The Past 20 Months

I’ve been trying to figure out what the “next chapter” of this blog would be, while I also figure out how to balance all of the aspects of our lives with a child in it. I realized it will be what it always is, a mix of homesteading and humor, just with a kid involved now. The truth is I don’t post his face a whole lot on Instagram, so it probably won’t be posted on here full-out much either. It’s a personal choice and absolutely no judgement on individuals who choose differently.

Here’s where we are now, 20 months after welcoming an incredible, super fun, sweet, intelligent and energetic boy into our world.

  • We have a child who will be referenced as “E” here on the blog. So, that’s huge.
  • The dogs are now seniors. Winnie is ten years old and Rosie will be ten in April. While it’s difficult watching them age, they are still up to the same antics they’ve always been up to, and it both makes me mad and warms my heart.
  • We still homestead as much as we can. We’re getting back into the swing of things now that E is a bit older.
  • I still have a full-time career in the communications field. As always, I save the writing/grammar police for my job and don’t worry about it too much on here.
  • I still run Green Barn Soaps on a primarily seasonal (October-December) basis. The website is up year-round, and I do ship year-round, but at this time I very rarely make product before August.
  • To decompress I do yoga and run; though I’m just getting back into running. Yoga has been my saving grace for years at this point and I love it. I particularly love going to studios because I do what they tell me, relax, retain nothing, and go home and forget how to do any of it. Just how I want it.
  • Also, to decompress, I sew kids clothing for friends/family and the occasional custom order when I have time.
  • I’m in my final year of graduate school and expect to graduate December 2018. You have no idea (or maybe you do) just how relieving this is.
  • The other big change since I left writing here is that while we dabbled in it before, we now eat a primarily whole-foods, plant-based diet. This has meant removing oils from our house, reducing salt, reducing intake of highly processed foods, and no animal products with the exception of a very rare occasion and even then it’s a super minimal amount. That might sound restrictive, but it leaves a bountiful amount of food left in the world to enjoy including grains, flours, egg-free pastas, roots, squashes, beans, lentils, peas, fruits, veggies, etc. Yes, our child is raised this way, we aren’t nutrient deficient, and friends and family leave our house full with warm bellies. We feel, for our family, a WFPB diet is best for us and our needs. Recipe posts in the past that contain animal product will stay up, but new recipes will not contain animal products. I think it is important for me to genuinely say with respect that our choice to do a WFPB diet is not an attack on other food choices of other individuals and their families. This is just our journey. If you’d like to learn more about a WFPB diet, is a great place to start.



Photo courtesy of Lucharelle Photography

Oscar and the Cedar’s

“Oscar and the Cedar’s” sounds like a band that might open for Mumford and Son’s, but I am much more literal that that. I’m heading back to this blog after a month hiatus, with an update on the cedar we sawed from my mother-in-laws property this winter, which you can read more about here. Oscar, our sawmill, is making an appearance this round.

DSC_0992I should start by saying that on the day we skid the trees out of the woods, I not only forgot my good camera, but I had neither my long-gone-missing point and shoot (found on the Fourth of July in my tackle box from the previous year) or my cellphone camera since my phone had long since lost all battery power. This is not a complaint in the least, more just to let you know that I have absolutely zero photos of the skidding process (getting the trees out of the woods) with our logging winch and tractor, loading the logs onto the trailer to bring home, or driving the logs over two hours home. I indeed totally failed on this front, but I had a great weekend so that counts for something.

That aside, this cedar is going to be the planks for our porch. It’s pretty fun being able to take a tree from standing to finished decking without any third party, or second party. Each board is five-quarter by six rough. The finished size will be approximately one by five for each deck plank. Here are some shots of Andy processing the cedar we brought back home.

DSC_1103 DSC_0979 DSC_0988 DSC_0993 DSC_0995 DSC_0998 DSC_1010 DSC_1019 DSC_1021 DSC_1095 DSC_1093 DSC_1062 DSC_1097 DSC_1108 DSC_1100 DSC_1024 DSC_1023 DSC_0986 DSC_1110Andy has laughed and told me I haven’t covered this nearly as intensively as I should be, and he’s totally right. I may never live down completely not getting any footage of the initial skidding.  We will likely be cutting, winching and skidding a few more out though so I should be able to redeem myself.

Until I have that chance, maybe I can distract you with photos of cute dogs in a field. Here’s to hoping.

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Mountain Meditation

Happy Earth Day! In the spirit of focusing on our environment and all it provides, I thought I would share our weekend away into the natural beauty of Maine.

There are times when I just need to be in the mountains. Being in the mountains and having some alone time with my camera is even better. This past weekend, after a huge event at work, I encouraged Andy to take Friday off with me so we could go to his Mom’s place in western Maine. This is the view from one part of her yard (albeit zoomed in). Not too shabby. While we celebrated the weekend with family, I decided to steal away some alone time with my camera and the stream that runs through my mother in laws property.

DSC_9194Even the dogs, who are normally glued to my side, were busy romping in the woods to their hearts content.

DSC_9312For a solid 30 minutes it was just me, my camera and a mountain stream.

DSC_9267I had been wanting to try some slower shutter speed shots of the water for some time. I used my 55-200mm lens which I love, but can admittedly be a bit tough because it doesn’t have vibration reduction. Overall though it was a fun learning experiment with both the manual use of my camera, testing my steadiness and using rocks as stabilizers, and also a good test on how close I can put my camera to the water without actually ruining it.

DSC_9210While I decided to only save a couple of the photos, I thought I’d share them with you guys.

DSC_9206DSC_9214DSC_9254These next two are my favorite. When I was editing I laughed because the first photo below looks like a large waterfall with a felled tree above it. It’s the scale of the forest behind that makes you realize it’s actually quite small. Perspective is everything.

DSC_9229 DSC_9234After I decided to head back up the hill, my sister in law and her husband were just heading up the mountain themselves to go skiing. I figured I’d hunker down and take some shots of them. Rosie decided to hang out with me. By “decided to hang out with me” I mean “made her sit with me instead of chasing Jessie and Gabe down the mountain.”

DSC_9378DSC_9401While all of this was going on, Andy, his mom and his brother were cutting cedar for our porch…but that’s for Thursdays post.

DSC_9499It was a nice weekend, and it was fun to be back in the snow for a few days since we have none left at our house. Champ, the girls doggie cousin, summed it up pretty nicely: sometimes you just need a weekend away to play, relax and to lay down while you eat snow.



A Dogs Ode To Snow

Watching your dogs age isn’t easy, but you have to push that back and enjoy the now—just like they are. It’s thrilling to still have them at an age (6 & 6 1/2) where they act like puppies and are silly, even if Winnie is starting to get some joint issues from running so much and so hard as a puppy (thankfully no hip dysplasia or anything), including how much they love snow. Rosie shows no signs of slowing down, and Winnie—just as she did as a puppy—still absolutely loves riding on the snowmobile.

I thought you all might enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them. With that said it’s snowing as I’m writing this, for perhaps one of the last times before real spring weather hits, so I’m going to head out with the ladies again for a romp.

 DSC_8896-01 DSC_8888-01 DSC_8866-01 DSC_8920-01 DSC_8916-01 DSC_8912-01Here’s to enjoying the now, and not wishing our time away even if that wishing is for better weather.




Treading It Up

There are also a lot of other dogs in our lives between our two, our friends, and our families. When it came to our new stairs we knew there would be scratches and marks, but let’s just say we weren’t expecting total destruction, at least not so soon.

StairTreads_January (4)It turns out dogs don’t get great grip going down the stairs so it looks like they are running in place a la Wiley Coyote, or they get nervous and fly down them so fast while digging in the entire way. While our girls have become used to the stairs finally, and we’ve taught them how to go down gently, the damage had been done.

StairTreads_January (2)Andy kept asking me to look into options to protect the stairs going forward, but permanent carpet in my house is a huge zero. We had a permanent runner before renovations and the amount of hair/dirt, etc. I found underneath of it when we ripped it up was enough for me to swear them off. Also, I LOVE the feeling of wood stairs below my feet. I do not love however the damage being done to the stairs.

StairTreads_January (3)After looking online and discussing it more, we landed on carpet stair treads that can more or less be held in place with a piece of anti-slip mat beneath the carpet. They fit the bill in three ways:

  1. They aren’t permanent. This means no holes to patch down the line when we refinish the treads.
  2. They are easily cleaned. All I need to do it pick them up, vacuum under them, shake the rugs off, and toss them in the washer and dryer.
  3. They’ll give the dogs security. Our dogs have really appreciated the other two area rugs we’ve put up at the top of the stairs and on the landing. Winnie has definitely felt more comfortable walking around in these areas.

About two months ago I started doing some research knowing I wanted at least partially natural fiber, and a neutral light color. I looked around and found a couple different options, and while nice they were ultimately too expensive. My favorite on Amazon, would have been just right but I couldn’t stomach paying almost $32.00 a tread. It would have come out to $320.00 not including the non-slip mat, tax and shipping. No thanks.

I had put the tread issue on the back burner until Andy asked about it again recently. I gave researching a second shot for something both appropriate in material, color and budget and came across these babies on Sierra Trading Post from Colonial Mills.  Wool blend? Check. Good price? Check. Oatmeal color? Check. Rounded edges? Eh, we’ll live with them. I also picked up the adhesive kit which I might just buy an extra roll of because it is seriously the best adhesive I’ve ever used. Overall the entire cost, including a discount code they had on the website, came to $153 and change.

Earlier this week this box showed up at my house.

StairTreads_January (1)With these inside.

StairTreads_January (5)When it came to installation it might have been the absolute easiest project I’ve ever done in my life. I needed one tool – a box knife.

First, I figured out where I wanted each tread to go and since our treads are the same exact size the whole way up  and we don’t have to deal with a tapering staircase like some people do when they install a runner. I decided to center them after deciding I didn’t like them closer to the wall.

Second, I measured out the adhesive which is sticky on one side and a protective sheet on the other. You can either cut it before you stick it down on your tread, or do what I did and stick it down on the tread while on the roll. Once I had it where I wanted it I simply pulled slightly up and slashed it right below where it came off the roll (so I wouldn’t cut into the next layer on the roll). Note that I did not cut on the stair itself, that would have left a gash in staircase.

StairTreads_January (6)Once it was all laid down I peeled the plastic off, and then laid the carpet tread on top of it. I made sure to press down all over the tread to get good contact and make it stick well.

StairTreads_January (7)

StairTreads_January (9)The dogs are particularly huge fans of them. Winnie and Rosie have realized they don’t have to worry about grip and have been going up and down them very easily.

StairTreads_January (10)StairTreads_January (11)There has been one persistent case of stair related stress these treads won’t fix – Primrose trying to steal whatever Winnie is carrying in her mouth while descending the stairs. What a brat. A brat I love very much and who might be starting to think her name is, “LEAVE IT.”

StairTreads_January (12)Overall we’ve had the treads installed for a few days now. So far we’re really happy with them. They haven’t shifted a bit despite multiple trips up and down by two adults and two dogs. I even used some of the extra awesome adhesive backing to keep the runner at the top of the stairs in place and it too hasn’t budged which surprised me.

As for cleaning, these treads are meant to be spot cleaned but hah, in our house they’ll be thrown in the washer at some point. I’m sure of it. As for design, they fit the bill for what they are. They might not be the most fashion forward decor item you can put up but sometimes function edges out style and truthfully, we really don’t mind them.