Introducing: A New Homestead Skillshare Community

Today I am introducing a new community. A space that has been forming for quite some time and I am super happy to share. The Women’s Homestead Skillshare  is dedicated to practicing and preserving the art of homesteading through both local and online skillshare workshops.

From our site:

We are a collective of women who share a love of traditional knowledge, homesteading and living lifestyles that promote greater self-sufficiency. Our skillshares encompass folk-method herbalism and medicine making, scratch cooking, gardening, soap making, animal husbandry, textile work, and primitive or traditional fine arts and crafts.

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If you are interested in offering a skillshare with us online or locally (NJ), please contact us, we would love to  get you started. Stop by and visit Womenshomesteadskillshare  for currently offered skillshares and our blog.

Happy Friday everyone!

Epiphanies

18714604-Polish-floral-embroidery-with-cocks-traditional-folk-pattern-Stock-VectorLast night I had a total epiphany when it came to my life work. So of course I stayed up way to late brainstorming. Now I’m up way too early with my very dear friend, coffee. I’d like to leave this quote here for you all-it was what I had been meditating on for the past few days and what was on my mind when I had a totally awesome, cloud-split moment. Wishing you a happy and inspired Wednesday.

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make” – Dr. Jane Goodall

Sagra: Celebrating Seasonal Foods

In Italy, a Sagra is a local festival that celebrates a certain food coming into season. I was recently introduced to these food festivals near the end of my reading of Under the Tuscan Sun. It sounds like such a lovely concept:

Sagra is a wonderful word to look fro in Tuscany. Foods coming into season often cause a celebration. All over the small towns signs go up announcing a sagra for cherries, chestnuts, wine, vin santo, apricots, frog legs, wild boar, olive oil or lake trout.

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I like the idea so much I’m going to create some special meals, and maybe even the occasional small dinner get together, to celebrate our own harvests and seasonal foods as they come into season.

In our home, I credit much of the success of our unschool flow to the fact that we are very connected and in tune with seasonal rhythms. These guide our days, months, and years. Incorporating this idea of a Sagra into our seasonal rituals seems perfectly, and deliciously, fitting.

Today is Summer solstice and we celebrate this as midsummer. On this longest day of the year, with the sun about to burn a hot 94 degrees today, and a full moon waiting for us when the sun does finally set, the garden is exploding with the promise of great bounty. Tomatoes, while still green, are already starting to hang heavy.  Cucumbers have sprouted long strands from there blossoms overnight.  And the zucchini promise to crawl, sprawl and overtake the whole show.

Soon we will celebrate our very own little harvests and enjoy food so fresh you would’t dare disturb it with a recipe.

I’ll leave you with a little peek of our garden, as she grows, on this midsummer day.

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Wishing you a happy Summer Solstice and much bounty as we move towards the dark half of the year.

Changes

These past weeks have seen many shifts and changes. All week I was in a serious haze of confusion. All day Thursday I INSISTED it was Friday. And all day Tuesday I swore it was Wednesday. It was one of those folks.

And it’s really no surprise. In a few short weeks some big things have happened. Our youngest babe turned one. We made official plans for our big move in October-we are beach bound folks. I made some decisions about my small businesses and together with my husband carved out a way to work two days a week on these ventures. Continue reading “Changes”

Sunday Book Review: The Most Magnificent Thing

I spotted “The Most Magnificent Thing” while doing research on children’s books that talked about the process of making, tinker, and creating. What a gem.  Continue reading “Sunday Book Review: The Most Magnificent Thing”

Reading is the Reward

Yesterday we ventured to our local farmer’s market as we do every Wednesday to grab some dinner…and the occasional maple bacon donut (good lord these are good-if you are local to South Jersey, these beauties are from Farm and Fisherman). With food in tow, we ended up sitting next to the public library’s info table. I love that the library has a table at the farmer’s market. As we ate, the woman working the booth approached the table and asked if we were members. Of course we are, and we go to the library weekly. Awesome.

She handed me their list of summer programming for kids and then…

“are you part of our reading for rewards program?”

oh no. I have super strong feelings about reading for rewards folks. And they are not good feelings. Not wanting to stir the pot while we ate dinner, I took the sheet that promised my son a variety of silly rewards for each “milestone.” Read: large amount of books he could read by a certain time.

“1,000 books before kindergarten. Then they can be recognized!”

and my smart ass, “recognized by who?”

“well, the library.”

“oh.” I stopped myself. I really did! It was hard.

While I LOVE the library and I love the idea of kids everywhere reading millions of books, I have a big problems with the idea of reading for rewards. Here’s some of them:

I truly believe that when you present reading to kids in this competitive, finish line, get your sticker way, you are embedding in young people that the value of reading lies outside of the actual experience of reading. It does not. As all of us who love to read know, the rewards for reading a good book far surpass a gold star, toy, or recognition that you have completed said book. Confession time: when I finish something by Proust I do crack a bottle of wine and celebrate myself, because dang, those are long and difficult, but I digress…

These programs also glorify quantity over quality. No bueno. Some months I read one AMAZING book. and I don’t want to read anything else. I want to ruminate on that experience- journal it, think on it, live with it- before I move onto the next book. Some months I read a really BAD book and I sit with that, sadly. Wondering who the heck let that go to publishing. Some months I read a whole bunch of books-whole books, half books. It depends. I believe young people should have the same experiences. My son often reads the same book for weeks straight. Some times he reads something once loves it- or doesn’t- and moves on.

If we want our young people to truly love reading, for the sheer pleasure and passion of reading, if we want them to come to us when they are young, book in hand, saying “will you read this to me?” randomly, in the middle of the afternoon, we need to stop pressuring them with programs like these. Take then to the library, ask them what they would like to look for today, show them the sections where things they are interested in are located. Bring books, books, and more books into our homes. Sprinkle books everywhere-leave them in every room, take them outside with you, leave them in the car. Read yourself and let them see you- for pleasure, for a recipe, for directions, for inspiration, for information.

Like so many other things in life we don’t need to shove the value of reading down our young people’s throats. Just live the love of books, they will see it, they will WANT it-if that’s is going to be there thing. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but in their own time, in their own way, they will read what they want, how often they want, because they want to and that will be reward enough ( I once awoke to the horror that my children might not grow up to be book fanatics. After the cold sweats were over I realized it’s ok-not everyone would spend every waking minute reading if they could. I guess…who are these people? Just kidding.)

Solutions? I love the idea of library’s designing more programs for kids that help them delve into their own personal interests using books and library resources. But more on that at another time.

Have a great Thursday, and happy reading (or not- it’s your choice😉

 

In a Minute…Carving Out Personal Creative Time

In a minute. I said this a lot this week to my four year old, and I’m not particularly happy about it.  I reallllly want Just. One. Minute. To write a thought down. To breathe. To sketch something out. But sitting down tonight, at the end of the week, I’m thinking a lot about how cranky it makes him when I constantly answer his requests of playtime or help with a project with in a minute. I’ve thought a lot about how I can say this less in the upcoming week and be more present. Here’s what I’m working with, folks.

I’m at the beginning stages of writing a book, sorry, make that two books. Everything is outlined and I am at that bursting with flavor creative stage. I love this stage, and I have honestly been in it several times since having children. But, as some of you may know, having a burring desire to create and work on personal projects while taking care of small children is not only difficult, 95% of the time it’s downright impossible.

Over the years I’ve learned a few things that work to help things run smoothly while living with small children and a creative fiery monster in my gut.  I’ve also learned a few things that do not work, sabotage my progress, and ruin my days pretty hardcore.

So here goes. Hopefully this can help some of you who are in the same boat.

Major don’t I’ve recently realized: Don’t spend your entire day trying to catch tiny bits of time confetti in which to get just a liiiiitle bit of work done on your project here and there. If you try to shove your work in this way throughout the day you will get interrupted.  ALL DAY LONG. If you spend your whole day waiting for the next tiny snippet of time, you will end up being mentally somewhere else and not in the moment, your kids will be cranky from this and then later in the day or night when you finally do get that time to yourself you will be too burned out from chasing the illusive time snippets to get any creative work done. I also top that off with a little guilty cherry on top because I wasn’t being present for my kids during their time with me.

The alternative: Make an effort to carve a space out in the day where you can work on your project uninterrupted. This is of course not as easy as it sounds, but it can be done. So where to find that space?

Start from your Ideal and work backwards from that. I recently started listening to a podcast called “Sparktending” that talks about ways for moms to honor their need to create and to carve out creative space for themselves in their day. (its a great podcast, recommended by a fellow homeschooling mom, about 5-10 minutes long each, well worth the listen). One of my favorite ideas came in session 2, where she asks that listeners write down their ideal day-a day where you had to compromise for no one and nothing. Once this is written down,(and you have a good chuckle because the likes of this day happening in the next 10 years is slim to none) you can move backwards from that ideal day to a place of compromise. But starting at the Ideal  is the important part. This is how I found my time. I work best early morning. I would technically have more time later in the day, but I would not be at my best then for writing. Instead I chose to try a shorter time in the very early AM. We’ll see how it goes, which leads me to my next point…

Stay Flexible. If at first you don’t succeed, stay flexible, keep hold of that goal, and try something else. Nothing has to be forever, arrangements do not have to be set in stone. Keep trying, keep making your time to work on your project a priority and IT WILL HAPPEN.

Don’t try to do it all in one day. This has always been one of my biggest blocks to completing a project. I go in HARD AND FAST. Must write whole book in one sitting!!! not that bad, but you catch my drift. I go in too hot and burn out. I recently read about the chain method for creative people who are trying to work on large creative projects while still maintaining all of their everyday duties. it goes like this. Get a large wall calendar that has the whole year on one page. Put it somewhere prominent. Get yourself a red sharpie. Everyday that you work on your project you get to put a satisfying red “X” through the day. After a week of consecutive work, you will have a chain on your calendar. Your only job is to not break the chain. It doesn’t matter if you work on your project for 5 minutes or 5 hours, you still get to put the “x” on that day. If you do this for a whole year your project will have moved along SIGNIFICANTLY.

Don’t let daily mundane tasks kill Your Soul. Do Own Your To-Do List Like a Boss. Here’s two ideas for tackling this. If you are a person who likes a traditional to-do list, try the 1,3,5 method. maybe you’ve heard of it, if not, here’s a summary. Each day on your to- do list schedule yourself to do 1 large task, 3 medium tasks, and 5 small tasks. I leave 1 medium and 2 smalls empty so I can fill them out last minute. This method keeps your to-dos realistic and helps  you from compiling a to-do list that could only be completed by 10 people if it were to be done in one day. If you are bit anti-to do list, give this a try (this is literally called the anti-to-do list method). Each night before bed, write down three things you need to accomplish the next day on an index card. Throughout the next day, as you accomplish many, many things, write them on the back of the card. That night, before you make the index card for the next day, take a look at all of the things you accomplished on the back of your index card. WOW. Way more than three. Just as you suspected, you’re freakin’ awesome.

Do Try to Stay Present During the Day. I know we hear this a lot. Sometimes I just want to rip my own ears off when I hear it at times when I really just don’t feel like being present. But after this week I realized that drifting off and wishing I could be working on my project all day was no good for anyone. It frustrated me and it frustrated my son. What helped? Sunday afternoon when I finally got my head in the game, made a new plan for carving out my creative time, and got my head back into the present situation. Everyone was much happier, myself included. Once you commit to carving that set time out each day, no matter how long it is or when that time comes, the fact that you know it’s coming  will help you to stay present during your day until your creative time comes. Side note: I do use voice notes on my phone and always have a notebook open and a pen ready to jot things like sudden inspiration or things I need to do during my carved out time slot. Once its recorded I can move on with what I was doing. I also ALWAYS have a notebook by my bed. Just drifting off to sleep= genius idea, without fail. Or a child waking up. Either one.

Don’t Settle. I’ll leave you for now with a little quote from one of my son’s favorite movies, The Little Engine That Could. It goes like this:

“If you think you can, you will. If you think you can’t you won’t. Either way, YOU’RE RIGHT.”

What can I say, my son has good taste.

I hope you find some of these ideas useful as you head into your week. Stay creative, stay committed, stay strong, and here’s to a productive and fun week, cheers xo.

If you have any favorite ways to carve out creative time please share them in the comments section🙂

(And here’s the link to the Sparktending podcast if you’d like to take a listen)