Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Hat and a Rant

As I mentioned before, I sometimes have difficulty getting a normal amount of sleep at night and quite often end up waking up after an hour or two and can't fall back to  sleep for hours. Such happened a few nights ago, when I went to bed with a headache, then woke up at 3 in the morning and couldn't fall back to sleep. Normally, I end up just laying in bed for hours, waiting to doze off,  but this time I decided to actually do something with the extra time. As a result I ended up knitting a hat out of 2 of the skeins of yarns that I had just gotten. The picture I took of it didn't turn out great, but it does a great job of keeping my head warm and is really comfortable to wear. This is my first hat that I've knit from real wool, since in the past I've always used acrylic yarn, and I love the fact that the hat keeping my head warm is made from a fiber that used to be on the back of a living creature, then was hand sheared, carded and spun before I used it to knit my hat. I like that by buying this yarn, I was able to help support the economy of (somewhat) local farmers and artisans, instead of buying something that was made in some factory in China. I've never understood why people complain about the local economy and how it affects them, but then spend their money on cheaply made goods that weren't even made in this country. If we want to fix our economy, why not spend a little bit more money on fewer, better made products that benefit local businesses and, in turn, keeps that money flowing a little closer to home. I realize that this sounds somewhat hypocritical, because I purchase some of these foreign made goods, knowing full well what I'm doing, but I am also making the effort to do this less often, and I hope to eventually not do it at all. Sometimes it's really hard to buy local (I mean, where in Oregon can you buy local bananas?), during which instances I try to buy organic or fair trade certified. Sure, these items are oftentimes more expensive, but I think in the long run those few extra dollars I spend are worth it. Some people might not agree with my beliefs or practices, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I personally don't care if anyone thinks of me differently for what I believe.

And that is my rant for today, thanks for reading. :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

O Tannenbaum

So after waking up late, due to an abstract sleep schedule that makes me sleep for an hour at night and then wake up and not fall back to sleep for several hours (why I'm awake right now), my roommate and I spent the afternoon decorating for Christmas. We now have the tree up and fully decorated and the house smells like pine tree and cinnamon, partially due to these: 

On a different note, the yarn that I've been waiting to receive finally arrived today. I order three different skeins of yarn that consist of Lincoln, Alpaca/Shetland, and Romney/Angora wool. I'm excited to start a couple of new knitting projects, probably a hat and a scarf, and I'm especially excited to use the Lincoln yarn, because it's an art yarn that was spun so that some of the curls would still stick out and I haven't worked with something like this before. :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's that time of year again...

One of my favorite things about the Autumn weather is that it's the perfect time to make (and eat) soup. For me, there is nothing like spending a cold afternoon standing over a hot pot, creating a meal from scratch that is both delicious and nutritious, and I can even combine it with Christmas music and a favorite apron, to add to the fun. Who can say that about a Big Mac?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Challenge #1:Cut Out Fast Food

For my first month's challenge I plan on completely removing fast food from my diet. These last few months I have been eating out way too much for convenience sake, but I'm done. All of the extra calories have caused me to gain weight and I'm beginning to really feel sluggish and just plain unhealthy. Because of this, I've decided to stop eating fast food, and make more of an effort to eat at home and prepare all of my own meals. This will not only cut all of those extra calories out of my diet, but I'll be able to know everything that goes into my food.

It really is sad how Americans in general have become so out of touch with what goes into the food they consume. The amount of crap that goes into our processed food is crazy and so totally unnecessary, but it makes the food cheaper. This may be appealing to those who have to tighten their purse strings due to the economy, but as a result they may end up having to spend all of the money that they save on food (and more) on medical bills, caused by the fillers in those cheap foods. I would rather just spend a little bit more time and money now on good, healthy food, so that I can hopefully avoid future health problems for myself and my family.

I'm not just worried about being healthier in the future though. I have noticed that since I have started eating fast food on a regular basis, my stomach has started to bother me more, my skin has started breaking out, and I've been feeling tired and sluggish a lot, and I really don't enjoy this. I am hoping that by cutting fast food out of my diet, I'll be able to lose the weight that I've put on and just begin to feel healthier. I also feel that I'll be helping the environment that much more with every burger I choose to not eat and every wrapper that I'm able to keep out of the landfill.

(Late) Update 1/31/2012
I was able to keep away from fast food for the month of December, and I did try eating some a couple of weeks ago, but I started to feel sick (probably from the high sugar content). So, although I may have some McDonald's french fries every now and then, overall I'm not really interested anymore in eating fast food when I'm out, and I plan on avoiding it as much as possible.

Starting Over

It's been quite a while since I last posted a blog entry on here (5 months to be exact), but what with school and moving, as well as several other things that have come up in the last few months, combined with my limited internet access, it's been hard to get the time to post anything. Although, these changes have also caused me to get away from some of my more "hippy" type habits, so I haven't really had much to write about anyways. However, as my schedule starts to become less hectic, I'm finally getting more time to spend on the things that I enjoy and find important.
I'm planning on reinventing my blog and spending more time in the coming months focussing on reading, researching and learning hands on about all of the back to basics and homesteading topics I'm interested in and sharing on the way. I'm also going to start focussing on my own self-improvement, mentally, physically and spiritually. I plan on setting goals for myself, both short and long term, that I will keep track of on this blog and that I hope to succeed in completing. I realize that I could wait for the next month to start off the new year with new resolutions, but I am trying to cure my habit of procrastinating, and I'd rather start now than wait a month (or more).
I am looking forward to starting over, in a way, as I renew the pursuit of my ultimate goal: to eventually live on my own working (self-sufficient) homestead. I realize that it may take years to make my dream a reality, but I feel that the wait, as well as all of the experiences on the way, will be more than worth it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Look What I Found!

I was digging in the garden and found tons and tons of tiny potatoes! We had planted some Russian Banana fingerling potatoes several years ago, in this area, and never ended up digging them up. So I'm guessing that they have just been growing back every year. I couldn't believe how tiny some of these were though. The biggest ones are a couple of inches long, but some of the smallest are only about an eighth of an inch wide. There are probably more down there still, but I have a feeling that I planted the cucumbers over them. Oh well, at least I found these. Now I just have to figure out what I'm going to do with them....

Monday, June 20, 2011


I have always loves peonies and wait every June for these beautiful flowers to bloom, and I am happy to report that they finally have. They always seem to take forever to bloom, and don't last for very long, but I feel that they are worth the wait and I love being able to enjoy their beauty, even for that short time. I have created an annual ritual of cutting some of the flowers, that goes something like this: I very cautiously cut several of the flowers, while trying to avoid the many ants, spiders and earwigs (my least favorite insect!) nestled inside, shaking the flowers off the entire way through the backyard to the back porch, sometimes letting them sit their for a while to get rid of any lurking insects, cutting the extra leaves off, shaking them (again), and then putting them into a beautiful cobalt blue vase and bringing them inside. The flowers usually keep for a week or so, before we have to throw them out, although a couple of years ago, they wilted after only a couple of days, and we couldn't figure out why. I think it may have had something to do with the air though, because our bread was also going bad really fast during that time. Some pictures of the peonies are posted below. :)

Peonies in their special blue vase
As for gardening news, we have been a little behind with tilling and weeding the garden, and I still haven't planted the last few things, but they are in pots and already pretty big, so I'm hoping that they'll be fine for the next day or two. The plants that are already in the ground, include sugar snap peas, pickling cucumbers, lemon cucumbers, some preexisting, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, Logan berry bushes/plants, and some grape vines, and a marionberry plant that my mom got this year. The plants still needing to go into the ground, include zucchini, yellow summer squash, pumpkin, 4 different types of tomato, and some walla walla sweet onions. I'm hoping to be able to go get a few more starts, but I will have to see where we are after planting what we have so far. I'm really looking forward to trying my hand at canning pickles and tomatoes this year. Hopefully it will all work out, without any big accidents.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Weeds and Kiwi

Today was my 19th birthday and I spent it shopping for plants and helping my mom pull tons and tons of weeds all over her yard. As a gift, my mom got me a male Hayward kiwi vine while we were out, and I'll be getting a female as soon as they are in stock again. I love kiwi fruit and I thought it was interesting that you have to have both a male and a female plant in order to produce fruit.

The last two days have been absolutely beautiful, with lots of sunshine and temperatures in the 70's, and I was glad to be outside. I worked muscles that I forgot existed and am happy to be sore, because I feel like we accomplished a lot. I'm looking forward to doing even more tomorrow. We're planning on planting a garden this year, and I've started some seeds inside, which means that we have to hurry up and till the soil. I am hoping that the plants that I started will survive, especially the tomatoes, so that I can try my hand at canning using the canner I received for my birthday. I love learning new skills, especially those that will help me in living a more self-sufficient lifestyle, and plan to learn many more. For tonight though, I think I'll be content applying some aloe to my sunburn and heading to bed early (at least early for me).

Friday, April 15, 2011

I LOVE this book!

This book is absolutely full of tons and tons of useful information that will aid you in becoming more self-sufficient. It includes everything from baking bread and canning produce, to caring for and butchering livestock to making candles. I love the bright pictures, charts, tables, and random tidbits of information, and I just ordered on from Amazon to add to my collection. Check it out!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Apple Pie

For a few days this last week the weather was relatively nice, with an almost summery feel in the air, which was a nice break from the typical spring weather around here. However, it wasn't meant to last,  and yesterday frequent downpours battled with the sunshine, and the rain returned in full force today. So, since I was stuck inside all day with very little to do, I decided to finally make a pie. I have been meaning to bake a pie for quite a while, but it was somewhat of a daunting task, because I haven't had a place to roll out the crust. I ended up finding an all natural pre-rolled pie crust yesterday at Safeway, and I decided to try it. I did make the filling from scratch though, and although I haven't tasted any of the finished product yet, my sister and I did enjoy the extra apple slices that wouldn't fit in the pie. I can't wait until it's cooled down enough for me to eat a piece, and I'm looking forward to baking many more pies in the future.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring Break

I haven't posted anything for the last couple of weeks, because of my lack of free time due to finals and various other projects. I finished the confetti order and sent it out, and boy were my hands and wrists sore after all that punching! I also finished the apron and sent it out, and received the apron from my swap partner. I have to say, I'm proud of how my apron turned out, considering it was my first sewing project, although my mom did help me a lot. 

I am looking forward to this next week off of classes, during which time I plan to drink lots of hot tea, read and design new products for my Etsy shop. I just ordered some wool off of Etsy that I want to experiment with, and hopefully use in my products. Some of the wool is from the Lincoln Longwool breed, and consists of lots of long ringlets. I have actually been looking into this breed and from what I've read, they seem to pretty well suited for this area and are a dual purpose breed, for both meat and fiber. I am definitely going to do some more research on the breed (and I obviously have some time to decide), but I would love to be able to raise sheep on my someday homestead.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Freezer Jam

This morning I had toast smothered in butter and some blackberry jam I made last summer. It was delicious.
I love that I am able to taste fresh summer berries during the cold of a winter storm, and that I can share this experience with others. I gain a small sense of accomplishment, knowing that I can produce something that allows me to preserve last year's harvest and contribute to the food that friends and family eat throughout the year. I get this feeling anytime I bake bread or cook a big pot of soup. True, freezer jam is fairly easy to make and not nearly as time consuming as baking bread or making soup, but I think of it as a small step towards living a more self-sustainable lifestyle.
It's been snowing outside since yesterday afternoon and the houses, trees and lawns are all covered in white. They are expecting the temperature tonight to get down to 21 degrees. The house is extremely cold right now and I'm bundled up, drinking coffee to keep warm. The twins are at their father's house until Saturday, which gives me time to work on my spring line of cards and paper goods. I also just received an order for 67 bags of confetti that I have to hand punch and ship this next week. Each bag contains 250 confetti, so I have to punch out a grand total of 16,750 pieces. I also have to make an apron for a swap I'm involved in and ship it out by Tuesday, and write an essay for one of my classes that is due on Thursday.

I have started to read a book called Made from Scratch by Jenna Woginrich, which is a memoir about her beginnings as a homesteader. I haven't gotten very far yet, but I read her blog about her continued adventures on her farm, and if her book is anything like her blog, I know I'll love it. Below is a link to her blog.

Cold Antler Farm

As far as my "adventures in homesteading", I have started by doing research on various farming topics. I have a large stack of library books on farm animals and housing, organic living, etc. I am also planning on planting some vegetables in pots, although I am still deciding which seeds to plant, that will grow in pots, besides lettuce. It will be nice when I finally am able to plant a garden and own livestock, but for now I will just have to wait. I do plan on starting with a small flock of chickens though, and I can't wait to have some Polish Crested chickens again, but that won't be for a while....

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Homesteader at Heart

When I was a little girl, my mom used to read the Little House on the Prairie books to me, and I was fascinated with the way that Laura's family lived. I loved hearing about Pa's adventures in the Big Woods and the process in which Ma would make things like cheese and pork sausage. I wanted to play house with Laura and Mary out in the woods, and help them churn butter. I even would ask for a butter churn for my birthday every year when I was younger, and my mom would tell me that I was born in the wrong century. (Who knows, I could have traveled the Oregon Trail in a past life.)
Through the years, I have continued to be interested in the whole idea of homesteading and self-sufficient living, and someday (hopefully sooner than later) I would like to try my hand at farming and homesteading.
Currently though, I live in a rental, in town, which restricts my ability to garden and own livestock. Most of my time I spend raising my 18 month-old twins, building a crafting business, taking care of house and taking classes at Portland State, so it might take a little while to work towards my goals, but I'm not giving up any time soon. Any free time I have will be spent learning as much as I can about homesteading and livestock, as well as cooking and crafting.
So join me in my various mothering, cooking, crafting and homesteading adventures, as I work towards my ultimate goal of owning property and living a self-sufficient lifestyle.