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A Look Back at Myself Looking Back at 2008

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Posted on : 11:32 PM | By : Nic | In : ,

One of the best things about having a blog is that I can look back at what I was thinking any specific day from my past. It is 30 minutes until 2010, and I decided to look back and see what I wrote last New Year's Eve. I am going to reflect on what I wrote, and write something for the next 365 days.

Summary (3 sentence max)
Last year I said, "It was another crazy year for us but I think that this next year will be the year of sublime tranquility." Ha! Tranquility didn't happen but I can definitely say that when I prayed for wisdom I received it, and when I wanted to know why, the answer came in the form of life experiences that changed me as a person.

Fun
I don't think we played enough games but this year we have some fun stuff planned and a lot of it has to do with finding the time to be silly and play pretend.

Challenging
We did get Annie help, or at least got her started, and we made progress in her behavior. Much of this had to do with how I kept calm and carried on. My challenge this year is to be authentic...I usually am exactly what I am and how I feel is somewhat on my sleeve, but I'm tired of the demands of the mainstream lifestyle. Unfortunately in today's world, we all have to be mainstream on some level, but I want to minimize that level, lol.

Thoughtful
My goal was to mindful of my own emotions and reactions to situations, and I definitely think I made progress, thanks to John and our competitive reward system if one of us screwed up and lost it. This year I was also surprised how in tune I became to my intuition. I made a lot of gut decisions and my gut was never wrong, and it made me want to get in touch with my spiritual side in a more personal way.

An insight/thought
Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world. ~Arthur Schopenhauer

Website/blog Find
Thousands of websites have I seen, but Reddit took the cake.

Words (quote/reading/book recommendation/1 sentence review!/anything word-related)
I read Self-Made Man... I think that's what it's called. About the lady who acts like a guy? I am too tired to look it up. It was a good read.

Note to Self
I actually did some of my goals... I had a big garden, I got cook books and food preservation books, I did make sourdough, I built up my food storage. I used electricity to store the food, I didn't make any herbal remedies from the garden, although I did make some. I didn't teach piano... I started going to school instead. I actually finished my homeschool resource book but it wasn't something marketable by the time I was finished. It only helps myself, lol. This year...
...do a journal in the book John made for me somewhat like the Edwardian Lady's journal.
...finish building the Albatross (the bus).
...finish my sewing projects.
...finish another year of school.

Favourite Tip/Idea from web
I discovered how many how-to videos there were on YouTube. I learned math and felting kid's toys and other things. Awesome!

Now it is 2010... it took me about 30 minutes to write this. Happy New Year!!!!

Step 7: How the Bus Got Home

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Posted on : 8:05 AM | By : Nic | In :

I need to update the story about how we got the bus here. After all of our extra expenses and not finding the time off work, we finally got it all together and John took the ferry to Vancouver. His sister dropped him off at the border in Blaine and he just walked across. He had to wait in line for 3 hours, and he was the only person on foot. The rest of this incredibly long line were all 'randomly' pulled from their cars, but he was quite conspicuous because he was the only white guy. This completely random crowd was entirely Asian and black. They were interrogating these people quite rudely, but for John they asked why he was entering the States, he said, "I'm picking up my bus," and they said ok and let him in.

Then the very nice guy from C&G Sales picked him up and took him back to the storage place. We had been pre-warned that the brakes were seized again, so John had called a guy to meet him there as well. It turned out he needn't have... the brake pedal was just rusty and stuck, so the mechanic sprayed it with WD-40... which John had in the bus anyway. Then the bus started right up and he was on his way. At the border we had expected to pay in import fee, but they said he didn't need to because the bus is just over 15 years old. It turns out that was incorrect... in order for us to get insurance on it, we need to pay an import fee of $240 and fill out some paperwork before they will inspect it. It didn't mess anything up, it just means that the border people don't know anything about buses because that rule only applies to cars. All they charged us was the taxes of $300, and then he took the Tsawwassen ferry which cost $150. I met him at a parking lot when he got in and we took a spin with the girls because the temporary insurance expires when you get home, so we thought we better take the opportunity.

It shakes and rattles like an old ski bus, lol. We wonder if we will need to do some work to the suspension, but it may be that when we load it up inside it might not need it. Then we went home and John had to back it into the yard next to the RV. The next step is to get a manufacturer's recall letter and do the modifications to the gauges and running lights to make it legal for driving, at which point we can go to Canadian Tire to get it inspected, and then we can get insurance.

John got a grinder and he also started grinding off the bolts for the ski racks and the seats inside. There are 20 seats, and we're lucky because they go along the side instead of facing the front, so there's way less than in a school bus, but it will still take a lot of time. We also have to remove the heaters from the ceiling. If you look at the video you can see all of that stuff.

I've been doing drawings of the interior design and we're still trying to pin down the floor plan which is really tough. We are going to go to an RV place and take some measurements, and we're looking on Google for tons of ideas. It's exciting!

Our bus has a name...

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Posted on : 12:16 PM | By : Nic | In : ,

Behold... the Albatross!!!

We will be outfitting the Albatross in true Steampunk style, which I will have to post more about later. For now, a quick video tour of the monstrosity. Please subscribe to our channel while you are there. :)

Here's a good example of what steampunk is:

There's a bus in my yard....

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Posted on : 10:20 AM | By : Nic | In : ,


1000 miles, across one country's border, 4 months, and $7000 later... the big blue bus is here. I took this picture with my webcam because I don't have my iPhone anymore, but after Christmas I will be filming a video of it. Stay tuned!

Merry Christmas and I hope you had a happy Solstice. :)

Christmas Wish List in Pioneer Days

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Posted on : 9:32 AM | By : Nic | In : ,

If you are familiar with the Little House books, this will be old news, but I though it would be fun to show what Laura got for Christmas. Here are some of the things...

...a doll Ma made...


...a new penny...


...her own cup so she wouldn't have to share... (this one is available from a nifty store called Two Flags Sutlery)...


...one peppermint stick...


...a fur cape and muff...


...those were the total gift memories that Laura Ingalls Wiilder remembers as the highlights of the Christmas presents she received for her entire childhood. Amazing isn't it?

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, no matter if you celebrate anything or not. I personally enjoy Christmas a great deal and I hope the same joy for you no matter what. :)

The Difference Between a Real and a Fake Tree

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Posted on : 8:37 AM | By : Nic | In : ,

Now we don out gay apparel... this means as much pink as possible. Then we drove to Gogo's, a local Christmas tree farm about 15 minutes from our house.


It took us about 15 minutes to find 'the one'. It only took a minute before it sacrificed its life for our holiday merriment.


To the van to be tied to the roof-rack...


The end result.


So which is better, real or fake? Here's the list of why real is better:

1.You can't really put a price on the fun of getting the tree even if you get it from a pre-cut place. Getting a new one every year adds to the family tradition.

2. Fake trees are almost all made in China by factory workers working in hazardous conditions.

3. Fake trees are made with plastic... the manufacturing process not only pollutes the air and water, the trees tend to be made of PVC which is offgassing in your home.

4. When your fake wears out, it goes to the dump to sit for 1000 years. A real tree gets chipped and recycled and eventually decomposes.

5. Fake trees aren't really much less of a fire hazard if you keep them watered like you are supposed to.

6. The real Christmas trees you buy came from a farm and don't come from old growth forest. You are supporting small farmers, who are growing trees which benefitted the environment during their growth. If you can support a local farm even better. :)

Christmas Nix Pix Part 2: It's Not a Thing

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Posted on : 2:23 PM | By : Nic | In : ,

I have to admit that I am feeling a lack of energy. I am desperately working towards finals, my bread machine is baking for me as we speak, and it could snow. Could. Or just be cold. I have Christmas shopping done and I also have to admit that I did not purchase only handmade items. I also bought Operation! I have a serious weakness for board games.

This year, get your person a gift of knowledge or experience, instead of a thing. I'll start with magazines first because they are cheapest...

Countryside Magazine

This is probably one of my favorite homesteading magazines. They are really big, have great articles and seem to be laid back just the way I like it. :)

Backwoods Home

Backwoods Home tends to be more militant in its attitude and definitely has a strong Libertarian slant, which if you are into is great. It also has excellent do-it-yourself make-it-from scratch and survivaly type stuff.

In my opinion if you have to choose a homesteading magazine, these two are the best. How about an adventure?

Check out Great American Days, where you can purchase an experience for someone. They start out simple like a massage or a sushi-making class, all the way up to diving with sharks or rock and roll fantasy camp.

Alternatively you could send someone to farm school at Mary Jane's Farm... or just get them a subscription to her magazine.
I particularly recommend the Farmgirl Sisterhood membership for any country girl at heart.

Finding alternative gifts that people will actually like is really a challenge. I think with the recession being what it is, one really cool thing you could do is pay for someone to become a member of a local organic farm coop.

2009 Christmas Nix Pix: Part 1 - Etsy for under $30

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Posted on : 8:18 AM | By : Nic | In :

It's that time of year! It's time to find the best, earth-friendly, anti-consumerism interesting gifts out there. If you didn't see this last year, Nix Pix is a gross misspelling of Nic's Picks, lol. This post is focusing on my favourite stuff from Etsy $30 or less.

Leg Warmers from The Sitting Tree



Fight Club Soap from Serendipity 8



Egyptian Leather Journal from Wayfaring Arts



Wireless Plush Fairy Wings from 4eva designs



Wooden Soccer Players from Phoenix Rose Boutique

Cooking in Your Fireplace

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Posted on : 8:57 AM | By : Nic | In : , , ,



Hearth cooking sounds so romantic. The fire crackling, the smell of wood smoke, the cast iron pots bubbling over a real fire.... but look at that woman. She's bent over a fire, the smoke and flames are in her face and she has to hover over it to make sure that it's not scorching. Not so romantic - but still it looks better, doesn't it? Modern technology doesn't seem to have the same aesthetic value. The picture above, by the way, is from the Howard Hall Farm in Athens, New York which offers green and pioneer skill classes as well as historic restoration.

It's getting colder and as inconvenient as it might be to cook in your fireplace, its important to know how. Here's a quick run down of the basics:

First build a fire. This post would be really long if I told you how to do that. This is a post about cooking over a fire, not making the fire. Maybe another day.

You should let it burn for a while until it has some good hot coals. To find out how hot the fire is, hold you hand about 3 inches above the spot you want to cook over. Count the seconds until you have to move your hand away because it is too hot. If you can't even last one second, it is about 400-500 degrees. Two to three seconds and it is around 400-450 degrees. Six is too cold. If you're like me and your hands are tiny and wimpy, the fire may be slightly cooler than this estimate. Experience and burned food will educate you quickly.

You can support your pan or pot with three large stones around the fire, or hang it up above the fire, or you can use a Dutch Oven. Check out Lehman's for cast-iron griddles, cast iron kettles with legs, a fireplace cooking crane, and other fireplace cooking accessories.

Dutch ovens are probably the most versatile and easy way to start cooking over fire. You simply burn the fire down to hot coals, and put the coals evenly all around and on top of the oven. When your done, you don't wash it with soap - you scrape out the food and rinse it with hot water. For soup you would use it the same as a crock pot - it can take about 4-8 hours. Other things like eggs and toast and bacon and tea are all pretty simple - the fire is hot and you put things on there until they are cooked. The tricky part is how variable the heat is, but with experience it gets easier.

It's fun to do this with your kids every now and then, and it teaches an important skill. Letting your kids be around and safely use fire is much smarter than telling them to not play with matches.