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Before yesterdayCoffee with Kate

Channel is gone.

28 July 2020 at 21:35
Photo by Benjamin Suter on Pexels.com

I’m really sorry to inform all of you that I have taken my channel down permanently. I deleted it completely. I am very sorry, it was three years of good stuff and I am going through a bit of mourning over it. I am so sorry to all of you, my community.

I was alerted that there is a gossip site online that just keeps bashing some of the channels, I’m included. I ignored it at first and never went over to the ghetto to see what simple minds have to talk about, however, I had a caring person alert me that they were getting a little too personal.

I felt that is was time to just delete and move on. Spirit leads us to new lands and if we don’t head the first few whispering’s of guidance then the Universe will step in and start destroying things. Oh yes, I’ve seen it time and again. Once you set on a new path and you know it is the right way, but fear and the comfort of the familiar cause you to turn back…s–t hits the fan. You can’t turn back.

Many of you know the movie Way Of The Peaceful Warrior. It is a movie of one young mans inner exploration and transformation from a shallow, egotistical schmuck to a compassionate and enlightened soul. He tried to go back and it wasn’t pretty.

The truth is, I was done with the channel. I felt guilty and missed so much of the community, but I had nothing left to share. I wasn’t milking ducks and weaving my own rugs. I wasn’t doing much more than I’ve been doing all along. I was out of material and just repeating myself for the last year or so. Many wanted me to come back and I have pondered what I would share, say, teach…I came up empty with each meeting with in my mind.

Now that my privacy has been violated and my family keeps being insulted, put down and violated as well…why would I stay in that toxic pool of you know what?

Cyber space is getting creepier, crazy, darker, more unsafe all the time. I think it’s best I not be on here too much.

As for the website or blog…I have deleted a few blogs for safety reasons but I’ll try and keep it up here.

For any of the trolls that come on here and read this, know that if my address or anything is posted I will get the police involved. For all you beautiful people, please let me know and send me the link if you find my privacy violated in anyway and from where and whom so I can report it. Cyber bullying is a crime and no one should tolerate it in anyway.

Because of cyber bullying and all the creeps out there, many people are taking their channels down and choosing privacy to stay safe and have the joy return.

And the joy does return the more you get off the internet and become present in your life.

vondola

Making your own world. Loving your family. Seeing life in a new way.

28 July 2020 at 13:58
Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

I wrote a blog on budgeting 101 to begin a focus on the solutions to living on much less or a new one income budget that many are facing right now. But it will have to wait because I’m having this wonderful shift in perspective of family and life that I must share to inspire others.

I talked about Bali and I being worker ants the other day. We are always busy, always in the middle of projects. This work ethic has gotten us pretty far on our little streams of income. We make a decent income, probably considered above working class, but we have to work very hard for every nickel and dime. Perhaps we aren’t working smart, just hard…still trying to figure that one out.

The other night I woke up to stare into the dark and let my conscious nag me as it does at inappropriate hours. I had overwhelming guilt and fear clench my heart. I was so busy with work that I was neglecting my relationship with my sons. They are growing so fast and within a few years will be independent and have nothing to do with their mama. These are the beautiful years when the children follow me about and when I take walks in the evening with Molly they are waiting on the porch steps for my return.

I immediately let go of the last of my media, retired a few jobs and set my complete attentions on my children and home.

It was a lot of busy work at first. My home was clean but not deeply organized and I detested the overly big furniture and too many items filling up space. It felt crowded and so much labor to just maintain the cleanliness. I wanted life to be easier with more time to play.

I set to work riding the house of furnishings. I scrubbed and bleached items to give away and have other families enjoy. I sold items and made money for the cash jar. I purged deeply and set piles and boxes with free signs on the street and was happy to see it go quickly. Everything was repurposed and therefore not going to the landfill. I felt good about that accomplishment. I then found new furnishings for free or cheap on Craigslist that hadn’t been used much and were clean and fairly new. I cleaned out drawers, cupboards, and cabinets. I then gave the house a good scrub. With it now put in order and lighter of things, I could move on to another task.

The garden was next as it was becoming over run with weeds and squash. With a day of weeding, transplanting my seedlings from the front porch steps, and planting rows of new seeds, I set the garden right.

I then just had to paint the porch railing and trim. Too much tan color gives me the blues.

Then I set all my focus on the kids. And what a wonderful time we are having. We have been walking the dogs with help from Arjan, picking black berries in the evenings when it’s cooler, taking long walks through the forest park trails for hours. I take the boys for bike rides out in the neighborhood and last night I took all three children for a little walk through town and the beautiful back neighborhoods. We run and explore, play board games when it’s too hot, and talk about everything. I sometimes just lay in the room they are playing and listen to them chatter on and climb all over me.

Peace is filling the void that was once filled with chaotic static from YouTube videos and working on my vlogs. I check my computer and maybe write a blog in the mornings with my cup of coffee and then I close the laptop and store it on a shelf.

Each day I feel a bit brighter, I crave the walks and I enjoy my children at a whole new level now that I’m not “trying to get things done!”. I’m adjusting to having three children and we are finding the balance.

School will start soon and the boys will have a co-op one day a week and a forest school one day. Little Miss will go to a preschool a few days a week. I’m working on finding a school that isn’t doing distance learning and getting her some funding.

Now that I’m focused on them and my home, even the dogs with walks and their morning meals and playing ball…it is a full time and a half job.

I feel right in my soul. I’m parenting consciously. I’m enjoying a slower life filled with forest ramblings with happy children, making popcorn and watching movies almost every night, and reading good books. This is real life.

I can barely stand getting on YouTube these days. I do love watching Rob Greenfield and old Brothers Green Eats videos. I’ll share these in tomorrows blog. I’m so careful as I tipy toe through the media mine fields careful to just watch the wholesome and educational stuff and avoid the shallow and trashy neighborhoods. But you know how it is…one wrong turn down an ally and you may wind up in a dark zone.

I only have this blog space and I’ve already had a crazy person find me from YouTube, I had to block them but I felt violated with these trolls finding my sacred space. It felt like someone broke into my house and pooped on my couch.

More time in nature and with children. Less time on computers. More time home cooking and resting. Less time pushing and toiling.

I told Bali, stop with the constant getting things done. Let the roof cave in for goodness sake. It’s time to be in the moment and savoir it.

Now, it’s off to make the weeks bread and harvest some greens. I wish this life for everyone and it’s actually the cheapest and most wholesome way to live. It cost so little in money but the benefits reaped are abundant.

I gave up a good chunk of money when I let go of YT and Patreon. However, it feels like we have more money now. Part of that is due to all the stocking up we did when the money was flush, putting in a huge garden, and taking up free activities around our area. I made money selling things and then with careful hunting, found almost new furniture for very little pocket money. I now have time to forage for items we need, to economize with all the skills I’ve learned over the years, to stretch every dollar through careful considerations and shopping.

The largest wealth is time. Time to love my family. Time to nest. Time to enjoy working in the kitchen daily. Time to learn how to garden in a new zone, with new soil. Time to enjoy living.

We are blessed in this modern time. We are also cursed. It all depends on how you want to work it. Like the Cherokee tail of the two wolves; which wolf will you feed to thrive?

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Here is the article:https://urbanbalance.com/the-story-of-two-wolves/

So, yes, a lot of drama out there right now, we all know what is happening. But do we have to be a part of it?

I choose to focus on Mother Earth and doing my part for her and all the creatures. I choose to enjoy some modern conveniences but live a bit old fashioned and with out adding to the pollution and landfills. I plant trees and support nature conservatories. I am trying ever so hard to practice what I preach. In doing so I’m finding my way back to how life was before I became obsessed with working, producing content, living on media.

Give it a chance, maybe a month to detox. Eat fresh foods, walk outsides every evening when it cools down or in the early morning. Go back to playing card and board games and reading paper back novels. Work with your hands when you cook or garden. Brew coffee and fill the house with good music. Call a good friend and talk on the phone for a bit.

I’ll start posting budgeting advice tomorrow. See you then!

vondola

Delving into what matters and working hard.

26 July 2020 at 19:25

I made the mistake of listening to Bali share news from near and far. Then I skimmed YouTube and some news pages. What a mistake. Spats between countries, possible wars or war starting behavior happening, banks closed for now, weird stuff with trying to withdraw too much from banks…

Bali’s boss tried to withdraw a large amount from his bank and was told he would need a notarized letter. This is a new thing. It was only for $10K. Perhaps the banks don’t have the money and are making up strange rules to buy time?

People are being dramatic about banks reducing credit limits and denying credit. I say, smart move. The last thing we need are millions of unemployed Americans who are used to living on credit and above their means loading up the cards and then filing bankruptcy.

There is drama around the eviction moratorium being over.

Right now some people are choosing not to work because the unemployment is more than what they would normally make at a gas station, store, restaurant. It’s $600 extra per week with the normal $300. $900 a week. $3600 a month, wow. But that ends July 25th. There was a hefty stimulus we all received as well to help. And P EBT cards with a large amount of money per child to get through summer.

All this was clearly stated to be temporary and I think, if used properly, many people made it count and got through this challenge.

Annnd….then there were the ones that had fun or took a break and now they are in big trouble. They may have new gadgets and rest, but now they are looking at homelessness or a scramble for work. Perhaps they did try to make it work but didn’t have the wisdom or knowledge on how to make a buck stretch. Everyone has a different story to tell and some stories are valid but some are confusing to me. If you received unemployment during this time, why was the rent/mortgage not paid? And why didn’t some people hustle up a job at all the places that are desperate for worker bees? Working at McDonald’s is nobodies dream but being broke isn’t either.

I was passed by a fancy car the other day with a Dominoes delivery sign on top. The man in the car looked to be older, clean cut, definitely a former corporate guy…you can just tell. He smiled and waived cheerfully and I respected him deeply. He may have been downsized out of a job and he took up a career of delivering pizzas. He may even enjoy this job far more than the office routine.

We all know the story of The Grasshopper and the Ants. I did some research on this little fable and lesson. It was a 1934 animated short film produced by Walt Disney Productions. I found it on Wikipedia if you want the full scoop, I just want to share the plot:

The grasshopper is playing his fiddle, dancing and eating leaves. He notices some ants working hard collecting food. He laughs and calls an ant to him. He tells the ant that there is food on every tree and he sees no reason to work. He dances and sings that The world owes us a living. The ant begins to dance too. The queen ant arrives, carried in a sedan chair, and sees the ant playing instead of working. The ant notices the queen and immediately goes back to work. The angry queen warns the grasshopper that he will change his tune when winter comes. The grasshopper blithely dismisses the queen’s warning, saying that winter is a long way off.

Autumn passes and winter arrives. The grasshopper trudges through the snow, cold and hungry. He finds one withered leaf, but it blows away before he can eat it. Meanwhile, the ants are feasting on their stored food. The grasshopper knocks on their door and collapses. The ants carry him inside and warm and feed him. The queen ant approaches him. He begs to be allowed to stay. She tells him that only those who work may stay, and tells him to take his fiddle. Thinking that he is being dismissed, he starts to leave, but the queen tells him to play the fiddle. While the ants dance, he happily plays and sings I owe the world a living!

And that is all I will share on this subject. The fable is pretty clear.

So, we are struggling and it feels like a domino effect that is speeding up. I have no answers or solutions that I haven’t mentioned a hundred and fifty times before.

We probably won’t suffer because we work jobs nobody wants, such as at gas stations. We work lowly jobs for small wages and undignified titles of cashier. We work hard on the job, show up on time, stay honest, and take extra shifts, always front and center.

We are the ants. Even at home we work very hard.

We moved up here to the mountains right as the quarantine was put into effect. I’m almost positive we all had the corona virus in February and beginning of March. We were just recovering and making a huge move up the hill by truck and hand. We were going to settle in and just enjoy our new village. Plans to garden was put off until next year. Nothing big would happen this year.

But then I couldn’t find flour or toilet paper and I was hearing of essentials disappearing quickly. The shelter in became very serious and when I walked through our new town it was as if all the humans had vanished from the earth.

We immediately put in an orchard, a 1,200 sq ft. vegetable garden, and saved all the extra wood from two dead tree removals to chop, stack and save for a future wood stove. We began saving every penny and stocking our pantry in a whole new way I had never done. I literally researched what ingredients I needed to cook with that would last long periods in the pantry.

I think about back up plans. What happens if the car and truck break down and we can’t afford to fix them? What happens if the washer and dryer break down? What happens if the main bread winner loses a job? What happens if I never find flour or TP?

We researched what grows in our zone, we stocked up on seeds, found different flour that didn’t interest others as much as white or wheat. The bidet has been a wonderful addition to both bathrooms.

We live in town and can walk to the stores and libraries. My kids are home schooled so we don’t have to go to classes. We belong to a school co-op but aren’t required to show up. My husband has a main job far away and a part time job up here that he could walk, bike or bus to. We have a local bus that stops right across from our house.

Guess what else? We have wild pears (well, probably from old farms and pioneers), plums, apples, blackberries everywhere, and cherries. We could forage like crazy. Wild onions and dandelions as well.

At one point I had five sources of income but the priorities shifted and two sources were let go. We live well below our means so if we start tiring out from working too much, we can reduce the work load. We wrote up another budget, stocked up more, and now eat plenty of veggies from our garden and fill little buckets with black berries on our daily walks for desert.

I got off the internet for my sanity and the focus is on nurturing the family and our fruit and vegetable farm. More herbs were added and trees that were already here were pruned and fed to help them recover from years of neglect. We have old figs, pears, plumes, berries, walnuts. Lots of dandelions in our yard too but also lots of dogs and their gifts so I’m not too into eating anything off the ground that isn’t fenced in, if you know what I mean.

Bali works outside the home and then works on the land and house. I keep replanting, harvesting, cooking from scratch, finding ways to save money or sell things on Craigslist for extra cash. I don’t shop outside of groceries. I’m sewing like crazy, just mended Little Miss’s teddy bear. We have been taking the dogs and children on walks and hikes on long trails, bike rides, playing board games, watching documentaries on sustainable and environmental living.

I’m meeting neighbors and growing relationships on my street. When we have extras they go on the street to be given for free; clothes, vegetables, furnishings.

A new world IS coming and it can be beautiful, green, sustainable and a new economy where creatures, Mother Earth and all of us and thrive. We just need to change the way we live, shop, think…

How can I help?

vondola

Poverty consciousness and improving ones life.

22 July 2020 at 14:58
Photo by Tatiana on Pexels.com

When I had my channel on YouTube going strong, I would make all sorts of vlogs on living on less or being dirt poor and making it work. I would get those people that lived on practically nothing. Some were cheerful and took what worked for them from my talks. Some were down right bitter or resentful. They felt I had no clue what it was to live on practically nothing.

And they were right. I have been on the edge of poor since childhood but never suffered from it. I believe there are so many reasons people suffer from being poor or remain poor their whole lives. I have experimented through my life with being in debt, ignorance, not being smart with money, buying extravagances when I couldn’t afford groceries. It’s a mindset that has to be developed to get out of poverty.

Some reasons are out of a persons control such as a very impoverished country with a corrupt government and lack of education.

Here in the US we have so much government assistance and help. It’s not easy to get all of it but in many countries if you are disabled or widowed with children you are out of luck, you live in a shack made of tin and cardboard and search the garbage piles for food. This is truly a reality in many countries.

Here we can get food stamps, help with housing, shelters for temporary assistance, welfare, disability, food pantries, soup kitchens, waivers and money for free school such as BOG waivers and financial aid, work programs, and more. If a person really wants help and to climb up out of a situation they will have the support and the harder they work the more help they can get.

I see poverty everywhere. Used to be across the street from me. I worked in soup kitchens. I had friends that were dirt poor. I’ve seen every variety.

The two biggest factors are drugs/alcohol and mental illness. Those two diseases keep a person in place. They may never get up out of the streets due to these problems. Even with help.

Another lesser problem is the person that has poverty consciousness. They feel poor, focus on being poor, feel really sorry for how poor they are. They want things handed to them. They feel like victims of circumstances, but they have spent their whole lives making one bad choice after another. A bad choice today is harvested down the road. Make bad choice after bad choice and one day you wake up with a crumbling life and a wilty and sour harvest. These people feel resentful because they aren’t being given a better life, they want it handed to them. They feel deserving and therefore cheated.

I see it often and just don’t get it. I’m no therapist. But I see the welfare mother rant about the government assistance being cut and she now has to go back to work as if the government had an obligation to take care of her and her children. I had neighbors that would sit around outside all day smoking pot and complaining about life as their housing, food, medical, and bills were being paid by government assistance.

Now, some people fall on hard times and need this help and appreciate it, work with it, and get themselves up and running eventually. I’m not talking about those sorts of people.

I don’t know everyone’s story. I don’t know why a person is now struggling on disability, welfare, or has nothing. I see people that say they have nothing and are really struggling but they keep getting piercings and tattoos, smoking cigarettes (that are very, very expensive these days), buying pot or beer. Do I have sympathy? No.

I would use that tattoo, cigarette, 40 ouncer beer or pot money for things like seeds so I would have a garden to feed my children. Cigarettes are $5 to $10 a pack. Say you smoke a pack a week…most smokers smoke far more than that. Say 2 packs at $8 a pack? $16 a week with in a month that is $64. That would be 25 lbs of rice and 25 lbs of beans and 20 lbs of potatoes, along with some oil and salt. Instead of that tattoo you buy a fruit tree and seeds. You have hundreds of dollars of organic produce.

Most “poor” people have nicer cell phones than I’ve ever seen. That $200 or whatever the latest iPhone cost would stock a pantry. An eighth of marijuana cost something like $40 or more. That could pay for bus tickets.

My personal opinion is that if a person wants a better life they have to become a little extra clever and creative and make wise choices. Being sober and using extra money in smart ways would be number one on the list. Being a clean person and taking care of what you do have is number two. Plenty of gratitude for what you DO have. Being willing to work a little harder but also smarter. Work one job and live humbly while going back to school to get a career. If you work two jobs to have a better apartment that won’t get you far. You will just keep working those two jobs to exhaustion. Or be amazing at one job that has potential and get promoted.

I have seen people live in junky trailers and own fancy cars. I know their payments and insurance was around $500 or more. What I could do with that kind of extra cash to get ahead.

I’ve seen people live in descent homes and trash them, park cars on overgrown lawns. I’ve seen families that are very poor and living in a humble house with peeling paint but it looks adorable because the lawn is mowed, porch swept and loaded with pots of flowers and plants, chimes hanging from the eaves.

So, this is my advice to those that get resentful that we aren’t super poor and struggling and writing about how hard life is…

..get sober or stay sober, get help and/or support in every form, make every penny count, take care of your stuff, don’t “treat” yourself to tattoos and expensive cell phones and gadgets, take the bus or bike instead of buying a car, live in a shabby but cheap apartment/house and make it cute, use the money you save on the housing to grow food, go to school, save even a few dollars every month.

And become self sufficient and independent. Don’t expect anyone, not even your government to take care of you.

Now, on a more uplifting note. I’d like for everyone to read what Sally wrote me about her parents. This is a perfect example of self sufficiency and not relying on anyone. Her parents worked hard to create a good life for their children.

 I am 61 and the youngest of 7. We grew up in the country with my mother a housewife who didn’t even drive and my father a factory worker who bought a small piece of land, built his own house (with help from his brother) by using only cash by tearing down 3 small shacks and using every piece. He had 3 young children during that time and a pregnant wife along with a full time job. 

He turned that 2 and a half acres of land into a goldmine by laying it out just perfectly and cultivating every part (he was raised on a farm). We had a humongous garden which we canned and froze everything from. We had a root cellar for potatoes and onions and home canned jars of vegetables. We had chickens and beagle dogs. We had all kinds of berry bushes which made great cobblers. My father and brothers hunted rabbit and squirrel in the winter and fished in the summer. We had the biggest chest freezer I have ever seen full of food. We never ate out at a restaurant or had convenience food. No one came to our house without getting fed and sitting around the kitchen table to talk. 

We had a pony and a spring on our property that we cooled off in during the summer. No a/c. My father didn’t believe in having a credit card and paid for everything cash unless there was an  emergency such as needing new tires for the car unexpectedly. And even then he paid it off within a month. Of course we reused everything and my mother was great at mending everything. We only threw out clothes once they were unusable and always cut the buttons off them to reuse. She also was good with the sewing machine. 

I learned how to thrift shop very young and to make things my own by altering them to my taste. We didn’t waste anything including bread bags and aluminum foil. We had a wringer washer and a clothesline until I was in my teens when we got an electric dryer. I never heard my mother complain, but she dealt with depression. It was the worst when I was a teenager. And there just wasn’t many options for treatment back then.

Lots more I could tell, but in 1977 when I wanted to go to college I had to ask my father for his tax return so I could apply for financial aid. It’s the only time I ever knew how much he made and was stunned to find out his gross was only $7,000.00 that year. My mother later told me that was the most he had ever made in one year. It is still unbelievable that they raised 7 well adjusted, self-sufficient children into adulthood on that amount and never complained or even mentioned things being hard. And they were always there to help others in need. Even though we did not have money for extra curricular activities like some of the other kids, we never did without and had wonderful birthday and Christmas gifts, a warm home heated with coal and lots of food. I really enjoyed your youtube channel and am enjoying your blog. I’ve used a lot of the same methods of raising my 4 children, just in a different way, because it was second nature to me.

This was emailed to me by Sally. Thank you, Sally for this inspiring account of your parents. They were amazing.

And as for my husband and myself, this is how we have so much today. One small example is my laptop. I don’t have a fancy Apple computer or Canon camera. I have a free cell phone I got with my cheap MetroPC plan of $25 a month. I use the cell phone for photos for this blog and recorded videos for the channel. I have a refurbished $150 laptop some school threw out. Last year I made an income of $14,000 on this little $150 laptop and free cell phone. I made videos from all the self educating I do and shared positive inspiration. I wrote books and self published for free on KDP Select on Amazon.

I have loaded up on reusable and sustainable products when I had extra cash, such as a Berkey so we never buy water again. Cloth menstrual pads and diapers, reusable straws, steam mop, bag less vacuum. I use cloth napkins, old clothes as cleaning rags, knit dish clothes you all have gifted me with. I never, ever buy Swifter disposable mops or wipes, I NEVER buy paper towels, napkins, dishes, plastic utensils. I have saved hundreds in a year just NOT buying disposable things.

We garden like crazy to grow vegetables, fruit, herbs, even luffas for future sponges and body scrubbers. I’m going to try gourds as well to make bowls and cups. I’m always looking for the natural, sustainable way to live for less.

Many people cry poverty with their carts full of gallons of sugary juice, Ritz crackers and chips, paper plates and napkins. I’ve seen it on YouTube, big hauls with food stamps and it more than irritates me.

Rice, beans, potatoes and greens, rice, bananas, and water are healthy, feed and nourish little bodies and stretch a long way. But most don’t want to cook from scratch out of laziness. Besides, most people are addicted to those convenience foods loaded with sugar, fat and salt. It takes time and adjustment to cook and get used to healthy foods. I watched Little Miss, my foster daughter, go from a diet of McDonald’s, chocolate milk, and Lunchables to devouring sauteed mushrooms, greens from the garden, brown rice, and just plain water all day. It took time but she eats heartily now. It would also cost her mother far less to change to this eating. Those food stamps would buy three times the food if she goes from Lunchables to brown rice and salad fixings.

For people stuck in poverty it will take healing, adjusting slowly, exchanging one habit at a time. It will take constant inspiration and great changes to keep them motivated. But as they see the pay check make it all the way to the end of the month they will have hope. As they see their children begin to slim down and thrive on healthy food they will feel proud of what they are doing. As they see the savings account grow a few dollars each week and at the end of the year they look to see they saved a thousand dollars!

I will put a little more work into writing about changing ones life from nothing to something if anyone is interested. It’s important we all learn to thrive not just survive. Who the hell wants to survive, Lord, not me. I want us all to thrive.

So, stop crying and whining and let’s get going on change.

vondola

Finding fulfillment with less.

21 July 2020 at 10:26

I had one of our beautiful community members write me a detailed account of her parents and how they lived making everything, even a home, from scratch. She later was made aware of her father’s yearly earnings when needing his taxes for a college application. That had been a good year for him and it was an income of a bit over $500 a month for a large family. This was in the 60’s and 70’s but it must have been a tight income even back then for a family of 9 people.

I loved the story and thought about it as I worked in my garden this morning. I don’t want to tell her story. I’ll let her tell it if she likes. I’ve asked if I could copy it in this or the next blog.

The jist of living well while bringing home a small paycheck is growing a ton of your own produce and having a tiny mortgage or none at all. It would mean fixing up a real wreck of a house (or moving to an affordable area) and planting up every bit of yard you may be blessed with. Becoming a handyman/woman and a master gardener would behoove you in these coming times.

Bali and I like to go on Realtor.com and look up houses in our area. It is a twisted past time but it makes us happy to see that we got such a deal in such a charmed forest town. It renews the honeymoon and reinstates that feeling of being blessed.

Still, we have a mortgage and it is not tiny, but it is the same as the two bedroom apartments on our street and so I say, thank you!

As you all know, I gave up Patreon and will never return to it. I retired for a bit from YouTube. I may return in a few months but this fostering thing was kicking my rear for awhile and the scheduling for one child is upsurd. It’s becoming more routine and I’m not complicating things as much, but I need to focus on these crazy little people and my homemaking. I desperately want to write a book but I’m still too busy just running the house and garden.

We lost a lot of money with ending my dual stints. But we don’t spend much anymore either. Yes, I did buy a cheap (and new) couch on Craigslist. Yes, I did order some tshirts. But that was it. I used my gift card I earned from being an Amazon Affiliate to buy needs and wants. I used old paint from the other house to decorate this house. I found free furniture such as that flowery chair you all saw. I search for free stuff all the time.

Oh, and I finally sold something on Craigslist! It is a miracle to sell anything these days but I got a nice penny for some items I won’t be using. I offered them to others for free, had no takers and posted on CL for a small price. Weeks later someone called and paid cash.

This redeemed me with my husband. What makes him crazy is all the things I give away free. I may pretend to “try” and sell something by his request, but in the end I happily give it away. The goods always find worthy recipients. I’m a firm believer in sharing the wealth. And I can’t begin to list the treasures I have been gifted by others. I’m surrounded by gifts and treasures.

But right now I quit two jobs and need to economize. So, I find free stuff for our land and house that we need and I sell stuff for our cash jar.

I have had some of the most creative homemakers in our YouTube community and have learned from them, all of you, my Depression Era memoir books.

What I learn the most from reading about that era is that people just didn’t spend and shop back then. They had very little, took care of it and didn’t need much more than that. Our great grand parents and grand parents grew huge gardens and baked at home. The women got up early and worked hard. Wasn’t all dreamy, but it inspires me to put in an extra hour now and then, to rise a bit earlier and start my breads and plan out the day.

Our great grandparents didn’t shop and spend because there was no temptation back then. No malls or online shopping, no credit cards. There was a dry goods store, perhaps a bakery, local restaurant…shoe maker. They were also far too busy working the land they did have and tending to their homes and since everything had to be done by hand, there was little if no time to want and waste time dreaming.

We are blessed and so very cursed today. We have such great music and entertainment at the touch of a button and all sorts of mechanical assistance. Why, there is even a vacuum that does the work for you. We can drive everywhere and have goods shipped right to our door.

But in all this convenience we have lost touch with simple life. We feel depressed, disconnected, left wanting all the time, unsatisfied. We then order more things online, pour a glass of wine, emotional eat.

We have too much time and too many conveniences.

I started out this blog to write about how I’m working with our new budget with $1,200 less a month but I was out in the garden yesterday thinking about my neighbor who struggles with depression and wondering what it is that creates that for her.

I then started thinking of my past. I used to be very depressed. When I was young I thought of suicide all the time. I wasn’t quite there enough to carry it out, but the thought comforted me that I could leave if I truly wanted to. I then spent the next couple decades depressed and comforting myself with spending too much, working too much, drinking and smoking too much. Eating too much, having weird boyfriends and unhealthy friendships.

Here I am present day, despite spending half the day yelling at my kids, I’m happy. This morning I woke up so early it was still dark and I’m sitting on my new, firm couch typing, sipping coffee from my little NaNoWriMo mug I bought myself after a November writing victory. I am listening to the bird song, and it is thick in the mornings! The neighbors cat is pouncing and jumping about in his field looking as adorable as a young cat can look. I want to cry just a little because of the simple beauty of my surroundings. For some this would be a charming neighborhood in the city or a lovely desert sunrise. It’s different for us all.

But I think about how tragically depressed I was back then and how content I am now. Yes, it’s hugely due to having a stable marriage and healthy children, as that is what I wanted all along. But it is so much more than that and anyone can have it.

I don’t drink or smoke anymore and haven’t for years. My life is pretty wholesome. This is not normal for most people. I don’t emotionally over eat. I don’t take pills, not even aspirin. A lozenge is about it these days. My drugs are coffee…used to add cake but we even cut that from the list.

Our diet is clean and organic, filled with potatoes and veggies, rice and beans, salads and fruit. We spend our days busy with work and play and mostly outside. We walk deep in the forest and around town. We try to walk everywhere we can and because our area is so nice, walking is preferred to driving.

Doing things by hand connects us to the work, the earth, our homes, it creates a mindfulness to our days.

I’m not saying I don’t wish for things I don’t or can’t have. I’m not saying my marriage is perfect. I’m not saying I don’t wish for grandparents to send the kids to now and then. I live with a lot of people and pets now and that is a test in all human emotions.

And I love it. I love the noise, chaos, messes, mud, laughing, yelling, barking.

I get sick and tired of cleaning and laundry and baking bread and watering plants. But only once in awhile and I take a break and do something else or get super lazy for a day or two and watch other people clean and cook until I’m inspired again.

I was watching Minimalism for the fifth time as we have Netflix once more. I hear something new each time and I really get that Minimalism is not just about having a simple home, it’s about the whole life package. Removing ALL that doesn’t work or feel good to unearth the simple joys and embrace a slow, kind and lovely life.

I have rid myself of a list of media. I’m down to this blog and email. I have let go of friends and even family over the years. It was a relief with some and painful with others because we have that sense of “this is how it should be”. However, now I don’t miss anyone that is not present in our life today and everyday I meet new and interesting people, neighbors, future friends and family. As you let go of and rid your life of the old stuff, you make room for the new things that will fit your life better.

I have rid my family of schedules. Well, now with little miss we have a lot of schedules and people in our lives and I honestly don’t know how I feel about that. I called in this experience to foster a child and maybe adopt. It is an experience alright. Parts are helping us all grow and evolve. Parts are fine and I have liked everyone that we work with right now. But this is a job. I work for the county at this time and I have the county and all it’s various social workers in my home. Thank goodness I like all of them.

We home school because the daily grind of public school didn’t work for any of us.

And the biggest joy and fortune is that I’m able to stay home to tend to our nest, grow our food, educate our children (or get them what they desire to educate themselves). Being home is my biggest dream come true. To not commute or work with the public day in and day out. I worked with the public for 25 years, working three jobs, commuting, going to school at night. I got know where with it all, accomplished not a thing. Being home for the last 8 years and I’ve written and published 20 plus books, had this blog five years, started and built a small YouTube channel, raising two healthy and happy boys, three dogs, a husband, and now little miss.

But this is not for everyone either. But neither can the rat race be someones choice, right?

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” – Confucius

So, in the end, that is what I get from mimalism. Get rid of all that doesn’t feel right. Everything carries energy; furniture, photos, people. It can be as simple as cleaning out some drawers to letting go of a toxic relationship or leaving a job fearlessly.

I loved my channel and may return. I have nothing but fond thoughts. But it was beginning to drag on me. I had to leave it for a bit before I grew to detest it. I was running out of delight and fresh ideas. I was forcing it into pockets of time and neglecting my loved ones. It became a duty and a paycheck.

I have had to walk away from many jobs and situations and head into the unknown. I know what it’s like to wonder where the next dollar is coming from or if I’ll have shelter in the coming weeks. I have jumped and leaped into new lands simply on a hunch. And it was always worth it and I was always provided for.

So, here I sit, writing to all of you. I have a jar of cash, I’ve either given away or sold all that crowds our home. Arjan and I have replanted half the garden as of yesterday so I will be watering my seeds by hand over the next few days to coax up my little seedlings. I don’t know what the heck I’m doing and probably planted this crop too soon for the fall planting but I am addicted to planting and growing delicious produce.

I’m having my second cup of coffee. I was drinking from huge mugs and realized I just wasted half of it as it would get cold part way through and even microwaving the cup didn’t taste so good. Now I use a small cup and enjoy a hot beverage. The microwave is gone as well and I’m relearning to reheat without it.

Today I will make pretzels. We have spaghetti sauce left over for dipping and the kids have been begging for days. We will meet little miss’s casa worker as she’s coming for her first visit today.

As for fostering, I just don’t know. We are committed to this little girl and her journey, but this job is a full one. My calendar is full of her appointments. We have visitors weekly for her. Appointments, phone calls, meetings, social workers, health workers, foster workers, drivers. It’s shocking how many people are involved just for one child.

I don’t know if she will be reunited with her parent or need to be adopted. That is the great unknown here. This will probably be our one and only job, but it could go on for years or become permanent. I have to re surrender to this situation daily. Sometimes I enjoy it, sometimes I want to turn back the clock and never have gotten involved. But we needed this experience. Not so much Bali, he was clear about things and now just goes with it. The boys and I needed this for many different reasons; growth, compassion, patience, tolerance, to be uncomfortable, to appreciate the life we have, to serve another person.

Now the trick is incorporating the extra family member into the fold and finding balance with all these new routines. Finding the blessings and gifts in it all. And there are many.

In the meantime I will read of our great grandmothers and work toward being in the moment, building a life for us with our hands and hearts, and choosing to be the light and inspiration that we all need so desperately right now.

vondola

Get rid of the hustle and homeschooling the natural way.

19 July 2020 at 14:40
Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Pexels.com

I was asked to blog about homeschooling as it is a big question right now on many parent and guardian’s minds. For some of you, homeschooling seems to be the only option with things closing up again. Some schools will be open but with restrictions and I have no idea how they will do all the distancing with crowded schools.

Some of you had to homeschool toward the end of Spring and the family is better for it. Some of you are itching to drop those kids off at the schools front gates. I get it. My kids make me crazy sometimes and I wonder if I’ve made the right choice in homeschooling…for me and them.

When Arjan was not even 3 years old and Sam was a baby nursing and waddling about, I started reading stacks of books on homeschooling, homeschooling styles, and family stories of homeschooling experiences. I watched documentaries (as you know that is my thing) and Ted Talks. I was so uneasy with putting them in a public school, only because my personal experience was dreary and dismal.

This is only my opinion and experience. As I always say, “take what feels good and right and leave the rest!” We all have a different story and situation. Find what works for you and your children.

My boys go to a co-op two days a week. They study art, music, Shakespeare, Greek mythology, classics, and new styles of tapping into creativity and learning. They play outside by a tiny creek with a huge Tent and tire swing, forest, and nature. They garden. They learn about community and compassion, tolerance, patience, kindness.

They have a forest school one day a week as well, where they learn about Mother Earth and how to navigate and respect all that is nature. They learn some survival skills and how to read the forest.

At home I have put about all sorts of educational tools. There is a Chrome book for research, we watch documentaries, science and history videos, and nature shows. There are stacks of books from classic fairy tales, childrens Bible, Greek Mythology, educational, dinosaur (of course) and on and on. We order 30 to 45 books from the library each week on everything. We have magna tiles, blocks, railroads, art supplies, sometimes blocks of clay.

Outside we have a garden and orchard, pots of seedlings, bikes, dinosaurs and their habitats, Godzilla’s hanging about.

We take long walks, pick black berries. We read, watch movies, PBS, documentaries and so on.

I have begun to lean more and more toward Free Range/Unschooling because my children are so curious and enquisitive. They are, literally, educating themselves daily. When I stand back but put the tools all around and in easy reach with some monitoring, my kids thrive and learn more than 7 hours a day/5 days a week in a class could ever teach them.

Every situation is educational; cooking and baking (measurements, ingredients, reading, temperatures) gardening (soil, compost, how seeds turn into plants), going out to eat (manners, tipping the waitress, math), shopping (math, menu planning, reading ingredients, learning about organics, GMO’s). When we drive in the car I never let the boys watch a cell phone or iPad. We looked at the scenery, listened to music and talked and still do. We eat at the table and talk.

Music, books and talking is far more important than most realize.

Sam is 6 and is on his second year of kindergarten on purpose. I’m following a Finland educational style. Finland has some of the most intelligent and successful students. They revamped their educational system some 40 years back. It used to be identical to ours but wasn’t working…as ours isn’t working, and they immediately tried a new path. Kids do kindergarten two years. They start learning math and reading at 7 years old. Until then the focus is on learning through play and being out in nature as much as possible. They learn about their feelings and simple life, community, friendship, and tape into the deep wells of creativity and imagination. Music, baking, playing outdoors, fair tales, these are what help shape their first 7 years.

In Finland they don’t have homework, school days are short and there is plenty of outdoor recess time. Children can’t naturally sit for hours listening. They have boundless energy and need to run, jump, climb and explore.

Children love to learn but they are often forced to learn boring facts and figures, dates and states. They are forced to learn about things that don’t interest them and then memorize it enough to pass a test. This earns the school money for high test scores but the children are becoming more miserable and stressed as the years go on. Suicide among children and teenagers is very high and increasing yearly. And yes, I link it to our educational system along with social media and worldly stresses, unhappy parents and lack of nature.

Where I live many of the children are home schooled or schooling is changing for a more wholesome approach. The kids around here are healthy physically from organic foods and forest living. They are more calm and happy and polite then the average teenager. They are confident.

I don’t force my kids to sit at a desk. They don’t need a desk. They can lay on the beds or floor, sit at the kitchen table while I cook. They do have some school books. I do put some attention on math and spelling. Later we will focus more on writing structure. But that is it. They are so interested in history, science, nature, reading, and now writing for the eldest that I don’t have to push that. I just order what ever books they desire or find something online that will answer the list of questions they have.

Sam is at an age most kids know their numbers and alphabet. He is lazy with both. However, he does know the history of Tesla, a lot about science, gravity, and measurements. He knows how to do some cooking, menu planning is his specialty, and he is great at shopping for healthy and new foods. He is well educated on Godzilla movies, mostly the older ones, and knows who the directors and music producers are. How many six year olds know the proper Japanese names of artist in film and music scores and all their works? May not seem important but what if my Sammy becomes a director or producer himself one day? He has already made many Godzilla movies in our living room.

I want my children to be healthy and happy. I want them to find their passions. I don’t give a bleep if they know all 45 presidents. I don’t give a toot if they know the capitals. I can’t remember any of that and I’ve never been in a situation where it was imperative to list these facts.

I home school myself these days as well and since I follow my passions, I have learned more than I ever did in all my years of school and college.

I have chosen to leave the “worldly ways” to others and to lead my beautiful family to greener pastures. I see that things aren’t working in several areas so we are trying new ways, just as Finland redid the school system and now they are thriving.

What I don’t get is how we all see things aren’t working with the schools, the government, and other areas of society but we aren’t looking to other countries to see what they are doing that is working well for them. We could all learn from each other globally and have amazing societies filled with happy people. But we keep dragging along painfully, miserably.

So, as an individual family I began to look to countries and societies that had found a new way to educate or eat or farm or whatever, and we follow them.

We are building our own world that is flourishing. It is not mainstream and we are not hip or cool. But we wake up happy and go to bed at night satisfied. Not many people can say that these days.

I have had friends and family roll eyes and raise eyebrows on my perceived ignorance or “hippy” ways. I know I’ve irritated a few people.

Ah but now we are here in paradise. Our own self created paradise. The boys are outside right now playing out some new weird film, Siren Head (don’t ask) and riding bikes. Little miss is playing with the wooden town and railroad set here next to me. I’m blogging and watching Pride and Prejudice, Bali is gardening and finishing up my painting of the porch railing (before and after photos coming soon). We are surrounded by trees and everywhere we walk there are blackberries to snack on. We have no stress.

No stress! Who has NO stress these days? How could this be?

Bali works at a gas station for $15 an hour. I am a housewife. I do write books and self publish and that helps. We own two properties. We eat well, live well. How is all this? Why, we aren’t even middle class, we are barely at blue collar working class level.

We don’t watch the news, we have no Facebook, Twitter Twat, and I retired for a time from YouTube. We only know tid bits of what might be useful to know. We are wise enough to stock the pantry and plant orchards and gardens. We have a quarter acre to develop further for farming if life calls for it.

We have two properties because we bought inexpensive, fixer uppers that no one wanted. We saw the diamond in the ugly parts. We do things by hand. We teach ourselves to live differently. We barely spend money or go out. We cook at home, make being at home delicious so there is no need to go run around. When we do run around we do it by foot.

And with all that came homeschooling because it’s natural and flows with our easy living. If you let go and surrender to the natural process, let your children find their joyful passions, it becomes a very fun and enjoyable journey for everyone. You do not need to replicate the school system (and should avoid it at all cost), you do not need vast curriculum’s (the library and internet will serve them well). You do not need desk and chairs (the kitchen table, their beds or the living room floor does the job).

Simplify life.

vondola

What I do on my down time.

18 July 2020 at 19:48

I took a couple days to slow down and relax. I’ve been craving gluten faux steaks so out came the New Farm Vegetarian cookbook and on went the Cat Stevens and Fleetwood Mac. I channeled my hippy spirit and made the best gluten steaks with marinated onions and mushrooms ever! They were so good I over indulged and felt a bit ill the next day.

I started up Netflix again to watch the Down To Earth series with Zac Efron and Darin Olien. And now I’m sucked in to another series Sweet Magnolias. Ah, I haven’t been hooked on a drama series in awhile. Life has been work, work, more work, and then repeat. I’m purposely taking the time to make and eat delicious foods and watch movies and dramas as often as possible. I play them in the kitchen as I boil and grill away. The things I watch have to be clean as my three little people love to hang out in the kitchen with me. They want to eat, eat, eat and watch whatever Mama Kate is watching. When there is a kissing scene I say, “look away!” and they all cover there eyes until I say the coast is clear.

Molly and I are having the best evening walks. As soon as it’s cool and shady enough we eagerly get our walking shoes and leash (my shoes, her leash, if that wasn’t clear) to escape the family life and wander the village and trails. We meet fun people and other small dogs. Molly has been stuck with two large, old farts for dogs that want nothing to do with her but now she’s meeting eager Chihuahuas and an old Pug named May Ling. At first she was very hesitant wondering what this small creature was. Is it a large cat? A rodent? Possum? But now she is just as eager to make friends. I laugh, cackle and chat with middle aged women and their little dogs. We have found another tribe. We are on tour each evening.

Then I had enough rest and all that tan that is my house was bothering me. As you know, I crave color like a man in the desert craves water. I feel relief as I begin spreading colorful paint on the walls. My soul perks up with the bright yellows and blues.

Now, this is the before. I don’t have an after yet, but soon. I have 5 gallons of blue paint from the old house and I began the great project of painting the railing and trim.

Molly is useless with this project. She sleeps the whole time in preparation for our nightly tour and she’s managed to get paint all over her head and ears.

Today I’m done with my part and after Bali has his big Saturday afternoon nap, he will finish the parts I can’t reach and all the tiny detail I can’t be trusted with because I can’t stay within the lines.

The handyman is coming out here sometime today (we hope or the hunt will begin) to see his workers shody work on, what should have been, my lovely bamboo floors. I’m hoping they fix the floors as they bother me something fierce.

The last project is to paint my bedroom a light, light blue. Not as dark as the boys. I will have gallons of blue left over and a gallon of white. It literally takes only half a cup of blue with a gallon of white to make an egg shell blue. My bed makes this project a pain. It’s so big and heavy now with all sorts of little legs under it. I’ll need to mentally prepare for that one.

The garden, I need a cool, early morning to get out there and pull up plants that are spent and replant my mid summer crop. I have seedlings on the front porch steps in cans ready to be transplanted.

I’ve been playing a lot in the kitchen making tortillas, plant based dishes, Indian foods…it seems all four burners are going these days. Cooking is therapeutic. Movies are therapeutic. Long walks with my little companion are therapeutic.

I’m feeling very balanced these days. My kids and husband get on my nerves something fierce at times but I’m learning and finding what makes me happy and then I am calmer, more patient.

I’ve been working just too hard for years now. Writing books, blogs, starting and building a YouTube channel, raising and homeschooling kids, trying to learn all about homesteading, homeschooling myself, cooking from scratch, baking, gardening, all the cleaning, finding a new home, searching and making deals, saving like a crazy person, then moving…oh boy, and we know how that has been with fixing up an old house, painting, putting in a huge garden, hauling and stacking piles of wood from removing two dead trees in the front yard, more painting, planting an orchard, unloading truck loads of manure, shoveling piles of compost and leaves…

Tired yet?

So, yes, I’m still painting because I can’t sit comfortably in an all white house or sit on an all tan porch.

I’m cooking a lot, but I sometimes buy the cheap frozen pizzas at Grocery Outlet, however, I enjoy cooking with a movie playing on the counter. I’m just keeping thing simple.

Since purging the house and redoing my living room, I find housecleaning much quicker and easier. Setting goals and even setting timers on the stove clock has made chores a breeze. I pick a few items on my list and only 2 hours are allotted for the days work. With a freshly brewed espresso and small time window, I’m very inspired to see just how much I can do within this time frame.

Of course, it doesn’t really end there. Morning bed making, evening dishes, a daily sweeping of the kitchen/dinning room. Those aren’t included in the 2 hours. Time challenges are for big house cleaning projects. Laundry doesn’t fall in this category either as it is my time to sit on the couch and watch documentaries. I tell myself that I’m mixing housework and education. Multi tasking, you see.

I don’t nap. It would be good for me, but I can’t relax that much with children around. They would join me and I would become a climbing thing very soon. I will sit and read one of my homemaking books or Depression Era books such as Tough Times, Strong Women or Mrs. Sharon White’s books. These are small little reads, so no large commitment.

Please share what you have purged lately, a new dish you love, or any good movies, books, documentaries?

vondola

Our homes…our dollhouse.

16 July 2020 at 13:21

One of you sent me an email saying that my writing seems to have improved since I went on temporary retirement from YouTube. It was good to receive this feed back. One of the reasons I needed to retire my media for now is that I felt my writing was really suffering.

If our energies are dispersed here and there and everywhere, our efforts are all watered down. Nothing we do will be spectacular, just mediocre. To thrive we must choose where to focus and focus with all our love and attentions.

I have a big family now, it feels big for me. Three dogs, three children and a husband. My house is big for me. It’s only 1,100 sq ft and for most that is tiny here in the US where houses are now an average of 2,500 sq ft. But for me it has two bathrooms and three bedrooms, a pantry/laundry room and large porch. I have a big garden. it is 1200 sq ft. Most homesteaders have vast fields and green houses, piles of animals and a lot going on.

I’m happy with small amounts of things. I’m pleased with a small dollhouse and garden. Although I love my dogs, I have too many. I love my children, however, adding one more has been a challenge.

In the US it is supersize me all over the place. Large house, large SUV, large family, big homesteads, huge shopping hauls, huge batch cooking. I noticed that the most popular channels and videos on YouTube where all about HUGE this and BIG that. It seemed people were or are obsessed with large amounts of everything.

I find too much house, too big of a family, too many responsibilities, too full calendar, too many animals, and so on to be a HUGE drain on energy and life force.

When you have a smaller house it’s easier to clean and tend to. A small garden produces a lot but is enjoyable as it doesn’t take that much work.

I’m also older. Almost 50 people! So, less is more at my age. I sit here this morning writing, drinking coffee, preparing for a busy day. There are three social workers coming today. One for little miss and two for me. They are switching out the social worker for the parents and I will meet her today. I’ve enjoyed all of them so this is no big deal but I have a full calendar these days. Another thing I’m not super fond of but it keeps me busy, right?

I sent photos of the flooring to Bali this morning. I have decided that I want those handy men to get their tails back here and fix my floors. They didn’t do it right and I have large gaps everywhere and my beautiful bamboo floors look like a juvenile did the work. I get irritated every time I see them.

As you all know I’m purging and putting my house right. Along with that is assessing what needs more work. So, the floors weigh on me, thus they need fixing.

I have gotten rid of so much stuff that weighs on me and I feel better each day. I can see how minimalism becomes a bit addictive itself so I’m careful to maybe put an item out side for a bit or store it before I make the final verdict.

Bali picked up a free chair I found on Craigslist lastnight. It originally cost the man $1200! But a cat scratched a bit in the back and he decided to give it away for free. It is very clean and in fabulous condition, despite the scratch in the back.

Now my living room is complete and I just adore it. $125 dollars to redo it and my old furnishings have all been picked up and are being enjoyed by others. This was my living room before the redo. It was filled with over sized furniture. I got rid of the huge L shaped couch, big recliner you can barely see in this photo, the red velvet chair, and moved the cabinet into the boys room. This was the room before the painting as well.

And now for little miss’s room. She and I read plenty of books at night and one of her favorites (was Sam’s as well, surprisingly), is Fancy Nancy. After reading it a few times she decided her room wasn’t fancy enough. She has been such a good little one, thriving, listening, potty training quickly, eating all sorts of foods that I’m sure are very foreign to her but with out complaint. I suggested we spruce the room up the next day.

She and I took a little walk to the thrift store down the street and found bags of costume jewelry for .50 cents and flip flops for a dollar. We found a pink lamp for 50% off. We came home and changed out her bedding and curtains, rehung paintings, and I rustled up what ever I could find in the house to make her room more cozy.

I’m still playing with the kitchen. It is busy and always will be but that island…I love it and at the same time want to be rid of it, however, it was $600 and hours of Bali and I cursing and bickering to figure out how to assemble that thing. I may just move it to my pantry.

And now I have piles of blankets and comforters to find a storage place for.

Every morning I’ve taken to having a big mug of coffee, showering, lotion, dress in my “uniform” of stretch pants and t shirt, and then set the timer for 2 hours, get a huge jar of cold water, more coffee, a bowl of grapes or fruit and work on the house cleaning. Each day I have a few goals in mind. Yesterday was to clean the kitchen deeply, scour the bathroom deeply, and put away piles of laundry I just kept moving about daily. Done, done, and done.

Today was floors and that took a good hour and half as I needed to clean up and organize toys and I swept, vacuumed, mopped, and steamed using extra Mr. Clean cleaner today. With three hairy dogs and children that play in mud and dirt all day the floors need extra work weekly.

Tomorrow’s goal is working in the garden early before it’s hot and making gluten for faux steaks with sauteed mushrooms and onions. I can’t wait!

Now that my house is finally in order and purged pretty well, I will now have time to get back to writing books and reading my Amish fiction. With the three children, the wonderful gift is when they play well outside most of the day. I thank God for that gift now and then. Sometimes it is a challenge having three, one being a girl, sometimes it keeps them all busy and happy with each other because of the differences that come into balance now and then.

I still take my long walks through the village and trails, but I now take my Molly with me. She and I need to lose weight so we don’t suffer grand back problems. She loves the walks and if she wouldn’t stop to smell every single dingle thing, we might get more of a brisk walk in. I don’t go as far but pretty far and if needs be, I carry her the rest of the way over my should like a small sack of potatoes.

Bali takes the big dogs to our little forest for a little venture as they are old now and don’t need as much exercise.

Life is good. It’s inexpensive, simple, and sweet. You don’t need much and the less you have the more you find simple pleasures that will become your favorite pleasures.

California is shutting down again, but we have banana smoothies, walks with my Chaweenie (a local villager informed me I have a chaweenie last night), I have my 1,100 sq ft dollhouse to play with and the library is still doing curbside, hallelujah. We have new documentaries and still plenty of greens in the garden. This is all we need these days to feel wealthy and abundant.

vondola

Can homemaking bring peace of mind?

14 July 2020 at 12:51

I spent this morning in my pajama’s with a mug of creamy coffee, outside watering my many fruit trees. I watered them deeply for the week, admired how green and healthy they look, how the apricot came back to life when I thought it was a goner. Bali has taught me a big lesson in not just throwing out plants or trees the minute I think they are dead. He always encourages me to give them a couple seasons and tend to them lovelingly. All sorts of plants, and now this tree, have revived and look wonderful after all the watering, trimming back the dead parts, feeding, compost, fixing the soil.

Today was a big baking and cooking day. I harvested a big bowl of green beans and squash in the garden and set about making a batch of bread by hand and another batch of French bread in the bread maker.

I’m mostly plant based, however, I love foods like pizza and bologna sandwiches. I have learned how to veganize many dishes over the years when I’m in my vegetarian phase. One thing I also learned was to cook batches ahead of time. This is to make sure you succeed by having good food around and it saves thousands of dollars over the year when you make your own vegan foods from scratch. Alternative vegan food is a luxury, an expensive one at that. I do stock up when I find big sales at the Grocery Outlet.

I made vegan baloney (spelled incorrectly on purpose). Here is the link. I love this woman’s recipes. I’ve made her gooey cheese and this baloney is delicious with mayo and white bread.

https://itdoesnttastelikechicken.com/vegan-baloney-bologna/

Along with that we had sauteed veggies from the garden, Portobello mushrooms (a big hit with everyone except Arjan, even little miss loved it and she is a junk foodie). I added buckwheat to my wheat loaf and made French bread for the baloney later tonight. There is a big batch of fresh salad and steamed brown rice.

I played with the living room a little bit. I’m loving the simpleness of my house right now.

I am picking up a cute, flowery chair today that is clean and free. There is some wealth in this area so I often find almost new furnishings that are being giving away for cheap or free.

I’m really grateful for this life we have worked so hard for. I love the sound track from the movie The Greatest Showman, all the songs are about dreams and not giving up on them until you are victorious. The one song A Million Dreams, was my motivating theme song.

Cause every night I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
Our million dreams for the world we’re gonna make

I used to listen to the soundtrack all the time when we lived in the valley. We would take trips up here for the boys school co-op and to hike or shop at the health food store. I had this dream of being up here with my family. I could see my mountain home, the boys running in the forest, the dogs having some land to chase squirrels and roam, Bali and I having a huge garden, having friends and neighbors that were like minded, living in these charming towns, and having peace.

We had spent the last 5 years living in cement covered, over crowded cities and towns with very little natural beauty. You had to go to a man made park for some greenery and had to drive on highways to get anywhere. I missed the small one horse towns, the endless forest, the old neighborhoods with history.

When we purchased Arthur (the house we live in now), I envisioned our huge garden out back, and days of baking with the boys playing outside all day.

And yesterday I was in the kitchen mixing and kneading, simmering and sauteing. I looked out the pantry door that was propped open to let in the summer light and fresh air. There is my huge vegetable garden and the kids were outside playing and eating a huge plate of watermelon. In the evening we walked to a little bit of forest down the road after our supper to pick blackberries for our treat. Sam says the forest calms him and they both enjoy the beauty and magic of our new surroundings. I’m grateful they appreciate it. Forest living isn’t for everyone, but for us it is the breath of life.

I think of the state of the world today and it can get one down. My friend told me about a wonderful documentary series on Netflix that Bali and I are hooked on right now. I renewed my Netflix just to see it. Down To Earth with Zach Efron and Darin Olien. They travel the world to find sustainable practices that could change the way we live to combat climate change and reduce or rid ourselves of waste and plastic over use. Some countries have found solutions to plastic, clean water, green energy and much more and at levels we have never heard of. New ways of schooling children in Costa Rica, free water in France, Ice Lands 100% green energy…it is so positive and gives one faith that it will work out in the end if we all work together. There are SO many solutions it’s thrilling!

But for us, individually, I truly feel the solution to our depressions and stresses is very simple and straightforward (although so many would love to disagree and make it complicated).

First, find the positives in the world, find all that is happening to change the world for the best and get rid of the news forever. The news is not a solution or won’t help you. It may inform you but of what? Tragedy, crime, war. Find news about solutions, grass roots groups making changes.

Then join them. Donate your time, services, or money. Service fills the soul.

Next, become the solution right at home. Pay attention to were you put your money, what companies you support. Support local shops, farms and so on. Recycle, reuse, repurpose. Be green in every way you can. Educate yourself on things, such as plastic and how it is hardly recycled anymore and most of it is winding up in the ocean. We go through a million water bottles a second. Horrifying right? So switch to getting a Berkey or Pur filter. Grow food, sew up that hole in your pants. It will save money and the environment.

Find ways to reduce stress, work less, enjoy life more. Walk, walk, walk. On Down To Earth there looked into a study about Centenarians, people that live over 100 years. Some of it was genetic and much of it was environment. They worked physically, gardened, walked a lot, and ate a low protein, high carb diet. They lived a low stress life and the focus was on simple life and family.

Live a wholesome, clean, right life. Be outdoors as much as possible, be a part of your community. Be sober. A mind polluted with drug or drink is never going to be a happy one.

I truly, truly believe that most depression, not all, most is from all the media. It’s toxic, creates dissatisfaction with ones life, creates fear of the future and the world, and is beyond negative. It’s also addicting and an energy suck.

Then the foods we eat loaded with sugar, fat, chemicals, toxins. The high protein and low carb diets that starve our brains. We are sick and have become desensitized to it. We just feel sad, irritable and exhausted all the time. Food makes the mood. You don’t learn this until you get on a clean diet and it all clears up, the tiredness, foggy brain, blues.

All the stress, over work, driving all the time, trying to compete with others.

Addictions to anything wears on the soul and moods. One can NOT be happy when weighted with an addiction. Empowerment comes from overcoming the bad habits and addictions.

You can live in the city and find your happy place. You can live in Suburbia and live a Zen life.

As for homemaking, yes, I feel it is very healing and fulfilling for me, at least. Cleaning my home rights my mind. Making food from scratch and from our garden fulfills me on so many levels. Being with my children every day and letting them run wild, enjoy their childhood, and home schooling in a free range style is producing healthy, confident, happy children that don’t have the problems I’m hearing about with other children.

Each day I work toward making the home and life more simple and peaceful. It is getting easier to run, keep clean, and makes more time for being in the forest and time for kids and dogs.

I wish for everyone a life that they love. That is my wish for you all. Take time to think about it. Start getting rid of what doesn’t work or feel good or right. Don’t question it too much, your spirit will lead you into a better life. Ask yourself what you need to be happy. What does a good life look like?

And it my not be about baking bread or gardening or living in the forest…or being home. Only you know what you need to heal and thrive.

vondola

$125 living room remodel. Fresh and healthy groceries.

13 July 2020 at 10:48

I hope you all had good weekends?! Fun and/or productive. My weekends are probably the most productive when Bali is home. I’m all for going out to dinner and movies and family gatherings but with this Covid scaring everyone, there is no visiting at this juncture. Our theater is open and it’s an old charming one on main street. However, I now have three children and going out at all just doesn’t seem fun. Either it’s like wrangling wild puppies or if you leave them behind they cry.

Oh sure, I escape here and there these days. I take looonnng walks through the village in the evenings, up and down those hills. I take just one child shopping or on an errand, rotating children. I love being with one child at a time. Two or three and you need reinforcements.

Mostly we have movies and popcorn almost every evening here. We do pizza nights. We find ways to have fun and play during the day. We have books from the library, thank the heavens it’s doing curb side pick up. We have art supplies, I have my writing, the boys have their imaginations and toys, little miss follows them and me about and loves to help cook and tidy or garden. We stay busy in good ways.

The other night the boys made popcorn in our air popper. We disposed of our old microwave so they were stumped on how to melt butter. I was resting on the couch feeling quite lazy so I gave instructions from my lounging position on how to melt the butter in the little dish on TOP of the popcorn maker. Soon Sam came running to me with a story of butter splattering and shooting up and about. I knew then instructions hadn’t been followed.

Sure enough, they had added the butter with the kernels inside the machine, thus making a mess of the machine. I washed it and, not wanting to electrocute myself, said, “Boys, I’m going to show you how we did it in the olden days!” and out came the bean pot and a little sauce pan. I hadn’t made popcorn like this for a zillion years but it turned out fantastic! Why, it was the best popcorn. The kids were fascinated with the process and raved about how much better it was this way.

We made a family decision to give the air popper away that night. And it turns out we have a friend visiting soon from a far away town who needs and wants an air popper as hers went kapoots recently as well, but they are not as into the “old way”. It’s the olive oil, that’s what makes it so very delicious.

Now, I’m still on my purging journey and the biggest obstacle has been that darn couch. I just detest the thing at this point. So, I went on a mission this weekend to rid the house of it and have something more suitable.

I wanted to do it for free. That is a challenge, as you know.

I could bore you silly with a long and detailed story but I won’t. What happened was I found a free green leather couch in a far off land. Bali agreed to go get it the next day. I then proceeded to spend the evening washing all the covers to our cream couch to make it look decent enough to lure someone in. It would be for free, but it was looking pretty grungy despite all my coverings. I washed and bleached and put it up on Craisglist.

Re stuffing those cushions is a pain in the arse, let me tell you. The next day we sprayed bleach and washed the frame part as it was really showing dirt. By the time we were done it looked pretty good. We received only one call but it was a taker. I was so relieved. This was a couch given to us and so it’s had two families and many years of good use, now we will move it on to another family for many more years of use and not add to the landfill. I was so worried we wouldn’t be able to rid ourselves and it cost $200 to have it removed. So, saved the money, the landfill, repurposed, blessed another family…mission accomplished.

As for the free couch, Bali wasn’t so into it and not so thrilled with a long drive so I canceled and we began our search on Craigslist. We emailed a few prospects but by the end of the day we turned to Wayfair and put in an order for a nice couch. It was $347. Just as I ordered it a call came in on one of the Craigslist couches. I thanked them but we had just ordered a couch. Upon hanging up I realized the call was on a very nice and new looking couch in town. I looked up Wayfair to see if I could cancel and lo and behold I had not completed the order. I never hit the “Process Order” button! So, I deleted my order and called this man back.

This is the hideousness under the couch, one of many reasons I detested the the thing, I couldn’t get under there easily to clean.

I vacuumed and washed everything. Even vacuumed the underside of the rug.

So, we picked up the couch with in the hour and it was new! Only $125 for a new and very sturdy and nice couch. Meet the new couch.

I’ll post another photo next time. I need to play with it a bit and I have a really cute free overstuffed, flowery chair I found and I’m picking up Tuesday afternoon.

So, there you have it. Couch and broken microwave gone, new and smaller couch appear.

Did some shopping yesterday as well, between my scavenging. I love the Grocery Outlet here. So many organics and vegan alternative. I spent $110. We buy pretty simple stuff these days but if I find pantry items to continue stocking up or vegan alternatives at hugely reduced prices, I stock up.

So, that was Sunday. Shopping for fun dinner delights, and replacing that couch. I’m feeling lighter and more pleased with my home every day.

As for the no spend year…that isn’t working out so well. I gave up around $1,000 and some times more, in income and started shopping! No, not really so much. I had to replace the living room and I’m thrilled with this couch. What a deal. I am searching the memory and I believe that is all I’ve spent. We stocked the pantry, that was valid. Bought a new/used couch for cheap. To me that was valid. I am purchasing a few more cheap T shirts from my new favorite company because I just purged my wardrobe. I will be on the look out for a nice lamp and a couple other living room pieces I have in mind but I will take the time to forage on Craigslist. I can’t believe the free things I’m finding.

I have some games for the family, a couple toys and some beauty products in my cart on Amazon but I just wait for my money on my gift card to add up from doing Amazon Affiliate and then I treat the whole family to gifts now and then.

Life is a balance of purging and creating, times of extreme saving and times to splurge and enjoy. It’s how you purge and create or how you splurge. I used to splurge on things like movies or meals, things that were enjoyed for a moment. Now I splurge on games and toys that last for years and years. Books that I reread for inspiration, well made clothing, quality furnishings people are getting rid of for nothing.

It’s a lot of searching, hunting, foraging, pecking and scratching. That is how you stretch the budget and save money but still have nice things and enjoy life.

vondola

A season for everything. Getting our house in order.

10 July 2020 at 20:31

Today I worked on my pantries and watched old videos from Brothers Green Eats (now Pro Home Cooks and You Enjoy Life). How I love the videos from Mikes’ brother. I have linked these videos a hundred times in blogs, books and my videos but now is the time for repetition.

Mikes’ brother (can’t remember the name right now and too lazy to look it up) did a whole series on what you can buy and cook for the price of a weeks worth of lattes or a Dominoes pizza, or Japanese take out and so on. These were so inspiring and big eye openers. Here are my two favorites.

It is mind boggling how many groceries you can buy and all the foods you can cook for the price of 7 lattes or the price of one pepperoni pizza. We waste huge amounts of money on restaurant food, and not even quality food. This is one reason people stay broke, not poor but broke, all the time. “Where does all the money go?” They ask. To Starbucks, Dominoes, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s and so on.

Now is the season to become very conservative and learn all the tricks you can. I’ve been working the budget, organizing the pantry and watching my favorites for inspiration.

I’m in heaven, I can watch my beloved channels again, because I’m a viewer now!! I may return in a season or two…three…who knows, but right now I’m enjoying being like all of you, a student and observer.

I’m enjoying this time to get my house in order and focus on those crazy kids. I’m telling you, dealing with these ages (3, 6, and 8) is like tending to the senile one minute or people who have had too many cocktails and have become belligerent. I should have a doctorate in child psychology by now.

Yesterday I was spent and dinner was mashed avocados on bread the bread maker made with out any help from me. I lay on my bed and watched Much Ado About Nothing with Emma Thompson. With anything Shakespeare you have to strain your ears and brain to comprehend what they are saying, but I enjoy it fully.

Today I was renewed, awoke at close to 5:ish AM and sipped coffee in bed whilst watching my old favorites of High Carb Hannah and then on to Brothers Green Eats as I worked on the pantry, made a casserole, baked bread, and prepare for a simpler time ahead.

I feel very accomplished these days as I clear out drawers and give things away. One of the men from the Weatherization Project ask for a trimming from my large plants so I gave him a whole plant in one of my coffee cans. I’m eager to gift others and make more space daily.

Before

I also made oat milk and cleaned up the porch, watered plants, fed every living thing in this house.

Here is the garden. We left some plants blooming despite being done for the season because the butterflies and bees are feasting on the little buffet.

We still have tons of squash, plenty of greens, and green beans are beginning to thrive. No sign of peppers, egg plant or tomatoes yet. I have basil but my other herbs are still babies. Some veggies should have been planted much later in the season. I’ll figure it all out next year. We are still new gardeners after all.

Finally got the boys room in order.

I keep all my bills and mail in the bread box and once a month I clean it out and make sure all the bills are paid, calls are made, and budget is up to par in my cheap notebook.

Also trying my hand at regrowing celery.

I used up the last of our canned meat and I save the juice in a jar. I pour it on the dogs food with rice and vegetables as a treat.

Our eating and snacking is very simple and so healthy and fresh these days. We love veggies and fruit with some Madjool date rolls for an extra treat.

We also enjoy smoothies made with my oat milk, frozen bananas, and other berries, along with greens from the garden (mostly spinach as the kids don’t taste it even if I load it in there).

This is a very productive time for me. I’m feeling good and getting ‘er done! I have also cleaned out ever drawer and shelf and cupboard. I can’t tell you how good it all feels to have my house in order. I just had no time for all this before.

We worked so hard when we moved onto this property and then I was trying do all my old work as well. Now the complete focus is on the home.

I’m almost done as of today. I do have a little work to do in the laundry room and the house is now in order! Everyone has clean, organized rooms, I have an organized kitchen and pantry, we all have sacred spaces and shelves (will go into this more in another blog). Budget is written up, we’ve begun huge payments on our Home Depot bill, have a bit of cash on hand, and I’m replanting parts of the garden and scheduling out the Fall garden.

Aaannnd…I scheduled my first local Chiropractic appointment at a cute little office just around the corner from our house. I did some research and the Dr. has a good and solid reputation and brings his dog to the office, how can you not love that.

vondola

New life, new budget.

9 July 2020 at 22:31

This was on the hospital walls when I took Arjan to have his cast removed. It was shortly after I retired the last of my media (is blogging media? Doesn’t feel like it) and decided to start living a slow paced life and inward journey.

Today I sat at my laptop beginning this blog and brewing my Cafe Bustelo while waiting on the men from the Weatherization Project. They came, changed light bulbs, gave me two free water saver hoses for the shower and changed the faucets to little water saver spouts as well. Everything else was a no, no, and no…the house is too old and illegal for any proper insulation or weather stripping. Ah well, I am thrilled for my shower hoses as my friend and I were just discussing how hard it is to clean a shower by throwing buckets of water to rinse the whole stall. I was just about to order one. Can I get an amen!

I have written up a new budget. By letting go of YouTube and a very new Patreon channel, I’m letting go of $1000 to $1300 a month on the average. Very nice bit o’ pocket change, I say (in my British accent for my YouTube villagers).

But we shan’t suffer one bit. Oh no, because we practice the wise art of living far beneath our means. So, whilst others (still in British accent people, keep up) are making more and spending more, the shopping keeping time with uptick in paycheck, we keep removing cost.

Be wise and spend only part of a paycheck on living and the rest on saving. Set aside some fun money in a jar. We all need fun. Fun is the fruit of life. Little treasures and delights now and then keep our morale high.

Bali works four days a week at one job for $15 an hour and two shifts a week at another job for $12 to $14 an hour. I write books and my royalties per month are $400 to $600. Last month they were very juicy but I can never count on that. Fostering provides another amount per month but this is for shelter, provisions, anything she needs, toys, clothes, and other needs that may occur.

Now, fostering is another monetary situation that can not be counted on. It is a temporary situation and one that I have no idea I will continue. I take it day by day.

So, We can count on Bali’s work and my writing. Ta Da! I will not write out my complete budget because everyone does that and it’s boring. Where is the mystery and intrigue? Let’s do an over view to get an idea of what we simple folk are working with and against.

Our budget has been stripped down to the bare bones. Many of you know my budgeting history ad nauseam. Many of you know we purchased an old house that has a larger mortgage payment. I just recieved a water bill and after irritating the utilities office lady found that we are only paying a large sum for simple hook up and use of sewage and water. We are not given a water allotment as I’m used to. Oh no, we pay $3.60 per 1,000 gallons. So, water is gold here as well. The water folly of my children has been put to an abrupt halt with threats to use their tiny allowances to pay the water bill each month if they even look at the garden hose.

Garbage is a fair price. Thank goodness for that.

My electric and gas has been very low. My upcoming solar will be more than my electric…what a bummer. That sure back fired. Oh well. A stove is on the way and will reduce the gas in the winter so that is good.

Groceries are in great shape. We eat from the garden, pantry is super stocked, I cook from scratch 95% of the time.

For our housing, utilities, donations, insurances, phones…it takes a bit less than $2,000 to live. Bali brings home close to $2,500 a month. That leaves $500 for gas and groceries. There. We can fully live on his income. I’d have to be extremely hard core and work the heck out of that garden, plan meals for the month, stick to a strict budget, mend and remove stains from clothes to make them last, monitor the water usage.

But we are fortunate. With the book royalties, even if they are paltry for the month, it is a cushion none the less.

When extra money comes in it is used to pay off chunks of debt. We have a HomeDepot bill from fixing up the old house. Extra cash is also used to stock pile the savings.

In this time of many changes, none of us can count on our paychecks or stability with money. We must learn to live on as little as possible. We must master the art of thrift and craft of frugality in all matters of the home. We must find ways to constantly reduce a bill or find a debts demise.

The biggest skill is learning to just be at home and to learn how to create wealth and beauty and fun with what you have in the home and on what land you may have.

See you soon.

vondola

Life in the slow lane and all about homemaking.

8 July 2020 at 13:03

Yes, that is our bountiful harvest of green beans last night (I say sarcastically). However, more is to come and this is the most I have ever harvested! This garden is probably the best garden we have ever had! Hallalujah! Mountain soil, I say. And horse poop.

First, I want to say to all my former Coffee with Kate YouTube Channel villagers, I’m so happy to see all of you here! I feel like I moved back to an old neighborhood and some of you moved with me. You all have always been so good to me and for me, keeping me just as buoyed up and inspired as you say I keep you.

Now, let’s talk about my days without the stress of making videos and all that goes in to it. Many feel it was the new fostering challenge that caused me to retire for now. Yes, fostering makes it harder to record with ease. I kept getting her in my videos by accident, if not her face, her voice. I was always tempted to discuss the fostering because it is part of our life…but that can not be. It is a very private situation and she must be shielded.

However, the little miss was only that extra push to get me to unhook myself from the land of YouTube and then Patreon. That was too much, that Patreon, splitting myself up like that. But YouTube gets toxic at some point. And addictive. It gets competitive and so annoying with all the stats. When you open your page your hit with a page of Statistics. How you are fairing with views, subscribers, watch time, revenue. You aren’t just enjoying the journey of creating, you are now serving a huge and very hungry corporation.

Now, what have I been preaching for so long? Don’t let these big companies suck up your life and money. Learn to live on less, live your dreams, be with family, enjoy life more, work less. So, here I am slaving away to YouTube and Patreon for what? Money.

I used to love, love that channel. It was a wonderful way to share and start a community. It was and is such a positive place that we all made. But then it became work. There was that competitive spirit rising up from the dark, a desire for more of everything, putting out content all the time because I was now used to being on the hamster wheel, I was a bit addicted to the work and business.

Media is created purposely to be very addictive. These companies hire specialist to make it as addictive as possible. They are teaching us to create the habit of checking our stats and views and comments constantly.

It was only when I took my first vacation from YT to focus on house buying that I realized how much time and energy it took away from my life with my family. I took long naps the first few days. I never nap. That was when I began to really observe my behavior. I watched videos on media addiction and learned about this game of getting us hooked.

I’ve been pondering this retirement for months. I wanted to see what it would be like to just…be.

I remembered a simpler time with my boys when they were babies and I was simply homemaking, nursing and tending to toddlers. I read under a large olive tree and my babies played. I was mellow back then. I always had a faint smile on my face and I never raised my voice.

Then I went and complicated life. I added writing and blogging and that was fun, then the channel and that was fun, then I worked more and harder and longer. Then the Patreon, lord. I was now officially a slave to the world.

I felt so good the day I deleted Patreon and retired the channel for an unknown time. I wept as I read the responses, that made me so sad to leave everyone, there was a lot of sadness and no one feels good about creating sadness or leaving others. I hoped most of you would come here and be with me as I’ve grown so fond of our community.

Ah, but the peace that is growing each day. I feel like a room that, as the sun rises, it becomes brighter and more cheerful.

Each day I just do my homemaking and I’m emotionally present with my kids. I’m looking them in the eyes again. I’m reading books every night to them. I’m listening to all their words, not just wanting them to hurry with a story because I have so much to do. I’m not in a hurry any more. I only have one task each day and that is to tend to my home.

Tending to my home means the physical house and garden, but also the emotional, physical, and spiritual tending to my family in the home. It means loving each moment because it is truly a beautiful life. The house has energy, the garden and yards have life and energy. There is beauty everywhere.

I feel so balanced and grounded now that I have only one mission. Now, I do write and blog, but that is a hobby and joy. I do it for fun when I take a break with my ice coffee. My NaNoWriMo is for fun as well, not money.

Money is not the root of all evil, however, once you take the need for money out of the equation you are left with only creative fun. You are not a slave to an outcome. You just play and don’t care what happens.

Each day I wake up naturally. I sleep well because nothing is on my mind. I have taken in nothing from media or news. I’m cut off from the main stream world so I suffer nothing. I sleep well, wake up with a smile and wonder at what gifts the day will offer, I work through my day doing things I find very fun, and go to bed tired and eager to snuggle into my soft bed.

This life is not for everyone, I know this. But it is true heaven for me.

Today I cleaned and created spaces for everyone, be it a shelf for dinos or godzillas, an art desk for Arjan, or a Pandora channel for little miss. I hung out clothes and talked with her and Sam as I worked. We all ventured to the garden were we harvested the evening meal of squash and greens (of course because that is the main staple right now…how I long for an eggplant at this point), and all the spinach for a smoothie. I pulled up the remaining row of spinach twigs and replanted kale. I learned so much from My Urban Garden: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaHeI894wbY&list=PLhMGm4x0xu7XxWlbAM7tWG2neqxum8TYS&index=24

It is important to constantly work with, plant, harvest and rework your garden for an abundant and constant yield. It doesn’t have to be work per say but a craft indeed.

Making bread before the last piece is toasted is also important, sewing up holes in clothing and linen before it becomes a mammoth project, planning dinner before the time is upon you, stocking a pantry well, scrubbing out stains and setting it with Zote before wash day, bathing dogs, bathing children or at least washing dirty feet before bedtime…these are all the rhythm of the day.

Because I have no other pressures (self impossed), I drift through the days in, what feels like, a lazy and slow manner, yet everything and more gets done. And I have time to play, read my Amish fiction, write this blog, and my long walk that I take every evening.

I have had many lives in my almost 50 years (still have three months people) and this is my favorite by far.

I started the channel to inspire and encourage you all to embrace homemaking and living a simpler, humbler, less expensive life. I wanted to encourage all of you to work less, find your bliss and be with family. By leaving YouTube I’m taking my own advice and now I hope to inspire some of you to put down the iPhone, delete the Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. Shut down YouTube just for a bit (there is a lot of good stuff on there too, such as Rob Greenfield and all the gardening and cooking vlogs), and just play some music in the background. Watch a good movie. Pick up a book or paint brush, garden tool, or sewing project.

Take the slow path. Don’t use the bread maker, use your hands and let the dough rise naturally on its own time. Sweep the floor instead of vacuuming. Hang the laundry out. Plant a garden instead of going to the grocery store for produce. Sew up holes in laundry and watch a documentary or sit com. Make ice tea or coffee for your afternoons. Plan your days with a mix of chores and pleasures.

Today I need to finish up some cleaning and reorganizing after all the purging and rearranging of furniture. The boys room is almost done and I believe the living room is complete for now. The next project is the pantry. I need to set it up and label things, put bulk items in jars and tubs. We have a great pantry right now so all the shopping I do now will be just continuing to get extras here and there.

I have already sewed up a blanket and large decorative pillow. I’m mastering stain removal especially with all these pink girl clothes. This morning I made a stack of pancakes and I sit here enjoying my coffee and finishing up this blog. I will shower and begin my projects. My whole objective to doing all the projects is to create a simpler, more organized home so I can have even more time with the kids to walk in forest and weed my garden and plan more little crops. It’s all about creating more time for enjoying life.

Today I also need to rewrite our budget as giving up two sources of income needs some looking at as well. Quitting Patreon and YouTube means a loss of $1,000 or more a month. Fortunately, Patreon was a new income so we won’t miss that too much and being that we live well below our means, the lose of YT is easy to adjust.

I’ll do our budget and post soon. With a full pantry, producing garden, only one debt we can pay off in 5 months if we focus, and a little extra from fostering, we will continue to thrive.

Last year we learned to live on a very tiny income to save as much as possible to move to our dream town. I learned so much that year about saving, paying yourself first, forcing us to live on a shoe string budget and making it just fine. We had a garden at the old house and became really familiar with the zucchini, peppers, and egg plant (foods I normally don’t care for but bonded with eventually out of need).

To stay inspired and keep the mood lifted I pull from my shelves all the charming Depression Era books and skim through the stories of women who canned 700 quarts of garden vegetables at a time, washed 10 loads of farm filthy clothes by hand, and baked 3 pies and 4 loaves of bread a day. I then turn on my bread maker, throw some store bought detergent in my washer and feel rich, rich, rich.

See you soon!

vondola

Stocking pantry, garden bounty, redecorating rooms with what I have.

6 July 2020 at 22:15

Captains log: day two or three of no media, I’m losing track of days as I drift off into a Zen state that finds me in the garden or rearranging furniture and trying to give everything away (husband keeps interfering with that mission).

I planted a freak load of yellow squash. I thought it was melon but the thrill the fantasy of weeks of honey dew breakfast was quickly vanquished with the arrival of hundreds of yellow crook neck squash. I have been sauteing huge pans of it daily and, no, I have no desire to dehydrate, can, or bake any of it. We will just eat it sauted with onions and rice or pasta until we each turn into a crook neck squash ourselves.

I have had some eager neighbors, but they don’t return after the first huge bag. I have now taken to putting it on the street.

I will put other things in the free basket as the seasons and years pass. I’m sure organic apples will go over better than this vegetable.

I’m purging…very unsuccessfully. I have just found new places for things. I put the old basket outside for produce giveaways. Stored a crib and baby stuff in an empty closet. Put a table outside for new patio furniture. I did rearrange things and my home just keeps getting better.

This is the little girls room that I’m working on.

I pulled an old dresser out of the closet and stored the crib and all the baby stuff in there. I still don’t know if we will keep fostering so I just store things. I put the table and chair in the boys room for Arjan to sit and do his art and studies. Her room has a ways to go but I’m using what we have.

Here is our room. We took all the wifi out and put it in the kitchen on the shelf and moved all the furniture around. I absolutely love how it looks now and there is so much more light. I look out onto the porch with the Camelia and Magnolia tree in our yard.

The living room was purged a couple weeks ago with removing a big recliner, velvet chair, seven large and medium paintings through out the house, and many ugly lamps. This is how it used to look…well, one of the many ways.

Now I’m working on decluttering toys. I’ve downsized them into a trunk. Most of the dinosaurs and godzillas are all outside.

I’m working my way through the house. If I can’t decide about a furnishing or such I just store it for a bit.

Now, let’s talk pantry stocking. I had ordered a big pile from Sams Club. I had another huge order with Azure Standard, but the problem with that company is that you have to wait a month for delivery and they don’t pull your order or charge your card until the day before. This means that ordering and paying right away secures nothing. I checked my order yesterday and they had run out of almost everything I had ordered and it wasn’t going to be replaced before the deliver. This meant all my flour, beans, oats…everything was gone but the raisins and some herbs. I was irritated to say the least and canceled the remaining order.

I then took my eldest and we did some night shopping at Grocery Outlet first to forage and then finished up at our local health food store. By the time we finished our focused pantry stock up shopping I had found everything I had ordered with Azure and much, much more. My Azure order was going to me $430 give or take and my shopping last night was around $510. But as I said, I found so much more.

So, I’m stocked. I will show you some photos now but we sort of threw everything on shelves last night because we got home late. I will be organizing my shelves and whole pantry later and will show the before and afters so you have a better idea of what I stocked up on.

And I found so MANY vegan goodies at Grocery Outlet! I’ll save them for much later when the garden veggies aren’t as plentiful and as a special dinner now and then when we are tiring of brown rice and greens.

This is my fridge. I love that we eat so simply and healthily. Our meals are literally, fruit, vegetable, brown rice or pasta, homemade bread, nut butters, chesse, eggs from our friends farm, and homemade oat milk…

and of coarse my homemade iced coffee that beats McDonald’s or Starbucks.

vondola

A slower, simpler time.

5 July 2020 at 11:34

It is the first day after I deleted my Patreon and posted a semi retirement video on YouTube. It has been such a freeing feeling to let go of two huge chunks of media work. The channel was such a great joy and inspiration for a few years. I love that channel and the community, however, it was taking up hours a day. If I wasn’t filming, I was thinking of filming, if I wasn’t uploading video work, I was downloading on the channel, I was watching and trimming and putting into little movies. Then the approving of the comments to make sure no trolls invaded our lovely community.

I was beginning to feel like I was sitting in front of the computer all the time and the guilt for not being present with my sons grew large and loud. I needed them to go away when I filmed, especially for the Patreon so I could “think and flow”. I was getting too busy to listen to them, my thoughts on what I wanted to share or write next.

My boys are growing so fast it’s freaking me out. Now I have a foster child and she needs a lot of attention as well.

I read a lot of Depression Era books and I believe what really attracts me to that time is that feel of a time when there were no computers and only one house phone attached to the wall. Mothers focused on the house and baking. They were busy working all day but they were present at all times. They weren’t checking stats on the laptop or gabbing all day on the phone. Laundry had to be washed by hand, the garden harvest had to be canned right then. If they weren’t focused no one ate in the winter…clothes stayed filthy…there was no bread for the morning toast.

Back in the early 1900’s you couldn’t throw your clothes in the washer and press buttons, you filled a tub and washed on a wash board. You couldn’t run to the downtown Raley’s or Safeway, or any supermarket. The first true supermarket arrived in 1930. You couldn’t run your credit card if you were out of cash and savings. The first credit cards were late 1950’s.

No, back then you saved, maybe there was a money jar in the kitchen cupboard. If you had no money…you had no money so people were careful on what they purchased and how the money was dispersed.

You had a wash day that may have taken up all day. There was a lot of scrubbing, rinsing, wringing out, and hanging up on the line.

The family focused on their gardens and animals and worked hard to can and preserve everything so they ate during the winter months.

Social time was reserved for Sunday with church and big evening meals with neighbors and family.

Everything had it’s season. Everything in moderation. Things and people were appreciated back then.

I think we all have too much time now and we spend it on scrolling through Facebook, posting on Twitter, watching others clean their homes on YouTube, and listening to self improvement Podcast. We mindlessly push shopping carts around big stores, talk or text nonsense, and focus on our disappointments.

I am guilty as well. But I read about these elders and their lives and I want some of that. Not all of it, mind you. I’m happy to press some buttons and plug in the vacuum.

But I have felt strongly guided (and I never ignore a hunch as Florence Shinn would suggest against that) to get rid of all that noise and clatter that is social media and focus on my home and hearth.

What could I really accomplish if I got of the internet completely? Well, except this blog, I won’t be giving this up, I do need some creative outlet.

What if only music played during the day and I never opened the laptop after a quick morning writing and checking of the bank and email (that is literally all I have now)? If I didn’t answer the phone? If during my breaks I read books like I used to?

What if I began sitting with my boys all the time while they played inside or outside. I could take my books with me. I used to do that. I would hang out with them and listen to their chatter and read. They love just having me close by.

Then, what if I really put my full energies into my home with purging, organizing, simplifying, downsizing, decluttering…I mean, how much crap do we truly need?!

Back in the old days they didn’t have Dollar Tree and Target and Walmart. They had simple furniture, some basic dishes and kitchen tools, a few items of clothing, blankets, towels…what else? Not much else. I know this is all sounding like a minimalist speech, but I really got to thinkin’, what did my great grandmother have in her house? Basics and a few nice items such as a nice rug in the parlor, a few lamps to see by at night, some cast iron pans and pots, curtains, a painting and some photos of the family.

So, I lay awake this morning listening to the birds and thinking; do I need that extra two little tables? Can I create more space and give away more stuff?

Women kept their homes clean. Even the porch was swept and tidy.

So, today I begin a new life with no media and just the bird song, my music and complete focus on children and home. Let’s see what I create with out distraction. Let’s see what I create in the home and kitchen now that it is my sole focus. Let’s see how deep my relationship gets with my family now that my attention and all my love is on them. Let’s see what new dishes I learn and how well I organized and stock my pantry.

I will run the kitchen like a well maintained cafe. I will decorate my home with such charm and love…and only with what I have, flowers from my yard, rocks and pine cones the boys bring me. I will create that old time home feel with a hint of hippy natural/shabby chic.

I will do a new budget as I have just quit two sources of income and need to see what a smaller income looks like. It means being extremely frugal and that is what I live for! It means diving into my books to be refreshed and re motivated. It means not spending money period and that is when the creative side develops muscles. But how hard can that be…we have everything and more!

I will be sure to post all the fun progress and ideas. I will leave you with one fun thing I did the other day with an old wood stove that we won’t be using in the house and some old kitchen stuff I was decluttering. I made a space for my little girl to have an outdoor kitchen. The kids are having a great time with this area.

vondola

Letting go of media addictions. Getting back time.

4 July 2020 at 02:50

I took this picture this evening while sitting on my free standing swing in our funky front yard. I was talking to Evelyn, a friend that has been with me since the beginning of my blog. She once described herself as a fan but she is now a part of my community and a friend. She also gives the best and most solid advice.

I’ve been in a “removal” phase, as most of you know. Clearing the house and closets of items that irritate me and make more work. I have gone through this phase with friends, family, jobs, and schedules in the past. I’ve rid myself of piles of media, news, and junk mail. This is not a new thing, it is ongoing as we grow and transform. Things and people sometimes just don’t fit anymore and we shed the old and make space for the new.

But I have some things that have meaning and value, community and even a bit of an earned income. It is my YouTube channel. I also started a Patreon a couple months back. The channel has almost 3 years of my attention and it’s grown wonderfully. The community is lovely and such a support to so many including me. Unfortunately, I’ve been feeling the push to let it go for months now. It is such a hard decision as I love this channel and the people on there.

I made a video after my talk with Evelyn and it will post in the morning. I don’t know that this is permanent at all. I have decided to retire the channel for a period of time. I may return in a season…I may return in a year. I can’t commit right now. There are so many good reasons to walk away now despite it thriving and growing.

First reason is family. I feel my attention split at all times and it doesn’t feel good or right. I now have a foster child as well and that means everyone needs more attention and reassurance. This child needs healing and to know that she belongs here for now at least.

My home. I am enjoying homemaking more than ever. I have this huge garden that needs constant planting and harvesting. My home needs more organizing and decluttering as I have this vision in my mind and making it come to fruition is proving tricky. I have a large porch to sit and read and sip coffee in the mornings or write like mad in the evenings while watching over children running in the front yard. I am cooking almost every single dingle thing from scratch and that alone is work and this Zen thing going on.

Life. Life is so good right now. When I get on the media of any kind it is a true bummer these days. Even YouTube, if not very careful, can become toxic. YouTube has many new laws and rules to protect the viewers, and that is fantastic, total support that, but there is NO protection for us creators and the trolls and troll bots are creepy, disturbing, and unnerving. I have spent so much time blocking, filtering, and reporting upsetting things and people that love to be cruel. Even YouTube creators begin bashing each other or doing hate vlogs about other channels. There is even a streaming online gossip site that loves to tear people apart and I have been the guest of honor at those rants.

Why be in a toxic environment? Why not go back to life before media when I was focused on the boys and home?

There is a blog Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth and the writer took some time off in 2017 to focus on her home and family. She did return…three years later! I so admired and respected her for that choice and it resonated with me.

My boys are growing up too fast. Tonight everyone is sleeping in their own beds and I cried. I’m actually in the bottom bunk squished in here with Arjan, my eldest. I’ve had all the boys and dogs in my bed forever and I’m just not ready. With a foster child everyone has to be in their own beds now. It is one sacrifice I wasn’t ready to make. I climbed in here with my laptop after weeping over Sam on the top bunk. I tried to wake him to drag him back to my bed but he sleeps like a log so here I am hunched over in this bottom space with the other boy. My husband has the king bed all to himself. Even my Dachshund is confused and chose to sleep with the girl over me.

I will not choose my channel and Patreon over my family anymore. Time is precious and flying fast.

As for Patreon, well, that was supposed to be a sacred space of spiritual sharing, deep talks on transformation and manifestations, however, I haven’t had a deep thought in a while now. I’m busy with simple child psychology and making homemade graham crackers. I have no time for deep thoughts and furthermore I have no desire at this time to have a deep thought. My life is full and busy and this must have been how our elders felt in the olden days. Too busy for foolish ponderin’.

Patreon has also started taxing the Patrons. I don’t know why, I don’t care why. It doesn’t seem like a good time to tax anyone with all that is happening financially. I don’t support it.

In the morning there will be no Patreon and my retirement video will post around the time we are all having our coffee. Some won’t care, some will be upset, some sad. I’m sad.

But I also feel suddenly free! I’ll have more hours to the day and more room in my mind space to focus on other thoughts. I’ve been beating the old frugal horse to death, burying it, reviving it, over and over. I mean how many times can I repeat myself with the very little I know before the crowd starts throwing rotten tomatoes?!

I can really let go of media now! I will only have my email and that is mostly trash. FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr…and now Patreon and YouTube, all gone! I am now practicing what I preach. Get off the media if you want sanity and joy, I truly mean this from experience.

Now, you all may be wondering if the blog will be next to get axed. No, I have had this blog for 5 years now and it’s my safe space. I can sit by my sunny window at the kitchen table and have my morning coffee while whipping up a little blog. I can take photos with a click here and there. It is easy, simple, safe. My therapy. My happy place.

Alright, well, I’m going to try and get some sleep scrunched up here in this little bed. Molly, my little dog has joined me. We are both not ok with the boys not being in our bed.

Good night.

vondola

My delicious days home bound.

2 July 2020 at 12:41

My days are getting more peaceful and delicious with each new dawn. As you all know, I’m in a two part phase; decluttering everything (even jobs, people, schedules) and stocking up in preparation of a possible second quarantine.

These are intense times in history and I only hope we don’t all blow ourselves up. Other than that, it’s history as usual with riots, revolutions, countries firing at each other over invisible boundary lines, plagues, and failed governments. Ah, days to remember.

Meanwhile, back in the forest I rise with the sun, walk slowly to the kitchen (because I’m a few months from 50 and feeling it), start the brewing of the coffee on the stove top, go about pulling back all the curtains and opening all the windows. I turn some music on low and find my Amish fiction Du Jour.

My morning used to be me opening the laptop and checking things, beginning work, downloading, uploading, editing (I use the term loosely), planning, writing.

Sometimes, these days, I sit on the porch and drink my hot, creamy, sweet mug of coffee and read a part of some favorite home keeping book. I watch the grounds keepers of the large apartment across the street or various morning walkers. I hear my neighbors hens waking up and beginning their egg songs. The air is clean here and there are huge and tall trees everywhere. We are nestled in the mountains and forest, just as I have dreamed.

I live in the kitchen during the day. I bake or command the bread maker to do the work. Today was a cool day so I made my hand made wheat bread and felt luxurious enough to add some honey and butter. I made a big jar of oat milk since Bali had mentioned missing his cereal. The children and I spent time in the garden harvesting greens and squash for the main meal.

I have lots of frozen fruit that was about to go South. I made big smoothies with piles of spinach. My foster daughter, who was terrified of anything remotly resembling a vegetable, begs for more after downing a huge mug. Her eczema on those little arms of hers has cleared up completely. Her diet is clean, organic, loaded with vegetables and void of sugar except for pancake mornings with maple syrup.

Cleaning is easier with less furniture. I hauled out that huge recliner that had the arm that would fall out to the side and my mothers chair still containing bad juju. The walls are more lovely with 7 large and small paintings gone. My drawers close easier with a huge bag of unattractive “cleaning” clothes gone.

I’m still working on another wave of decluttering but it is really a spiritual and therapeutic ritual not to be rushed through. It is a time to rid the home and life of things that don’t feel good or weigh us down with extra business. Unfortunately, we have to go through the emotional dance before we feel justified in donating our things.

July’s camp NaNoWriMo began yesterday so I’ve begun the writing for that. I get excited for NaNoWriMo. It comes around 3 times a year.

In the evenings when it’s cool we do movie and popcorn time for the kids and I put on my super spongy, comfy Sketchers, grab my music and take off to walk all through the town and forest trails for the next hour or more. I go off into dream land, tackling hills, gasping for breath, stopping at the tops of hilly neighborhoods to breath again and let the burn in the thighs subside. I love it! Since beginning this routine my mood is fantastic. I’m patient and good natured beyond measure during the day and eagerly await the six o’clock hour.

When I return home the movie is over and the children and dogs are waiting on the porch for me. Bali works outside inspecting the fruit trees and gardens, throws the ball for Clyde (the other two dogs are too lazy for that and only prefer walks), the children play outside with him, running and yelling for hours until it’s dark. I wash up the last of the dishes and prepare for our nighttime rituals starting with a quick shower for myself and then each child gets a quick wash up as well.

The night ends with reading a book to everyone and some drama because the girl would like to stay up all night. I suspect we have a night owl amongst us.

I look forward to my large, soft, wonderful bed. My hips are sore from the new routine and climbing and marching about. My mind is no longer busy. I’m too busy doing simple, basic child psychology and planning the meals as I feel like the camp cook these days to think anything deep or lasting. My mind is relieved to rest as well.

The next day it begins all over. Each day there are rotating routines such as cleaning the bathroom, watering fruit trees and turning on the sprinkler in the garden for an hour as I fix oatmeal and fruit for breakfast. There is a time to vacuum and a time to dust. A time for laundry…which I love the folding of it because I can choose a documentary while working.

Yes, housework and kitchen duties can become mundane, but they don’t have to. The trick is to plan fun things along the way. It’s the dangling of a carrot before the horse to keep it plodding along. My treats are my walks alone with out a human child or furry child or husband. I also love, love my documentaries and movies. Right now I’m back into Amish fiction after a spell with Stephen King novels.

Another thing I love it waiting for things in the mail. I receive gifts from people all the time and it feels like my birthday often. How glorious is that? I also save my gift card money I earn from being an Amazon affiliate and use it to buy needs and gifts for everyone of us in the house now and then. Just last month I saved enough to purchase a toy for each child and beauty products for myself. It makes all the work into a game of reaching goals and celebration. And Bali and I do work hard.

And coffee, glorious, beautiful, fabulous drug that it is. My dearest coffee. I just ordered a load of Cafe Bustelo. It is not only very good tasting, but helps me build and scrub things with extra vigor.

Now, I must be off to work on my fiction for the NaNoWriMo.

vondola

Decluttering one’s life.

29 June 2020 at 14:53

I’m preparing for another quarantine. I don’t want to cause fear and mayhem, but it looks like it’s happening in some states. For some this is not good for many, for some it is just everyday life. I, personally, grew fond of it in some ways. I could avoid socials and playdates and immerse myself in being a real home body.

Hopefully, my children will have the co op for the school year and I would love to get them back into their forest school. They need the social life. I don’t so much. I am loving being at home with my thoughts and garden. I write and clean, I make bread, I putz about.

I’m in a simplifying phase again. My house feels too crowded and I detest my furnishings. I refuse to buy any new or thrift items. The issue is too much stuff. I spend my days moving, rearranging, cleaning and organizing stuff! I remember reading in one of Joshua Becker’s books about people working all week and then spending all weekend cleaning out garages or cleaning houses full of things instead of enjoying life.

Then I read a comment about a lady visiting a relative and there were no closets in the farm house and it was explained that there was no need for any more than a few pegs because people only had two outfits; work clothes and church clothes. Wow, that is simple living.

I went through a phase of reading Marie Kondo and Joshua Becker, watching Minimalism on Netflix and pondering life with less things. I even stripped my house down at one point because it was on the market and the realtor said less was more. I put everything in the garage but the basics. It sure was easy to clean but sort of ugly with plainness.

Today I have a vision. I image my house simplified and having a nice flow. A few pieces of nice furniture and then mostly plants and nice area rugs to liven it up. The window sills are filled with finds from the forest that the boys bring home.

The other night I was feeling moody and detesting things. I began dragging furnishings outside and pulling paintings off the wall. Then I stopped and let rational thinking take over. The should nots and “this is not prudent” or “you paid for this” or “this was your mothers” ran through my mind. I paused and was about to turn back but this feeling of stagnation began to settle in my soul and I knew that feeling. It means that I WAS on the right path and now I’m going backwards. Stuck will follow the stagnant feeling.

I renewed my initial idea and began dragging things to the street, posted a FREE sign and within minutes things were gone. My old stuff I detested now has new homes were it is appreciated and loved and I am here enjoying the space and feeling lighter.

Objects hold energy and even the lovely antique chair that was probably worth something had bad energy that bothered me every time I passed it. The large recliner was comfy but the air kept being broken down by children sitting on it and it took up so much space, I was bothered. It now has a home were the new owners fixed the arm and love it. I know this because the neighbor that I helped drag it across the street for has reported to me it’s new life.

There were large paintings taking up space on my wall and I didn’t enjoy looking at them. I have gone through clothes that made me feel ugly, toys no longer used, lamps that were broken or large and bulky in the worst way. My living room is now down to a couch (which I intend to switch out one day as well, but baby steps now) and a chest for a coffee table. On the other side is the TV on a little table. I have removed and rid the walls of at least 7 paintings that did nothing for me. I have removed a huge bag of clothing that were unattractive. The huge recliner is gone, three ugly lamps, a velvet chair of my mothers. The next day I went through the kitchen and rid it of ugly cups, aprons and bottles.

I have plans to do more but I seem stumped right now. I have to wait for another cleaning day to move more stuff out. That ottoman will be next.

As most of you know, I love watching How To Cook Your Life about Zenism and cooking, food and life. It inspires me to make life more peaceful and less busy and cluttered.

Our diet has become very simple too and since we got rid of the main sugars (we still do maple syrup on pancakes), we are loving things like brown rice, pinto beans, squash and greens from the garden, and snacks made of bowls of carrots, celery, and apples. I make eggs and oat, peanut butter and honey bars. Tortillas are the most exciting thing at times.

Simple foods, simple gardening, simple home.

My next thing I’ll be doing is giving up more media over time. How much and how long or if it becomes permanent is all up in the air. I have already deleted FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr. I still have YouTube, Patreon. My blog will go on through time as it’s my peaceful, happy place. YouTube and Patreon are questionable as to how sustainable those to shows are in the long term. Let’s face it, everyone and there grandmother has a channel on budgeting, frugality, homesteading, housecleaning and on and on.

What would it be like to let go and clear out every single thing that doesn’t work for us or lift us up, enhance our days and lives?

vondola

Get that pantry stocked!

25 June 2020 at 11:44

There is vague talk of another shelter in or lock down or what ever it shall be called this time. Here in California Gavin Newsom says it is something to be avoided but if we don’t use just a bit more caution they, the powers that be, will be forced to revert to the rules implemented in March. Yes, it’s that blurry but we all shutter when we think of what happened in March.

I always say take what you like and leave the rest when it comes to my advice. I also will suggest, strongly, to do your own research as I’m no master of things. I get tid bits here and there and run with them.

The one thing I do have going for me is my intuition. Even that can be off or just a hormonal day in disguise. However, I knew a couple years back that times were changing and we should be prepared. These times are here.

I felt like I needed to get my family in a different location and to be sure to have some land to grow food. We have that now and I feel a lot of relief. And when we got here we worked like crazy people working on a tight deadline. We put in a huge vegetable garden, fruit trees, chopped up dead trees and stacked wood. We were in quarantine back then and used the time to build and prepare.

Recently I’ve been feeling that jittery feeling of “get things done now” and we are at it again. Bali just drove to the desert to pick up a free gas generator from our friend along with a tiller she didn’t want. I’ve been making a pantry list for days, writing down items as I think of them.

The other day I put in my first large order with Azure Standard. I put in a small order with Nuts.com and last night Bali and I compared weights and prices and products from Sams Club. We would choose Costco but Bali’s boss has a Sams Club membership and it’s in the town Bali works. I was able to find my powdered potatoes, this was a big thing as I’ve been looking everywhere. Simple things are a bit of a challenge to find these days.

The normal grocery money allotted for the month has been all spent with in the past two days to wisely stock the pantry.

Here is what I’m stocking up on:

This is from Azure Standard:

50 lbs of wheat and white flour, 25 lbs pintos and black beans, vital wheat gluten (for my faux chicken and steaks), herbs, salt, pepper, and seasonings (I’m growing all my herbs but they won’t be ready for some time), powdered potatoes, powdered milk, 5 lbs of nuts and dried fruits, carob chips, nut butters, brown rice, canned green beans (corn was sold out but I can do the U Pick farm and can my own).

From Nuts.com (I found them to be very expensive, sometimes double the cost at Azure and not even organic).

3 packages of yeast, 5 lbs of powdered cheddar (gotta have that mac and cheese).

From Sams Club:

Gallon Dawn dish soap, a huge box of cheap Surf detergent (had rave reviews for getting out grease and garden dirt), 2 boxes Pull Ups, 2 gallons vinegar, big bottles of vitamins for us and the kids, 2 big bottles of shampoo, 18 packages of variety pasta, double pack of huge Ranch (we are dippers), 3 bottles ketchup, 2 cans Maxwell House, plenty of powdered creamer for the husband, 10 lbs powdered potatoes, and a huge supply of Worcestershire.

Our total was $668. Give or take. That would have been a months worth of groceries since I’ve been really into the vegan alternatives. But this is six or more months worth of pantry goods.

When shopping, you think “scratch cooking”. When I buy packaged foods and meat and dairy alternatives I spend so, so much money. Here I took my one month budget and just created a pantry that will last us half a year or more.

I will be making ALL our breads, crackers, tortillas and cookies. I will make faux meats and plant based milks from my soy and oat supply. Our eating will be a bit simpler.

Now my next project is to travel to this huge U Pick farm in the Sacramento area and load up on tomatoes and corn. I am growing a tiny crop but I don’t know that it will be any more than just daily eats. I can pick 100 lbs of produce at .35 cents a pound. I’ll have to plan a Saturday when I leave at the crack of dawn to get there early. It is a very fun thing to do. Then you spend the next day canning. It is a very productive feeling.

We are eating plenty out of the garden but it is mostly squash and greens and salad. I’m not buying any produce but root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots, then celery, and for fruit we buy bananas, apples, watermelon and all fruits in season right now.

We gave up sugar a few weeks ago with the arrival of our foster child. She has some dental issues and it was a fantastic opportunity to give up our sweets. Since then all the cravings for junk have left us and our diet has become very simple and plant based. The children still enjoy cheese and yogurt and eggs from a local farm, but I’m really into my plant based diet and I feel slimmer as the days pass.

Our diet is mostly beans and Indian bean or lentil stews, homemade breads, homemade tortillas, homemade potato fries I bake in the oven with olive oil and salt, brown rice, sauteed veggies and greens from the garden, bowls of chopped up carrots, celery, apples, plates of watermelon and cucumbers, and homemade peanut butter and oat bars.

I leave a pitcher and bottles of water in the freezer as we have no ice machine or ice trays for ice water. Of course there is always my mug of coffee in the mornings and lately my afternoon cup for the second shift.

I hope this gives you all some ideas. Try to stock up for 6 months to a year in both the food pantry and toiletries and cleaning products. Grow as much food as you can.

For my cleaning supplies I only buy; laundry soap (now a cheap powdered brand instead of the expensive Tide), Dawn soap because I use it in every homemade cleaning solution and I can water it down many times, vinegar by the gallon, huge bag of baking soda. I do love my Ajax and I always have a gallon of bleach.

I’m linking this charming video about a woman that feeds a family of 5 from her small garden in town. She lives in Nova Scotia with a very short growing season but she feeds her family plenty over 7 months. You will be so inspired by this.

vondola

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