Get to Know Me

Just over a year ago I started my blogging journey, it was a little rough. And it still probably is but I was trying to go in a different direction with travel and adventure but it was just not what I truly had a passion for. So I decided to redirect it to something I could actually do and something that I really loved learning about. get to know me

Today I’m sharing ten little facts about me so that you can get to know me a bit better 🙂

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  1. I started learning about self-sufficiency and conscious living around the time Evan and I got married but I never put it in to action until about last fall. I didn’t own land or have a garden, so I always thought it wouldn’t work for me. But now I’ve changed my mindset and I look for ways to be a modern homesteader in my little basement suite. IMG_1877
  2. Pineapple is my absolute favorite fruit, but if I eat too much of it my tongue swells up! It’s a little upsetting.
  3. Evan and I were married in August 2015, so we are quick approaching our two year anni! People think we met in college but we actually knew each other before. We had mutual friends from Abbotsford and so when our churches went on a mission trip to the same place in Mexico I met up with some of him and his friends. mexico2009
  4. My biggest pregnancy cravings have been Fish ‘n’ Chips, Lemonade, and Tropical Starbursts (which have been terrible to find in Canada, but just last night I found some in the States!! I’m so thrilled!)
  5. I have really only worked for two places, I worked for 9 years (since middle school) for Panago Pizza and then started at The Body Shop in Sept 2015. I love working for The Body Shop, they have amazing company values and I love that I can work in retail knowing the company I work for strives for sustainability. Right now we are doing a petition to end animal testing globally so come in store or sign it online!body shop
  6. I constantly have music playing on repeat, wherever or whatever I’m doing I need some background noise. I find silence unsettling, which I think is a common millennial problem so that’s one of the only aspects where you can put me in the “millennial box”.
  7. I have a thing for big mugs, I’m not really a coffee or tea drinker normally but if you have a big mug I am so down. I think its the definition of “ultimate cozy” for me. DSC_0036
  8. One of my favorite things when meeting new people is learning their ethnic background, I think it says so much about a person. I love learning about their culture: how they were raised, their family dynamics or even specific food they eat. I am Dutch Canadian, through and through, and I’m really quite proud of that.sweet pea2
  9. I’ve watched the show Supernatural probably about 4 times now and Evan has never seen a single episode!
  10. I love things to be quick, simple, and easy. In cooking, cleaning, crafting, whatever it is. If it takes too long then I don’t have time haha. You may have picked up on this if you’ve read any of my recipes posts (this one is my favorite). corn and potato soup1

So there’s ten things about me, I hope you know me a little better now 🙂 If you want to share ten things about yourself, leave me a comment! Or let me know if you have any questions!

dawn

 

 

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One Thing You Absolutely Need in Your Home

Hey guys! How’s it going?! The typical BC summer has come at last, I can’t say I’m all that thrilled but I’m surviving haha. It was just Canada Day weekend, and I had a really good weekend. To celebrate Canada Day we went to a friends for a fire in the evening, we roasted hot dogs and played some hilarious minute to win it games. Then once it was dark enough we played sardines and we were all running around like kids and to end the night we had sparklers. I think the nesting bug has finally come for sure as I did some deep cleaning on Saturday morning and Sunday, which I’m very happy about, I was starting to worry it wouldn’t come haha 🙂

Anyway that’s not what I’m really sharing today! So moving on !

one thing you absolutely need in your home (1)

 

Okay so, part of learning to live traditionally and sustainably means choosing a different way to clean your home. You need to find something that’s more eco-friendly and a little more versatile. And I’ve been using this one thing for almost two years now, and now I can’t live without it. You need to have it in your home, and a big bottle of it too!

Wanna know what I’m talking about?

It’s White Vinegar!

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Seriously guys, vinegar is the mostly magical thing ever. You don’t just eat it. It’s a fantastic antibacterial, great deodorizer, and many more uses which I’ll be sharing.

You ABSOLUTELY need to have it in your house. Vinegar is a modern-homesteader’s staple!

First off, vinegar is a mild acid that has been used in the past for industrial, medical, and domestic methods, but mostly just cooking now. You can get it at any grocery store, it’s so affordable, and it takes forever to expire. I buy a 4L jug for $5 and it takes me a few months to go through. There are many different types of vinegars but I find the white is the most versatile.

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Okay now, the many magical uses of vinegar… (There’s actually way more but these are my everyday uses)

  1. Freshen laundry, I always pour in a bit (about 3/4 cup) when I wash a load of towels.  It helps keep my towels smelling clean.
  2. Fabric softener, having a bit in your rinse cycle will help soften clothes so you don’t need a softener which actually clogs washers and dryers.
  3. Washing machine, if you pour some in an empty washer and run it, it will actually give your washer a nice sparkle and for front loaders help with the wet dog smell.
  4. Extra dirty dishes, pour some vinegar in your “pre-rinse” compartment of your dishes if they need some extra boost. Really great if you found something growing in a tupperware and you need the extra antibacterial properties.
  5. Dishwasher, if your dishwasher is getting a bit clogged up, pour some in and run an empty cycle.
  6. Sinks, if your sinks are clogged, pour some baking soda in the drain, add 1 cup of vinegar and let it sit 10 minutes then pour boiling hot water down the drain. Also, sinks are some of the yuckiest places in the kitchen, so I like spray them down from time to time with vinegar to get rid of any lingering bacteria.
  7. Coffee pot cleaner, coffee pots will often times have bacteria hiding around somewhere so I’ll like to run some vinegar through it to be safe. I always rinse twice to be sure that the vinegar is gone and you wont taste it in your coffee!
  8. Kettle cleaner, we have fairly hard water here and sometimes I get a mineral build up in my kettle. I fill the kettle with water and about 1/2 cup vinegar, make it boil and then let it sit for 20 minutes or so. When I pour out the water the build up is usually gone, if not I scrub the inside and do it a second time. And then of course rinse after!
  9. Cleaning counter tops, I’ve made an all-purpose cleaner using vinegar (recipe for it HERE) that really is all-purpose. Some people may forget that your kitchen is actually so gross, and needs a little extra cleaning power, vinegar is a great natural way to clean your counters. Good for stoves too! We have a glass top stove so it’s easy for me to wipe the whole thing down, but it works on basically any surface.
  10. Fridge, again an area people forget about. I just use my cleaner spray and then wipe down the inside. You should especially use vinegar as an antibacterial if you have meat juice spill in your fridge or even freezer!
  11. Bathroom, I use the all-purpose cleaner in my bathroom as well to wipe down the counter and sink, but also in the shower/tub.
  12. Toilet cleaner, I use my cleaner spray and wipe down the whole toilet with it, even inside the bowl. It’s great at removing any yuckies and bacteria.
  13. Washing produce, vinegar is good if you’re worried about pesticides or any bacterial on your produce. Fill the sink with cold water and a cup of vinegar and soak the produce. Some people say it’s helped berries last longer, I have not tested this but I use this method to remove the wax from apples.
  14. Colour stay for clothes, soaking your clothes in vinegar diluted with water will actually helps your clothes hold on to their colour longer.
  15. Fruit flies, this is probably one of my best tricks with vinegar. Take a drinking glass, pour in a little vinegar, squirt some soap in, and fill the cup with water. You want the bubbles to go over the rim of the cup, the flies are attracted to the smell and then get stuck in the bubble and drown! For this one you could use apple cider vinegar as well too.

There’s my somewhat long list on how I use vinegar all the time and why I could not live without it. It’s a huge part of my weekly routine and I will actually panic a little if my jug is running low.

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There are so many different uses that I didn’t mention, like ways to cook with it or cosmetic reasons because I mostly use it as natural cleaning agent.

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For my all-purpose cleaner recipe go HERE

 

Was there a method that I missed and you use all the time? Let me know by leaving me a comment!

dawn

 

Summer Beginnings

Starting the end of August I’ll be on maternity leave, and it’s not going to be easy. My income will be cut in half and so we won’t have a whole lot of disposable income.

Preparing for this baby has me feeling like I’m preparing for the coming long winter like our great great grandparents had done. There’s so much I need to get ready and plan for. I need to stockpile food and make sure I have things for the baby and for ourselves so we stay sane.

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I know we’ll be okay because I have faith that God will provide for us because he really truly has so far.  But I also need to be diligent in my preparation; I believe he provides but he doesn’t just give hand outs to those who just sit around asking for hand outs.

Don’t get me wrong, I am so beyond excited to be able to spend that time with my baby and I will learn so many sufficiency skills but let’s be honest. I am STRESSED. Preparing for this is hard, and I might have a hint of understanding how my great grandparents had felt when preparing for their own winter.

Okay moving on!

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Okay so at the beginning of every season I always sit myself down, and make some goals for myself. It helps me get through a year without going crazy because it gives me a short term goal to focus on so I can actually achieve things that I want to do. It gives me a time frame in which to learn a skill or mark something off my “to-do list”. Sometimes I don’t always attain a goal (like I’ve been trying to cook at home 3 nights a week for seriously, the whole last year) but that’s where I give myself grace and keep it on the list and each season I get better 🙂 See my very first post with my goals HERE.

Looking back at what goals I had set for myself in Spring Beginnings, I can say I managed to do 2 out of my 3 goals. Sorta haha

  • I can honestly say I’ve cooked from scratch way more then I have in our almost two year marriage, can’t promise it was at least 3 times a week consistently.
  • I can also say that I minimized what was in my home, but I’m also still slowly working on that one. No rush on this one but as long as its done before the baby comes I’m happy. I’ve got a big pile of things that need to go to the thrift store and I’ve been slowly adding stuff to that pile.
  • I have not had the energy to really work on developing my waste management. I do try to reuse ziploc bags where I can and obviously continuing to recycle, but I really wanted to work on using less plastic so that’s something I will revisit in the fall, with research during the next couple months.

This summer I’m not really going to give myself any goals other then, take it easy.

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I want to relax this summer. Growing a human is hard so I need to be taking extra self care. I have this tendency to over stress about the future sometimes so my goal is to not do that. Ultimately, trust in God and let him carry us through this year.

Often times when I get stressed like this I’m always go, go, go. I’ve got all this stuff on a list that I need to finish as soon as I possibly can, but this summer I’m going to be more relaxed about that.

Like the baby’s room, I’m the type that needs it set up NOW. We’re taking our guest/storage room and we’ll be making it into the nursery. So before my parents came in March, I swear you couldn’t even get into this room it was just so full, I cleaned it up enough that they could sleep there. And then it took me until this week to finally get it empty enough that I was satisfied and that we could actually start setting up the nursery.

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This is just very unlike me but I’ve been impressed with my relaxed attitude and patience that I hope it carries out for the summer. I still have that list but I’m going to take my time with it and RELAX.

One other thing is that recently I’ve been doing a lot of looking into zero-waste lifestyles and sustainably shopping. I’ve looked into all sorts of things like eco-friendly laundry detergents, where to buy sustainable clothing, and going plastic free. Part of this is because in the coming fall, I might not find as much value in plastic wrap over meat or milk. So I’m learning ways on how can I make my stuff last longer and not feel so awful about throwing away a ziploc bag that I paid for (money going in the garbage). Another part is knowing that we’re doing at least a little damage to our earth, you can’t deny that, by polluting it with garbage that doesn’t break down for hundreds of years. I’m not trying to be a hippie or crunchy, but as a Christian I think we need to be stewards of the earth as well as good neighbors. 

So this Summer I am preparing, and relaxing, and researching. Winter is coming.

(sorry I really really really needed to sneak that in, we’re GOT fans)

 

Do you have any goals or plans for the summer? Let me know, by leaving me a comment!

If you want to read about my garden go HERE

dawn

Simple Garden Update #1!

So I started my garden the end of March (with my parents help). We have been fortunate to be given a little area to garden by our landlords and I gotta say, I’m absolutely loving it! You can see how it started HERE!

As a kid, I always had to help my mom weed and pick beans or spinach and I hated it. I thought it was so boring and weeding was literally the worst thing ever. My parents had a huge garden and we always had home grown food.

Now I love going out to my little patch to water and weed. I don’t even mind the weeding anymore haha. Maybe it’s because this growth is mostly my own efforts; yeah sure I’ve had questions and difficulties so I’ve called my mom but it’s still all me doing the work. I love learning new skills and it’s so calming to just sit with my hands in the dirt, which I never thought I would ever say or even think! I appreciate this opportunity that I have to mini homestead in my little area.

This is it now…

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So far I’ve had to deal with some nasty weeds (horsetail) and a terrible mole uprooting a couple onions and beans! FYI solution for moles, (this was a tip from my parents) find the hole and shove some blackberry branches in there, haven’t had an issue since I did that! But I still don’t have a solution for horsetail so if you do let me know! If I don’t pull them weeds everyday they’ll take over my garden!

Here’s how my blackberry branches look shoved in the mole hole.mole remover

We also went away for a week and it didn’t rain much so they didn’t have a whole lot of water and when I got back they were looking pretty sad. But with a little plant food and regular watering they sprung back up. I’ve also got a stockpile of coffee grounds to sprinkle with that I’ll do later this week for a waste-free fertilizer.

I’ve already been able to harvest some beautiful radishes and will probably plant another row before July!

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Also, up until today I didn’t have proper garden markers so I made some real quick with Popsicle sticks that I had stashed away.

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And that’s the garden so far! I’ve been so happy with it’s progress and that I’m really learning self-sufficiency skills!

I’m going to be posting a veggie dip recipe soon, so watch for that. You can see that recipe HERE now!

If you have any thoughts (or tips for horsetail) leave me a comment!

dawn

 

7 ways to save money on groceries

Starting last year I realized how out of control our spending was when I took a look at our money situation. It made me realize we needed a budget and a better way to make our  monthly payments work. So I created a “payment plan” or a “budget” whatever you want to call it.

A big area of spending was food and obviously something needed to change.

I chose a very specific amount that we were allowed to spend on groceries, it was hard at first but now after doing it for about 9 months, I think I’ve mastered it. That being said, I had to learn some ways to cut costs and I’m going to share some of these ways with you!

  1. Have a Budget, and stick to it. This has been the absolute most important way for me to save money. First of all, I pay in cash so I can’t overspend. And then when I go through the grocery store I use the calculator on my phone and add up every little thing I put in my buggie. If I was just throwing whatever in the cart I know I wouldn’t be able to keep track of what I was spending.pexels-photo-26799
  2. Shopping Sales! This is a bit of a no brainer, but it takes some planning. Either you find sales in store or you can look through the flyer. I prefer to look through a flyer first because then it gives me an idea of what I can buy for certain meals, which leads to my next tip. street-market-fruits-grocery
  3. Take a List with You, again if you’re just mindlessly throwing food in the buggie, there’s no way to track what you’re spending or you could buy something on a whim and then end up throw it out months later because you never ate it. I feel hopeless if I forget my list at home, and then I always forget to buy something that I really needed and will have to go back for on another day. pexels-photo-128402
  4. Meal Plan, some people feel like this doesn’t work for them but the way I meal plan is so simple. I make a list of the meals I want to make, or can make (by knowing what’s on sale). I just write a list and as I cook them though the week I just cross it off the list. Having this plan helps me make sure that when I make my grocery list  I have everything I need for this so I don’t have to run to the grocery store mid week, which goes to my next point. pexels-photo
  5. Shop every other week or even once a month, I do groceries every two weeks, because then it saves me constant trips to the store which can lead to extra unnecessary spending. Also how can you stick to a budget if you’re shopping every couple days? Unless you’re amazing at keeping track of what you spend every time you go, it would be pretty difficult to really understand what you’re spending. I am not good at tracking spending like that so it’s easier for me to stick with my budget all in one shot. pexels-photo-375896
  6. Buy in Bulk, you might not notice savings with this one automatically, but when you’re not having to buy meat every time you shop you save some in the long run. Also goes for staples foods like flour and sugar, obviously you don’t want to buy anything you know you won’t use because you’ll end up throwing it away when it goes bad and that won’t save you money.food-vegetables-beans-green
  7. Have a loyalty card, this really only works if you stick to one brand/store, sure you can have multiple loyalty cards, but its best to accumulate points or benefits if you shop somewhere consistently. Different companies have different systems so you need to see what works best for you. In my area we have superstores that earn you points when you shop certain items and when you reach a threshold you can discount your whole bill by a certain amount. Or there’s Save on Foods (my preferred method) where every dollar you spend you earn a point and then you can redeem points on certain food items to get them discounted.  fruits-grocery-bananas-market

I have really found for myself that being able to save on groceries has really depended on these 7 methods. Oh and bonus tip! Bring your own reusable bags! Most places are charging for bags now and you will most likely end up throwing them away after.

If you have any other tips to add let me know by leaving me a comment!

 

Simple Garden

One of my things I wanted to achieve this year was a mini garden; last year my parents had planted some veggies in pots for me and let’s just say the crop was not overly fruitful. This year we have been generously been given an area to garden by our landlords. Clearly, I’m no expert so I’m not going to be giving any advice but over the summer if there’s anything I learn, I’m hoping to share it here.

My parents however, are avid gardeners. I don’t ever remember growing up where we didn’t have a garden, I was helping washing fresh spinach and tipping beans since I was old enough to help! So while my parents were here a few weeks ago, we picked up the supplies (seeds and dirt) and on a good morning they showed me how to plant my seeds because I always skipped out on that part 😛

Because this is my first year I wanted to start with something easy and won’t take up too much space. So we planted…

  • potatoes
  • beans
  • onions
  • lettuce
  • carrots
  • radishes

Here’s what it looks like now, not pretty but it will grow, hopefully hahah

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It’s not much but it’s a start to learning a new skill and hopefully it flourishes.

dawn

Spring Beginnings

Okay so I’m going to be honest, the last four months have kicked my butt. I have had zero energy to do anything, my winter goals were to cook and read but I feel all I’ve done is work and sleep. I really can’t say I’ve even cooked once a week for the past four months because growing a human is exhausting.

Thankfully, I have my energy back (mostly), and over the past month or so I’ve really missed it here. Hibernating gave me a chance to refocus on what I really want to achieve with this blog. It will keep me motivated to learn what simple slow living looks for Evan and I, and to really embrace it in our lives.

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So with it being Spring (first day of Spring is tomorrow!!), I am “wiping my slate clean”, and starting fresh. My winter goals were to home cooked food, read often, and embrace slow living; which I feel, I achieved none. So I am again going to attempt these goals but in a different way.

This Spring I want to…

  • Cook from scratch at least 3 times a week
  • Minimize what’s in my home
  • Sustainable waste management

Cooking from scratch shouldn’t be such a problem but for people my age it’s a foreign concept because there is so much convenience food around that baking a loaf of bread is terrifying. I’m hoping to be able to master some delicious and easy recipes because I like easy and fast but I don’t want to have to pay for it anymore. We’ve recently received a small freezer as a generous gift from my parents and I’m hoping to fill it with freezer meals which will make cooking from scratch much easier.

I feel that clutter has a huge impact on slow intentional living, clutter not only fills our homes but our minds too. I know for myself when my house is messy and there’s papers everywhere, and just stuff everywhere, I feel stressed and anxious. Also, with a baby on the way I need to make space, especially since we’re in a basement suite there’s not a lot of room. I’ve already started to go through my clothes and a few other spaces but I found a “10-week” organizing plan on Pinterest that I’m going to use as a loose base model for my decluttering.

Over the last year, I’ve become aware of the waste that my household produces. It’s a little upsetting actually. Did you know that glass is 100% recyclable, it can be reused over and over again and never lose it’s integrity? Where as plastic which we use every day, and throw away every day is not 100% recyclable, and it sits in landfills or our oceans causing problems. This is where I have to start small, I’ve already switched to reusable produce bags (I bought them at a local grocer) and once I’m done my fancy bottle of foaming hand soap we’re going to use bars of soap because that’s completely zero waste.

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I love what comes with new seasons, that freshness and the ability to hit a “reset button”. Setting these goals for myself give me an opportunity to embrace an intentional lifestyle, but also to reflect on my past seasons. I’ve had some successes but mostly failures, but its a part of learning. And that’s what this blog is for.

Let me know what you think by leaving me a message in the comments section!

dawn