Thursday, December 27, 2012

It Was Fun.

Our very simple Holidays are half over and so far we've had a very nice time.  Mr. Homesteader and I took great delight in watching Dave react to crinkly paper, jingle balls, rooster feathers and catnip.

I can't believe how spoiled this cat is...I mean, of course we got him a couple of toys...but then two more people popped by with gifts for him.

Turkey Dinner was terrific even though the bird was a little over done.  The gluten free bread made very nice stuffing and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.  Best part of all is that I've added stock back to the freezer to have for later supply had run out.

Mr. Homesteader gave me a couple of pairs of antique sock stretchers...the perfect gift for a knitter and all around fibre geek.

My cousin came around to enjoy turkey dinner with us and gave us each a lovely hand knit scarf!  He's only been knitting less than a year.

And what gift giving season would be complete without books.

I'm working a reasonably small shift right now, my only one for the entire week.  Although it's short, I can't wait to get back to spending time off with my favourite man and my favourite cat:)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Well the world didn't end on the 21st, I'm so glad because that would have robbed us of a wonderful Christmas Feast.  I've got the turkey thawing, cranberries ready to turn into that red, sweet deliciousness, baked goodies at the ready, bottle of local wine, I even made a loaf of GF bread yesterday to make stuffing with, should be good.

The vegetables and fruit are bought and standing by, the house is I just have to see my way to the end of the work day at 6:00pm.  Tomorrow will be a quiet day for us, Mr. and I are having my cousin over for Christmas dinner and we are really looking forward to his visit.  That's what it's all about isn't it, family.  Whether that family is related, borrowed, married into or adopted doesn't really matter, family is what you make it and I'm pleased that we will have someone to share our day with.  Not an easy feat for me as my family is scattered to the four winds.

However you spend the Holiday Season, I hope you all find simple comforts...a warm home, a hearty meal, a slice of sweetness and maybe even a wee gift.  All the best from our little homestead to yours this Holiday Season and throughout the year. Be well, and Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Happy Yule

To me, this is the most wonderful and magical time of the year and not for the reasons you might think.  It is nice to receive a gift, especially something home made and heartfelt, BUT the reason that I love this time of year so much is precisely what started celebrations at this time of year in the first place.  Nope not Christmas...Solstice.  The Winter Solstice brings us the longest night of the year, a time that was very scary for our ancestors.  The ancients, full of superstition, weren't sure if the days would lengthen again so they lit fires to harken back the light.  Greenery such as holly, ivy and evergreen started making their way indoors to liven up the home and act as a harbinger of spring.  This marked the time in the agricultural calender when the harvest was in and some livestock were killed so as not to have to feed them over winter and their meat was salted and smoked.  The fresh meat was used in one last hurrah of feasting (which until more modern times lasted 12 days), along with anything precious and hard to get like spices and dried fruits and sugar which were being used by Tudor times.  With the full force of Winter fast approaching, our ancestors both near and ancient knew that not all would survive the coming months.  Cold, illness and starvation were all very real so having a huge celebration to honour themselves, each other, their crops and their livestock seemed an appropriate way to find the strength to face old man winter head on.

I find it so comforting to know that all major religions of the world have a special celebration at this time of year and it's no accident that they coincide with the Solstice.  Call me corny but I feel like it's the whole world joining together in happiness and well wishing, no matter what their spiritual beliefs are.  So when you see a sign that reads "Jesus is the reason for the season", know that Jesus is the reason for Christmas, but Solstice is the reason for the Season and that means the season belongs to the whole world.

Happy Yule everyone and may your days start shining brighter.

P.S  in the event that the world doesn't end tomorrow, we still have Christmas dinner to look forward to:)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Best Christmas Card Ever...

....and the winner is....

Please check out Helen's website to see her other card designs by clicking on her name above.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I Can't Help Myself

I can't help it, I just had to post this video again this year.

Best ad for woollen garments ever made!  Thank you Brooks Brothers for making this.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


In our little homestead, Mr. and I take a more simple approach to everything...that includes Christmas as well.  We enjoy visits with family and friends, eat delicious holiday food and exchange gifts...the difference for us now as compared to years ago is that everything we do for the holidays, we do with old fashioned, sustainable values in mind.  Aside from changing our Christmas lights over to LEDs a few years back, we haven't spent anything of decorations for over a decade and probably won't ever again.  I use and reuse the same artificial boughs I've had for decades as well as the tree ornaments and ribbons.  The only thing new I use every year is the greenery.  We do like a real tree and we always get one from the wild, usually one that is being crowded and won't grow well anyway.  A lovely wreath will grace our outside entrance and is made with the trimmings we have to cut from trees lining our lane that are becoming overgrown.

We keep the gift giving very simple and exchange only modest items (often home made) and although we do spend a little...we can wrap up our entire holiday season, turkey included for less than what most families spend on 1 person.  That means no post holiday debt hangover because that's not the way we roll.  The baking is done in early December and frozen to lighten the load closer to the day, so that when it does arrive, Mr. and I are stress free.  The house has had it's winter cleaning, goodies are baked, gifts made/bought and exchanged, cards mailed, house decorated and all we have to do is cook a turkey dinner.  I love our simple holidays.

Today, I didn't do anything towards getting ready for the saw a little feet up time.  I made a nice bowl of chicken soup with the last of our frozen broth (this is why I need to cook a turkey soon), and lovely herb biscuits made with my own dried herbs and lard that I rendered last week.

And a half hour before I had to leave for work, Dave hopped up on my lap and demanded some cuddle time. It was so difficult to get up for work when he was so snugly.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Far Reaching Mentors

It is no secret that Mr. and I are working towards a more self-sustaining life and that we are well on our way to making a real change.  It seems that every time I start to get a little lazy about my efforts or start thinking that my ideas about homesteading are unattainable, I stumble across an article or video that points me back to the right direction.  Today I accidentally stumbled across a short documentary about the Dervaes family in Pasadena.  They have turned their urban home into an incredible oasis of self reliance.  On just one tenth of an acre they produce 6000 lbs of food by way of vegetable beds, bee hives, milking goats and laying hens, it would seem that the only thing they out source is grains which they buy through profits made by selling their surplus of vegetables and eggs etc.  They have solar panels and manually operated appliances, a clay oven and make and use their own bio diesel.  I am in awe of this family and what they have accomplished, they are mentors to me, through the world wide web, all the way from California to the East Coast of Canada.  I  urge you to watch their documentary even if you are not working on becoming a homesteader yourself.

Big thanks to the Dervaes family for sharing with us, what they have done.  Although my homestead produced the tiniest fraction of what theirs did this year, I am pleased to share what I did accomplish:

12 lbs of apples (this year we would have had approx 100 lbs but we have an ant problem)
2 pints strawberries (I need to pull up and replant the baby plants)
2 cups red current (the amount doubles every year)
6 lbs grapes
1 pint raspberries
5 lbs tomatoes (would have had 40 lbs they caught blight, I did not thin them as I should have)
Peas, I have no idea how many as most were eaten by us before we could do anything with them, but I did freeze about 4 cups worth
Kale, again I have no idea but we ate pounds and pounds of it
6 lbs broccoli
a few pounds of swiss chard
many zuchini
and I'm probably forgetting a bunch of stuff.

In the years to come, we will learn more about what we are doing right and the things we are doing wrong and need to adjust.  The fruit orchard, the berry bushes  are still very young so we know there is all kinds of goodness still to come there.  The nuts trees are mere infants, I hope we do get to enjoy their meats before we are very old, and we still have plans for laying hens and maybe even a hive.  For what we can't grow, don't grow or are still waiting for mature plants, we have some wonderful local farmers, fruit growers, honey, and maple producers to fill the gap.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

3 Weeks

There's only 3 weeks left until it's all over but the cryin' (and probably the turkey)!  I love this time of year.  I love the cooler, longer nights, the desire to cuddle and share a hot cocoa and enjoy quiet time.  I love that the business of fall is over for another year and we now get to enjoy all of the lovely preserves we've worked so hard to produce.  I love snow on the evergreens, crackling fires in the hearth and lazy cats wanting a warm lap to nap on.  I love the smell of wet, woollen mittens drying on the radiator and something good roasting in the oven.  Since I work in a store, waiting on the public, I hear a lot of complaining about the weather.  I feel so badly for some, who simply can't see the beauty in this time of year (I can only guess that they aren't knitters, because knitters seem to love the encroachment of winter).

During this time of year, I would love to be at home more to enjoy the simple pleasures of late fall and winter, but this time of year heralds the season of long, long shifts for me.  Not all is lost though...this is also the time I seem to get a bit of knitting done....

A lovely cabled hat, made with MacAusland's 2-ply medium wool yarn in Brown Heather.

Some secret knitting for a special guy.

Now for something completely different....little people knitting.  I never knit little people stuff, not that I don't think that every little person should be completely decked out in hand made just isn't my personal thing to enjoy knitting little people stuff.  BUT, I was recently asked by someone whom I barter with, to make some mitts and a hat for her wee boy.  Since she and I almost always find a way to barter for goods or services, I thought this would be a fun challenge for me.  So for the small cost and a bit of my time to make this wee pair of mittens (and a hat to follow), I will be getting my hair perfectly coiffed for the Holidays.

And a sweet boy will have warm fingers.