Thursday, April 29, 2010


The transition is nearing an end.  We've spent the last three nights in the trailer and are finishing the clean-up at the house.  I just posted 10 free items on Craigslist and they were all gone within an hour.  Magical.  There is still lots to do and tomorrow morning is our last chance to finish it all, but I wanted to check in while I have a chance with some internet access.

Amazingly, everyone slept through the night, two out of three nights!  It sure is happily cozy, and for those wondering if I was able to stuff all my appliances into the trailer, I was successful.  Oh yes.

The grand trailer tour is in the making; getting things cleaned and settled first seemed ideal.  But here are a few snippets from the first few days:

Here we are, doing school.  It was raining, but most of the time we'll be outside, sitting on patio chairs, enjoying the fresh air while we tend to our studies.
Things might be busy, but there's always time for a quick cuddle and a picture book.
It's hard to see from this picture (um, and I have dusted the sill since this picture was taken.  Yikes.), but if you look past the electric pole, we have a great view of trains trudging through the forest that captures 23-month-old's attention a few times daily.
All I can say, no matter how strange and temporary it may be, it feels like home, and we are all peculiarly happy about it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

6 Days Left ~ On the Couch

I am on the couch.  And on the couch, I will sleep.  You see, our mattress (along with the bed frame) has been put into storage.  Backing up... Today, we had an unexpected moving party.  We had some amazingly sacrificial friends come and spend their entire Saturday helping us transition when we really only hoped for a couple hours from them.  Our goal was to utilize our help by getting all the heavy things into storage.  They went way above and beyond and now most of our home contents are either in storage or on the mountain, where we will soon live.  Moving to the next chapter is so close; I just want it to be here.  But first, we must finish this process.  There are still walls and floors that need scrubbing and 1 1/2 acres to care for one last time.
But for now, I am happy and sleepy.
Blessed doesn't begin to describe what I feel about the people we are in community with.
Also, my husband and I are spending the night on the couches (the only remaining pieces of furniture) and it feels like a slumber party.
I'm ready.  And excited.  To live in the trailer.  On the mountain.  With my family.  Probably in 1 1/2 days.

Friday, April 23, 2010

1 Week Left ~ "I've Got to Admit, It's Gettin' Better"

In one week, everything changes.  Actually, in three days, we could already be living in our new, temporary nest.  Geepers.

Today, I began to equip the trailer with kitchen things.  Spices, herbs, some appliances, tapioca pearls...  It was actually kind of fun and comforting.  I was definitely nesting (no, I am not pregnant).  But the really exciting news is that the amazing family who owns the property we're squatting on has offered a room with an attached bathroom for our use!  That means our family mercantile which contains our extra clothes and kitchen items will be on the premises!  That's enough to make me sleep (in an hour) with a smile on my face, but the fact that I get to take a shower that comes from a hot water heater which holds more than ten gallons (like our trailer) is pure luxury!  You don't even understand; showers are sacred to me.  Um, and did I mention that they also have washer/dryer hook-ups that we can attach ours to?!  No laundromat for me!  Seriously, those three blessings will make an absolute world of difference this next year.  Access to my entire kitchen and all our clothes and a place to wash and dry them without having to drive to town.  Pinch me.
Oh, and one last thing.  We've been moving this nice faucet we bought four years ago for the house we owned down south that we never had the chance to install.  After Jeremy and a friend installed that baby in our trailer and laid our living room rug down in there, it took our home-on-wheels to a whole new level.

Yep.  That beauty is in my trailer kitchen.  I am one lucky girl, I tell you.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

8 Days Left ~ I've Gone All "Reality Show"

Okay.  Here we go.  Are you ready?  The time has come for the final cut. Cue your favorite reality show elimination music.  Which.  Appliance.  Will make it to the 5th wheel? (Click on the appliance links to read the behind-the-scenes love story for each one.  It just makes this even more gut-wrenching.)

It's been a couple weeks of rough scrutinizing, measuring, and agonizing over making the right decision...  I am ready now. Pause for three minutes.

Kitchen Aid Mixer.  You have been with me all ten-and-a-half years of marriage.  I grew up using your mustard yellow ancestor with my mom.  You've helped me make countless loaves of breads, layers of cakes, and batches of cookies.  BUT... You are very bulky.  I have decided (another 3-minute pause)... To find a space for you in the trailer!

Vita-Mix.  I've longed for you for years.  I finally attained you and live in happy blended bliss every day since I brought you home.  BUT... You are very tall.  I have decided.............  To find a space for you in the trailer!

Cast Ironware.  You are not appliances.  But I love you anyway.  You are a healthy, clean choice to cook with, and you keep my arm muscles strong.  BUT... You take up a lot of room and could damage the flimsy trailer drawers.  I have decided......................  To also find a place for you in the trailer!  But one of the dutch ovens and the muffin pan must be placed in storage.  I am sorry.  I will miss you so.

Coffee Roaster.  We met only this year.  You roast me delicious fresh coffee beans and provide my daily revival in a cup.  BUT... You are new to my kitchen and I survived without you all but four months of my life.  I have decided............................................  To find a place for you in the trailer!  You are small and I have 20 pounds of green coffee beans that aren't going to roast themselves...

Dehydrator.  You are a flimsy imitation of the Excalibur that I want, but you have faithfully allowed me to use you at least once a month for three years.  BUT...  You are falling apart and extremely demanding of space, so I have decided..................................................  To store you some place easily accessible.  I am sorry.  I will miss seeing your flimsy, round self in my luxurious Lazy Susan cabinet in the kitchen I must also say goodbye to. Wiping tears away.

Food processor.  You have also been with me for all of my marriage and I grew up using one of your more bulky ancestors.  You chop, puree, grate, and slice in a matter of seconds, saving me hours of time over the years.  BUT...  Space is getting really limited.  I have decided........................................................  To also find a space for you in the trailer!

WonderMill.  You have ground hundreds of pounds of spelt, kamut, buckwheat, corn, rice, beans, and tapioca; eight cups of flour in one minute flat.  You have served me without a hick-up for four years.  BUT...  You are my most massive appliance.  I have decided............................................................................  To find a space for you in the trailer, as well!

What?  All but one and a half of them made the cut?  Where will I find the room for them all?  I don't know.  But it will happen, alright?  What you don't know is I have packed away the toaster, coffee maker (I have a single-cup French press in it's place), mandolin slicer, and electronic citrus juicer.  So there.  But I will prove to you that I found room for them with photographed documentation that will most likely be posted after the move when I give you the grand tour of our new digs.

Well, that was a nice 20-minute breather.  Back to packingcleaningfeedingcleaningpackingschoolingpacking.  The adventure continues...

Monday, April 19, 2010

An Index of Recipes

Seriously, making an index for the great adventure felt so good, I thought I'd get one more bout of happiness from organization and completion before collapsing into bed.  These recipes have been needing a place to be easily accessed, so here we go:

French Olive Fig Tapenade ~ This will change your life.  Trust me. Gluten-Free
Grain-Free Pigs in a Blanket ~ GAPS-friendly, Gluten-free

Perfectly Frothy Raw Hot Cocoa ~ It's simple, rich, delicious, nutritious, sweet, and even a lil salty.  What more could you ask for in a drink? Gluten-Free
Pumpkin Spice Latte(ish) ~ It's a tasty work-in-progress. Gluten-Free

Bread Recipes
Breakfast Breads
Grain-Free Banana Blueberry Bars ~ Sweetened only with bananas.  Simple & Delicious. GAPS-Friendly Gluten-Free
Glazed Cranberry Lemon Scones with Spelt ~ From start to glazed finish, done in 25 minutes.
Grain-Free Banana Blueberry Bars ~ GAPS-friendly, gluten-free
Quick & Healthy Breakfast Biscuits ~ Every member of my family adores these, and that's saying a lot.
Build a Pancake Bar ~ It's going to be the new rage.  Just watch.
Pumpkin Scones ~ Starbucks gone healthy.  They should hire me, I think.
Daily Breads
Sourdough ~ Spelt sourdough is our bread of choice, and it's so cheap to make!
Quick & Healthy Tortillas ~ As you can see, I love me some quick and healthy breads.
Sourdough Flat Bread ~ Cooked on the stovetop; keep that oven off in the summertime!
Sweet Breads
Cranberry Pumpkin Bread ~ a great use of Thanksgiving leftovers.

Breakfast Recipes
A Simple Blueberry Smoothie ~ Scroll to the bottom of the post to see it. Gluten-Free GAPS friendly
Porridge & Fried Mush ~ Don't be turned off by the name; it's tasty.  It's frugal.  It's what we like.

Condiment/Sauces/Cheese/Etc. Recipes
Creme Fraiche ~ Our fridge is never without a jar of it. Gluten-Free GAPS friendly
Cultured Butter and Buttermilk ~ A how-to with attitude. Gluten-Free GAPS friendly
Farmer's Cheese ~ Or Fromage Blanc if you want to get all fancy-like. Gluten-Free GAPS friendly
Traditional Chicken Stock ~ A lil' something I learned from Nourishing Traditions Gluten-Free GAPS friendly
Sauerkraut ~ Scrumdidilyumptious Gluten-Free GAPS friendly
Roasted Poblano Salad Dressing ~ It tastes way better than it looks. And it's easy and healthy.  So there. Gluten-Free GAPS friendly
Refried Beans ~ Only they're never fried.  But they're simple, frugal, and comforting.  Gluten-free

Dessert Recipes
Soaked Blackberry Peach (or Nectarine) Cobbler ~ Your extra-tart fruits and berries will find the home of their dreams in this recipe.  Your tummy will thank you that you soaked the oats first.
Farmhouse or Fancy? A Versatile Apple Spice Cake ~ Two ways to make it and love it.
Mint Fudge Brownies ~ These babies only appear at Christmastime around here.
Frosted Spelt Cake with Whispers of Coconut ~ I was feeling artsy when I named it, can you tell?  Oh, but it's guuuuud.
Fudge-Topped Brownies ~ I'm sorry.
Raw Coconut Creme Pie with Coconut Fudge Crust ~ I likey the fudge. Gluten-Free
Raw Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart with Vanilla Cream ~ Gluten-Free  Raw.  But you don't feel ripped off, this is a serious dessert.
(Mostly) Raw Nut Butter Cacao Bars ~ Make it all-raw using raw nut butter.  This is a staple in our dessert selection. Gluten-Free
Raw Samoa Cookies ~ Each component of this cookie is tasty all by itself.  All of them put together?  Music in your mouth. Gluten-Free

Lunch/Dinner Recipes
Simple Soaked-bean Chili ~ A Nourishing Traditions-style chili adapted from my mama's recipe. Gluten-Free
Cornbread Casserole ~ Wholesome, delicious, satisfying.  Need I say more?
Easy Chicken Enchiladas ~ Jeremy's all-time favorite dinner.
Honey Mustard Chicken ~ Slow cooking for fast days.  GAPS friendly Gluten-Free
Grain-Free Pigs in a Blanket ~ Why not? GAPS friendly Gluten-Free
Summer Vegetable Skillet Pizza ~ Just how many veggies can you pack into a tasty meal? This manyGluten-Free 
Turkey Pesto Pasta ~ 15 minutes to make, 10 servings, $1.57/hearty searving, delicioso.  Done & done. Gluten-Free

California Autumn-Winter Salad ~ I heart CA.  I heart Salad.  I heart CA salad. Gluten-Free
Chicken Enchilada Salad ~ A delicious in-season salad if you're in the season of spring. Gluten-Free

Side Dishes
Skillet Italian Roots & Sweet Sausage ~ An easy, wintery-into-springtime recipe that's hardy enough to be a main course. Gluten-Free

Snack Recipes
Nut Butter Spoons ~ Sheepishly simple, yet oh so satisfying.  Kids love it. Gluten-Free GAPS friendly
Nut Butter & Honey Popcorn ~ Jazz up your next bowl of popcorn and your life will change.  For real.

Nourishing Potato Cheddar Soup ~ Fills you with comfort and fights off sickness.  Win-win! Gluten-Free

Our Year in the Trailer

I went out to take a picture of something pertaining to our great adventure, but was captivated by this butterfly on a lilac. And here you have it. The capture for our next year. It embodies hope. Hope for so many things. It's going to be a good year.

In light of my present need for order, I have decided to make an easy page to refer to and follow along this road to financial freedom/extended camping trip/adventure of insanity.

So, if you were wondering what on earth is going on in the life of the Riddles six, here you have it, in chronological order:

April, 2010
The Words that Changed our Lives, in which I unveil the great adventure.
The Process, in which the process of letting go to move forward occurs.
Giggle, in which the decision to laugh about the circumstance is made.
Sweet Dreams, in which dreams are made about my little one's future and we find peace.
5 Each, in which the practicalities set in and downsizing begins.
The Reality of Downsizing, in which we take a look into the new, yet temporary reality.
I've Gone All "Reality Show", in which we find out what beloved kitchen appliances make the cut.
1 Week Left & It Just Keeps Getting Better, in which three happy surprises are gushed about.
6 More Days ~ On the Couch, in which I have a slumber party with Jeremy.
Home, in which I quickly share the first few days of life in the trailer.

May, 2010
Trailer Treasure: The year-long camping adventure begins, and we discover what matters most.
Things Learned in Small Spaces

June, 2010
Five Bits of News: In just one month of extreme frugality, we receive mind-blowing generosity.

July, 2010
Summer: We are treated to a summer with my sweet parents and remember the richness of family togetherness.

August, 2010
Instead: Processing through both the hard and sweet sides of our current reality.
In the Kitchen: Agreeing with the quote that "food tastes better in small kitchens."
Getting Outside: The sights and sounds outside our trailer door.

September, 2010
A New Chapter: And things begin to change...
A Peek Inside the Cabin: 1,000 square feet is much bigger than 250 square feet.

November, 2010
A Day in the Trailer ~ What life looks like in tiny spaces.
Counting Down Again ~ 13 days! This time there ain't no downsizing.
A Season Ends ~ And a new one always begins.
Closed ~ Escrow, that is.

February, 2011
Before and after, a Virtual Housewarming Party ~ In which this part of our story comes to an end, and we say goodbye to the trailer and hello to the new, little cabin.

January, 2014
Settling In ~ After a four-year journey, we settle into our homestead.

Friday, April 16, 2010

14 Days Left ~ The Reality of Downsizing

Condensing.  Downsizing.  Squeezing.  Squishing.  Nesting.  Burrowing.  We have two weeks left to figure it all out.  The next focus is the kitchen.  Let me give you some perspective:
The house kitchen:
Never have I known so much cabinet and counter space. Corian. Wood.  Recessed lighting.  It's heaven on earth, I tell you.
The trailer kitchen (pardon the mess):
I have known more cabinet and counter space.  Wood veneer.  Particle board.  Reality.
House pantry:
Seriously.  Room to spare.
Trailer pantry:
I placed some packing tape in one of the drawers to give perspective.  And that's all I have to say about that.
House fridge:
Food, food everywhere.
Trailer fridge:
Again with the packing tape for perspective.

Where will all the food go?  I don't really care right now.  What I do care about are all my appliances.  And that process will have to wait until tomorrow because this is enough insanity for one day.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

15 Days Until Impact ~ 5 Each

Today's focus is clothing.  It sounds fun and easy.  Clothes are fun.  Packing them should be a cinch, they fold right up and squish on down, filling every space inside a box.  But...  Where will we stuff six people's wardrobes inside a 5th-wheel and still have room for things like, I dunno... food?  What do we do with what doesn't fit in the trailer?  We're changing seasons and still need warm and cold weather clothes; how does this all work?  Breathe in. Breathe out.
It was all quite complicated, really.  Then, the number was decided.  Five.  Each person will have five outfits available inside the trailer: two nicer outfits (meaning no stains) and three play outfits.  Oh, and two pairs of pajamas each.

All four kids have been blessed with an abundance of really cute hand-me-downs.  Lots of clothes is just a burden I don't mind bearing, you know?  My thought is that we will (have to be very organized) set up our very own clothing store in part of our storage unit.  We'll place the clothes boxes by order of size and when the kids either destroy an article of clothing (it happens when they play outside), outgrow them, or just want an exchange, we can head to the storage unit and they can pick out a new piece/outfit/whatever at our tailor-made store.  It actually sounds kind of fun!

Five outfits and two sets of jammies each, however, is still 30 outfits and twelve pjs to fit in one trailer closet. But I'm not there yet.  Right now, I'm boxing and organizing.  The stuffing, er, unpacking will have to come later.  I hope five was a good number to pick.  My logic is simply shining right now.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A New Recipe: Quick & Healthy (er) Glazed Breakfast Biscuits

As the preparation for our great adventure continues (16 days and counting, lest we lose track), breakfast must still be made.  Apparently, I needed a creative outlet, and it came in the form of comfort food.  How very unsurprising.

Fear not!  This is a nourishing, whole grain recipe with all healthy ingredients! Well, sans the powdered sugar for the glaze. It seems as if glazing breakfast breads has become a rather naughty habit of mine.  Sorry.  You can always skip that part.  I doubled the recipe this morning because, well, I wanted them to last longer than one meal.  Pair this with eggs prepared the way you like 'em and you've got a most satisfying breakfast to get the day started with healthy goodness.

Quick & Healthy Breakfast Biscuits
For the biscuits:
1 3/4 cup whole grain flour of your choice (I used kamut.  More on that later)
2 tablespoons rapadura (or a sugar of your choice)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup dried fruit bits (I used raisins, cranberries, and goji berries.  That's what I had on hand, alright?)

For the glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon orange juice (water will work, too)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Combine flour, rapadura, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Add coconut oil while the dry mixture is still mixing until it looks crumbly.  Add dry fruit and milk and mix thoroughly.
3.  You can either roll out the dough on a floured surface and cut them out like traditional biscuits or roll them into 12 balls and press each ball out to a 1/2 inch thickness.  
4.  Place biscuits 1 inch apart onto an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake about 13 minutes or until slightly brown on along the edges.
If you're skipping the glaze, enjoy!  If you want your biscuits all glazy-like, combine the juice and sugar and place in a wide bowl.  Once the biscuits are cool enough to handle, dip the top of each one into the glaze. 

Annnnnd... done!

Hey What's For Dinner

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

17 Days & Counting ~ Happy

This basket full of organic goodies showed up at my door today.
Several friends have offered to throw me a moving party; snacks and all.
Another friend dropped my daughter off after letting her play over at her house for the afternoon.
Yet another friend has offered to buy our twelve chickens and the coop which will enable us to buy all four futons for the kids' trailer chairs/beds with cash.
My children are happily playing in boxes and I have packed two of them. (Boxes, that is.  And not with kids inside, I promise.)

The feeling of being loved and thought about is overwhelmingly amazing.  These women inspire me to be a more aggressive friend with showing my care for them and those around me.  I'm not even sure how to properly accept all this kindness and generosity.  I've (thankfully) grown past feeling inadequate for love, apparently the next step is learning how to receive it.  That's a happy problem.

Today has been a good day.  Feeling loved, covered, considered, and, well, happy.  Sending some of this sweet love and happiness your way; receive it!  Then teach me how to do that. :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

18 More Days ~ Truth is...

Authentic crayon markings.

...I haven't packed a single box yet.  Nope.  Not one.
...there are still crayon marks on the walls and another showing tomorrow afternoon to prepare for.
...I am so proud of 8-year-old for baking her first pie with little help tonight.
...there's not much left of me after focusing on the kids to make sure we remain connected.
...realization just hit; feeling a sense of accomplishment once a goal has been set fuels me...
...I'm going to pack a box.  Right now.  Before I lay me down to sleep.
...the sense of accomplishment will probably amp me up to the point of being unable to sleep for a while.
... maybe I won't pack a box tonight and sleep in defeated slumber.
... the decision has been made that I will, in fact pack a box tonight.
...I'll probably scrub the crayon marks off, too, with the energy I get from that box being packed.
...after checking a few references (meaning one), I'm hoping all these ellipsis (ellipsises?  Ellipsi?) were properly used.
...I'm going to pack the box now.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

19 More Days ~ Sweet Dreams

Watching my babies sleep is easily one of life's most soothing moments.

  My sweetness.  You find opportunity in every situation.  Your creativity knows no end.  I long for you to grow up with a heritage of prosperity in all aspects of life.  The dream of leaving you and your siblings an inheritance instead of debt brings me strength and excitement for this coming adventure.
Little man.  The deep thinker.  We might not provide you with the much coveted Wii and all it's wonderous amenities, but I can lavish you with the overabundant amount of love I have for you and I hope you always feel it.  A peaceful home is important to you, and that is something I can and will provide for you, no matter how big or small our homes will be throughout your growing up years.

Angel face.  My fellow homebody.  You've lived through three relocations in your four years.  You're happiest when everyone's together, especially when we're reading a story and cuddling with blankets and pillows.  None of that will change.  Things will just get... cozier.
Snuggle Puppy.  You love to be apart of whatever is happening around you.  A lot is happening, and you feel it.  This is a great adventure and you are just as much a part of it as the rest of us are.  You get to graduate out of your crib and sleep in the same room as the rest of your siblings; a dream of yours that is about come true (and hopefully sleep will be involved).

In 19 days, so much will change.  But not the most important things.  One amazing family, cuddles, laughter, togetherness, four walls, a roof, a floor, central heating and air, and a working kitchen, be it ever so tiny.  What more could a girl want?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dry Humor

It's been a while since my last kidism post and I've had a couple doozies from 4-year-old that would be just plain selfish to keep to myself...

We were at a talent show 8-year-old announced for. (And might I just add, she was a natural.  By the end of her last intro, she was literally strutting.  Oh my.)  Out of the blue, during a guitar number, 4-year-old looked up and asked "Do camels lick their lips?" I believe following the thought process to this question would prove quite fascinating.

A few days ago, I offered her some whole-grain cereal and she answered in disgust, "That cereal tastes like crackers from the desert."  Interpretation: That cereal is dry.

There seems to be a theme in these two quotes.  Camels.  Desert.  Dry.  Is she thirsty?  Do I need to monitor her water intake more carefully?  Should I delve deeper into this?  I think I just mentally exhausted myself.  Any now I see why.  Hello, bedtime.  Goodnight, world.  I love you, my sweet Faify 4-year-old.

Friday, April 9, 2010

T Minus 21 Days ~ Giggle

Today is filled with cleaning and condensing and cleaning.  The first viewers for the house come in the morning, and there are plenty of little fingerprints to scrub from walls and windows to keep busy until midnight, not to mention a certain clingy 22-month-old who's presently squirming in my lap.  She definitely senses something's up.  It was easy to feel at first that she was slowing down the cleaning process until I realized she needed some comfort while she processed.  So fingerprints be darned (or have mercy, either one), I'm working with one hand; the other one's holding a sweet baby who needs to feel secure.

Last week, while grocery shopping, I spotted something that seemed quite fitting for our new living quarters.  It was on clearance, so I bought myself a little housewarming gift.  If you have ever seen a trailer park, you know these babies are essential.  In three weeks from today, we'll get to adorn our trailer porch with these little lovelies:
It's not too tacky... right?
~Read the archives of this journey here.~

Thursday, April 8, 2010

T-22 Days ~ The Process

In 22 days, we'll begin a year (or so) of life in a 5th-wheel, on our way to freedom from financial debt.  Today is the first day I feel out of the emotional fog of blended excitement and loss and I've begun to progress in the packing process.  It's been a couple of weeks walking around in a bit of a daze.  I was deep in the activity of letting go.

Two weeks ago, when the plans began to solidify, I broke down while Jeremy and I were talking about what to do next.  He saw I needed some fresh air and suggested we continue the conversation later.  In I went to the long peacoat and warm boots.  I clenched a cup of hot coffee and stepped outside.  It was cold, cloudy, and very windy.  It felt just right, even if my coffee was being blown out of it's cup and onto my sleeve.  Now what?  I headed to the field and trudged toward a big oak tree to sit under for a while.  I let the tears flow.  Then the weeping welled up and came right out.
I loved this place.  I attached to it deeply.  Letting go hurt.  But as I sat there, I released it.  Then I had the strength to bless it, and bless the new dwellers of this dreamland (whomever they were) and asked for favor and prosperity on both the land and it's inhabitants.  It felt good and freeing.  I got up to take a walk.  Then, I saw the garden, my soft spot.  There were four perfect rows of healthy potato sprouts, four rows of little pea plants, a full bed of lettuce in various stages of growth, parsley, chives, oregano, and rosemary, all ready to season something nourishing, some barren beds all fertilized and waiting for the seeds and starts I had prepared for each square inch.  So much love and hope poured into those raised beds.  It all came pouring back in.  It was almost too much to look at.  I walked past it, tears streaming, wind blasting.  All along the way, though, the Father was speaking very comforting, very peaceful words to my spirit and it was like salve on dry, parched skin.

There's this horse on our street that I've wanted to stop and look at for a while.  So I did.  We locked eyes and it seemed to know he was comforting me.  I walked further down the road and he followed me, so I stopped, and we locked eyes again for several moments.  As I continued my stroll, he watched me until I turned a corner.  For all I knew, he was patiently awaiting an apple to be pulled from my pocket, but it was a nice moment, nonetheless.

I stopped at the corner by a patch of red flowers I'd been meaning to look at ever since they sprang up at the beginning of spring.  They were starting to wilt a little, but they were still so pretty.  More and more, I was making my peace with this transition.
New life was everywhere.  The manzanitas had beautiful new growth, as well.  Everything I looked at said, change and new life are in the air.  I embraced it.  I was feeling more ready now.
  Excitement welled back up a bit, and I was ready to head back and continue the process by telling the kids the news with Jer.

"We have something to tell you, and it entails adventure."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Words That Changed Our Lives

What a message.  Thankfulness does't begin to describe my gratitude for webcasts.  I was engrossed in all three hours (broken up in several chunks when life made it's demands) of a Jason Westerfield message he delivered in New Zealand several weeks ago to a handful of listeners.  Jeremy happened to wander into the room when Jason said, "The only place we should be in the red is when reading the words of Jesus in the Scriptures."

It sounded like a cute little play on words, but it hit us deeply.  And we believed it.  And we sat on it for a few days; both of us, unbeknownst to each other.  It came back up in a later conversation.  We made some poor investments a few years ago that have reaped hard financial loss.  We agreed we wanted to be free from the shackles of debt.  We played around with what getting to that point would look like for us.  We both wanted to get fierce with it, but didn't want the road to financial freedom to be long or drawn out.  We have a tendency to get a little drastic at times, and, learning from our past mistakes, decided not to make any decisions right away.  Impulsiveness does not behove us.  Wow, those were a lot of "we"s, but I don't have the energy to edit that right now.

After rearranging different options myriads of ways, it simply came down to one reality.  Moving.  What wasn't an option for us was moving out of the area.  We found our home, our tribe here.  Never have we felt so strongly that this is where our family needed to be and we were willing to make the sacrifices necessary to stay here.

Apartment living?  No.  We homeschool our children, meaning our kids are home a lot more than average, and subjecting our kids to a balcony or patio was out of the question while we still had other options.

We own a 5th-wheel that we bought as a temporary home to live in while deciding whether or not to build a home on a property off the grid (and that is entirely too long of a story to go into right now).  We haven't been able to sell it to break even (never mind profit) the past couple of years due to the economy, so we've rented it out, used it as guest quarters, and finally turned it into a (very nice, I might add) music studio.  What if the trailer became our temporary home again?  Jer mentioned staying in a trailer park... Not while our options were still open.  We found several local ranches on Craigslist that offered rental of a chunk of land along with full hook-ups for trailer living.  That sounded way better, but what about when Jer's on the road and the kids and I are alone on a property with an unfamiliar owner...  Any more options?

Then, after sharing our situation with them, our very gracious friends offered rental of a beautiful spot on their gorgeous 70-acre spread (full hook-ups included).  We gratefully accepted.  And so it begins.  Our extended camping trip.  Our goal is to not only make ends meet, but to free ourselves from debt to eventually afford ownership of a home.

This is what living in reality looks like for us.  The home of my dreams that we currently steward has been an extravagantly wonderful repose after the hardest season of our married lives.  But reality is, this place is going to be sold next summer, and if we don't drastically relieve our financial load, there's no way we could afford do buy it, or anything comparable.

Jeremy has an extra spring in his step.  Knowing we'll not only be living within our means, but also destroying burdensome debt brings joy to his heart.  Our kids are ecstatic.  Camping in the trailer for one year?! A dream come true!  They (and we) adore the family (and their property) we'll be living with. They've (prophetically) asked several times if we could live with them, and very much enjoyed the brief time our trailer was our home three years ago.  And me?  It just so happens our friends' parents live on the property as well, and their dad tends one of the most amazing gardens I've ever laid eyes on.  We're talking 15+ raised beds, vines, trees...  Heaven.  Not only to I get to help with the upkeep, I'm very hopeful to learn (and pass on my findings by way of blogging) from this very gifted, experienced gardener.

Although I look forward to coming back to blogging about different homemaking arts and adventures, this next month of transition will mostly include blogging about the process of consolidating our lives for our ticket to ride into financial freedom which comes in the form of a 5th-wheel.  And it surely is a process.  Hang on to them hats and glasses, cuz this here is the wildest ride in the wilderness!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Keeping Chickens, Part 3: Coop; When & How

Can I just say how happy I am that tomorrow I get to mentally download (explode?) all over this blog about the big news?  I think I just did.  Until tomorrow, then...

Today, we're talkin' 'bout chickens.  So your chickies are now 4-6 weeks old, it's getting warmer outside, the sun is shining longer, and it's time to introduce the awkward, adolescent pullets (hens 1 year or younger) to the world.  When I say awkward, I mean awkward.
Bye-bye, cute little balls of puff.  Although at this point they look a lot more like chickens, they still peep like chicks.  It's just... awkward, I tell you.  But I must say, it sure is easier kicking them out of their warm brood and into the world when they look like this...

Like I said before, ideally, you'll have the coop ready before you even bring the tiny chicks home (time flies by when you're keeping chicks).  That ideal didn't happen for us; Jeremy hammered the last nail in the coop the day the adolescent pullets were put in their new, outdoor home. 

The size of the coop all depends on how many chickens you'll be keeping.  I read that a 12-hen flock is ideal for a family of 6-8, so that's what we did. Some good coop-building resources are Chickens in Your BackyardKeep Chickens!, or Building Chicken Coops.  You can always Google "chicken coops" and the possibilities are endless.  That's what we did.  I happen to be married to a very handy man.  He found a coop we liked on Craigslist and just from the picture, he built that amazing coop seen at the top of this post.

Our coop for the dozen hens we have is 5'x6'.  You'll want to make sure they have enough nesting space for at least three hens to lay at the same time (although they'll probably all try to lay in the exact same spot; they're a tad peculiar that way).  I refresh the grass/straw in the nesting box once a week.
Here's a better picture of the nesting box from the outside:
You'll also need to provide 2 roosts, or perches.  That's where they'll sleep.
Chicken poo is like chocolate for your garden.  And that might have been the most disturbing thing I've ever written.  What I mean to say is, their droppings provide rich fertilizer for garden beds.  Does that sit better?  You can use the deep litter method (adding fresh grass/straw about once a month right on top of the old stuff and cleaning it all out twice a year) and you'll have huge batches ready-to-use, fertile, compost for your garden.  I usually scoop some out whenever I need some fertilizer before adding a fresh layer of grass clippings.

We're currently living on an acre and a half, so we have free grass clippings/dead leaves to lay down in the coop and their run ten months out of the year.  For the other two months, we buy two bales of hay (one for each month) which are only $3 each.
Yep.  Lots of grass clippings...

Even if you keep your hens in a fenced-in run like we do, you'll want to latch the coop door up at night.  We found some hungry-looking paw prints right next to our coop the other day.
Well, that's that.  Next time, we'll chat about feeding your flock.  What to feed, when to feed, and why.  Yeehaw.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Sourdough Starter Winner!

Apparently, IntenseDebate (the comment moderator I recently installed on this blog) has been doing some funky mischief, like deleting comments.  Um, that is not ok.  IntenseDebate might haveta go if it acts up one more time.  I'm pretty sure I fixed all the problems for this giveaway, though.  If I didn't (meaning if you're comment got deleted) PLEASE let me know and we'll figure something out for you, mkay? chose comment number 5 as the lucky starter winner:

charity· 6 days ago

Congrats, Charity!  Send me your address here and the starter with sourdough instructions will be sent your way! :)

Glazed Cranberry Lemon Scones with Spelt (of course). A recipe.

First of all, I have some big news to share with you. I mean big. But before I do, I have two posts I've got to put up first. I can't help it. If I'm not systematic, my eyes cross and I get all confused and laundry piles up and dishes begin to mold while I sit in a corner and stare at the ground. I might be exaggerating (slightly), but it's for the sake of my mental well-being and my family's care that the posts wait in line in the order they were conceived. However, come Wednesday, the huge news will be revealed, so stay tuned if you're interested in finding out...

Just because we choose health doesn't mean we have to miss out on treats. I mean real treats, not I'll pretend this tastes as good as the real thing kind of treats. This is a whole grain scone with good ingredients, and if you want them extra healthy, skip the glaze; they're plenty yummy without it. If you're serving 6 or more, I suggest you double this recipe. It's just nice to (hopefully) have leftovers, you know? This is a quick recipe that takes about 20 minutes from start to baked-goodness finish.

Glazed Cranberry Lemon Scones with Spelt (Makes 8 scones)
You will need (Also butter. Somehow it didn't make it in the picture.):
For the Scones
1/4 cup turbinado (you can use another sugar, but turbinado gives it great texture)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
6 Tablespoons UNsoftened butter (meaning straight from the fridge)
1 egg
1/2 cup half-and-half (or cream if you want to go for the gold; but whole milk works, too)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon lemon zest (a fancy word for rind)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour, sugar, and salt.
Cut in the butter. Meaning slice the butter as if you were going to generously butter a slice of bread and drop the pieces in, one at a time, while the mixer (set to 1) does it's thing.
Now measure the half-and-half and add the egg. Whisk it up real well then pour into the dry mixture while the mixer remains on setting 1 (low).
Add the cranberries and lemon zest while it's all still mixing around.
Take the dough out, roll it into a ball, and pat it out into about a 1/2 inch-thick wheel. Cut it into 8 triangles.
Now spread them out. I usually bake them on a pizza stone (perfect shape), but that had Greek Easter Bread on it at the time.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until the edges are slightly brown.
If you want to glaze them, make the glaze while the scones are baking.
For the Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon juice from the lemon you just zested
1 1/2 Tablespoon half-and-half (or cream or milk)

Combine all ingredients and beat until it looks like, well, glaze. There's no need to sift the sugar; it'll all dissolve by the time you glaze the scones.
Once the scones come out, let them cool a few minutes, then glaze. No need to dirty more dishes; just drizzle the glaze from the mixing bowl, scraping the sizes with a spatula.
There'll be some excess glaze on the pan, and we call that pan-scraping heaven.

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