Monday, December 12, 2011

wee reminder

Just a wee reminder to update your blog roll as I will not be updating here any longer and will be closing these doors shortly.

Find me at the feather + anchor

I know, I know.
Me and my constant moving about.  
But I promise this is where I stay from now on.

To make it up to you I have announced a festive giveaway.

Come check out the new space!

go gently + be wonderful


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

We're Live!

Hello loyal readers of Apples with Honey!

You can find my new space at:

Don't forget  to update your blog rolls and whatnot.

go gently + be wonderful


Thursday, December 1, 2011

feeling brand new

I wanted to thank you all for the kind emails and comments with regards to the recent decision to focus on my most important role as mama, mama, and homemaker (how very 1950s of me, eh?).  I must say, I am feeling inspired as Mike and I work on my new website each night after the kids are in bed.

I think I have scared some people by letting them think I won't be doing anything creative for myself if I give this up, but I know it will be quite the opposite.  I now have more time to take the time to teach myself more knitting, crocheting, and sewing  (all things I was unable to do efficiently enough to sell).

We are currently working on making a section with a collection of links to my favourite recipes and tutorials including squash soup, basic cracker recipe, and chocolate cherry cookies.  I also plan to share recipes for my recent venture into homemade body care products pictured above.  The goal is to continue with my regular writing, but sharing more of our favourite things.  I hope to create a more sustainable writing/posting schedule and linking up with some carefully chosen blogging memes.  Not because I have to, but because it keeps me creative, introspective and challenged.  It is for me as much as it is for those who read my blog.

I look forward to acting from a place of generousity and gratitude and hope it brings me to where I am meant to be while allowing myself and others to live our ideal life today.

I will let you know when it goes live and how to win the giveaway I am planning!

go gently + be wonderful


Monday, November 28, 2011

calling it

After careful thought, lots of number crunching, and long discussions I have decided to call it quits with my wee home business.  Though it may appear to have come out of nowhere I have been wrestling with this decision for months now.

As I said in a previous post, I create for two reasons; 1.) to make extra money and 2.) to make pretty things.  Instead of making money, it has become an expense we can not afford.  Supplies, shipping, craft show fees, gas, postage, and time.  I am quite sure I have not made a profit yet.  I do well at craft shows, but don't do enough to make it worth my while.  It is an all or nothing venture and I can't commit it all.  I am pulled in too many other directions.

As I stood in the aisle of the bulk food store gathering  more supplies for the items I plan to sell at this weekend's craft show, and tallied up the cost in my head, I knew it was time.  I had to call it.  My energy and focus are scattered around the house in scribbled lists, recipes and directions.  I feel resentful when the kids won't let me accomplish a single task to completion.  I feel guilty doing anything unrelated to show preparations.  To top it off it is costing rather than prospering.

To be honest, I am tired of putting myself out there, shifting gears, and changing direction so frequently in hopes of making money and pleasing others.  Letting it go feels right.  It is time to focus on being available for the kids; put my energy into frugal living, baking, sewing and knitting, tending chickens, and running a house efficiently.  It is time to get healthy and put some energy into exercise and myself.  I look forward to doing things for me and my family unfettered by guilt and anxiety.  Making things despite the time and effort involved because it is a labour of love for myself and my family.

I will be doing the Twinkle Craft Show this Friday and Saturday in Peterborough and one day of the Peterborough International Film Festival in January, but after that I will be done.  I may not close the doors forever and I may re-visit it when the children are older and we can do it as a learning adventure together, but until then...I create for me again.

I will still be switching websites as I enjoy capturing our days.  My hope is to blog more often and to share details of our frugal, homesteading life with recipes, patterns, resources and {hopefully}a smidgen of inspiration.  It is time to return to the root of it all; a young family trying to carve out a simple, handmade life in the country on one income.  If I can't make money at it, I can at least share what I have learned with you.

Thank you to all of you who supported my shop whether it was financially or as a cheerleader;  I couldn't be more grateful.

go gently + be wonderful


Friday, November 25, 2011

basic laundry soap recipe


I found all of these ingredients locally at our wonderful health food store, but had trouble finding the soap flakes anywhere else.  Not sure what could be used if you couldn't find them where you live.

I use about 1/2 cup, but sometimes more if it a particularly dirty {potato digging attire}or smelly {rumpled towels and dish clothes}.

You can also add essential oils directly to the powder or to your water, but I kind of like the scent of cold fresh water.  It is rather refreshing.

I always use cold water to wash our clothes so I can't imagine what this what do with hot water.

go gently + be wonderful


jars of money

Since my last post about living the frugal dream I have decided to organize our weekly and monthly budget as Gail Vaz-Oxlade recommends {for my American readers,  I guess you could say Gail is the Canadian version of Suzy Orman}.  I entered our numbers into her interactive worksheets she has available on her website to figure out what each of our five jars will hold.  There is a jar for the main variable expenses such as food, entertainment, gas, clothing and gifts, and one for miscellaneous purchases.  As you can see I mod podged some doilies and washi tape onto our jars since they're going to be sitting out for all to see.  No reason they can't be pretty at least.

We have a total of $284.77 to "play" with each week.  The goal is to use only cash all the time.  Then you spend the money, you replace it with the receipt.  Generally speaking, it is rather like a big game of "Life" and we are treating it as a fun challenge in which the we win financial freedom.  Any leftover cash can be dumped into the next week and at the end of the month you can spend it if you were saving for something special or you can put it down on an outstanding loan or savings.

You'd think the strict rules and numbers would be stressful, but it has had the opposite effect on us mentally.  You can let go of guilt or worry when spending when you know everything is where it should be and that if you play right you can still get what you want; you may just have to wait a little longer.

Oh, and uh, Happy Black Friday.

go gently + be wonderful


Monday, November 21, 2011

I declare a spending strike

A beautiful film about Santa's humble beginnings; one of the most wonderful Christmas movies I've ever seen.

I love Christmas.  
I mean I am a total Christmas dork.  
I also love shopping.  
So what I am about to declare may seem strange.

I would like to declare a spending strike.  It could possibly be the worst and most difficult month to declare such a thing, but it is necessary on many levels.  I think the challenge will awaken our creativity in gift giving and celebrations while padding our bank account.

That being said, most of our Christmas shopping in done so it may not be as difficult as it first sounds.  We need to fill 4 stockings and purchase the annual gift for the grandparents.  We also need to host 2 or 3 family gatherings.  I think we can do it though.

This is the season of celebration and warmth and family.  Not about overcrowded malls and spending past our comfort levels.  This year we will put more emphasis on the Winter Solstice than we ever have, but we will also keep Santa Claus because we want our children to know that magic.


We will pay our monthly bills of course.  Mortgage, car payments, student loans, phone, Internet, hydro, propane, house/car/life insurance, RESPs, etc

We will allow ourselves $150.00 per week for groceries

We must allow $250.00 in gas money for the month

We must have some allowance to buy supplies for my upcoming craft shows, but I will keep it to a minimum and hope I won't need more than $50.00 to $70.00 for the month.

We will think creatively on how to fill stockings, but if a handmade something requires a supply or two to come to life then we will purchase it.

Now I will share with you what we currently do to live the frugal dream.  Sometimes I wish other bloggers would share there secrets to frugal success so I have compiled a fairly detailed list of what we do to make one income work for us as well as our long term goals.  If you care to share your own details or advice do so by leaving a comment or link.  I hope I don't bore you to tears, but I write it for you as much as I write it for myself.


Chickens:  We are hoping our ladies will start laying in the next month or so so that we can have a steady flow of happy eggs to eat.  A long term plan is to take advantage of our location on a main road and sell eggs and veggies roadside {hello learning experience for homeschooled kids!}.  Our chicken coop is built to last with room to grow our flock.  I am trying to work myself up to processing the chickens for eating as well.

Gardens:  We managed to get a small garden in this year despite the bugs and lack of prepared land.  I made 3 jars of pesto {enough to last about 3 weeks}.  We didn't get anything else into our freezer or pantry.  It was a wonderful thing to get 16 quarts of strawberries and three burlap sacks of the most beautiful corn I have ever seen into the freezer from Ellenberger Organic Farm.  I also made copious amounts of apple butter with the apples from our trees though I was a little disheartened to open 5 jars in a row which had gone bad.  I thought I did it right, but apparently I have much to learn.

Our goal is to grow enough food to freeze and preserve which will take us through the fall, winter and early spring.  The growing season is quite short here so this will take a few years to perfect.  As I mentioned before, we would like to sell our produce, eggs, and some of my homemade goods at the "farm gate" during the busy tourist season.  We have grand plans of terracing the hill behind the chicken coop and turning our large yard into a mess of food.  Next year we hope to invest in a steam juicer to make sugar free apple juice from the abundant apples on our property.

Meat:  We get all of our grass fed beef and pork from Ellenberger Organic Farm and will be buying a full cow if we can get our hands on a full sized freezer.  A large purchase, but so good for us and our bank account in the long run.  We don't eat organic everything, but we try to focus on the animal products as a priority.  We buy organic milk and get raw organic milk and cheese when we can {which in Canada is the equivalent of saying we buy drugs.  It's idiotic really that people are able to make the choices about alcohol and tobacco, but not raw milk, but that is another post for another day}

Groceries:  We travel a minimum of an hour to get decently priced groceries.  We have tried to organize a buying club through the ONFC, but to get a monthly order has proved too much at this time.  We try to follow a wheat free/minimal wheat diet so it is much more cost effective to make our own crackers, pizza crusts, cookies, etc.   Wheat free is effective in keeping processed and pre-made garbage out of our grocery baskets.  I could use some hints and tips on making more vegetarian meals as well as freezer friendly meals to make ahead for when those days when the last thing I want to do is cook days.  Lucky for us, our eating out options are pretty slim in Gooderham; especially in the cold months.  Mainly we buy perishables and baking supplies on a weekly basis, but we somehow seem to spend a small fortune on food each and every month.  We're working on it though.

Body Care:  

Hair Dye: I have decided to give up dyeing my hair.  It was silly really; I would dye my hair and dark rich brown and would be frustrated, not with the root re-growth, but with the fading and dryness of the treated hair.  So I broke up with the toxic hair dye and am dealing with the awkward growth period.  I think in the long run I will be liberated as I like my natural colour and it is very free.

Haircuts: I cut everyones hair but my own.  The gentlemen are easy as pie, but I think us girls will be paying for ours to avoid hair catastrophes.

Shampoo and Conditioner:  I have tried to go shampoo free with baking soda and apple cider vinegar, but it just didn't go well for me.  I have super thick curly hair and after a few days it felt like a matted tangled mess.  I have tried many natural shampoos, but haven't found a single one that makes my hair feel and look nice.  I find Poppy's hair reacts the same as mine.  So we use commercial brands of baby shampoo and regular shampoo despite knowing their toxic ingredients.

Cloth pads:  I was leery about this one, but I decided to take the plunge into cloth pads.  I purchased from a Canadian company on Etsy called Naturally Hip.  They are well made and surprisingly simple.  It would appear our society is rather squeamish with this topic, but I am not so these work well for me and I get to skip the tree killing and bleached cotton.  I have tried the Diva Cup, but wasn't crazy about it.

Deodorant:  I will never use commercial deodorant again.  I have never used anything that has worked so well as the stuff I have been making and I have used everything from secret to Toms to the salt crystal.  I will soon be offering it in my shop for those interested in ordering!

Cloth Diapers:  I will be honest; I hate cloth diapers.  I have a stash that I keep returning to when the guilt is too much, but we struggle with it.  Mike likes them even less.  It's the poop that gets me.  Any tips would be appreciated.  I keep them handy and when I figure a poop is less likely to happen I put one on and pat myself on the back for each disposable I keep out of the landfill.  Baby steps.

Laundry:  I recently started making my own laundry soap and will never go back!  With four simple and inexpensive ingredients {I will share the recipe soon} I have finally been able to get rid of stubborn smells in my towels, dishcloths, and cloth diapers that commercial and natural detergents alike have left behind.  They come out smelling like cold water which is refreshing, but sometimes I will add a few drops of essential oils.  In place of fabric softener we use regular vinegar.  

One of the first things we did upon moving in was to install a new clothesline.  Hanging clothes in the warm season is no issue, but the temptation of the dryer lurks as the days grow shorter and colder.  Our dryer is broken and we are going to leave it that way because we know if it is there we will use it more than necessary.  Instead I purchased another heavy wood drying rack from our local Home Hardware Store so I can hang two loads or laundry at a time. 


Cable:  We don't have it.  We have some ghetto rabbit ears which {sometimes} gives us the local station which is horrible.  Bell calls us in hopes of selling us sattelite, but there is nothing on their script for people who just don't want it so we usually spend five minutes of our time explaining we don't want it while they respond with "I understand your hesitation...".  We watch CHEX and downloaded movies on an old 19 inch television which has been dropped in almost every move.  When it goes we may treat ourselves to a 32 in flat screen if we can find a steal of a deal.

Car:  We have one 2010 Nissan Versa.  I think our next car will have to be a larger minivan sort of deal because once we get the kids and ourselves in we are hard-pressed to fit in the weekly groceries.  The monthly payment is lower than the regular repairs we were putting into our 2002 Hyundai Accent.  I often find myself daydreaming about a second car, but I don't think we could afford the upkeep and insurance let alone another car payment so we do our best not to go crazy at home all week.

Trips and Entertainment: Nonexistent.  We don't travel, not even to see Mike's family in Newfoundland.  We generally go to free festivals and celebrations locally.  Not ideal, but reality.

Furniture:  Every item in our house is second {or third or fourth I am sure} hand.  We sleep on a horrible mattress that has the same strength and form as a wet soda cracker.   I often prefer the heart and soul of old furniture, but it would be nice to buy a new mattress or high efficiency washer, but we deal and plan and save and cross those bridges as they come.

If you've made it this far I thank you.  I know some of my dear friends are rolling their eyes or shuddering at our efforts, but we have come to accept we're the crazy hippy couple who, without meaning to, make people uncomfortable.  I won't lie, sometimes the cabin fever gets to me and I think about getting a job with better pay so I can go on a trip or buy some nice clothes or new furniture.  

If I am honest with myself I feel inadequate when I know we are being looked at with pity as if to say "Poor Erin and Mike, they couldn't afford a normal house and had to buy that odd little cabin in the woods."  or "Those poor children are being deprived of toys and Treehouse TV, how will they ever learn?".  Who knows, maybe people don't think those things about us.  Perhaps I am being silly.

All that to say, we are forcing ourselves to think outside the box this season and hope to make meaningful rituals and avoid the holiday hangover everyone loves to hate.  I hope to learn lots about ourselves, others, and how we have come to connect with others.  

Join us if you'd like.

go gently + be wonderful

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