Last week was Earth Day. We were on vacation, and I did not get a chance to post the second News from Around the Bend. Oh well! Happy Earth Day, all. Did you celebrate? I have to admit: we did not celebrate like I usually do.

Last week, we celebrated by enjoying the great outdoors on vacation! It was gorgeous on Minnesota’s North Shore between Duluth and Two Harbors. We hiked the famous Gooseberry Falls (took photos of the Top, Middle and Lower Falls from almost every angle). We also saw Split Rock Lighthouse, which is another Minnesota landmark. It was a glorious vacation, so while I didn’t present at a school, we took in nature and enjoyed it fully.

Usually, I celebrate Earth Day by presenting to one or two classes about gardening. It is a great day to show students how cool and easy it is to grow plants in any variety of containers.

I find that there is INCREDIBLE FREEDOM in growing plants and gardening. This is one area in our lives where you can be rewarded for being incredibly creative as long as you provide sun, water and nutrients/soil. I love leaving students with that message, especially in an increasingly rules-based society.

Last year, I wrote about teaching a class in a post titled “Earth Day Tip: Teach Gardening.” I taught a group of kindergartners about gardening and let them plant some bush beans in Burpee Coir seed starting mix. It was pretty cool to see the students dig into the warm mix, fill up their cups and plant some seeds. I was pretty pleased that germination went well and the plants took off on the window sill using natural light.

This year crept up on me with all the things going on at work since the Shutdown and everything else happening. I lost this opportunity this year due to scheduling and other priorities. I won’t let that happen next year! In fact, I would like to expand this to a second school. We’ll see what happens next year.

How was your Earth Day? Did you plant anything? Let us know in the comments below!

Helping Hands

Split Rock Lighthouse, Lake Superior, Northshore, vacation
“Be the Lighthouse in someone’s life” – Greg Burns and Michael Jordan

As we go through our everyday life, it is easy to focus on ourselves, our routines and our pity pile. However, there are people around us that need help. There are people struggling with financial problems, health problems, job losses, addictions and deaths. Our friend Adam Rick informed the MN-WI Get Stuff Done Crew this week of a family in need in Wisconsin.

According to the GoFundMe post:

“On Monday, April 29, 2019, this family’s life changed forever. Mac, their father, passed away from an illness unexpectedly. Mac leaves behind his wife and their 5 beautiful children. Nicole is a stay-at-home mom who is going to face many challenges raising their children. Let’s get together and help lessen this financial burden for the Riemenschneider Family.”

GoFundMe account

The link to the GoFundMe is the following:

If you have some extra dollars, throw a couple in the plate and pass it along. We can make a difference when someone needs help by stepping out of our little world. Let’s show what our Small Scale Life Community can do!

Featured Post of the Week

Building the Life You Want with Small Scale Life
Nicole Sauce, Julie Domres and Tom Domres
Living Free in Tennessee

As podcasters and bloggers, it is always fun to interview folks about what they are working on or about some amazing new thing that happened. It is even more fun to be on other shows and get interviewed by another person!

Julie and I had the opportunity to talk with Nicole Sauce from Living Free in Tennessee recently. We discussed starting Small Scale Life, what it means to us and Financial Freedom. At the same time, we were able to ask Nicole about how she budgets given a variable income stream (she has many different businesses).

It is a fun podcast, and it was Julie’s first time being interviewed by someone who wasn’t me. Thank you, Nicole for having us on the show. It is a blessing to be part of her community and interact with her tribe.

I hope Nicole gets some rest! Her Living Free in Tennessee Live Event last weekend looked awesome, and I know she is recovering after having THAT much fun. I told Jules that next year we need to be presenting about Financial Freedom at that event, and we will see where the river takes us!

Intro — or “On Ramp”? — Great Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Series
Jason Gray and the Gray Family
Regenerative Road Trip
See the Video Below

Click to play

Last year, Jason Gray and his family sold their farm and left Colorado. They have been on the road ever since, traveling from National Park to National Park.


His wife Tera is a Park Ranger, and she has been on assignment in some really interesting National Parks. With the Government Shutdown in effect, the Gray family did some traveling, and when the Shutdown ended, they made their way to their new park assignment on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).

This is the introduction to the story of that migration to their new Park assignment.

I have never driven the PCH, but this looks like a great way to experience it! Certainly celebrates the concept of Earth Day as they experience the change in animals and environment on their journey.

Check out this first video introducing the Regenerative Road Trip no matter where you are in the world. We’ll have Jason on the Small Scale Life Podcast soon to talk about this trip, regenerative agriculture and online education.

Julie’s Picks of the Week

Gooseberry Falls, waterfall, vacation
Gooseberry Falls in all its glory! April 2019

We are back from vacation, and Julie had some picks for the week as she hustles between North Minneapolis and her job south of us. Here are Julie’s Picks of the Week:

93: How To Overcome The Fear Of Failure
Rachel Hollis
Rise Podcast

Rachel Hollis is on the rocket ship of success: motivational speaker, author, clothing line, podcaster, etc. She has a lot going on in her life! Rachel released a podcast titled “How to Overcome the Fear of Failure” recently.

I have not listened to it, but Julie said it has a lot “of good shit in it.” Seriously, she did say that! Julie and I talked quite a bit about being afraid of failure and the fear of success. We have both felt that in our lives and experiences, and sometimes we have felt it with Small Scale Life! Take a listen; I might listen in the truck tomorrow.

Also, Rachel….Girl, fix your links to your podcast! With Hollis Co, the Chic Site, Rise Together Podcast, etc. etc. etc., there were NO LINKS or site for the podcast. Thank goodness for Stitcher! So….I will say it again: Girl, fix your links to the your podcast!

Episode 5. Comfrey, Turkey Butchering & Community For Real
Greg and Susan Burns
The Contrary Farmstead

Captain and Lady Lumbersquatch (or Greg and Susan Burns) got back behind the mics and cooked up a great podcast about Comfrey, turkey butchering and the Ohio Get Stuff Done Crew (Ohio GSD). Julie and I listened to this show after meeting with Lifers John and Tara Mathison for lunch. Julie and I took the long drive home, exploring Western Wisconsin and laughing along with Greg and Susan.

One thing I notice when we listen to this show is that we are constantly stopping the show and talking about topics and ideas. Honestly, it takes us about two and a half hours to finish a show because we are talking so much! That, ladies and gentlemen, is a a really good thing.

I could say that this episode is not all about us, but really, it is. John and I asked Greg and Susan about the start of the Ohio GSD, the evolution of it and lessons learned from organizing and running a group of like-minded people. This really spurred an interesting discussion from people who have built community for real, especially when things “got real.” There are some really great lessons learned, and we really soaked the information in as we listened. It really is all about abundancy mindset vs. scarcity mindset, and people really do act this way. This is a key realization as we kick off the Minnesota-Wisconsin Get Stuff Done Crew (MN-WI GSD), and as Greg always says, “Start with the why, and check yourself before you wreck yourself.”

I highly recommend this podcast, especially as you begin to reach out and build community where you are.

Tom’s Earthy Earth Day Picks of the Week

sunset, Earth Day, Lake Superior, Northshore, vacation
Looking north towards Two Harbors, MN, at sunset – April 2019

Look who’s back! Back again! Tommy Cakes is back! Tell a friend! Look who’s back; look who’s back; look who’s back….It’s Earth Day everyday, people! I have some good stuff for you this week! Here we go.

Our Journey Towards Financial Freedom
Tom and Julie Domres
Small Scale Life Podcast

Julie and I podcast “on location and on vacation!” The image shown in the cover was exactly where we recorded the podcast: literally on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. Pretty cool way to podcast and celebrate Earth Day, don’t you agree?

I have to say this was my favorite Small Scale Life Podcast to date. Julie wasn’t kidding when she said it was like a variety show: it was. We both sang, laughed and had some voices thrown in for effect.

More importantly, it was an honest discussion about where we have been in our financial freedom journey. We talked about the Crash of 2008 and our shortsale, about doing stupid with zeros on it and finally coming out of the financial winter in the past year.

It has been a wild journey, but we worked through the 2019 Shutdown when I wasn’t getting paid, and we have added to our savings account while staying out of debt.

Next week’s podcast gets into the meat of things: the inventory! The podcast was recorded on the North Shore, and we are recording another podcast tomorrow. Get ready, folks!

The Ecology of Moving
Terrance Layhew
The Intellectual Agrarian Podcast

You are probably wondering why I picked this podcast versus the excellent Mark Shepard episode. Well, I just provided the link, so you can listen to both episodes!

I actually picked this episode because Julie and I have moved SEVERAL times in the past 25 years. It really is a podcast in itself discussing all the different moving adventures we have made. Some were short moves, and some were across the country! We have done a lot of moving.

This isn’t about us, however. T is moving from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin to Des Moines, Iowa. Personally, I think he is mad for making the move (Wisconsin is God’s Country), but I totally understand it. Opportunity knocks, and you have to go with that flow.

Terrance talks about how we change as we go to a new place. As T states very eloquently:

“The variables that change are healthy and useful to improve us from where we are now to where we want to go.”

Terrance Layhew – Intellectual Agrarian Podcast

That is completely true. Sometimes we need to change to grow. It isn’t always easy, but no one improves dramatically by playing it safe all the time. T also said this, which I found very good:

“Life is a series of interconnected relationships.”

Terrance Layhew – Intellectual Agrarian Podcast

I found T’s discussion about Benjamin Franklin’s move and proactive approach to building a community of like-minded people fascinating. Benjamin Franklin took a proactive approach to building community by starting clubs and societies.

This is exactly what Julie and I are doing, and we are committing to building community. We need to put in the time, meet with people, build that network and work together to build those bonds with others for when times get tough, or even when they don’t.

Take a listen. It is a quick podcast, but it is very rich and thought-provoking. Thank you for putting this one out there, T! Excellent work!

What Should I Plant in My Garden?
Erin Blegen
Yellow Birch Hobby Farm

Fellow Minnesotan Erin Blegen is darn near the Canadian border in Northern Minnesota on a 8.5 acre-homestead. She claims that she is a 19th-Century Homesteader at heart, but from what I have been seeing, she has a great blog and great tools for gardeners and homesteaders alike!

In this article, Erin walks through a process for prioritizing vegetables, herbs and other plants to grow in your garden. According to Erin:

“Prioritize the plants that meet the following qualifications: (1) it grows in your zone, (2) your family eats it on a regular basis, (3) it can be preserved in a way that you actually like to eat it, (4) it has performed well in your garden in the past, and (5) you can harvest in more than one season.”

Erin Blegen – Yellow Birch Hobby Farm

That’s pretty smart. What is even better is that she has developed a worksheet to help “score” plants and herbs based on those four criteria. That’s super smart! I want to work through these items with the Soup Garden concept I am trying this year and see how things do. Let’s see, in my world tomatoes get a 4….

Seriously though, check out Yellow Birch Hobby Farm and see what they have. I have been reading up and will have more on Erin in the near future. They are doing some great things up there.

To think, Julie and I were about 10 miles away from them last week on our “date night” in Lutsen, Minnesota! Darn it! It would have been fun to meet them!

I do have to send my condolences: they got 12″ of snow earlier this week! What a way to enjoy the week after Earth Day! Such is life in Minnesota.

Product of the Month

Gardening, Homesteading, growoya, self-watering
GrowOya propducts can be used in container gardens as well. This picture from Growoya and mikes_homegarden on Instagram is exactly what I was thinking for green beans this year!

Our April Around the Bend Product of the Month is GrowOyas! We have links to these products in our store site. We will change up the product of the month with the next post.

Michael Bell and I talked a lot about Growoya in our podcast titled “Growing Easy with GrowOya at Dallas Half Acre Farms.”

You might be asking: what is an GrowOya?

GrowOya is another method for watering your gardens using a clay pot that looks like a gourd. The water seeps into your soil and the plants get what they need. It is another method to water your garden without timers, hoses, drip tape or other methods.

Michael lined a tunnel with GrowOya products and experimenting with tomatoes this season, and it is another self-watering system that could be used on any size garden! I am planning to use GrowOya’s in a garden bed this year to test out how it works compared to irrigator beds (wicking bed systems).

For more on how to use Growoya products, check out this video.

To purchase GrowOya products, please visit to purchase the following:

Medium Growoya for watering up to 3 feet. A 6’ x 3’ foot raised bed is perfect with 2 medium GrowOyas.

Small Growoya for watering patio or porch pots and planters–small growing spaces of up to 2 feet long and/or wide. But it’s a pretty versatile size and can be planted in any garden space with 6 inches of soil or more.

Check these out and give them a try!

Join the Lifer Movement!

Small Scale Life Newsletter, Campfire Conversations, Bonfire
Campfire Conversations – Potential new name for the Small Scale Life Newsletter. The second newsletter came out this week. Did you get a copy?

Did you hear? I started a Small Scale Life E-mail Newsletter last week! We have seen how social media platforms have limited the reach of posts to our followers and friends, and we want to keep you in the loop about what is happening at Small Scale Life. We will be sending out regular e-mails to subscribers about news, posts, and of course links to important content like this popular News From Around the Bend article.

At the same time, Julie and I are planning some other events and content for 2019. We are pretty excited about what is coming this year, and if you subscribe, you will get the news first, be in the loop and won’t miss a beat. To subscribe, head to the Resources page and sign up!

Putting It All Together

As always, if you have a great post or podcast that you would like to include in these weekly news updates, send me a note at realsmallscalelife [at] gmail [dot] com or hit the Small Scale Life Contact Page.

Have a great weekend! Make Earth Day everyday. Go get em, Lifers!