sharing what you are doing to lose weight? It’s nice to read things to help keep motivated.

  33. I love everyone’s goals to be healthy- you’ve got to take care of yourself in order to care for others and keep up stamina to be frugal! Plus it makes you feel good 🙂
    – workout 4 days a week. I’m now 3 weeks out from delivery and so I’m trying to be gentle with myself and not jump right back into running.
    – make one present. On the list are baby bibs, a strawberry knit baby hat, and onesies embroidered with an A for my soon-to-be niece. Her shower is in April so I have some time
    – take some newborn photos of our little one. My mom paid for photos of our first so I want to make sure we at least have some “homemade” ones for the second. I pinned a lot of photos for inspiration
    – try to avoid going out to eat. We have food in our freezer and I have to make sure to use it
    – continue to use cloth diapers for the little ones
    – have a few at home dates with my husband. Have to try to get him on board that dates don’t need to be dinner out
    – make sure to get some reimbursement for work expenses and health expenses
    – try to deep clean the house a bit before the end of maternity leave
    – study for a certification exam
    – NAP! DAILY!

  34. I don’t have a recipe for shortbread cookies off-hand, but authentic recipes call for rice flour as one of the ingredients. It gives the cookie that lovely, grainy texture. Maybe that can help you narrow your recipe search! 🙂

  35. Brandy, could you give the apple trees away . Don’t know if they can cope with a transplant, but one could alALWAYS ask if anyone is interested??

  36. Alexa, several of them are growing into and around the metal fencing. In order to remove those trees, I have to cut the wires as well. So removal is difficult and involves chopping them up, both branches and roots.

    These trees are not going to produce in our climate, so they would be a waste of space to someone else. It simply doesn’t get cold enough for them to flower and produce. It would be much more worthwhile for someone here to buy a self-fertile apple that can produce with less than 400 chilling hours. Most of them are not self-fertile. Apple tree pollination is rather complicated. Because some of these did not flower, even those that did are not likely to produce anything, simply because they need to have the right trees flowering to pollinate them.

    Apples in our climate are soft and rather mealy. They are fine for sauce but not great for fresh eating. I still have an apple tree that produces and is self-fertile (Dorsett Golden) and is ripe in June. That one will stay (and it’s not espaliered), but the others will go.

    Christ cursed the fig tree that didn’t produce so that it withered and died. If the trees are not producing, out they come.

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