Category Archives: wellness

today, I am grateful for…

::source::

::source::

::source::

  • rhubarb
  • all the tiny green apples on the apple trees
  • the front garden I almost mowed down because I had lost faith  is now full of black eyed susans, poppies, and even a peony
  • kawartha dairy chocolate milk
  • a new lawn mower with sharp blades and a powerful engine
  • the horseradish and raspberry plants we transplanted are alive and well
  • the raspberries we planted last year are throwing up new shoots and lots of promising berries…not to mention all the wild bushes we have
  • the sweet train set and table I found on Kijiji for less than half the price for Silas’s big birthday gift
  • copious amounts of organic garlic scape pesto and garlic scape/olive oil ice cubes for cooking
  • the super powerful and clean food processor i found for $10 at the local junk shop
  • 19 bags of yummy organic strawberries in our freezer
  • dutch oven bread
  • overcast days
  • baby kicks, punches, rolls and tumbles.
  • violets and pansies
  • dragonflies
  • the deer flies are here, which means we are in the final stages of bug season…we hope.
  • fans
  • listening to the kids play together
  • peeling an orange in one complete piece
  • payday
  • silas attempting to count everything he sees
  • our wood is piled and ready for this winter
  • a normal, healthy, uneventful pregnancy
  • my new coffee mug
  • daisies and black eyes susans in a mason jar
  • a thoughtful gift and card from mike’s boss
  • being rooster-free
  • poppy’s thoughtfulness and kindness towards her unborn baby sister
  • the baby name we have chosen
  • our new car
  • our new (to us) furniture (every home should have a recliner)
  • birdsong
  • songza
  • waffle cones
  • nail polish in fun colours
  • a tidied laundry space
  • a new place for the dog crate
  • our good health
  • glamour lake beach
  • the fact that poppy prefers to pee outside and does so with gusto
  • our outdoor clawfoot tub (one day it will be in our bathroom)
  • the kids’ love of fruit
  • my stand mixer
  • mike’s job
  • living in canada with our incredible healthcare and benefits
  • watching our kids play with other kids and feeling good about the job we’re doing
  • it’s thursday

 

Mike and I are grateful people.  That said, we are also easily overwhelmed in moments of worry, stress, or exhaustion.  We recently decided to react differently than normal when our old car refused to start.  I felt the instant reaction of fear, frustration, and anger bubble up, but managed to work my way to the other side of it.  I started by focusing on counting my blessings and then put into effect a no whining, no complaining policy for the day.  After I posted that, I got the wine glasses out and we all clinked glasses full of non-alcoholic cider at 8:30 am to mark the occasion.  It was a defining moment and I saw immediate benefits.  Also, after nearly 24 hours of not starting, our car, rather randomly, started up and never gave us another problem.

Gratitude is something I would like to add to our days and so this is the beginning.  I may not always share it here, but I would like to share it over our family meal, or in the darkness of our bedroom, or simply jot it down in a journal.  Wherever and however I may do it, I feel it is imperative for me to practice daily gratitude.

So I will.

If you feel so inclined, please leave a link or share  your own lists of gratitude in the comments.

 

go gently + be wonderful

 

Also posted in celebration, family, life | 1 Comment

earth’s best sundays – canada day edition

This weekend was a good one.  It was, after all, Canada’s birthday.  Unfortunately, my camera was either at home or suffering a dead battery so we only managed pictures of Sunday at my dad and step mom’s farm, but I assure you it was good and full.

::friday::

intensive clean-up + reorganization of our upstairs

grocery shopping

buy one get one deals

::saturday::

Combermere Farmer’s Market on a damp and cool morning

a long wait for the best damn homemade donuts you’ll ever eat

a day spent at the cottage with my step dad, step sister and her wee family

sword fights, flower picking, fishing, bbq, bunnies jumping on a bed, grazing, matching jammies

sleepy children

::Sunday::

two loaves of dutch oven bread

piling the last few bits of wood (the epic job of 2013!)

warm strawberries

garlic scapes

Poppy obsessed with riding Dad + Janet’s new horse Nutmeg (or “Meggie”, as she likes to call her)

Grampa practicing his lasso skills on willing grandkids

watering the animals

checking for eggs

naked tub fun

tractor…always the tractor

birthday cupcakes

too tired to stop for fireworks…maybe next year

::monday::

hulling strawberries while sipping our morning coffee

iron + wine

a new lawnmower (our neighbour repairs and sells them so we traded in the old one)

into town to meet friends for Canada Day celebrations

the anthem + feeling grateful for being born in the best country.

the petting zoo

free Kawartha Dairy ice cream

slowest free balloon service ever!

Waiting in line for food only for them to run out

classic cars

toads+ coffee  in the garden

a quick stop at Kawartha Dairy for chocolate milk + ice cream + waffle cones

that chocolate milk  rocked my socks, wondering why I don’t drink it more often

feeling rather smug as we watched all the tourists making their way back to the city

homemade veggie pizza for supper

bed.

go gently + be wonderful

e.

Also posted in celebration, earth's best sundays, ellenberger organic farm, family, life, photography + writing | 3 Comments

anger + motherhood

This moment didn’t actually make me angry. I just laughed at what they were able to do in the two minutes I had locked myself in the bathroom so I could actually talk to the bank on the phone.

“Take or leave ‘attachment parenting’ as you wish but raising human infants is not supposed to be done in isolation by a single caregiver, and yet overwhelming levels of individualism combined with conservative gender roles have positioned us in exactly that place. In our suburbs there is no-one else in the room when a mother reaches the end of her tether – there is no-one left to negotiate with – it is just an adult and a baby, crying in each other’s faces, desperate.”

I read the above quote about a year ago and felt instantly understood; instantly heard.  I have been seeing and reading a lot about anger and yelling in motherhood on Facebook and Pinterest lately.  In the world of social networking, perhaps this is our way of breaking the silence and/or asking for help…or perhaps just starting a dialogue of support.

As this third pregnancy progresses into 24 weeks, I have the distinct feeling that shit just got real.  All of this is really happening and though we know the love will be instant and true, with it being our third time around we know all the other stuff that comes along with it.  The sleepless nights, the endless worry of sickness and injury, the guilt, the baby blues, the aching bleeding boobs, the baby weight that clings, the healing c-section wound, the adjustment period of jealousy and curiousity.  Of course, in the end it will all be fine and dandy.

Earlier this week, I took the car and the kids for a full day (7:30 am until 5:00 pm) in town.  I don’t know why I do this, but I am stubborn and sometimes the need to get out of the house wins out over wisdom.  It was a gong show and as I chased a shrieking  Silas through half the mall and halfway through a department store while dragging a giggling Poppy behind me I wondered 1) how I will ever leave the house without help again after baby #3 arrives and 2)  Will we all survive this?!

I am not great at dealing with stress…or heat…or messes…or bugs…or not being listened to…or being pregnant…or lack of reason.   Waaaaah!  I know, poor muffin!  Then why on earth would you sign up for the ultra intense gig of stay at home mothering in the country, dummy?  The truth is, even after the most intense day, it still feels like the most natural and fulfilling thing I could ever want to do with my life.  Most jobs are hard and tiring, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t right for us.

I have made my decision to stay home and to homeschool and I stand by it despite it being a struggle in almost every way.  Blame it on the Ellenberger’s stubborn gene.  That being said, I am also letting go of a few things I thought I never would.  For example,

  • I love a lot of the ideas (though not all) of Waldorf, but have come to the realization that I don’t see it as a perfect fit for us.
  • I decided against buying the expensive Oak Meadow curriculum and went to Chapters where we picked up a large assortment of learning/teaching resources for the kids for much less money.
  • I realized that we can be both homeschoolers and unschoolers because the days are long and varied and that is what sits best with us.
  • I picked up some instant oatmeal for the kid’s breakfasts because they like it and because I don’t always want to make food they won’t eat or spend an hour making crepes or apple fritters each morning.
  • I let them watch tv because sometimes I need the kitchen to myself as I make the meals.
  • We have let go of the ideal vegetable garden with lovely raised beds, a solid fence and heirloom varieties this year.  Instead we will plant mainly potatoes and a few basics that always do well.  The bugs, the kids and the budget mixed with the fact that our harvests have been a bit disappointing since moving here and we are slightly disheartened all played heavily into that decision.  Instead of paying out money for plants that would likely just turn into compost, I bought a Dutch Oven for 70% off so I could make more yummy Dutch Oven Bread.

Sometimes we romanticize the olden days and try to hold ourselves to that ideal, but forget life was also structured quite differently back then.  Neighbours were your family and vise versa.  There were often more generations living under one roof and they shared the work with each other.  We are living in a very strange time in which technology and old time values are merging.   We are inundated with blog posts and photos of picture perfect parenting/crafting/cooking/home decorating/partying/traveling moments and think we have to be doing something wrong because our kids/clothes/meals/homes/parties/etc sure as shit doesn’t feel or look like that.  I am guilty of it too.  I take pictures of the scrumdiddlyumptious,  made from scratch chicken pot pie, but neglect to photograph the nights we eat Kraft Dinner or cereal and chips for supper.  As much as I want rhythm in our house, it really is just perpetual motion peppered with guilt,  frustration, giggles, apologies, tears, and heart wrenching love and affection until we all fall down again.  I am coming to terms with the fact that that, in a nutshell,  is what parenting feels like for everyone.  We’re not doing it wrong, it just is what it is.

I know it isn’t ok to yell at my children or lose my temper because my expectations are too high for a 4 and 2 year old.  It’s not them, it’s me.  They are tiny and perfect and trust me completely, and yet I still yell.  Why?  Because I am always alone when I “…reach the end of my tether…”.  And that isn’t about to change in any drastic way anytime soon.  Our small extended families are quite spread out and busy with their own lives.  All we can do is keep doing the best we can with what we’ve got while trying not to wish it was anything different (though we often do).

As I try to tame the Orange Rhino inside of me, I fully realize that anger is a part of life too.  It is important to teach our children the big emotions and how to apologize when we’ve hurt someone.  I don’t get angry when Silas tries to hit me or tells  me he doesn’t like me.  I feel nothing but empathy, I soften and tell him it is ok to be angry with me,  I let him know that sometimes people get angry with each other, but it doesn’t mean we have to stop loving them. I also let him know it is not ok to hit.  I see an instant and remarkable change in him when I say this.  His face changes from anger and he always comes in  for a hug.  When I yell, I always seek them out and apologize within minutes of it happening.  I tell them in the simplest way I can that I was frustrated or hurt or scared and that I never want to scare them.  We hug and often cry on the floor together until it feels ok to get up and move on with our day.

It isn’t a perfect system by any means, but it is what we have right now.  I hope that through it all, they feel the immense love, devotion, and respect I carry for each of them.  I hope that they learn how to be gentle with others and themselves.

 

go gently + be wonderful

e.

Also posted in family, homeschooling, homesteading, life, Uncategorized | 11 Comments

counting my blessings

Today we had planned to take the kids out to the free admission Peterborough Zoo and for ice cream.

Last night we found our car won’t start.

It isn’t the battery.

The car gods must have heard we are planning to trade in our car for a slightly larger family vehicle this Wednesday.

This sort of thing, this feeling of powerlessness and frustration, tends to send me in to a panicky tail spin.

Mike is piling and splitting wood to burn off the worry.

I thought it may be a good idea to count my blessings and compile a short list of what I am grateful for.

 

  • We are all healthy and well.
  • Two vibrant, happy children and another on the way.
  • Mike’s wonderful job with wonderful benefits.
  • Our house in the country.
  • I get to be a stay at home mom and homeschool.
  • Poppy’s empathy/sympathy and resislient nature, wild hair, and sticky-uppy toes.
  • Silas’ intensity, eyebrow playing, story telling ways.
  • All of our secondhand furniture.
  • Free Slacker Radio (specifically the Billie Holiday and Classic Country Station).
  • A freezer full of organic beef, pork, homemade quiche, and corn.
  • Well stocked cupboards.
  • Our line of credit which saves us in situations such as this.
  • Being able to pay our bills.
  • Our large front gate is finally fixed.
  • The wood pile (that will keep us warm next winter) is slowly getting sawed, split, and piled by this wicked cool husband of mine.
  • Only using 2-3% of our propane tank last winter.
  • Our Hydro bill equal billing is going down.
  • I found a way to shave $411 off our yearly home insurance premium.
  • After much debate and research, we will be getting a white 2013 Nissan Rogue on Wednesday with a fair trade in price for our Versa.
  • New cars, their warranties, and all their new bits and perks.
  • Pachouli perfume.
  • When Silas farts and grins a surprised grin while saying “Oops!  I burped in my pants”.
  • The return of our “honey bird” (hummingbird).
  • Winnie the Pooh movies.
  • The lilacs and peonies and apples that grow around our house.
  • The two chickadees flitting about in the cedar tree as I write this.
  • Nag Champa.
  • I finally reached the bottom of dirty clothes mountain and found that was in fact the horrible smell lingering in our front room…ahem.
  • Our two clothes lines.
  • Every month, we get a little further out of debt…most of the time.
  • Our interest free loans from parents.
  • Friends.
  • That the kids’ adoration and excitement for dandelions exceeds even my own.
  • Being able to (slowly) build a new website and facebook page for Ellenberger Organic Farm.  They help us in so many ways and we enjoy being able to pay them back in tiny tokens such as this…until we can pay them back for real.
  • My anchor.
  • Kind cottaging neighbours who don’t get mad when Huck goes for a swim at their cottage and tears around like an idiot.
  • Our abundance of eggs.
  • Lemon meringue pie.
  • Play sand.
  • Netflix.

I know I am just scratching the surface here, but it does make me feel better.

Now, a no complaining + no whining policy is in effect for the rest of the day.

I swear.

 

go gently + be wonderful

e.

 

Also posted in ellenberger organic farm, family, frugal living, homeschooling, homesteading, life, our cabin, the anchor | 4 Comments

playing catch up

Firstly, I apologize for my absence and secondly, I thank you warmly for your kind emails to check in on me.  At 5 weeks of pregnancy the all day nausea hit me like a tonne of bricks and the depression that always accompanies it followed close behind.  Up until now, even the thought of signing into my blog account made me feel nauseated.

Alas, I am 19 weeks along and aside from feeling a bit gaggy in the mornings, I am feeling much better now.  Phew, that was a rough ride!

I am a little ashamed and saddened that I have only a handful of ho-hum photos from the past 3 months, so indulge me while I attempt to record a few snapshots to remind us all of what these month looked like…

  • We had our 18 to 20 week ultrasound on Monday and found out that we are having a GIRL!  The kids have been saying girl consistently whenever we ask them so it was no big surprise to them.  We waited to find out for our first two, but thought it would be fun to find out for our last one.  It feels really nice to know…though I do have that nagging thought that they do make mistakes.
  • The all day nausea lasted from 5 weeks until about 15 weeks.  I made the whole 10 weeks without throwing up and then randomly at 18 weeks, I barfed my guts out.  The same thing happened with Poppy.
  • If I had picked up my camera you would likely see pictures of Silas dressed in a straw hat and lady gloves while exclaiming “Iiiiiit’s show time!” and you would see Poppy dressed in her flapper hat, lady gloves and a purse declaring she was ready to go to the bush.
  • We spent a great deal of time laying on the couch watching movies.  The funny thing is that I felt so guilty, but the kids were happy…likely because they had me all to themselves to snuggle and play with.  I also realized just how well they get along and play together.  They almost never fight and almost always share there food and toys with each other with a simple offer or question “You wanna share with me Silas/Poppy”.  They really are the best of friends and I am so glad they will be homeschooled to foster that relationship.
  • I wonder how this new little girl will fit into the mix and dynamic.  Both kids are excited and ease my worries when they bring toys for the baby, kiss my belly, and shush each other so as not to wake the baby.  Silas found a play stethoscope at the local thrift store and immediately held it up to my belly and said “I’m just checking your baby.  I’m a doctor.”
  • There was lots of lego, books, and puzzles by the fire.
  • Evening games of Uno in which Poppy actually began beating us until she lost interest and left the game after 4 or 5 hands.
  • The Waltons
  • Poppy has become quite crafty and resourceful.  When I take to long to fill a bowl with water for her to use her watercolour paints, she will spit in them and begin without me.  She used the same principle just yesterday when she wanted water for the mud pit they love so much.  She peed in it and I was able to stop her as she was about to proceed playing with her new mud.  Don’t worry we promptly filled the area in with 10 bags of play sand last night.  The black flies swarmed us, but with bug nets over their heads, they played happily for nearly an hour without so much as a single bite.
  • Speaking of the mud pit, one warm day this week they were able to strip down and become completely coated in dark, rich mud. All was fine and dandy until Silas snuck inside, waited until I spotted him, slammed the door and ran squealing into the front room and onto the couch where he flailed around until I could get him off and into the tub where he surprised us all by pooping. He has never done that and I think he was more shocked than Poppy and I.
  • Poppy has been sleeping in her own room, but Mike has been staying with her until she falls asleep, but about a month ago she started asking to go to bed and falling asleep by herself.  This is a very big moment for us as we have never wanted to let her cry it out.
  • We have been moving Silas to his own toddler bed in their shared room after he falls asleep, but most nights he finds his way back into our bed.
  • Poppy loves to draw, but shows more creativity with paints.  My favourite pieces are a portrait of Daddy and a colourful caterpillar.
  • She has also begun spelling and writing her name by herself and has learned the sounds all the letters of the alphabet make.
  • Our 9 hens are laying well and we can barely use up all the eggs.
  • Our red headed rooster has started to attack us.  It began with Silas, then Poppy, then Mike, then me.  He isn’t brutally aggressive, but enough to be annoying.  The good news is that when he attacked Silas and Poppy, Huck was there and gently pulled the rooster off of them by the tail feathers.  We are hoping to find a new home for him or he may end up in the freezer.
  • Huck has been a frustratingly stubborn dog, but he is wonderful with the kids and keeps a watchful eye on them.  If they run out of sight, he will follow and sit with them.
  • Our area had a lot of run off water, rain, and flooding this spring.  We weren’t affected by the flooding rivers at home, but our basement did gather some water which was frustrating, but so many people were evacuated and likely have severe water damage to their homes.
  • Mike and I will be creating a new website for Ellenberger Organic Farm.  It will have a lot more comprehensive information on it.  I will let you know when it goes live, but if you’d like to see more up to date photos, videos, and what is available when, etc, be sure to like their new Facebook page!  It was a great maple syrup year for them.
  • Mike’s Mom and her partner were up for a visit as they made their way back from Florida to Newfoundland which meant that Mike and I were able to get into the big city for our first night away alone in over four years.   We visited the St. Lawrence Market where I nearly passed out due to low blood sugar.  I sat on their lovely outdoor patio area where Mike fed me strawberries, cookies, meat sticks and water until I recovered.  We then walked on to the Distillery District.  Then up through a sketchy part of town and through Cabbagetown until we reached our hotel (An old Victorian house that Ernest Hemmingway lived in while in Toronto).  Once talking to the kids and freshening up, we made our way through the posh, douche chill inducing streets of Yorkville to a little Indian Restaurant where we enjoyed a lovely, quiet meal while simultaneously remembering why we like and love each other.  We then sipped on coffee and hot chocolate and strolled through aisles of books.  In the morning we rose early and enjoyed a stroll back down Bloor until we arrived at the ROM.  We sipped more hot beverages and ate a small breakfast while chatting and people watching until the museum opened.  With one set of butterfly wings, one set of dinosaur wings and a dinosaur mug, we made our way back to Union Station by way of the bustling Yonge Street.  My feet still hurt, but the simple memories are good ones that should carry us through to our next getaway in another couple of years ;).
  • Turns out that making baby girls makes for a fatter sicker mama. With Silas I was able to wear the same pair of non maternity jeans throughout the whole pregnancy. With this one, I peed on the stick and my pants stopped fitting.  Sweet lord, it is going to be a long summer!
  •  There are so many lilac blossom promises this year.  How I love the wild flowers and perennials that grow around this little house…wild roses, peonies, poppies, lilacs, daisies, cherry and apple blossoms, and black eyed Susan’s, oh my!  My mason jars shall runneth over this year!
  • We are hoping to get honeybees next spring.  I do love the dear little creatures, but would like to get the family allergy tested before we get them to make me feel better.
  • Mike is still making his way though our giant pile of firewood logs which means Mike ventured into chainsaw ownership and use.  He was pretty excited.  We hope to save up for a much more efficient wood stove this fall.
  • We were very pleased that we didn’t owe any taxes this year!  We got a $10 return, but paid $80 to figure that out.
  • Poppy has a new habit of posing very seriously for photos.  It is hard to explain, but it often translates into a very sad looking little girl even though as soon as I take it she breaks into a smile and asks to see it.  It is as though she is being artistic beyond her years.  Just yesterday she spotted the patch of cheerful dandelions in the yard and ran out to pick them in her fairy jammies.  She brought more and more in and then arranged them ever so carefully in a small mason jar.  Of course there were some very stoic poses for mama and her camera, but I did manage to capture a couple candid joyful faces.
  • Silas’ favourite new word is “dirt bag”.  It is something we lovingly call him from time to time, but it likely sounds horrible to onlookers who watch Mike take him into the washroom of the restaurant to wash his hands while he hollers playfully in protest “Let me go you dirt bag!”.  Funny stuff.
  • I purchased a 5 year journal on our little getaway to the city and look forward to recording a little bit about our everyday days.

Well, there you have it.  I know I’ve forgotten so many tiny good moments, but now I will have something to come back to this winter as we work away on our annual Poppy, Silas + Little Girl (We have a name picked, but will attempt keeping it secret for now) book for the grandparents.

I hope to see more of you these days and catch up on your own spaces again.

 

go gently + be wonderful

e.

Also posted in 365 photo project, 52 portraits, celebration, ellenberger organic farm, family, feather + anchor, homeschooling, homesteading, life, our cabin, photography + writing, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

bullets

  • We had our first appointment with the new midwives .  I will be having a third c-section, but prefer midwifery care for my pregnancies.  It makes me feel a lot more in control and relaxed.  Seriously, everyone should go to a midwife regardless of what kind of birth you plan on having.  They are great.  When I came out of the office, Poppy lifted my shirt and asked where the baby was.

 

  • I feel miserable.  The all day nausea has arrived two weeks earlier than anticipated.

 

  • Poppy put her head on my belly and I asked if she could hear the baby in there. She looked concerned and said “I don’t hear him (she is 50/50 on the boy girl thing, alternates frequently) I think he ran to the store to get bananas.”  Also, I feel as though I could sleep until May.

 

  • I heard somewhere that siblings are usually right about the sex of an unborn baby so we ask them frequently.  They go back and forth often and just yesterday Silas informed me there was a boy and a girl in my belly.  Funny kid.

 

  • Seriously, will someone please give this girl a hot dog.  Or a foot long tuna sub.  That’s what dreams are made of right now.

 

  • This already feels endless.
  • The End
Also posted in 365 photo project, 52 portraits, family, life | 12 Comments

twenty four + the beauty products, recipes + methods i love

Since moving to the country I go out into the world a lot less.  Since there isn’t even the off chance that I might run into the mail lady, I find I put less and less into my appearance and wardrobe.  At first it was liberating, but I have grown tired of always looking like a rumpled rag.

Every morning I think it will be the morning that I get myself into the shower before Mike leaves for work, but I always find something else to tidy or it is just too damn cold.  This morning, though, I forced myself into the rather unwelcoming shower stall; the worst part is always the wall of ice that smacks up against you just after shutting off the water and opening the glass door.  Once I had some warm layers on again I felt so much better.  I know, I know, poor little Muffin and her First World problems!  😉

Now, I love a good jammie day just as much as the next person; probably even more so.  But I have noticed a marked improvement in my mood, patience, productivity, and general well being when I take that 20 or 30 minutes of self care each morning.

I used to be a bit of a product whore.  I loved going to the drug store to find new products that would make my hair shinier, my skin dewier, and my eyes poppier.  I have admitted to you on many occasions just how much I enjoy shopping and browsing, but in the last few years I have really begun to think about the nasty, carcinogenic crap they put in our products and have made it a goal to remove it from our home.  I have found wonderful replacements for pretty much everything, but my hair products.  I often have people ask me what  products I use and have been meaning to make a post telling you just that for quite some time.  To cram it into this post feels quite suitable, no?

Shampoo + Conditioner:  Let me first tell you that I have insanely thick hair which has natural loose curls.  My favourite product is Dove, but they still test on animals and contain all the usual chemicals so I try to buy the products not tested on animals.  I have tried going “poo free” in which I used baking soda, water and apple cider vinegar and I thought I liked it until I caved about a month and half in and washed my hair with real shampoo and it felt like my scalp could breathe again.  I have tried pretty much every natural product out there, but it always makes it feel heavy, frizzy, or just unclean.  I am not quite so picky about my conditioner and do like Nature’s Gate.

Mousse: Again, I have tried all the natural brands in hopes of finding something that makes my hair work, but my favourites are Herbal Essences or Dove though they are, once again, full of chemicals and tested on animals.  I even boiled flax seeds in hopes of using the gloopy bi-product for hair gel.  It was nasty and turned really fast.  I am still searching.

Hair Dryer:  I use a  Barbar Ceramic hair dryer (I bought it a couple years ago with a free shipping and 60% off coupon).  I also have a CHI hair straightener which I bought on clearance when we were a dual income household.  It is covered in hideous skull and crossbones, but the colour just wasn’t worth paying a premium.  I only use it when I have bangs..

Moisturizer:  For the body I like to use my homemade sugar scrub in the bath or shower which removed the need to moisturize afterwards.  For my face, I mix a little cocoa into my Green Beaver facial moisturizer to create a chemical free, sun free self tanner because I am of the opinion that everyone looks best with a little tan (how very 1980’s of me).

Face Wash:  Water.  Though I have heard good things about the oil cleansing method.  I use Witch Hazel as a toner.

Lips: I use my homemade lip balm and am wanting to try a decent DIY lip stain for the days I need a little colour.

 Makeup:  I am a minimalist when it comes to makeup.  Nearly everything I would use (mascara, eyeshadow, and eye liner) was in this kit for 24.99 at our local-ish health food store and sometimes I will use their subtle blush for these white wintry days.  I feel better when I wear a touch of makeup, but usually only where it when I leave the house.

Toothpaste:  As a formal dental hygienist, I feel a little torn about the whole fluoride controversy.  In an ideal world we wouldn’t need it and everyone would eat whole foods and have impeccable oral hygiene, but that just isn’t the case.  I don’t believe it should be in our drinking water.  We have been using this toothpaste for nearly 2 years and love it.

Deodorant:  I will only use the very best homemade deodorant ever created.  Some people say it can stain your clothes if you dress right after, but I have never found that.  Some people think baking soda contains aluminum, but apparently it is our baking powder that we should be looking more closely at.  If you’re still unsure, just get the aluminum free stuff like I did before I read that post.

Baby Wash/Shampoo – If you’re like me, you thought you were safe buying the unscented baby shampoos, but they contain all the shitty chemicals our stuff contains so I stopped buying it.  First I stopped washing Poppy’s curly hair and just used a tiny bit of conditioner, but when I ran out of that I just started wetting and/or brushing her hair at bath time each night and it is just the same.  I don’t even have to brush Silas’ hair.  You’d think their hair would stink or get oily, but it never does.  I just use homemade soap that I always seem to have given to me as gifts.

Bubble Bath:  Bubble bath just isn’t bubble bath without Sodium Lauryl Sulphate.  So I try to use epsom salts and essential oils instead, but I miss my bubbles.

Perfume/Cologne:  Pachouli has always been my scent and I have never ever been able to use anything but the more beyond The Body Shop’s perfume oils (I am sure they contain just as many chemicals.  Also they don’t make them anymore).  I have not bought new perfume in years, but when my oils run out I will just use Pachouli.  Mike has been saying he’d like a signature scent; something that when the kids smell it they think fondly of their daddy and his love. I am hoping one of these recipes will fit the bill.

Laundry Soap: I love this homemade recipe, but when I don’t have all the ingredients on hand or just don’t feel like taking the time, I use Ecos Laundry Soap.

 

There you have it.  My biggest pet peeve is when something doesn’t do what it it supposed to do so these are the recipes, products and methods I have found to be better for us, the earth, and are actually effective.  I have started a Pinterest board where I will be pinning recipes and ideas I would like to try so if you’d like to see more of what catches my eye, feel free to follow me.

What are your tried and true recipes, methods, and products?  What little things make a big difference in your day?

 

go gently + be wonderful

e

 

Also posted in 365 photo project, frugal living, life, recipes, tutorials + DIY | 13 Comments

thirteen

Hot chocolate in my coffee

work for mike

a trip to the hardware store

a pretty new paint colour with a rather disappointing  name

rock cookies

chicken pot pie from one of our very own chickens

more rain

more of the same

hunkering down

Our thoughts have been occupied with our newly implemented budget.  We sway back and forth between feeling empowered and hopeful to tired and a little sad.  The good news is that the money is there for us if we use it wisely.   We are so glad that me staying home is even a viable option; I know so many people would love to be home, but simply cannot make ends meet.

I found this blog while searching for ways to stretch our dollars and for about 15 minutes we thought maybe we could really hunker down and get ourselves out of debt.  Then we realized we are already bare bones with the only place to cut the fat being in our groceries, fuel, and “entertainment” ($100 – so far our entertainment includes paint and a fire detector).  It would be years and years before we saw the light of day and it would be a miserable existence.  All that to say we will be taking all our monthly disposable income and laying it down on our line of credit for the next several months.  After that is cleared, it will be going into our savings and paying off our freezer full of organic grass fed meat.  We also have a truck load of wood and a chainsaw to buy as well as our income tax coming due from my adventure into home childcare.

The budget means cutting the tiny bits of fat most people wouldn’t think twice about.  Reducing grocery trips to the larger town a little over an hour away to 2 times rather than 3 or 4 times per month.  It quickly becomes clear why going into the grocery store less is just better.  Mike is capable of going in with blinders and only getting the milk or onions whereas I get creative and think of the possibilities.  It means making our food from scratch.  It means using electricity less.  Ultimately, it translates into me staying home more and spending even more time in the kitchen.

Anyone who knows how much time I spend in the house as it is may think that is ludicrous to spend more time at home, but it is a reality and I am preparing myself for it.  I need to switch my perspective a bit.  I think I have a higher than normal tolerance for being home and being alone so it shouldn’t be too hard.

I really like being home, but Ido need a few things for it to be more sane:

1) I need a project to do; big or small, just something that makes me feel productive.

  • painting nearly every surface in the house within an inch of its life
  • reorganizing the cupboards
  • baking/meal prep
  • planning and implementing a functional pantry space
  • meal planning
  • sewing
  • repairing, patching, and slipcover-ing our furniture
  • painting or drawing
  • reading
  • knitting and crocheting
  • blogging
  • art
  • jewelry making
  • etc

2) I need a shower – it makes me feel more productive, more pulled together, and less grumpy/disgusting

3) I need my house to be pretty and cozy (which goes hand in hand with number 1).

4) I need something other than kid’s movies to watch especially in the winter.  This one is hard to admit, but I miss watching things like Martha Stewart and would also love to watch things that we can all learn from like BBC programs, documentaries etc {this isn’t to say we don’t watch things like Shameless, Californication, and The Dragon’s Den when we can}.  We are looking into ways of doing this without cable (we have not had cable for nearly 5 years!) and may be able to do something with some Christmas money and dip into our entertainment budget.

5) Adult interaction.  Lots of options here between friends and homeschool meet ups, I just have to plan things out, and firm up plans more often rather than just saying, with good intentions, “We should totally get together!”.  This also means embracing social media like Instagram and Facebook.  I often wonder why I post pictures of random things for no real reason, but I do it to connect to the good people who may live far away or that I simply don’t get to see a lot.  It staves off the crazies more times than not and can pull me back from the edge when Silas gets an early start on his throw-downs.

To some of you this may sound perfectly normal and realistic while others may think we are insane for not just doing things normal-like.  send the kids to daycare and then school while we both work.  Not only is it not how we wish to do things for a number of personal reasons, but there are high costs to that as well.  The truth is that some days are hard and even boring, but then I think about going back to a job that I hated and spending much less time with my kids, and my perspective is regained.  I would rather do tedious and sometimes mundane tasks for these two little bosses than for a stranger, besides they pay me well in cuddles and say way funnier things.

go gently + be wonderful

e.

Also posted in 365 photo project, family, frugal living, homeschooling, homesteading, life, Uncategorized | 17 Comments

day one of 365

Time again for another 5 year plan.  It makes me happy to think of our lives and future together as a family and a couple.  This one will take us to 2018 though it seems impossible to believe.  So many of our dreams and goals came to life after we created our last one in 2007

We found our sweet and feisty rabbit “Sugarfoot” dead under the cedars today.  It appears it was of natural causes as there was not a hair out of place.  He has been spending 90% of his time outside since July or August when he started hiding when I came out to fetch him for the night.  I figured he may have a shorter life living outdoors, but it was definitely a happy and full one.  He grazed in the long grass with the chickens, humped our cats, put the run on Huck, enjoyed plenty of scratches and pats and ate lots of kitchen scraps all while good naturedly letting the kids chase him around the yard.  He had built a burrow under our porch and never strayed far.  As the days grew colder he would come in for a snack and a nap then out he went again.  His coat had grown nice and thick and he was healthy.  He had simply laid down and died.

I have always wanted to do a 365 photo challenge, but always think of it too late or don’t start because I lack the staying power.  This year, I was reminded on New Year’s Eve that I should get started.  Of course, I hope to stick with this, but we all know the year is long and life gets busy, but I have started anyway.  I originally thought I would just post a week’s worth here on Saturdays, but since I have been neglectful of this space of late I hope to find a way to simply blog it from Instagram.  Some days it may be one phone or camera photo while other days may be a smattering of photos paired with a few words about our day.  I may go weeks just keeping a photo journal and I may become inspired to leave a recipe or a fawned Friday or some thoughts.  More often than not I feel I have nothing of great substance to say on the blog or have so much to say, I don’t know where to begin.  I figure this might loosen the blockage.

I seem to constantly be changing directions with the blog and my ideas…I tried the sponsor thing and though I enjoyed it, it was a lot of time spent organizing, emailing, and posting for a very little bit of money and it seemed to dominate my blog space.  I tried the tutorial thing, but again, it was a great deal of effort and time.  I continue to walk the fine line of trying to find creative ways to bring in extra money and blogging for myself and my family.  I keep coming back to the inevitable truth that my time is best spent trying to save us money rather than trying to make money (for now anyway).  I would love to be a paid writer or photographer, but the reality is that those things are just hobbies I enjoy and not necessarily easy income.  They take a lot of time and energy to do on top of trying to drum up interest (which seems to be non-existent).  I read an excellent article on pricing your services and it really put things into perspective for me.  I could take pictures for a song, but it isn’t worth the time I lose with the kids.  So if I can’t find clients willing to pay, I won’t be doing it.  Simple really.

This time of year is for turning inward.  Our finances are at the top of the list this year (inspired by this post).  It is time to get serious about our grocery bill and stop nickel and diming ourselves to debt (ha!).  Usually I find the process of creating a budget empowering, but this time I am a little nervous, because we will be on a bit of a spending strike for the next few months in order to afford our truckload of wood, a very necessary chainsaw, and our taxes that will inevitably come due.  We will also concentrate on paying for our freezer full of organic beef and paying down the line of credit that we were forced to dip into over the last year and a half.

I love shopping.  I know, it doesn’t seem to fit with the lifestyle we are trying to live, but it is true.   I have dreams about shopping sprees on a weekly basis I kid you not.  That being said, I am also a bargain and thrift store shopper so I have managed to score some sweet deals over the years.  I don’t leave the house all that often and when I do, I am rarely organized enough to think of snacks and drinks etc to get us all through the day.  On my odd day out with the kids I will buy a snack or two, a drink or two, and a meal for us.  I will often pick up some small items just because (clothes for the kids at Recycled Kids or a few items at the drug store), factor in the extra gas (it usually involves at least two extra hours of driving).  We pick Mike up from work at 4:30 after being out all day so supper is either a bowl of cereal and some toast or we buy something on the way home.  So you see, a day out per week can quickly add up against our monthly budget.  I usually have hopes of doing our grocery shopping in the bigger town since it is so expensive around these parts, but trying to concentrate with two squirmy and demanding kids can be tough and I often end up being incredibly inefficient.

I know I will be ok without shopping.  I love baking and cooking;  there is snow to play in; we have bookshelves overflowing with unread books; I have a ton of clothes, fabric and yarn, purchased over the years, to use up; puzzles to be assembled; walls to be painted; movies to download; kids to chase and teach.  It is just that I use shopping (as thrifty as I may think I am) as a reward for everything else we go without; an extra car, convenient propane heat, trips or getaways, cable, brand new clothes, and for staying home all day every day with two small kids.  I talk myself into the fact that I deserve it, but when it hurts our bank account I can hardly justify it.  Our goal is to get out of overdraft and pay off the smaller debts we owe and then begin saving up for bigger ticket items we want or need without guilt.  Guilt and worry is far too heavy to carry around for another year.

Well, that was much longer than I had anticipated, but there you have it.  Our plans, goals, and new directions and attitudes for the blog and the new year.

 

Make it a happy one.

 

go gently + be wonderful

e.

 

Also posted in 365 photo project, feather + anchor, frugal living, homeschooling, homesteading, life | 10 Comments

with a heavy + grateful heart

This task has been hanging over us for some time now.  We knew when we bought these chicks from Andrew and Kira back in June that we would be putting the roosters in our freezer.  They had a happy and natural life in every way.  They free ranged by day and roosted in a large coop by night.  Aside from the odd game of harmless chase with the children and dogs, they were free to be chickens.  Because they had lots of space they very rarely even picked fights with each other.  It really was a good life punctuated with a not so great final 30 seconds.

Andrew and Kira had offered to show us (by that I mean Mike) the process they use.  They arrived early, we chatted, sipped coffee while the kids played on the ice and followed our tame outdoor rabbit Sugarfoot,  and then proceeded to get ready.  I thought I would stay away entirely, but decided at the last minute to watch the process.  It ended up being Kira doing the task and the teaching.  There is something comforting to me about a woman doing the job.  She is a calm and gentle soul and it gave me an even deeper sense of peace with the whole process.  Once the ball was rolling, the task went quickly and Mike told me later that Kira makes for wonderful teacher.

Poppy was a bit confused, but we took turns explaining what was happening in the simplest terms possible.  She seemed to understand to some extent and innocently said to me “No, you can’t eat animals, that’s yucky”.  Silas took that time to have a complete melt down so I took our kids inside for a snack where we checked on things from the window from time to time.

I was relieved when it was all over and now that we have 7 chickens in our freezer neither of us have an appetite for chicken.  I remember my dad telling me about my Gramma not being able to eat her chickens for quite some time after processing them herself.  I guess we just feel it proper to give it a window of grace.  A moment of quiet gratitude.  A moment to process our own emotions.  A moment to allow it to cross some arbitrary threshold where it becomes meat rather than a living, breathing creature that once grazed on our land.  Mike was a bit quiet and reserved for the remainder of the day, perhaps processing his first experience with killing something himself.

My issue is not in this method of raising and killing animals ourselves, but more with the bigger question of if I should be eating meat at all.  I came to the realization that if I am to eat meat, I am responsible for the death of an animal regardless of whose hands do the deed.  To send them away or to buy from the conventional market simply makes it easier for me to continue with the easy disconnect.   That being said, if it were left to me and me alone, I would not eat meat again and wouldn’t find it to be a grave hardship.  I have always struggled with eating meat on a personal level and this practice has brought me face to face with that issue; just as having a responsible, respectful organic beef farmer for a father and a responsible, respectful hunter for a step father has done throughout my entire life.  I believe that chickens and other animals are capable of forming bonds and “friendships”; they know the primal sense of pleasure of warming themselves in the sun; they break off into their own groups and have roosting buddies; comforting bonds if you will.  It may be on a primal level, but just because they cannot contemplate these bonds and attachments, doesn’t mean they don’t occur.

The Hoff and the ladies laid low under the cedar tree for the remainder of the day.  Usually Mike shuts the coop door each night, but that night I went out to say goodnight and thank you.  The 4 Barred Rock ladies were sitting on one roost while the 5 Wyandottes sat on a much higher roost.  The Hoff sat alone and alert on his own looking a little disoriented.  He watched me cautiously as I talked in a soft voice.  I told him I needed him to remain a gentleman and he curiously cocked his head and looked me in the eye.  I hoped we had reached an understanding and so far he has held up his end of the bargain.  I went out again a little later just to look in the window and he had snuggled right in with the older girls on their roost.  I was glad for that.

This way of doing things isn’t for everyone, nor is it emotionally easy, but for us, it is right.  When I think of how conventional meat ends up on the table the decision is easier.  This was not something we took lightly.  We are grateful for the meat, we are grateful for organic farming parents and friends who help and support us so fully along this path we are choosing.

go gently + be wonderful

e,

Also posted in celebration, ellenberger organic farm, family, frugal living, homesteading, life, Uncategorized | Leave a comment