March 7, 2016

On Books, Food, and Being Intentional

Pickled Beets

There are a bunch of things I should be doing right now, but my immense talent for procrastination is flexing it's muscle.

It's a cold and rainy day here in So Cal, which is rare and I'm enjoying it so much. I love hearing the sound of the rain pattering right outside the window. I think it's a good day for blueberry muffins.

The last time I went to the library I picked up two books by Sharon Astyk - Making Home, and Independence Days. I devoured Making Home and now I'm doing the same with Independence Days. Two wonderful books that talk about being a less consuming household, more intentional in how you live and your place on the earth, and preparing for emergencies, but not in a doomsday sort of way. Very practical, a little snarky, and delightful.

While Making Home is more about living lightly and intentionally, with a small focus on emergencies and preparedness, Independence Day is all about being prepared (at least food-wise) for whatever life may throw at you. And even though the whole message is "be prepared", she offers it up in a way that makes sense - Don't stock MREs for "the Big Crash", just change the way you buy and cook food to accommodate storing it and having it available if something happens. It makes no sense to just have dry beans on hand. You have to change your cooking to include those beans on a regular basis.

These books have been such a nice reminder for me, and have kind of kicked my butt back to where I was a few years ago as far as buying storable foods in bulk and cooking from the pantry, rather than my fridge (or fast food).

Trying to bet back to making all of our bread.
I'm now working on getting an inventory of what we have, what it would take to feed us for an extended period of time if something happened, and researching my options for buying in bulk again, but this time from more sustainable & local sources.

I began doing this at the beginning of last year a bit, and I'm so thankful I did because we had stores when Ben lost his job. Now it's a matter of using what we already have, and filling in the gaps.

I know it sounds weird, but I've really enjoyed Ben being without a "formal" job. It's been so fun to see how creative I can get again. And it has helped discipline me to get out of the laziness I had adopted so easily. Life is more complicated in some ways - mainly in that more work is required when it comes to growing, cooking, preserving, etc. -  but it also seems a lot more simple now. And I love when life is simple.

February 18, 2016

The Road To Here

It's been 13 months since last January (duh.). That's a long time since I last blogged, and a lot has happened.

In the past 13 months we acquired chickens, rebooted our garden after a year of not caring, had a whole lot of discussions about how frustrated we were with things, and how life had been so much more fun when we were "poor" (by society's standards) and we made everything count.


... Aaaaand then Ben lost his job in October. We are currently in what we have affectionately called "Operation: Plot Twist".  And the funny thing is... I have been so excited about it.

Ben has been without a job these past 4 months. Part of it by choice - we wanted to take some time off for family and refocusing. And now, as he has been looking and his industry is all but dead in this town right now, it's not quite as "by choice" anymore, but we're rolling with it.

I love seeing how all these things were put in place to help us through this stage.


Those chickens provide wonderful little orbs of (mostly) free protein.

The garden has given us a small amount of fresh veggies, and hopefully will give more this summer.

And our attitudes of wanting to "go back to the way things were" kind of prepped us for this, mentally.

I am loving the challenge. The challenge to not consume as much, to make things work again, to not just run to the store because I had become SO lazy about... Well pretty much everything. To get my entertainment from yarn and the library again, rather than going out. To cook from scratch again with what we have, and not eat out as much (again with the lazy. Oy.).


And my favorite part is seeing the little blessings, how God is providing. Like an unexpected tax return. Like Ben being called by his former boss to help finish shutting down the shop for a week. Like the little orders for Bumblewood that trickle in. Like our sweet, wonderful older neighbor who showed up with pounds of potatoes, beets, cabbages and turnips just because he loves our boys and likes to feed us.

The bounty is amazing, despite the lack of normal employment. And I'm so thankful for this little adventure.

February 15, 2016

Rebooting Life

Hello friend. Long time no see!


I think it's time to revive this little part of my life again. I feel like I'm blooming again after such a long time of being stuck in the cold and dark.

The last year has been so busy. So, so busy. And there has been so many Big Things taking up my brain and time and life.Trying to do everything, but not really being able to do anything and finally...

I broke.

I had spent so much time focusing on the things that I thought I was supposed to be focusing on, and had lost all the things that I used to love. The things that made me, me.

I spent so much time on Bumblewood, that I wasn't knitting or reading, I wasn't cooking or baking. I wasn't doing all the things that made me start that adventure in the first place. I spent so much time trying to keep together the things that were falling a part that I wasn't looking at the things that were amazing and beautiful and wonderful. 

There was no balance, and I fell off the scale and lost myself.

Well, now - I'm Back! At least, I'm getting there.

The drive is back. The passion for the things I loved before. I reasons for why I was doing what I was doing.

So here I am, writing again. But with a bit of an attitude change:

No demands. No trying to make it perfect. No schedule.

Just sharing what I feel like sharing, when I feel like sharing it. Going back to documenting our journey as it happens, and not trying to keep up with the self-imposed demands and deadlines. I thought about starting new, because I felt like this space wasn't pretty enough. But there is so much life here, so many stories and so much history, and I decided it wouldn't be fair to my past self to hide it.

Because life is messy. And I'm learning to embrace it.

January 26, 2015

Revisiting the Household Management Binder

Well, this is a few weeks later than I meant it to be. But oh well! As I said before, this is the year of Not Worrying About Being Perfect. And hey, it's still January, right?

Part of this year's goal is to get reorganized and back on track with management of time, expenses, and general house-y things. I've let my binder and printables (and consequently, my household management) slip a LOT over the past year and a half, so it's time to get back on track. I thought I would go over how I do mine, in case anyone is looking to start one, or redo a current one. I get stupid-excited about this kind of stuff, so this post is really long.

First things first: Get a binder. Mine is a 1 1/2" three ring, in a pretty light blue color that I liked. Get at least a 1". That will do nicely for the general printables and pages you'll need. Bigger will be better if you plan on holding lots of gardening/homestead notes and pages, which I will. You'll also need one or two packages of tabbed dividers.

Second thing: I printed the super cute cover sheet and spine from this post at Laura's Crafty Life that I found on Pinterest. Goes awesomely with the blue color, and since there are many colors on the page, you could pick one of them to coordinate! Because looking like you know what you're doing is the first step to getting stuff done. ;) (A little hint - print the spine piece on card stock, it makes it easier to slide into the spine pocket.)

Now, we fill!

In the very front of my binder, right as I open it, I have all of my weekly To Do pages. I print about two months of pages at a time and keep them here so they are ready to go. At the beginning of the week I grab a fresh one and put it on my clip board that travels with me around the house.

I have searched and searched for the perfect To Do printable for me, but none of them were exactly what I wanted. So, I just decided to make one. I've made some others before, but I actually wanted to limit myself on daily to do's since I am trying to reduce the chances of feeling overwhelmed. This one seems to be working nicely so far.

The main part is the big to do list on the side. I fill that in with all the things I need/want to accomplish in the week. If I have more things than will fit on the list, that is TOO MUCH to have for the week and I need to rethink it. The Errands section is for places & appointments for the week.

From there, I put those to do's on certain days in whichever section it pertains to. See that both Home and Work sections only have four lines each? Because I'm not allowing myself to get bogged down. Four things for each section is plenty to worry about for one day. Again, if I'm trying to put more than that for a day, it is TOO MUCH and needs to be moved. Breathe. Simplify.

I've added my daily chores to the top of each day just to keep me reminded of what needs to be done to keep my house reasonably tidy. I tried to break them up to one or two a day. Some days are good and I can go on a cleaning spree. Other days, I only get the two chores done (or, honestly, none at all) and that's ok! As long as SOMETHING gets done for the week.

After the weekly To Do pages I have my menu calendars. I thought about making up something really cute and frilly... And then I remembered that it gets nuts around here and I have no time or patience to fill in the days on a blank calendar. So I took pity upon myself and just printed each month from my email program's calendar. This one was Windows Live Mail. You could use Google calendar or what have you. Make it easy on yourself. Then I quickly went through and marked down birthdays and big events that will affect meal times. I plan for two weeks at a time, and the calendar goes on the fridge.

Third section is my grocery list printables. I made this list up a while ago in Word. It's changed a bit since this version - added and removed things as needed. I print up a handful at a time and put them in the binder for when I need them. I keep a fresh one on the fridge that we mark as needed during the week, then I add the things I need for the two week meal plan right before we go to the store.

After that I have a few blank pages for Pantry/Freezer Inventory. I'll take inventory a few times a year to see what we have, what needs to be eaten, what I'd like to stock more of. 

After the general household sections I am adding garden & homesteading sections.  They're pretty skimpy right now but I have plans, like the planting schedule & times, egg laying production, etc.

At the back I have a page for emergency contacts & info. We keep our budget information in an excel sheet on the computer, but you could also add a section for family budget if you wanted. Either a monthly one page summary of each category and what you've spent so far, or a few pages for individual category break downs. Whatever floats your boat!

And that's it! Now, go forth and make your own Household Management Binder!

December 31, 2014

2015 Here I Come

I am so excited for this new year, I can't even tell you. Last year, I pretty much missed the start of the year, and kind of half-assed some goals somewhere near the middle of January.

This year, totally different. I have so many goals and personal desires for this year. I want to make it so much better than the last two years. First, I have picked my "theme words" for 2015:

Grow & Simplify. 

I know, that kind of sounds like an oxymoron, but I can explain! I want to Grow in my knowledge and skills, but Simplify my schedule and how I do things so I don't go crazy. Because I'm tired of feeling crazy.

So! Here's what I'd like to accomplish for us as a household, and my personal goals for this year.

  • Get Chickens
  • Get Rabbit(s)
  • Payoff Truck (we broke down and finally bought one that will actually fit us all. Yes, it meant going back into debt, but we felt it was needed, and have a goal of paying it off in a year.)
  • Eat as much from the Garden as possible
  • Successfully grow potatoes
  • Put up as much food as possible
  • Lower grocery budget to as small as comfortably possible

  • Paint & Decorate Kitchen (this is a personal goal, since it's more of a desire than a need-to)
  • Spin all the fiber that I have right now
  • Finish the knits I have half-started and waiting
  • Redo current knitting patterns (change name & layout)
  • Design more/Write up current knitting designs
  • Watch the Creative Live classes I bought 
  • Cook through the Essential Pepin book
  • Make decent sourdough bread
  • Read through my 2015 book list (more on that later)
  • Simplify our schedule & routine (includes redoing and utilizing Household Management Binder and creating a work flow schedule for Bumblewood)
Did you guys see that first one? That one that says GET CHICKENS? YES! Ben approved getting chickens, and I am so excited!! I will finally have my own flock of chickens! Our goal for chickens is mostly egg laying, but also a source of meat as well. Not our only source, obviously, but we're trying it out here before we go to a bigger scale on our someday-farm. The rabbit was his idea, we're trying out one for meat as well.

I have a big desire to get back into gardening and putting up food this year. For a few reasons - it's cheaper, it's healthier, and I think it's good for my soul. Hopefully we will be able to grow a decent enough amount to lower our grocery bill, which has climbed a lot the last two years. Four hungry boys means lots of food. I will also be looking for other sources for bulk items, as well as revisiting the price list to get the best prices again.

This is the first time I've made such an extensive personal goals list. I figured this year I should just write down all the things I want to do so that I don't forget, and see how it goes. Since my goal is to Grow & Simplify, writing these down will allow me to schedule these activities throughout the year so that I can make time to accomplish them.

The other big one for the year is to read through my 2015 book list. I'm still adding books to it, but I have a ton of homesteading how-to & lifestyle books, some herbal medicine books, and a few others. I'm sure I'll add more as I find goodies at the library.

I think that's a pretty good list for now, and I'll probably be adding a few more as the year goes on and I think of things.

Do you have any goals or desires for the year? Do you pick a theme for the year?
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