Friday, July 4, 2014

New Beginnings

Hello! Well I am certain that no one is reading here anymore. It has been nearly 4 years since my last blog post. My life has changed so drastically since my last post, and I had given a lot of thought to starting a new blog. I love documenting our little adventures and missed blogging. While trying to come up with a new blog name, I realized that this one is still so very fitting - no matter how many changes have occurred in my life, I still strive to live intentionally. It seems to be the overarching theme in my life, On Purpose Living. Each day I choose an intentional life. I try to make choices that reflect our values and priorities. So I have decided that, for now, I will come back to this little blog. The archives on here shall remain as a reminder of my history; the path that got us here. Posts from here on will reflect my new life: As a single, homeschooling mom striving for simplicity and strength. An urban homesteading adventure if you will; my three wonderful children and I, living one day at a time, putting one foot in front of the other, on our journey to our very best life. Thanks for following along. :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Long time no post!

Oh my goodness, I can't believe it's been nearly 4 months since I've last posted on this blog.  What a whirlwind life has been for the past while ~ I commend all your bloggers who find the time and energy to post daily, in addition to living life!

To be honest, I have been contemplating shutting the blog down...  I just can't seem to post consistently enough to maintain a blog, which suggests to me that it's not high on my priority list.  Plus it seems like all of the things I write about are easily found elsewhere on the internet...  there are tons of blogs out there that speak to simple living, homeschooling, living consciously and lightly.  I have grown in leaps and bounds since first starting this blog, and in many ways I feel it has fulfilled its purpose...  documenting my journey to living an on-purpose life.  Of course, I will never fully feel that I have "arrived"...  part of living intentionally is in the constant striving, the constant evaluating and re-evaluating, and of course, in the doing, the living in the present moment.  These will all be life-long pursuits.  But I know now that I have chosen the right path, and it's just a matter of following it and seeing where it leads.

If I decide to continue with this blog, I will have to give some thought to what direction I want to take it in, and how it will differ from what already exists out there.  I also need to give some thought to whether blogging has a place in my life right now, and how much of a commitment I am willing to make.  I would love to hear from anyone who is still checking in here - let me know you're still around, and if you're interested in an On-Purpose Living revival.  :)  It would also be helpful to know what you're interested in reading about!

Alissa

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Our Square Foot Gardens

I've been meaning to post about this since we first started Square Foot Gardening last year, but haven't quite gotten around to it!  If you've never heard of Square Foot Gardening, it really is an amazing thing.  You can likely find the book through your local library (that's where we found it, before purchasing our own copy), or you can buy your very own copy through my Amazon link above or in the sidebar to the left (full disclosure:  I might make about 20 cents from the purchase.  And I promise to use the proceeds to buy more plants.  lol).  Anyway, Square Foot Gardening is awesome, because of how much food you can grow in such a small space.  Instead of using the traditional row gardening that we're all familiar with (which is really a waste of space), instead you build small raised beds, with enough space to walk around them, eliminating the need for rows.  What I love about this method is how easy it is.  We have almost no gardening experience.  Bruce's family gardened when he was younger, but he really doesn't remember much about it.  I've never grown anything resembling food in my life (okay, maybe a few herbs on a windowsill), and this book lays it out in such a way that anyone can do this.  You build your 4ft x 4ft, 6 inch deep beds, make your gridlines, fill with soil (the book outlines exactly what soil mix to use, so you don't have to guess...  just do what he tells you and it will be perfect, loose soil), and start planting.  The book tells you exactly how many of each plant you can put in each of those little grid boxes.  Some things, like corn, you get one plant per square foot.  Other things, like carrots, you can actually plant 16 per square foot.  We started last year with just 3 beds (we intended to start with two, but got carried away with our seed starting and needed a third bed).  This year we added a fourth.  We'd love to add two more, but we've used up pretty much all of the sunny spots in our yard!  That bench was sitting on our front verandah, unused, so we added it to the garden and planted in it.  We were also able to pick up a couple of planters for a good price, so we filled those up, too.  We eventually plan to build a small fence around it to keep the neighbourhood cats out (who seem to think this is their own personal litter box), and maybe pretty it up a little.  We'd love to add something in the walkway other than grass, maybe some nice stones or mulch.  Anyway, here are a few more pictures for a closer look:



Above is Norah's own little garden that she takes care of.  She planted a potato to see what would happen, and in the middle you'll see her potato plant.





























The book also gives great ideas for ways to grow food even if you don't have a yard.  Just one little balcony box or pot can really grow a substantial amount of food!  I think it's so important that we all learn to grow something.  Even if it's just herbs on a windowsill, or a pot of Tiny Tim's.  We've all become far too dependent on our oil-based food industry, and expect that those trucks will always deliver food to our grocery stores, just in the nick of time.  It's time we took back some of our food independence.  Plus, nothing beats eating a salad from fresh lettuce and other veggies that were picked only moments before...  soooo nutritious and delicious!

So what's in your garden?  Do you have one?  How long have you been gardening?  Have you thought about it, but just not gotten around to acting on it?  Can you grow one thing, anything?  I'd love to hear about it and see your pictures!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Do you wash your face?

In my ongoing quest to simplify our lives, and to reduce our dependence on commercial products, I've been assessing our need for various bathroom items.  We've already made great strides in this area; our bathroom actually contains very few products.  In the shower you will only find a bar of natural soap, and one bottle each of natural shampoo and conditioner.  (As an aside, it's SO much easier to clean the tub when I only have to take 3 things out of there to do it!).  My bathroom drawer is very nearly empty.  Just a brush, a comb, some facial moisturizer, dental floss, and a small zippered pouch for Norah's barrettes and elastics.  On the counter lives a mason jar containing toothbrushes, and another small jar with our homemade toothpaste. I also keep my deodorant and my natural hair mousse on the counter because they tend to leak if laying on their side in my drawer (I actually prefer to keep the counters as clear as possible; makes cleaning SO much easier!).  Oh, and a bottle of body lotion.  Another topic I'd like to discuss!  Although we've made great progress in terms of how many products we're using, I still feel like I can challenge myself to go further.  What I normally do is, as I run out of something (whether it's a food item, a toiletry, a cleaning product, etc.), is ask myself if I really need to replace it.  Instead of immediately adding it to the grocery list, I try to assess whether it is truly a need.  Can I make it myself?  Do I need it at all?

Recently I noticed that my facial moisturizer (all natural) was getting low, and I was going to add it to my list.  But then I was wondering if there was an alternative that was even more natural.  I had read about using olive oil as a facial moisturizer, and thought that sounded interesting.  But then I thought, what's even more natural than olive oil?  Doesn't it seem strange that we have to put oil on our face, when our face already produces oil of its own??  Doesn't it seem silly to spend money on a product to wash our face, and then spend more money on moisturizer to replace the oils we just stripped off?  Awhile ago I decided not to replace my Burt's Bees face wash when it ran out.  Although I loved it (it smelled wonderful, and made my face feel tingly and fresh), we have decided to stop supporting Burt's Bees since they were bought out by Clorox.  I didn't feel like going on another hunt for a face wash that I would like just as much, so I decided to just start using the same natural soap that I use on the rest of my body.  Every morning when I get out of the shower, I apply moisturizer to my dry, freshly washed face.  Until this morning.  This morning I decided I would see what happened if I didn't wash my face.  I just rinsed it in warm water while I was in the shower, and didn't moisturize when I got out.  It still feels a little on the dry side, but I'm wondering if it will take a little while for my face to figure out what I'm doing, and to start regulating its oil production.

It always feels a little uncomfortable when we first make a change.  Some habits are just so ingrained that it causes discomfort when we try to break those habits.  A couple of years ago I stopped wearing make-up altogether.  The organic stuff was so expensive, and it just seemed like such a frivolous thing to spend so much money on.  I wasn't about to keep using the chemical-laden stuff.  So I just stopped using it.  And not one person has noticed (that I know of!).  My husband even confessed to me that he hated make-up, and he always thought it was stupid that girls wore it.  My face feels clean and fresh, like it can breathe!  No more goop around my eyes.  No clogged pores from cover-up.  And when I made that change, I also realized that I no longer had to wash my face twice a day.  My evening face washing was really just because I had make-up on.  So it was another small step toward simplifying.  Using less face wash, because I was only using it once a day instead of twice.  It took time to adjust to that, but over time it didn't bother me to not wash my face at night.  I'm sure this transition will be similar; it's such a habit to wash my face while I'm in the shower that it will take a little time to resist the urge!  That's why I'm such a huge advocate of babysteps.  One small change at a time.  When you get used to that change, and you no longer have to think about it, you can make one more small change.

Now back to the body lotion I mentioned above!  I shave my legs daily (yes, something else I need to work on...  but babysteps, remember???), so after I shave I find my legs are really dry.  So part of my morning routine is to apply moisturizer to my legs.  I've read on several blogs that coconut oil makes a great moisturizer.  So I tried it yesterday, and it was wonderful!  It wasn't greasy like I thought it would be, just nice and soft.  So until I can kick the shaving habit (help!!!), I think I'll make the switch to coconut oil.  One less thing to have to buy, since I buy coconut oil anyway for cooking.  And I'm all about buying less.  :)

I also have plans to try no-'pooing so that we can eventually give up our shampoo.  I tried it briefly before, but didn't do it long enough to give it a fair chance.

How about you?  Do you wash your face every day?  Wear make-up because it's what you've always done?  What things do you do out of habit, without thinking about them, that you could possibly change or do without?  I challenge you to give it some thought.  :)  Can you make one small change today?

Alissa

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A VitaMix, and a New Homemaking Schedule

Hello!  Long time no blog.  :)  

In case you haven't noticed, I've been rather absent from blogging lately.  Too many things to actually do, and not enough time to write about it.  :)  But I have some news to share, so I thought I'd post about it!  Our local health food store (Charlene's), was having a draw for a new VitaMix TurboBlend 4500.  Each week for the past few weeks, I've been diligently filling out a ballot every time I went in.  When I was in on Saturday, I joked with the staff that I was glad to see my VitaMix was still there, and informed them all that I would be winning it!  They all laughed and went about their work.  The ballot box was stuffed as full as could be, but I still intensely felt that I might win.  I even told my husband, who told me not to get my hopes up!  Well, this morning I got a phone call, and they were as shocked as I was that I actually won!!  The power of positive thinking pays off.  :)  Oh, and I'm sure there was a little, tiny bit of luck involved, too.  In any case, I'll be going in in the next couple of days to have my picture taken with the blender (fun!), and to take it home and test it out!  I can hardly wait.  I've been watching VitaMix videos on YouTube all day today.  That thing is a beast!!  Anyway, I never win anything (EVER!), so to win something that I've actually wanted for ages was practically a miracle.  I plan to Freecycle our current blender and bless someone else, since I have been so blessed to win this one.  

In other news (okay, maybe not so news-worthy for some of you), I've decided to switch up my homemaking schedule a bit.  I've blogged about my Weekly Schedule before.  I've been using this method for a few years now, and frankly, had been getting bored with it!  Plus, the trouble with focussing on a different room each day is that a lot of bigger projects get ignored (like cleaning out the pantry, or switching out outgrown clothing, because usually those jobs take more than one day).  I felt like I was cleaning things that were already clean, and ignoring things that actually needed my attention.  So I decided to give FlyLady another try.  Basically, you divide your house into 5 different "zones" (which I was already doing with my weekly schedule), only instead of doing a different zone each day, you focus on one zone for a whole week.  You do all of your decluttering/detail cleaning during that week (just 15 minutes/day!), and then the next week you move onto the next zone.  And once a week you do what's called her Weekly Home Blessing, which is basically a 1-hour, quick-clean of your whole house.  I'm a little scared of this part, because it's very doubtful that I'd actually be able to clean my house in an hour.  Even quickly.  But so many people swear by her methods, that I'm willing to give it a shot.  Any other FlyLady followers out there?  :)  She also follows a basic weekly plan, which I've adjusted to fit my own needs.  The way I was doing it before, I had great intentions of getting everything done that needed doing, but never quite got there.  My poor husband would sometimes realize in a panic at 8:20 am (when he's supposed to be at work at 8:30!) that he had nothing to wear, because all of his clothes were hanging on the ironing board, still wrinkled.  My mending pile has been toppling over for months, because I've just never gotten around to it.  I have great intentions of working on my food binder, and my household notebook, but can't quite figure out where to fit that in.  I have exactly ZERO pictures printed of my last two children.  Ahem.  Obviously what I was doing wasn't working.  My house was sorta clean, but there's so much more to homemaking than just cleaning!  So I decided to try a method that women had followed for probably a hundred years.  A chore for each day.  It was such a prevalent system that tea towels were even embroidered with each day's task.  It went something like this:

Wash on Monday
Iron on Tuesday
Mend on Wednesday
Market on Thursday
Clean on Friday
Bake on Saturday
Rest on Sunday

It's so simple, it's almost brilliant.  No more trying to accomplish 50 different tasks in one day.  Just the daily stuff daily, and then each day has its own weekly task.  Except I don't want a wash day.  I think I'd rather die than wash 6 or 7 loads of laundry in one day.  Not to mention there's no way I could hang all that laundry on the clothes line.  I can usually fit exactly one load of laundry on my clothes line, so I'll stick to my one-load-per-day philosophy here.  I assign a different type of laundry to each day, and by the end of the week it all gets done.  That's been working well, so I'm not changing that!  Oh, and we go to the Market on Saturday, for two reasons:  One, it's the only day it's open, and two:  it's the only day I have a vehicle.  And since baking day should logically follow Market Day, I'll continue to do my baking on Sundays.  It's what I've always done, and it's pretty ingrained in my weekly routine.  Iron on Tuesday, Mend on Wednesday, and Clean on Friday will work just fine.  And I was thinking that instead of Wash Day, I should have an Office Day, or a Desk Day.  A day to tackle all those little projects that I never quite get to.  Like typing up my regular recipes and putting them in my food binder, updating my household notebook, working on photo albums, all that kind of stuff.  I'm thinking Monday would be a good day to do that, as I usually dread Mondays, so this would give me something fun to look forward to.  :)  My goal is to have the day's chore completed by noon, which leaves us the afternoon to do whatever the heck we want.  We'll see how this fits in with homeschooling, but for now I'm loving the simplicity of it.  Anyone else have a weekly rhythm they want to share?  I always love hearing what works for everyone else!  

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Extending the Life of Clothing

It's a nice, quiet afternoon at my house!  Bruce and Norah (my chattiest child!) are outside doing yard work, and it's just Owen, Gavin and I in the house.  My mending pile is out of control these days, so I've been trying to chip away at it here and there when I get a few peaceful minutes.  I had made these pajamas for Norah a couple of years ago, and she's stretched a few inches since then.  The top had become a bit of a belly top...  not cool.  :)  But she loves these pajamas and I couldn't convince her to give them up.  Originally they didn't have any banding on the bottom, they were just hemmed, with small slits on each side.  I unpicked the slits, sewed up the side seams, and added banding to the bottom.  And voila, a pajama top that is approximately 3 inches longer.  :)  This should buy her another year with these pajamas.  I love extending the life of clothing and other household objects by doing things like this.  What a great sense of satisfaction it brings, not to mention it saves us money, and reduces our overall consumption.  Have you extended the life of anything lately?  Can you think of anything that you can extend the life of by doing something similar?  Adding an extra flounce to a skirt?  Some ribbon and lace at the bottom of pants?  Turning pants with the knees blown out into some summer shorts?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day, All!!

Well although I haven't posted in awhile, I thought it only fitting that I do at least a quick post in honour of Earth Day.  The funny thing is, I wracked my brain trying to think of something special we could do to celebrate Earth Day, but couldn't think of anything!  Every day is Earth Day around here.  Every day we make a conscious effort to do what we can for our planet, so really, today was no different for us.  The kids did draw pictures of the earth, put them in envelopes and placed them in the mailbox (to be mailed to the Earth...  how cute!) to say thank-you for all that the Earth gives us.  I had a lovely visit with an old friend this afternoon whom I haven't seen since university.  I bumped into her at the Farmer's Market a couple of weeks ago, and found out she was pregnant and was interested in cloth diapering.  She was looking for some tips, so I invited her over to show her what it was all about.  And then of course we chatted about just about everything OTHER than diapers.  Then after she left it was such a nice day today, that instead of cleaning up we all went out for a walk.  Being outdoors is really the best way to celebrate Earth Day, isn't it?  Just enjoying what we are so lucky to have.  Hope you all had a nice Earth Day today!  Did you do anything special to celebrate?