Holland in Iowa ~ Pella Tulip Time Festival

It’s almost time for the 80th annual Pella Tulip Time Festival, coming up May 7, 8, and 9, 2015. We went several years ago with our homeschool group and had such a fabulous time. The scenery is fantastic and the events are a lot fun. I’m really looking forward to going back soon! Here’s a post I wrote after our first trip and I am rerunning it to convince you that you NEED to go to Pella Tulip Time this year!

pella tulip festival

Who knew Holland is only 2 hours away? I have found memories of Girl Scout trips to the Netherlands I took when I was in grade school. We always drove to Holland from Germany on an enormous tour bus. Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, the Anne Frank House, canals cruises in Amsterdam, and of course a visit to an old time village with a windmill, cheese, Delft pottery, and wooden shoes – these were the activities that filled our days. I was in grade school so I haven’t experienced Holland as an adult, but I have a lot of great memories of trips there.

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She’s 8! ~ And a homebirth transport story

She’s 11 today! I first published the story of Anna’s birth on her 8th birthday, 3 years ago. Every year on the birthday of each of my four children, I re-run the story of their birth. It’s a fun tradition, they love hearing how they entered this world, and I love that new people read about home birth days each year. Happy 11th Birthday, Anna!

I have never blogged Anna’s birth story before. It’s a hard, touchy subject for me. But here it is, nonetheless…

Anna’s Home Birth Day and Transport Story

Anna was born at our home in Colorado Springs – a planned homebirth. But like so much in life, her birth did not go as planned. My husband was active duty Air Force when I got pregnant. My option was to birth at the Army hospital 35 minutes south of our house. They had a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), but no water options: no tub, and they barely allowed women in the shower. And I had my heart set on the therapeutic value of water to help me through a drug-free, natural delivery. I read book after book after I got pregnant and became increasingly suspicious about the institutionalized American birth machine. Books like The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer,  Birthing from Within by Pam England, and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, and Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First by Marsden Wagner convinced me that I did not want to have my baby in an Army hospital {no offense, Army friends…}

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Free Amazon Kindle eBooks Round-Up

Here’s my weekly round-up of free Kindle ebooks on Amazon! I found many more books: for cooks,  kids, and then miscellaneous books I’m interested in {and since I am a crunchy mama…I’m calling them books for crunchy people!}

If you don’t have a kindle, but have a computer, ipad, or smart phone, head on over to download a Free Kindle App. Or you could go here and buy a Kindle ! Make sure you check the prices as they change quickly on Amazon. While everything was free when I posted, it’s highly likely that they will change!

Fiction free amazon ebook roundup fiction simplifylivelove

Free Kindle Ebooks

A Winter Wrong: A Pride and Prejudice Novella Variation

The Price of Retribution

Stealing Jenny

Deadly Treasure

Doesn’t She Look Natural?

NonFiction free round up amazon simplifylivelove

Non Fiction

DIY Lemon: How to Clean, Improve Your Health, Rejuvenate your Skin, and Lose Weight

Effortless Savings: A Money Management Guide to Saving Without Sacrifice

Habit Stacking For Frugal Living: 50 Simple Life Changing Tips To Save Money

Foraging: The Ultimate Guide to Harvesting and Using Wild Medicinal Herbs

Off Grid Living: Off Grid Living – Learn How To Thrive Living Off The Grid, Create A Life Of Self Sufficiency and Freedom

Companion Planting, Organic Soil and Lasagna Gardening

free ebook cookbook round up amazon kindle simplifylivelove


Canning and Preserving: A Simple Food In A Jar Home Preserving Guide for All Seasons

The Green City Market Cookbook: Great Recipes from Chicago’s Award-Winning Farmers Market

How To Cook Healthy in a Hurry: Volume 2, 35 New, Quick And Easy Low Fat Recipes You Can Prepare In 30 Minutes

Top 200 Paleo Recipes – Cookbook with Photos

Camping Recipes: Foil Packet Cooking

Quick Easy Recipes: 5 Ingredient Cookbook

KidsBooks free amazon kids ebook roundup simplifylivelove

Kids Books

Bible For Kids: A Collection of Bible Stories for Children Complete

15 Smart Animals From Around The World – Book 1

Albert Einstein – Just the Facts! Biography for Kids

The Kids Book About Tornadoes: Twisters, Waterspouts and Fire Whirls

Numbers, Colors and Word Recognition With R-21

Twenty-Four Edgar Degas’s Paintings (Collection) for Kids

Many thanks to Shelly from Frugal Family Home for her help compiling this list. 

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How to Plant Potatoes ~ No-Dig Method

UPDATE: I first published this on how to plant potatoes using the NO-DIG Method two years ago and have been planting my potatoes following these guidelines ever since.  For the last two years, I harvested well over 200 pounds of potatoes each year! Yesterday, I shared my tips for preparing seed potatoes for planting, and I also finally planted my three types of potatoes as well. Because it’s time to plant potatoes NOW in Zone 5, I thought I would re-run this post. Enjoy.

Potatoes are one of my very favorite crops to grow! For one thing, organic potatoes are hard to find in my area, and when I do find them, they are really expensive. Potatoes are also found on the Dirty Dozen list – which means that they contain a lot of pesticides. Since I keep my grocery costs down by buying from Environmental Working Group’s Dirty 12 / Clean 15 List, I try to grow as many of the “dirty” foods as possible.

cut potato seeds for planting

But beyond that, potatoes are just awesome! I think they are a very pretty plant and digging them up in the fall is like going on a treasure hunt. It’s always fun to see what’s down there, buried in the dirt. {Yes, I know I am a little weird…} But really, I just love to eat potatoes!!

So this is my 4th year growing potatoes. The first year I had really great results – mostly by accident and luck. The second and third year were not so great. The second year my garden was planted over the roots of walnut trees, which I later learned was a big no-no {walnut trees emit a chemical called juglone which is toxic to a lot of plants}. And last year, I planted my potatoes too late in the season and then did not keep them watered well during our drought. I still had a small crop, but I was pretty disappointed with the results.

planting potatoes

This year I really read up on how to plant potatoes, in an attempt to find the “best” way and to make much more educated decisions about my potato patch. I found that there are a lot of different methods for growing potatoes! Some people advocate cutting seeds and letting them “cure” for anywhere from 1-4 days.  Some people advocate cutting and planting right away. And some people advocate not cutting them at all.

I finally decided to cut my potatoes and cure them. I cut them Saturday night and let them cure for 3 days {by accident}. In this time, they developed a crust of sorts {a protective layer} that is supposed to help protect them from rotting in the damp, cold soil. Since our soil is really damp and still a bit cold, I hope this protective crust will be really helpful.

And then I had to decide how to plant them. The ISU Extension Office advocates planting them 3-4 inches under ground, and according to folklore, they should be planted on Good Friday in my area. Well, our dirt was not workable then as it was still snow covered and frozen. My Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening advocates a “no-dig” approach. They claim the no-dig approach reduces time it takes to plant, makes back breaking digging unnecessary, reduces loss of moisture, and results in fewer weeds being brought to the surface. Sounds good to me!IMG_1868

I ended up digging shallow trenches with my hoe down the entire length of my garden as my book recommends planting them in a trowel hole if there is still risk of frost – and we have that risk here until mid May. My kids helped me put the potato seeds, eye facing up, in the holes, and I gave them a 12″ ruler so they could space them the correct distance of 12″ apart. They enjoyed using the ruler to get it right!

IMG_1869It was a pretty wet day. I meant to plant them on Sunday when the weather was nice, but just didn’t get it done. Then, Sunday night it rained. Monday afternoon I was on my way out to plant when my van died. I was lucky to get it to the repair shop, but I was unable to get out to my garden. Monday night it rained a bunch and I was worried that it would be too wet to plant. And it was pretty wet, but after talking with my dad, I decided just to plant the darn things. Rain is in our forecast for a few more days and I was worried that I’d just have to throw out my seed potatoes since I already cut them. Since they have a nice protective layer on them after curing for 3 days, I hope they will grow!

IMG_1877All four of my children enjoyed helping me! It was fun to work with them. sometimes they gripe and irritate me more than I can stand, but they all had fun with this task for some reason.atoes using the no-dig method

In all, we planted close to 150 seed potatoes: a mix of Kennebec, Yukon Gold, and Red Norlands! It took just under and hour from start to finish with everyone helping. I still need to cover each of my 5 rows with a 3″ layer of hay or old straw, and then we will wait.

Once the potatoes start to grow, I will replenish the mulch as necessary to keep them covered. My Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening recommends covering the mulch with grass clippings once the plants are big enough to meet across the rows. They say this will keep the light out of the potatoes to keep the tubers from turning green and that it will also encourage birds to visit and help control pests!

And that’s it! How to Plant Potatoes, in a nutshell! How do you plant yours? I’d love to hear! I will keep you updated on their progress.

Linking up: TGP; Tuesday Greens; Homestead Barn Hop; Natural Living Monday;  Mostly Homemade Monday; Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways;