Southern Weather and Packing

About the time our tent arrived, we experienced a winter storm like I haven’t seen since I was a child. We had ice and snow and single digit temperatures. It has been something else and the kids have loved it! It certainly made getting clothes dry a challenge. It took two days for a load of clothes to dry. They froze first then I guess the wind did the rest of the work. The hubby could not even make it into his job for two shifts the roads were so bad.

However all was not lost. While hubby was here, we cleaned out all of the bedrooms on one side of the house. We went through everything– clothes, toys, closets, collections, evrything in those rooms we sorted and decided if it was worth keeping. Now because of the laminate and concrete floors, when you go to that side of the house it echoes because it is so empty. We took apart all bed frames. Ours is the only one worth selling or donating; the kids’ were worn out from years of use. Not one of them was new. They had been passed down. So the hubby took them apart and leaned them against the walls for now. We will have a large load for the dump I imagine.

Walking through our house leaves me with this stange feeling. Our living room is set up like the tent will be and this is where we are staying. But since we don’t want to waste propane for our camp stove, I am still using the range in the kitchen. Of course we are still using the indoor bathrooms as well. Sometimes I feel we are just pretendinge and maybe it will never happen. We have not sold the house, we haven’t found land– well not really. We have found some but not in our state (it is in my home state) but this leaves us feeling torn about where we should go. So we pray and seek leadership.

Today we talk to the realtor who sold us this house and pray she can help us sell it for at least payoff and fees. It is a lovely large house with some land but I am sure it will be considered a fixer upper.

There are just so many unknowns and questions but we continue on making one choice at a time and praying diligently over each choice. This week reinforced to us again that the family is not meant to be apart. Yesterday was ths hubby’s first day back at work in over a week and we all had a terrible time. Families were meant to be together and to grow strong together. Yes unfortunately, there has to be money to make things happen but it shouldn’t be all about the money. It should be working to have the money you need for things you actually need or want. This working our lives away for material things was never the way it was supposed to be. Our children need us present; they need our guidance and love.

We continue on this journey knowing we are doing the right thing by not accepting what is considered the normal. We will just take each challenge as it comes.

May everyone have a blessed week.

Conflicts

Well my house is officially looking more like a disaster area than a moving area. The hubby offered to measure out the square footage of the tent here in our living room/dining room area so I could begin organizing into this small space. All of my kitchen cabinets are now empty. The kids have new bunk beds made for small living spaces and the hubby built me a platform bed that will allow a good amount of storage area underneath it. For all of these projects, we are using our savings wisely. Each item is carefully evaluated and prayed over before a purchase is made. We are also continuong to save so that we keep that emergency fund. We are still on the lookout for land but so far nothing promising in our area or even our state. We have found land in another state but feel torn over this because we do love our church. So we continue to pray and seek God’s will.

This is the platform bed set up in our indoor tent space. Our tent has arrived but the stove is backordered until April and with the frigid temperatures moving in, we decided to adjust inside to all sleeping in one small space. Everyday we are packing unused or unneeded items and sorting things into a donate or yard sale pile.

The kitchen side.

We are excited as well as scared to death! We know we are on the right path and this is our journey to being debt free and owning land and raising animals and gardens and becoming self sufficient. We know we want to teach our kids the old paths and lead them in a different direction than our modern world is going amd we want the hubby with us and we want to do and learn things together.

But we have hit conflict this last week too. We see what we want so clearly but others do not. This is so against the normal it’s hard for loved ones to even begin to understand.

We told the hubby’s mom this past weekend about our plans. She did not like them at all and made clear she thought we are crazy. Her words hurt both of us and we tried smoothing things over by telling her how much we loved her but that this is the path we were choosing for our family.

All week this confrontation has been on our mind. It has discouraged us and though we have continued on, we feel alone. The very people close to us that we love and respect have turned on us. We wanted support and respect for our decision.

It does hurt but we continue to seek God’s will and we know as long as we stay in His plan and do the absolute best we can for our children, we are on the right path for us. No matter how much we would love and appreciate that support, we will have to move forward without it.

Thankfully today is a day of rest and tomorrow will begin more small steps that will eventually lead us to the end goal.

May everyone have a blessed week!

Dehydrating and Drastic Changes

Last week, I was able to get eight cabbages for $4 and mushrooms for 99 cents a pack. Working with the cabbage first, I made a bowl of slaw, two half gallon jars of sourkraut, and cut the rest into strips to dehydrate. I felt like I had cabbage everywhere!!

Once dehydrated though, all that cabbage fit into 4 quart jars and one half gallon jar.

The mushrooms filled a half gallon jar. I love having dehydrated foods. They are easy to store because they take up so little space.

Our week around here has been filled with planning, much praying, and making some major decisions. These decisions have been burdening our hearts for almost a year now. There have just been so many uncertainties and questions and we have continued to pray and talk to each other and finally we have a deep peace that what we have decided and put into motion is right for us.

We have decided to sell our house. We ran numbers and realized unless we want hubby working full time and over time for the next 10 years, we will never get it paid off. Every year our insurances go up and it’s getting to the point of being out of our price range. We already do everything possible to cut back on any expenses we can. We stay afloat, we have a savings, but we never get ahead. Everything is a constant struggle.

So one evening this past summer, sitting out there under the stars– we started dreaming. I told the hubby what had been on my heart since January 2020 about selling this house but I wasn’t sure where to go from there. What would be the next step? Surprisingly, the husband agreed something definitely had to change. We weren’t anywhere close to living a sustainable lifestyle. If he lost his job, we would be homeless rather quickly. As the months have gone on, our mindset has changed. We look around at all the stuff in our house and just shake our heads as we drastically downsize. My husband has been working years for someone else to buy stuff from someone else that we could do without. We pay a bank over 1/4 of his income every month just to stay in this house filled with stuff we don’t need.

What do we need? We need a few dishes to use for preparing and eating food, we need warmth in the winter, shade in summer, we need a way to grow our own food, we need water– we humans really need very little. So why do we have all these things that not only demand money but so much of our time maintaining and worrying over them? We are tired of this and we have decided to change.

We have been saving what we can and we are looking for land we can pay cash for. We have decided to sell this place and move on from 2000 sq. Ft. To less than 400 sq. Ft.

How can we do all this? Well one step at a time for sure. Our land, once we find it, will have no house– we can’t afford that. So we have decided to move into a wall tent. In the winter, it is heated by a wood stove, and in the summer it is shaded by a rain fly.

This is a decision that has come with much prayer and thoughtfulness on all our parts as well as many conversations with our children.

For the time being, we will live in this tent in the backyard. This will give us the time we need to finish going through all we have and to finish the things that need done to sell this house.

Rereading my words above– I can’t help wonder that everyone else who reads this will think we have gone crazy. But we are ready for some security in our lives. We are ready to all be together and for hubby not to have to depend upon his job. Our end goal is for us to have the freedom for us to all be together as a family and to teach our kids a different life– a sustainable one. We crave simplicity and we are going after it with everything we have.

There will be many challenges and I am sure there will be many tears of frustration and a difficult adjusting period. But as long as we are together, I think we will be just fine.

May everyone have a blessed week.

Saving Money by Learning a New Skill

The weather has been so unpredictable around here. Day before yesterday we had all windows open to the warm winds and we also had the tornado watches to go along with the warm weather. Now we have the heat back on and are expecting temps in the 20s and 30s the next few days.

For the first time in my life, I was eagerly waiting for the rain. Recently I had sanitized a trash can that used to be in the laundry room. One of my many cost saving tools is we no longer buy trash bags. I use plastic shopping bags we get at the stores and hang one on a hook in the laundry room. Once it’s full, we haul it out to the large trash can out front. Anyway so I had this large trash can that hadn’t been used long. After sanitizing it, I searched through those old screens we found in the attic and found one large enough to cover the whole top of the can.

I placed it in my back flower bed halfway under the eave so it could catch the water from the roof. After one rainfall it was half full. After the big storm, it was almost all the way full. Yesterday, I used it to wash clothes outside. I never had to hook up the hose!

My other water saving idea was putting a gallon water pitcher in our bathroom and not using the running water at all. It works great for washing hands and brushing teeth.

Yes it used to hold sugar and I cannot get the marker to come off the label so I just use it as it is. I had bought several of these gallon glass pitchers for 2 dollars one year on clearance. They work for dried food by removing the spigot and placing vinyl or tape on each side if the hole to create a seal.

My newest skill I am learning is book binding. I never imagined I would learn this one! The cds we ordered for our 1800s school curriculum can be printed in book form and bound or printed regularly and placed in a 3 ring binder or folder. It is more compact and less paper and ink if I print them in booklet form and bind them. I tried hot glue at first but realized quickly it would use too much for as many books as I am printing. After some research, I learned books used to be sewn together. Well thread and needle I have in abundance but a small awl for piercing the groups of papers I did not. I ended up using a drape hook and it worked perfectly.

After the signatures are bound together, I do use a small amount of hot glue to attach them to the plastic or paper folders I use for a cover. Its worked great so far. Also binding this way allows the book to lay flat when opened. I really like that– especially for a text book.

I am using the cheapest printer our Walmart sells– a cannon Pixma. For years now I have refilled my own ink cartridges which actually makes printing these books feasible. I calculated each 100 copy pages (which creates a 200 page book) costs me on the high side $3.25. That’s not too bad for these books. When they can be found, most of these old books sell for $10 and up and most are not in the shape you would hand over to a child.

It has definitely been a skill worth learning and the more I make the more professional the books are looking.

I am also limiting my major bread baking day to Saturday to save on energy running the oven. On Friday, I grind a gallons worth of flour to make a sourdough sponge that sits on the counter all night rising. We keep our heat turned down to save on utilities in the winter so it gets chilly in here at night but it is perfect for my sourdough to rise slowly. Saturday morning, I reserve a cup of sponge to save for my next starter and separate out the renaining sponge in two bowls– one for biscuits and one for loaves. I use the flour I ground the day before to make up each one.

The small jar above has oat flour for making quick breads like banana bread.

All of this may seem like alot of work to some, but it is all these small ways like no trash bags, making my own books, refilling ink cartridges, and grinding whole grains into flour that really helps save money. All those little ways add up!

I do pray everyone has a wonderful week.

Table I added to our bathroom to hold our cloth toilet paper.

Simply Living

I haven’t written because my mind has been in such a whirl this past week. It seems the deeper we go into living a simple life– the more it affects every area of our life. Sometimes it is scary and sometimes exhilarating! Most of the time though, it is trying the unknown and working and experimenting until we find a practical way to do things. Every time I accomplish something in the old way without electricity or a modern convenience, and actaully put my hard work into it, the satisfaction I feel is worth it all. It also makes me realize how trapped we all are by our modern things. Most of us don’t know an alternate way to wash clothes or clean our floors and rugs without a vacuum. Most of us can’t go an hour or so and never even notice the power has been off till we notice the oven clock is dead. We don’t go outside in the fresh air to wash and hang our clothes. We don’t reap the health benefits of working hard with our hands and feeling the absolute satisfaction of a job well done.

I never even realized how much water I wasted until we started catching it. It is amazing! But most of us grew up in modern homes and thought little of letting that water run down drain as the shower heats up. In our case that’s 2.5 gallons of clean water that has went down the drain per shower! Now it goes in a 5 gallon bucket to be used in the washtubs.

We are so spoiled to modern life that I wonder how many could survive without it? And you are probably thinking what I have thought too– why do we even need to worry about that? Modern things aren’t going anywhere. They may not be but everyone has seen how quickly things can change in areas we never thought would change. We need to learn the old ways; to find joy in work again.

We have decided to take our journey towards an 1800s life another step and this is in our schooling. On these 5 CDs are more than 50 books from the 1800s and the very early 1900s. The ecclectic education system was our foundation in the one room schools. These books strongly promote the manly man; teach Godly, moral values; and give us a look into a time when we had not yet been infected with ideas of social justice and evolution. They are written to teach a generation of children how to be adults and Godly, patriotic ones at that. People who love and respect their fellow man.

This is just another step back in our journey. Each step is more interesring and offers more learning oppurtunities than the last. It challenges us to use our creativity and mind to solve the problems life throws at us everyday. We are learning a whole different life that we have yearned for but never even knew how to reach for. Each step we pray for guidance and each step we take in faith. As we do this we find peace and satisfaction in the simplest things and a greater contentment than we have ever known.

Using What I Already Have

This was my view off the back porch Monday morning. Now to some of y’all this may not seem like anything; but for us down here in the south– an inch of snow is a miracle! My 4 year old baby girl had never even seen snow!

All three of the kids loved it. With the help of the husband, they even built a snowman in the front yard.

And yes the little ones have pairs of hubby’s socks on their hands. Make do is the motto around here. They had so much fun; they could have cared less what was on their hands. Since we never get snow, we also took the day off school. It seemed a shame to keep them indoors. They begged to go out even before breakfast was cooked so I let them and was thankful I did. When they came in, they had some homemade hot chocolate with their breakfast which was a treat in itself. Yes I had wet clothes spread everywhere and yes, the laundry room had muddy puddles and boots all over the floor, but inside I was content with the mess because my children had such a wonderful day.

Yesterday, though, all the snow was gone and I tackled the laundry room mess. A dear lady sent me the neatest thing. Its a suction pump. I put it in the washtub and insert the other hose into the drain and give it a couple pumps and the water flows into the drain all by itself. I believe it’s called a siphon pump. Anyway we tried it but my buckets were too low down on the floor and the drain too high. So yesterday I went to work moving things again. We have an old desk and I moved this into the living room for the little ones school desk.

We will see how this works out today. Anyway I moved the old kitchen table to the laundry room and put my washtubs on the table. This enabled the siphon pump to work perfectly. The kids, especially the oldest, is just fascinated with this.

Yes that water is dirty! Our whole back yard is basically one big mud puddle and my little boy always seems to get some on him. But the siphon drained the water while I rinsed the clothes. The other wonderful part of this setup is that is really helps my back not bending over the tubs on the floor. Also the oldest finds this much easier to do than using the gallon pitcher to empty the tubs.

It amazes me how the table and pump combined make laundry such an easy experience now!

My other project yesterday was sewing my kids socks. I have tried crocheting socks but they always end up bulky. I have bought them many socks but they always get holes way too quickly. And unfortunately knitting is not a skill I have ever perfected. I can knit a dishrag– that’s about it. Anyway so I did some research and saw where someone had sewn socks using old t shirts. So I gave it a try. I used one of the little one’s socks as kind of a template and sewed down one side around the toe, and up the other side. I added a tiny amount of elastic to the inside back of the sock to prevent it from sliding. It worked! My children loved them and I ended up making about ten pairs.

My oldest told me even though they are just made of old clothes, they were much warmer and more comfortable than the store bought ones.

I was even able to take these old pjs my son loves but outgrew and the baby girl wore till there were holes in them, and turn them into about three pairs of socks. My little boy loves them!

The best part was I did all this sitting at my treadle beside them while they did school with the DVD teacher.

My other project I finished yesterday was a baby shower gift for a lady at chruch. I made a little dress for her.

Overall it has been a productive week so far. It was nice making useful things using old clothes that were doomed for the garbage pile and material scraps for a tiny baby dress. It was good to know I could make the new siphon pump work by rearanging furniture I already had.

I hope everyone else is having a good week too.

Being Different

This year has already started out busy. I feel I have been in a constant state of rearranging and rethinking things. Even as a child, I always seemed different. I just assumed it was because we were raised by an old fashion Southern Baptist preacher. When I was seventeen, he died and my two sisters and I entered a world without his Godly council. Being young, I tried to do things like others to fit in. For a long time I did this but always felt misplaced. My sisters fit right in but I never did. Some things I refused to compromise on like wearing dresses everyday or partying with my sisters and allowing certain worldly aspects into my life. Looking back, I am thankful I held firm to these convictions. As time went on and after I married the husband, he was the first person to accept me as I am. He may have thought I was crazy at times. Well I know he did. I think I am crazy sometimes.

But this trust and faith he put in me has paid off. I feel accepted here in my home and I feel more confident in myself when we are out because I know who I am. I know living in these modern times doesn’t mean I have to be like everyone else. I can reject the modern things that I don’t need at all and moderate the ones that are sometimes necessary.

The most amazing part of this new journey is the husband’s participation. No longer is he watching from the sidelines wondering what crazy woman is this he married, but he is now offering his own ideas. He sat down with me the other morning to offer ideas to help us save more on electricity. So when he went to work the next day, I got busy. I rearanged the living/dining room once again (it is only like the 40th time I have done this since living in this house!) and this time I put the children’s school table in front of the large front windows. This offers plenty of natural light on sunny days for them to do their work. Now our living room is slowly shifting its focus from the TV on the wall to more family oriented activities. My treadle is now right beside the school table and late yesterday afternoon as I worked on a new house dress, the husband read three chapters of Farmer Boy. The kids played on the rug, I sewed, and he read. In my opinion it was one of the best afternoons we have had together. There was no background noise from a tv– it was just us being together.

We are also decreasing our water use but that is a whole other adventure we are working on. It is taking more time to adjust to.

Sometimes its good just to slow down and be different no matter what anyone else thinks. May everyone have a blessed weekend.

Sometimes you need creativity. Too early to light lamps so I put a solar bulb into a glass.

A New Year

2020 has been a different kind of year from any I have known in my life. Everyone keeps saying they can’t wait till it’s over. Well it’s over but I don’t believe just because that year rolled over, everything is going to be okay again. Now it is 2021– a brand new year but filled with many uncertainties and if I were to dwell on these, it would scare me and cause me all kinds of doubts. So I am going to choose not to. Instead, I am going to try my best to depend on what we have planned and what God is leading us to do in this new year.

One of those things is to continue to downsize as we prepare to sell this house. Over this past year, the hubby and I have come to the realization we would rather pay cash for some land and save and build a cabin than have a house and small amount of land that is a burden to pay for monthly.

This past week, I cleaned out the room I called a sewing room and made it unneccsarry. It is now an empty, not needed room.

The small table I moved into our bathroom and the dresser is waiting to either go back to the people who gave it to us or into a yard sale.

Now that room behind this one has become storage for our yard sale items. It is very full and needs some organization.

Here is all my sewing supplies fit neatly in an empty corner of the living room. The chest is full of my fabrics, there is a crate of patterns, and a basket of yarns for my crochet. Instead of being spread all over a room, it is now neatly organized and in this small space.

Yeaterday, we started more small home improvement projects. We replaced two old 70s style lights with led lights, replaced a few old cabinet handles, and weather stripped all doors.

It is a work in progress but we are doing what we can in the cold winter wetness here. Even starting small it feels good to get a bit of momentum and get started.

We have still been sticking to simple meals and I am still really trying to eliminate all unecessary use of electricity. I am using mostly hand tools when possible.

The other morning we made a simple breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes made with fresh ground flour and sprinkled powdered sugar on them. It was so simple but the kids thought it was such a treat.

May everyone have a blessed New Year’s Day.

Old Fashion Christmas

My father-in-law sent me this picture he took of the Christmas star. The hubby and I went out to look at it and standing there looking at something that hasn’t occured since 1226, just left me in awe. I know these two planets get pretty close every 60 years but it takes roughly 800 years for them to be right on top of each other to form what people call the Christmas Star. It was truly beautiful.

Over the past 4 years, we have greatly simplified our Christmases. The first 2 years were more difficult because our oldest remembered more store bought gifts. That and the fact that I am still learning how to choose and make the perfect gifts for each child. Over the whole year, I collect toys or items I know for sure each child will like or love. Closer to Christmas, I sew an outfit for each and maybe some other item they want. Like little boy wanted a wallet to carry his yard sale money. He had been using a coin purse, but even at 6 he seems to know this is too girly.

So while its not perfect since this was my first attempt at a boy’s wallet, he absolutely loved it. The zipper pocket is already full of his change. The fat quarteris one I had picked up months ago for 50 cents and I was just waiting for the perfect way to use it. The binding I made out of some old scrap material I had lying around. He is proud to have a wallet that is more in the style of his daddy’s than a purse like the girls carry.

We did ths gift exchanges Christmas Eve because the hubby actually had to work on Christmas day. We missed him but I decided instead of being sad I would get busy. So to work I went washing 3 loads of clothes, cleaning “junk” drawers, moving the board and card games to a lower area so the kids can have easy access since they are now old enough to enjoy playing these type of things, and painting. Yes the thing I hate most I spent 2 hours of Christmas day doing. We have been considering selling this house and trying to buy land with cash. We had decided to touch up some spots around the inside of the house. The other things we need to do will have to wait for finances and warmer weather.

Anyway after touching up the walls, I decided to paint the bathroom shelf in the kids’ bathroom. It has been driving me crazy and I was holding out to get some blue paint but it just never seems the right time to buy unnecessary paint when we had the tan paint we used in the rest of the house. I painted the shelf and then I painted the cabinets. White cabinets just never worked in a kid bathroom. No amount of scrubbing ever seemed to keep them clean.

It all looks much cleaner and better.

The junk drawer I organized using another lady’s idea I had seen.

I used a cardboard box to make compartments. I love the way it turned out.

We also cleaned the lamps and filled them. I always love how they look all filled and clean.

My other Christmas project was trying an experiment in water savings– something I seem to struggle with. I was reading another blog on saving water and decided when I started the water dripping in the night to prevent freezing, I placed a container under each faucet. I also used a 5 gallon bucket to catch the water in the tub while I let it run to get it hot for a shower. This morning with all the accumulated water, I was able to fill about a quarter of my washtub. The kitchen sink filled the coffee pot about a quarter full as well. The 5 gallon bucket has enough water to do a load of our cloth toilet paper. That’s alot of water I would have just let run down the drain for no reason! So I am on a mission to see how much water I can save. I keep trying anyway.

I do hope everyone had a Merry Christmas.

Reusable canning lids

It has been busy around here– everyday filled with projects. I have been steadily sewing trying to finish Christmas sewing projects. My other big project was making some bone broth with leftover turkey bones from Thanksgiving. I had been saving the bones in the freezer waiting on my new Harvest Guard reusable lids to arrive. Around here canning lids have been hard to come by. Usually I buy the mainstays Walmart lids and these work great for me. For some reason Ball lids just fail to seal for me and I get frustrated. Well anyway, at the beginning of 2020 I had ordered 144 lids never dreaming we would have a canning supply shortage. When I was down to the last box and realized our Walmart wasn’t getting any more lids in stock, I started researching alternatives. There were only two options I could find– Tattler or Harvest Guard. Based on price, I decided on the latter.

Today I finally tried them out. There is a bit of a learning curve because you follow different procedures than with the store bought tin lids. The plastic lid and rubber gasket both have to be simmered. I found out it’s easier to put them together for simmering. Keeping them separate made it more difficult to catch with the tongs.

Anyway you just can following the same directions as your canner says. The difference is putting on the rings at the beginning. You tighten the ring just until the jar moves around. After the canning is complete and the canner has released all its pressure, you remove the jars and use a dishrag to carefully tighten down the rings. Then they sit on the counter 12 to 24 hours like normal. Because I was too impatient to wait that long, I let them cool to room temperature and removed the rings. All of the 15 jars sealed but one.

I love the lids and am so glad to have a reusable option.

My other project today was to make myself a thimble for when I hand sew. I have a rubber one but it breaks my finger out so hubby found me some learher and I cut out some to fit my finger and whipstitched it together. It works great. For something so simple, I couldn’t be more pleased with my little thimble.

I have one more sewing project to go to be ready for Christmas so hopefully I can try out my new thimble with it.

The kids are so excited this year. The littlest one asks everyday if it’s Christmas yet. After this year, it makes me even more thankful that we are all together and healthy.

May everyone have a Merry Christmas.