This Week’s Project Download…

It was another whirlwind week here on the homestead.  And this morning it was tough programming the kids to wake up earlier than normal because of daylight savings time.

I am proud to say that the derby car is complete!  Just in time for the races this coming weekend.  Just some minor sanding and paint touch ups.

I’ll have a special blog post on this project and my many lessons learned.

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I didn’t have time to do many projects this week (I’ll get to that in a minute).  I was able to make a peppermint citrus scrub though.  It is extremely easy to make.  You can use sugar or salt, both will gently exfoliate the skin.  The cooling sensation of the peppermint oil helps soothe itchiness, and the coconut oil (or another other oil you choose to use) moisturizes.  I like the citrus because it is very invigorating and immediately wakes you up and has a wonderful clean, spring/summer scent.  We definitely need that up here in Northern New England!

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Here’s how to make the scrub:

  • 1 cup granulated white sugar or salt.   (I personally buy the cheap stuff since I won’t be eating it)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil .  You can substitute olive oil, almond oil, apricot oil, avocado oil, or even use a combination.  
  • 2-4 Tablespoons orange zest.  You can also use lemon or grapefruit zest, it’s really your preference.
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable glycerin.  I’ve read it’s optional, but it does add extra moisturizing properties.  
  • 10 drops peppermint essential oil.
  • 10-15 drops orange essential oil, or any other citrus of your choice.   

Instructions:

Mix sugar, oil, zest, and vegetable glycerin together. Depending on what type of oil you use, you may need to add more or less to get the proper consistency. Make sure there is enough oil to make the sugar stick together, but not so much that it is floating on top.

Gradually add in the essential oils until you’ve reached the desired scent. It may take more or less, depending on the type of oils you use.

Store your sugar scrub in a glass container.  I put mine up on the kitchen window sill.  The great thing is that this scrub also makes an awesome gift, especially in the summer when we’re all out in the garden getting our hands dirty!   Just rub a small amount of the scrub on your hands or body and rinse with warm water.  

Honestly the sky is the limit on this scrub.  You can add any scent and oil you choose.  I think my next one will involve lavender and rosemary.  

This week I really had to focus on my daughter and her school work.  I was so nervous about her learning and study habits.  Thankfully, everything turned out just fine.  I just need to ensure I stay on top of her and encourage her.  She has been reading “My Life as a Book” so I read it as well.  I must say this has been of my favorite books she’s brought home so far!  Maybe it’s because the main character reminds me of a cross between her and her devious brother!

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The kids enjoyed a wonderful few days with dad as he made a quick visit home (thus the lack of projects I could complete – there was too much excitement at home).  Unfortunately, the visit was short lived and he’s out patrolling our waters again.  It’s only for a few weeks and he’ll finally be back home for a decent amount of time.  Just in time to get the garden going!

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Be the Gardner of Your Mind…

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This morning as I sat in front of my laptop thinking about my next blog I received an email reply from my father.  A brief rewind…  my parents are in the process of preparing for retirement.  We have convinced them to leave sunny San Diego and come here to Maine, at least part-time.  Things are now starting to progress and we are now preparing to build an attachment on to our house.  There has been a lot of  discussion back and forth on design, location, etc.  The hottest of topics… a garage.

This was the dialogue this morning…

Husband (via steel maritime vessel):  “What about a carport instead of a full walled garage?

Me:  “No way the old man will agree.  He has to wipe down his car every day.  He’ll have a hellava time doing it on days like today.  (We got another foot of slushy snow).

Husband:  “What if we got horses and hitching posts instead?”

Me:  “I’m in!”

Father:  “There’s always a smart ass in the crowd.  We can always say the hell with it altogether and there are no worries.”

A conversation that could have been silly banter back and forth quickly turned sour and negative.  This quick email exchange made me realize that it’s easy to fall prey to negative thinking.  Having negative thoughts can cause a fog where it’s almost impossible to loosen up, have fun, and see the brighter side.

Negative thoughts drain you of energy and keep you from being in the present moment.  The more you give in to your negative thoughts, the stronger they become.  On the contrary, a small positive thought can have the same effect blossoming into a beautiful outcome.

As we all know when we start to have negative thoughts, shifting our focus to something positive is much easier said than done.  But, I have found, it’s the only way I can personally get turned around.  Nothing gets me moving in the right direction more easily than “choosing” to look for the silver lining in my life.  Frankly, I just don’t have time to be or deal with a Nasty Nelly.

I’m not saying everyone should walk around happy all day long, skipping down the street, whistling show tunes.  I’m also not saying that happy thoughts is the cure all for every ailment known to  mankind.  What I am saying is that if we all just lighten up just a little bit we can avoid going down a path that can be potentially painful and unnecessary.

It wasn’t long ago where “I chose” to see the worst in everything.  If I had to pick a phrase my husband would use to describe this time it would be the “duck and cover” period.  He even got the kids in to it.  When he would calmly say, “Hey, I think it’s going to be a full moon tonight” it was code speak for, “Mommy is going to go bug crap crazy soon.  Seek cover.”  To this day if my kids see a full moon I can hear them whisper, “uh oh”.

Fortunately for me, my third child was born, and “I chose” to re-focus on my family and home.  As a way to reinforce my newly acquired outlook I decided to start a blog and began to enjoy the life around me.

Here are some things I do to help overcome negative thoughts, perhaps they’ll work for you, too:

1.  Meditate or do Yoga.

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My favorite is hot yoga.  When the husband is away I do what I can at home, especially  with a little one.  Even listening to meditation music at night before bed does wonders.  I’m blessed I have two older children who, believe it or not, dim the lights, turn on the music, take the baby, and just let me relax.  Who cares if it’s only for 5 minutes before the crying and fighting starts.  5 minutes is better than nothing!  Meditation and yoga helps me stay present – the only moment, the most important moment.

2. Smile.

We all gotta do it.  It really does help change your mood and relieve stress. And, believe it or not, it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown.

3. Surround yourself with positive people.

When you’re stuck in a negative spiral, talk to people who can put things into perspective and won’t feed your negative thinking.  Whether it’s a Facebook group I’m part of, fellow bloggers, or a neighbor, surrounding ones’ self with those who encourage and support me in my goals keeps us positive.

4. Change the tone of your thoughts from negative to positive.

You don’t know how many times my husband calls/emails and tells me his schedule has changed and won’t be home when expected.  The old me would instantly freak out and get mad.  And, yes, perhaps, a few threats of divorce.  What I failed to see is that the change was not his doing.  So, as a family, we make do with the cards we are dealt, and remain thankful for our strong family unit that is fortunate enough to live in a beautiful state.

5.  Don’t play the victim.  You create your life – take responsibility.  

If I am unhappy with a situation I think of what I can do to change it.  We always have the choice to make change happen.

6.  Help Someone.

Every so often I like to take the focus away from me and do something nice for another person.  I admit, though, my husband is much better at this than I am.  When the Nemo blizzard hit I plowed the driveway of an older couple up the street from my home.  I am no expert snow plower… I only took out a small tree, a flower bed… then there was some sod… hmm, I digress.  I did what I could.  In the end, my neighbor was happy(ish), and I felt great about myself.  It’s addictive.  Choose to help someone else.  Random acts of kindness last forever and make us feel great about who we are.

7.  Remember that no one is perfect and let yourself move forward.  

It’s easy to dwell on mistakes.  Learn from them and move forward.  I always remind myself that my mistakes led to where I am today… my family, this home, this present life surrounded by nature and clean air.

8.  Sing/Dance.

I’m an awful dancer, and even worse at singing.  But when I do it I feel great.  Singing to “Call Me Maybe” in the car with my kids, or dancing in front of my baby while she’s in her bouncy seat… it’s an easy way to cleanse, providing quick, and cheap, stress relief.   

9. List five things that you are grateful for right now.

When things are really crazy I stop, breathe, and appreciate what I already have. Here’s my list: My husband, my children, my home, my health, and my new found path in life.  This week I am also especially grateful for electricity.

10. Read/Write.

Whether it’s a book, positive quotes, keeping a journal, or writing a blog.  Reading and writing is an amazing outlet.  Just writing this blog has already made me forget the emails I exchanged with my father this morning.  I was able  to go back and write to him as if nothing had happened, in a normal tone.

In the end… remember this…

Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

This post was featured at the Homestead Barn Hop

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This Week’s Project Download…

Ever have one of those weeks where you feel like nothing was accomplished, yet it was so busy you were relieved it was over?  That was my week.

Between a snow storm, power outages, homework, after school activities, and doctor’s appointments it was a hectic week on the homestead.  I wasn’t able to get many projects started, or even finished for that matter.

The derby car is still a work in progress.  I only have two weeks to get it all done!  A lot of painting and priming to do, and then it’s on to the wheels and axles.

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I had to hollow out a couple eggs for my son’s school project this week.  He is making ‘cascarones’, eggs filled with confetti and broken over a friends head at the completion of Lent.  My son’s class will fill the eggs with birdseed instead and break them over their class tree.  He will enjoy this project so much!  Thanks to YouTube I quickly learned how to blow out the eggs and empty them out.

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A trip to the grocery store for fresh Italian parsley got me cilantro instead (apparently I have no idea what either look like).  I’m not a fan of cilantro so it is in a handy mason jar growing roots.  The cilantro sits nicely on my kitchen window sill, along with the basil, mint, bamboo and aloe so I guess it’s a keeper.

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I did make another batch of elderberry syrup and vanilla extract.  We go through about a 1/2 pint of elderberry syrup a week.  The extra vanilla extract will stay down in the basement until the holidays.  It should be extra yummy by that time, and a gift our neighbors will surely enjoy!

As far as reading…  I’m old school… I still love the feel of the paper in my hands.  This week I didn’t have much time to read so I settled for a Kindle book, “Wait for Me” by Elisabeth Naughton.    Mystery, heartache, joy and, yes, a bit of passion.  I don’t care much for the cover of the ebook though.  The cover gave me the impression the story would be “fifty shades’ish”, but that was not the case.  It was a quick read and I enjoyed the story.

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This week is an exciting one at the homestead.  My husband is making a brief stop home and will be here for a couple of days.  The kids don’t know so they will be extra surprised to see him!  As quickly as he arrives he’ll soon be back out on the steel boat patrolling our ocean.  We take what we can get!

Which reminds me… I better buy some bird seed!

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This Week’s Project Download…

Happy Sunday!  It’s snowing at the homestead this morning.

This week I had one focus… derby car.  We’re slowing making progress!

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I was able to make a quick batch of homemade vanilla extract.

It’s so simple… vodka & vanilla beans.  Just add 6 – 7 vanilla beans (split down the middle and cut in half) to about 4 cups of vodka.  Store for 2 – 3 months and that’s it!  I purchase my vanilla beans from Mountain Rose Herbs.  I paid $23 for 4 oz of vanilla beans (about 25 – 30 long beans).  That is a lot cheaper than my local grocery store.  They had ONE bean in a glass jar for $11!

Pure vanilla extract.  Not that imitation stuff!  And they’ll make fantastic gifts for the holidays!

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This week I also started (and finished!) another book borrowed from my daughter’s teacher.  This was a great book!

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Homemade Elderberry Syrup…

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A few posts ago I wrote about my phobia of germs.  As we were at the height of flu and cold season I really needed to find something to ease my paranoia of the whole family getting sick.  My research led me to elderberries and elderberry syrup.  It is sold at health food and vitamin stores, and most grocery stores.  A small bottle can cost up to $11, and will last my family less than a week.  As you can see, the price can quickly add up.

A fellow high school alum read my post about elderberries and decided to make her own syrup.  I patiently waited for her to post the results of her concoction before I took the leap in to making my own (her syrup turned out great, by the way).

You can find various recipes online. Here is how I made mine:

  • 1/3 cup dried elderberries
  • cinnamon stick
  • 5 cloves
  • Tbsp of fresh chopped ginger
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup wild honey (I used raw honey)

Combine everything except the honey. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until liquid is reduced to half. Strain. Use spoon to squeeze juice out of the berries. Mix in honey. Enjoy!

My family takes one tablespoon every morning.  My kids love this syrup more than the store bought versions.

My love of elderberries continues.  I was lucky to receive two jars of elderberry jelly from my awesome mother-in-law, and recently purchased some local elderberry wine.  Seeing how much I have fallen in love with this berry my husband recently went on one of his crazy splurges.   Wondering what it is?  See the picture below.

A post on this latest project will follow soon…  stay tuned ya’ll!

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