The little things I do each week to save money

It might not seem like a big deal to some folks but I’ve learned that the little things we do on a daily basis really do make a difference.  Here is a list of some of the things we do (or try to do!) on a regular basis to save money:

-Dry laundry outside on the line, weather permitting, or hang it on racks inside to dry.  This not only saves money on electricity but also adds needed humidity during the winter months.

-We usually turn our oil burning furnace off in April.  We have an electric hot water heater so the furnace is not needed during the warm months.  It usually gets turned back on sometime in October. So far this winter we have no yet had to turn it on again.  Earlier this year we purchased 2 cords of hardwood for $400 delivered to add to the cord we had leftover from last year.   We have been using our zero clearance fireplace and a couple of small electric space heaters to heat the house.  It can get up to 82 degrees in the main rooms and 65-68 in the other rooms which is comfortable for us.  We would have spent well over $1000 on oil by this time if we were relying on it for heat.   And we have had average lows of 25-35 degrees and highs of 35-45 degrees.

-I cut my own hair.  I work outside the home so I need to look professional.  As I’m sure you know hair care can cost a bundle.  I found a video on YouTube that shows how to cut your own, simple layered cut at home!  I was a bit nervous at first but figured what’s there to loose?  If I mess it up I’ll just go to the salon to get it fixed.  If it turns out then I’ve saved at least $25!  Well, my awesome husband (AH) likes my home cut better than any that I’ve had professionally done in the 24 years we’ve been together!

The Garden Can Be A Dangerous Place!

`This week I discovered what a dangerous place the garden can be! I’ve had my fair share of minor injuries and accidents while gardening but what happened this past week was a first.

As is usual for me, I was taking a walk in the garden after work to wind down and refocus after a long day. I decided that I would pull out the spent corn stalks so the I could get the bed fertilized and prepared for the Fall. It is important to note that I never wear garden gloves. I used to tell myself that it is because I like to feel the dirt on my hands and there is some truth to that. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty. But the real reason is that I have never been able to find gloves that fit right and are heavy enough to give me any significant protection. So I just don’t wear them.

I started pulling the stalks. I was on the third or fourth stalk when I felt a sharp sting in my hand. The sting was in the fleshy part of my palm between my thumb and wrist. I thought it must have been a spider but could not find any sign of what it actually was that bit me. I wasn’t too mad as spiders are very welcome in the garden. But I didn’t see a web and could and saw what it was that bit me. All I know is that within a few seconds I was feeling intense pain in my hand which was radiating up my wrist and arm as well as swelling in my hand.  By this time I was also able to identify several small puncture like wounds on my palm.  Fearing that things might get worse I had John take me to the emergency walk in clinic.  The PA there gave me a prescription for some prednisone and instructions to take Benedryl which did the trick.

A few days later I was back in the garden when I came upon these little creatures


This, my friends is the caterpillar of the IO moth and they STING!  It was camouflaged so well that I never saw it!  The moths that they morph into are quite beautiful but they can wreak havoc on a garden, so if they show up again next year they will have to go!

So, I’ve decided it’s time for some gloves.  I’m going to try these

My husband has the men’s version, which I tried, and found them to be really close to what I am looking for in a glove.  So I’ve ordered the women’s gloves and will report back how they work out for me.  I don’t ever want to get stung by one of those beasts again!

Be careful out there!


Adventures in Gardening 2015

I can’t believe it’s the middle of August already! Seems like it was just weeks ago that we were starting the Spring garden. And now the Summer garden in winding down for the season. Both gardens provided us with good harvests as well as some surprises.

Good surprises:

1. We had 12 volunteer tomato plants come up in various raised beds. Funny thing is that they came up in beds in which I’ve never planted tomatoes!

2. I decided to try some cauliflower this year. I purchased 9 plants from the local Southern States for $3.50. They did beautifully and we harvested 8 heads! At $3.99 a head at the grocery store around these parts I’d say my $3.50 investment for 9 plants paid off!

3. The cucumbers would not stop! I usually have to battle the squash vine borers that love cucumbers as well, but not this year. I was whining to John “please make it stop” every time I’d go out to harvest. We ended up with plenty for fresh eating in salads, 14 pints of dill pickles, 7 pints of cucumber relish and enough left for more fresh eating and giving away to friends and neighbors.

4. I’ve never had much success growing cilantro. It’s not my favorite herb but I use it in our canned salsa as well as fresh.  This year I, literally, just tossed some seeds in one of the herb beds and forgot about it.  I ended up with a beautiful cilantro harvest

5.  We had the BEST sweet corn harvest ever!  Corn is another crop that has never done well for me.  This year I planted a small stand in one of the 4×6 raised beds.  This happens to be the same bed that we had the chicken run over last Summer.  Looks like all that fertilizer gave the corn just want it needed because it was fantastic!  It’s called Cloud Nine from Gurney’s.  It’s a white variety and is delish!!

Not so good surprises:

1.  The broccoli didn’t do well.  I started the plants inside as I always do, but they just didn’t look as healthy as they have in the past.  I’m not sure what went wrong but they did not produce much at all.

2.  The tomatoes have taken forever to turn red this year.  I’m usually canning tomato products by now but this year I’ll still waiting for enough of them to ripen. So, with more good than bad surprises, I guess it has been a good garden season so far.

With  the Summer harvest coming to a close  I guess  it’s time to get to work on the Fall garden.  More about that later!  I’d like to hear about your garden surprises so far this season!

Doomsday Preppers: Not!

Today we attended the Mid-Atlantic Emergency Preparedness & Survival Expo in Myersville Maryland. We met many wonderful people who believe that self-sufficiency is one of the most important priority someone should cultivate in their life.

We spoke to a husband and wife team who sells “Thrive” long term storage food and provides Permaculture consulting services and will be interviewing them in a later episode of StoneHouse Homestead.

A woman owned and operated company called “Runlites” was selling running gloves that have built in LED lights that would come in extremely handy if you were facing a lights out situation. Melissa will also be interviewing the owner and getting her story on how she started her business and how she is incorporating her family into her venture.

Another interesting vendor that we visited is called “Container Homes of Maryland’. One of society’s greatest challenges is to provide affordable and sustainable housing. This innovative company takes a shipping container and transforms it into a home or cabin.

We were very excited that there were hundreds of other likeminded people attending and networking with each other. We would highly recommend that you check it out at next years Mid-Atlantic Emergency Preparedness & Survival Expo.

We will be uploading our first video to our YouTube Channel in a few days, check back here for more information.

StoneHouse Homestead

Hi, my name is John

I want to personally welcome you to the StoneHouse Homestead website. My wife and I are happy that you joined us today.

Ever since I was a little child I loved spending time out at my step-grandfather’s small farm, being around the animals at his brother’s dairy farm. By being around this farming community, it instilled in me the hard work ethic and love for the land and the environment that has helped me become successful today.

Even though I work in the Information Technology field, even to this day I long to be out on the farm, working the ground and taking care of God’s creatures. Since you are here visiting our website, I bet you feel the same way!

Thanks again for joining us today and I want to personally invite you to come back often and to visit our YouTube channel and follow us on twitter @StoneHouse_Home.

Take Care & God Bless!


Welcome to our little suburban homestead!

My name is Melissa and I’m so glad you’ve found my blog!  It is my hope that this blog can be a place where folks who desire to live a more self-sufficient, simple and frugal life can exchange ideas and learn from one another.


John & Melissa

I’ve been married for 22 years to my awesome husband and best friend, John.  We live in a small town and one day hope to have a home in the country with some land.  Until then, we do what we can with what we have.  Thankfully our town has a strong agricultural history and continues to value the importance of self-sufficiency.  The town codes actually allow for the keeping of livestock within the town limits as long as there is enough room, proper fencing and the animals are well kept.  People keep goats, rabbits, chickens and one family even has a cow.


Our little suburban homestead is about a half acre in size.  We currently have a fairly large garden, a couple of fruit trees and 5 laying hens.  We hope to add more garden space, ducks and honeybees eventually.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that we both have full time jobs away from the home.



September 11, 2001 showed me how fragile life is and how things can change in a minute. Then,  a few years ago we began to see more changes.  The housing bubble burst, some people lost their retirement funds others lost their jobs.  Still today, despite what we are being told, the economy is not good and there are terrorists who want to kill us.  John and I began to feel more and more impressed that we needed to do what we could to take care of ourselves and help others.  As so began our suburban homesteading adventure

I don’t claim to be an expert in homesteading.  As a matter of fact, some folks would take issue with my use of the word “homestead”.  But, to me, homesteading is more of a state of mind than an actual place.  It is our desire to be as self-sufficient as possible but we understand our current limitations and do our best to work  within   them.  So, if you too have the desire to do as much for yourself as possible and to live simply and frugally then you’ve come to the right place.  I look forward to having you join me in the journey!