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One year ago we moved from our suburbany townhome into an 1800’s Victorian smack dab in the middle of town. As many of you know, we had originally wanted to purchase a house, but the stars wouldn’t align. So we made the financially right decision to delay home-buying and took action to at least get closer to the life we want. Andrew wanted to be closer to bars, restaurants, and shops. I wanted to be in walking or biking distance of my office. We broke our lease and moved into town.
Just because we didn’t buy a house doesn’t mean we gave up on homesteading. It’s just a different approach, one that I’ve been exploring and have found both exciting and frustrating. I got a lot of positive feedback on the last ‘Homesteading in Small Spaces’ post I did that talked about creative gardening solutions. Today I am continuing that series and discussing the value of the ‘homestead mindset’ – something that takes no space whatsoever.
Last weekend, we were privileged enough to spend the weekend in an incredible fancy cabin in the North Carolina mountains. We hiked to waterfalls and peaks, and the fall colors were gorgeous! We also spent plenty of time around the blazing fire, playing games and watching a scary movie. I love family trips! As we drove home on Sunday, we winded through North Georgia and made a few pit stops.
First, we stopped at Warwoman Dell, a WMA and trailhead for our beloved Bartram Trail. This place is very special to us, as it is somewhere we visited often when we were first falling in love. As we got out of our car, we breathed a collective sigh of comfort and agreed that it had been too long. We went for a short hike, then hopped back on the road to our next stop: Hillside Orchard.
I love visiting orchards in the fall, even if it is a little kitchy. This particular orchard had lots of farm animals! We said hi to chickens, goats, cows, donkeys, and the biggest pig I have ever seen in my life! Of course, the best part was that we scored a couple pumpkins and half a bushel of apples. I see apple butter day on the horizon!
For Christmas last year, Andrew gave me a Rosemary Gladstar classic- Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. I read it cover to cover and then some! After studying it carefully, and learning more about herbalism from other sources, I finally decided I was ready to dive in. I made two big orders of organic herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs and Starwest Botanicals. Both packages came in the mail this week, and I was jumping for joy telling Andrew how excited I was to start making *potions*.
I picked out a number of recipes from the book, and ordered the herbs I needed accordingly. I have an anxiety disorder as well as chronic headaches, so I focused on nerve tonics and immune system tonics. I also ordered plenty of herbs for homemade beauty products, including herbal shampoos and hair rinses, face washes, and salves.
I whipped up my first few batches of goodies! First, I made a ACV hair rinse with calendula, chamomile, and comfrey to encourage blonde highlights. Look how pretty the herbs look in the mason! They smelled amazing.
I also made Rosemary’s Miracle Grains, which are a facial cleanser made with ground almonds, white clay, and a variety of herbs. I used to use the ‘Herbalism’ face wash from Lush, which I loved, and I am hoping the Miracle Grains will be a fine replacement. So far so good! I mixed up a toner called ‘The Queen of Hungary’s Water’ which consists of a plethora of herbs left to sit for a few weeks in ACV, then mixed with witch hazel extract.
I was unfortunately and uncharacteristically sick this week, and made a couple teas from the book. Yesterday I was floored. I took one advil and drank a vitamin-C tonic made of rose hips, hibiscus, lemongrass, and cinnamon all day long and feel much better today.
Some of my fondest childhood memories are decorating our home for various holidays, mainly with decorations we made ourselves and stockpiled over the years. My mom kept everything in big rubbermaids, and I would get so excited when we brought them up from the basement. As an adult, I have wanted to recreate that feeling, mainly for autumn and Christmas times.
The thing is, we didn’t have any decorations when we got together! Not eager to run out and buy a bunch of mass produced crap, we have turned to crafting our own! It has turned into somewhat of a tradition, especially for Christmas. I love it so much, I have extended it to autumn! The idea is that every year, we make a craft or two during the season to build our very own decoration stockpile. It’s a fun bonding activity and I love that all our decorations are personal and have memories attached to them.
This year we made God’s Eyes together in autumn colors. My other craft is leaf garland! I picked out leaves from our yard – oak, redbud, maple, and laurel – and used them as stencils to make felt leaf cut outs. I then strung the cutouts together on yard with some beads. It was super easy and inexpensive. The best part though is the experience I had laying in bed under the covers, listening to Ryan Adams or Fleetwood Mac or Guided By Voices (my autumnal music), stringing the leaves together. It felt so seasonal and cozy.
I love the way this simple craft came out! I laid the garland over our mantle.
With temps still in the high 80s, I am hesitant to declare autumn’s arrival down here in Georgia, but something in the air has definitely changed. Last night we were sitting outside chatting and I declared June and October my two favorite months of the year, with December a close third. This October is already looking to be a good one.
It’s was a busy summer on all fronts. Our little homestead did a whole lot of brewing and fermenting – beer, mead, kombucha, ginger beer, and a few veggie ferments. Andrew is making turmeric soda tomorrow. He bought me lots of soy beans to try my hand at soy milk and tofu but I haven’t gotten around to it. I’ve been preoccupied with keeping the ship running – that is my gift. I make sure the kitchen knives stay sharp (sharpening them by hand with a whetstone), I make sure all the CSA food gets either cooked or preserved, I bake the bread, I clean the home, I mend the clothes, I make the toothpaste and soap and laundry detergent and an array of cleaning solutions. And of course we continue to eat delicious farm fresh meals like tonight’s eggplant, tomato, and pepper stew. Nightcapped with half a chocolate-y craft brew.