Monday, August 3, 2015

Figuring It Out

I think I may have figured out where I want to take my career; I just need to figure out how to do it. I've been thinking for some time now, I would like to use my love of food, natural living, creativity, and natural health in my profession as a social worker. I would love to work with people and teach them how living a natural life can benefit them. I love to share how creativity can be a form of meditation, a way to actively meditate. For the first time, I share my dream out loud. I have shared bits and pieces of my dream with others, but this weekend, I finally told my husband my full dream. I told him how I wanted to do something with gardening, creativity, and natural health, or maybe even work with others who have the same belief system that I have. I was even telling him how I'd love to work with people who have lower incomes and teach them how to shop and cook healthy and natural on a budget. I need to research more, but there is information out there about how the microbes in dirt actually help with depression. Imagine having a garden that you can go out to and get your own food, and make your own meals. You don't need to go to the grocery store. You know what was planted and how it was grown. Imagine how much more inexpensive would it be to grow your own food and how healthy it would be. I really believe that being creative is very important, however you define being creative. I do like the idea of knitting, sewing, drawing, coloring, but I also believe that being creative in the kitchen is a great creative outlet as well as a way to keep healthy eating from getting boring. I love the process of creating, but sometimes I love the end product, especially when you are creating something that you can use. Creating clothing, quilts, hats, scarves, etc is a way to put love into something that is useful. I am thinking that since I shared my full dream with my husband, this is something that I should really start to research. I wish there was some place that I could work and get some experience, before actually doing it on my own. The other thing I would love, is to find my "tribe", people who share my vision and my passion. Its time to start moving toward my real dream and passion instead of just working to make money. Here's to healthy living and sharing that belief with others! Amy

Monday, July 13, 2015

Making My Own Food

DIY or do it yourself is a big thing right now. One of my goals in living is to reduce and hopefully eliminate processed food in my family's life. One of my problems with making my own food is that I get bored. I wish I knew more about how to make up recipes as I go that are exciting and flavorful. When I make something new or something that I haven't made in a long time, I get inspired to continue. The problem is I find myself making the same things all the time. The other night, I had a craving for lentils. I almost didn't make them because I felt like its summer and I should be making a light summer dish, not a heavy comfort food dish. I did add grilled pineapple and a caprese salad with fresh basil and fresh mozzarella which I do think lightened up the meal. What it did though, was to inspire me to make more foods that I don't usually make and to actually listen to my cravings when they are healthy cravings. I think my next goal is to learn about different spices and how they work with different foods. We, unfortunately, did have store bought canzone for food today and I bought an egg sandwich at a small local bistro today for breakfast. I am not really hungry for any other food today, but I plan to start tomorrow with making my own foods and experimenting with different foods and spices to feel more inspired to eat healthy, flavorful, inspired foods. One of the things that inspires me is to watch cooking shows as well as to go to my local farmers market. I love seeing all the different foods, some that I have never heard or cooked with and some are just inspiring even though I have eaten them many times before but maybe in a different way. What really inspires me is my friend Holly, at, who cooks every week and always inspires me to use new and different ingredients. I love trying new foods and foods that I have had, but cooked in different ways of with different flavors. Today, I promised my oldest son that we would make granola. He loves granola and yogurt and he loves to help in the kitchen. I want him to help and learn new foods that are healthy, especially since he is on the autism spectrum and I feel that he really needs to watch his diet to help with some of the symptoms of his autism. That in and of itself is enough for it's own post and more. Later tonight, after I find a good recipe, we will make our own granola so that we can add it to our yogurt which I want to become a staple grocery item in our house. Here's to some good, healthy, DIY foods to help kick the processed food habit and save money at the same time! Amy

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Tiny Home Phenomenon

It seem like there is a new phenomenon where everyone wants to live in a tiny home. I actually live in a smaller home with my husband and our 3 kids. Our home is all of 1000 square feet but it feels so much smaller because we have so much stuff. I have been watching tiny house hunters on HGTV and am getting more and more inspired to get rid of stuff and live a more minimalist lifestyle. I initially started this blog when I was about 35 and was starting to re-evaluate my life and the way I live it. When I started this blog, I was hoping to get rid of the reliance on big box stores, material goods, and more things like that. I was hoping to spend time upcycling things from thrift stores and the like. Unfortunately, I have not really followed through with my goals. I have made small changes that sometimes feel like 1 step forward and 2 or more steps back. This is a huge journey for me. I am trying to figure out why this is so difficult for me. I am not blaming the way I grew up, but I think that since I had limited ability to get the things I wanted and we were always on a strict budget, I tend to want to over spend. Its not an excuse, but it is something to think about when I try to figure out why I seem to have an obsession with things and why I can't seem to get rid of stuff. My goal is to slowly get rid of extra stuff and to move toward a more minimalist lifestyle. I want to teach my children how to live a minimalist lifestyle, but at the same time, not feel deprived. I think it is going to be important to explain how stuff isn't what is important in life yet still allow them to have things that are important to them and have the things that they enjoy. I want to live a lifestyle that allows us to enjoy our life, not owe other people money and actually have a savings. I want to stop spending money out to eat. I have a hard time with this because I really love eating out. I want my kitchen to work for us. I want to enjoy cooking and spending time together in the kitchen like I grew up. That means, I need to clean off my kitchen table and find a place for what's on there and if there is not a place, it needs to go. I want my kitchen to look clean, open, and be functional. Another are I need to deal with is my craft supply area. I love crafts and crafts supplies and crafts books. I also have a little obsession with buying things that I don't need. I really need to go through my stuff and get rid of some things that I don't need any more. I need to focus my crafts and not just do everything and anything. While I want a larger home, more like a farmhouse, I still want to live a minimalist lifestyle. I want my children to grow up with things they need and want, but not everything they want. I want them to understand they don't need multiple build a bears and other toys like they already have. I don't see us moving to a larger farmhouse anytime soon, and I actually like my house and the land that it site on. I want and need to make the most of what we have and really enjoy my little suburban homestead. I will keep moving towards a natural life and look forward to sharing my journey. Amy

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Fermentation Update

A while ago, I posted about fermented foods and my attempt at making my own. I tried making my own wild fermented our dough starter and did well. Unfortunately, I didn't do well at feeding it and it went bad. I did end up growing my own kombucha SCOBY. I wasn't sure it was going to work since I had read that companies had started making kombucha so that it wouldn't form a new Scooby. Well, I was worried for nothing. From everything I read in forums, it was mostly because it was winter and we keep a cold house. It's now summer and I have a thriving SCOBY, that probably grew too long in the tea, but it looks so pretty. I think the kombucha is probably too vinegary for my taste. I have heard that plants really like it so I plan to water my plants with the vinegary kombucha. I already have another gallon jar started. My brother in law told my husband that he read that coconut water kefir is really good for kids on the spectrum. I actually have some water kefir grains coming in the mail from Maryland that are supposedly really strong and healthy grains. I can't wait to get them and start drinking water kefir again. I am hoping that between water kefir and kombucha I can kick my diet soda habit. Hopefully once I get my water kefir grains and I get them multiplying, I can start trying to add them to coconut water and see if I can get coconut water kefir. I did read that you may be able to actually use coconut water for Kombucha and I have an extra SCOBY that I am going to try. I just have to read up more on how to do it. From the little that I have researched, for a short time you can "brew" kombucha in liquid other than tea, but then you need to use to tea to feed it what it needs to grow and thrive. I will be trying the coconut water kombucha soon so watch for my updates. Recently, I got an email or saw a Facebook post from Nourished Kitchen about "how to make a ginger bug for homemade sodas" at Like I was saying, I am hoping to some day soon, kick my diet soda habit. I was watching Dr. Oz today and my fire for this goal was re-ignited. I can't wait to try to make a ginger bug so that I can have healthy sodas along with my kombucha and my water kefir. There is just something so satisfying about fizzy soda, but the sugar, the artificial sweeteners, and all the additives make it so bad for you. I'm hoping, I can get my fizzy soda like taste and get some health benefits from the fermented part of these drinks. Some store bought cabernet grape kombucha in a champagne glass My new batch of Rooibos tea with my lovely SCOBY in it started today Happy fermenting. Maybe I'll even try my sour dough starter again! Amy

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Dreams, Passions, Styles

This title seems a little all over the place, but I am hopeful, it is really what this post is all about. I have been trying to figure out my dreams, my passions and my style. What I have realized over the last couple of weeks, probably more like months, is that I love the whole rustic, farm style look. That being said, it goes along with my hope that I can actually live a more suburban homesteading lifestyle. I really want to get back to upcycling, minimalistic living, living and eating healthy and naturally, and basically just living a holistic lifestyle that will keep my body, mind, and soul healthy and happy. We finally got the garden in place. I think we may still have some things to plant, but we have the bones of the garden in place. We have beans that are growing from seed along with peas, cucumbers, luff plants, kale, Swiss chard, spinach, and collards. We have a lot of tomato plants that we grew from see, but we hav4 that we bough from the local nursery that have a better start than the ones that we grew from seed. We have pepper plants that we also started from seeds as well as some ghost peppers that we just bought. Ghost peppers are really hot and we are using them as an animal deterrent (hopefully). We forgot to add eggplant seeds to our order, so we had to get all our eggplant plants from our local nursery. I also have some purple potato plants growing. The other thing I did this year was to add potted herb plants. I am hoping that when the cold weather comes, I can bring these pots in the house and we can have potted plants all year long.
I am hoping that I can really take my idea of suburban homesteading to heart and really utilize my garden and do some canning and some freezing so that we can enjoy home grown food through the winter. I am hoping that we can get better with planning and growing our garden on time. I love the idea of growing our own plants from seeds. My problem is that I am not a good planner or organizer. I love being organized and feel so much calmer when I am, but unfortunately it is not a skill that comes easily for me, which is one reason why I sometimes think I have some issues with ADHD. I have almost completely decided that I love the whole rustic farmhouse idea of life and style, which actually goes along with my desire to be a homesteader. I would love to own a farm with a few animals, but that is not going to happen anytime soon. I would love to try to decorate my home in that farmhouse rustic style, and maybe even add that into my career choice. I would love to have a creative shop that utilizes my love for the rustic farmhouse style. We've been watching Fixer Upper on HGTV and I am so inspired by what Joanna Gaines does. In love her style and her farm and shop. I will be looking at her blog for ideas and inspiration! Being a homesteader also makes me think of eating healthy and home cooked meals. Yesterday, as we do every Saturday, we spent the day at our town's farmers market. I tried mujadara from the Lebanese vendor, and it was so delicious. Today, we spent time going to Todd Farm, a local antique/flea market and Tendercrop farm which was just down the road from Todd Farm. At Tendercrop farm, we bought some grass fed local steaks and ground beef. The meat was absolutely delicious. I was also inspired to attempt to make my version of mujadara. It was great to eat great tasting home cooked food that was inspired by our farmer's market. I am trying to remember how nice it is to eat home cooked meals when I am uninspired, and I need to spend some time looking for inspiration so that we eat at home more often instead of mating someone else to cook for me. I am hoping that, one day, my design loves, my idea of being a homesteader, and my other passions with become part of my professional career. I do like being a social worker, but I really want to do something more fun and creative and less medical or regulated! Happy dreaming, Amy

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Summer Life

It's officially the first week of summer. The kids are finally out of school, while at least for a week. July 6th, the kids go back to school 4 days a week for 6 weeks. I'm really happy that they get to have summer school at such a young age to help them maintain what they have learned through their year in school. I think it will help them have a better start to the school year in the fall. That being said, summer is a time to have fun and enjoy some time away from the hectic pace of the school year. Unfortunately, I have to continue to work, but I am going to continue to work part time so that we can have some family fun. I am hoping that we can take some time and enjoy some time hiking and spending time outside with family and friends. I am also hopeful that we can get to the beach and enjoy the water. I think this may be the summer that we get the kids out kayaking. I want to make sure that we expose our kids to spending time outside in nature and enjoy everything that our earth has given us. This winter, we started taking the kids snowshoeing. We all had fun and got outside in one of the worst winters we have seen in a while. Now it's time to share our summer activities, even though we have started taking them hiking and camping a couple of years ago and plan to continue that for the years to come. With summer hopefully in full swing, we have started planting our garden. We have most of our tomato plants and our pepper plants in the garden. We have what seems like a good growth of salad, and we had a good start to our peas, but they got eaten by bunnies. My husband took time and fixed our fence that got damaged this winter, so hopefully that will help us keep the animals out and our veggies in. We have also planted seeds for cucumbers and luffa plants. I just bought a container blueberry and raspberry plant. I am looking forward to being able to go out and pick berries as we need or want them. I need to get back to the local nursery and pick up a couple of eggplant plants as well as some potato plants (I have purple potato seeds prepared for planting) and get our squash and kale/Swiss chard plants going. I really want to get away from eating predominantly meat and start eating a lot more green veggies. I really want to start following through with my diet goals and my creative goals in life. I need to start eating clean and spending time being creative. I need to continue to get my life organized and get rid of things that I don't need. The sad thing is, I know what I need to do, I just need to get motivated to do it. I am hoping that eating a clean diet with less processed foods, less starchy carbs, more green leafy veggies and lean protein (including beans), and way less sugar. In our society, it is so difficult to eat clean and healthy. There are so many reasons and justifications to make you feel better about eating processed junk food. I truly believe, once you get your body free of processed foods, you will succeed in living a clean natural life. Its not easy to rid your body of these foods, but it is something that I continue to try to work on. I also want to work on my goal of learning about herbs, natural medicine, and essential oils. I am hoping to share some of my challenges and hopefully more success as I go along. This is something that I continue to work tirelessly on and something that I will always work on. Here's to living a handmade and natural life and enjoying the process of getting there. Amy

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Handmade and Natural Health

As I've written often, I continue to seek out my true way in life. I continue to want to focus on living a handmade and natural life, but it has not been easy. I continue to love being creative, sewing and other fiber arts as well as paper crafts and photography. I continue to want to learn about herbs, aromatherapy, and natural remedies. I want to have a life that is more natural and healthy. My lifestyle, currently, is no where near where I want to be. I have a crazy amount of stuff that I really need to get rid of or find a place for. I'm thinking that my lack of organization is big part of why I am not living the life I want. I am hoping to get more organized then attempt to get more focused on my goals in life. That being said, I am going to work on getting more organized. I am going to get back to basics (as I have often said) and start working on living life the way I want to. I am going to get my garden going. I am going to work on having a suburban homestead, where I can hopefully start living off my land within my means. I don't and won't have animals anytime soon, but I have a nice large garden and want to make sure I use it appropriately. I have plenty of crafts supplies to be able to continue being creative. One thing I have forgotten about for a long time, is my love of natural health and remedies. I really want to learn about herbs and essential oils. I want to grow my own herbal medicine garden. I want a herbal garden to be a huge part of my suburban homestead. I want to have a real suburban homestead. I want to eat healthy, natural foods. I want to be creative and sew and knit, and crochet. I need to take some time away from the web, from Facebook, and unplug. Life is too short to be addicted to technology and TV. Summer is here and I want and need to spend good quality outside fun with my family and continue to do even when the weather gets cold. I will continue to blog about my experience in suburban homesteading and what I learn while doing so. I am hopeful that I can get back to following my beliefs and my passions as I live my life. I am hoping that some day, I'll find my way and figure out how to be happy living my life. I have so much happiness already, I just need to make sure that I am following my passions and dreams while being with and loving my family and loving life. Love, Amy