Made it!

Yes! I made it through January. It wasn’t looking good. There were many days when I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry and sleep. I questioned everything, from does my husband still love me to do my kids still need me. It was rough. But I made it! This is all part of my life now, this anxiety and the messes it makes in my mind. It often wants to ruin things, but I fight back.

I went to a party with my hubby. There were about 4 maybe 5 couples I knew, the rest I didn’t. It was loud, awkward and …. too much. After over an hour, we bailed and headed for home. Not because we didn’t want to stay and visit, or meet new people, but because it was just too much. Those of you with anxiety will understand and those of you who don’t, won’t and that’s ok.

On a more positive note, I read an awesome book called ‘You can buy Happiness and it’s Cheap’, by Tammy Strobel.https://www.amazon.ca/You-Can-Buy-Happiness-Cheap-ebook/dp/B0090RVGPW.

What amazing insight she has. I will say she is a proponent of tiny living and downsizing and minimalizing, and all those things that make most people shudder. But not me. The simplicity calls to me. From the time I first read ‘Little House on the Prairie’, I have been fascinated with living in a small cabin in the woods. I hope someday in the not too distant future to be able to realize that dream. In the meantime, I’ve gotten caught up in the ‘stuff’of life.

Do you have extra stuff? I can guarantee it, because its just a part of life that we’ve learned to live with. It represents status, wealth, prosperity and all those other things that we have been lead to believe matter. They don’t. Ask someone who’s survived a fire how much their stuff mattered versus surviving it. Sure you’ll miss those baby photos and your favourite things, but in the end, you’re glad you all made it safe. It’s the people around you – your wife/husband, kids, pets, friends ie people you have relationships with, that matter the most. Sure there are days I want to run away and hide, but I never want to do it alone, I want my hubby and my kids with me!

The other thing she mentioned that challenged me, was the idea of getting out of debt and staying out- thus the tiny house idea. I LOVE the idea of no longer being indebted to a big bank and forking out our paychecks to a big corporation. But how realistic is that? Very. Yes this book is American, but the principle is the same. Don’t spend money you don’t have. Our ancestors certainly had to deal with this reality. The harsher side of it is that people died from not having money to pay for Doctors, or Food or due to the elements. But what if the world didn’t work that way? That is a very big pipe dream, but all dreams have to start somewhere. So what if everyone started on a small scale buy not living beyond their means and getting themselves out of debt? Well, that is a very hard thing indeed. But it has become a goal for me.

Another thing she mentioned was having meaningful work. I do the work I do, because I have 4 children still at home, a mortgage to pay and bills and debt and food and all the myriad of other things that go along with life. But what would it be like to do what I love doing? I have spent some time this week thinking about that. What do I want to do with my life? The sad thing is, I have no idea exactly what I’d like to do. I have some ideas, but how they would manifest themselves into work, I don’t know. I love food! I love eating the things I’ve created, and serving it to people, and teaching them how to nourish themselves properly. I like making soup for my friends when they’re sick ( ask them about my green soup ) and I love the idea of spending my winters knitting, sewing and writing around a wood stove while a blizzard rages outside, and then a nice walk in the fresh snow. I love the idea of having a big garden that I use to feed us through the winter with some left over to help those who might need it.

I would love to have a place where people come to get rest and fresh air and a ready ear to listen, while I fill them with food. But none of those things top my desire to be the best mom ever. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Do I do it perfectly, heck no. But my goal still stands and I hope that when I’m gone, my kids will have the knowledge and hold it close and never wonder whether they were loved, or wanted, and that those I’ve helped will be able to offer them comfort because I gave comfort to them. The world is a very harsh place, but I want my place to be a place of refuge, and warmth and caring for all who come here.

This year, my husband and I will celebrate 25 years of marriage. We have been a couple for 30 years. I was 17 when I met him and just past 18 when we moved in together against our family’s wishes. We’ve struggled, and fought, but most of all we’ve loved. There were many long days and nights when we were all each other had, and I think that made us stronger. There are countless days that I wouldn’t be able to get through if I didn’t have my wonderful hubby to lean on. There are often days when I choose to love him even though he’s pissed me off (less for him I’m sure 😉 ). But we’ve stuck together through it all and I can’t wait to see what the next 25 years will bring us.

I’m sure there will be many more challenges, but there’s no one I’d rather have at my side.

Alright, now one to some nitty-gritty. The all important menu!!!

Last night ( Saturday) :we enjoyed a Rosemary and Thyme roast of pork with boiled potatoes, stir-fried leeks with mushrooms and a lovely salad made by my daughter.

Sunday:  Spanish rice with beans and salad

Monday: Stew and cornbread

Tuesday: Tuna patties on lettuce with veggies

Wednesday: Chick peas and veggies in Butter Chicken sauce served over Rice Vermicelli

Thursday: come on, you can all answer this one by now (lolol) PASTA!!!

Friday: Leftovers if there are some, or hot dogs, or pizza- something will get served, just not sure what yet.

Enjoy your week! Stay tuned for more exciting events as I delve more into my ‘stuff’ and get rid of things I don’t need and venture forth on doing some things I do need- like more writing!!!

Peace!

It’s snowing!!

Its nearly the end of November, so I’m not surprised. I did expect that we would get snow, but figured it would be the pretty kind that softly falls from the sky, not the kind that blows in sideways with strong winds. As soon as I get back from my errands the fire is going on!

So what’s new? Not too danged much. I made some beer soap. I had made some soap using beer before and it was quite nice. This one definitely smells like the India pale ale that I used and it has a nice light beige colour. I also received a pumpkin spice beer and will be doing a soap that is made with pumpkin. Stay tuned for the results of that.

I also need to get going on my Christmas gifts. I have decided what I shall be making and will need to get my butt in gear since we are about 5 weeks from Christmas :/. Pretty much each weekend we have been able to go for a walk in the woods- except for this weekend. Hubby has an ouchy back and the above mentioned snowstorm.

I have tried no new recipes ( I don’t think?) as things have been really busy. I did see a recipe on FB today for an apple fritter cake that I would love to try my hand at making paleo. That may or may not happen today.

I have been a lazy ass for the last little while, procrastinating on all the things I should be doing in favour of doing nothing but watching TV or reading. While this has left me relaxed (mostly), it has done nothing towards getting things accomplished around here. Budgets need to be made, grocery/menu lists need to be made, things need to be cleaned and organized and the list goes on. This is the work/life balance that I am attempting to get a hold on, but without a great deal of success unfortunately. I don’t see any resolution to this though, short of taking some time off to get back on top of things as I did in the fall. Is this a viable way of doing things though? I don’t think so.

I have also been finding that I want to ‘people’ less and less. The idea of having to be around strangers causes me anxiety, which makes going to work on the bus, and going to places like Costco difficult. I covet my time at home ferociously! I don’t mind choosing to have people over, and do it relatively often, but to go out someplace, is hard.

As for the menu this week, I haven’t gotten there, but we will be having chilli, beef, chicken fajita bake, trout and pork tenderloin. That’s all you get this week! Why don’t you tell me how you would use the ingredients? I’m always up for new combinations!

How goes your winter/holiday planning and preparation? I’d love to hear your ideas on how you manage things! For now, may peace abound. HUGS

Fresh Air and Sunshine

So today we had the opportunity to go and help tap maple trees out at Arc Acres. Although some reluctance was met by some of my teenagers, we ALL went. We got a quick lesson in how to tap the trees and were told to do this part of the grove ( insert farmer Amber waving her arms in a general area). No problem, says I. Well, ok, one small problem, I know how to tell most trees apart while their leaves are on, but what about when they’re off? Is the bark different?

Well the short answer is yes, sometimes people can tell by the bark, but more the age of the tree as it differs depending on the age ( crap my hands and forearms are tired just writing this!). However, if you look up at the branches, most- like high 90’s percent, have branches that grow across from each other, in a t-like pattern. But, she says, this whole grove is mostly maple, so you don’t have to worry too much.

It took the better part of 3 hrs and, before you ask, I have no idea how many trees we tapped. While it felt like thousands, it was probably less than 100. The kids all worked together and changed up the jobs as there were several. First one must pick a spot on the south side of the tree ( best time for doing this is in the morning as the sun should be shining on the south side ) then you have to drill at an upwards angle and in about 2 ” approximately. Next someone sticks in a spigot  and taps it in with a hammer ( or the back of an axe) then someone else hangs a bucket from the hooky bit, and someone else affixes the lid with its wires to keep it sort of tied down. Voila! Some of the trees started dripping the minute they were drilled which was exciting! Sap was tasted and we were invited back in a week when we could help with the big boil to see how it goes from sap to finished product.

The sunshine and warmth and yoohoo( I don’t know what they’re called, but their call is a yoohoo sound) birds chirping back and forth in the trees above us was wonderful, and although I’m tired, I feel renewed 🙂

On the home-front, I tried hot process soap making. This is the process you want to use if you need your soap quicker than 6 weeks. Hot process soap takes about 1 week to be ready to use. I’m also going to remind people again, that safety is vital when working with lye as I lazily didn’t go put on safety glasses ( since they weren’t with my soaping supplies where I’d left them) and ended up getting some lye splashed in my eye – stung for a few,seconds, but washed out my eye with fresh water and it was better quickly. It could have been much worse, and I won’t make that mistake again. I’ll also remember to put on long sleeves as I had a bunch of little burn marks on my arms from where it splashed up. I don’t know which method I prefer at this time, but I must say, I prefer the look of the cold processed soaps better- a bit smoother.

I also make liquid hand soap out of some leftover bits of soap I had kicking around and a bar of the hot process soap I had made. Very simple to do and much cheaper than store-bought liquid hand-soap.

Menu:

Sunday: chilli

Monday: Wild boar sausages, baked potatoes and salad

Tuesday: Tuna and cauliflower casserole

Wednesday: Onion and apple pork chops, mashed potatoes and broccoli

Thursday: Pasta

Friday: the usual 🙂

Enjoy the change of seasons as we move from winter into spring. I doubt we’ll go straight into spring without another snow storm, but we can always hope! Get outside and enjoy!Go feed the birds, or go out at lunch and put your face in the sun and dream for a few minutes !

Ah, Winter

This year has had one of the strangest winters I’ve experienced. Here we are, mid February, and the grass is coming up green! We shouldn’t even have grass visible!! I’m not complaining, I quite like the warmer weather. I’m just kicking myself for something I couldn’t control- the weather. If I’d known it was going to be so mild, I would have planted some winter crops or set up cold frames or something. I feel like I’m wasting this lovely warmth. I’m silly like that sometimes. Next year I will be prepared! That is my goal.

Wow, its been a while since I wrote. Life sometimes, I tell ya. In my last message I was looking into chickens and which ones I wanted to have on our future homestead. There is no set answer. I think its going to be one of those decisions I make last minute. I’ve learned about all different kinds and the pros and cons to each. I really like the look of the heritage breeds and their lovely colours, but I also like the Barred Rock with their sturdy make up.

Last weekend we got a chance to meet a local farmer, Amber, who gave me a scoby to start my own kombucha and some of her pastured pork. The kombucha is still in the works since its a bit of a process for the fermenting to take place. The pork was absolutely delish! If you ever have the opportunity to try pastured pork, I highly recommend it. Amber walked us around her farm – Arc Acres – and told us about her set up and patiently answered my millions of questions. She also lives in the cutest wooden cabin!OMGoodness!

I could feel the peace on the property. I know that sounds awfully granola, as my good friend Linda would say, but it’s totally true. Totally! The smell of the wet earth- admittedly a bit ripe seeing as she has cows- mixed with the wood smoke and the smell of pine trees… sigh. Through her I was able to see a few more options for our homestead which I’m hoping I’ll be able to implement both next season and in the future.

Sorry, got sidetracked there for a minute remembering the smells and daydreaming. Back to the subject at hand- chickens. I also learned that we could choose to deal with our own birds- sorry, I was trying to find a kind way of saying… well you know. Anyhoo, the short answer is yes we can deal with our own, but the meat could not leave the property and we could only give it to immediate family members. This would pose a small problem in that if you came out for supper, I would need your permission to eat my meat, I couldn’t just serve it to you. At first I was really upset about this and could only see all the difficulties, but I have gotten past that and am fine with it.

Soon it will be time to start seed and for some reason I am very apprehensive. As some of you know, I hate wastage and I think my anxiety is kicking in around the whole seed starting thing as I can’t control how it’s going to turn out. I can give it awesome soil and water and lots of sun, but I can’t control if the seed will start to grow or not. If they don’t, that will be a wasted effort. My husband calls them learning opportunities and he’s right. This is a chance for me to learn what might and what might not work while we’re not depending on this as our sole source of food. By the time we get our homestead I will be a pro at it, and then will have to learn all over again in a different type of soil. Sigh :/

As for my writing, I received some great feedback from a fellow writer and have been doing lots of revisions to book #3. I have a bunch of other book ideas running through my mind and have been trying to get rough outlines of them when they come to me so I can explore them later. Sometimes easier said than done, but that’s just the way it is.

Gill and I have also tried our hand at washing our hair with collected water from recent rain and melting snow. It is definitely a laborious task and quite awkward to do over the sink with cupboards, but we are quite happy with the results. We also use a shampoo that I made up myself with Dr. Bronner’s castille liquid soap mixed in a ratio of 1 part soap to 2 parts water. Then we spray in a 1:3 ratio of apple cider vinegar to water in an old spray bottle. Gill is very happy with the results and finds she has much fewer knots in her hair and that its much smoother. The boys now almost exclusively use a homemade hair pomade- which reminds me, I should make more- and are also quite happy with it. I also got thumbs up on the shaving cream that I made for Christmas.

I’m looking forward to taking an advanced soap class with a friend in Bonnefield. They will teach us swirls and all that cool stuff. I’m also going to attempt a batch of crock pot  ( hot method) soap soon.

I hope winter is finding you safe and warm and happy and healthy. Make sure you get out and enjoy some fresh air every day and call a friend on those days you’re having trouble getting the will to move through your day. We all need to be looking out for each other. HUGS!

 

And back to the routine

I gotta say, tough as it is after being off for the holidays, I’m quite glad to have things back to their normal routine. We had a very warm Christmas which I am totally not complaining about! We are now in cold mode 😦 and I don’t know why I’m sad about that. I think I was quite looking forward to having a warm winter and so the shock of -20C was a bit of a reality check.

Anyhoo, onwards and upwards. I have been tackling some purging over the holidays and am pleased with its progress. There is still much to do, but rather than dreading it, I am looking forward to it. Each piece of ‘whatever’ that leaves the house, is one less thing taking up space. I am constantly surprised by how good it feels to get rid of things!

I also have some knitting projects to finish ( ie a sweater I have been knitting for my daughter for over a year and if I don’t hurry up and finish she’ll have outgrown it ) and a few soap projects I’d like to try- thinking beer and bacon soap.

I want to get back to writing as well as I have a new story idea swirling around in my head that should probably get explored.

I am also back to menu making, sort of. I would rather clean toilettes than menu plan, which for someone who likes to cook as much as I do, is strange. You would think that I would love it, but I don’t. Seriously! Each week I attempt to get my guys to suggest things, or even look in cook books for suggestions. Pizza, chilli, tacos, hot dogs, these are the things they suggest. I think soon, we will have an ‘eat the freezer week’ where we empty out the freezers ( we have 2 small ones)  instead of buying groceries – except for some fresh veg since at least 2 of my family hate cooked veggies, unless they are in a soup. Feel free to make some suggestions!

As for my continued learning about self sufficiency, I am thinking of exploring more about chickens since they will be our main food source. I have heard that there are lots of regulations surrounding having chickens in our area and so this is something I should definitely look into.

That’s it for this week. Stay tuned for all you ever wanted to know about chickens!

Adventures in Learning- Part 1

So the purging last weekend was not as difficult as I expected. I got rid of quite a bit. My strategy was that if I wasn’t going to be using it in the future, and hadn’t used it lately, it was to to go. Knitting patterns, and sewing patterns, books and clothes all went into the bags and boxes.

I had a friend come over to help me deal with my scrapbooking things. I had invested a lot of $$ into those items, but between work, writing, life etc. hadn’t sat down to do any of it since my last child was a baby. I did’t see myself having time to do it in the future, so rather than give it away, which is usually how I like to deal with things, I gave it to her to sell. I then used some of that money earned to buy the things I’d need to accomplish this weekend’s goal

How to make candles!

So this weekend, my daughter, and one son, will be making beeswax tapers. Find information on the internet is no problem, however it can be quite varied.  I decided to call my supplier Voyageur Soap and Candles, to see if I could just get information from people who’s job it was, and they were a wealth of good information.

Stay tuned as we explore lots of other learning projects all designed to prepare us for our homesteading journey!

Now to make a menu for the week :/

Where to start?

So I think after pondering things this week, the best place to start would be to go through my stuff.

It is a daunting task. Not cause I have alot of stuff, I don’t, not in comparison to other people, but most of my stuff has sentimental value. I’ve been watching past seasons of Tiny Home Nation, and it has been terribly helpful. The exercises he makes them go through are the same ones I’m going to have to do. I will have to decide if I really need 3 cabillion knitting needles regardless of who them came from. I also will need to go through my knitting patterns, my sewing supplies, my scrapbooking …

So today, I got started. I went through some scrapbooking things and decided that space will be at a premium at some point, and I don’t need scrapbooks. That’s not to say that I’m giving up my pictures, cause I’m not. I will just start the long process of scanning them and keeping them in a hard drive. Those Hd’s or sticks will stay in my fireproof box and will be pared down from the rubbermate tote that they currently reside in. Next weekend, I have a friend coming to help me sort out my scrapbooking things and see if I can get a bit of $$ for it by reselling. I have also started going through my pattern books and deciding which ones are important, and which are not based on their versatility.

Sewing stuff may happen this week, and I would like to get it down to one smallish box, not including my fabric as its in a box under the bed, but should be mostly used up by christmas.

After that, I’ll tackle the clothes again, although I am really good at purging what I’m not wearing. I’ve been going through my books and am down to just my 2 fav authors, and even then, I’m trying to buy ebooks, but ya know, sometimes, you just want to hold a book :/

So there’s my tasks for this week!

Happy Fall and good luck with your purging! Let me know how its going 🙂