Monday, November 7, 2011

Come Here Often?

Oh......hello. Funny seeing you here. More like funny seeing ME here. It still amazes me how life can get so busy and pull me away from things, things I really enjoy doing like coming here and writing and sharing with others. My poor neglected blog. How I've missed you.

Well a lot has been going on around here. A lot of really great things. We've begun to really embrace the homesteading lifestyle and are incorporating more and more of it into our day to day. Several months ago we began learning about canning. After growing some of our own food and preserving things in the dehydrator, I decided to take it a step further and try my hand at other methods of preservation. The only downside to this has been that I didn't grow anything I could water bath can, so I had to get my canning items from the store. Regardless, we now have several jars of apple butter, apple pie filling, peaches and pears. It's been such an amazing journey learning how to make things from scratch and get a slight glimpse of what the pioneers lives would have been like. It's really set things in motion for me to obtain a lot of that lifestyle myself. It's incredibly fulfilling.

During my time away from here I've also been working on several projects, all of which I will share here soon. For now though, I will share a group I started on Facebook called Love:Squared. Quite some time ago I had the idea to make blankets for people in need, but I didn't think I could do it myself because of the amount of time it takes to make just one blanket. So I thought that maybe if I got others to help me it would go much quicker, and would also be a great demonstration of people coming together to help others. The easiest way to piece together a blanket is with knitted or crocheted squares, or granny squares. So I started my Facebook group to encourage people who are interested in helping to whip up a square and send it to me. Once I get enough squares to make a blanket I'll stitch them all together and off it goes to wrap someone up in warmth and love. If any of you are interested in helping me with this project, please check out the group page!

So here is an idea of whats to come on my blog. I'm going to be sharing about my new adventures in couponing, some handmade products I've been working on and the opening of my first Etsy shop (so excited!!!), our journey into homesteading and a self-sufficient lifestyle, projects (for the kids, around the house, and lovely crafty things), more talk on homeschooling and sharing what we're up to, to name a few. I'm very excited for whats to come and to share it with you!

I hope you're having a lovely fall so far ♥

Monday, April 11, 2011

Seeds and Stuffed Raccoons

Things are happening in my little egg carton garden. So far all of my tomato plants have germinated, all of my yarrow is growing nicely and after having a little peek under the soil I can see that my peppers are beginning to germinate as well. It is very exciting to see things grow right before your eyes.

Here is one of my tomato plants a few days ago, just after it had germinated

Here are my tomato plants today

The tomatoes are looking a bit leggy (long and reaching) because I didn't realize they needed to go under a light as soon as they had germinated, so they went light-less for a few days before I clued in. I don't yet have proper lighting (I will be doing that this weekend) but they seem to be doing well under the small light that I do have, which is just a CFL bulb in an Ikea light placed very closely to the plants. I'm doing what I can with what I have.

Something that I tried that worked really well to get my heat-loving seeds to germinate was putting them in the oven. Now hold on! Don't freak out. I didn't turn the oven on. Phew! Scared you didn't I? I placed them in a regular egg carton (one I hadn't messed with), closed up the lid and put them into the oven with the oven light on. After making yogurt in the crock-pot and learning how much warmth that little bulb in the oven puts off, I thought I would give it a try with my seeds. They stayed nice and toasty in the oven overnight, and the next morning I saw major growth. If you need a warm place to put your seeds while they germinate, try this!! Just make sure you don't forget they are in there and turn the oven on, like I always do with my frying pan (I have a very large frying pan that won't fit in my cupboard so it lives in my oven).

Here is my yarrow growing happily

Here is another view of the yarrow

I had planted a row of sweetpeas along the fence that separates my yard from my neighbours, but so far I'm not seeing anything happening with those. I think the seeds I had may have been too old, which is unfortunate. On the plus side, if they don't grow then I'll have more room to grow more food.

After making the knitting needle/crochet hook roll I decided I wasn't done crafting, which is a great feeling. For awhile I was in a bit of a crafting slump, my sewing machine was collecting dust, and I was very much uninspired. Lately my sewing machine has been quite busy, as well as most of my crafting tools. I'd dare to say that my slump is over, but I don't want to jinx it because I'm having too much fun. I made a stuffed raccoon for the kids the other day, and they haven't put him down or stopped cuddling with him since I made the last stitch. They named him Jasper :)

 This weekend I will be putting a permit on my van and picking up most of what I need for the garden. I need to make some more soil for my raised square-foot garden so I can start planting in there, I need to pick up a fluorescent light or two, and a few containers for some Lavender, Lemon Balm, Stevia and Peppermint to go into. The sun has made a surprise appearance today amidst all of this heavy rain we've been getting so I need to get outside and enjoy it. I hope wherever you are the sun is shining also and you are out playing in the dirt!

This post is being shared on Homestead Revival's Barn Hop #8

Monday, April 4, 2011

Attempting Seeds and Getting Crafty

After my last post and how I talked about not being set-up for starting plants from seed, I decided that maybe I should just go for it. Sure, I don't have any lights or a seedling warmer (I didn't even know those existed up until a few weeks ago), nor do I even have a seed tray. Nothin'. You get an idea of how new I am to growing my own food. What I did have, was two egg cartons that I had planned to give the kids to use for crafts or as a tray of somesort, and several broken egg shells which were drying and waiting for me to crush up and put in my compost bin. I've read articles and heard stories about how it was possible to grow things in eggshells, and that it can actually be helpful because instead of having to transplant the plant from a tray into the soil, you just plunk (gently) the whole thing (plant, eggshell and all) into it's new home in the garden. So since I already had these things on hand, plus a bunch of seeds just calling out to me to be planted (gardening is a sickness, really) I decided to give it a go and hope for the best.

I poked tiny holes into the bottoms of my eggshells, scooped up some of my new soil (1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss alternative, and 1/3 vermiculte) and filled up the shells. I labelled each shell with the name of what seed was going in, and placed them into the tray.

Then, because I'm me and I do things like this, I made my egg-carton-turned-hopeful-garden into something pretty and fingers crossed, functional. I cut out the centre of the lid of the carton and taped plastic wrap on, thinking that maybe I'll be able to keep some warmth in and at the same time let some light in.

I'm really hoping for the best, and will update as things happen....or don't happen. Whatever the case may be. I have had my eye on a pretty little set-up of a flourescent light with a stand for seed starting, but it costs $100 and I can't justify spending that much. The other morning I came up with an idea for my own version of said light stand that will cost me significantly less. I know I don't need a set-up because I've seen many people just hang a light from their ceiling and put their seeds on a table underneath, but I want something just a tad more functional, moveable, and, I'll share that project with you as well when I get started.  

After making the egg-carton garden I got bit by the craft bug and decided to make something that I had been putting off making for awhile: a knitting needle/crochet hook roll. My hooks and needles are usually stuffed inside skeins of yarn or floating around the bottom of my yarn bin which endlessly frustrates me, and since I'm trying my best to not buy things that I can make myself then this was an obvious project. Because of all the rain we've been getting (again) I figured now was as good a time as any to spend some much-needed time with my neglected sewing machine. I'd spent a bit of time looking up tutorials online for making these rolls (there are plenty) but none of them looked like something I wanted to follow. I don't really know why. I figured I would just wing it and do one up myself. Please don't mind the not-so-great lighting in the following pictures, but the overcast skies just won't cooperate. At least you'll get an idea of what I did.

I really like how it turned out, and the colors just make me so happy that I know I will love unrolling this everytime I have a knitting or crocheting project to do, which should be very soon.

Happy homesteading! xoxo

This post is participating in Homestead Revival's Barn Hop #7 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Surprises to Brighten My Day

A wall in my kitchen

Well April is here (how did that happen so fast??) and as each day passes by I'm getting more and more excited for longer, brighter, warmer days. Even though it is Spring, yesterday almost felt a bit like Christmas. Not because of the weather (although it was a bit on the dark, gloomy and wet side), and not because I still have Christmas lights on my house (they were taken down in January for your information, unlike several of my neighbours who STILL have them up). No, it felt a bit like Christmas here yesterday because of the little gifts I received that completely brightened my day. The first thing to arrive was my order from the local seed company, West Coast Seeds. I've been eagerly anticipating the arrival of the first batch of seeds to go into my garden, and the first batch of seeds that I will be growing from, well, seed! In the last couple of years that I have been very lightly dabbling with gardening, I'd always purchased established plants and just transferred them into my yard. While there is nothing at all wrong with doing it that way, I've begun to realize that you don't really know much about that plant that you will soon be eating from. Was it genetically modified? Has it been altered in a way that will inhibit it to from producing good yeilds year after year? To know I'm getting the best possible plants I decided starting them from seed was the way to go. Now, I'm still new at this whole process, so I haven't yet begun starting seeds indoors. That is a project that I want to take on very soon, but it hasn't happened yet. Instead I am direct sowing the seeds right into my yard. There are some plants that I will inevitably have to buy established from the nursery because of the fact that I won't be starting them from seed indoors. One of those will be tomatoes, another zucchini, also cucumber and then the blueberry bushes I'm planning to plant. My goal for next year though, will be to start everything from seed. I'm also going to be reading up on how to save my own seeds from my own plants.

Seeds from West Coast Seeds are non-GMO, are untreated, and for me they are local

My West Coast Seed order was delivered to my door by our postal service, and shortly after my delivery I checked my mailbox for mail. What did I find there? Another little gift, or several! I found a bulging envelope with writing I didn't recognize. Curious as to what could be inside, I tore it open and I was greeted with this:

A lovely friend and fellow homeschooler (hi Kim!!) had promised to send me some seeds that she had, and that she did! She even took the time to make little pot-shaped packages for them. Aren't they darling? I almost don't want to open them! But when I read what they contain, I can't help but get excited for all of the things that will be growing in my yard.

Today is still on the dark, gloomy and wet side but my day is still bright because of small gifts like these. I plan on heading outside this afternoon and putting my sugar snap peas into some dirt. Afterward I think I will drink some tea and daydream about what's to come.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Preparing My Garden and A Day Like No Other

Today was bliss!! It really was. And it's not because I did anything overly exciting or extravagant, nor did anything overly exciting or extravagant happen to me. Instead I spent the day doing things that made me extremely happy.

My day started off with a visit from my parents. My Mom's car has been broken for a couple of months now, so I've hardly seen her in that time which is unusual for us. So they came by for coffee and tea and chocolate cake. Thankfully I had made a simple chocolate cake the other night and had just enough left for each of us to have a sliver topped with a dusting of icing sugar. The sun was shining, the conversation was great and the cake was delicious. After they left I got started on a gardening project I had been meaning to do since last year: building a square foot garden bed. Before I get into details, I will give you a bit of a tour of my backyard so you can see just how much space I'm working with.

Here is a view of the right side of my yard when I'm standing just
outside of my sliding patio door

Here is the left side of my yard

Here is a view looking back at my townhouse

Here we are back to almost the beginning photo.
As you can see, my yard is a fairly good size for a townhouse,
but quite small for gardening. The wall that the birdhouse is on will be
the home of some Super Sugar Snap Peas very soon

Yesterday I threw a permit on my van (I've taken the insurance off of my van and am again attempting to go car-lite, which I will blog about very soon) and ran some errands to pick up everything I needed. I already had 4 4-foot length cedar boards from last year so all I needed to buy was the components to make prime square foot gardening soil. I'm told from the square foot gardening book, that the best soil for this type of gardening is a mix of 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 vermiculite. Since I'm a lazy compost turner (translation: I don't turn it) it takes a bit longer for the stuff to break down into soil, so unfortunately I couldn't use any of it for my new raised garden bed. Luckily my grocery store had a sale on for 4 20L bags of organic compost for $10.00. As I was shopping my local Home Depot for vermiculite and peat moss, I came across this stuff:

As you can read from the packaging, it is made from Coconut Coir and is a green alternative to peat moss. I though I'd give it a try because I like doing environmentally responsible things, and because the package was much lighter and much smaller than a 3 cu. foot bag of peat. What! Those bags are awkward!

After gathering everything that I needed, I put together my raised garden bed. I love working with wood, and this was probably the easiest thing to put together. I just pre-drilled 3 holes into the end of each board, lined it all up so everything would go together evenly, and drilled in the deck screws (very important to use deck screws). It took me all of 10 minutes.

After it was all together and beautiful I had to find the perfect place in the yard for it. The spot in the picture is where I settled on. I needed enough room around each side for tending to the plants in the bed and also for mowing with my manual mower. I also wanted to leave enough room on the right side of it in case I ever wanted to put in a smaller raised bed next to it, or if I want to expand the bed which I have already dug up (where the stones are lined).  
After the bed was put together, I opened up the package of BeatsPeat. The directions seemed simple enough: "Combine BeatsPeat with 39 litres of water or until saturated. Watch it expand like magic! Mix into your soil for improved growing results". Easy, right? Umm, no. After searching unsucessfully for something to hold 39L of water in, I ended up filling the bags the compost came in with enough water to cover 2 squares of BeatsPeat (it comes in 4 squares), so I filled two bags. When I put them into the water, I half expected (okay way more than half) them to expand like magic, just like the trusty directions said. I pictured it fluffing up to the equivalent of a 3 cu. ft. bag of regular peat moss and then I would gracefully spread it into my bed. Nothing happened. So after 5 minutes of watching and waiting, I went inside to avoid that whole 'a watched pot never boils' thing. After 10 minutes I went back outside and still there was no change. I touched them and poked at them and they felt the same. So, the impatient me that I am, I ripped off a corner of one of the squares and broke it up with my hands and dropped it into the bed. Seeing that I wasn't getting anywhere fast with this stuff, I decided that is what I was going to have to do. I started breaking pieces off of each square, breaking the pieces apart and spreading them into the bed. Here is a picture to give you an idea of the size of the squares right out of the package:

BeatsPeat squares laying in my square foot garden bed,
which is 4ft X 4ft

It took me 1 hour to break them apart. My fingers were not happy campers after that. Once I had them all broken down, I mixed them together with the compost and the vermiculite and this was the result:

Beautiful, beautiful soil. I couldn't stop running my hands through it. It is the lightest, fluffiest, softest soil I have ever laid my hands on. As you can see though, I didn't end up buying enough of everything because only half of the garden bed is filled. In a few weeks I will make another trip to Home Depot and fill my lovely bed up. As for the BeatsPeat, if you are looking for an environmentally responsible peat that doesn't infringe on our fragile peat bogs then I wholeheartedly recommend this product. While I can't comment on it's ability to house any of my food just yet, I can say that it feels incredible. If you're not wanting much hassle with your gardening endeavors and just want to get the dirt in so you can start planting, by all means go for the bag-o'-peat. Your fingers, and your patience, will thank you.

Some other plans I have for my yard include the following:

That whole length of fence and lattice will house the sweet peas
I planted on Friday. I was going to stick with all edibles in my yard,
but I already had this pack of seeds on hand so I figured I may as well
use them. They will make for a lovely privacy curtain between mine
and my neighbours yard. The area in front of the compost bin
will hold a few blueberry bushes.

Here, at the end of where the sweet peas will be,
I will be growing Yarrow (Parker's Variety Achillea). It repels aphids,
attracts beneficial bugs to the yard, and can also be used a variety of ways
including tea or as an herb for use in cooking. It even helps speed up
the composting process! Yarrow grows up to 3 ft. tall
so it will fit nicely in this space.

This section of lattice will house my Purple Peacock Pole Beans, a
bean that is purple in color but turns green when cooked.
How fun is that?!

In this section of soil that is in front of where the Purple Peacock
Pole Beans will be, I will be planting Chamomile to be used mostly for tea.
I already have a Day Lily growing here (the green plant to the left) 
which the hummingbirds love, and just in front of that my Bleeding Heart
has begun to come back. I have a couple other flowering plants in here
but I don't remember what they are. I'm also going to be growing
Dwarf Munstead Lavender and some Calendulas,
but I haven't decided if they will be in pots or in this garden bed.

This I received for my 30th birthday from my sister.
It will hold small bunches of herbs that I don't use often
and won't need too much of.

This plant stand I also received for my birthday and it
currently holds my Rosemary. You can't see in the picture,
but the stand holds 3 pots.
In the other two pots will be Basil and another herb.

Lastly are my Chives and Parsley which have come back from
last year's planting. I recently had noticed that I had a bad infestion
of aphids at the base of the chives and they were also on the
underside of the parsley leaves.
After mixing together a solution of hot water, 1 tsp. baking soda,
1 tsp. of salt and a few drops of liquid dish soap in a spray bottle,
I gave the aphids a good blast.
I did that once a day for two days in the morning and now they are all
completely gone. After I did that, my chives took off
and have almost doubled in size in only a week.

Things are coming together and I'm very happy. After I was done for the day with my square foot garden, I couldn't stop looking outside at it everytime I was in the kitchen. I can visualize the food that will grow there, and I can visualize myself tending to my little garden. While I was mixing the soil it was so peaceful outside. The birds were chirping but everything else was silent. It was slightly overcast out but the clouds weren't thick, and ever so often the sun would peek through and light up the yard. I had my hands in this living soil that was going to help produce food for my family. I found myself feeling more peaceful and content than I ever recall feeling. I was in awe of God and His provisions for us, how He thoughtfully pieced everything together to work perfectly. From soil comes food. Something so simple, and yet so incredibly complex and beautiful. Today was a very good day.

This post was shared on Homestead Barn Hop #6

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Go Ahead, Make Something

The last few weeks I have totally and completely immersed myself in being useful, productive, creative, and establishing this little house I call homestead. Here's what I've been up to:
Homemade bread and banana muffins
  • Making Bread- I decided that it was completely unnecessary to be buying things from the store that I can very easily make myself. Bread was the first thing on the list of no-more-grocery-store, and once I started I couldn't stop. I found two very simple recipes for white sandwich bread and whole wheat bread at The Frugal Girl's site. Not only does homemade bread taste fantastic, it really isn't as hard as one might think. The first loaf of bread I ever made turned out lovely, and I had never even worked with yeast before. If you've ever wanted to bake your own bread, give it a go. You just might surprise yourself.

  • Cooking from Scratch- Once I started baking bread all of the time, it dawned on me that I can take it a step further and make other things from scratch. I started with soups that had simple things in them like a variety of vegetables with lentils and beans. Not only is it easy to throw a soup like this together, but it is also super healthy and super frugal, which makes me super happy. Before making my own soup, I wasn't the biggest soup fan. I rarely ate the stuff, and honestly thought it was kind of a pointless meal because I never stayed full long enough to make it worth eating. Homemade soup with tummy-filling legumes can't be beat. Another frugal bonus to homemade soup is that typically we can get two dinners and one lunch out of one batch of it. I've been doing so much experimenting with trying new things that I've just thrown caution to the wind and if I have an idea for a dinner, I jump in with both feet and make it from scratch. Just the other day I thought Chinese food would be good as we haven't had it in a really long time. Then Wonton soup popped into my head, something I haven't had in ages but lovelovelove. So I thought, how hard could it be to make Wonton soup? 2.5 hours later I was eating homemade Wonton soup and vegetable Chow Mein. You know what else I made a couple of weeks ago? Yogurt. Homemade Greek yogurt to be exact. I'd always wanted to make homemade yogurt but I thought I needed a yogurt maker or some tools and equipment that I didn't have. After discovering I had a half-gallon of skim milk in my fridge that was a day past the expiry date I thought this may be the perfect opportunity to not waste all of that milk and make some yogurt. I did some digging around and I discovered that I could easily make it from scratch using a crock-pot, which I have. If you've been looking for an easy crock-pot yogurt this is how you do it: 
  1. Pour 2 Litres of milk (whole milk works best I find, but any type should work) into a crock-pot and heat on LOW for 2 hours and 45 minutes. 
  2. Turn your crock-pot off, unplug it, and let it cool for 3 hours with the lid on.
  3. After 3 hours scoop out 2 cups of the warm milk into a bowl and add 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of plain yogurt that has active bacterial cultures in it. You need those cultures to make your yogurt. Any type of plain yogurt will work as long as it has those cultures. 
  4. Mix the milk and yogurt together well, and then pour the mixture back into the warm milk in the crock-pot and whisk it until it is all mixed.
  5. With the lid back on, wrap the crock-pot up in big fluffy bath towels. You want to insulate your crock-pot well. 
  6. Place it in your oven with the oven light on (DO NOT TURN THE OVEN ON). Leave it to rest in your oven for 12 hours. Trust me on this, the oven light makes a major difference. You want your yogurt to stay warm all night long and the oven light gives off just the right amount of warmth.
This recipe is best done before you go to bed so you can leave the yogurt resting overnight. When you wake up in the morning you will have yogurt! Put it in the fridge to chill and firm up a bit for a good 8 hours. To make it into Greek yogurt I strained the yogurt over a bowl while it was in the fridge for the 8 hours, stirring  it every few hours. This strains out all of the whey and leaves behind a thick, creamy, gorgeous yogurt. You can use cheesecloth to strain it, or if you don't have that on hand a plain cotton pillow case works just as well.  Also, KEEP THE WHEY! You can use this in your baking, in smoothies or you can even drink it straight if you so desire. My favorite way of eating this delicious yogurt is topped with raw honey. Try it!! Frugal bonus- one 650g container of Greek yogurt in the stores here costs anywhere from $5.50 - $6.50 CAD. This homemade version makes enough strained yogurt to fill two 650g containers for the cost of one 2L jug of milk, which if you opt for organic whole milk is about $5.00 CAD. That's $2.50 CAD per 650g container. Woot! Another great thing, is that if you save 1/2 cup of your homemade yogurt, you can then use that as your active bacterial culture for your next homemade batch.

  • Making the Most of my Garden- Spring has definitely sprung, but my yard is empty. The chives I planted last year are growing like crazy, my parsley is slowly but surely coming up, and my Day Lily is taking off. But last year I didn't make the most of my yard and just dabbled in greening my thumb. This year I want a lush, productive, thriving oasis of edibles. I know it's still early in the season, but the lovely warm spring weather we've had the last few days has kick-started me into garden mode. I've been carefully plotting out what I would grow based on things that I know all three of us like to eat, where to plant them, when to plant them, where to get the seeds from, and doing a ton of research on growing food on the west coast. I'm waiting on an order I placed last week for Super Sugar Snap Peas, Little Marvel Shelling Peas, Dwarf Munstead Lavender, Single Orange Calendula (Marigold), Parker's Variety Achillea (Yarrow), Blue Boy Centaurea (Cornflower) and Chamomile. All of these things can go in direct seed now and I can't wait to get them into the ground!! All of it is also either edible or can be used for medicinal purposes. This is the first batch of things to plant. Next week I will be putting together a square foot garden (I'll talk more about that when I get going on it!) and I have visions of lettuce, beets, carrots, brussell sprouts, tomatoes, cucumber (upside down gardening), zucchini (upside down gardening), pole beans, herbs and a bunch of other stuff waiting for us to pick and eat. Before and after pictures will be coming, so stay tuned!
 One thing I have discovered with all this making that has been going on, is how rewarding it is to create something and provide for yourself and for those in your family. It is a lot of work, but at the same time it is simple. It feels simple. I feel like I'm heading in the right direction. I'm beginning to feel like a homesteader.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Inspiration: Part Two

All I seem to have to do lately is look around and I'm inspired. But not so much in the way you may think. When I go out I see people with their faces glued to their cell phones, texting or "social networking" and not paying any mind to what is going on around them. I see inconsiderate people far more than I see considerate ones. I see more cars and less bikes or people happily going for a stroll. I hear all the time about how hard it is to make ends meet these days and then I hear people obsessing over the latest gadget on the market. When I had cable I would watch news reports about food shortages and hunger crises, often very close to home.  I see people religiously watering their lawns and don't have a single edible plant on their property. I see more and more concrete, and less and less places to curl up with a blanket and a picnic basket. I could go on. My point is, everywhere I look I am inspired. Inspired to do it differently. For a long while I got caught up just like everyone else. I felt poor and unimportant if I wasn't driving. I felt poor and unimportant if I didn't have a 3G cell phone and a $100 cell phone plan so I could feel rich and important all the while being able to ignore you if you tried to talk to me. God forbid I had to talk to someone in the real world. Ick.

 I don't exactly know what clicked in me, but eventually none of what is so popular and mainstream these days was appealing to me anymore. Talking to people via text, email, Facebook got cold and lonely, and that seemed to be the only way people liked to communicate. I found myself getting more text messages or emails wishing me a happy birthday than I had cards or phone calls. I also found myself very unfulfilled. I was being inspired to break away from it all but I had no idea that inspiration would be leading me down a path toward self-sufficiency and a life of homesteading. Dragging my feet through big box grocery stores made me feel depressed, anxious, overwhelmed and drained and I started wishing that I didn't have to grocery shop anymore. I dreaded grocery shopping. Food was becoming a chore and I didn't really know why. I kept thinking about things like farmers markets and how I wished there were more of them in my area then there currently are. Something about farmers markets made me feel good. They made me feel connected to the community in a way that I wasn't feeling anywhere else. I kept thinking about real food, whole food, where it comes from. I often look at something and think 'how can I do that myself instead of relying on someone else to do it for me', and that thought process started happening with food. Could I grow my own food? How much? What can I grow where I live? Would it be worth it? Would I even be able to grow anything?

I started out small two years ago, growing just a few things in my small townhouse patio/backyard; cucumbers, tomatoes, chives, parsley, basil and some strawberries. It was fun, I enjoyed it, but something wasn't quite there. It didn't speak to me in the way I thought it would. Last year I tried again with the same things and again, wasn't feeling it. As the fall and winter came I dove head first into crocheting and knitting, something I hadn't done since I was a little girl. I loved everything about it; the calm and cozy atmosphere it created in the room, the busyness of my hands, my ability to create something essentially out of nothing. It was incredible. I started to look at crocheting and knitting, thinking 'could I do this and make stuff we would actually wear?'. A realization was starting to form in my mind that my independence had been quietly screaming at me for some time now to take things into my own hands and do them on my own, to be self-sufficient. I just hadn't heard or acknowledged it until now. One thing started leading to another. I began thinking about sewing clothes for us, about preserving food, using less electricity and more candles, making things myself instead of buying them, cancelling cable TV, line-drying our clothes, putting effort into cooking meals instead of throwing things together, making food from scratch, I started thinking about the garden again and how eager I was to get out there and see what I could was a snowball effect if I'd ever seen one. Thought after thought, idea after idea, it wouldn't stop. I started poring over books, one after the other (most of which are in my blog sidebar). Books on preserving food, homesteading, backyard gardens, food storage, sustainability. For a time I was glued to my computer reading blogs all on the same topics, or on proper bread kneading techniques, or what flowers go best in salads or as a tea. I was on a mission, and my first goal was to start breaking away from my dependence on a grocery store, and start making the stuff I was buying. I started with bread and after my very first loaf I was hooked. Recently I moved on to other baked goods I typically would buy like scones, english muffins, hamburger and hot dog buns, and pita bread. After making each of them I laughed because it really was so easy, and I think deep down I thought I wasn't going to be able to pull it off and would have to resort to the store again. I thought they would be too complex to make, or would be too much of a hassle. Now I've gotten used to making these things and I do so all of the time. It's still a bit early to begin planting seeds in the garden, especially since the forecast is calling for rain for the next 14 days, but I already have a list of seeds to order from the seed catalogue that now graces my kitchen table so I can flip it open and daydream whenever I'm in the kitchen. In the meantime I've started growing sprouts in the kitchen. Right now I have a broccoli blend doing it's thing in a canning jar on my kitchen counter, and I have some alfalfa waiting patiently to be sprouted next. They help me with my insatiable need to grow something, they taste amazing and they are so incredibly good for you. These small, maybe insignificant things to some are huge to me. They have given me fulfillment that I can't even express to you, and this is just the beginning. Making things from scratch, working with my hands, providing for my family in a way that has been lost in our current generations, gaining independence and travelling down a path toward self-sufficiency is truly a thing of beauty. I feel useful, productive, and yet again I feel inspired.

This new journey has me very excited. I've already learned a lot about myself and about past generations. I've learned about how much I take for granted and how much I don't know. There is a lot to learn but I plan on learning it as I go, by getting my hands dirty, experiencing some failures and hopefully many rewards, and the best part I think is getting to do this alongside my kids while they learn with me. If I leave a legacy behind one day, I hope this is part of it. It all starts with one person, with one step, and my hope beyond hopes is that my children will follow in my steps and then one day be the ones making them.


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