Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Ways to Homestead in the City

We live in the city. We will likely always live in the city. There are many benefits: it's close to Cole's work, it's close to grocery stores, it's close to church, it's close to museums & zoos & playcenters, etc.

But, it is a difficult place in which to homestead as you could in the country. In our county, chickens in the city are currently not allowed. In our neighborhood, outdoor (permanent) clotheslines are not allowed. That does not, by any means, mean that we can't homestead. We just have to look at how we homestead in a different light.

Even living in the city, look at all of these ways that our family can work towards "homestead" style living right where we are:
  • make your own bread 
  • can what you can 
  • dehydrate what you can 
  • practice minimalism
  • let the kids play outside and explore and know their space
  • use natural cleaning supplies
  • use natural personal care products
  • use reusable grocery bags 
  • using cloth over paper products
  • know basic sewing skills - be able to make repairs & modify second hand purchases
  • do yard work tasks yourself
  • use reusable products in the kitchen 
  • homemade applesauce/smoothie pouches for kids
  • practice back to eden gardening (in as big a garden as you can in your space!)
  • reducing trips 'to town' 
  • grind your own grain
  • compost & recycle 
  • hang dry laundry (indoors and out)
  • reuse water when possible
  • filter drinking water
  • shop less - especially in stores
  • learn creative, practical arts - I like crochet & quilt making 
  • homeschool - allow children to enjoy a free childhood
  • work on going paperless
  • use non-gas outdoor tools like lawnmowers and weed eaters
  • use bird feeders and encourage wild life to thrive in your area
I'm sure there are more ideas that we practice and that others practice. While it's not the country and never will be - there are plenty of ways to live a "homestead lifestyle" in the city. 

In what ways do you homestead in the city?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

My Goals for 2018

As I said, in 2017 I declared it the "year of home". I feel like it was a very successful year in that sense. There are still several projects to come in 2018 in conjunction with that theme - but there just wasn't the time to do it all in one year. Nor were the girls ready to move into a bedroom together yet - when that happens there will be several home projects come up this year.

As we head into 2018, the new theme for our home is "the year of rhythm". I feel like we have appropriately minimized our items and settled our home to function well for us (this is an ongoing process, but I feel we are now to the 'maintenance' stage with minimalization). Now, I want to work on having a more consistent daily/weekly/seasonal rhythm to our family life. Some examples of how we see this potentially playing out this year include:
  • moving the girls into a bedroom together and establishing a new bedtime rhythm for them in conjunction with the change
  • establishing a monthly menu plan that can remain pretty consistent 
  • creating a general routine for our days that include the girls' changed needs as they have grown - include deep play time, time for errands/activities, routines for meals & rests, school time, art time, etc.  
  • creating a consistent breakfast routine by day of the week 
  • teaching the girls tasks for helping maintain our home
  • establishing a more consistent "morning time" as a part of our homeschool
There are many steps that will be involved to make these routines become more consistent. I know there will also be other rhythms established as we go through the year - some big, some little, some we'll share publicly, and some will remain private. I am excited to see how we work a deeper sense of rhythm into the way we organize our day to day living together! 

In addition to our new theme for the year, I have established a few goals for myself to aspire to in the new year. In past years I would make very long goal lists for myself, but I've found that keeping it simpler just works better for me; at least in this stage of life. Here are some of the things I am looking to try to do this year: 
  • Read at least 100 books - 15 fiction (I am terrible about making time for fiction reading!), 35 nonfiction, and 50 children's book prereads - I will be tracking my progress on this goal here. 
  • Figure out a few smoothie recipes that I like for myself to meet my current nutritional needs. 
  • Grind grains and bake bread on the same day to preserve nutrients from the grains.
  • In the gardens: create a butterfly garden with the girls. Fill our other beds with produce to preserve for the winter and work on repairing the infrastructure and add bird netting to protect our plants. 
  • Make time in the week for self care.

Those are my goals for this year. Fairly simple and freeform, but exactly what our family needs in this season. The year of home was a wonderful year and I'm excited to see where this year takes us! 

What are you working on in the coming year?

Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 - The Year Of Home - Look Back

I declared 2017 "The Year of Home". I had long dreamed of having a home in the country someday. And thus, I failed to settle myself into this home. But, that dream of living in the country just isn't practical. If we sit down and think about it, even with all of it's benefits, living in the country will not provide our family with more benefit than downsides. This year I let that dream die and grasped hold of this house we live in.

After a year of focusing on making it home - I have fallen so very completely in love. We have settled this house in a way that we love and that fits us by completing several projects around the house that makes it fit us, our family, our ministry, and the ways we see God leading us.

There were many projects we wanted to complete in our house to make it more of a home for our family. We focused on feeling settled in this home. Here are some of the projects that we were able to complete:

  • privacy film in master bathroom window - now we can shower in sunlight and yet not give the neighbors a view they don't want
  • touching up indoor paint throughout the house
  • planting roses in front gardens
  • hanging planters out front on porch
  • butterfly garden/fairy garden in the backyard with the girls
  • new grasses planted in front garxens
  • organized master closet 
  • organized linen closet 
  • Katie's toddler room
  • organized the food storage in our basement closets well
  • minimization! - everywhere!! 
  • great toy clean out (we cleared so many toys - there is very little plastic left and what we still have is well thought out!)
  • cleaning out the unfinished storage area under stairs
  • pruned trees & bushes
  • added thick mulching to the garden beds again
  • found a "All Because Two People Fell in Love" sign to hang in stairwell above family pictures
  • painted the garage 
  • built shelves for shoes in the garage 
  • built high shelves in the garage (there is a bit more to finish next year) 
  • insulating the garage doors (there is a bit more to finish next year)
  • new family room furniture & bookcases
  • switching to more natural household supplies 
  • switching to more natural personal care supplies
  • art and sensory activity storage on first floor
  • girls bunk beds (currently in Meghan's room - they will move in together in 2018)
  • fixing a leaky window (this is what kept us from finishing the garage projects - the leak had to be found and repaired before we could move on)
  • added shelving to the game room for better organization and storage
Projects that will be continuing into 2018:
  • the girls will move into a shared room 
  • Katie's room will become a playroom for the girls 
  • the current playroom will become a stem play/school room 
  • we will finish the garage projects
  • we will be painting a few rooms when we switch rooms around 
  • we may be having the house re-painted
I am so happy with how the year went! 
I look around my home and see things that I love, 
nothing that I don't love, 
and feel at home here. 
This is our home and it fits our needs and we love it. 
This. Is. Home.


I have sometimes shared glimpses of rooms and spaces before on Instagram and on the Blog.
 Are there more spaces you would be interested in seeing? 
I'm more than willing to share what we love in this space of ours! 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Education is an Atmosphere - Autumn Edition

Our aim in Education is to give a Full Life....Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking -- the strain would be too great -- but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest.
--Charlotte Mason

When we say that "education is an atmosphere," we do not mean that a child should be isolated in what may be called a 'child-environment' especially adapted and prepared, but that we should take into account the educational value of his natural home atmosphere, both as regards persons and things, and should let him live freely among his proper conditions. It stultifies a child to bring down his world to the child's level. 
-- Charlotte Mason

We have a home that includes our children and makes space for them to participate in family life; but it is not what would be called a 'child-environment'. Our home is a space for the family. It is a natural place where learning and growing can take place in the context of real, family life. Here is some of what that looked like this autumn: 


**NOTE** I don't share these images to make it seems as though we have figured this out or do it the 'right way' - this is just what an education atmosphere looks like for us in our home. I know I am inspired by seeing pictures of what a homeschool home looks like in the homes of others. I pray that sharing these posts provides some of that type of inspiration to your home.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Video Tour of Our Gluten Free Pantry

When we bought this house there were several things about it that I loved. BUT, there was one thing that made it THE HOUSE for us. The pantry!

The pantry in this house is quite spacious which is better than we could have known at the time it would be. Soon after moving into this house we found out I had celiac disease. And our house went half gluten free. Then we found out that both of our girls inherited celiac and our house is now 3/4+ gluten free.

Gluten free takes a lot of space if done from scratch and our pantry allows lots of space for that!

I try to take everything off the shelves and clean them about once every 6 months. This last time I did it, I posted pictures on Instagram and was asked a few times for a tour. So, here is a tour of our AWESOME pantry (and the extra shelf that my husband built for me in the coat closet across the "hall" from it.

Some things we use to organize our pantry:

  • Anchor Hocking Glass Jars 
  • Half Gallon Ball Jars 
  • Wide Mouth Canning Jar Lids 
  • Food Grade 5 Gallon Buckets 
  • Gamma Seal Lids 
Where we grocery shop: 
  • Costco 
  • Aldi 
  • Vitacost 

Hopefully this was encouraging for other homemakers! We love this space and the way it allows us to prevent cross-contamination of gluten with gluten free foods. 

Do you have any questions? Other parts of the home you'd like to see? Let me know! 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

How To Make a Weighted Blanket

I have made three weighted blankets for my girls now. One for Meghan as a baby, one for her once she was a good bit bigger, and now one for Katie. I have been asked several times how to make one, so I thought that I would photograph the entire process while I made Katie's blanket. 

This project can be a frustrating one. You are managing small beads (the weight) while you are sewing and broken needles seem to be inevitable - though, I only broke one while making Kaite's blanket! I recommend working sometime when you can truly focus on the task and not be distracted by little ones needing you. 

Without further ado, here's the process! 

blanket fabric (I have always used polar fleece) 
poly pellets (see below for how to determine how many you need)

Prewash your fabric. ALWAYS (unless you're quilting) prewash your fabric! 

You are going to be doing lots and lots of sewing - I recommend having a few bobbins prepped before you start if you can. You don't need six - but that's what I had so that's what I used. 

I purchase my fabric so that it will be as wide as my kid's armspan and as long as they are head to foot. You can choose whatever shape you want, but that's my general go to measurement. First, fold your fabric in half, right sides together, and square up the cut. 

Next you are going to sew around three sides of the blanket - I always go down one long side, along the short, and back up the other side. You will want to leave enough space to fold the fabic over and do a French seam at the end of your project - so start sewing about an inch or two from the edge and finish sewing and inch or two from the edges. This is the first of two times while sewing you blanket that you won't end by backstitching and stitching back to the end to secure your stitches - you want these to be able to be torn out if needed at the end. 

Turn your blanket inside out so that the right sides are now on the outside. Use a pointed object to completely push the corners out. Stitch about an inch in from the edge to create a French seam - this adds strength to your blanket and makes it look nicer. Just like above, 1-2 inches in, and for the second time, do not backstitch and restitch to secure your stitches.

(The bottom corners will look like this)

(The top of your blanket - don't start at the very edge.)

(You want that area to be able to be opened for when you complete the project.)

Now it's math time. Measure your blanket inside of the French seam. Note how wide from side to side and how tall it is from the bottom seam to 2x the width of your French seam from the top. Use those measurements and the weight you intend to make your blanket to sketch out the sizes of the pockets you will be making for your pellets and how many pellets will go in each pocket. I recommend more pockets than fewer so that the weight will be equally distributed throughout the blanket. 

To determine how much weight, the rule of thumb that I have been taught is about 10% of their body weight plus one to two pounds. I always add two pounds because that gives them some extra time to grow before you will need to make another blanket again. 

Using a pen that will erase in the wash, draw in your vertical and horizontal lines on the top of your blanket. These will be your guides while sewing. This is a great opportunity to be sure that your math actually will work out the way you thought it would :) I'm always a fan of checking things twice!

Starting 1-2 inches from the part of your blanket with the opening, stitch from the top of the blanket down the vertical lines all the way to the bottom line of stitching. Stitch backwards and forwards again to be sure that your stitching will hold. Do this for all of the vertical lines. 

Now you are ready to add weight and start completing the blanket! 

I use kitchen scale to weigh out my pellets. Weigh out the amount you need for one pocket and use a funnel to pour those pellets into one column. Do this for each column - add the amount you need for one pocket to each column. Then, working carefully, make sure that all of the beads have made their way to the very bottom of the column.

Now, make sure you're feeling patient....here comes the hardest and potentially frustrating part.

Sew across your first column. Make sure you back stitch and restitch when you begin and end this row of sewing! Very carefully, with your weight hanging off the machine and the extra fabric on your right, sew across your marked line for the first row. Sew carefully, making sure that no pellets get up under your needle. Those suckers will break the tip of your needle right off!!

(In the picture above, I was several rows in.)

Complete this same process for every row that you need in your blanket until you get to the last row which will close up your whole blanket. Make sure to check to make sure you have enough bobbin thread before each row - there is nothing more frustrating than getting halfway down one of the rows and realizing you ran out of bobbin thread and having to replace it and start again mid-row (I don't think you need to ask how I know this!). 

After putting beads in the last row of pockets, fold the fabric on both sides into the middle. Pin liberally to hold the seam closed along the top and sides. Stitch across the top of the blanket (through all four layers) backstitching and forward stitching again at the beginning and end of the row. Sew on both sides from the top to part way past where your previous stitching began, backstitching and forward stitching to keep it from coming a part. Make sure that you have sealed the entire blanket when you have completed this step. 

That's it! You have completed your weighted blanket and it's ready for your little one to use. Wash it up to remove the lines you sewed over and it should be ready to go! Congratulations!! 


I'd love to hear if you use these instructions to make a blanket for your little one! Also, feel free to let me know if you have any questions! 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A Video Tour of Katie's (minimalist) Toddler Bedroom

I love Katie's room! It's bright, girly (without being over-the-top) and super simple!

When she was a baby, the shelving unit was a bookshelf near her crib and there was a mirror low to the ground for her to look at. Once she began starting to pull on it, it was time to take it down and transition her room to a "toddler" room.

When the girls move to a shared room in Meghan's room (I posted about that when I shared about Meghan's room), this room will become a playroom for the girls. But, until that time, it's an adorable little toddler room.

Here's a tour:

I hope you enjoyed a tour of this space and that it was encouraging to you as the manager of your own home. This little space is such a joyful place in our home.