Making the Most With What We Have: Joanie’s Story

by Merissa on March 20, 2015

in Making the Most

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Making the Most With What We Have

Welcome to our brand new series here on Little House Living, "Making the Most With What We Have"! This series will showcase individuals and families all over the US (and even outside the US!) that are making the most of what they have. We know that you can be a modern homesteader without 160 acres of land and a mule so this series will share the stories of these families so we can get a peek into their lives and learn from each other.

Today we are following along with Joanie's Story...

Where Do You Live?

We live in the suburb of a larger city in Arkansas. We have a big backyard, and a house with plenty of space. We have lived in a smaller suburb and in the country, but my husband's job brought us where we are now.

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What Are Your Dreams and Goals for Your Homesteading Journey?

Our goal is to simplify our lives no matter where we are. We had great dreams of owning acres of land, but have since learned we can simplify our lives no matter where we are. We are slowly adding raised beds to our backyard and plan to eventually get a few chickens. We had chickens in the city limits at our first home, but this city has stricter chicken laws. Our neighbor told us the first woman who lived in this house had a huge garden, so we have hope we can grow several things ourselves, too. We also have clothesline poles already up in the backyard, so my goal this spring is to get my husband to put up the line for me. I would also like to continue learning how to make several items myself, such as lip balm, and I want to learn to can.

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What Are Some Things You Have Learned So Far?

I do make several things myself such as laundry detergent. We know how to care for chickens, even though we do not have any right now. My husband is the gardener. He can grow just about anything. I love a garden, but I'm not the best at caring for it when I'm so busy with little children!

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We are a homeschooling family, and I love how simple our days are because we spend our time together. We lean toward the Charlotte Mason way of home education, so we spend a lot of time outside exploring nature.

One of the best things I have learned is how to live with less. We are constantly simplifying our lives. My husband finally decided to cut our satellite (yay!) and we strive to pay cash for our vehicles, though we do have one car payment right now. I love to pare down our belongings and get rid of things we don't use.

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How Are You Making the Most With What You Have?

I make our laundry soap. Our daughter has eczema, so we cannot use commercial products anyway. We make sure to use up the last bit of everything. I turn leftovers into new meals. We are also very careful when making large purchases. We discuss our options and try to make sure we buy for quality. I also re-use containers. We use old ice cream containers to store things like our homemade laundry soap. I save jars from store-bought sauces to use as storage, too!

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Share Your Favorite Recipe!

I love peanut butter pie. It's not the healthiest thing in the world, but it's a yummy treat every now and then!

Share With Us One Unique Tip That Has Helped You

We have sold a lot of things we do not need anymore to help us make extra money. We also recycle aluminum and metal and make a little extra money here and there off of that!

Your Favorite Useful Homesteading Item

I love my Kitchenaid mixer. I was so hesitant when my husband bought it because it is not cheap, but it makes mixing up a loaf of bread so easy. I also have attachments that allow me to easily shred blocks of cheese and grind meat. We even use it to make ice cream!

Anything Else to Share?

You don't have to live in the country with acres and acres of land to make the most of what you have and live a simpler life. Start where you are right now! Learn how to make things you normally buy. Start baking even if you've never baked before! Learn a new handicraft, such as knitting. If you can't grow everything you eat, visit your farmer's market. Just start somewhere!

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Want to be a part of the Making the Most With What We Have Series? You can read about it and fill out the interview questions here.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ashley March 20, 2015 at 12:06 pm

We make the most of what we have by making laundry detergent, doggie shampoo, dishwasher detergent, (will make) lotion, making my own broths, canning. This year will will have a garden and hope to have chickens someday (not sure out 1/4 acre is big enough). In my garden I will have herbs that I will dry and yarrow that I will make my own salve–now I just hope everything grows good. This is our first year for a garden. I have spent a lot of time reading up on things so cross our fingers. I also save zip lock bag and reuse them; I save and reuse jars and I am working on making sanitary pads for my daugher and I. I think I will also make reusable snadwich bags. I also make new meals with leftovers so almost nothing goes to waste. Eggs, fruits and veggie stuff goes in the compost for the garden. I just love finding ways to live cheaper and better!

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2 Joanie @Simple Living Mama March 22, 2015 at 5:28 pm

I love all the things you do to live a simpler life! You can definitely have a couple of chickens on 1/4 acre. I miss my chickens and can’t wait to have them again! Good luck on your garden!

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3 Christa March 20, 2015 at 9:19 pm

I live in Arkansas too! It’s great to learn from like minded people. On our 3rd year to have a garden. I wish you the best.

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4 Joanie @Simple Living Mama March 22, 2015 at 5:29 pm

Thanks Christa!

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5 Sandy March 20, 2015 at 9:36 pm

Yes, you can have chickens on 1/4 acre as long as your city/county allow it. We have 1/3 acre and we have a large coop with 23 chickens. We love them and their eggs. We held some of them a lot when they were young so now they let us pick them up. They are soft and friendly. We have Delawares, Marans, RI reds, Ameraucanas, and Barred Rocks.
We have had a fruit and veggie garden for 20 years. Our first house was on a 6500sf in town lot. Our garden has grown a lot bigger now that we are on so bigger of a lot. The advice best taken ? Start with one or two veggie or fruits you like, learn about how they grow, and grow them the first year. If they are successful, the next year add one or two new ones. Now we grow all sorts of things and it helps feed our families. We even found Heirloom starts at Lowe’s this year. Yeah!
Now that our children are teens, each has a specific job. Our daughter helps with the laundry soap and soap making. Our sons either help with the chickens or making the dairy products like yogurt or sour cream. Cheese is our next adventure.
Have fun in what you choose to do. Enjoy every minute and, if you can teach a younger person or child how to garden, make soap, etc., then you will be not only simplifying your life but also their life. Happy homesteading!

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6 Lynn March 21, 2015 at 2:53 am

I came across your blog but don’t have a homestead.In fact I live in a quarter villa which has has a neighbour upstairs and 2 next door .One upstairs and one down next to me.I live in the suburbs of Glasgow in Scotland and have lived a very consumer led life.
I have a front and back garden which I’ve never did very much with.I started the simpler life only last week and so far I’ve meal planned incorporating leftovers,Made homemade cookies from your recipe and gave some to my neighbours.Ive turned OFf the TV with a view to selling it shortly.Ive ordered and received the apple cider vinegar for its uses around the home.Im going to make my own shampoo next from your recipe.Im starting to compile a home management book.I also have made some burger buns for the first time instead of shop bought.Oh and I have bought loads of ziplock bags which I can reuse.Im now on a mission to DE-CLUTTER. I’m really looking forward to my simplified life all thanks to your inspiration.
Have a great day.

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7 Debs March 21, 2015 at 10:27 am

What a fantastic and encouraging idea! I read peeps mourning about what was and how unfair it is that we do not live in the same economy. It is ok to mourn something, then look forward, not backwards. Life did not turn out the way we expected either, but I learned a long time ago, contentment comes from inside, not from job security.
Debs at the Toy Box SubUrban Farm in Everett, Wa.

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8 Debbie March 21, 2015 at 7:37 pm

Hey there I am also a pioneering /homesteader I love to can anything, I’ve recently canned hotdogs for my hubby. I have chickens who are laying around 22-25 eggs day I live on an acre of land have a garden hopefully it will do good this year. I am doing a square foot garden for some of our plants. It has already started getting hot here and so hopefully my garden will survive. I make herbal salves and my own laundry det. too along with several different herbal tintures. I Love it that I can do so many things. My husband wanted to put up a privacy fence behind our chicken run as the young neighbor kids were throwing things at them through the fence. No money for privacy fence I suggested using wooden pallets two high and it looks and works fine no money involved at all just a few sore muscles and some sweat. It doesn’t take much to resource and brain storm. We love our modern country homestead.

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9 Desiree March 21, 2015 at 8:48 pm

I live in a small town and my lot size is 60 x 100. I garden or use for garden storage every inch of it. Last year I harvested 704 pounds! I would have chickens….except where would they go? I would want them free ranging but have left no area for that.

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10 Joanie @Simple Living Mama March 22, 2015 at 5:35 pm

Thank you so much, Merissa, for featuring my post! I love the community here at Little House Living!

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11 Merissa March 22, 2015 at 8:37 pm

Thank you for sharing it with us Joanie!

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12 Nickie March 22, 2015 at 6:11 pm

Hi. I love hearing everyone’s story and what they do to simplify their lives and to also save money. I see several ladies commenting that they make their own detergent. I would love if you could please share with me on how to do that. Also the one on how to make dog shampoo. I am on a very strict budget due to alot of changes in my life and need to find every way possible to save money as well. I would love to try to grow some veggies in a flower pot and also love to learn to can. I want to learn to crochet as well. I think I was born in the wrong time period. Please, if anyone can give suggestions, I would really appreciate it. Thanks.

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13 Vanessa March 23, 2015 at 8:25 am

Wow, such a great post! We currently live in an apartment in South Charlotte and can’t wait till we can afford a house with a bit of land. We are striving to become debt free before me make that jump. In the meantime, I am also learning how to save and pinch pennies as we strive towards that next goal. I’m just learning how to garden and have to remind myself that if I can’t garden, I can always support those that do at our local farmers market. Thanks for the reminder that it doesn’t matter where we live, we can still be good stewards and live a simple life 🙂

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