Course Correction and Reboot

Wow. It took MONTHS to post that last post (it sat on the PC while I gathered myself together).

                                               The world turned sideways....
You know how it is when you’re drunk, and the world becomes upside down and sideways, and everything is just too fuzzy to focus on? .....

Then how you have that hangover where you find yourself Zapped and devoid of anything but the urge to puke your guts out?  .....

Then you remember bits and pieces of when you were reeling drunk- and you can formulate enough regrets to last a lifetime (because it has really been a lifetime)?

Well, I’m pretty much through all that now, and on to the next phase. The one where you swear off ever ‘drinking’ again!!!

Yeah, I’m definitely for sure, forever + 4, NEVER getting on that horse again!

I’ll just stay up here on my own high horse and view the world from up here.
Where I am untouchable.

Yeah.  The course-correction-life-reboot phase.  The one where you realize you have been royally knocked on your ARSE and never want to go thru that again, ever!

I am seriously fortunate I came away in one piece. Whew, it was a close call there for far too long.
But it’s Spring now, and my head has cleared up and I can breathe again (if you disregard all the allergy effects).

Point is, I have found that I can walk, and my footing is firmly on the ground.

*I mean it’s Spring by the calendar – with the constant continual weather weirding, who knows what season it really is anymore?

Some days are ‘sunnier’ than others... the way of life (even from up on a horse) is that storm clouds still bring a drenching icy rain (or 16” of snow...  hopefully I don't run into any more of that white shit they told me might be here). LOL

But I’m more OK than I was. I am as OK as the next guy. Maybe even more OK.

I try to avoid the lowest common denominators of life (complexities, you know). But you are only guaranteed your last breath..... your last heartbeat. All there is in life is 'now'. I’m going to make the best of it before I get to the end.

So much of our lives is wasted on what was, what could be, what should be, what might be, what will be if this and that and those, work out in this and that way...

I’ll try to stay in the here and now and not worry about the past -or a future I can't fix or escape or control.... 

No, I’m not always successful, but that is THE HORSES’ FAULT! 

An Enchanted Life

Don't let the title of this post fool you -  life as I know it, is definitely NOT enchanted in some magical ethereal way, it's just that I now live in the Land of Enchantment, aka New Mexico.  

To avoid falling into an abyss, I took a big leap across a huge crevice... and landed here.
I am simply doing what needs to be done, to get to a better place in life.

No more chickens and homesteading dreams -they'll be in the drawer for a while. 

I have to come up with a completely new direction for my new life situation. 
From here, I’m pretty sure it’s all uphill, but at least that means I can’t get any further down. 

Speaking of down, as I write this, I'm looking out over a deep gorge that splits the town in two. The ridges are lined with steep crags that go deep into the gorge. 
A rough trail shaded by pines cuts into it, about halfway down to the narrow gorge floor. (See it there on the right?)

It's breathtaking. The sun rises on the east side and sets on the west, throwing light and shadow across the ridges and rock outcroppings, and it can fill up with a misty fog - or snow, falling so thick you can’t see the other side. 

Even standing in the same place, there is always something new and awesome to see.....
It's all rough, and untamed. 
It's a good place to regain perspective of your place in the world. 
(Speaking from experience, if you live in a fast-paced, crowded, megalopolis -or in southern California- you may not understand you even lost perspective until you get out...)

Anywhere in the southwest is a great place to imagine life back in the 1880's - when they were first trying to tame it. 

Remember when Westerns (movies, television shows- and books).... were dead? 
Like a zombie, they will NEVER die out completely.
                             (And neither will pirates).

‘MUSTANG’ is my first western novel. It is currently languishing, waiting for its final edit.   

Meantime, I’m working to get my "story picturebook" published. I still need a good pirate captain name, but "Cove of the Golden Mist" is good to go (to an agent).

First I have to find agents (or publishing houses) to query...and then hone it directly to them individually.

*A query letter is a sales pitch of sorts, a ONE PAGE descriptive letter with three concise paragraphs outlining the: the hook, the mini-synopsis, and the author’s bio (if you have anything to give you creds). 

I can’t think of anything harder to write than that. (Except maybe a resume’.)

Wannabe authors (like me) have to become expert on writing query letters and professionally submitting them. That means you have to understand how the publishing business works first.

It helps to have an agent - they will approach publishers on your behalf; they make you ‘legit’ in the publishing world. Their representation of you/your work is proof than not just yourself thinks you can write something worth reading.

But to get one (after you’ve written something worth reading), you have to really study up on each individual agent before submitting to them.
Agents specialize in the kinds of books THEY LIKE. 
Or perhaps what the publishing house they work for, wants. Maybe in line with popular trends.
Research takes time, and so does writing out a query that matches each agent.

Over 100 email queries are received by the more popular agents every day. So, you want to see the agents’ "published author list" (called annual "book acquisition lists") to see how busy/popular they are.

And agents have different rules for different things- not just for the query, (length, by e-mail only, what format, etc...) but whether you submit multiple queries to multiple agents and whether or not to tell them if you do... 
Yep, another thing to research! 

I used to think writing was the hard part. It used to be that's all that was required...
Advice on querying, from
"Start with Dear Ms. Agent: and then vomit right into your query letter."

Yeah, it's like that.

I could query directly to a publisher/publishing house. They have staff to read for them first, but they also have what's known as a 'slush pile' - for any queries that don't immediately grab their attention.

But, not all publishers will accept an "unagented" author.
Especially for their first 'breakout' work.

And publishers have a similar set of rules as agents. This is the standard for submissions (from  -children/FAQ):

"Request guidelines (send a self-addressed stamped envelope) or research the publisher to find out the projected turn-around time. If that time has passed and you still haven't heard from the house, you can try the following: send a self-addressed stamped postcard or envelope with a note asking whether or not the manuscript is still under consideration.
... If you receive no reply or if you are told something vague, you are free to send the manuscript elsewhere. It's probably a good idea to alert the publisher that you are withdrawing your manuscript, or that you are now going to submit it to another house."

Then once you vomit, um, submit, you have to wait! Sit on your hands move on to the next writing project.

I’ve heard that releasing your novel is like letting go of the apron strings of your children.
It’s out of your hands at that point, all you can do is see if it will fly on it’s own merits.

Publishers (or agents) might claim to have a” turn-around time” (answer you) of thirty days, but three months is normal and four is not unheard of.

That's a lonnnnnnnnng time to sit on your hands/wring your hands. Maybe that's what starts authors on drinking binges and gave them the reputation of being nervous wrecks.

The entire process takes soooooooo long. 
Life is short, it's better to let it go, refocus on the next thing! (Maybe get out some...)

It's normal to want to hang on to things, but sometimes it's just time to let go.

LET IT GO   (a ballad that's pretty cool)

Oh, and  if you sell a book today, that book will not be on the shelves for at least a year.
You get to keep an advance no matter what - but you will not receive royalties afterward, if that advance doesn't "earn out". If you don’t sell enough to cover it. 
Royalty checks arrive every six months after publication, if it is a popular book and continues selling.

And even though children's book sales are shooting thru the roof these days, the picture book market is really, really, really (seriously) tough.

*Inserting a statement  of children’s book sales STATS.... shows that (as of  2015), children’s book sales were up 12.6%. Some of this growth is the recent boom in coloring books for adults (in the U.S. they are coded as children’s books - but they are supposed to be fixing that to help publishers target the true areas of growth).
Still, print sales of adult fiction and nonfiction have dropped, and even e-books are actually down 14%-- while the juvenile market has grown 40% in the last decade.  

The best part of their info, at least as far as I’m concerned: Kids ages 5-8 “are the most important group in terms of market share“.


 Kristen McLean, director of new business development at Nielsen Book says:
 “Children’s books are holding up the U.S. book market right now."

 Of course, that could be because of the adult coloring books - right?

And there is this to consider - from an interview with children's book agent Andrea Brown:
"To publish a competitive picture book and charge $18 for it, editors want art that is museum quality...”

                                      best attempt -- "museum quality art" -- by me

Some publishers won’t even accept submissions of any children’s book that ISN’T illustrated by the author. Who has time for all that work?!?

Oh, well, someone like this guy I guess... (A FABULOUS PIECE OF WORK!)
But he's a graphic artist for a living. 

And notice he says it would cost $60 to print each book.

I guess that’s why so many kids books now have cartoon style watercolor (what I consider watered-down) illustrations.

A picture book is about a $50,000 investment for a publisher -so you have to ask yourself:
“Is this a $50,000 story?”

That $50,000 covers the author’s advance, the illustrator’s advance, (illustrator usually gets 60% and author 40%, when it comes to picture books.

So, an author should expect to share a great portion of the profit with the illustrator.

Or illustrate it yourself.
With museum quality art.
                      -haha, my first pirate scene (on a canvas tote for a 7 year-old).
Please don't look too closely at the pirate's face, lol! 
Actually, if you did, you'd understand why exactly, I am NOT going to try to illustrate any people in a book! 

Picture books cost a lot because they’re usually hard cover and need art for every page. This isn't exact, but it's relevant knowledge.

My book is NOT a picture book PER SE, but a "STORY PICTUREBOOK", which means a picture on every OTHER page... 

(It is a 2-chapter plot-based heroic quest fantasy-adventure story, just over 6100 words. With illustrations on every other page, it runs 38 pages, written for readers aged 7-11.)
So, a $25k publisher's investment?

I think the time investment to illustrate it is worth it but I've painted a couple of dragons, and many horses, and I don't want to paint pirates, ships, castles, knights... people portraits are just too complex!

Maybe I could do a pirate ship's powder monkey. 

Or the pirate crew's pet tarantula, tortoise, or shrew....

(Slapping forehead like I could've had a V-8. Or maybe a strawberry margarita.... my current painting projects are all roosters!)
NO! I can't just start pirate themed work in the middle of this -  roosters must come first. That's just the way it is.

Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates:
“ love old-fashioned storytelling...everyone wants to find a beautifully crafted book that packs a moral and emotional punch."

InfoTrends data revealed that the juvenile book market is one of the fastest changing segments in the [publishing] industry, as well as one of the most lucrative.

A website, or a blog for it, or the topic, to generate interest and interaction from readers is the least that is expected.
But that takes research, time investment (ON A CONTINUAL BASIS) & talent too.

 ♥ If you’re still reading this, then you must really love me, lol.  And I love you, too. 

Make of all that what you will.

From an article I read about rejection letters:
One writer papered her powder room with rejection letters.
How apropos, lol!

Does it still sound romantic to be a writer?  

The only Enchanted Life in a writers world is the one they create on paper

I bet ya still wannabe one.

Egg in a Nest

an empty Robins egg I found at the edge of the road last week.

I can't express what eggs symbolize for me. Not really.
I love the shape of eggs, the textures of the color on shells (some eggs are matt and some are satiny), and the colors- white, cream, almond, pink-beige, blues, browns, terra-cotta, sea-foam green, olive... even the ash-black eggs of the Cayuga duck. (The eggs start out a matt black and lighten as the season progresses to a very light gray). 
*The ducks are black? but the feathers have a green sheen - like a big beetle in the sun. 

Eggs are all wrapped up in their own package, like a little gift. 
Eggs = life.
They provide a complete protein that will enable you to live. 
Or a chick will hatch from it. 
The chick may lay more eggs or become a luscious dinner (or three...).
Eggs are associated with newness, and beginnings - like Spring time, and Easter. 
Those things are joyful . 

Then there is the nest one finds the eggs in (unless they are duck eggs, which I just learned may be laid about anywhere a duck is walking around).

Nests speak of 'home'; a space of one's own that cocoons some part of life, protecting it from the bigger world. Nests are MADE for that purpose - you can't just feel at home any 'ol place. Or maybe you can if the pieces of it are arranged for your comfort. Just so.
I've watched my hens toss straw around to that purpose, before they lay. (It's pretty funny since the straw pieces just fly over their shoulder).

Home is created by a labor of love, with some amount of passion toward comfort, and need of function, and an eye for making belongings fit together aesthetically. Sometimes it takes many years til you make it fit your life just right

Bowerbirds have THE MOST interesting nest-building technique - the male builds it alone (on the ground), and goes to the limits of decorating it, in order to attract a female! I think that's a hoot! See what you think: 
The Vogelkop Bowerbird: Nature's Great Seducer - BBC video

Then life circumstances or priorities change and the nest needs to be reorganized or refurbished to fit again. As in when the kids leave 'the nest', and you become 'an empty nester'. Or some other transition.

I have found that it takes me a few months to feel at home in a new place, but it might take a whole year to know where everything in a new home is- where everything is in it's BEST place. That is a very very long time! I'm not sure why it takes that long. Maybe it just takes going thru all 4 seasons to know where things need to be.

For some reason I have to learn the weather patterns to feel completely at home. I need to know what to expect and from what direction, and when. To understand what's normal there.
The first thing to know then, is what direction the house sits, which windows catch the sun's arc across the sky. I need to understand it's position to feel oriented.
And it's important to know what direction the winds blow from too. 

I wonder how other's adjust to a new house/environment. 
What finally seals the deal in their ability to call it home? 
Is it just a matter of adjusting to where the light switches are, so you can flip it in the dark?
Is it having a place to put everything in it's place (rather than perpetually stored in a box)?
Give me your thoughts or experience on this!

I have a very small collection of nests, feathers, and most recently the empty Robin's egg, that I found. 
The TINY nest pictured (on top of a larger nest) is one with horse hair woven into it.
I've shared before, how I let my beautiful horse, Cherihuka, return to life within a herd of horses, where he would be happier. My heart wept when I saw how happy he was, getting into the trailer to leave me. He knew. But it was as if he had been my prisoner for a time.

Yet he was the fulfillment of a dream for me. At least for that while... and somewhere on this blog I've described that moment in a lifetime. 

The nest I found with his hair in it, was after he was gone. I  was out one spring day after the winter snows had melted away, and there it was, near his long-empty corral. 
Strands of hair from his black tail and mane were woven throughout the tiny nest. How could I not treasure it, and find joy that a little bird made use of his hair? (Cherihuka's tail was so long it brushed the air of the ground).

I truly believe that animals come to us when we need, them or they need us. 
I suppose the opposite could be true, but it hurts to lose animal friends, for whatever reason. If it doesn't hurt, I think it's safe to say they weren't your friend... and that's ok too; help in a time of need doesn't necessarily mean 'hugs and kisses'.

I also loved having hens to tend. 
Every day discovering a new clutch of eggs in the nest... filling the laying boxes with fresh straw, fragrant hay and dried grass... watching the hens compete for the same nest... Watching the broody hen set on her eggs...learning about the new chicks.... I even loved learning to manage relationships with my roosters. The roosters were my favorites!

I mourned many aspects of them though, from 'culling' extras, to natural death of the old one, to re-homing one.
It's very risky to hatch eggs - because you may end up with 50% roosters. Then what will you do with them? Their lives are in your hands!

Chickens are a wonderful experience with infinite lessons ...and a good amount of entertainment. 

To me, having chickens = food security. 
*It's not true, if you depend on a feed store to maintain a flock of chickens. In the west you need a large patch of garden area and plenty of water. 
But that fact doesn't hamper the impression I hold that chickens equal security.
It's NOT economical to keep them, even year-round layers. It costs way more than buying eggs in a carton. I'm working on the feed aspect, before I get chickens again. I am learning how to successfully garden here first. 
Then I need the space for them and the coop... and finally the hens. And a roo. 
I can hardly stand to wait! 

So, I am painting eggs in nests. I don't know what it is symbolizing, or what it's saying. I just know I need to do it.

I planned out my future kitchen area- the wall colors anyway. And the art for the walls. Even the frames and colors. I was pretty sure I want is some luscious pears and apples, and beautiful eggs in nests. 

EVERYTHING in the future kitchen of my dreams revolves around eggs, and eggs in nests paintings. I even know the salt & pepper shaker, the colors on the walls, even the picture frames that I want.
(America Retold, salt & pepper shakers, on

My most recent egg-in-nest piece, in progress........

Next time... the finished picture, I promise.

O.M.G. it's Mosquito Season! And other things...

I had a conversation with my sis recently. She was suffering with broken air-conditioner syndrome. She's currently living in So. California, where it is now ranging between 103° edging closer to 114°. I couldn't remember it being so hot there, (at least not since the mid-1980's when I had baby twins and a swamp cooler). 
I do remember all my growing-up years, getting my fingers burned on the door handles of cars every summer. But this year, it seems everywhere is either hot... or flooding...

I told her it wasn't so hot here yet... but it's full-blown 'mosquito season', which means the air is made of mosquitoes! 
It's green everywhere here though. Some days the air even seems green. And I am not kidding!
I'm pretty sure the air gets humid from all that greenery just breathing! (This town is a little swampy in places, too).  
So there you go... one more example of what I tend to say a lot: "There's pros and cons to everything, wherever it is that you go/are".
A Foggy Spring Morning in Minnesota 
Lately we’ve been steeped in the gardening and hydroponics how-to’s, (a good series  HEREInnovative organic farmer Jean-Martin Fortier, author of "The Market Gardener" shares his profitable methods for achieving success growing vegetables on a small plot of land.”

Then I found “Raising Heritage Poultry”parts 1-25 (playlist) from Living Web Farms on youtube. 
These are full of useful info when you want to assess individual birds for flock improvement, detect who the true layers are, understand which birds to cull or keep, and the (heritage) breeds you want to get vs the ones you should not...depending upon your climate (for one thing), and lots of other useful information.

Even if you don’t have any heritage breeds. (Oh, and you’ll learn the significance of so-called ‘heritage’ breeds vs what they often have for sale at the hatcheries, even if they are pure bloodlines).
A hatchery-bred Cochin hen with my last batch of a dozen chicks of various breeds from the feed store. 

I didn’t know you can sustain 100 turkeys on 1 acre of pasture (not more than that). 
I never thought about them wanting to ‘roost, but then, turkeys are not something I really think about raising. We don’t really like to eat them. Well, I do like turkey noodle soup after Thanksgiving, but I can live without it. 

I wouldn’t want to raise ugly turkeys, and I’m pretty sure I couldn’t ‘process’ pretty ones! 
There are some really beautiful heritage turkeys! I have too many favorites...
But I'd rather raise geese than turkeys! These are Sepastopol... and yes, geese usually only get 1/2 as big as a turkey, but look at these as 'expensive yard ornaments',! They can possibly be useful as guard dogs...  (not a recommendation just as photo source)

Fortunately, there is a LOT of info in that series about raising heritage CHICKENS. So if you’re a chicken-keeping buff, have a look. (You might also like the ones on raising black soldier flies for feed supplementing). I honestly found it too gross.
Over 340 videos to learn from, covering oh so many topics related to farming, raising things, gardening, ranching, raising livestock...
But there’s got to be something on one of those 340 vids that will enlighten you and help you on your own journey to sustainability! (I’m making an assumption that you have such ideas, since you’re reading this blog).

***Um, if you’re reading this because you’re a family member, come on, it’s time to fess up in the comments section!

I love learning this stuff, even if it’s not applicable to my life right now (or ever).
I want to understand how all the pieces of a farm get put together. In my mind, a farm is like a homestead - with many interlaced parts working together for the whole. The fun part of course is choosing what it is you want to interlace with what... based on what feeds into the other thing, for exactly how that interlacing will be done. 
But you see, you need to know things to figure that out.

Katie, from Valley Pasture Farm wrote a post back in January about homesteading skills – specifically, her “farmgirl goals”. She said:

“The modern-homesteading movement is growing, and with the internet, it is easy to connect with people across the country that are making things from scratch, raising farm animals, and providing for their families in ways similar to their great-grandparents – even in the city! Feeling proud of something you have done with your hands and possibly saving money along the way is a bonus to having these skills to fall back on if ever needed.”

It’s true~ and I’m on the same page already!
Along with her 2016 Farm Girl Goals she listed skills she had already done (that I have not), including these....
  • Learned to drive a skid steer  (Um, a what? I don’t know what a steer skid is!)
  • Make soap (Oh, I have plans..... and recipes and ideas for this! I can’t wait!)
  • Make sour cream, and cream cheese & mozzarella cheese (why haven’t I done this? I keep hearing how easy it is...)
  • Learn to use a pressure canner (when I get one)
  • Tap maple trees & make syrup  (If we ever have the trees...Apparently you have to tap the right kind of maple. 
I watched MIGardener’s instruction vids on tapping- which works on some trees, even if you don’t have true ‘sugar maples’...)
Oh, and he has a great one on making rose water too! Why aren’t we all doing this?
It’s SO EASY. And how wonderful to have a flowery cologne to spray on bed pillows, or laundry fresh from the line, or in the closet (especially for all those heavy coats)!

When I lived in California (for 25 years), and then in Colorado (for a dozen), I never smelled flowering trees in bloom. 
I didn’t catch the scent of the jacarandas, or any of the other myriad landscaping trees. I don’t even think the magnolias sent their lovely lemony scent across the air.I didn’t catch the scent of all those roses growing in Riverside - ‘The City of Roses’, either.
I remember distinctly, putting my nose right up into the blooms all around my neighborhood one summer (I was trying to capture photos at the time), and that was the only way I could smell them. ANY of them.
       *random photo just to break up all the text....

And the landscape trees that line the avenues... nope, no scent wafting through the air! 
We did have ‘pepper’ trees in the school yard playground – those kind of stunk. And the poor choice landscape Carob trees planted down our street, only had blossoms once that I remember. I don’t mean to mislead anyone on how often they bloom, but I didn’t remember their blossoms BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT WORTHY OF REMEMBRANCE. But I can tell you, they sure dropped the heavy hard ugly pods every year! It was a lot of work to rake them up, and the smell was NASTAY!

Some things are worthy of remembrance. 

In Colorado, there were aspen, cedar and pines. I could most definitely smell that wonderful spicy pine scent on a warm breeze, but never smelled any of the sparse wildflowers that might have been blooming, and there were no landscaping trees- except in the big box parking lots – they tended to plant trees that had gorgeous fall leaves.

My first experience of Minnesota’s short and explosive spring season, was completely different. 
Late afternoons I take my dog for a walk. These are my limited outings... and I try to notice every little thing in order to understand this new geography. I want to understand the wildlife habits and migrations- to know when the first Canadian geese will come back, when the fireflies arrive and leave each year, when which butterflies arrive (please take note of my Monarch Butterfly migration tracker to the right...), and, when the mosquitoes arrive (and leave)... and things like that.

Oh I saw a silver fox 2 days ago, down by the garden! Sorry, that was off-topic, but so neat! (It also tells me that having 'city chickens' would be a situation fraught with predation. The hawks and eagles here are as prolific as they were in Colorado. Oh, and skunks too.)

What I wanted to illustrate is the heavenly scents I could follow down the sidewalk here. They would fade off and then be picked up by yet a different flowering tree (or bush). 
I don’t know the names of them yet, but there were blooms cascading and opening up everywhere for exactly 3 weeks – the last 2 weeks of May and the 1st of June. 
Then the blossoms from the walnut trees came floating across the street like giant snowflakes, signaling the end of spring bloom. Done,  just like that!
At least until the next round of blossoming things (early spring, early summer, mid-summer, fall...)
Blossoms are wondrous things, after a long cold gray bare-naked snowy 'smells like cold' SAMENESS of winter.

While they lasted, the smells were like opening up my Grandmother’s solid perfume tins when I was little. The kind she would dab on before church on Sundays.
I really remember the Gardenia. It always offered an overpowering shock to the nostrils, lol. There were others I preferred more, like the Freesia, and the Lilac, and there were others I don’t remember. I am sure the church pews smelled like a church-lady bouquet all week! 
I thought they were overpowering at the time, but now I understand that is exactly how blooms can smell. It was a happy discovery!  

Anyway, getting back onto the previous topic, it was fun to read Katie’s past, present and future goal lists. They made me feel more connected to the REAL FARMGIRL experience because I had done so many of them.

Yay me, I’m not a faker, nor a wannabe farmgirl – I’m IN THE CLUB!
If you’ve been reading my blog over time, you KNOW that’s been kind of an obsession on this side of the screen, lol. 
I'm hoping to hear from more of you out there, who have the same vision!

Some of the things on her exhaustive list I did well enough that I hope to do more of / again (you know, somewhere down the line).
Like make candles. That was a very fun process. And there are sooooo many techniques!
Her list also reminded me of things I’d long forgotten, and of other things too. I feel pretty good about the accomplishments I can claim– like ‘made paper from scratch’, ‘pressed flowers’, and ‘made a doll out of a burlap sack’...
And for sure, I want to add: make rose water. 

*random photo from Pagosa Springs, CO. 20+ years ago

These are a few of the things on her future to-do goal list that I have already done...
  • Start seeds indoors (this spring, my first time! Only 1 in 4 plants lived after transplanting tho’).
  • Make homemade yeast breads (I want to try more whole grains!)
  • Made butter (in a jar and in a real churn, along with all the other family members that got roped into it, lol - instruction that left us all with a lasting memory).
  • Cook on cast iron (see below, but now mainly when baking)
  • Make pie crust from scratch (I LOVE it! Please look at Pinterest for some awesome creative crusts!)
  • Started a compost bin or pile (I think the squirrels are robbing it, lol)
  • Made own candles (now I want to try beeswax dipped candles)
  • Kept bees (hubby took that over, thank goodness...)
  • Went fishing (& gut) & cook your catch (at one time we lived on what we caught, along with potatoes and onions fried up in a pan and served with mustard- for an entire summer! Cooked in a cast-iron pan.)
  • Cook a whole chicken (whole and I also learned how to cut them up... unfortunately all 3 of my girls say they were as traumatized having to learn that technique as going thru a science class dissection – but fortunately they don’t ‘need’ to do it in daily life.)
  • Hemmed a pair of pants (my last pair of jeans – wish I’d had some plaid trim or lace to add!)
  • Made bone broth (chicken and turkey, haven’t yet done beef)
  • Hatch chicks or ducklings (I did ‘raise’ ducklings two different times, does that count?)
  • Learn to knit or crochet (LOL -I made a multi-colored ‘thing’ that was 12’ long by 2’ wide. I can also embroider, and am currently working on that rusty skill – look up “Red Work’).
  • Baked a cake from scratch (don’t wish to repeat this one!)
  • Kept backyard chickens (and did that hard thing: ‘dispatched’ roosters)
  • Planted vegetable gardens (with varying degrees of success)
  • Learned basic first aid & CPR (while in school for Medical Assisting)
  • Dehydrate fruits and strips of meat (it was easy when I lived in the desert heat!)
  • patch a pair of jeans (several times over, but only to get thru to the next paycheck, see notes!)
  • Fixed clothing instead of tossing it (I made some clothes for my kids over the years, and Halloween costumes, then I learned how to revamp clothes for myself-thanks to ideas from Pinterest! And have made doll clothes.)
  • Traded goods or services with a neighbor (eggs are a great barter item- I also traded paintings. One for my first flock of chickens, and one for my beautiful horse...though they would’ve been given to me freely, I wanted to give something in return. Without chickens now, I need to make something else to barter with though. The internet rocks with ideas...)
I WISH I WAS DOING EVERYTHING ON THAT LIST RIGHT NOW (except maybe the bees... lets substitute “tapping maple trees” instead!)

I have divided my goals into “1 thing a week” goals and I schedule them on a calendar (or they won’t happen). It works when I have the materials/supplies. It kind of sucks to be thwarted, but in that case, I can move on to the next thing. Or find something to paint on. 

Or, just watch vids and collect MORE ideas from Pinterest. LOL
*Minnesota - sky over cornfields

I want to say that repairing blue jeans is a quandary and depends on where they need repairs and how often they are washed. You can sew holes together but believe me, it doesn’t last long.I would suggest the easy more durable way: patch them with iron-on patches. I find them unsightly, myself...

But, there are lots of things to MAKE with old jeans, really cute things!
My latest DIY discovery were using old jeans as bags for clothespins!
The cutest thing by far though was a QUILT made out of jeans pockets – making one of those ‘countdown calendars’ for kids (Christmas); you can stuff the pockets with goodies!
(If you’d make one to sell, you could then buy a pair of NEW blue jeans!)

I had six pair saved before we moved here, but I tossed them out instead of packing them up. They weigh a lot and so unfortunately we left a LOT of thoughtfully hoarded useful items behind. It takes years to save those up, so in reality I probably won’t be making an advent calendar out of jeans pockets... unless I gear it for college-age Grandkids.

I’m currently doing what I can with what I have though... and even though I’m not moving thru my list of diverse things I want to try/do, there are ways to get along with what I have and still accomplish ‘production’ –maybe not my intended items or direction... but something is always better than nothing.

If you have an old sweater, and an old summer top- you can make 5 or 6 of these:

I happened to have 100 burlap sacks... so one winter project was Miss Bunny.
Now I’m working on getting her into photos so I can feature her in a little story book. 
Kind of like the things that get sent all around the world getting their photo snapped by people in different locations and then sent on to someone else... It's kind of fun- and has given me something to DO when walking the dog and scoping the neighborhood out!

Sometimes it’s not something that keeps growing in scope, it’s just one tiny thing...

What kinds of old fashioned skills do you practice? 

What would you like to learn / to do?  

On one of those 'at least do one small thing' days ...I finally worked up the ‘umph’ to dismantle the crappy frame... and touch up that mixed media picture – adding better shading all around (and that blue egg doesn’t look so much like it was printed out – which it was!)

But now I won’t cringe when I see it! 
(Truth is that most paintings aren’t done until they’ve been observed on the wall for a while and my eye can detect the flaws.)

Every day I must move forward with at least one thing.... so today, aside from watering the garden, (spraying liberally with ‘OFF” because it’s mosquito season), re-potting the luscious rosemary plants (that I propagated from store-bought in wintertime), bleaching the sinks and the toilet, doing dishes, laundry, manning the office phone, and watching a few more educational videos out of the side of my eye... while writing this thing up... whew... I have started another egg-in-nest painting.

I'm hoping to practice creating a highlighted area as if 'backlit'. Sorta. 
One in that series I’m hoping to one day hang in my future kitchen, but will keep me company now, in this space that contains so many dreams.

If I could impart one idea to you today... it’s this:
Do ONE THING every day that moves you closer in some way, toward the reality (or future) that you dream of. Otherwise, how will you ever get there?

And on that realism, I’ll close. The paintbrush is calling.