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The 5-Step Final Unjobbing Plan

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Posted on : 11:31 AM | By : Nic | In : , ,

One of the things that I keep writing about is our ongoing quest to be unjobbers. There have been a variety of ideas put forth, including living in a tipi, lol. I think we've at last finalized our goal. John and I are both getting a degree in Business from a British Columbia university that offers most of its classes online, so we can work on the same classes, buy only one set of books and support each other in getting our degrees. This is all part of unjobbing goal, because while eventually being able make money from home is awesome, we both need a backup education. We have no debt at the moment, but I will be getting a student loan that we will pay when I graduate, and we'll pay for John's education cash. This essentially gives us a chance to pay them one at a time.

We also opened an investment account. We looked at lots of options for our retirement... mainly investing in index funds vs. investing in real estate. No matter how we calculate it out, the index fund has a bigger return and more security than real estate, surprisingly. We also discovered an amazing thing here in British Columbia called a Tax Free Savings Account. Basically its an account that you put money into, and when you take the money out you don't have to pay taxes on it. So our index fund can make a million dollars in 30 years, and then we can pull out all that money and not have to pay the government for it. This also makes an index fund more worthwhile in the long run. We set up an automatic withdrawal every month that goes into this fund and when we want to retire when we're 50 we should be millionaires. We are able to do this because we don't have a car payment, or actually any payments which frees up the cash to invest.

The last step to this plan was to create more ways to make money from home. My husband thought of a great idea for a website that would serve our local area which we are working on setting up right now. The key to making money on the internet is to create a service that people don't have yet (or modify something that exists to make it better, or better-looking), and to charge pennies for it. It has to appeal to a large group of people, but it can market a small group of people who actually pay for it. A good example of this is Google. The search engine is the most used website of all time, but it makes its money off of a relatively small group of businesses who pay-per-click for ads that the rest of the world clicks on. Eventually this model allows you to pay someone else to run it for you because it doesn't actually require much work once it's set up.

So to sum up... the smart way to unjob is to:

1. Make a backup plan in case unjobbing doesn't work. Getting education in something that is usually in demand is a safe bet.

2. Invest wisely for your retirement. This means putting money away every month long-term (30 years or more is optimum). Then make that money make more money for you - putting it in a savings account is a tremendous waste.
EDIT: Not to say that we won't eventually buy some real estate - but not relying on it as an investment. And it must be cheap enough to almost pay cash for, or at least half.

3. Stay out of debt, and if you must get in debt, only do it for school. And only get a degree in something that can pay for your loans in the first year.

4. Create ideas to start a business from home, and utilize the internet. Notice that I said start a business, not work from home. The difference between being self-employed and owning a business is that eventually owning a business should allow you to not work at all, while being self-employed means you'll be working forever. For example, a plumber is self-employed and has to work to make money, but if he managed his business right he could eventually employ a couple of other plumbers to do the work for him. Also pick something you really enjoy. Just because someone says 'Oh this will make you money!' doesn't mean it will. Actually, it absolutely won't unless you believe in it.

5. Retire early, but don't get old. If you start acting old, you'll get old. Make a plan to do stuff with your free time. Travel, take up new hobbies, hang out with your kids (if you retire that early). I plan to swim with dolphins! :)

5 Undeniable Truths I Never Wanted to Face

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Posted on : 9:35 AM | By : Nic | In : , ,


It's been chaotic and wonderful at the same time, and I have been up and around the house and starting to work into a routine. And because it's spring and I'm starting basically a new chapter in my life with three children instead of two, and beginning school in July, my brain begins to work on a mental inventory. This happens every spring, or every time something changes. I reevaluate everything I know, and make changes. Unlike some people who avoid change no matter what, I like to embrace it. Change is good... change is healthy. Then I take notes, and face the reality of what my puny brain has been able to absorb from the life lessons of the the past little bit.

1. The way you do your hair completely changes your face. Maybe this seems to be a trivial thing, and it probably is which is why I start with this. How you do your hair changes everything about your face and how you see yourself in the mirror in the morning changes your outlook on life, which in turn dictates how people treat you. I never wanted to face the fact that how you look has anything to do with anything, but it does.

2. I will never have the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Unfortunately for us all, humans might possibly get close to the ultimate answers to all of life's questions, but we wouldn't know it. One individual might get it completely right, but he would not be believed by the rest. It's almost as if our ignorance is created on purpose, lol, and I'm beginning to be ok with that. In fact I'm pretty sure that faith is the kind of ignorance that makes you hope you've got it right.

3. We all have to do what our society tells us to (ok, I am generalizing here). The way we are programmed as humans says that once we are born into a society and learn the way it works as children, its really hard to do anything else. I used to really hate the thought that I had to meet the status quo, follow society's norms, wear shoes and get jobs. It seemed stupid (and it still does, lol). Very few can break out of this standard, and more power to them. But I appreciate what I can do because of this society - I can travel, I have equality, I have choices and I have a washing machine. I like my washing machine. And now that's built into me, because that's where I was born.

4. Kids are smarter than us. I don't think this even needs explanation. Babies especially.

5. Chaos is good. My goal this year is to let go of my perfectionism and my need for order. I have always hated uncertainty. I am good at embracing change, but I hate the feeling of limbo and I would rather make a decision rather than wait around. I am impatient in uncertainty. This year I embrace uncertainty too.

NOTE: The picture above is one of my great-grandmother's relatives, Emma. I've always wondered what she was doing. :)

Unjobbing in a Hobbit House

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Posted on : 10:32 AM | By : Nic | In : ,



This was built by the Saville family in Wales, mostly because they both wanted to be full time parents. The website show how they built it for about $5000, and why.

Simple Monday Victoria Day

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Posted on : 12:46 PM | By : Nic | In :



For Today...

Outside my window... the honeybees are going crazy over that berry tree outside the side window. From the front window I can see the sailboats on the harbor. Last night we could see the fireworks for Empire Days.

I am thinking... about going into a place in my mind where my house is clean and pretending I live there. Actually it's not TOO bad, and its getting cleaned up today with my husband's gracious help, so I can't complain. I am also thinking that the Star Trek movie we watched last night was very good. My Trek-sense was satisfied.

I am thankful for... a healthy baby that healthily spits up milk all over the place as soon as I've put on clean clothes.

From the kitchen... peanut butter and jam on tortillas! Probably veggie burgers too.

I am wearing... a green summer shirt, brown hoodie, yoga pants and definitely NO SHOES.

I am reading... Healing the Hyperactive Mind by Michael Lyon, M.D. It's about naturally helping children with ADHD (and adults) through diet, supplements, etc.

I am hoping... that I will soon get a routine down with this baby. It's getting there. We don't schedule of course, but having a rhythm to the day definitely helps.

I am creating... that's a good question. More chaos? A better mousetrap? lol I am creating a peaceful home, which is all I can hope for at the moment.

I am praying... that the new classic Range Rover will only have the problems we expect with it, so it really is the deal we think it is. A head gasket and a couple of rear suspension bags and we're good, right?

Around the house... close my eyes and don't get overwhelmed.

One of my favorite things... water! I am loving water! What an amazing, miraculous liquid it is.

A few plans for the rest of the week... we have a few visitors this week, my wonderful friend, probably my sister-in-law and my mom is coming back at the end of the week. All of these people are helpful and nice so I am really looking forward to it.

A Little Literary Snobbery Meme

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Posted on : 10:18 AM | By : Nic | In :


I found this on Holistic Mama, and it looked like fun. :)

What author do you own the most books by?

Probably C. S. Lewis for The Chronicles of Narnia (yes, for me, not the girls), and the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome.

What book do you own the most copies of?

We have two copies of How to Win Friends and Influence People, and several Bible versions (KJV, NIV and The Message). One of those was my great-grandfather's.

Did it bother you that those questions ended with prepositions?

Yes, lol. Although I didn't think too much bout it. I just knew it was awkward. I also don't get too concerned when I write on my blog. I keep those skills for when I am ghostwriting advertising copy.

Which fictional character are you secretly in love with?

I like the weird relationship between Rochester and Jane Eyre. I wouldn't say I am secretly in love with any character in a book, but I did like Mac in Alcott's Rose in Bloom, even though he's Rose's cousin. Things were different back then, lol.

Which books have you read the most times in your life?

Little Women I've read probably 8 times, and the whole Little House series through about 10 times. I've read The Continuum Concept 3 times, The Chronicles of Narnia three times (chronologically and as written). I've read the KJV Bible through once, and then I did the NIV, but I'm not sure that counts?

What was your favourite book when you were ten years old?

I loved Treasure Island, and I was a big fan of Frank Peretti, both the kids and adult books.

What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?

I hated a Rudyard Kipling short story book I read. I made it through and they were well written, but I just didn't like them. They seemed depressing.

What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?

I haven't been reading as much this year as I would have liked. I read Our Babies Ourselves: how Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent, which was excellent.

What book would you most like to see made into a movie?

I thought I wanted the Philip Pullman books to be made into a movie, but now I'm not so sure. And I was mildly disappointed with the Narnia movies so far. Some books are made to become a movie - for example Forrest Gump made an excellent movie, and the last Little Women movie was wonderful. I can't really think of one that should be a movie at the moment.

Which book would you least like to see made into a movie?

I don't ever want to see The Shack made into a movie. I don't think they can pull that off.

What is the most low-brow book you’ve read as an adult?

I've read a few Janette Oke books, lol. I don't think they are trash, but I also don't really see them as great literature. Christian romance novels are still romance novels, lol.

What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?

When I was 17 or so, I was in a children's theater production of The Phantom Tollbooth. Like any play, there was lots of waiting around so I picked the biggest book I could to read, which was Roots. Not only was it long, it was also disturbingly graphic which bothered me because it was true.

What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?

I haven't seen a Shakespeare play! Some day I would love to see Patrick Stewart in one, but I don't think that will ever happen.

Do you prefer the French or the Russians?

The French. :)

Shakespeare, Milton or Chaucer?

Shakespeare, because I can catch the humor.

What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?

I'm not sure there's an embarrassing gap, but I need to read some more Latin classical literature, and I'm not sure that I've read enough modern fiction. In fact, I think I've only read The Da Vinci Code.

What is your favourite novel?

Little Women

Poet?

T. S. Eliot or Longfellow

Work of non-fiction?

The Encyclopedia of Country Living, or Creating True Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh, or The Continuum Concept , actually there's lots of non-fiction I like. I am definitely a fan of fact rather than fiction.

What is the most influential novel you've read?

I first read Little Women when I was maybe 10? 11? I very much identified with the awkward Jo who loved to write and would get lost in books. I felt as out-of-place as she did, and her desire for adventure was my own wish as well. Her personality in the book is very similar to my own - an awkward perfectionist, lol. The book is sprinkled with Transcendental philosophy as well, and through reading the story of Louisa May Alcott I was introduced to her father, Emerson, Thoreau and the back-to-the-land and philosophical movements of the 1830's.

Who is the most overrated writer alive today?

Holistic Mama wrote Dan Brown, and I would have to agree, lol. And I may get a lot of flack for this, but J. K. Rowling - you are overrated too. I read a Harry Potter book to see what I was missing, I've watched a couple of movies, and I just can't seem to get into it. It's good old Narnia or Hobbiton for me.

Which less widely read novel would you recommend?

The classics are becoming unread, and they are so much richer than novels of today. It's the difference between soup from a can and homemade soup. Or cheap sliced bread from a store, and homemade bread. Or.. ok well you get the picture.

What are you reading right now?

Healing the Hyperactive Mind by Michael Lyon, M.D. More non-fiction! I am just fascinated with the way the brain works.

Movie Review: Nim's Island

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Posted on : 10:25 AM | By : Nic | In : ,



Yesterday the girls and I watched Nim's Island. We've been using lots of movies this week in an attempt to let mom get some much-needed rest, but I enjoyed this one just as much as they did, lol. Perhaps because it's the story of a dad and his daughter living on a remote island in their self-built treehouse (above) powered by wind and solar, the way the movie starts out with the girl (Nim) saying positively, "I'm homeschooled!" or the fact that they grow their own food and even eat mealworms as a staple in their diet.

Growing up I loved movies like this, especially since Nim gets left alone on the island and handles it quite well, even fixing the solar panels after a storm. There were some Home Alone-like moments like making the volcano spew steam in order to get some vacationers to leave, and the animals were too anthropomorphic in typical Disney style for my taste, but I enjoyed her very Continuum lifestyle. It's Swiss Family Robinson meets Home Alone with an agoraphobic, OCD author that discovers that she didn't need to be living in fear.

I guess it played into the desire of many people to sail off in a sailboat, find some uninhabited island and build a treehouse on it. Who wouldn't want to do that? They also had satellite internet and a nice iMac so despite the mealworms, they were living it up. If we should all be so lucky, lol. Despite the Disneyfication of it all, it made me feel quite adventurous and I am really looking forward to getting our new Range Rover Classic going so we can go trekking into the woods this summer. Without the internet, lol.

EDIT: We watched it again and it's a Fox movie, but I stand by my use of the term Disneyfication. :)

Advertised Food

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Posted on : 9:30 AM | By : Nic | In :

Today is the first day that I feel pretty normal, and I am able to catch up on some housework and laundry, amazingly. I realized that I had never really done the laundry in this house without being uncomfortably pregnant. There are three floors, the bedrooms at the top, and the washing machine all the way at the bottom and I had to have some help every time. But today I managed to bring it all down, and even though I am tired, I enjoyed the work.

On a totally different note, I was reading this article today, an interview with the Michael Pollan that I had never heard about before I wrote the Gourmonsters post. It's basically a discussion on factory pig farming, Monsanto and other unsustainable practices, but especially the claims by processed food companies that their products are somehow more sustainable - using real sugar, sourcing local farmers, etc. He says that really what it all comes down to, to be sustainable and healthy, is to just not buy food that is advertised.



Really this includes basic things like beef, pork, eggs, milk... all of those products generally come from a factory farm. If you buy the kinds that aren't advertised, then you are good. You would also have to cut out anything with soy. What would you have left? Bread, fruit, vegetables, beans, rice. Maybe some free range chicken and eggs, and some fish. And with a diet like that, be prepared to live a few years longer. :)

Its easier said than done however... my fridge has lots of branded products in it, because sometimes in a busy family they are just easier to get. But we're trying, lol.

Simple Monday Babymoon

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Posted on : 2:59 PM | By : Nic | In :


Outside My Window ~ a brilliant rainstorm just pouring torrents and then suddenly breaking out in sunshine. As much fun as the sun is, I love the rain.

I Am Thinking ~ it's been a difficult weekend recovering... engorgement, cramping and terrible back pain as I learn to lie on my back again has made it tough, but I feel much better today. I think that having a baby at 24 was probably my easiest recovery, and being almost 28 it's taking longer. How do people do this at 38? 45?

I Am Thankful For ~ my awesome husband who has had to be the housewife the past few days.

From the Kitchen ~ lemonade and ham sandwiches

I Am Studying ~ not much at the moment but I am going to take up postpartum yoga to help recover

I Am Reading ~ scientific articles on the internet, mostly about psychological studies that back up The Continuum Concept principles.

I Am Hoping ~ I give as much as I take

I am Creating ~ peace. Both John and I have a bad habit of raising our voices, and we have taught that to our kids. We have similar personalities that are equally impatient and whether we are irritated or simply want to get someone's attention on the other side of the house, we tend to yell a bit - not scream, lol, but definitely louder than talking. We each have a favorite relaxation technique - I love my hair to be played with, and he loves his tummy rubbed. It's hard to get the other person to do it, so we made a deal that each time we caught the other one yelling, they owe 10 minutes of this. So far we are even - I owe 20 minutes of tummy-rubbing, and I get my hair played with for 20 minutes. It's become quite competitive.

I Am Hearing ~ video games in the other room, the rain pouring down, baby sighs coming from the newbie in my lap.

Around the House ~ John is doing all the laundry for me, which is lovely since so much bedding got peed on and then Autumn threw up on the rest of it. My mom was here for a week and she did the stuff that was behind before - I can't imagine where we would be without her!

One of My Favorite Things ~ guacamole

A Few Plans for the Rest of the Week ~ get my energy level back up, not be so engorged and try to get back on my feet before John goes back to work

The Rainn Came

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Posted on : 1:08 PM | By : Nic | In : ,


I didn't realize it, but the baby announcement post was number 300! Wow for 301 posts! Happy Mothers Day! Today to celebrate Mother's Day I woke up many times throughout the night just because I wanted to spend more time with the kids who made it possible. The first couple of times was to feed a nursing baby, the third time was because a child was yelling that she had peed the bed, and the fourth time was because the same child had snuck in and had sat down in my bed to pee my bed. Then we all got up and had cereal together as a family. :)

The homebirth that we had was one of the most beauitful experiences of our lives. On the 6th I woke up around 5 am with hard contractions, generally around 10-15 minutes apart, but they were never regular. They never really got regular actually, so in the afternoon the midwife came to check me out and I had very little hope I was in real labor, even though they hurt. I was so excited when it turned out I was three centimeters, lol. What a relief! After that I started dancing around the house and had a shower and our lovely midwife popped off to Costco to wait for things to progress a little farther. When she got back I had been walking around for a couple of hours and we had set up the homebirth stuff (put plastic on the bed, etc). Then I was five centimeters and things were going much faster.

By that time I was in the bed surrounded by my mom, our wonderful friend Sarah from downstairs and my husband. I felt surrounded by their love and strength, and the contractions were really hard... I did my deep breathing and crushed their hands which seemed to really help, lol. After a while Sarah got behind me and was my chair, and my mom had one hand and my husband the other. What's interesting about this birth is that I remember everything, and Zoe (the midwife) noticed it (she was there at our other two births too)... I was very present in the moment. I've never had any drugs during labor but this time I suppose I allowed myself to feel it more.

Two more hours passed after Zoe came back, at some point the other midwife Christine arrived, and it finally reached the point when I had to push. It's an interesting feeling when you have to push - it's a relief, and its an overwhelming force. I don't remember how many times I pushed, but after two or so I was able to feel the head with my hand. Then one or two more and there she was! It was 10:31 pm, which surprised us since the other two were born early, early in the morning. Rainn Renata weighed 7 pounds and was 19 inches, my heaviest and shortest baby, lol. We both are healthy and happy, and as we learn all the things we need to learn together I marvel every day how different and beautiful each baby is, with their huge personalities and perfect tiny feet.

The first birth we had we tried for a homebirth and ended up in the hospital when her heart rated dropped after a long labor and her position was wrong. The second time we were nervous and had our midwife in the hospital, which was lovely and calm and nice too, but having a homebirth was an entirely unique and wonderful experience. It was so natural, calm, and relaxed being in our own room in our own bed and not having to go anywhere or go through any procedures. I believe from my own experience that the circumstances of birth definitely affect the happiness and temperament of a child, too. Maybe I'm still a little high from the whole experience, but it was beautiful. :)

...and It's a Girl!

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Posted on : 9:15 PM | By : Nic | In : ,

Rainn Renata was born 10:31 pm May 6th at home. She was exactly 7 pounds! I will write more about the homebirth when things have calmed down... until then, pictures.



Storey's Country Living Books Reviews

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Posted on : 10:06 AM | By : Nic | In :

I have a pretty big country living book collection... as an author on country living, its important to keep track of what other people have written, and write something different, which is what I've tried to do with my book (see the one on the right? ;) Many of these books are really good, and some aren't and there are so many to choose from I thought I would let you know which ones are worth it.

I just got The Backyard Homestead, and it's published by Storey Publishing, so I'll start with those. Storey Publishing was started in Vermont in the 80's and quickly grew into a big country living publishing house with editors that put together handy guides for all things self-reliant. I now own three of these books, all of which happen to be their general encyclopedias of country living, which is what I tend to collect.



This one is a really big book filled with tons of information on farming, gardening, food preservation, animal husbandry, etc. It is also valuable for its sections on home repair and inspection, general yard maintenance, and it has some good carpentry plans for a variety of things, including garden furniture and chicken houses. However, this book is probably my least favorite of the three because each section is written by a separate person who wrote a much larger book on the subject that has also been published by Storey. I think as an idea source book this has been great, but if I wanted to actually get involved in any of the projects in depth, I would simply go find the book on that specific topic. It's fun to look through, but I have hardly used it. I think it would be more aimed at the hobby farmer who isn't really into food production.



This one has become much more dog-eared. Although it appears thinner than the book above, it is much taller and wider and the font is smaller. It has WAY more information, and it is a bit more specific to self-reliance. It has tons of recipes, and many, many tid-bits of country wisdom, as the title says. It also includes pretty much all the important stuff that the book above has (including the same illustrations, which Storey tends to reuse in many of their books). I would say that this one has been a fairly essential part of my library.



This is my most recent addition to the collection. I didn't realize when I bought it that it was also a Storey-published book, or I may have opted for something else. It has reused the same illustrations as the books above, and is simply edited together from other Storey books. However, because this one has been specifically made for backyard homesteading, I did find some good information that my other two did not have. It gives information on how much food you can conceivably grow on 1/4 acre, what kinds of farm animals you can put there, some info on backyard chicken-keeping, a good plan for an urban backyard chicken house, and other projects that would be more appropriate for a small yard. It also includes the normal food preservation and gardening info.

All in all, these three Storey country living books aren't my favorites out of my collection, in comparison to the greats which I will review another day. I would say though that the middle one is the best out of the three and the only reason it might not be one of my favorites is because I have so many, lol. If you have to find an all-around great know-how book, that one would fit the bill.

Simple Monday

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Posted on : 9:26 AM | By : Nic | In : ,



The alternative to the simple Monday is 20 favorite things, so I thought I would try it. I am alone for a couple of hours today - Annie is at pottery and John has gone off with Autumn to take a look at a used Land Rover. Part of it is to check out the engine, and part of it is to measure the back seat to see if it can hold three car seats. I've always wanted a Land Rover classic - its the perfect camping vehicle, lol.

20 Of My Favorite Things (do I have to pick one favorite each?)

1. Color - a turquoise-icy blue
2. Dessert - pecan pie (actually most kinds of pie)
3. Smell - vanilla, roses, babies
4. Flower - daises, especially the big colorful Gerbera ones. I had those at my wedding. It was a very colorful wedding. :)
5. Animal - dogs, dolphins, elephants
6. Month - December (I love Christmas!), but July is a close second
7. Beverage - strawberry smoothie
8. Pair of shoes-currently...right now I am wearing things I don't have to bend over to put on, but I love boots - rubber garden boots, snow boots and those big, fluffy ones people are wearing nowadays. My husband sighs when he sees me in shorts with a pair of rubber boots on - it's just not attractive, lol.
9. Snack - recently, cranberries and veggie chips. I really love dried apples though.
10. Song - currently...anything by Sigur Ros
11. Book - currently...Duggar Family
12. Fruit - strawberries
13. Hairstyle - two braids, one on each side (a bit immature eh?)
14. Piece of clothing - currently... whatever I can fit, but normally I love jeans and a t-shirt
15. Store to clothes shop - the thrift store is my favorite place because of all the crazy stuff you can find, but for new clothes, the Gap, lol. A bit sad I know... but its the only place with pants that fit me and I like the old-fashioned look of many of the items. I try to avoid it, I promise!
16. Season - fall, but I love each season for its own merits
17. Hobby - writing! knitting, sewing, painting, and music are all close seconds though
18. Thing to collect - I collect weird pins and tacky antique fake jewelry, self-published books of the 1960's-70's, and any antique books too.
19. Movie - Little Women (the one with Winona Ryder), but I love The Life Aquatic and the Dead Poets Society
20. Restaurant - IHOP. lol any restaurant that will serve me pancakes all day wins in my book, lol. I don't actually get to eat there very often, but actually I really love The Olive Garden, which we also don't have. You get bread! In a basket!

Things You Didn't Know About Beatrix Potter

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Posted on : 8:13 AM | By : Nic | In : ,



John has been reading from our collection of Beatrix Potter books at night to the girls before bed, and we just laugh and laugh at the humor in them (and the way he reads them is quite funny). We especially love The Fierce Bad Rabbit. Sometimes though they are a bit bizarre (a rat rolling a kitten in dough for baking?), and some of the humor eludes us. So John and I watched Miss Potter last night to learn more about these wonderfully illustrated, strange little stories.

According to the movie, many of the stories were begun when she was very young, just a little girl, and this made complete sense to me. The books have story lines that are sometimes what my girls would make up, lol ("Tom Thumb smashed the ham all to bits!"). What I didn't know is that Beatrix was an avid naturalist, and loved farms. After she married later in life (and after making her fortune with her books), she became a farmer for 30 years, using her money to buy up threatened farmland. She started with the Troutbeck Park Farm, and raised a huge herd of sheep, and gradually bought more. After her death she left 14 farms and a total of 4000 acres to the Land Trust of Cumbria.

Knowing about the author of a story always makes me love the story a little bit more.

The Garden Trailer

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Posted on : 3:37 PM | By : Nic | In :

A documentary about a battle over the largest community garden in the US.

Raised Beds Part 2

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Posted on : 10:38 AM | By : Nic | In :


I finally finished the garden signs and have a final tally of what we are growing back there. The signs were quite tedious to make despite not being very fancy, but they only took about 3 hours all together so I suppose I shouldn't complain. They are the ultimate recycled item, though. About four years ago when I worked cleaning the hospital one of the OB nurses gave me a huge stack of yellow Hallmark envelopes that didn't have cards. They've been stashed in my art bin all this time. Then I went into the yard and picked up some sticks the wind had blown down, covered the whole thing in packing tape to make it waterproof - and there you go, vegetable signs!


There are already a few little sprouts coming up, mostly lettuce and onions. Here's the list of what we have going in the beds:
Shirley tomatoes
Beefsteak tomatoes
Bush beans
Carrot
Snow pea
Dwarf bean
Broccoli
Cucumber
Lettuce
Spinach
Garlic
White onion
Dill

In pots:
Minette basil
Chives
Sweet genovese basil
Dill
Cilantro
Onions

We also have:
A small strawberry bed with some raspberry transplants
Three rhubarb plants
A young peach tree
A walnut tree

The Sourdough Results

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Posted on : 8:59 PM | By : Nic | In :

So I tried my hand at doing a very large batch of sourdough the really old-fashioned way. I borrowed from my own book's instructions (which I suppose is my own opinion, lol) and from Two Frog Home's sourdough starter instructions, among other things I've read on the internet. I got a medium-sized white ceramic crock from a second-hand store with a fairly heavy lid for a few dollars. Then I proceeded to put in a cup of whole wheat flour and 3/4 cups of water, basically the same as Kathie's above.

I followed hers fairly closely, except that I never put it in the fridge, and I failed to feed it ever 12 hours when it reached that point. I basically fed it once a day for five days (still doing a wash after day 2). Then I took out a cup of it to save for later, and made the entire batch into as many loaves as I could, rather than measuring off 2 cups of it. I also didn't let it rise for 12 hours - the yeast was pretty powerful and it only sat for a couple of hours before it began to overflow the big bowl it was in, so I went ahead and punched it down and formed loaves and let them rise for four more hours while I had a nap with Autumn.

Then I started baking each loaf on a big cookie sheet, which made big round fairly low loaves. They took about 35 minutes to bake. In the end I have three large, very traditional, 100% whole wheat sourdough loaves. They are very sourdough-tasting, very hearty, and thick.

They are pretty ugly, and I imagine that even though this is exactly what bread tasted like on the prairie 100 years ago, I bet they were better at making it look better, lol. I popped a couple of the loaves in the freezer, so I won't take a picture, as they are nothing to be proud of cosmetically. But its amazing how bread has changed since then. Next time I would add in some white flour just to lighten up the heavy texture, and I would time the 12 hour rising time for night. I felt like I was in a bit of a hurry to get it done... what if I let it rise overnight and had a baby and wasted the dough in the morning? So at least I have some loaves of bread in the freezer for later.

Another thing I read in the book I was reading this afternoon (the Preserving book) was that I can roll the starter into balls, put them out in the sun or in the dehydrator to dry, then grind them up and make dried yeast (which you would store in the fridge just like the store bought stuff). Sourdough seems so miraculous to me, lol. Maybe I am just easily entertained.

Rambling Relaxing Revelations

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Posted on : 10:40 AM | By : Nic | In :

I am sitting on the couch having raspberry leaf tea (an iced tea version, actually because I had forgotten that I had made it this morning and discovered it in a lukewarm state later). I woke up this morning knowing I needed a restful day, which is my goal still. But restful is a relative term...

First I made scrambled eggs with chives on toast covered in garlic hummus. Then the sourdough needed attention, so I fed it and then made John's lunch for work. He ended up biking there because the weather is so nice. Then I used some of my sourdough starter to make an enormous ball of dough which is rising very slowly. I had Annie upstairs cleaning her room and then I sorted laundry and sat down here to write. While I'm writing Annie and I are playing the instructions game - I give her a set of funny things to do that she has to remember in order, and it gets harder every time. She thinks its hilarious, lol, and she doesn't know she's practicing listening.

So how am I resting? I normally walk Annie to school and back every afternoon, but on Friday's her little class is only an hour instead of 2.5. Since it takes me 12 minutes there and back (it's only 2 blocks away but I am so huge it takes me forever), I pretty much have to leave as soon as I get home, and it wears me out. So she's just not going to go. You can see where my priorities are, lol.

In July I am starting school, working towards a science degree from home. I will have to transfer to on-campus classes in a couple of years, but these first credits I can do at home. At the same time I will have three kids, I want to continue to do these healthy food choices like making homemade bread, and my garden will continue to expand. If I think about it too much, it seems a bit overwhelming. It seems to be a common theme on many of the blogs I read... how to handle the overwhelming stress of all of our self-inflicted projects and goals? Here are some of the ways I get lots of stuff done, without stressing out.

1. Prioritize your day first thing when you wake up in the morning. I used to need to write a list down of all the stuff I wanted to get done and then number them by what had to get done, rather than what I wanted to do. This is tricky - often I just want to be writing, playing or any number of diversions, but laundry has to get done. Children need to be fed, lol. Now I make a mental list when I wake up, and decide what 3 things need to get done first thing in the morning.

2. Never procrastinate. I procrastinate just like anybody else, but it is something I am constantly battling. If I think of something I need to do, I do it right then or I will forget. If I can't do it right then, I set up a reminder in iCal to email me when I do need to do it.

3. Make a mental shift that de-categorizes the stuff you have to do. This is hard to explain, and even more difficult to do. This is a lesson that I have practiced every day since reading Creating True Peace and The Continuum Concept... and I emphasize the word practice because it is an ongoing goal. The trick is to think of everything as equally valuable, equally enjoyable, and part of the natural flow of your day. For example, sometimes I impatiently want to get done with the endless dishes so I can have a rest... but the dishes can be relaxing too. It is equally valuable, and can be equally enjoyable. I sometimes feel pressured to conform to social expectations like greeting cards or having my house a certain way (or not a certain way), and believing that those aren't necessary can give me the freedom to show appreciation other ways or having the house how we need it. Thinking about how much time school will take can stress me out until I realize how much time I spend on the computer and doing nothing during the day, and having an attitude that school assignments can be just as fun.

Life is an ongoing education, but its not supposed to be a race or a competition. Enjoy it!