Posted in Creative Pursuits

Friday Favorites and an Amazon Discount Code

Hi ya’ll and welcome to Friday Favorites! There are so many things that I love having around my house and Fridays are when I post the items I use and love the most. Today though I have several of my favorite homesteading books that I’m sharing.

I’d share each of these on an individual basis except that right now Amazon not only has these books marked down for sale (at time of posting) but there is also a promo code for $10 off book purchases over $25 (restrictions apply, see details on Amazon). Win, win for you.

As always, I am an affiliate with Amazon which simply means that I provide links for my readers and if you use those links to make a purchase I receive a small compensation from Amazon at no extra cost to you. All thoughts regarding these products is my own and if I choose to promote them it’s because I really do like the product.

So let’s get started.

Milk Cow Kitchen has to be one of my favorite books right now. It’s a combination cookbook filled with oh so many dairy and cheese recipes and part how to choose and care for your cow. I’ve made the sour cream and mozzarella and they are so delicious. In fact I can’t stand sour cream any more now that I’ve made my own.

The Backyard Homestead is one of the first books we ever bought on homesteading. We borrowed the book from the library so many times and kept renewing it that we decided to add it to our home library. It’s a compilation from publishings by the publishing company so some of the information may be outdated but overall it’s very informative and we have no regrets purchasing it.

The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals. Basically like the previous book and in fact some of the information is a repeat but it also has more animals in it than Backyard Homestead and goes into more depth.

Backyard Homesteading Guide to Self Sufficiency. I don’t have this one yet but it’s on my list of books to get. Since I like the two others I have I’m hoping that this one is just as good.

Glamping with MaryJane. Really not about homesteading but it’s by one of my favorite homesteaders who also happens to be an avid glamper. I took this book on my last camping trip and while I have no issues with rugged camping I really like the concept of glamping.

So there you are 5 books that I really like that are currently on sale (at the time of posting, all prices subject to change). So are you ready for that promo code.

Right now Amazon has a promo code for $10 off book purchases for $25 or more. As always make sure and read the restrictions and details. This is a one time use code. Enter in HOLIDAYBOOK at checkout to receive discount.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

SJ

Posted in Homemaking

15 Ways to stress less over the holidays

*This post may contain affiliate links. This means that you get the convenience of a direct link to a product or service at no additional cost to you and I receive a small compensation from your purchase. This means you get products that are hopefully useful to you all while helping us to keep this blog and our homestead going. Thank you for your support! For more info please see our disclosures.*

15 ways to stress less this Christmas.

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and already everywhere we go there are signs of Christmas. Inside you may be screaming NO we haven’t even celebrated Thanksgiving and yet stores are brimming with gifts, decorations, and food. Stress begins to rear it’s ugly head. Expectations are high and we tend to put more on our plates than we normally would. We buy more gifts and schedule more activities. We feel that if we just do a bit more, give more, and be more that the holidays will be perfect. It’s tiring. The worst part is the expectations we have are ones that we have put on ourselves.

In the last couple of years Mr Homestead and I have tried to focus less on the expectations of the holidays and more and more on what we feel is important. This has helped immensely with the overwhelming stress factor. We’ve cut back on the amount of gifts we give and activities we participate in. We’ve implemented strategies to help reduce stress. While every family should determine what will work for themselves, the ideas that we implemented are helpful for finding joy and focusing on the important things this season.

1// 

Prioritize. Write down on paper what your priorities are for the holidays. Family, friends, church, etc. Figure out what’s important to you and make that your focus this month. If an activity doesn’t fall in line with your priorities don’t feel like you have to say yes.

2//

Keep a calendar. We have a large calendar in our command center and I also have my paper planner that we keep updated with events and goings on. Write down any obligations such as work parties, family get togethers, etc. Keep the calendar updated and check it every day. Make sure and leave plenty of white space on your calendar for family and you time.

3//

Simplify. Do only what’s necessary this month. Don’t have time to deep clean the house? Then don’t. The house won’t fall apart it just needs to be clean enough. Do only what you have to, to get by and don’t sweat the small stuff. Reduce the amount of obligations you have by saying no to things that don’t spark joy for you or your family. Figure out how to keep it simple.

4//

Plan out meals ahead of time. A crockpot is one of the best low stress ways to have a healthy home cooked meal ready at the end of the day without having to put a lot of time and energy into it. We like to assemble crockpot meals ahead of time and put them in the freezer until needed. We pull them out the night before to defrost and then dump and cook. You can find lots of great freezable crockpot meals on Pinterest. Follow me on Pinterest for great ideas.

15 ways to stress less over the holidays.


5//

Make family time a priority. Schedule it on your calendar and take advantage of white space. Spend time watching Christmas Movies, playing games, or going for a walk to look at Christmas lights. Your family may not remember what gifts they got for Christmas but they will remember the time spent doing things together.

6//

Take time for yourself. Make time each day to exercise even if it’s only for 20 minutes. Drink lots of water. Get enough sleep. Take a nap during the day if needed. Spend time alone to read, write, or breathe deeply. Taking care of yourself will go a long way to reducing stress.

7//

Give experiences instead of gifts. Some of our favorite gifts over the years have been memberships or gift certificates to places we love to go. These make great memories and memberships are something that can be used over and over again for the whole year. These gifts are also easy since you can often purchase them online thereby saving time and energy.

8//

Shop online. I haven’t gone to a store to do Christmas shopping (or birthday for that matter) in years. I always go online. *Amazon Prime and I are best friends. I also love Etsy for homemade gifts. You can’t beat shopping at home in your sweatpants with a glass of wine and avoiding the stress, lines and chaos of the stores at Christmastime.

9//

Keep a Christmas Planner. Have printouts to keep track of gifts, plans, budget and receipts, menus and Christmas card contacts. It’s amazing how less stressful it is to have everything in one place. You don’t have to worry about forgetting anyone or anything.

10//

Create stations in your home. Keep everything you need in one area so that you can handle things as they come along. If you have the space set up a gift wrapping station, card station, etc. It’s easier to wrap gifts a little bit at a time instead of letting them pile up and having to spend hours in a single night to do it. With a card station keep extra cards, pens, and stamps so that as cards come in that weren’t on your card list you can send off a quick card. Keep the address for next year.

11//

Donate. This is the perfect time of year to take items that are no longer needed to local charities. You can also make donations to local food banks that are always running low this time of year. Don’t have anything to donate then send a monetary donation or adopt an angel off the angel tree at the store.

12//

Have a baking night. Get the whole family together and bake the night away. Not only is it a good way to get all those cookies and goodies made but the memories will last a lifetime.

13//

Establish family traditions. Things like baking night, game nights, Christmas movie marathons establish traditions and memories that last a lifetime. I still to this day remember rocking out to my parents Christmas records and decorating the Christmas tree. I love those memories and having family traditions with my family will establish those warm fuzzy feelings of happiness for my kids.

14//

Acts of kindness. Volunteer or spend time doing things that benefit others. It’s an incredible feeling to know that you’ve made someone else’s day. Pay for the person behind you in the drive through. Give water or a warm drink to the bell ringers at the stores. Take Christmas treats to the neighbors or shovel sidewalks. There are so many ways to give back.

15//

Relax and enjoy the season. I don’t know about you but it goes by faster and faster for me each year. I want to enjoy every minute of it. I want to kick my heels up and watch it all unfold before me. Minimizing and prioritizing helps me to focus on what’s truly important instead of drowning in things that really aren’t.

What are some ways that you reduce stress around the holidays? I’d love to hear your thoughts. 


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** This post was originally written and posted on a previously owned website. It has been updated and posted here.

Posted in Homesteading

Why we chose to homestead

epilepsy-awareness-month

This month is epilepsy awareness month and raising awareness for epilepsy is near and dear to my heart. It’s also the reason we chose to homestead in the first place. Crazy, right?

We used to dream about homesteading a long time ago when we purchased our home out in the countryside of Oklahoma. We never got around to really doing anything except getting a bunch of chickens, they turned out to be mostly roos, and we weren’t there more than a few years before we ended up making the move to Oregon.

Why we chose to homestead

For those that don’t know, epilepsy is a condition that is diagnosed when someone has seizures. In our case Mr Homestead is the one who has this condition. He was diagnosed almost 13 years ago and has been living with seizures ever since. It wasn’t until the last couple of years though that it really impacted our life when he started having too many to work.

Two years ago he started having so many seizures that he had 2 different seizure experts tell him he needed to stop working. Around this same time one of our daughters also started having seizures. These were a milder form but nonetheless it made us start thinking about our life and about our future.

Why we chose to homestead

We spent a year trying to figure out how to pay our bills. Anyone who has ever tried to live on disability will tell you it doesn’t pay much. We cut our bills as much as we could. We canceled our contract with satellite tv. We focused on reducing our waste however we could. We talked about me getting a job in order to put a little cushion in our budget but realized that it wasn’t safe for Mr Homestead to be home by himself where he could get hurt if he had a bad enough seizure.

All that stress built and grew and before I knew it I found myself at the Dr with my own list of symptoms and ailments. I was pre-diabetic, my hormones were out of whack, I was having PVCs, and I was majorly depressed.

Why we chose to homestead

I’m sure you’re wondering what all this has to do with our choosing to homestead. All our health issues, stress, and the need to reduce waste and food costs made us realize that it was time to try homesteading again. We had a garden last year that produced so many tomatoes that we realized that if we did it just right we could grow some if not most of our own food. We might even be able to freeze or can some of it.

We started to realize that if we were to homestead we could produce much of our own food through a garden. We could even raise a few animals for meat. Not only would it be healthier but it would be a more sustainable method of living.

Why we chose to homestead

Living in the city means that we can only do so much as an urban homesteader but we know that the way code is written still gives us some leeway. We have our garden which we expanded this year and grew as much food in it as we could. We wanted bees to pollinate but couldn’t have honeybees in the city so we built mason bee hives and attracted a single female to our yard who left behind a present of about 12 bee cocoons that we can use next year.

We bought ducks in March because they could not only give us eggs but provide bug control in the garden without scratching the plants up in the process. Turned out they were all boys but that was okay. We kept 2 for bug control and sent the other 2 to freezer camp. We are now on the hunt for more ducks to replace what we had due to losses and plan to get 3 hens and a drake.

Why we chose to homestead

I started stockpiling food over the summer so that we would have enough to get us through the winter with minimal amounts of food needing to be purchased. I canned up a storm, mostly from a local farmer’s market. I stocked up on meat when I found good prices, and we enjoyed the vegetables of our labor over the summer months.

Was it all easy. No way. Mr Homestead could only help out so much because of his seizures and some jobs are just too risky for him to do himself. Looking back on this year though despite the hard work I have seen changes in myself. I’m no longer on anti-depressants and I am happier than I’ve ever been. My hormones and pre-diabetes are still a challenge but I am making some changes to help fix those issues.

Why we chose to homestead

My family has eaten better because of raising our own vegetables and next year I want to really focus on eating homegrown as our primary source of food. Raising our own meat and growing a bigger garden. Over the winter, we will be maximizing all the space in our greenhouse to grow greens over the winter for our salads.

Soon we will sit down and write our goals and our plans for 2017. We will plan out our garden, figure out what animals we will raise, and dream about the future. A future we may never have gone to if we hadn’t faced health issues along the way. For that I am thankful. Homesteading as been a very rewarding decision. It hasn’t been easy and I don’t believe it will ever be easy because the things worth having in life are the things worth working for.

Epilepsy was the reason we started homesteading in an attempt to simplify life and create a more sustainable lifestyle in order to feed our family. May we live long and prosper at it.

Have a wonderful. blessed weekend friends!
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