Sustainable Living


The term ‘sustainable living’ is thrown around almost as much as ‘natural’ and ‘organic’. It is a term used so loosely that it is difficult to know what people mean when they refer to it.

a completely unrelated picture of the ducks

a completely unrelated picture of the ducks

I wrote a guest post over at The Canadian Housewife (my sister-in-law’s blog) about sustainable living. Due to my enthusiastic love of lists, I included a bunch of ideas to make our lives a little more supportable. Here is a peek:

4 Ways to Live Sustainably This Summer

1) save energy

  • keep lights turned off until dusk
  • sweep your house instead of vacuum
  • open your windows at night to cool the house

2) save water

  • wear your clothes more than once before washing
  • capture rainwater to use on your garden
  • turn off the water while you brush your teeth

3) use fewer chemicals

  • wash your sink and bathtub with baking soda
  • wash your floor with vinegar and water
  • cut one hair-washing session from your week

4) buy less stuff

  • use up half-full bottles of shampoo, moisturizer, etc. before buying more
  • cut out a few products from your beauty regimen
  • give handmade gifts

For more ideas (everything from lowering your energy consumption to DIY beauty products), head over to The Canadian Housewife. 🙂



More Downsizing


Our yurt has roughly 450 square feet of space; we have enough stuff to fill roughly 2000 square feet of space. So, nearly every Monday I pull everything into the living room and sort through the things we use, the things we don’t, and the things that someone else could use. Ever so slowly, we are getting rid of our stuff in an attempt to live more minimally. Alongside all the sorting, I tend to get motivated about changing the furniture around. The result of sorting + furniture changes = a massive mess. Although the house looks like the aftermath of a natural disaster for a few hours, by supper it is usually back to normal. In adherence to Murphy’s Law, people always seem to pop by on Monday afternoons when the yurt looks like the pictures below; unfortunately, we rarely have guests visit early on Tuesday mornings.

The “Before” Pictures:

moving the wall unit

replacing the wall unit with a bookcase

A typical Monday: spring organizing

The After Pictures:


breakfast on mother’s day

the living room


Off-Grid: Spring


At the beginning of the year, I made a list of goals that I hoped we would accomplish throughout 2014. One of those goals was to live off-grid for one week each season (read about winter here).

We enjoyed being off-grid quite a bit (we did it for 6 weeks), but decided that we do like some aspects to electricity (of course): namely, the fridge. Until we find a better option, we will continue to plug in the fridge; we will also use the vacuum-cleaner. It isn’t difficult to live without it, but it certainly makes cleaning a much quicker process. We brought in a small radio but have yet to bring in any electrical lighting. We have two solar-powered lamps for reading and knitting, and a few oil lamps for ambient lighting.

Evenings: Our evenings were spent working on projects for the most part (Mike improved little things in the yurt that made a big difference to our day-to-day tasks; I worked on a sweater for Alma, along with a quilt for her bed).

Days: Aside from the lack of music, not much was different from regular days.

What We Liked: Again, the quiet was nice. I enjoyed not listening to the news every hour and was happy to keep my head in the sand for a few weeks.

What We Missed: The fridge and the freezer. Once the weather warmed up, it became a real challenge to keep food from spoiling.

Mushy Banana


Journal from June 21, 2013 [7 month-old baby]

Alma had a decent nap yesterday morning until about ten, so when she woke up we went to visit Nanny and Grandpa. The fields are dry enough that I can walk barefoot across them now. Alma and I sat in the grass while Mike and his mom worked in the garden. I gave Alma her first taste of banana. She seemed to like it, but had more interest in squishing it than in eating it. After sucking on it, dropping it in the grass, smooshing it, and dropping it again, she was finished and I was forced to do something with the banana pieces in the grass. I didn’t want to leave them for fear I would later regret it, so I ate them. And it didn’t gross me out at all; I think something in my psyche must have shifted in the past few months because pre-eaten bananas are definitely not on my list of appetizing things to eat.

Happy with her spoon

Happy with her spoon

We set up an old swing on the porch for Alma; she enjoyed chewing on the chains until we distracted her with a wooden spoon. She played with dill weed, mustard greens, and carrots while we gardened, then had a bit of a nap in her little tent before we went home for a real nap later in the day. In the evening, we had a steak dinner with the grandparents. It was a good day.

Fresh from the garden

Fresh from the garden

A New Door


At the beginning of the year, I made a list of goals that I hoped we would accomplish throughout 2014. One of those goals was to build a new front door. Mike worked on the door secretly for a few weeks before he surprised me with it one sunny afternoon. As you can see from the picture, it is a slight improvement from our old door (on left).

Installing the new door

Installing the new door

A Bed for the Wee One


At the beginning of the year, I made a list of goals that I hoped we would accomplish throughout 2014. One of those goals was to build a bed for Alma. We have been very blessed by what has been passed down from older generations. Mike’s father built him a bed when he was a toddler, and now, many years later Mike has turned it into a bed for our daughter. The bed went through a few kids in between Mike and Alma, and has changed form a few times, as well. Now, it lives above the foot of our bed.

Afternoon storytime

Afternoon story time

The finished bed, complete with Peter Rabbit bookshelf

The finished bed, complete with Peter Rabbit bookshelf

Off-Grid: Winter


At the beginning of the year, I made a list of goals that I hoped we would accomplish throughout 2014. One of those goals was to live off-grid for one week each season.

It is quite easy to be off-grid in the winter, we found out. The warmth of the stove along with the soft glow of oil lamps made for calm, quiet evenings spent with tea and good books. We didn’t miss the fridge as it was cold enough on our porch to keep our food fresh (and cold enough outside to keep things frozen).

Evenings: After Alma fell asleep in the evenings, we read books, worked on projects (knitting, sewing, house), or just hung out. Evenings were much quieter than usual without the temptation to watch a movie. We went to bed a couple hours earlier than usual.

Days: Not much changed. We sang a lot while working and playing since there was no background music with which to hum along.

What We Liked: I loved knowing that my options for entertainment were limited; it was easier to focus on books or projects when there were only a few choices.

What We Missed: I missed the vacuum-cleaner the most. Sweeping the carpet just doesn’t give you the same satisfaction as vacuuming. I also missed listening to Tonic (jazz) in the evenings.

Michael’s Grumpy Bunny


When I heard that my sister-in-law was in labour, I immediately started working on the knitting project I had been planning on starting for weeks. I spent most of the evening/night knitting and praying, and finished the bunny a few hours after my sweet little nephew was born.

Michael's Bunny

Grumpy Bunny

Thank you to Petite Purls for the free pattern.

For Mother’s Day


From Amy Young, guest contributor at The Time Warp Wife:

“To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you

“To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you

“To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you

“To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you

“To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.

“To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you

“To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you

“To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you

“To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you

“To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience

“To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst

“To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be

“To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths

“To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you

“To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you

“To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart

“And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you

“This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.”

Thank you to Amy Young for putting her thoughts into words so eloquently. Click here to read the full article and here to visit Amy’s blog The Messy Middle.