Friday, January 31, 2014

I Want To Be Like These Women!

I just listened watched a Ted Talks Talk from a woman named Chimamanda Adichie. She's a Nigerian Author, and in this Ted Talks she talks about the danger of a single story.

I love her perspective on this. In her talk she talks about how it is impossible to engage with people until you engage with all of their stories.

She talks about how there is never a single story, and she says that when we realize that, we reach paradise.

I also just found a wonderful woman named Glennon Melton. Her blog and website are here. She says sort of the same thing. She wrote:

"When it comes to God and faith and religion, I have some hunches…but I only know two things to be true-
1.      I am God’s beloved child.
2.      So is everyone else."
These are truths that I use to direct my life and my relationships.
I know that this world can be a difficult place to live. Everywhere I look (especially on Facebook!) there are sad and hateful things that just drag me down. I am especially tender-hearted and I get depressed when I focus on these things. 
I am so glad that I found at least two other women who feel the same way that I do. They are powerful women who are doing their best to change the world for the better. I just hope that I can be like them some day.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Spinning Straw Into Gold?

We are very interested in being able to sustain ourselves by running a farming/tourism/crafting business and we are always looking for ways to improve on the principles that we are using to build our little kingdom.
This photo is from this blog.

Recently Chris told me to look into SPIN Farming. It's cool. I really love the business model and the way it encourages people to use what they have access to. We are going to use SPIN techniques to plant and market our farm produce! Check out

Just today, Chris told me to check out STRAW Bale Gardening. It is also awesome. Check out

While we were talking I thought, "Why don't we do both! We could say we are spinning straw into gold! We could call it Rumplestiltskin Farming or something like that!"

I got really excited.

We will be implementing techniques from both of these schools of thought and we will let you know what we find out. Sign up to follow us through email to get regular updates on how and what we're doing!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

From the Kitchen: English Muffins

Chris and I both really like English Muffins. I really love easy breakfasts. I am loving using my sourdough starter, so naturally, when I found a recipe for English Muffins on Sourdough Surprises, I had to try it.

Here's the recipe:
Sourdough English Muffins
1/2 C. Sourdough starter
3 C. Flour
2 C. Water
1/2 tsp. Baking soda
1tsp. Salt
2 T. Sugar

In a large bowl combine starter, water, and 2 C. Flour. Let it sit overnight, or about 7-8 hours or so.
Mix in salt, sugar, and baking soda. Then add the remaining cup of flour 2 T. at a time until the dough isn't sticky. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll with a rolling pin to about a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut using a floured biscuit or cookie cutter. Lightly coat both sides of each round with cornmeal. Let rest on a cookie sheet for 45  min.

Fry muffins on a hot, lightly oiled pan, turning them like you would a pancake. Cook about 3 minutes on each side or until each side is browned.

The first three were a little burnt because my pan was too hot. I would recommend using a med-high heat. Then I got the hang of it and everything worked out just fine ;-) In fact, I was hard pressed to save any for breakfast!

I'm looking forward to making these over and over!

p.s. Please excuse the especially dirty stove... a vast majority of that was from dinner (we had spaghetti and you all know how messy that can be!) including the random spaghetti noodle draped over the burner on the left. and the burnt cornmeal from these made up the rest of it. I promise my kitchen is usually a lot cleaner!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ideas, Sketches, and Dreams... How to be a Dream Achiever

When you are just a dreamer, your ideas usually stay in your head. Sometimes they make it to a notebook or a journal, but most times, your wonderful ideas and innovations just stay put in your head.

When you are a dream achiever, your dreams get drawn all over notebooks, napkins, paper scraps and anything you can get your hands on. Here'se the important part: as a dream achiever, you make a plan and take steps to achieve those dreams. Sometimes, dreams get filed away for another day, but as a dream achiever, you know that you will take them out again, and often, to remind yourself what you are working towards.

Here are some photos of our sketches and dreams. I just wanted to share with you our process. I'll start with the garden. Here is what we think we want our garden to be like...

The three half circles will be Lasagna-Style Mulch beds in a key hole shape. That shape will allow us to reach the bed from all sides and give us the most growing area:walking space ratio. The two rectangles at the kind top right side of this sketch will be more traditional shaped beds, possible for grains of some sort... and the big rectangle in the top left that is sort of labeled, that is where we would like the greenhouse to be.

We have a plan. Last fall we put in the first bed. This spring we are hoping to host a mulch gardening class to put in the other two half-circle beds. The green house will be constructed as we get the building materials, and the two rectangle beds (which are optional anyways) will be installed in the fall or next year. It all depends on how well our garden does, whether we want to put in "grain beds" or whether we need something here, or not.

As all plans go, it won't happen like we've planned. I can guarantee that. It might look a lot like this, or it might be completely different. The point is that we are working towards a goal. We keep that goal someplace we can see it, and we take steps to achieve it. That is how you become more than a dreamer!

Here are some crafts that I think would be great if we could make them, at least for ourselves and at most for others to buy to help support our Homestead. The honey dipper is my idea for a parting gift from our Bed and Breakfast, The Bunk House. The bunk beds I would like for the kids. If you are interested in buying one of these things, just let me know via my email or in the comments below!

Here's some sketches for houses that we've drawn... We like them all, but we haven't really decided what we want to do yet... I'm just going to post some photos, no explanations... I've written on the drawings, but I think they are all pretty self explanatory... If you really have questions, post a comment below and I'd love to share:)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Sun Study: Episode 2

Hey there folks! Here's the second episode of The Sun Study, and possibly the last one without a video! Chris just bought me a time lapse camera! I'm so excited. This negates my need to beg on hands and knees for donations to help:) I'll tell more about the camera later. For now, here's what I've learned:

Middle of January. Foggy day @ 4pm

 Middle of January. Clear, but slightly foggy day @ 2pm(?)

Middle of January. Clear day @ 11am

Middle of January. Foggy day @ 12noon

In words, January is not a good time for sun to hit my garden.

Just the other day, my daughter said, "Mommy, why didn't the moon go to bed? It's day time!" It took me a minute to realize that she had seen the fog hiding behind a dense fog. This has been a really foggy month with more foggy days than sunny or rainy days put together.

I am feeling a little foggy myself. Somedays it's harder than others to get out of bed and I sometimes have a hard time putting together sentences. I think that I have paused writing at least six times now to gather my thoughts. I've heard that eating a lot of processed foods tends to make a person cloudy. Maybe once my garden grows, I can test this theory out for myself! 

I am excited to enter the exciting world of timelapse photography. Don't expect anything great at first, but I promise that once I get the hang of it, we will be cooking with gas!

Major Facial Reconstruction... On the Blog that is!

Hey Guys!

As you may have noticed, I have done some major facial reconstruction on this here blog. I recently created a website and I don't really like redundancies so I've moved all things business related to the website. You can see it here, at

I've also removed my writing tab and the posts containing my excerpts. That is because I am entering some writing contests and in order for them to be considered 'unpublished' I need to remove them from my blog... After I win the contests you may find them back up here! For now, I have added an overview of my writing on the right.

I added the option to follow us by email, so you can get updates as soon as I post. I would love to know how many people are actually following us, so please sign up. It's a great way to find out what's going on here, and it will help me not to feel so dependent on Facebook!

And I finally figured out how to upload my own photo for the background.

I hope you like the changes! Let me know what you think in the comments below:)

Friday, January 24, 2014

From the Kitchen: Sourdough Starter and all the things that you can make with it!

Okay, so I know that "most people" hear the word sourdough and cringe. What "most people" don't know is that sourdough starters are not created equal. Some are sharp and others are mild. Some are sweet, while others are more acrid. The taste differs greatly in the yeast strains from one part of the world to the next. Also, the "sour" will be more mild if you keep your starter cool in the fridge as it rises, instead of leaving it on your counter.

Chris and I got a book a couple of years ago from his mom, called "The Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers" by Caleb Warnock. In that book, the author talks about the fact that pioneers had bread and things before commercial yeast was invented. He said they used wild yeast. What is commonly know as sourdough starter resulted from someone capturing (usually) wild yeast in a jar and feeding it regularly.

Soon after we recieved this fabulous gift, we got our first starter, and we tried making some "Pioneer" Pancakes. They turned out pretty well, but I didn't know enough about the starter, so I killed the yeast. Sad day.

Recently I got my hands on a new starter. This one came all the way from Saudi Arabia! I learned how to feed it properly, and I started making Sourdough Pancakes, again. They are delicious, but it got boring after awhile. So my starter sat in my fridge, collecting dust and just waiting for me to get a clue!

About two weeks ago, during that whole "busy with learning" post, I came across a blog that changed my kitchen forever. Sourdough Surprises is a blog where a group of people get together and have a sourdough cooking challenge every month. Anyone can participate! Every month on the 20th, they post their experiments. Some are successful, others are not, but it's a really great way to learn from each other how to use their sourdough starters. I don't know yet if I will actually participate in the challenges, but I am definitely going to be cyber-stalking their group so that I can learn some great new recipes to use my starter with!

I have already made Cinnamon Rolls, Popovers, and Tortillas. I have plans to make English muffins, and hamburger buns. My tortillas have by far been the best that I have ever tasted! You can get my recipe by reading my Grit Blog, or buying the Recipe book that I am putting together! (Or you could just email me and I'll be happy to give it to you!)

Sourdough Surprises usually posts the next challenge a few days after the previous challenge is finished and  they just posted the challenge for February. This month, they are going to make Monkey Breads and Pull apart Breads. I love monkey bread, so I am really excited about it!

Now I just have to find time between writing for the paper, paying bills, feeding the animals (kids included), blogging, writing my book, cleaning, folding laundry, washing dishes (Oh! How I loathe the dishes!) and all of the other stuff that I do, to make delectable sourdough treats... I can do it!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Been busy learning!

It's been a busy week at work and with life, so I'm sorry I haven't posted!

The good news is that I learned so much this week! Here's a list of what I've learned:

Emma helping Mommy roll out the tortillas.
-I found a really great sourdough resource and started cooking from it! It's called sourdough surprises... if you like sourdough, or even if you don't, check out their blog! Now I make the best tortillas in the world! Or at least in my house ;-) I'll be posting more about this tomorrow...
-I found some great websites about building websites and blogs. This one is going to get even better!
- I learned about a way to raise money for the homestead... stay tuned for more info!
- I learned about putting windows in shipping containers and about building homes out of shipping containers... we are considering this as an option for our house!
- I learned how to balance my writing with my kids and house duties a little better.
-I joined a writer's group and found out that I know more than I think I do!
- I learned how much my husband loves me (again! )
- and so much more!

Now I feel like my brain is just full to the brim. I have to figure out which things to forget so I can learn some more!
Chris Cutting a hole in the shipping container for a window. The container doubles as workshop and house storage.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Who's Got GRIT? I've Got GRIT!

It is official. I am a blogger for GRIT Magazine!

If you haven't seen or read the magazine, You really ought to check it out. It is a great resource for homesteaders, gardeners, and anyone who likes rural style living!

I am really excited for the exposure to bigger scale blogging. My plan is to blog short-ish posts on Grit and then the full, or extended posts on this blog here.

If you want to check out my GRIT Blog, the address is

Check it out!

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Sun Study: Episode 1

You may have already seen my page about the Sun Study. I just want to take this time to post the first three photos. I am not specifying a date, just the beginning, middle, and end of the month, whether it was a clear day or not, and about what time of day it was.

Later this year I am going to try to do a project to see if I can get a camera, like a game camera, that I can set up outside on a timer and leave it for a week at a time. I just have to do some research on what it would cost, etc! If you have any suggestion on which camera or set up to get, let me know in the comments below! In the mean time, this is how it will go:-)

I am trying to see how the sun falls on my chosen garden spot. I am studying the affects of the sun in my garden and in my life.

The seeds that we planted in the cold frame on the first have still not had the sunlight and warmth, nor the time they need to sprout, but we are hopeful that we wont have to wait too much longer.

Right now, it has rained for three days. I haven't had much sunlight. I haven't had  much energy. I do love the rain and I prefer rain and mud to snow and ice, but today, I wish I had some sunlight.

Begining of January. Clear day @ 8am

 Begining of January. Clear Day @ 10am

Begining of January. Overcast day @ 4pm

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Newest Addition to the Homestead

On Saturday we welcomed a goat to our homestead!
His name is Butterball (we didn't name him) and he's a billy.
Chris wanted someone to be clearing brush for him while he was at work. I wasn't doing it, so we got a brush-eating machine!
If you have experience with goats, what's your opinion on getting him weathered and why? I'd love some feedback!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Living the Abundant Life: A Legacy Worth Leaving

If you know me, or if you at least read my profile, you will know that my family and I are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We are "Mormons." I don't usually get preachy, but our Prophet said something last year that I thought was absolutely right on the money with what Chris and I are tyring to do here on our homestead, and I want to share it with you.

In the January 2012 edition of the Ensign, President Thomas S. Monson wrote a message titled, "Living the Abundant Life." He says:

"At the advent of a new year, I challenge Latter-day Saints everywhere to undertake a personal, diligent, significant quest for what I call the abundant life—a life filled with an abundance of success, goodness, and blessings."

He then gives us a way to achieve that, by providing us with the ABC's of Living Abundantly.

A- A is for Attitude. He says, "We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. For maximum happiness, peace, and contentment, may we choose a positive attitude."

B- B is for Believe. You have to believe in yourself, the people around you, and in God. "You can achieve what you believe you can. Trust and believe and have faith."

C- C is for Courage. He says that it takes courage to be willing to die for what you believe in, but that courage becomes much more meaningful when you make the conscious decision to LIVE FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE!  

"There will be times when you will be frightened and discouraged. You may feel that you are defeated. The odds of obtaining victory may appear overwhelming. At times you may feel like David trying to fight Goliath. But remember—David did win!

"Have the determination to make the effort, the single-mindedness to work toward a worthy goal, and the courage not only to face the challenges that inevitably come but also to make a second effort, should such be required. “Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”

Read the full article here. Or go to and search "Living the Abundant Life."

When we are living The Abundant Life, we are creating a legacy that is worth leaving to our children and our grandchildren. We are teaching them how to live, and what to want, when we do this right. And the world will be a better place for our efforts.

This is What Separates the Men from the Boys...

In a word: ENDURANCE.
Helping daddy to carry wood for a building project. He carried it all the way to the garden.

This is hard. Living on this homestead is the hardest thing that I have ever done. The camper is small, and every time I bump into the walls, doors, couch, beds, etc, I feel like singing that one country song, "Wide Open Spaces." I like to have things clean, but there is a lot of mud that comes with farming, small or otherwise. There's also a lot of poop. *Ick!* Not to mention, while we are building up the homestead, not everything has a place!

My favorite organizational guru, Andrew Mellen, author of Unstuff Your Life, has a three part game plan for keeping things organized.
Part 1: Like with Like.  Put all like things in together. This means that all spoons go together and all kitchen utensils go in the kitchen, etc.
Part 2: One Home for Everything. Everything has a home, no exceptions; and the things are either in their homes or out being used. NO Exceptions!

Once you have reached what he calls "Stuff Equilibrium," part 3 comes into play.
Part 3: Stuff In, Stuff Out. You only bring in new stuff when something breaks or needs replacing, and you get rid of the old stuff that the new stuff is replacing.

It's difficult when things don't have homes, let alone when we haven't got enough space to put all of the like things together, to manage the "Stuff in, Stuff out." SO we keep getting more stuff. I don't like stuff.


I know what I want. I know that I want a clean, well-functioning homestead. I know that I want a house that I can breathe in. I know that I want to live The Abundant Life.

When I feel like giving up and running away, or when I feel like I can't do this, I just dig in again with even more verve than before. I DARE whatever is getting me down to try again and see what happens. My dad's favorite movie quote for a while was, "Never give up! Never surrender!" That is what I say.

This is what separates the men from the boys. Being able to endure in the face of trial. I'd love to hear what you all have to say about that! Leave me a comment. In the meantime, ENDURE TO THE END!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Coldframes and Mulch Gardening...The Way the Cool Kids Are Doing It.

Today, Chris and I put together a cold frame and planted some seeds! We have officially started our first year on the Homestead! 

Since we moved here to Southwestern Washington, we have just been absolutely, positively, pleased as punch at the weather. Sure it rains a lot, but the temperatures and the seasons just have us tickled pink. Chris gets so excited about growing things here! It's just stunning for him. Since we would love to have produce from our garden as long as we can, we are trying our hands at some of the tools that other gardeners have been using for years, in order to extend our growing season; Cold Frames and Mulch Gardens

Last fall we began our preparations for this years garden, by installing a lasagna-style, mulch garden bed. We are going to have a class on this in March, so you'll have to wait till then for an in depth tutorial, but suffice it to say that we laid down cardboard, then layered compost/fertilizer and hay on top of that. 

Mulch beds are great for a couple of reasons. First, and foremost, mulch beds don't have to be watered as often as traditional beds. The mulch helps to retain the moisture of the soil beneath. Chris loves this. In fact, I think it's probably his favorite fact about mulch gardening. I think that that comes from growing up in high desert climates. ;-) 

Another great fact is that they don't have to be weeded as often, if at all. Laying the cardboard down first shades out all the weeds and grass, etc. Plus, if any weeds do find their way into your garden, the mulch provides a loose top layer that is easy to pull weeds out of!

Again, Chris and I are going to have a workshop in March where we will show you how to make a mulch bed like ours. Please stay tuned for more info, participate, and help us to be successful!

Another tool we now have in our tool belt is a really cool cold frame.  Chris kept talking about finding someway to start our seeds early, and he kept volunteering my kitchen table! So, of course, I had to figure out another way to make him happy with out relinquishing any of my indoor space. Last year we were given some windows for free. We have 12 or 13 windows, most of which are 36inx55in. I came up with the idea of "somehow building a frame with all of the lumber we have for the windows where we could put two windows together like an a-frame house." Chris is the one who executed my somewhat vague idea! He was fantastic. The kids even helped!

Cold frames are great. They can allow you to start your growing season 4 to 6 weeks early, and they can help you to protect your plants during the first few frosts in fall. That means more food from the garden for pennies! If you want an in depth tutorial on how to create cold frames like ours, please leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you!

All in all, the new year is off to a good start.