Friday, December 15, 2017

Christmassy mood and some heartwarming advice

Before you look at all my beautiful Christmassy holiday-ish pictures, and before you start feeling insecure and compare yourself and feel inadequate because you didn't bake fancy cookies yet, or you didn't knit cute Christmas ornaments, or you don't have a handmade advent calendar or wreath... I want you to know this:

Christmas can be really, really hard.  So many expectations, so much to do, so much to strive for, so much comparison going on, so many pinterest-worthy ideas you will never implement...

I usually don't like Christmas all that much, because of the above-mentioned reasons, and because of all the yucky commercialism associated with it, and because of sad childhood memories involving Christmas in my homeland of Germany.

But since I have three children who happen to be totally into Christmas, I do try to get over myself and decorate the house, endure endless Christmas songs on the radio, and bake cookies.

And this year, I am actually really into this Christmas spirit thing.

I made an advent calendar for the kids, and they take turns opening one little gift every morning.  

We also decorated the tree without squabbling.

And I did knit some pretty cute ornaments this year...

About the whole cookie baking scene: My 12-year old son initiated a cookie baking session, and we all got into it.  We actually got pretty professional when it got to decorating the things, all with a little powdered sugar, sprinkles and cocoa.  I also discovered natural food coloring made with healthy ingredients.

Since the oven was on, I decided to make some Foccacia bread to go along with the sweet stuff.

In terms of decorating, we've been going nuts with paper snowflakes and evergreen wreaths.  

In fact, I filmed tutorials on how to make both of them, and if you want to be a patron of our blog, you can access them here at our Patron-only section of the website (along with my recipe and tutorial for making the best cheese cake you ever had).

I wrote an article on how to prevent and treat cold and flu for our local magazine Grow Northwest, and Steve and I did a Facebook Live about it where we teach how to use our favorite natural remedies for cold and flu.  If you want to watch us (we are pretty fun), you can watch that here.

One of the things I talk about in the article and video is how to make natural cough syrup with onion and honey, and the other is a recipe for a ginger/lemonade/cayenne drink to help your immune system.

And talking of drink, I'm in full swing making lots of Kombucha.  I teach how to do this for the fraction of the cost of buying it here.

Also, we bottled our hard cider we made in the fall.  It's good!  Potent!  Talk about medicine!

My parting words today:  If you have a hard time with Christmas, it's okay.  You are not alone.  If you love Christmas and you think I'm nuts saying anyone could feel conflicting emotions around it, it's okay, too.  I'm happy for you!

For the rest of us, let's just take the good about this holiday season: the love, the light, the giving spirit, the good food, the generosity.

Allow yourself to relax a little.  It doesn't have to be perfect, okay?  Light candles.  Slow down.  Kiss your loved ones.

Sending a huge amount of love to y'all!

PS: If you want to support this blog, please go here and do it.  Thank you!!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The future of this blog and a very exciting opportunity

I'm so grateful for all of you: my readers, fans and students who read my blog and watch my videos from all over the world! You are an awesome tribe!

For over 5 years, I've offered you absolutely free content on my blog and my youtube channel: free tutorials teaching anything you can imagine that's related to homesteading, wholesome living, sustainability, homeschooling and health.

Many mornings, I get up at 5 am, before milking the goats and feeding the pigs, ducks, chickens and (human) kids, so I can write a blog post or edit movie footage we filmed.
Many evenings, I research about a topic my readers want to learn about and then write a tutorial for them.

In other words, plenty of blood, sweat and tears have gone into providing the stuff you all find so inspiring and helpful. And I love doing that for you!

But gosh darn it, wouldn't it be nice to get paid for some of that work so I can do more of it and serve you better!

That's where Patreon comes in, and you, obviously. Because I get lots of emails from many people thanking me for inspiring, teaching and leading them, I know I offer a huge service to many.

So now, there's a way to get access to even more inspiring, educational, fun content from us and help support us by joining our exclusive community!

You can actually support us with as much or as little money as you want. 
It's kind of like pledging for National Public Radio, or participating in a kick starter, for as little as $1 a month. That's $12 a year, which basically is the cost of three lattes.

Your contribution will go first of all to all the fees associated with keeping a website: domain and website hosting, file hosting (I have to pay to host my free ebook I give away as a gift).

When I reach that goal, the money will go to cover a small amount of my time I devote to the blog and youtube channel. So when I stumble out of bed bleary eyed at 5 am, I can say to myself: "Wow, I'm getting paid for this!" Wouldn't that be nice?

Think of it as being an old-fashioned patron for a creator you like. Back in the olden days, people like Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci had patrons who supported their work, so that these genius dudes could devote themselves to their work. Not that I'm Michelangelo or anything...

And if you become a patron, you can request tutorials. What do you want to learn about? What do you want to hear more about? How can I help you?

Depending on how much money you are able to give per month, you get some amazing rewards:

At the $1 a month level, you get:

* Behind the scenes insights, extra special recipes, video tutorials and written how to's

* Be the first one to be notified of future events

At the $5 a month level, you get:

* All of the above

* Monthly, scheduled, live (and recorded) Q and A phone calls with us to ask us anything about homesteading, homeschooling, balancing a full life - everything you want advice about!

At the $10 a month level, you get:

* All of the above

* Monthly, scheduled, live video chats to ask us anything (homesteading, homeschooling, balancing a full life - everything you want advice about!)

* One bar of my super moisturizing goat milk soap

At the $20 a month level, you get:

* All of the above

* A custom-made wooden longbow made by Steve

We already made three awesome video tutorials that only patrons can access (at the $1 level and up).

One is on how to make this Christmas wreath with a coat hanger.

The second one is on how to fold and cut paper snow flakes.
And the third one: how to make the best cheesecake you ever tasted.

We have lots more in the works. We'll teach you how to make root beer, ginger ale and berry wine.

We'll have special recipes for wholesome, tasty food every month.

There'll be seasonally relevant topics every single month - things you can implement in your own life.

And of course, we want to hear from our patrons and take requests. What is it YOU want to learn? What do you want more of?

I can't tell you how excited we are about this!!!

I hope you are, too! Head on over to our Patreon page and become a patron!

Thanks a million!


Corina, Steve, Kai, Luke and Eva

Friday, December 1, 2017

Homesteading in Paradise November 2017 movie - I hope you don't think we're alcoholics

In this month's short "Highlights of our Homesteading Life" movie, you'll see us make, rack and bottle all kinds of home made wine (and root beer).  I promise, we're not alcoholics.

Also,  you'll witness the crazy scary flooding that's been happening here in the Pacific Northwest.

Plus, feast your eyes on the beauty of our first (very early) snowfall.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

How to make roasted, salted almonds - way cheaper and better than store-bought

Don't buy roasted, salted almonds at the store, you hear?  Or any roasted, salted nuts for that matter.  First of all, most of them are super salty.  Second, they are very expensive.  And lastly, do you know how long they've been sitting on the shelf, getting rancid?

No, my friend, you can make these delicious, nutritious, snacky morsels at home for a fraction of the cost.  Do you know how easy and fast it is to toast your own nuts, and to snazz them up with some unique flavor combinations?  Salted nuts with honey, anyone?  Or maybe something more spicy covered in chili powder?

My kids go nuts over these nuts.

Of course, you know that eating almonds is super healthy, right?  Packed with protein, dietary fiber, healthy monounsaturated fats, which can help lower harmful cholesterol levels, almonds also are a great source of Vitamin E, calcium, iron and antioxidants.

So next time you crave something crunchy, throw your nasty potato chips in the trash and whip up a batch of these babies - roasted, salted almonds.  


* 4 1/2 cups of almonds (organic, as always, is best) - or a combination of other nuts, maybe pecans, brazil nuts, cashews
* 1 1/2 Tablespoons hot water
* 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
* 2 Tablespoons olive oil (or sesame oil, or whatever you like)


- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

- Place 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a cup.  

- Pour 1 1/2 Tablespoons hot water over it and stir to dissolve.

- Pour this mixture over the almonds in a bowl and mix it all up well.

- Put parchment paper on a cookie sheet.  If you don't have it, don't use it.  I ran out the other day, and my toasted almonds turned out fine.

- Spread almonds evenly over the cookie sheet.

- Place in the oven and bake for 8 minutes.

- After 8 minutes, take out the cookie sheet, stir the almonds up, then put back in the oven.

- Bake 8 more minutes.

- Take the almonds out, place in a bowl, and stir in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.

At this time, you can be adventurous.  Mix some of the almonds with a little honey.  Dust some others with garlic powder.  Or maybe some lemon pepper or chili powder if you like things spicy?

I told you, this is easy.  

Now go nuts with this.

Get your ingredients ready.
Mix the salted water with the almonds.
After they are toasted fresh out of the oven, slap some olive oil on them.
Then take a picture of them with pretty flowers.  Or maybe just eat them.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

We're on the other side of it now

This was a hell of a week.  First, I got sick and couldn't eat or drink anything for three days, and then our valley flooded, and then my neck went out.  And the worst thing: I couldn't eat any of the Thanksgiving feast, because every time I swallowed, I wanted to pass out from the pain.

Fun, eh?

A week before Thanksgiving, I headed down to Oregon's off-the-grid Breitenbush Hot springs with two of my good friends for some major relaxation time.  The day was awesome: walking in the snow, soaking in the hotsprings, eating amazing homemade food, taking saunas, laughing with my friends.  Then I started getting sick and spent the rest of the time throwing up and sleeping. 

In a place like this, with a warm cabin and no responsibility, that was doable.

But on the eight hour drive back, curled up in the backseat, trying not to throw up on my friend's backseat, something must have happened to my neck, because it started seizing up more and more, until a couple of days later on Thanksgiving morning, I woke up in such tremendous pain that I took some heavy duty painkillers left over from a tooth extraction a year earlier.  At the time, I never used the painkillers prescribed to me, since I have a high threshold of pain tolerance.

I've given birth at home naturally three times, so I can deal with pain.  But that Thursday morning, I wept, holding my head as straight as possible, because I could neither look up, down, right or left.  I can't describe it.

And the worst thing: I couldn't eat the Thanksgiving feast because swallowing every bite felt like a knife was being pushed into the back of my head.

Lovely, I tell you.

But here's the upside to this: Being as sick as I was for a week, my family didn't fall apart.  Why?


1) I am married to the most nurturing, capable man on the planet, and besides rubbing pain ointment on me several times a day, waiting on me hand and foot, and taking excellent care of me, my husband also whipped up the most delicious turkey and green beans (I was able to eat leftovers a couple of days later).

2) We have trained our kids to pull their weight in the kitchen.  So while I did some heavy Lamaze breathing on the sofa for two days, my children loaded and unloaded the dishwasher, scrubbed countless pots and pans, and made food.  Lots of food.  My oldest son's speciality: bread sticks.

You can make this bread after taking my online fermentation workshop.

They also helped Steve deal with all the homemade wine we got brewing.  No, don't worry, they are not allowed to drink it, but they can help rack it.  We have a huge amount of Oregon Grape wine fermenting, and we think it will be excellent.  You know, medicinal.  Especially for women.  Yes, I think I'll reserve it for myself, since I need the medicinal-for-women aspect.

They also made root beer, which, by the way, is excellent.  It costs 25 cents to make a bottle, versus buying it at the store for $3.50 per bottle.

And while all these storms raged inside our own home, there also raged one outside.  The whole Skagit Valley (and beyond) flooded after a huge amount of rain and snow melt with the unusually warm weather.

Houses flooded, backyards were submerged in torrents, roads were impassable, and guard rails washed away.

It started like this in our backyard, and then it never stopped.  Our place doesn't flood because we sit up on a bench, but many other people got into trouble.

The Skagit River on Wednesday, about to flood over the road on Highway 20.

Two days later, after mud and water washed away the guard rails and messed up the highway.

Another highway (Hw 530) got shut down for a while as well because of all the water on the road.  Here, it is receding again.

With all this rain, I always feel bad for the wild animals.  Steve assures me that bitter cold is much harder on them than rain, but still.  Poor dripping deer.

I hope I haven't completely bummed you out with our tales of sickness, floods and pain.

Let me leave you with some heart-warming pictures.  For a day after Breitenbush Hot Springs, my middle child got sick as well.  As he lay on the floor (don't ask me why the floor and not the sofa), our dog Raka came up to him and first put her paw around him in a hug, and when he didn't responded to that, she just sighed, put her head on his back and watched over him.

My little dog Yoda, in the meantime, was curled around my belly, keeping me company.

And one more picture: if not heart-warming, then stomach-warming: a batch of Chevre I made with cow milk, so you have to call it Farmer's cheese, but it does taste like Chevre. It makes the best cheesecake, or herbed soft cheese, or marinated morsels, or lasagne, or anything that calls for cream cheese.

I'll teach a free webinar on how to make this cheese on December 14.  Sign up here.  You should totally come watch it live, and if you can't make it live, I'll send you the replay. But when you're on live, you get to ask me questions!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A little nostalgic... and some darn good comfort food

I'm feeling a little mushy right now. Mushy in the way a caterpillar turns to mush inside of the crysallis before it becomes a butterfly.  At least I hope there's a butterfly at the end of my particular mushy-ness.

I don't know what it is: the dark outside, the pounding rain, listening to sad music right now, maybe the fact that my big webinar launch is over and I have time to breathe... but I'm finding myself nostalgic.

Before I tell you why, let me show you pictures of our backyard when the sun came out briefly the other day.

Things are good, really. It's just that they are changing so much. My oldest kid will turn 15 soon, asking for the car keys tomorrow, off to college in the blink of an eye, and maybe even moving to Germany and cranking out grandkids for me. My middle child just turned into a teenager - enough said.  And my youngest daughter is shooting up in height so fast I can almost watch her bones stretch. She is as tall at 8 as her brother was at 9 years old.

I'm feeling melancholy about not homeschooling them any more. After educating them at home their whole lives, travelling for weeks every year, vagabonding and learning with them, going on hiking adventures whenever we wanted, we are now completely restricted by the school calendar.

On the upside, our kiddos are all thriving at public school. The older boys are being noticed by their teachers for their leadership, attention, respect and motivation.  They love playing basketball with all their new pals.  The little 'un is making lots of friends and getting achievement awards. It's all good. Except... I miss them.

We wake them up at 5:45 am so they can meet the bus at the dark, lonely highway.  They are gone all day and come back at 4 pm.  

Now that they're gone all day, I can put some serious brain power into my own business.  Great things are coming down the pipeline for you.  Just wait.

When the kids come home and it's not too rainy, or on the weekends, I make a big effort to get them outside into nature, because that's where most of our best times are happening.

Come with us, and I'll show you where we go, passing piles of bear poop as we walk:

Although it's cold now, and winter is definitely advancing fast, I pack up snacks, maybe a hard cider or two for Steve and me, and drag them to the creek, where we watch the sun disappear behind mountain ranges covered with Cedar, Doug Fir and Hemlock.

Steve and I sit in the wet, cold sand, chatting and drinking our ciders, while Kai, Luke and Eva run around like maniacs with the dog, chasing each other, throwing sand and sticks, skipping rocks and skinning their knees like kids are supposed to.

I watch with nostalgia, missing this, knowing that these moments are numbered.

Remember? The whole growing up thing and asking for car keys...

So there you have it.  I'm disoriented, my kids are growing up, and the rainy season is upon us.

How about some inspiration now?  I have two things for you:

One: Steve is starting to make traditional wooden bows again, and we sell them in his online Etsy store "Return of the Primitive".

They are beautiful, incredibly well made, and popular. So if you want to give a bow to someone as a Christmas present, get it now before it's gone.

The second inspiration has to do with food.  I want to point you to some of my favorite recipes, just because I think YOU need some comfort, too, not just me, this mushy, gushy, sentimental Mama.  Click below to read a blog post I wrote last year, with some of my absolute favorite, healthy, tasty recipes:

Butternut Squash Galette, Grain-free-refined-sugar free Sweet Potato Cake, and Vegetarian Lasagne

Be well and stay in touch!  What are you feeling mushy about?