The Great Gravy Debacle or How to Make a GIANT Mess in the Kitchen

Sometimes on the homestead, we do things we know we shouldn’t and we pay the price. For example, I had thrown some chicken in the Crock Pot with some broth and was going to use the broth for gravy since I was making mashed potatoes to go with it (and green beans from the garden and homemade Italian bread).
I reserved 1/2 a cup of broth to use with 1/4 cup flour for thickening. I put the broth in the fridge to cool it a bit, so when I added the flour and shook it up, it didn’t explode all over. Well, I heard my husband pull in the driveway and I started rushing because traffic had been extra heavy resulting in a 2 hour commute and he was starving. Big mistake.
The broth was still too warm resulting in the feared explosion that hit me in the eye (good thing I wear glasses), my face, ears, hair, shirt, pots and pans hanging on the soffit, utensils in the mini-Lazy Susan, windows, walls, etc.
Homestead hubby walks in from the garage into the laundry room to hear me say, “You probably don’t want to come in here right now.” No one was hurt except maybe the wooden loon on the windowsill.
The evening continued on that way as I did the dishes. I kept splashing and spilling water all over the place. My shirt was soaked. The floor was soaked. I was flustered and decided to give up for a while and go outside and play in the garden again.
The hubby came out a short time later. I think he likes to laugh at me while I talk to the plants. Especially, when I see a teeny tiny pepper growing. It’s like talking to a baby. You have to use that high-pitched voice, “Oh my goodness, honey! Look at this baby! Isn’t it adorable? It’s so tiny!” He just nods and smiles. I’m sure he has the funny farm on speed dial “just in case”.
In spite of the gravy debacle, dinner was delicious. My husband was full and happy and fell asleep in his favorite chair watching yet another car restoration show. Life is messy but good on this wannabe homestead.


Fighting the Funk

It has been quite some time since I’ve written anything. Truthfully, I have been in a pretty big funk and everything in general has been a tremendous effort. For the past couple of weeks, it has been pretty bad resulting in me sleeping much more than I should, which is what I do to avoid the depression.

I have hesitated to write about this out of fear of judgment from other homesteaders. I play out the conversations they will have about me, “A REAL homesteader would not do that!” or “REAL homesteaders would never let that happen. They’d still get things done.” or “How can she even consider herself a homesteader? She doesn’t even have herself together. How does she expect to manage?” Then, I thought that maybe, just maybe, there were other homesteaders out there who have been where I am now and gotten through it. Maybe they will have advice or encouragement.

I look at my garden and cannot believe how much it still gives us  despite being so neglected. I go out there every day and pull weeds for a bit, but some days I just don’t have the energy to water like I should and it’s looking pretty dry. The pickling cucumbers suffered for it and that is no one’s fault but mine. The green beans are still popping out all over and the peppers are finally coming in. We are going to have so many cayenne peppers and I’m just thrilled.

The fact that my garden is so forgiving amazes me. Despite my neglect, it still provides food, which brings me so much joy. Every new blossom, every new pepper, tomato, bean, or onion lights up my soul and pushes the black clouds just a little farther away.

In my heart, I know I’m not the only one who has battled or continues to battle this. I’m learning how to fight harder. I’ve made some changes that are helping tremendously. I am learning to count my blessings a lot more and am amazed at how blessed I truly am. I have an amazing family that is so supportive and helpful and I have the most incredible friends who I love so very much.

The clouds are slowly but surely lifting. My joy is returning. My energy is replenishing. Life is blessed on this wannabe homestead!

Monday, You Poor Thing

As usual, social media is abuzz with anti-Monday memes. I used to be part of that Monday-Haters Club. It was just what one “did”. I mean, everyone hates Monday, so why shouldn’t I? After a series of losses, my beloved Grammy, my job, my husband’s job, I realized why I had to leave that club: it kept me in a rut.

Ask me what I would do for another day with my Grammy. I would live a lifetime of Mondays just to see her again. A lifetime of Mondays to be able to call her up and hear her answer the phone, “Andrist,” which was short for Andrist Masonry, the business she ran with Grampy. A lifetime of Mondays to kiss her cheek and tell her how much I love her.

While so many people hate Monday because it means a return to work, I am thankful for my off-the-homestead job which is far from steady. Some weeks I have no Monday. Just seven days of no work. No work = no paycheck. Now that school is starting, I will have work in my second year as a substitute teacher.

I know it has become socially acceptable to despise Monday, but we can change that. We can become grateful. Grateful for another day on earth. Grateful for another opportunity to say “I love you.” Grateful for another chance. Grateful. Grateful. Grateful.

So, Monday-Haters Club, again I decline membership. I’ve already renewed my membership in the Grateful for Every Day Club. You are more than welcome to join. It’s free.


Patience and Faith

It’s been a rough summer here on the wannabe homestead. We started with so much rain I thought we would float away. The ground was so saturated that a tree completely uprooted and fell on the house. We are still dealing with the insurance company to get it repaired.

The garden has been less than productive with the exception of the green beans. There have been so many blossoms on the cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes but they were falling off because they were rotten due to too much rain.

Then, yesterday I did my usual check and there it was! Do you see it? We have a cucumber! When I went to show my husband after he got home from work, we found another!

As I continued my rounds, here is what I found:

I was clapping my hands like a child! There are finally cayenne and Anaheim chili peppers! We have several more tomatoes! I was, and still am, giddy!

My friends laugh at me when I get like this. It’s hard for them to understand the sheer ecstasy I feel watching the garden grow from seed to food. That’s okay. This life is not for everyone.

As I get ready to head out to the garden for my morning rounds, I remember the importance of patience and faith.

A week ago, I was considering tearing it all out and turning it under. I was ready to accept the failure, but something in my heart told me to be patient and have faith. I was rewarded and am so thankful.

So, the next time you feel like giving up and accepting failure, be patient and have faith. You just might be surprised.

The Amish are on to Something

I just finished reading Amish Values for Your Family by Suzanne Woods Fisher. I have now read all of her non-fiction books on the Amish. I started off with Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World and I was hooked. I followed up with Amish Proverbs and finished with the above. Fascinated doesn’t even begin to describe what I feel.

I came away from this with a new-found respect and admiration for the Amish people. They are not the backward, technology-hating sect I once believed they were. They do not shun technology but are skeptical of it and rightfully so. The elders of a group will get together and evaluate the potential future impact of new technology and decide to ban it or allow it. They banned the automobile because they believed it would make it too easy to get far away from the community, which is the center of Amish life. The horse and buggy limits that distance. They banned the telephone within the home because they believed it would discourage face-to-face visits, another important aspect of Amish life. Looking at our society now, they were right on both decisions. The automobile has allowed people to spread out all over the country, separating families and friends by sometimes thousands of miles. The telephone has allowed us to “visit” without actually sitting across the table from one another. The internet has allowed us to sit behind keyboards and say things to each other without having to see the hurt our words may cause.

The Amish also stress the importance of community. They are always there to help at a moment’s notice. Whether it is for a birth, a death, a barn raising, or any other need, the Amish rally around their own (and sometimes even the “English” people nearby). This is because their community relationships are built on strong foundations of love,faith, and respect.

There is no room for competition among the Amish. There is no jealousy or backstabbing. If there are those feelings, they work to remove them. One example of this is a story related in Amish Peace where a community member wants to start a business and the elders inform him that instead of what he wanted to do, he should open a buggy-repair business because there was only one, which indicated a need for another. Because this man valued the needs of his community above his own, he complied. He knew nothing about buggy repair, so he went to the man who owned the only business. That man taught him everything he knew. Willingly and without hesitation. Would that happen in the “English” (non-Amish) world? I have to think not.

Another story in Amish Values for Your Family talks of a Trivial Pursuit game of men against women. There was no heckling. There was only compliments on correct answers to tough questions and encouragement. How often does that happen at your friendly game night? I can’t recall it ever happening here. Our game nights usually ended in hurt feelings and ugly words.

The Amish are also fully self-supporting. They take no government assistance, have no medical insurance, and no life insurance. They take care of their own and somehow manage to do just fine. They still visit doctors and hospitals when necessary, but pay for it out of pocket. Sometimes, communities will conduct fundraisers to help someone with medical bills. Through it all, they live simply and happily.

The Amish do not go to school past eighth grade yet they manage to run highly successful cottage industries. Their children are usually educated in one-room schoolhouses within their communities.

They also place a high value on unconditional forgiveness. Their ability to forgive is incredible. They will be the first to tell you that they are far from perfect at it, but it is something they work very hard on. How many of us could or would willingly and unconditionally forgive someone who caused us great harm? One a person publicly asks for forgiveness, usually at church, it is immediately given and the issue is never spoken of again. The person is restored to the place they were at prior to the sin or infraction.

The Amish are one of the fastest, if not the the fastest, growing communities in the United States. After Rumspringa, a term used to describe the period when sixteen to twenty-one year-olds are allowed to experience life outside of the Amish world, eighty-five to ninety percent of young people become baptized into the Amish church. That’s right. Only ten to fifteen percent do not join the church. No other religious group can claim such high numbers.

Their rates of depression are almost non-existent. Their divorce rate is essentially zero. What is about them? Is it their rock-solid faith? Is it their focus on living simply? Is it both? I would love to spend a day (or much longer) with them and try to figure it out. Whatever it is, they are clearly on to something.