Homesteading, Modern Day Homestead, Modern Day Homesteading

Year in Review

A lot can happen in a year.

That’s one of the most cliche sayings around, but it’s true. A lot CAN happen in just 365 days. The topic of this post is vague on purpose. I have a lot of ground to cover with this one. And I hope you take away something, if anything, at least remotely interesting.

Ah, January. What a month. It’s cold. Bitterly cold. Christmas is over. People are miserable. Flu season is nearing its peak. And, somewhere in this seemingly reprehensible month is also my birthday. Did I mention the part where Christmas was over? And then my birthday? Haha. Laugh with me, I need it.

While the gift giving is scarce (and not needed, in the slightest), one thing I have always done is watched me some Julie Andrews on repeat. It’s my thing to do. While the world watches the Sound of Music sing-a-long during the holidays, I save it and watch it incessantly during my birthday time… time? Week? Month? I don’t get a whole month, I recognize that… just telling you how much I am into this activity. Again, it’s my thing (a dear friend gave me the record for Christmas and my heart may explode). Maybe a few of my favorite things… see what I did there?

And speaking of favorite things (much like Oprah– did you see her inspiring speech at the Golden Globes? Maybe it was the wine, but I was inspired and clapping at the end with a tear or two running down my cheek, not going to lie), I wanted to share some of mine from the past year. We just started this blog last May. And in that time, I feel I have grown so much into the person I have always wanted to be (barf, even more cliche). And every so often, I keep surprising myself…

Soap. I have made two seemingly well-to-do batches of soap (both cold/hot processed as in we tried going cold, made an error, added or emulsified some more and became hot processed in order to test it out and not burn skin). One set was strictly for my daughter and the other was to be Christmas presents, but they’re still curing (still very soft). Very delicate and soft. Nice light wintery pine scent. I hope to see where they are in a few months. And then not lose them (or use them) by next Christmas.

Lip balm. I can’t believe I infused coconut oil with coffee and then made lip balm with some oils, butters, and bees wax. And it turned out so well. But, only well for winter months. That stuff is going to leak everywhere once the temperatures rise.

Oils. I haven’t made my own, yet. Santa, I am still waiting on a still… but, I have learned so much and sound like a freak to many. Me: “I know I sound crazy, but when I start to feel sick, I take thyme, oregano, and lemon oil.” Person I’m talking to: ((stares at me like I sound crazy)). Don’t worry, I do recognize the need for modern medicine (we went to the ER three times last year for both my daughter and husband). I just like the prevention part, as well, if I can help it ((takes sip of apple cider vinegar)).

Deodorant. Now, while I haven’t perfected my own, I have found two amazing over-the-counter…er… the web deodorant alternatives. One is Native deodorant. It’s the best out there without having to touch my armpits. And the other is the scent of samadhi. It smells divine. Hippie like. And it works rather well for being powdered herbs and magic.

Almond milk. It’s so easy to make and yet people look at you like a freak if you tell them. And that’s okay, too. But just try it one time and flavor with maple syrup or dates and some vanilla. And you’ll want to bottle it and sell it yourself!

Egg Nog. This. This right here. My freaking pride and joy. Yes, it’s real eggs. Yes, they are raw. No, no one got sick. No, salmonella was not present. Yes, it was ducking delicious. Yes, ducking. Because we used duck eggs.

  • Literally, whip a few egg yolks together, add sugar (a half of a cup for about 3 or 4 eggs, it’s best if you start out with less sugar and add accordingly– I personally liked less sugar), add milk and cream, or half and half, or any combination you choose (about a cup– again, you can control the thickness here). Add nutmeg. Add my secret weapon, vanilla. The real stuff. Whip the egg whites until they get slightly stiff peak-like (it takes forever with duck eggs). Fold it into the mixture. Add bourbon if you are so inclined. That’s it. Refrigerate it. Find your best dickie and serve it in a moose mug.
    • Note: While I won’t encourage you to eat raw eggs, do that at your own risk, I will say that duck eggs run far less of a risk of salmonella than chicken eggs. Ducks as a whole get less sick and are prone to less disease. Duck eggs are perfect for egg nog as it is an eggier egg, bringing forth a noggier nog… if you are into that sort of thing. If you get beyond the raw egg part, it’s the best thing in the world. You can slightly heat up the egg, much like you would hollandaise sauce in a double broiler situation, but if not done properly you actually run the risk any potential bacteria to thrive. Also, if you use lemon juice (cold way only or it will curdle) and alcohol, bye bye bacteria! The Victorians let this stuff ferment before they served it. Can you imagine?

Ducks! No. I lied on the prior item. These are my pride and joys. I love these birds. I have a broader sense of how our food is treated and more to be thankful for. I also have no idea how birds survive in the winter without human intervention. If it weren’t for the run from Amazon, the warming light and the electric dog food bowl we purchased from a local Rural King, our ducks would be so unhappy and probably would have had some level of frost bite.


  • Note: I am not kidding on the electric food bowl for dogs (the chicken ones are for indoor use only and we were desperate to find them something without bringing water into their little house). It was the only thing we could find, knowing that ducks like to splash around regardless of how cold it is outside, that wouldn’t electrocute them. It also is the only way they still enjoy eating their fruit and veggie scraps. They rarely forage in the snow. And our female refuses to lay eggs on super cold days. Those ducks are amazing, AMAZING creatures! I wish I had them sooner, although I do find it taxing having a toddler and ducks. It proves to be tricky at times. Very tricky. 

In 2018, I have more I would like to conquer. I want to try my hand at making duck broth, and mayonnaise out of duck eggs. Ooo, and some duck eggs Benedict. I would also like to add two more loving ducks to our duck collection. Khaki Campbells are great for eggs, but I would love a duck that would follow us around instead of dash in the other direction… I’m thinking Peking. I’d love to finalize what I call an “edible landscape” for Ferngully.  While we grow many things, we have most of it contained to a pot or garden bed. I’d like to expand that and intermittently grow an array of plants that serve purpose as well as add to the landscape (maybe even begin to clear the hillside and make way for a small orchard). I’d also like to add a lovely little area for al fresco dining. It will make the Ferngully feasts that more amazing. Lastly, I’d love to learn more about bees before spring. I may try my hand at it this year. If not, definitely next. And finally, I’d love to continue to conquer my real-life work job. It’s a fantastic place.

I now have a job that gives me more at home flexibility. As in, it’s 12 minutes from home. And while it is a pay cut, I realize how invaluable time is. There is something to be said about being home before 5 pm everyday. More time to be present. And in the Present. However, the house is a mess now that we are back to 5 days a week. So it goes.

On a side note: I saw a t-shirt that read, “January Woman. The soul of a unicorn. The fire of a lioness. The heart of a hippie. The mouth of a sailor.” A shirt that describes me so well! Ha! Can you tell that I am an Aquarius? 😉

Happy Birthday!

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