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Coin Collecting: Bringing Us More Value Than We Thought

coin-jar

Did you know the history of coins mirrors much of the history of humankind? Since the invention of money, countries have minted coins for standardized currency. Many coins fall out of circulation, becoming archaeologically significant.

But what about coins still occasionally found in circulation? Believe it or not, they have value (more than a nickel), more so as people move from cash currency to digital. How can you get started collecting coins, and why should you? There are a million reasons and the least of which is not more jingle-jangle in your own pocketbook!

Why Collect Coins?

Multiple reasons exist that explain why people collect coins and why you should start too. One is that coins serve as valuable educational tools. For example, when was the last time you looked at the date on one of your coins? What was happening that year? Are you old enough to remember? If not, hop on trusty old Google. It's fascinating what you can learn when you fall down a Wiki hole.

In addition to learning new things for yourself, you can elevate your children's learning. Coins teach history, but that isn't all. You can use the value of a coin today versus its original issue value to teach both economics and math. Children can learn about the value of compounding interest over time as well as how to perform basic computations like figuring out an increase in value.

Speaking of children, coin collecting, or numismatics, provides another vehicle for passing down wealth through the generations. You'll never look at your countertop change jar the same way when you realize that what cluttered your pockets today can pay for part of your grandchild's education tomorrow. Coins generally appreciate in value over time, and certain ones do so at exponential rates.

You can also involve children in collecting commemorative coins. Some commemorate historical events like the American bicentennial. Another kind of commemorative coin is minted as a type of fundraiser for certain groups and organizations.

Finally, collecting coins can give you quite the rush. There's nothing like reaching into your pocket and pulling out an American Eagle edition coin, for example. You'll find wealth in the most surprising places — the supermarket checkout, walking along the sidewalk, even browsing estate sales. You can examine the different metal contents of valuable coins, adding to your knowledge base, as well as engage in a fun scavenger hunt activity no matter where you are — again, get the little ones involved!

A Brief History of Numismatics

Archaeology tells us that throughout time, governments have minted coins featuring people considered famous in their eras. Some coins depict natural or man-made landmarks. Coins reflect the values of generations and what they held dear.

In the United States, the 1800s marks the decade when coin collecting became popular. People began growing fascinated with the large cent series after it was discontinued in 1857, and they quickly developed interest in other coins too. No longer was numismatics a hobby reserved solely for the upper classes. Collectors can order from extensive catalogs today, but many enjoy the rush of stumbling across a rare find in their pocket change.

Those new to the art of coin collecting do well to join as many online groups dedicated to fellow aficionados as they can. These groups serve as valuable educational places for new collectors to get tips, and they provide a rich area for buying, selling and trading.

Making Money From Coin Collecting

Coin collecting proves entertaining, and it's also a good way to earn extra money — especially if you find a rare coin on the cheap because no one recognizes the value. This technique, known as "cherry-picking," does take time. After all, rare coins won't cross your path all the time, hence their rarity. But by scouring yard sales and the like, you can find real treasures. One Baltimore banker who passed sold a collection netting $10 million — not a bad chunk of change!

Two factors determine how much a coin is worth: rarity and metal. Obviously, coins made of precious metals like gold can trade at current exchange rates, though you can often get much more. The rarer a coin is, the more valuable it is. For example, if you're ever fortunate enough to stumble across a Flowing Hair Silver Dollar, you could net yourself several million bucks.

With so much to gain, there's really no reason not to collect coins. They take up relatively little space, so even if you move around a lot like military families often do, you won't have much to take with you. You can create a treasure chest to pass down to future generations. What kid wouldn't love getting their very own pirate chest — especially one that could fund part or all of their college education?

Coin Collecting Is Relaxing and Fun

Coin collecting is a fun and relaxing hobby, and it costs nothing to get started — so what are you waiting for? Next time you get change, slip it into your pocket. You never know what treasures you may hold in the palm of your hand!

Traditional Seafood Sides

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When most people say they want to live a sustainable lifestyle, they switch a few habits. They might bike to work or recycle more often, but there's always more you can do. Some people forget to look at what they eat, which is a massive part of living an eco-friendly life.

People who live and work on a farm come face-to-face with the reality of how corporations mass-produce food. It might lead you to run a sustainable farm, which gives you control over how you care for your animals and what you feed them.

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What happens when you explore the world of seafood? You don't need to give up your green lifestyle to enjoy a new menu. Read about these traditional seafood sides and how they can fit your personal beliefs about living sustainably.

1. House Salad With Dressing

It's easy to pair a house salad with just about any entree you make. Buy organic produce at your local supermarket or grow the ingredients on your farm. You can also avoid plastic bottles by making your dressing with ingredients like olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Try out different recipes to see which you like best and use them the next time you serve seafood. 

2. Black Beans and Rice

Beans might not be the first food that comes to mind when you picture yourself serving seafood, but it pairs naturally with any kind of fish. Black beans and rice with a little cilantro taste fantastic with seared salmon, especially if you use a homemade glaze.

There's an ecological benefit to cooking beans, as well. They absorb nitrogen while they grow, converting it into ammonia for the plants around them. Too much nitrogen in the atmosphere creates excess amounts of ozone, which hurts the environment and makes it harder for humans to breathe. Funding the bean industry reduces this pollution and ensures you eat something sustainable.

3. Clam Chowder Soup

On cold winter nights or chilly fall afternoons, you can pair soup with seafood for a well-rounded meal. You really can't go wrong with any variety, although clam chowder is a traditional staple at seafood restaurants. 

Make a pot of clam chowder after you choose farm-harvested clams, which are sustainable because they don't depend on an ocean habitat. Traditional clam harvesting requires hydraulic dredges, which disrupt the ecosystem on the ocean floor. 

4. Mac and Cheese

If you're looking for a seafood side that will please everyone from kids to adults, you should make mac and cheese. It has a low environmental impact and tastes wonderful alongside lobster, no matter how you make it.

Whip up a homemade recipe with cheese from your farm or look for sustainable companies for your main ingredient. Pour the sauce over whatever you like for pasta, whether you prefer organic elbow noodles or spiralized zucchini.

5. Corn on the Cob

For more relaxed meals with friends and family, serve corn on the cob alongside any seafood dish. You can use different spices on the boiled cobs or fry them for an extra crunch.

Corn is mass-produced all over the world, but you can easily grow it on your farm. It's affordable to plant and retains low levels of nutrient removal after you harvest it, so you can replant on the same soil without adding chemical fertilizers.

6. Organic Veggie Fries

Fish filets might sound great with french fries, but if you don't make them at home, you're funding an industry that spends 60% of its budget on energy usage alone. Skip the carbs in white potatoes and make veggie fries instead.

A recent study found that vegetables had the least environmental impact compared to starchy foods like potatoes. Make them from the veggies on your farm, neighboring farms or an organic grocery store to minimize the environmental impact of what you make.

Think Outside the Box

Whichever traditional seafood side you choose for your next big meal, you don't have to give in to unsustainable companies or foods to make them happen. Create dishes out of produce from your farm or companies with sustainable business practices. You'll find the perfect recipe to go with your seafood and enjoy it twice as much, knowing it's good for the planet.

6 Ways to Spruce Up Your Homestead on a Budget

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Wintertime is the ideal time for getting your homestead in shape. The insects have gone away, and plants have died, making landscaping chores a breeze. Frigid temperatures drive you indoors, where you naturally want to create a more pleasing environment. 

What can you do to fix up your home if you're on a tight budget? Quite a lot, as it turns out. From increasing your energy efficiency to upgrading your home's look, you can make yourself say, "there's no place like home" at the end of each day. 

1. Caulk and Weather Stripping 

Do you feel a chill when you sit near a window? If so, it's time to do some work on improving your energy efficiency. You do have to spend a small amount to purchase supplies, but you'll reap the rewards in terms of lower utility bills. Begin by doing an audit. Walk the perimeter of your home, stopping at each door and window. If you feel a chill, you need to invest in weather stripping and caulk. 

Caulk plasters over gaps in immovable objects like stationary windows, while weatherstripping protects moving parts. Both keep cold air from entering through the cracks. Put a cover over your kitchen exhaust vent to prevent leaks, and add a strip of caulk anywhere plumbing or ducts come through your walls. 

2. Clean Your Windows and Let the Sunshine in

If your windows are filthy, your home looks dingier inside and out. Now that it's easier to get behind shrubbery, etc., use this time to give all your windows a thorough cleaning. You don't have to invest in expensive cleaning products. Distilled white vinegar is cheap and readily available, and it does the job as effectively as commercial sprays. 

While you're scrubbing your windows, consider updating your coverings. Heavy curtains come in handy in urban areas, but they can give your home a gloomy appearance. Choose lighter, gauzy curtains for living areas, or apply privacy film that lets you see out without allowing passers-by to view your home's interior. 

3. Clear Your Gardens and Compost 

Do you want a glorious spring garden? Now is the time to start preparing. Trimming your bushes back to heights of no more than 2-3 feet deters thieves who seek cover to commit crimes. You can also rake out beds if the snow isn't too deep. 

Improve your eco-friendliness and save money by constructing an inexpensive compost bin, too. By collecting food scraps now, you can avoid buying fertilizer in the spring. 

4. Upgrade Your Lighting 

If you're still using incandescent light bulbs, you're throwing money away on electricity. Instead, invest in compact fluorescent or LED bulbs, which save considerable energy over older models. Does the harsh, overhead light in your kitchen bother you? You can find inexpensive LED stick-on lights to place under cabinets. These gently illuminate cookbooks, etc., while saving electricity. 

5. Insulate Your Attic and Garage 

Many people think of their attics when they plan to insulate their homes. Heat does rise, and placing a new layer here can save you considerable money.

However, many people overlook their garage. If your space is uninsulated, you make your home's HVAC system work harder every time you walk out to your car. Plus, cold temperatures can damage your vehicle, leading to costly repairs. Take the time to insulate your garage, as well. 

6. Paint 

Finally, painting costs relatively little, and you can complete the majority of projects in a single weekend. If you don't want to paint an entire room, designing an accent wall can give your living area or bedroom an inexpensive upgrade. If you're planning outdoor paint jobs, check the temperature. While overly hot conditions make paint run, it can get lumpy when it's too cold outside. Select a mild day for such endeavors. 

Spruce Up Your Homestead Without Spending a Ton 

You don't have to drop a bankroll to improve the look and comfort of your home. Take these tips to save money and increase your enjoyment of your living space today! 

6 Overlooked Parts of Farmhouse Home Design

farmhouse interior design

Farmhouse design blends the simplicity of country life with the warmth of family memories and traditions. There are different methods to capturing that farmhouse look. Some designers focus on rustic

elements while others go for simple lines and a few cozy features. Some combine modern with traditional for a modern farmhouse look.

There may be as many as six different distinct styles in farmhouse design, including a western look and cottage farmhouse vibe. Your first step is figuring out which decorating approach speaks to you. Once you know the types of elements you prefer, don't overlook these six parts of farmhouse home design to really flesh out your home's style:

1. Scaled Furnishings

You might adore the look of the giant wooden kitchen table you see in photographs, but if the layout of your kitchen doesn't have space for a large piece of furniture, your home can look overwhelmed. Take into consideration the layout and size of your rooms when picking big elements. Is there a smaller version of the table or can you have one made? On the other hand, if you have big, vast rooms, you might want to upscale the sizing or add additional pieces. 

2. Floors and Walls

Replacing your flooring is likely one of the most expensive parts of a redesign. The average cost for hardwood flooring is $7.32 per square cubic foot. You may be able to restain old wood floors for only $2.75 per square cubic foot. 

However, if you want a true farmhouse look, you need natural or natural-looking materials, such as hardwood. Carpeted areas don't have a farmhouse look to them, because carpet isn't very practical in a farm setting where people come in from working outside all day and kick off muddy boots.

Consider wood or laminate and tile that looks like wood for an instant farmhouse facelift. These materials come in a huge variety of colors, so you should be able to find something to match the rest of your design. For walls, keep things simple. Use plain tiles or tin for your backsplash and avoid gaudy colors on the walls. 

3. Fabrics

At the heart of farmhouse design is comfort and a sense of hominess. One way to accomplish this without completing replacing expensive furnishings you already have is reupholstering in fabrics that blend better with your overall look. Think muted plaid, simple colors and prints and soft materials. Before you replace furniture you have, have it cleaned and refreshed to see if it has any life left in it.

4. Artwork

Think about the art you display on your walls. A farmhouse look tends toward farm-based things, such as old signs advertising fresh eggs or a painted wooden sign advertising your farm. If you have any historical items on hand, those look great as well. Tend toward things you'd likely see on the wall at a Cracker Barrel for a more traditional look. For a western look, go with antlers, paintings of steer and old wagon wheels. 

5. Knick Knacks

Without some cute little touches, your farmhouse look can wind up looking a bit cold and sterile. Think of the little things you loved growing up when you visited your aunt and uncle on the farm or a family friend. There were likely beautiful milk pitchers with fresh cut flowers on the table or some herbs growing in a metal tray on the windowsill. These small touches are easily found in local antique stores or even at your resident Hobby Lobby store. Put your own touch on them by adding the details you most enjoy such as beautiful roses.

6. Black Accents

Since most of the colors in farmhouse design are pretty neutral (creamy whites, tans, browns and natural colors), adding a pop of black really draws attention and pulls the look together. Some people do this with accessories and others utilize the look in art, going with black letters on a white background. 

Additional Elements to Add

Once you think your farmhouse design is completed, take a step back and consider if there are any missing elements. Look for big wholes in your design, such as a bare couch that could use a throw and some pillows or a blank wall with nothing but a vast sea of white. There are so many ways you can flesh out your design and take it up a notch. You just have to pay attention to what others are doing and keep an eye out for unique accessories that pull the look together. 

Biodegradable Construction Materials for Farmhouse Owners

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People look for new ways to go green every day. They embrace things like solar energy panels that have become more affordable over the years and cars that operate on alternative fuels.

It's easy to live an eco-friendly lifestyle when you make personal changes in your daily life, but what about construction? Those who dream about building a farmhouse might feel conflicted about using traditional construction materials that aren't sustainable. 

If you're looking for a greener way to build your dream home, read about these biodegradable construction materials for farmhouse owners. Whether you're building from scratch or adding onto your home, you can use these materials to make your farmhouse match your eco-friendly lifestyle.

1. Build With Bamboo

When it comes time to pick out your flooring, you'll have plenty of options to choose from no matter where you go. Homeowners love everything from carpet to linoleum, but you might have your heart set on hardwood floors.

Hardwood flooring is a beautiful addition to any farmhouse, especially if it plays into your interior design. You might dream about rolling gorgeous rugs over your floors, but you don't want to support hardwood flooring businesses that don't think about their environmental impact.

That's when you should consider building with bamboo. It's wood that grows faster than any old-growth trees used in traditional hardwood flooring, so what you use is easily replaced in a few short years. If you ever decide you want something different, it's naturally biodegradable. You could even chop it up and put it in a compost pile if you use composting to dispose of materials. 

2. Try Pouring Grasscrete

After your farmhouse construction begins, your contractors will need to pour concrete and create the foundation for your home. Although it's a reliable material, it isn't biodegradable. Instead, you can use grasscrete to create effective water drainage around your farmhouse. The square voids in the concrete contain fiber pulp, so water runoff can escape your property and prevent flooding. 

3. Install Wooden Shingles

Traditional asphalt roofing shingles are on many homes around the world, but they end up in landfills and break down into harmful chemicals. Wooden shingles are much more eco-friendly, saving homeowners up to 30% on their energy bills. When you need to replace them, shred your shingles and use them as wood chippings around your farm.

4. Order Mycelium Materials

Once your farmhouse construction finishes, you'll need to fill it with decor and furniture. Have you thought about what's inside that furniture? The materials in your couches and chairs eventually have to break down in a landfill, so make them eco-friendly by ordering mycelium materials.

Mycelium grows roots and fibers around organic waste to digest it, which then forms a tough material used for packaging.  It's also made into composite boards for furniture, saving people from buying boards made with formaldehyde which causes respiratory infections when inhaled. 

5. Construct Rammed Earth Brick

Another option for building the foundation of your home is to construct rammed earth brick using sand, clay and water. It's a material used in construction dating back to the Great Wall of China. After the rammed earth hardens, it has the same strength of concrete without producing the same emissions as concrete production. It's also biodegradable, so you don't have to worry about harming the earth if you ever move off your property or build a bigger farmhouse.

Start Planning Early

It's nice to dream about your future farmhouse, but start planning the construction as soon as you can. Biodegradable materials will require a bit more planning to include in the construction process. Consider using wooden shingles, grasscrete and rammed earth to create a biodegradable property that will help you make a lifetime of memories in your farmhouse.

Which Barn Style is Right for You?

Kacey BradleyDo you own a homestead? If so, it might be time to upgrade or replace your barn. There are several styles to choose from, each with unique qualities. Before you choose, it's essential to determine your needs. Do you plan to raise chickens with an indoor coop? Maybe you want to fill the stalls with horses and pens with pigs?

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Once you have a plan for your homestead, you can determine which barn style is right for you.

Gable Barns

A gable roof barn is a popular choice due to its reasonable cost, ideal for budget-conscious homesteaders. The roof includes two panels, both slanting down from a common edge, called a ridge. These panels are supported by rafters attached to a beam. Then, depending on your budget and design preferences, the roof is covered in materials like metal, shingles, tile or wood. A gable roof uses fewer materials compared to its fancy cousin, the gambrel roof, making it more affordable.

Gambrel Barns

A gambrel barn is defined by its roof, a design with a historical origin. It was originally developed in the 1600s, when taxes were assessed against Parisians based on the number of stories facing the street. A two-story home, for example, would be costlier than one story. To combat this tax, Francois Mansart created a new type of roof that used shingles to hide a home's second story.

In the United States, gambrel roofs came into fashion in the late 1800s because they increased the internal volume of the barn. The wider slopes allowed farmers more room to stack hay, increasing handling efficiency. If your barn has a gambrel roof, it might be hundreds of years old — built during or possibly before the 1800s.

Bank Barns

If you want to cover the basics, a bank barn will offer everything you need. This design is simple and understated, a rectangle with two stories. It gets its name from barns built in the 1800s, many of which were situated against a hill, or bank. The second story of the structure extends over the first, allowing protection for livestock during cold temperatures or harsh storms. In some areas of the country, bank barn walls are constructed with quarried rock, field stones and wood.

Round Barns

If you've ever run into a round barn, the unique architecture has probably caught your eye. This design was popularized in the 1880s when farmers were learning progressive methods to improve efficiency, and round barns certainly do the trick. The shape has a greater volume-to-surface area than a traditional rectangular barn, and fewer materials to build means reduced start-up costs. Plus, the roof is self-supporting, meaning farmers can work without obstructions like poles and beams.

Tobacco Barns

Tobacco is an essential crop for many farmers, and tobacco barns provide an ideal spot to hang and dry these plants — among others. Ventilation is a must with this style. Tobacco barns often require cladding boards that open and close and ventilators that run the length of the roof. Some also include stripping and damping rooms, spaces to prep tobacco before hung to dry. A tobacco-style barn is a great option if you plan to harvest crops that need to be dried, including herbs and sunflowers.

Crib Barns

Crib barns, initially built with unchinked logs, are commonly found in the South and Mid-West, including states like Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia. The crib design is typically split in two, separated down the middle with a covered aisle or driveway. It can serve as pens for pigs and storage for feed, for example. Most crib barns do not have a hayloft up top. A crib barn can be a great shed/barn combination for a homestead, ideal for small livestock like pigs, chickens, goats and sheep.

Prairie Barns

A prairie barn, also called a Western barn, is most recognized by its peaked roof rising above the hayloft. In areas where these barns are common — like Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, etc. — farmers are known to have vast swathes of livestock. In turn, they require a great deal of storage space for hay and feed. The extended roof provides even more room on the second story. If you're a busy homesteading family with big plans, a prairie barn could be the right option for you.

Picking the right barn style for your homestead is all about understanding your needs. What do you hope to accomplish with your operation? What resources — including space — will you need? If you plan to raise cows and horses, for example, you'll need more room than with a small herd of chickens, goats and pigs. A little research can help you design a barn that works for you.

Learn more in the History of the American Barn.

How to Make Your Knitting Eco-Friendly

Kacey BradleySummertime is here, but if you're October dreaming in August and you love to knit, no doubt you're already dreaming of fuzzy fall sweaters and ordering some new patterns. But have you ever stopped to wonder how sustainable your knitting practices are?

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Knitting is all about love. It's about crafting something by hand, investing hours of your time, just to make someone else — or yourself — feel special. The act of creation shouldn't be tainted with worries about the planet we share. Here are seven tips for how to make your knitting more eco-friendly so that you can keep those positive vibes flowing through your work.

1. Pop Some Tags

If you love to thrift shop and hit yard sales, you're already on your way to becoming a more eco-friendly knitter. You can reuse yarn, even from hideous sweaters available for pennies. And that's not all. When folks have estate sales, some contain homemade wares — both for reusing and for borrowing ideas for new projects.

2. Repurpose Old Items

Looking for the perfect color of yarn? You may need to look no further than your heirloom chest or your winter storage. Chances are, you have at least one item you no longer use, and the beauty of knitting means you can undo your work and reuse. Sure, you could drive these items to Goodwill, but doing so takes gas, increasing your carbon footprint.

Create a game out of making outdated items look new. You can add length to a too-small sweater, for example, or change the sleeve length to update an old look.

3. Use Eco-Friendly Needles

Are you still using plastic knitting needles? Researchers believe that if we continue discarding plastic at current rates, there will be more of the substance than fish in the ocean by the year 2050. Instead of plastic, opt for metal knitting needles, which last almost forever if they're well cared for. Or go with bamboo knitting needles. Bamboo grows quickly, making it an eco-friendly alternative.

4. Switch to a Sustainable Yarn

Synthetic yarn uses more — you guessed it! — plastic than natural yarns. Not only that, but many synthetic yarns fail to breathe well, leading to the "freezing without it, burning up with it," sweater paradox. Cotton proves superior, but growing this crop uses a ton of water and other resources.

Instead, opt for a blended yarn consisting of 52% cotton and 48% bamboo to improve sustainability. This yarn is more eco-friendly, and it feels incredibly soft, not at all like wool, which causes some wearers to itch unbearably. Plus, bamboo is 40% more absorbent than cotton alone, meaning clothing made from the blend will whisk sweat away from the skin's surface, increasing wearer comfort.

5. Buy in Bulk

In today's world of online shopping, you can order the supplies you need for your next project with a few mouse clicks. However, if you buy by piece, you create additional shipping, which carries a heavy environmental toll. Packaging makes up excess waste, which often ends up in landfills. Shipping over long distances creates heavy-duty carbon emissions.

Plan your knitting projects for the season in advance. Doing so will help you be more productive with your craft, and it will enable you to order bulk supplies at once instead of in multiple smaller orders, cutting down on shipping.

6. Join a Swap Circle

The advent of social media has created numerous online knitting groups for sharing ideas — and materials. In fact, groups like Meetup allow knitters to connect with other crafters in their local area.

Join as many groups as you can, and make new friends. This process will improve your mental health — friendships do that — and give you a community of fellow craft enthusiasts you can swap materials with. You can even pool your money for bulk supply orders and take advantage of discounted group prices!

7. Donate to a Good Cause

Finally, you can do good with your knitting skill. Recently, an 87-year-old woman knitted 75 hats to help homeless strangers. She plans to knit more to donate to local homeless shelters.

Take a cue from her lead. Even if you lack time to knit this prolifically, crafting a few items to keep in your car, as a part of goodie bags, for homeless people you encounter can change a life. Your work of art can truly become a work of love.

Making Your Knitting Sustainable

Art and sustainability are far from strangers. With a bit of ingenuity, you, too, can make your creations more kind to this little planet of ours.







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