New Year, New Beginnings.

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So it has been since October since I wrote anything!! Sometimes life just gets in the way. But, with a new year comes new beginnings. New gardens, new recipes, new ideas with vlogging, new surprises. I’m excited for what the new year is going to bring.

So what has been happening on our little homestead these past few months? Well, we have downsized a lot in the house. It feels so cleansing to donate or sell off things you are not using. We have also added things that were “wants” to our home. For example, Zach bought me a Kitchen Aid mixer to help with our food prep. Let me tell you what a time saver this has been. I keep it right on my counter and use it often. We also got new appliances. I have washed dishes by hand for 6 people for a year and I must say, I will NEVER take a dishwasher for granted again!! We also got a new stove and refrigerator. We moved our fridge that was in our kitchen downstairs for extra storage because someone got membership to Costco!! Yes, this girl! I never realized how inefficient our stove was until we got a new one. Plus, it’s finally nice to have all 4 burners working!

Our journey to going completely gluten free became real about a month ago. Zach was the first to show signs of having issues years ago. I fed him gluten free, but the rest ate wheat. I wasn’t ready to give it up because it’s convenient. Then it was me with the issues with my foot which radiated up into my leg. So I quit gluten, but honestly would cheat every now and then. But when it started to effect my two daughters, I knew I needed to make a change. We started to notice my daughter was having bowel problems and would daily find herself in the bathroom sick. She also was tired all the time (probably because she wasn’t absorbing enough vitamins and minerals from her food). Our other daughter started to experience itching after she would eat gluten. It would get so bad she would cry and scratch her skin open. So we cut out gluten and you know what happened? The bowel problems went away and the itching stopped. They were more alert and active. So, was it gluten that was doing that to my girls? Well, to see if it as really the gluten, I gave them gluten again to see. Sure enough, the bowel problems came back, and the itching came back. But this time, my daughter was not only itchy but she actually broke out in a rash! I told my husband that was the straw that broke the camels back. We cut out wheat that day from everyone’s diet and haven’t looked back. After a good cry on how the heck I was going to do this with 6 people, let along with children who I swear invented the goldfish cracker, I wiped the tears and began baking. Because as a mother who wants what is best for my family and their health, I knew gluten was not one of them.

So that leads me to our garden. We got the new Baker’s Creek Seed Catalog. We will be placing our order within the next week. Our oldest daughter has shown a huge interest in saving and growing seeds. So this year she will be in charge of that.

The chickens are well and we will be adding a few more to our laying hens this spring. We have meat birds we are raising in the garage right now as we speak. Some may say that it is cruel to raise them in the garage and not on pasture. Trust me, if we had the meansĀ  we would do the same. But with limited space, this is the best we can do. They have a lot of room to run around and two huge windows that give them light. We keep heat lamps in there to keep them warm. They are happy! We also added to rabbits to the mix. We are excited for the compost for the garden!

As for surprises this year? Well, we will have to wait and see……

Why Living with Less is Best.

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I remember like it was yesterday…I owned at least 10 pair of stilettos, a huge wardrobe, and probably every hair care product on the market. We had a brand new car, spent money on things we didn’t need, but it was okay because we were both working and only had one child.

Fast forward 9 years…. I own 1 black pair of stilettos, a wardrobe from the salvation army, and a brush, a few bobbie pins, and coconut oil for my hair. Our car is used (nice, but used), only spend money on things we need, because I now stay home and raise our four children.

That’s a huge difference in 9 years huh? Not really. It was gradual. I’m a pretty impulsive kind of person, but with scaling back on things? Not so much. So you ask, “well why did you scale back then”? I got tired of being able to buy whatever I needed whenever I needed quite frankly. It is so easy to say you need something and pick up a computer and buy it. It doesn’t even give us a chance to think if we really need the item.

So we stopped buying new and started shopping thrift stores and yard sales. I really liked it!! I liked the challenge of not knowing what treasure you were going to find, and when you did it was more than half the price. This began my journey into the frugal world.

But it didnt stop there. I wanted more by having less. What I mean was, I wanted to learn skills I had never learned before such as gardening or changing a cloth diaper on a wiggly baby (yes, that is a learned skill folks). I wanted more time with my family too. When we surround ourselves with “things”, it takes the focus off of the people in our lives. For example, my brain goes insane with clutter. I shut down. So I decided one day to revamp the kitchen (really donate a bunch of things I didn’t need but revamp sounds so HGTV right)? I started there because that was the biggest headache. I only kept things I needed. Ice cream maker? Gone. Extra plates so when we have 100 guests over ( um, we never)? Gone. Stuff on the counter that was just cute but served no purpose? Gone. What I kept were cute mason jars filled with spices, and different grains, etc. Everything I have in my kitchen was there because it needed to be there. I wasn’t stressed anymore. In fact, it was great. I went on to do the other rooms in the house. I sold or donated things we didn’t need and it was cleansing.

So what did I learned from all of this? When we got rid of “stuff” it opened my mind to calm. I spend more time with the kids because I’m not constantly stressed about what needs to be done. I did less housework (that right, that is enough for me to have a spriritual moment!!), I was happier. Then I began to think “what if we decluttered every aspect of our lives”? So we did. Instead of having something planned everyday, we took breaks in between. We let the kids have downtime…we had downtime. Instead of going to an amusement park, we went to the lake and fished. We saw a difference in our kids. They were calmer and happier. Not that we don’t do fun things like that with our kids, we just scale back and let them enjoy nature around them. They learn so much about themselves through that.

And I’m not finished there. I would love to live off grid. Or in a tiny log cabin house and have only what we need. That will have to be someday. To everything there is a season. But when we get to that season, the possibilities will be endless!