Fast Track…

The more I think about my life, the more I crave a tiny home. Not because I think a tiny home would be ideal because being crammed into a tiny space with three other people would just be awesome, but the bigger implications call my name. Forget the catchy, coined phrase “Tiny Home”, for me it feels like a tool. Not a trendy cool thing to do, show it off to friends and family and 12 months later buy a bigger house and park it in the yard. Something inside me has been pulling to the wilds for a very long time. I can’t explain it, I have always known the standard life (as well as the standard diet) were not for me. And believe it or not, I think they are connected!!! The diet and the life I mean. I am not ashamed to declare my love for beef. I apologize to all you vegans and lacto/ovo legetarians, even all you (extinct) breatharians! I have tried out all of your lifestyles and philosophies and quite frankly, they gave me blisters. Bottom line, I’m a type O, hypoglycemic, borderline crazy person. I know the facts. I have lived next to midwestern feedlots. I understand food chains and know the benefits of eating closest to the sun, trust me, I eat my veggies!!! Promise. But without the beef, I quickly become anemic and develop a bobble headed, too thin look. How do I cope with an overactive sense of social justice and intense love for this gorgeous planet with my need for the beef? Eat local, organic, grass-fed beef to start with. And live in a tiny home to reduce my carbon foot print without reducing my beef consumption! Brilliant?!? It is a feel good solution, don’t you think? You can have your cake and eat it too. I have never understood why anyone would have a cake and not eat it, unless it is the kind I bake, LOL! Gluten free, lactose free, sugar free… It is not going to taste like cake, why bother? The way it looks to me (picture me sitting up in the middle of the night keeping my insomnia company with youtube video’s of people who actually have tiny houses) is that if I can finagle a tiny home, I can eat beef without guilt. How else will I be able to do that I ask you? You know I am right. There is no alternative, I need a trailer. Or a bus. Or a tent….

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I Want to Move into My Porch?!?

Funny moment today! I was intently drooling over the plans for a tiny home that I think could work for my family while we buy land (in the future) and put in a well and all those cool things, when suddenly I got the hair brained idea to measure out the size. Jadon and I were laughing quite a bit, that I will tell you right up front. He helped me measure our porch which happens to be just over 7′ wide, it also happens to be about 6′ longer than the tiny house!!! No joke people, I want to move my entire family into my porch. Hmmmmmmm. My camper was 31′ long, more than twice as long as this tiny house! In case you are wanting to see the tiny house plans I keep talking about, head over to http://www.fourlightshouses.com/products/weller and check it out. I bet you wouldn’t picture it being smaller than my porch either! I must now go cook food in my gigantic kitchen and laugh and laugh and laugh!!! Its so crazy, it just might work!

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Downsizing!

I’m living life on a large scale! HA!!! Large loads of laundry.  Large stacks of papers.  Large stashes of “stuff”.  Its like Texas over here in my apartment!!!  Its awesome.  OK, so here’s a newsflash: bigger isn’t always better, lol!  Thanks to my mama (have I ever followed “thanks to” with any other name??? I didn’t think so.) I am in the second week of an e-class all about downsizing.  I know, maybe not something you had on your bucket list, but its been on mine for years.  Right next to buy a swamp, sigghhhh…  Anyhow, the first assignment involved a lot of soul searching and dreaming about what I really want out of life and how downsizing can help me get there.  I needed to write a personal manifesto and blog about it for higher accountability.  Without further ado, here is my manifesto:

 
Manifesto:
I am downsizing the material aspects of my life (i.e. clutter, debt, work load…) in order to make more room for living fully.  I am letting go of remnants of past lives and old dreams in order to create new ones.  I am also accepting my limitations and skill level in order to pursue activities that I am better suited for.  I will never be a wool felting, sweater knitting, long haired earth mama.  I will spend more of my energy hiking and exploring, drawing and painting and reading great books with my children.  In the end, I will have a clean home full of beautiful and meaningful things, a place I am happy to wake up in and happy to come home to.  I will be free to pick up and go at a moments notice without a second thought, confident that my home is in order, my finances cared for, and my family happy.  Without debt, we will be free to dream up a new life.  To choose work that will allow us to be together as a family.  We can save up money to find our own neck of the woods.  And not be hampered by conventional loan restrictions or forced to pass up a great opportunity.  Life will be chosen, not merely accepted and tolerated.
 
There she be.  Like a ship in the night.  Like a feather on a bird.  A hair on a cat.  A bird in the bush.  Snot on a….. OK, OK, I’m done now!

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When the Tired Can’t Sleep…

I am toying with the idea of writing a User’s Guide to Insomnia.  With loads of experience, I just might have some fresh ideas to share.  My dad has told me for years that the reason I can’t sleep is because I don’t just sleep, or something to that effect.  You just need a schedule.  Go to bed at the same time every night.  Turn the light off.  Don’t watch video’s.  Lie still.  Close your eyes.

How boring! I have tried this technique many times over the years.  I have laid still with my eyes closed for entire nights before, but my mind continued running.  Now, don’t get me wrong and go tell my dad I think his advice is no good!!!  It is sound advice, written up by many people.  Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to combat insomnia.  If your sleep problem has been caused by staying up watching tv too many nights in a row, listen to my dad!!! Go to bed!!!  However, if you go through spells of actual insomnia, read on.

My mind is addicted to thinking (I get that from my dad).  With many long nights to think without distraction, you can end up in strange places.  I choose to get up and do something in order to prevent these visits to unwelcome lands.  I keep a long running list of I wonder’s as well.  So one thing I have been wondering about is this: can you cook white rice in a freezer bag?  You know you have been wondering this too, don’t lie!  I have been working on my freezer bag recipes lately, I keep eying the ten pound bag of white rice I recently added to my home food storage cupboard.  I don’t buy white rice.  I don’t really eat white rice.  But I read about how you shouldn’t rely on brown rice for long term food storage because it will go rancid over time.  I am obedient. I bought a big bag of white rice.  I look at it a lot.  Weird I know, but I am a bit obsessed with preparedness issues.  Not sure why, but I LOVE it.  I buy lots of instant brown rice for my go bag meals and for hiking.  So I keep wondering, what would happen if I just used white rice instead? It cooks so much faster than brown rice does. Its cheaper than instant rice. Hmmmmmm. Tonight is the night to cross it off the “I wonder” list. So I unceremoniously dumped a cup of white rice, some salt, and boiling water into the freezer bag. Put that bag inside of a wool hat. Put that hat inside another hat. This hat oven technique has worked for me on the trail with instant brown rice meals many times. Now I just have to leave it sitting there. I know there are so many practical ways I could spend my sleepless nights. So much I could be accomplishing, but you are likely all sleeping soundly dreaming of rogue unicorns while I am trying to stay out of trouble over here. Really, I want to grab my fire extinguisher and finally satisfy my curiosity. How do you really know it works without a little test run? Shouldn’t I be trained for how to use it in case I actually have an emergency to deal with? What if the pin you pull is jammed? I also wanted to do some boil times with my alcohol stoves but I am out of fuel from the last time I played with them. Thought of reading a book, but I read 50 pages already while waiting for the kids to fall asleep. Thought about laundry, so I folded and put away a few loads and started a new one. Already did the dishes. So don’t judge, lol! Time lapse while I wait for morning……
Ok. Definitely do not have to wonder anymore. Totally did not work. The rice was still warm and is well soaked. But super crunchy. You do not need to google this issue, I tried, it failed. But now I am wondering if it would work in a preheated thermos. Thankfully, insomnia ensures that I will have time to try it and cross this off of my “I wonder” list too.

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Whatever Trips Your Trigger…

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This is a great big world twirling around within this great big cosmos and there are so many things I just really need to understand.  Number one on my list for this moment in time: Vernal Pools.  I just adore them, and spring is coming soon (I hope).  Our home is surrounded by vernal pools (after reading this you may find it strangely necessary to go for a nice long tramp).  I have spent time every spring for the past 16 years monitoring these vernal pools and exploring them. Vernal pools are an amazing and vital part of our ecosystem here in Vermont, they provide a safe haven for many species to breed and develop.   A few years ago, we had a very dry spring and the pools began to dry up prematurely.  Jadon and I had been playing with nice big juicy tadpoles and examining the homes of various Caddis Fly larvae when disaster struck.   We missed 2 or 3 days of work, work being monitoring our assigned pools.  When we returned, they had shrunk by at least 75%!  We were horrified to find our tadpoles dried up and dead and the last remaining babies struggling to fit in the quickly disappearing last puddles.  We hurried home to get rescue equipment and raced back to the scene.  We scooped up as many tadpoles as we could into our jars for transport.  As we were doing this I noticed a bunch of little twiggy things sticking out of the mud.  I got down as close as my rather long legs would allow me without actually sitting in the mud and saw a tiny face peek out of one of them.  It was a poor, dying caddisfly larva.  This was even more painful somehow than the tadpoles.  They are so amazing.  These ones had all built their houses out of tiny logs.  True Vermonters!  I have to admit that I really know very little about the caddisfly, I don’t know what they like to eat, their favorite colors, or what they do for fun.  But I have been searching for their larvae since I was 16.  I was in the river with my ecology class with chest high waders, a big screen, notebook, pencil, and magnifying glass.  I was collecting and recording specimens from various parts of the river in order to determine the levels of pollution.  One person stuck the big screen across a section of river while their partner went upstream and kicked over all the rocks or mud to dislodge everybody living there.  And it was here that I saw my first caddisfly larvae, and it changed my life.  These particular larvae had all used miniscule round stones and homemade cement to build beautiful stone cottages for themselves.  I had never seen such a wonder before, at least not one that completely and utterly captivated both my curiosity and imagination simultaneously.  Captivated to a point where I forgot all about myself, forgot how much I hated school, forgot how tormented and harassed I was there.  From then on, it was me and the larvae.  Now as I read this to myself, I have perhaps found some insight into why I just didn’t fit into my peer group!  I do not think there were any other girls in my class that lost their hearts to larvae that glorious afternoon.  I adore oodles of other critters I learned about in my ecology class and in my own studies.  There are not many things cuter than a half inch long baby crayfish or a jar full of tiny minnows.  Not many pleasures in life greater than newt catching, or turning over an old log and spotting the adorable bright orange Eft.  These are another gorgeous oddity, with 4 life stages the Red Eft is a great guy to study.  Not to mention the endearing tiny fingers, they will get your heart strings like rubbing the fur on top of a newborn babies head.  I fell for these guys the first time my dad pointed them out to me.  As a kid, a pair of swimming goggles and an inner tube transformed Silver Lake into my own personal quiet zone.  Get away from all the noise and splashing and confusing social hierarchies, escape into the cattails. Then float and stick your face under the water.  That yellow-green water full of awesomeness.  Always had my mayonnaise jars and a fish net so get a closer look at things.  Bivalves, crustaceans, gastropods, amphibians, fish, larvae of all kinds, red wing blackbirds, raccoon paw prints, cattails, water lilies, water striders, boatmen beetles, damselflies, all accompanied by that distinct lazy summer day drone.  The jack pot came one year when my parents got us one of those inflatable boats with a clear bottom that made for a wide screen TV effect.  I could float for hours.  Some people, like my husband are always looking at the horizon, at the big picture.  Watching the sunset, or looking at impressive mountain ranges.  You might hike for the exhilaration of reaching the top and having that 360 degree view, where cars on the winding roads far below look like tiny ants.  I exult in the tiny things, lichens and moss, tiny red velvet mites, and caddisfly houses.  The texture of tree bark, grains of pollen inside of a day lily, laughter lines testifying to a life well lived.  All the way back to the beginning of my windy tale, Jadon and I rescued those caddisfly babies, and the remaining frog babies.  We lugged them  to a quiet part of the river, quiet until we disturbed the Canadian geese who were nesting there, and we released them.  As we let them go, we heard the kerplunks of frogs vacating their perches and saw the splash of a turtle jumping off his sunny spot on a log.  We got to listen to the song on the red wing blackbirds as they swayed on the tall marsh grasses that I love so much.  I feel so privileged to have been able to share the love of small, wet, and wild things with my son that day.  I’m not sure if he remembers it as clearly as I do, but I hope the feeling of peace and connection with this great big world sticks with him.  I hope he finds his own passion as he explores the open land around him, and creates a quiet space to disappear in when life gets too noisy, uncomfortable, or confusing.  A refuge to recharge and reconnect with his big father in the sky.  Where do you go when you need to disappear for a while?  What is your passion?  What trips your trigger?

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What to Write About, That is the Question.

  Hi, my name is Julienne and I love the internet.  Feels good to get that off of my chest! I love Netflix, Amazon, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest, Google (like anyone can truly live without Google!), and BLOGS!!!  I have my go to blogs that I follow regularly.  I love to visit delightfullearning for homeschooling inspiration.  I like Pretty Prudent for ideas and tutorials to make awesome things for babies. Love watching youtube gurus like The Intense Angler as well as Hiram Cook for inspirational projects to build for hiking and camping, oh and Jason Klass. Love his videos too! 

My problem is that my blog seems to have no theme. What should I write about? This is a real problem, I don’t follow theme less blogs, do you?  Of course I Googled my problem and jotted down some tips and pointers.  One tip is make lists of…. Doesn’t matter of what. I love lists, hands down a favorite past time.  Something so satisfying about creating a comprehensive, neat, and orderly list. This strange affinity has not yet increased my productivity, I rarely reference them after making them… I just love a good list (or a neat bar graph).  Anyhow, I got distracted by listing bliss, sorry!  Ok, I’m back on track! Google suggests that I list different topics that I enjoy like hang gliding, waterskiing, spelunking, sleeping inside a dead camel.  Wait!  That is a list of things inspired by watching Bear Gryllis in Man vs. Wild. I had no idea how many places are the LAST place you would ever want to be lost. I am really interested in making hiking/survival gear which is why I watched the show.  Bear sells a large line of survival gear, so far I have only seen him use his knife (to kill a horned viper, skin a goat, butcher a camel, impale a crab, cut a vine, and make eye holes in a T-shirt.) and a sparkie to start a fire for camel steaks.  Now that’s not a menu plan you see often.  Mostly they showed him walking and talking and going down waterfalls on vines, climbing buttresses, and biting the heads off of a wide variety of living insects and animals.  Gross!!!  After he chewed the head off of a frog I decided to switch to youtube for more practical projects.  Projects like turning an altoid tin into a wood stove.  What the heck am I talking about?  Seriously, I have lost track of where I was going other than down this rabbit hole.  Which reminds me of another internet favorite, http://www.storynory.com.  Go there with your kids and listen to Natasha bring great classics like Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz to life!  Gosh, I love children’s literature.  I’m sure that should tell me something about my mental state or something but who cares?  A good book is a good book at any age.  Mario is reading the book Far North to Jadon for the second time right now.  It is a much more realistic survival story the Man vs. Wild, just saying.  Scrolling up to figure out where I was originally going…….  List of hobbies and interests, ok.  Children’s literature, survival gear, sewing things for babies, natural medicine, Montessori materials, Waldorf supplies, chalk pastels, zen tangles, homeschooling and unschooling, tea, cooking nutrient dense, sugar and fruit free foods, thinking about doing diy projects from Pinterest.  Being a gypsy in a horse drawn vardo, traveling all over the world and having a grand adventure.   Winnie the Pooh had a grand adventure in the hundred acre wood, A. A. Milne wrote some good stories!  I also have a penchant for composting toilets, worm farming (haven’t tried it yet), square foot gardening, root cellaring (don’t have one), putting together go bags, freezer bag cooking, dehydrators, mini farming, sewing, geocaching (haven’t tried it yet), home renovation, paper bag flooring (haven’t done this), pond life, and finding places that you cannot hear any cars.  That’s all I can think of right now.  Aren’t lists fun? I just discovered the note making feature on my ipad mini, electronic listing. What’s not to love? Ok, I need you to help me out.  What should I blog about???

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Save money the green way: Garden!

I just closed the freezer door on eight really full bags of green beans. You read that correctly, we will be having green beans from the garden eight times this winter. You know how I like to break things down and really know what I’m doing, so here goes!!! My dad picked a five gallon bucket full of green beans for me to process this morning. This evening, after about four hours of carefully removing strings from the beans, washing them, and chopping them, I blanched, ice water bathed and bagged those beany babies! I am going to estimate the value of my bean bags at $3 each.  That means I just “saved” $24!!!  Dude! How much am I reeling in per hour, seeing as “homesteading” is on my job description right along with duck husbandry, surviving offspring, and schooling the natives!?! By my calculations I just made $6 an hour!  That’s awesome!!! Oh wait, I forgot my overhead.  Gotta subtract the $3 for the pack of organic bean seeds, and I have absolutely no idea how many hours my parents, my husband, and I put into reclaiming the garden and putting up the bean tipi’s and planting. If you removed taxes from my “earnings” I would be truly sunk!  With any luck, we will enjoy an Indian summer and another five gallon pail of green beans to destring.

I actually just discovered this post sitting in my draft pile, half done. Now it is at the tail end of December and it is even more ludicrous! To bring you up to date, after freezing my eight bags of beans, we had green beans for dinner only to find that Princess Piper cannot properly digest green beans!!! At this point in time, I am willing to agree with my mother and proclaim 2013’s garden an epic fail. However, stay tuned for my grandiose plans for 2014!!!

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