Simplicity by Choice

Off-Grid Living & Self-Reliance

Finding Peace in a Chaotic World January 28, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — ourprairiehome @ 4:28 am

Over the past months, I have been doing a lot of work on myself.  It had been so easy to allow myself to get overwhelmed by life.  Hubby being gone for long periods while I was home really took some getting used to again.  I had become spoiled with having him home every night.  Now, I am back to dealing with the homestead on my own while he is away. 

It has taken some time, but I am finding my peace again.  That calm that reached deep onto your soul is coming back.  Yes, I still have moments of stress, such as when I had vehicle problems.  Over all though, I am learning to roll with it. 

My blogs, unfortunately have suffered from neglect during this time.  I am working on that.  Getting used to posting from a phone app has been interesting, to say the least.  I think I have found an internet service to suit my needs.  We are going to be buying a MiFi device that works in our area.  Once I get that, I will have a better set-up for doing the blogs.  Until then, the posts will be from the phone.

 

Homestead Christmas December 23, 2015

We haven’t always celebrated Christmas.  In fact, it has only been in recent years that we even got a small tree.  A local shop owner saw our daughter admiring the little artificial tree. She and I  talked about how pretty it was, not knowing that the owner overheard us. As we left, he came out carrying a box.  He said that we had forgotten something.  To our delight, he placed the tree in our trunk.

The main reason for not celebrating was due to the holiday being so commercial. It was all about the gifts, not the religious story.  People routinely go into debt trying to buy the perfect gift.  It just didn’t feel right.

After having the kids, we made the decision to celebrate.  The compromise for us was that we limit the gifts.  We also teach the kids to make their gifts.  This one simple thing helps teach children to give of their time and talents to others.

The little ones are ages 9 and 7 years old this season.  With a little guidance, Little Miss chose a project to make for Daddy.  She wanted to make him something that he can take onto the truck with him.  It was a simple project to complete but very useful.  Little Man needed more help with his gift to Daddy.  Mostly due to his lack of fine motor development.  He had fun with it though.

Giving homemade gifts whenever possible has become a family tradition.  We also limit the number of gifts.  In doing this, the kids are much more appreciative of what they receive.

The Christmas tree has a few secondhand ornaments.  Gradually, we are adding handmade ornaments to it each year.  A new thing added to the tree this year also was battery powered little lights.  We found those at Hobby Lobby.

Having a simple Christmas has been a blessing. We can focus on the meaning of the holiday without all the stress and hoopla that other families face.  We can use it as a time to serve others and give of ourselves in remebrance of Christ giving of Himself for us.  It is also an opportunity to teach the kids that it isn’t all about than, but learn to enjoy the giving to others.

I love how we celebrate Christmas. It is so much more peaceful and enjoyable for our family.  I pray that others can enjoy the holiday as that celebrate with their families.

 

Early Blessings December 10, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — ourprairiehome @ 5:30 pm
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What a crazy few months!  Running the homestead while hubby is out on the truck has been an adjustment.  I have been getting the house ready for winter.  Firewood is being delivered a pickup truck load at a time so that we have the wood needed for the winter season.  So far the temps have been mild, but I am not holding my breath.  Back when Little Miss was a toddler, we had a very mild start to winter only to have a blizzard on Christmas Eve.

This weekend, I am putting plastic up on the windows to help keep an drafts out.  Even with double-pane windows, sometimes the cold can sneak in.  Putting the plastic up will help prevent that.

A neighbor got an extra deer this past season.  They brought to me the meat from a large buck.  I roasted it all up and cut into stew meat before pressure canning the entire thing.  Now, I have a pantry shelf loaded with venison to use throughout the winter months and into spring.

Once the daytime temps are consistently staying down in the 35-50 degree range, I will be buying a 50# bag of russet potatoes.  These will stay fresh and not grow sprouts all winter long.

I am buying a few sweet potatoes this week to allow to grow sprouts.  The sprouts are allowed to grow to be about 6 inches long.  Once they are long enough, I carefully break them off of the sweet potatoes and set them into a jar of water to grow roots.  By spring, I will have a good size batch of sweet potato slips to plant into the garden.

 

 

Bulk Food Tip September 21, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — ourprairiehome @ 2:58 pm

One of my favorite ways to save money is to shop the bulk food bins at Whole Foods or Sprouts Farmers Market. Both stores have a great selection in dried goods that store well in the pantry.

One problem that I see in buying these foods for the newbie is the pack of cooking instructions for those foods. With that in mind, here is a tip that I am using in my kitchen.

Take a blank book or notebook and write the basic recipes for preparing the food items. Having this information readily available will save a lot of frustration later.

Here is one example.  I recently purchased farina at Sprouts for 99 cents per pound. I filled a quart container for less than $2.00.  When I got home, I realised I had no instructions. Luckily I had a small box of farina in the pantry that I was able to copy the info from.

Having the information not only helps me, but anyone else in the family who wants to cook.  I may know how to cook lentils, but my daughter doesn’t.  

Once you have the basic cooking instructions recorded in the book, add favorite recipes using those bulk foods.  I am using a small 3-ring binder for mine. This way I can add index tabs to make finding each bulk food faster.

 

I’m Baaack! September 9, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — ourprairiehome @ 1:36 am
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So long since my last post. We have gone through more changes. Hubby is back to OTR trucking. He needed to make the change as the local job was paying less than we needed.  When he started to local job, he had overtime each week that doubled his pay. Then, about 8 months ago, the overtime stopped. Our pay was half what we were getting. He tried getting a job with the oil/gas fields but they were not hiring.  So, the decision to go back over the road was a necessity.

It has been an adjustment. Luckily we have done this routine before so it wasn’t as hard as it could have been. The kids took a bit of adjusting and have been dealing with missing their Daddy, but we are working through it.

I have been without internet up until recently when I bought a smart phone. My app phone was just too outdated to use for internet.  I now have the app for posting blogs, so am planning to be better about doing so.  I also am going to be getting a phone line for the house and dial-up internet soon.

We have been blessed with a local church youth group coming twice a month to trim trees and do yardwork for me.  That has taken a load off my chores list.  I am now planning out the autumn/winter projects for the seasons.

The kids and I were able to take a week long vacation to visit friends. It was a bit of a trial run for us. Little Man doesn’t travel long distances very well and has anxieties when in new locations. This was a good opportunity to get him a little more exposure to the idea.

We are looking at getting a puppy sometime in the next few months. The pup will begin to be trained and socialized immediately to start laying the ground work for him to become a service dog for Little Man.  It takes about 2-3 years to fully train the dog from puppy training through any specialized training needed.  As soon as we get the dog, we will begin the process of taking the dog everywhere we go that he can go with us.  Once he completes the Good K9 test successfully, he will be able to go everywhere as a service dog in training. 

 

Simplicity Goals – Livingroom April 12, 2015

Filed under: old fashioned,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 2:59 am
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It has been a little while since I last posted in this topic.  Life happens and gets in the way of best intentions sometimes.  I have finally set up a planner for my blog posts to help me be more efficient in this area.  I have been very surprised at the response about my kitchen post.  It would seem that our family is not the only ones thinking of scaling back to the basics.

livingroom

 

When you look at the picture above, what do you notice?  There is little excess.  In fact, there is no excess that is visible in the photo.  Can you imagine how easy it would be to keep this space clean?  Think of how peaceful your time would be when spent in this room.

Tonight, I wanted to continue the Simplicity Goals series with the livingroom.  I remember when visiting Katie and Levi Schwartzentruber, as you entered their home, the first room you entered was the livingroom.  Hardwood floors were the norm throughout their home.  Katie often mentioned to me that the wooden floors were more practical and easier to maintain with a family.  There livingroom, unlike most homes today, did not have a lot of seating for guests.  There were two rockers, both near a woodstove.  These were where Levi and Katie would sit.  The children typically sat on a bench or on the floor.    In the corner of the room, Katie had her treadle sewing machine and oft times, there was a quilt set up on the frame to be hand quilted.  When chores were done, or during a quilting bee, chairs and benches from the kitchen were brought in and placed around the quilt frame while the ladies worked on the quilt.

I remember how welcoming the space was.  When the number of guests was more than the livingroom, chairs were brought in.  Often, there were wooden chairs on the porch that could be brought in.  Chairs from around the dining table as well.  Just as with the quilting bees, chairs were brought in as needed.  On a daily basis though, the room was kept with the minimal furniture.  This reflected the Amish beliefs about not being given to excess.  Yet, we can learn so much from it today.

How often do we allow ourselves to be caught up in the wants and expectations that our society dictates?  We have become convinced that we must have all the comforts we can afford.  There are often times a feeling of needing to have just the right decor in our home.  How many of you know of someone who routinely changes their room decor to match the seasons?  I am not saying that this is a bad thing.  It just isn’t for me.  I look at not only the cost of the decor items, but the amount of storage required when these items are swapped out each season.  Then, you have the maintaining of the items, or their replacement when worn or damaged.

Katie had a very simple way of decorating.  She did it with quilts.  A lightweight quilt draped over the chair not only added color to the room, but provided a back cushion as well.  On chilly evenings, it was readily available to wrap around the shoulders for warmth.  Her windows had simple black fabric for curtains.  The fabric was heavy enough to keep the chill at bay.  In summer months, she might put up white fabric curtains that were a lighter weight to allow the breeze to come through the opened windows.  On her floor, a simple braided rag rug was the only covering.  One placed near the door, others at the rocking chairs.  Again, this is what brought color to the room.

I look at the picture, as well as my memories of Katie’s home, and I find inspiration.  With the lack of “stuff” cluttering the room, Katie did not have to spend endless amounts of time cleaning.  She had too many other things to do!  I can tell you from experience that having a house cluttered with excess, on top of doing chores without the benefits of modern conveniences & appliances, is overwhelming.  You spend so much time staying on top of the household chores that the garden or other tasks can suffer from neglect.  Katie not only maintained her home, she used the treadle sewing machine to make all of her family’s clothing, she gardened and home canned the harvest, she baked breads and pies almost daily to feed a family that included 7 children, and she did all the typical things that a Momma does.  Laundry was done in a gas powered, wringer washing machine, then hung up on the clothesline to dry.  Because the clothing is made mostly from a cotton fabric, of poly/cotton blend, it needed ironing as well.  She had a busy enough day ahead of her, even with the help of her oldest daughters, that excessive clutter would have been a hindrance.

How often do we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed?  How often do we wish we could have less time cleaning and more time to pursue other activities?  How easily could we gain that extra time if we simply removed some of the clutter and excess from our homes?

To me, that picture above is close to the ideal livingroom.  Only the essential items are present.  Everything has a place and everything is in its place.  It is peaceful and serene.  I could easily be able to relax in that room.  What about you?

 

Spring…….Finally March 23, 2015

Filed under: family,homesteading,off grid — ourprairiehome @ 5:33 am
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I was beginning to wonder if Mother Nature was ever going to get over her PMS and allow spring to arrive.  It seems that she finally got the idea and has allowed our weather to turn into it’s typical rainy self.  Each spring, I am eager to start planting the garden but have to wait.  You see, we live in a wonderful little area that has a week of nasty weather every year sometime in the week before or after Easter.  Never fails.  Plant the garden before Easter and you end up with a garden that either freezes or gets flooded out.  So, I have learned to be more patient over the years.  I wait until after Easter has passed by before I start planting anything.

We woke up early Sunday morning, about 4:30am, so that we could fumigate the attic.  We live in a state that has a lot of problems with red wasps.  So, it is not uncommon to see people load up on the cans of wasp spray or the fumigating foggers to use in attic spaces and other areas that the wasps might try to set up their nests.  We got the kids up and had a quick breakfast before loading them up into the car.  Hubby set off the foggers in our attic and we headed to town.  We ended up taking our laundry to the laundromat and ran a few errands afterward.  The foggers don’t seep down into the rest of the house, so we don’t have to cover anything ahead of time.

By the time we get home, the foggers have done their job.  This ritual is one that we repeat every 3-4 weeks throughout the warm months to control the wasps.  Another item that we began using last year that works great is to set out around the known wasp areas outdoors the TrapStik by a company called Rescue.

Trapstik

Trapstik for Wasps

This is probably the one thing that has been the most effective.  It is a sticky green trap that you hang up.  The wasps are drawn to it and within a couple of days, we have a full trap.  If you set these out early enough, you have a good chance of trapping the queen.  A wasp queen will leave the nest area early in the season.  If you can get her, the wasp colony will collapse.   What I loved about this trap is that it is pesticide free and we also never caught a honey bee on it.  The trap works to catch all types of wasps and carpenter bees.  We hang them in areas near their nests or anywhere they you notice a lot of wasp activity.  These really are effective in reducing the wasp population.  Some stores, such as Lowes, carries these but we also buy them online.

I am looking forward to getting out outdoor laundry and kitchen set up again.  Now that Mother Nature got over her winter mood, we will soon be getting those areas ready for summer.  During the warm months, we spend a lot of our time outdoors.  The kids have their pool and play area to enjoy.  Lots of shade trees are a bonus as well.  One thing that I typically stop doing in summer is baking.  I don’t like to heat up the house by using the oven unless it is necessary.  If I do choose to bake something, it is in the late evening or very early in the morning when the cook night breezes are present.  We are looking at designs for building an outdoor bread oven but haven’t chosen one yet.  In the long term plans for the homestead, we want to have a permanent area designated and set up as our outdoor kitchen.  So far, the plan is to build the oven and an outdoor grill from brick or stone.  Having it set up in a sheltered area will make it easy to use during rainy days.  I still love the idea of having a screened kitchen.  Basically, it is a room that is built with half-height walls.  The top half of the wall areas are completely screened in so that you can use the room during wet weather as well as keeping flies and such out.  I can easily see this as being one of the most used spaces during the warm months.  The kids can homeschool at a table while enjoying the cooling breeze.  Having the kitchen in there will allow me to be able to prepare meals and do my canning without heating up the kitchen in the house.   An outdoor kitchen with the screened area will make a nice place to have BBQs and entertain as well.

 

 
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