figuring out DVD storage

It seems like I have been battling with DVD's for a long time, and before that VHS.  Although, unlike my very good friend, I have now replaced all of my VHS tapes except for graduation videos. :-) My house has a bit of a challenge in having no closets.  The built in bookcase is filled with books, so I have had a struggle trying to figure out where to put the movies.

Last year when I organized my armoires, I alphabetized all the movies in one of the drawers.  This was a great solution.  Well, it was great until Jack learned how to open the drawer and then also learned how to remove all the DVD's from the cases while I was out of the room.  This meant that all the DVD's were then put in boxes and removed from any area accessible to children.  But now, my children have learned to climb over gates, so nothing is safe anymore!

My latest idea I think is the best yet though.  I wanted a way to store all the DVD's easily, without having to use a lot of space.  We have already pared our DVD collection down probably as low as we will.  Even though I am sure I don't really need Center Stage or Willow in my home collection...I will be keeping them.  My great idea?  I threw away all the cases.

I now have all of my DVD's alphabetized in a couple of CD cases.  The small CD case holds the Wii discs that we own.  I felt so much better getting rid of all those cases!  I know that some of them were nicer cases, but at this point, I don't really care.  If I want to watch a movie, I watch the movie, I'm not looking at a little booklet that comes with the movie.  This also meant that I finally got rid of all of my CD's.  I just hope when my computer dies I can get all of my music off of it!

All nice and compact, and they can go right in my TV cabinet with no trouble whatsoever.

What do you do with your DVD's?  Have you gotten rid of them all in favor of only online viewing?

trying out a shawl

I have seen so many beautiful shawl patterns over the past several months on many beautiful blogs.  I never thought to make one though, until recently.  It has been cold here...extremely cold.  Although today I hear the temperature is supposed to be around 50 degrees, and I welcome it!  Come melt some of the ice, please!  But this, being Maine, will be short lived and I know that I will want a shawl in a couple of days.  Granted, I probably won't complete this shawl in a couple of days, so I am thinking ahead for birthdays and such.

So far, I have really enjoyed the pattern.  The little that I have done was done quite fast, and that is always a good thing in my book.  I would love to do a beautiful lacy decorative type shawl, but I know I don't have the time to sit and put in to it right now.

I am also still working on my scarf.  Like I said before, super easy pattern that I can pick up, do a few rows, and put back down.  I like projects like that, where I don't have to count stitches and pay attention.  That seems to work in my favor.  While I don't mind ripping out rows and rows because of continuous mistakes, I prefer to skip that whole part in favor of completing projects!

I finally finished Making Home: Adapting Our Homes and Our Lives to Settle in Place.  I really enjoyed this book a lot.  It was definitely a lot to digest, and there is so much more I have to think about now (like I need anything else to think about!).  What I really liked was how everything was put out there, what you need to plan for, whether it is a natural disaster or some type of zombie apocalypse.  Making sure that you have a good community that you can rely on is vital.  The author is very liberal compared to me, but if you can get past that (and I can), this is a great book that will make you think, and also help you to figure out what you need to do in your own home to prepare.

Since I can only read one non-fiction book at a time, I am now picking up Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners, which I got before Christmas.  I have picked it up several times since I received it, but I kept putting it down knowing that I couldn't give it the full attention it deserved.  My current fiction read is Courting Cate.  I am really enjoying all of this Amish fiction I have been reading recently.  It fits into my whole idea of wanting that simple life.

Don't forget to enter to win a quart of coconut oil from Tropical Traditions here.

Linking up at Work in Progress Wednesday and the yarn along

Saying Yes!

I have been trying to say yes more to my kids.  Yes to the messes, yes to the experiments, yes to letting them help even though I know it is going to take so much longer than if I do it myself.  I wrote about saying yes to my kids a little bit in my {30 Days} Intentional Living Series.  

I find that it is difficult to let some of that control go.  I think that is the biggest issue, the control, the mess, knowing that I am going to have to spend twice as long doing something.  But, isn't that part of being a parent?  Shouldn't I be enjoying these moments?

I thought that last week I would take the opportunity again to say yes.

A little background.  My children love yarn.  I love yarn, and the knitting that I do with said yarn.  My kids love to use yarn for any and everything...especially if it is the yarn I am currently using to knit a project.  Well, this particular day I was working on something, and they wanted to have the yarn.  I decided to give them a ball of yarn that I bought a couple years ago, loved, but then realized it was ridiculously hard to knit with and gave up.  What did they decide to do with the yarn?

Build a spider web of course!

This wasn't a small spider web that was glued to some construction paper, no, my kids need a much larger canvas than a piece of paper.  No, this spider web spanned the entire downstairs.  My children took the yarn and wrapped it around the pulls on the kitchen cupboards, in figure eights all around the kitchen chairs, around the legs of the table, through our living room with toys tied up in it (the bugs you know), back into their toy/school room.  Wrapped around more toys, and then officially wrapped around the little brother.  Yes, perhaps I should have given them a much smaller ball of yarn.  This intricate wrapping was an activity that my kids did (without fighting) for 3 hours straight.  Granted, it was extremely difficult to get to the kitchen from my desk, but I managed.

The following hour was spent with the kids practicing their use of scissors and cutting all the yarn up into spaghetti, where it was used by Jack to make dinner for us 3 days in a row (the kid loves his yarn spaghetti).

There are still some small pieces of yarn knotted around the pulls in the kitchen, and I know there are still some pieces of yarn spaghetti hiding in their toy box or under the furniture, but the joy and pride at their work of art was seriously priceless.

For those concerned about the state of our house!

Have you said yes to anything wild and crazy lately?

Linking up at Hip Homeschool Hop

seed order!

*Don't forget to enter my current giveaway for one quart of coconut oil here*

I have to say that when it is less than 5 degrees outside, receiving a seed order in the mail is like a little bit of warm sunshine in your life.  That was what it was like for me this past weekend.  My first seed order came in.  I'm sure I will end up buying more seeds, but because my local greenhouse carries seeds that I feel comfortable buying, I will end up going there for whatever I missed when I ordered.

This is the first year that I have ordered from Baker Creek, which are all heirloom seeds.  I am really excited to see how these work in my garden...and in my short growing season.  I tend to buy seeds from Fedco and Johnny's Selected Seeds, because they are both in Maine, and I figure they know what seeds Maine gardeners would use.  Of course I am sure that they sell seeds all over the country, but I like to think they cater to a short growing season!

I didn't buy a lot of exotic seeds, even though I wanted to.  I really stuck to what I knew we would eat and want to preserve.  Here is my list:

Dakota Black Popcorn
Jubilee Bush Watermelon
Black Beauty Zucchini
Golden Zucchini
New England Sugar Pie Pumpkin
Boston Pickling Cucumber
Marketmore 76 Cucumber
Blue Hubbard Squash
Dwarf Siberian Kale
Calima Beans (french style green bean)
Golden Wax Beans
Contender Green Beans
Monstrueux De Viroflay Spinach
European Meclun Salad
Cosmic Purple Carrot
Pantano Romanesco Tomato
Pink Berkeley Tie Dye Tomato
Amish Paste Tomato
Roma Tomato

And I also received for free:

American Melon
Lemon Queen Sunflower

I am incredibly excited about this growing season!  A lot of these seeds I do not have to start indoors, and that is a good thing, because I seem to forget about seeds that I start, or something comes up to ruin my plans for starting the seeds and eventually getting them into the garden.

I still need to get shell peas and I am going to attempt bell peppers and jalapenos from seed this year.  We shall see how it all goes!

Have you ordered your seeds yet?  Are you trying something new this year?

Linking up at the Barn Hop, Clever Chicks

Sunday Quotes

The real things haven't changed.  It is still best to be honest and truthful; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.
~Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Bridesmaid Review

The Bridesmaid, by Beverly Lewis, is a wonderful book of love and hope for Joanna Kurtz.  She has been a bridesmaid several times, and is now in her mid-twenties.  The whispers have started that she will end up an unmarried woman, unfortunately seemingly led by her younger sister Cora.  She meets a wonderful man, Eben, and believes he is the one.  The problem is that he belongs to another Amish church in another state.

This book is a really wonderful love story.  It has a lot of depth of the characters, which I adore in a book (like most people!).  I felt so involved in Joanna's life, between her quilting bees, and her chores, and her relationship to her immediate and extended family.  It showed such a nice picture of the values of the Amish.

Overall I was incredibly pleased with this book.  I had one issue, which was the redemption of the younger sister.  I am sure that the author was demonstrating how a real Amish woman would forgive her sister, but for the majority of the book I wanted Joanna to yell or scream, or something!  Their reconciliation seemed too easy to me, but perhaps that is because I am not Amish.

I think that anyone who enjoys an Amish story will enjoy this book.  The dedication of the children to their parents was very admirable, and I can only hope that my children will feel the same dedication as they grow up!

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in return for my review.  The opinions are my own.

what i am eating #13

I love cooking and eating, and I especially love looking at pictures of food!  If you love food as much as I do, please add your food pictures/recipes/food related posts to the linky below.  All you have to do is link back to this blog post.  I look forward to seeing what everyone else is eating this week!

I have been trying to incorporate a lot more raw vegetables into our diets as of late.  Obviously, with the juicing and the green smoothies we are getting our fair share, but it is also good to have something to munch on during the day.  My recent go to snack is something that my mom used to make.  It is raw broccoli and cauliflower that is marinated in a vinaigrette.  Although, I don't typically wait long for it to marinate before I start eating it.  It is nice because after you dress it you can eat it immediately, and then eat it for the next several days as well.

It is incredibly easy to make.  All you need to do is cut fresh broccoli and cauliflower into florets (keep the broccoli stems for juicing if you are juicing!), and then put whatever vinaigrette or italian dressing you prefer over it.  I make my own dressings, and what I have been doing recently is using raw apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes and dill.  I don't measure, and I probably use more vinegar than most people would, but it is delicious!

And the benefits of cruciferous vegetables are outstanding.  They have been shown to reduce cancer risk, and also help cardiovascular health.  This "salad" is a perfect way to get more of these types of veggies into your diet.  It is something that my kids enjoy snacking on as well.  They enjoy playing with the "little trees."  Any food that my kids think is fun, they tend to eat more of!

Link up what you are eating below!

Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil Giveaway!

I absolutely love coconut oil.  I think it has finally become my number one oil because it is so versatile, and I use it in so many different things.  I use it for making my own homemade deodorant, I use it in baking, also the ever important popping of popcorn on the stove.  Tropical Traditions is by far the best coconut oil that I have used.  The flavor it adds to my muffins or other baked goods is perfect, and it smells delicious!

I am so happy to announce that I have the opportunity to give away a 32 oz jar of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil from Tropical Traditions!  All you need to do is enter using the rafflecopter below!

Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil - 32 oz.

Win 1 quart of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil!

Tropical Traditions is America’s source for coconut oil. Their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is hand crafted in small batches by family producers, and it is the highest quality coconut oil they offer. You can read more about how virgin coconut oil is different from other coconut oils on their website: What is Virgin Coconut Oil?

Tropical Traditions also carries other varieties of affordable high quality coconut oil. Visit their website to check on current sales, to learn about the many uses of coconut oil, and to read about all the advantages of buying coconut oil online. Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Linking up at Giveaway Day, Your Green Resource

a scarf and some books

It is freezing here right now, not like 32 degrees freezing, like below zero and feels like negative 30 freezing.  At least that is what is saying, I am definitely not going outside to check...well until I have to bring fresh water out to the chickens.  Luckily I have knitting to do and books to read!

I am still knitting the scarf that I started last week.  It is coming along quite nicely, and is a super easy pattern, so I can keep moving forward with it a (very) little bit at a time.  The purple is very pretty, but it isn't something that I will wear.  So, depending on how long I make it, it will either go to one of the pretty little girls in my life, or to my mom.  Although, my mom ever so gently reminded me that she bought me yarn to make her fingerless mitts a long time ago.  I started out doing really well with these!  They knit up super fast. Unfortunately, I made one, and had the second just about done when my very lovely daughter decided to unravel it for me.  This was over a year ago...could be 2 years ago actually now...and I had put it away and haven't looked at it since.  Well, I guess as soon as I get the current mitten I am working on off my DPNs, I will start on the second one for my mom.  Maybe she will get a scarf and fingerless mitts before the end of the winter!

My book reading has been going really well.  I made my crazy 100 books goal last week, and I decided to embrace it and go full steam ahead.  I have been reading a lot of fiction books recently while I continue to work on Making Home.  I am about 3/4 of the way through it, and it has been a really good book.  I think that after I finish this I will make my way to one of her other books, Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage & Preservation, which I bought and read when it first came out in the fall of 2009.  However, I feel like there is a lot of knowledge in that book that I need to read again, now that I am more fully involved in growing and preserving my own food.

You can take a look at my 2013 Book List, and see what I have read recently.  I just finished and reviewed A Home in Drayton Valley.

Linking up at the yarn along and at work in progress.

teaching my kids to love the land

When I was growing up, my mom had a huge garden.  It is something that I always remember from my childhood.  It could be due to the year we had an infestation of woodchucks...I think we disposed of 14 that year.  It could be the days where my brother and I would sneak out to the garden and eat all of the shell peas before my mom would get home from work.  The many years my mom mowed over the asparagus and they kept coming back every year, or the raw rhubarb and sugar that we would snack on.  Somehow I don't remember the weeding...or the mom took care of that (perhaps I wasn't very good at weeding).  But, the bounty I do remember.

I talk a lot about my garden, and food, and my desire to be more self-sufficient, but I don't often speak of it in the context of teaching my children.

From last summer...

Maybe because I am still learning myself.  Every year I plant a bunch of vegetables and hope that they grow. There isn't a whole lot of planning besides what I know I can grow (in pots!), everything else is complete trial and error.  But, I want my kids to have the same desire to dig in the dirt as I have.

I think that I am lucky in realizing this while my kids are still quite young.  They want to be out in the garden digging in the dirt, it is fun for them to pull up weeds.  In fact, last summer I let them plant some of my seeds in a section of the yard they had dug up.  It happened to be mustard greens...and they grew quite well...and my daughter was ecstatic that a seed she had put in the ground and diligently (over)watered, grew so well.

...oh how I miss the warmth!

Sometimes it is easier for me to do it myself.  Actually, it is almost always easier for me to do it myself.  But, I do know how exciting it is for my kids; add in my desire for them to be good stewards of God's creation and to learn some of the skills pertaining to gardening, well, I am going to let them be more involved.

I am really excited about the spring planting season this year.  I have ordered my seeds, and plan to start some seeds as soon as they arrive.  I know that my kids are going to love helping to put those seeds in dirt, and watch them grow, and then to help me plant those seedlings in the ground.  It will probably take me longer, and it might be messier, but it will show my kids that I trust them to help me on something so important, and will instill in them the value I place on our food.

Do you let your kids help you with your garden?  Do they love it, or find it to be a chore?  

Linking up with Clever Chicks, the Barn Hop, Hip Homeschool Hop, Healthy 2day Wednesday, Mommy Club, Look What We Did, Your Green Resource, Training Happy Hearts

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

"I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together." ~Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday Quotes

The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time. ~Abraham Lincoln

A Home in Drayton Valley review

I love historical fiction.  I think I have enjoyed this genre ever since I was a little girl reading the Mandie series (which I still have and am looking forward to the day when my daughter and nieces want to read them!).  So I was incredibly excited to be able to review A Home in Drayton Valley.

A Home in Drayton Valley is about Tarsie Raines and her friends Joss and Mary Brubacher.  Tarsie and Mary have both been dreaming about leaving the poor conditions of New York City in 1880.  Tarsie has saved enough money over the years to give to Mary in order for her and her family to leave a terrible situation, if she can convince her husband Joss.  Mary has been sick, and although Tarsie has been giving her as many herbal medicines as she has available, it isn't working.  Mary wants Tarsie to travel with her family to Kansas, which Tarsie agrees to.  When tragedy strikes on the trip, Tarsie is thrown into a relationship with a man that she isn't exactly keen on.

I really enjoyed this book.  It was hard for me at first to get through the sadness.  Being a mother with small children, I am convinced that any book that has any sort of hurt for a mother and her children, I feel it wholeheartedly.  But, I continued reading anyway.  I wanted to know what happened to Tarsie and Joss and the children.

Joss was such a hard-hearted man for the first half of this book.  I was unsure of how the author would be able to turn it around for such a hard character.  But, there were glimpses of his love, and his sensitivity in his interactions with his children.

Overall, I thought this was a very well written book.  If you can get through the sadness at the beginning, it really picks up and delivers a wonderful ending.  There is all manner of subjects touched upon in this book.  Prohibition, race, following the will of God.  It was a very good story, and I definitely recommend it!

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in return for my review.  The opinions are my own.

what i am eating #12

I love cooking and eating, and I especially love looking at pictures of food!  If you love food as much as I do, please add your food pictures/recipes/food related posts to the linky below.  All you have to do is link back to this blog post.  I look forward to seeing what everyone else is eating this week!

We have been eating a lot of roasted veggies this week.  It is something that I love about winter, all the root vegetables available to us.  Living in Maine, I wasn't sure what a seasonal would look like with such a long winter.  Over the past five years I have learned a lot about what I should be eating, what is actually fresh in the winter, and what is not *ahem strawberries.*

I roast all root veggies the same it seems, a little extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes at 425 degrees.  But, recently, I started using some of the dill that we have gotten from our CSA on roasted potatoes.  These little purple potatoes with dill have been a hit with my littles.  They are really pretty, and taste delicious!  

Alright everyone!  Link up what you are eating below!

What is in season where you are?

100 books - what was I thinking?!


So yesterday I casually mentioned that one of my goals this year is to read 100 books.  I really didn't think that much of it until I started reading the comments, about how it was such a great goal - yet challenging.  Then I told my husband that I had casually mentioned that I planned to read 100 books this year, and he looked at me like I was a crazy person.

Of course, as soon as he told me that I should post that I was actually crazy and re-state my goal as 52 books this year, it gave me more gumption to go for it.  

We cancelled cable before Christmas.  Or maybe it was right after Christmas, I'm not sure.  But, it was incredibly freeing for me.  Matt is having a bit of trouble with not being able to go downstairs and flip through the channels at night.  That kind of TV watching always ends up with me landing on HGTV and wishing my house was new and beautiful, or that I lived in another country.  We had gotten the cable when we realized that it was going to cost the same for just our phone and internet, so why not have the cable thrown in as well.  I thought that I would be into so many shows, and I was for a time, but then I couldn't keep up with it anymore.

I have time for reading in the evenings now.

I deleted my personal Facebook account.  I may have mentioned that here already, but it is worth mentioning again.  I am planning on, at some point, putting together a Facebook page for this blog, but it hasn't happened yet.  I realized that I was spending an awful lot of time looking at pictures of people I hadn't seen in years, and not communicating with family and friends in real life - instead sending Facebook messages.  I miss it some, there are a few bloggy friends that I have, and that was my main source of talking to them - so hello to you!  But, I am not waking up in the middle of the night and turning on my iphone to check Facebook when I can't sleep.

Overall, my goal of reading 100 books is kind of crazy, and I have no idea if I will be able to accomplish it, but removing big distractions from my life will definitely help in conquering that goal.

I'm really excited!  I don't know how much reading I will do once it is warm outside and I spend my time in the garden.  But, during these dark winter days I can see a lot of reading coming my way!  Stay tuned!

What about you?  Do you have any crazy goals this year?

The hat is done, now what?

I finished Emma's hat!  I was so happy to finish it!  And honestly, I think it looks adorable on her.  Of course, I don't have a picture of her wearing the hat...she isn't one for posing for pictures...and I figured posting a blurry one of her running away from me wouldn't really work out too well.  So here it is, in all its glory!

Now, I am not sure what to knit next.  I started a skinny scarf for myself.  I thought it might be something nice to have, but I'm not so sure about the color, which is a light purple, for me.  I think it would fit my mom better, so she might get it for her July :-)

Reading, well I am hoping this year to read 100 books.  I think that I can probably do this, especially if I read a lot of fiction.  Fiction books seem to be easy for me to get through.  Of course, I have a list of non-fiction and research type books that I want to get through, so we will see how far I get!

I am currently reading A Home in Drayton Valley, which has been really sad.  I will have a review on Saturday for it, once I am finished.  It is a good book, but when a book starts out sad, it is harder for me to get through it!

The other book that I am reading is Blood Like Poison: For the Love of a Vampire.  I got this free for the kindle (I actually have a nook, but I have a kindle app on my computer and phone as well), and it is still free if you want a new e-book to read!  It reminds me a bit of Twilight, but I am only about 20 pages in.  I think it will be enjoyable though, I like easy vampire reading!

Joining in at the yarn along today.

Homeschooling and Pinterest

Don't you just love pinterest?  I find that people either love it or they hate it.  They love it because there are so many amazing ideas that can fill your days, months, and years.  Or they hate it for the very same reason!  I tend to be in the first camp.  I love it.  I feel like it is such a great resource.  I mean, we have all been bookmarking sites for quite a while, right?  Isn't it nice to have a pretty picture and a bit of a description?  It definitely helps me, especially when I am constantly bookmarking "pre-school activities."


One of my goals this year is to really utilize pinterest in my homeschooling.  I want to do the activities that I pin, not just pin them because I like to look at pictures all day!


What I find somewhat difficult is organizing all of the ideas.  It was easy at first, have a board for food - and all food goes there.  Of course now, I have so many food pins that I wouldn't be able to find something if I wanted to.  Coming up with new board names, and then organizing my pins to these new boards is something I will be working on.


I also have to allow myself some leeway.  Pinterest can be a death trap for anyone.  Often times I will see a pin and think to myself "I can totally do that!" just to realize when I have purchased all the supplies that, no, I cannot do that, and what was I thinking attempting it?!


So, while I would love to build a huge castle made out of cardboard with my kids that is fully wallpapered, has windows and curtains; I know that is not going to happen - and it is ok.  But, I can build a castle out of all the boxes we have lying around, and the kids can go to town decorating it with their assorted art supplies, and I will call it good.

Do you use pinterest in your homeschooling?  Do you end up pinning things you know you can actually do, or do you pin anything that looks pretty (like me!)?

Linking up at Hip Homeschool Hop

Planning your Summer Garden - Part Two

Last week I started talking about planning your summer garden.  I think all that talk about summer made mother nature smile!  It has been really warm here this past week (40's in January in my neck of the woods is incredibly warm!), and it looks like it will continue for a few days.

I concentrated on planning for your seed purchase in my last post.  A large part of that seed purchase is to consider what your family will eat.  I am lucky in the fact that my kids love veggies from the garden, so we grow a variety of foods to eat.  What I have trouble with is trying to figure out how to best utilize the space that I have to grow as much as humanly possible.

I am constantly trying to figure out how much of each vegetable my family will eat.  It is a goal of mine (and has been for a couple of years now) to grow what we would eat for one season.  I haven't come close yet.  It seems like each year I either don't plant enough, or I plant too much, I can never seem to plant the right amount.  Why is that?

I think part of the problem is I underestimate what my kids will want.  Last year I didn't can any dilly beans.  I knew that my kids liked them, but I also knew that we would be getting dilly beans on occasion from our winter pantry CSA.  I felt like there was no need!  Unfortunately, I was completely wrong.  Jack LOVES dilly beans.  He chooses them for a snack almost as much as fruit.  So this year, I plan to plant a lot of green beans so that I can make dilly beans.

I figure I am still learning though, so I am giving myself grace.  But, considering I want to have a more subsistence lifestyle, I think it would be good if I could get my act together!

Some of the resources that I am utilizing this year are:

The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!

I love this book.  It is a little bit like a fairy tale to think that you could live in a community where all of the laws allow all of these animals/gardens etc.  But, it is something that I strive for in our community.  We are allowed chickens currently, and right now they are working on a small farm animal ordinance.  This means I could get a goat! - I haven't mentioned it to Matt yet.  What I really like about this book is the hope that it gives.  If I continue to work each year, perhaps we will get to a point where we can produce a majority of our food!

All New Square Foot Gardening

This book is great for people that are gardening in small spaces.  I talked a little bit last week about making sure you have the spacing you need when planning what you will plant.  I use the spacing suggestions in this book.  It makes a lot of sense to me, and planting in such a small space as I do, I want to make the best use of every square inch.

Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to Gardening

This is a book that I took from my mom.  It has so much information in it.  I don't know if they print these Reader's Digest books anymore, but I also have the Complete Guide to Needlework, which obviously has nothing to do with gardening, but has so much great information I figured I would mention it!  These Reader's Digest books are the best how to books I have found.  They seem to have the most detailed steps to follow, which is helpful when you are trying to teach yourself.

Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills

This book is not only about gardening.  I love to learn how people used to do things, before we had so many "advances."  I see a lower energy future, so I want to make sure that I know enough about these skills that I can pass onto my kids.  However, there is also a lot of great information for gardening and then also putting up the food for the winter.

The final resource that I use is my mom.  She always had a garden when I was growing up, and I think I took it for granted.  I really had no desire to learn any of it when I was younger, and I am kicking myself now.  Whenever I am talking about gardening with my mom, she always seems to come up with something related to what I am saying, and it always makes me thing "huh, why didn't I know that?"  If you have an older relative, or friend, or neighbor; ask them about gardening.  You would be surprised with all the knowledge they may have.

What are your favorite resources for garden planning?  Do you wing it, or do you plan down to each square inch?

Linking up at Clever Chicks, the Barn Hop, Healthy 2day Wednesday, Your Green Resource

Sunday Quotes

"When you awaken love and laughter in your life, your mind lets go of fear and anxiety, and your happy spirit becomes the healing balm that transforms every aspect of your human experience."
 ~Jesse Dylan

what i am eating #11

I love cooking and eating, and I especially love looking at pictures of food!  If you love food as much as I do, please add your food pictures/recipes/food related posts to the linky below.  All you have to do is link back to this blog post.  I look forward to seeing what everyone else is eating this week!

I did a detox last weekend.  It was a 3 day detox through the Hungry For Change documentary website.  It didn't really seem like a detox, which made it 100 times better for me.  I liked to think of it as a kick start to eating healthier.  I have been moving towards a mainly plant-based diet for some time now, and this was a great way to keep working on that path.  It was pretty much a green juice for breakfast, salad for lunch, and soup for dinner.  Overall, really really great.  But, the thing that I wanted to share with you today is the green juice.

I have been making green smoothies for a while now, and my family loves them.  My kids request them all the time, and I couldn't be happier to blend up some kale and fruit for my kids.  I was a little concerned moving towards green juice, mainly because I had heard so many people say that it was bitter and hard to drink with kale in it.  Luckily, I had saved up enough amazon gift cards through my very awesome swagbucks account to purchase a juicer online back in December.  Best. Purchase. Ever.

I absolutely love juicing now, and this juicer is quite good for a mid-range model I think.  I wasn't sure how the rest of my family would feel about juicing, but surprisingly, everyone loves it.  Jack especially.  I will make a juice for me, and he ends up drinking the whole thing.  So now I have to make sure to have enough juice for everyone - which does get kind of pricey.

The benefits of juicing are so many, that I don't mind spending a little extra money in order to keep us healthy.

Green Juice ~ 1 pint

2 large kale leaves
1 cucumber
1 handful parsley
3 celery stalks
1 apple cored
1 lemon peeled

Do you juice?  Have you watched Hungry For Change?  It really is an amazing documentary.  Link up your food posts below!

Linking up with Clever Chicks

Resolutions, Goals, a Word for the Year, oh my!

If you have been reading here the past couple of weeks, you know that we had all been fighting an illness.  On the plus side, we are all feeling much better, and our daily routine of homeschooling and other crafting fun has resumed.  But, I am still feeling out of sorts.  Why?  Well, not because I don't feel healthy, but because I haven't had a chance to do all the typical New Year type things that I have done every year for the last several years.

I rarely make resolutions, I realize that I am going to break them right away, so instead I will make goals.  Goals for the year for our home, for the kids, for homeschooling, for me personally, for our financial life, and for my husband and I, then as an entire family.  That's a lot of goals!  They are usually mostly manageable, and ideas that my husband and I have been talking about (or more likely I am talking about and he is smiling and nodding), and then maybe one dreaming type goal (long vacation to the Italy? sign me up!).  I like to have that list of goals sitting in front of me, ready for the new year.

But, I am not there yet. 

I have been seeing a lot of blogs out there that have picked a word for the year.  This sounds like an amazing idea to me.  I recently read a post about it on Family Your Way, and I jokingly left a comment saying that it would take me half the year to come up with a word that work for all the things that I want to accomplish.  And then I said, maybe change should be my word.

When I started on my green and simple living journey (which seems to reach every aspect of my life), I knew that there was an end goal, but I didn't know how long it would take to get there.  And let me tell you, we are definitely not there yet.  No matter how often I talk about how I want to eat all the right foods, we still get takeout from the pizza place downtown, we still spend money on items from other countries, and I still buy plastic (albeit not very often, and usually only of the ziploc variety).

It is still about baby steps.

So, even though I am not posting out an entire list of goals (because, remember, I haven't written them yet!), I think I am going to go forward and call this the year of change.  I am ready to take action on some of  the goals I have had for a couple of years, but haven't quite had the courage to tackle.  Will it be difficult?  Oh, absolutely.

I find that the most difficult aspects of change you encounter are always the most rewarding.

What about you?  Do you have a word that you are striving towards this year?  Is it ok to make February 1st the New Year this year because we have all been sick?  Is change something that you are working on this year?

Emma's hat part two

I think I may have spoken prematurely when I said "I will make Emma a hat this week."  Now typically, I would say that I could do a hat in a week no problem, but with the kids and I still battling sickness it wasn't really going to happen.  I am pleased with the progress I have made though, and I have high hopes that it will be finished by this weekend so that my kids are able to play outside for a while since we have all been cooped up for so long!

I am still reading Making Home.  I know that it is going to take me a while to get through this book and digest everything.  It is extremely interesting so far.  I especially like what Sharon has been saying about how we are so focused on getting away from our family and area from a young age.  We are told to go away to school, don't let where you are from hold you back.  I understand what she is saying!  I wanted to get out of my town growing up more than anything...and then I came back after I was older and wiser.  We all move away from our families, and we no longer have that built in community.  Instead, we have to rely on our neighbors, and that can be a little more difficult to manage.  It doesn't matter if my family thinks I am crazy, they still love me unconditionally, but my neighbors?  Well that is a different story.

I also received a new book in the mail today.  I love those days, new books in the mail!  Yay! The book is called Playful Learning: Develop Your Child's Sense of Joy and Wonder.  I have been on a waiting list for this book at the library for over 6 months now.  I figured that if I wait until the book is available at the library, I may no longer have a need for the book :-)  So, I decided I would purchase it.  I am really looking forward to sitting down tonight with some tea and this book.

I wanted to also let you all know that I have recently opened a Goodreads account.  I would love to have you join me over there.  I am always looking for new books to read, and hope to get all of my books on those digital shelves!

Linking up at the Yarn Along and Work in Progress

New Year, New Rhythm

We started back to our homeschool yesterday.  It was perhaps a bit later than I had hoped for, but considering we had all been sick, it was nice to be able to make the decision to put the school away and cuddle up on the couch for movies and tea.

With the new year, I wanted to take a look at what we were doing for school and try to make some changes where they were needed.  The biggest change that I was looking to make was including more for my youngest in the form of books specifically for him.  He is very good about being quiet and listening (or quietly playing) while I am working on school with my daughter, but I know that he has been waiting for his time to come.

Now, what my plan is, is to start school with my daughter first thing in the morning.  While they are eating breakfast, I read them their Bible stories.  It is the perfect time to do this, when their mouths are full and can't interrupt me!  Then I put on their "Sing the Word" CD, which they both love.  They dance around and sing Bible verses.  Great exercise and enjoyable for me to watch!

We then sit down and do our book reading.  We go through all the books that we have for that day, and typically spend a bit of time on a longer chapter book as well.  Once we are done with our reading, Emma will sit down and work on her math and writing, as well as work on her readers.  This is usually the most intensive time of our entire homeschool day.  We will work until she wants to stop with math, and I have a set number of writing worksheets to do during the week.  If she finishes them all at the beginning of the week, great, otherwise we work at them a little at a time until they are all gone.  The same with the reading.  I don't want to force it with her, she is only 4 after all.  So, we work until she has had enough.

After we are done with Emma's school, we sit down and work through Jack's stories.  Emma will sit and listen as well, because these are some of her favorite stories and she remembers them well.  Often when we read these stories, she will make it a point to "read" them to Jack, because she had memorized them so long ago.  It is nice to see them interacting this way.

Yesterday, all of this "school" went from about 7am until 10:30am.  I was very impressed that the kids stuck with it for so long.  I think the fact that we are not doing one thing for a long period of time, and we move around quite a bit, helps.  Then it is time for a snack, and then craft time which is when I start preparing lunch.

Overall, this worked out very well for us (on the one day we have done it so far!).  I think that the key to this is for me to have all the books ready to go before the morning starts.  So, after we finished school today, I took a look at tomorrow's schedule and got everything ready.  As long as I also wake up before the kids (knock on wood this will continue!), I can see this routine working out very well for us.

After lunch we have a rest time where the kids will watch a show, and I will do a bit of cleaning and start thinking about dinner.  Now, if everyday runs as smoothly as yesterday did, well, I will be a happy woman.  I'm not holding my breath of course, and will make changes as I need to in order to serve our family the best.

Have you changed your rhythm since the start of the year?  Do you like to start fresh on January 1st re-evaluating what you have been doing since the beginning of the year?

Linking up at Mama Moments, Hip Homeschool Hop

Planning your Summer Garden - Part One

It seems strange writing about the summer when it is 20 degrees outside and we have 2 feet of snow on the ground, however, it is time!  In fact, I'm sure a lot of very serious gardeners (and farmers) started planning in the fall.  I like to think of myself as a serious gardener, but perhaps it would be best to think of myself as a serious novice gardener.

If you are like me, you have forgotten that your garden last year was more weeds than vegetables by the end of the summer.  You will have forgotten about the insane amount of squash bugs that came to visit you.  And you will most certainly have forgotten that you were unable to grow green beans when you never had trouble with it before.  It is a new year!  And that means new plans, and working on what didn't work last year.

Step One - Think about space.

I seem to always forget this step and jump right into the purchasing of seeds.  For some strange reason, I cannot seem to fit all the winter squash I can eat in a year, rows upon rows of sweet corn, potatoes for storage and 15 different varieties of tomatoes...especially not among the green beans, sweet peppers, hot peppers, cucumbers,  zucchini, summer squash, and other assorted vegetables I seem to plant.  At least I can't fit all of this in my 16' x 20' garden bed.  So this year, when thinking about my spring plantings, I will be considering the space that the vegetables I want to grow require.  No matter how hard I try to force next to zero spacing, it does not work!  You will be happier if you allow yourself the room to get into the garden to pick the vegetables.  I may or may not be speaking from experience here.

Step Two - Look at what seeds you already have.

I frequently skip this step as well.  When those glossy seed catalogs with their beautiful pictures come in the mail, I will have all but forgotten that I already have 4 varieties of summer squash, and probably do not need to add another to the mix.  But, if I already have a list of seeds that I own sitting next to me, I will know not to order another package of blue hubbard squash seeds.

Step Three - Make a list of what you want to grow.

What does your family eat?  Even though you think it would be amazing to plant all those zucchini plants, if your family doesn't eat zucchini, it isn't worth the space.

Step Four - Look through your seed catalogs.

This is a hard one for me.  You know you want to jump to this step first.  Even when you know you need to start with step one, there are so many beautiful vegetables that you want to grow.  They all look amazing!  This is why you make a list of what you would like to plant before you look at your seed catalogs.  You want to pay specific attention to how long that seed will take to grow into whatever it is supposed to be.  We have a relatively short growing season here in Maine, which is great for all the different greens you want to eat, but not so great for certain things *ahem* watermelon *ahem*.  I also like to try planting one new thing each year, so this is a great way to find something new to plant.

Planning for your summer garden is important.  It is what allows you to make the best use of your space and get the most out of your garden.

Are you planning your first garden this summer?  Are you a seasoned gardener?  What tips would you share?

Linking up at the Barn Hop, Clever Chicks, Healthy 2day Wednesdays, Your Green Resource

Sunday Quotes

If you have never seen this, you can thank me in the comments :-)

what i am eating #10

I love cooking and eating, and I especially love looking at pictures of food!  If you love food as much as I do, please add your food pictures/recipes/food related posts to the linky below.  All you have to do is link back to this blog post.  I look forward to seeing what everyone else is eating this week!

I had stopped my what am i eating linky back at the end of September because I was gearing up for my {31 Days} Intentional Living series, and then took several breaks for the holidays. However, I figured with the new year, I would start it again!  So I hope that you will all link up below!

vegetable soup made with homemade turkey stock, crushed tomatoes, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, turnip, sweet potato

I have been watching a lot of food documentaries lately.  All of them I have seen before, but after the gluttonous holiday season that we just had, I felt the need to remind myself why I shouldn't eat like this all the time.  Some of the newer documentaries that I have been enjoying again are Hungry For ChangeForks Over Knives; Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead; and my classic food documentary suggestion Food, Inc.  All of these are available on Netflix I believe, and each one is well worth seeing, even if you have already watched them.

They have started me thinking about food again.  Honestly, when am I not thinking about food.  I always want to make the best choices for feeding my family, as I'm sure we all do, and am constantly looking for more information about what the best diet for our family is.  I have been spending a lot of time reading the wealth of information that can be found at FIMBY on a plant based diet, the benefits, the costs associated (both financially and time wise), and also some amazing recipes that help my mind think more towards vegan dishes.

Also, in preparation for re-booting our eating, I have registered myself for Heather's Whole Food Kitchen workshop again.  I took this workshop last year, and loved it.  There is a wealth of information that Heather and other contributors share.  The recipes are amazing, and not overly complicated.  The ability to also converse with all the other participants in the workshop creates an awesome community of people to bounce ideas off of and have great conversation with.  If you are looking for some kitchen inspiration, I definitely recommend it!

All that to say that we have been eating a lot of homemade vegetable soup as of late.  We have been bouncing colds back and forth to each other since right after Christmas.  It is something warm and comforting that we all enjoy, and makes us feel better as well!

I look forward to seeing what everyone else is eating these days!

Linking up at Healthy 2day Wednesdays, Your Green Resource

New Year, New Opportunities!

I am a little flabbergasted that it is already 2013.  I don't quite know what happened to 2012, it seemed to pass me by so fast I'm not entirely sure what happened!  With each new year, I realize how short they seem to be, and I always have a renewed spirit to accomplish all those things on my list to live my best life, and help my family do the same.

This year I plan to spend a lot of time improving on what I started last year.  I started a new way to organize my day last year, and it works really well...when I use it.  I had been attempting to use this sheet in the morning, when I was able to wake up before my kids for my quiet time.  However, I think that a better idea is to fill out this sheet the night before.  My mind works a little better in the evening, and I think having this page already filled out will make it a bit easier to manage my mornings.

I am also in the process of making my rooms work for our family.  I talked a little about this on Tuesday, since I spent some time re-organizing our school room.  I'm not sure that I will ever be able to leave everything in my home in the same place, but I am trying to find a better use of our space, especially with the lack of closets in the entire house.  I hope to spend some time going through Tsh's book Organized Simplicity, which I did last year at the beginning of the year as well.  It seems like each year I read this book, I get a little closer to the simple home that I am seeking.  I always have stuff to get rid of, and I always like to do a large deep clean.  Tsh takes each room day by day, but with littles running around and homeschooling to do, I tend to work on rooms for weeks at a time.  Not the most pleasant thing to have to live with while I am organizing, but when it is done, I feel so much better!

I haven't really made a list of resolutions for this year, which is something I almost always do right after Christmas.  I think the fact that Christmas was on a Tuesday this year seemed to throw me off a bit.  I hope to spend some time this weekend really putting my thoughts down on paper, and evaluating how I want my year to go.

What about you?  Do you have any resolutions this year?  Any big plans?

I will make Emma a hat this week!

Every year I try and make hats for the kids.  I wrote about Jack's hat way back in July, and I even wrote about starting a hat for Emma.  Yet, for some reason it didn't pan out.  I think it was because I was short on yarn.  I knew it when I started, and instead of joining a new ball of yarn when I would eventually run out, I wanted to start with a fresh ball of yarn.

So here it is, January 2nd, and I am knitting her Christmas hat.  I don't think she really cares that much about when she receives it, just that she does.  I have written before about how much I love to hear her make knitting requests from me (although they are typically tall orders!).  Once I let go of the pressure to make sure I had it done by Christmas, I felt better.  I know I will finish it this week, because I am not under the pressure!  It seems to work so much better that way.  Granted, it is all self-made pressure, but pressure nonetheless!

As far as reading goes, I have started two books.  The first is Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners, which I saw on the yarn along a while back.  We are at the very beginning of our homeschooling journey, and I am constantly adjusting what we do to try and help my children be the best learners they can be.  I think this book will have a lot of good information, and it will definitely be one that will take me a bit of time to get through.

The other book that I am planning to Making Home: Adapting Our Homes and Our Lives to Settle in Place, which I received before Christmas but still haven't started.  I really would like to read this book with Matt.  I talk and talk and talk about changing our lives, moving to a plot of land, enjoying a subsistence lifestyle, however, that is not happening today, or tomorrow, or even in 6 months if I am being honest.  So, I have been working on making our house our home, and doing as much as possible to make it work for us, instead of using it as a temporary dwelling.  I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday season!

Do you take a break after the holidays from knitting?  Or do you take one before the holidays like I did?

Joining in with Ginny and her yarn along.

Back from a Homeschool Break

At the beginning of November, I talked about taking a long homeschooling break between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  And I am incredibly glad that I took that time, both for myself and my kids.  Instead of spending days trying to make sure that we got in everything on my school list, we spent our days doing crafts, baking, reading Christmas stories and general merry making.  Now, from this small sampling of what we were doing, it is clear that we didn't completely stop doing school - just stopped more of the formal lessons.  I think that it worked well for us, and I plan to do this again next year.

However, now we are starting a brand new year!  2013 is here, and we have a lot of work to do going forward.  This past week we have all been sick, so the kids have been resting.  But, in my free time, I have been re-organizing the school room.  Now, we don't necessarily do all of our schooling in this room, but it is where I store all of the school books, supplies, etc.  It is also the room that had our Christmas Tree in it this year.

After I took the tree down, I was left with a blank canvas again.  I love to move my furniture around, which I have talked about before, and so this past week I have been doing just that.  I decided to move my desk and also the awesome table Matt built me last year into the school room.  We have a dining room that is being used as a library at the moment, and my desk was in there, however, we have that room blocked off to save on heat, so I don't go in there very often.  This also means that when it starts to get warm out, I will probably move my desk again!

Having the opportunity to "freshen up" the space is really important for me, and for the kids as well.  It keeps things new, and seems to help keep our energy up.  Plus, with the new toys that made their way to our home this Christmas season, we needed to move some stuff around.

Due to everyone still being sick, I am not completely done organizing everything, nor have we started school again yet!  But, I think that once everything is put in its place we will be ready to go!  I have a lot of exciting projects planned for us, and I also have some new books to read in order to help me continue to adjust our schooling style to fit my kids.  Because what is the point of homeschooling if I can't customize it to my individual children?!

Do you do anything special at the turn of the year for your homeschool?  Did you take a break for the holidays?  Do you ease back into school, or jump in with both feet?

Linking up at the Hip Homeschool Hop, One Project at a Time