Friday, December 30, 2016

Goodbye 2016

It is dark and gloomy and pouring rain today, and I can't think of a better way to end this year.

2016 has been crap. Total crap. While there of course have been moments of joy, just like any year, this year feels like it was filled with pain, frustration, loss, tears - so many tears, anger, depression and uncertainty.

So am happy to have rain today. I feel like it's washing away all the yuck from this year and I hope it starts over with a fresh, beautiful new year full of hope and excitement and joy. I have so many happy thoughts of what I want to accomplish, and learn and focus on in my year of Peace & Balance and I can't wait to start it.

Thursday, December 29, 2016


Every year for the new year, I don't really make "resolutions", but I pick a theme. And I spend my year trying to make sure that what I'm doing fits in that theme.

The last few years have been rough, with a lot of changes and ups and downs for us as a family and for me personally. I've lost sight of things that were important to me and brought me joy, I've said yes to things that were not a good idea, and we've been in survival mode a few times both physically and emotionally. 

 I've picked a few themes for the past two years but weren't able (or chose not to) stick to them for one reason or another. And now, at this place and time, on the edge of 30 and feeling like I'm finding myself over again and wanting to reset myself, I have chosen a theme that I think is going to be a beautiful reminder for me this year to do and act in a way that fits into these words.

2017: The year of Peace & Balance.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Last week was insane.

Chickens being killed, health issues, a trip to Urgent Care (I'm fine, just not taking care of myself well), now a chest cold, and a nice but tiring fishing trip to the beach (yay!). I'm so glad to be in a new week.

I took the past two weeks off of anything related to work, and with that plus being under the weather, I haven't spent much time on the internet at all. Well, except for Pinterest, but that doesn't count.

Y'all. It's been amazing. Take a week off from social media and tell me how you feel. I promise you'll feel amazing.

I love how much time I haven't wasted scrolling on Facebook. I've been almost completely disconnected from the world and I feel like I can breathe. I have spent my time cooking, cleaning and organizing my home ( I actually enjoy doing this), and reading wonderful books. I'm loving it so much, I think I'll just check in every now and then to see if anyone is talking to me, and keep ignoring the rest.

I've also spent some time planting. I know I'm terribly, terribly late in the game but being in Southern California our growing season is pretty much all year long and I figured it couldn't hurt to try. My seeds are at least a year old and I need to use them up anyways. I planted last week and was going to wait until I had some sprouts to show you. This is what they look like this week:

Completely munched. What was a nice little box full of wee-baby sprouts with tiny leaves a few days ago, is now a completely decimated lettuce wasteland. I'm almost ready to give up gardening forever. I feel like we can't win at all this year. It either gets munch by bugs, chickens or dogs, or gets dug up by tiny hands who aren't paying attention.

Good news is, so far I have green beans. The chard was victim to munching as well, and I haven't seen a single flower sprout out of all the ones I sowed last week. But if nothing goes terribly, horrifically wrong, we might have green beans!

We have asparagus growing too! My mother-out-law (my sister's MIL) found freebie giveaways of a bunch of sad looking plants at the home improvement store early this spring. We took a few home, planted them with the attitude that if they grew, awesome, if not then nothing was wasted and a few weeks later we had sprouts! They are feathering out nicely with their little ferny leaves. In another year or two hopefully they'll be big enough to grace our dinner table.

After years of trying, a few moves to different parts of the yard, and being chewed down to nubs from a (previous) dog, we finally have edible grapes this year! They tried last year, but this is the first time any of the bunches actually set with grapes. I'm so excited! They are just about ready, so they'll be picked soon for snacks. They aren't huge, maybe the size of a large pea, but they are tasty, and they are ours.

Ok, looking at these pictures all is not lost with the garden. It just feels like it when everything is being munched to death by various creatures. We get a few tomatoes every now and then, and we've gotten about 3 good jalapeno peppers. The berries gave a few this year after being moved, and I think next year we'll get a decent crop if I can keep the dogs from trampling them. And of course, we still get eggs from the girls and sweet Dilly the duck. Food is still coming from our yard, in tiny fits and bursts. It's all good.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Thanks, Monday

My husband and I didn't plan on processing chickens when we went to bed last night. And yet, by 9:30am we had one in the stock pot and two in the freezer.

**This is not going to be a pretty story, so if you're prone to get queasy you might not want to keep going**

About a month ago we got a new puppy. He's adorable, and sweet, but hyper and.... Took up the hobby of chasing the chickens and ducks. I'm not okay with this. For one thing, if ducks run too fast they can break a leg. And the other being... Umm, don't attack my poultry.

For the past week or so we've been woken up every morning to the duck alarm. Mellow (the male) quacking at the top of his lungs as he's being chased around the yard by Frank (the dog). Quieter, louder, quieter, louder, around and around as they circle the yard toward our room and then away. Usually one good yell of "Frank! NO!" and maybe throw a ball for him and he would  stop.

Up until this point, the ducks have just been loose in our yard. They don't roost like chickens and they had taken to sleeping under the hammock before Frank arrived, so we just let them be. But then we noticed that Frank was getting worse, and seemed to lose his hearing when we tried to stop him.  Funny how he suddenly doesn't speak English. This wasn't working.

We have a low fence that encircles our chicken coop, left from when we had tried using that corner as our garden before the chickens came. We usually leave the gate open, but Saturday night we decided to move the duck's kiddie pool into the yard and lock them in there despite the fact that the ducks and chickens aren't too fond of each other. Barnyard politics are ridiculous. They'll deal. It's that or be chased. This fence has the standard 4" stiles, so we thought that everything would be fine.

But yesterday we were yet again woken up to poor Mellow yelling as Frank chased him and then, horribly, slithered through the fence and caught up (the duck is unharmed, but was shaken up). Obviously, our plan didn't work.

So Ben went to the hardware store to acquire yet more chicken wire. We have this stuff dotted all over the yard as we try to protect plants and sprinklers from curious and hungry (and bored) creatures. We lined the entire fence with the chicken wire and closed up any gaps at the ends with pieces of wood. Ta-da! Duck & chicken safety. We thought... again. (Apparently we aren't very good at thinking.)

Since the chicken area was now dog-proof and they wouldn't be able to get out, we opened the coop door and left it open for everyone to mingle and walk about. We don't have any predators around here (well... aside from the DOG), that would get in the coop at night, so we left it open. The ducks and chickens learned to deal with each other, and everyone was good.

Except chickens can jump.

Last night we watched one particular Barred Rock jump up onto the top of the wire, and off into the grass. Then a little while later she jumped back, then out again, then in again. Apparently this morning she remembered her new sense of freedom and jumped out while we were still in bed.

We woke up to the dogs (we have another one) growling and fighting with each other. Looking out to see what was going on, Ben sees a chicken stuck in the corner of the yard, with Frank standing over her and Honey trying to fight Frank off. The chicken is not moving. He yells, Frank leaves. He brushes his teeth and starts getting dressed to go inspect, but while he's doing this Frank returns to the scene. Ben yells out the window again. Then again. Then I hear the kids yelling at him from the kitchen window. I realize it must be serious since Frank won't stop, Ben is stuck trying to spit out his toothpaste as fast as he can, and I get out of bed and go running outside in my shirt and underwear to pull Frank away and then I see exactly why he won't leave her alone.

Frank has not only caught the chicken in a corner, this chicken's neck feathers and skin are pretty much gone. She is open. He's tasted blood and has been using this chicken as a chew stick for who knows how long before Honey got involved. This poor chicken is alive, but completely in shock. I get the dog away and pick her up as Ben comes over. She is breathing lightly, but her eyes are pained. My heart breaks and I literally have visions of shooting the dog. I'm somewhere between crying ugly tears and blind rage and I can't even speak. There is no saving her. It's amazing she's still alive. Ben says he'll take care of her, and I tell him to let me get dressed and I will help.

We've processed chickens once before, but it was on our terms. We had time to think about it and prepare. This wasn't the same. This was something we now had to do, this moment, without being able to mentally gird ourselves. But because we've done it before though, we know what to do, and I'm glad there was no fear or lack of knowledge. We just get to work.

We silently and methodically prepare. He sets out the table, I get the freezer paper to cover it. He hangs the hooks from the tree, I set the pot to boiling. He gets the gloves and the knife, I get the towels and cutting board. We have a brief discussion about doing a few more chickens that we needed to cull while we have everything out, but other than that we're quiet.

The twins want to watch. We look at each other. Ok, but your little brothers can not. As we work, we explain what we are doing. We explain that we are doing this because the chicken is going to die soon anyways, and we want to quickly take her life rather than let her suffer. We explain that she will become dinner because we do not waste what God has given us. We explain that we don't take life arbitrarily, that we are thankful for what we've been given, and it's always for a reason never for sport.

They understand, and they learn. We clean up, and we move on. And we realize, we've now taken another step in our journey.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Part Where I Start Over

The best things are new and fresh. Babies, for one. The sky, after a glorious rain. Bread, fresh from the oven after starting its life as flour.

And blogs, when you feel like you need a new start.

So here I am! Starting over with a blank slate. Or maybe just taking a new step in the already established journey.

For those of you that don't know, I used to blog over at Little Bit Of Life. And then life felt like it became not so little.

It's funny how life can seem so over-complicated when not many things have changed. Or they just change so subtly that you don't notice until you're already speeding along the rails, not sure where you're going to end up. And then you realize you don't like this speeding train, and you want off the ride.

Over the past few years, as I've added a handmade business and life has happened in crazy ways, I feel like I lost myself. Not who I was or what made me. But I lost the practice of being myself. I let busy and complicated take over and I stopped doing the things I loved because LIFE, and it all came to a head a few weeks ago when I realized that (as angsty teenager as this sounds) I hated everything. Everything. I was sick of my business that I spent the last three years building and how complicated it had become. I was sick of not being able to keep up with my house. I was sick of being pulled in what seemed like a billion directions.

I was sick, I realized, of being busy.

I've spent the past 10 years trying to create a simple, beautiful, intentional life and here I was in the midst of insane busyness without even realizing how I got here.

So what does one do when you're nearly 30 and can't stand half of the world around you? You start over.

No, I'm not leaving the life I know and traveling the world. I haven't gone through some amazing transformation. I'm actually not moving forward at all.

I'm going backwards. To the things I love, the things that give me peace. The things that make me, me. Slowing down, being in the kitchen, growing food, playing with yarn and being crafty,  creating an intentional space for my family, raising animals, homesteading.

I've taken the past week off of work to recenter, refocus, and find myself again. I've been reading, and knitting, and playing with my kids. I've baked Bread and watched my Chickens. I've let life be simple again.

And it's been so gloriously refreshing that I know I'm on the right track. Here's to starting over.