How We’re Moving Forward After A Year Of Setbacks: Our Goals for 2019


2018 was a hard year. We struggled and faced so many setbacks and hardships. But we're moving forward with big goals in 2019, because that's how winning is done. #newyearsresolutions #2019resolutions #howtosurvivehardtimes #goalsetting #2019goalsetting“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”
― Edith Lovejoy Pierce

I’m going to come right out and say it: 2018 was pretty much the worst year of our lives.

I’m not complaining, and I’m still very grateful for all of the good things I have in my life: A sweet, kind, smart, beautiful daughter; A hard-working, devoted husband; A beautiful new home that provides us with warmth and a roof over our heads; Family and friends who we love and who love us in return; The ability to pursue passions like homesteading and creating and building a career as a writer, and of course so much more.

But if I’m being brutally honest, 2018 was a rollercoaster with some of the lowest lows we have ever experienced (and we’ve been through some shit, pardon my French).

Topping the list for us this year was when we lost our son at 24 weeks gestation. Then we lost another baby at 8 weeks (just days after our first son was due). And finally, my husband lost his job 10 days before Christmas which really put the cherry on top.

The year started well enough, with all the hope that new years naturally bring.

At the turn of 2018, I was dedicated to focusing on making my own health and wellbeing a priority, and I made a resolution to cultivate peace in all that I did throughout the year.

While I can honestly say that getting into a mindset of peace and calm really did help me get through the many challenges we’ve faced this year, I found it almost impossible to really take care of myself and my family the way I had intended to last January. Life just seemed to take every opportunity to knock us down this year, and so my strategy by the end of the year has turned to one of survival; To do whatever we need to do to push forward and live to see another day.

But that’s just the thing: We’re still here. We still have air in our lungs and every day, every minute, every second we are given the gift of a fresh start and another chance to get things right. So that’s what we’re going to do this year. But first, let me tell you my story.

 

It All Started Last January

Just a few weeks into the new year we found out I was pregnant. We were elated! We’d been trying to get pregnant again ever since our daughter was born and were so excited to be adding to our family and giving her a sibling. But something seemed wrong from the very beginning.

2018 was a hard year. We struggled and faced so many setbacks and hardships. But we're moving forward with big goals in 2019, because that's how winning is done. #newyearsresolutions #2019resolutions #howtosurvivehardtimes #goalsetting #2019goalsetting

To start, I had horrible morning sickness with our son, which I didn’t experience with our daughter. I was overly emotional and I was worried from day one that something would go wrong. I also got really sick about 5 different times with everything imaginable between January and April, thanks in part to working full time as a teacher during that period.

In the end, I had a chest cough that was so relentless and so awful in April that I ended separating some of my ribs from my spine from coughing so hard. It was the worst physical pain I have ever experienced, hands down. Worse than childbirth.

So my midwife ordered me onto sick leave from work so that I could recover and keep myself and our baby healthy, and I had to go for multiple sessions with a chiropractor to realign my back. I was almost 5 months pregnant at this time.

Meanwhile we were also in the process of buying and renovating our first home, and money was flying out of our pockets left, right and centre, so when I had to pay back half of my paycheque that I had already earned and been paid out from the last month I worked because I had to leave before the end of the school year, well let’s just say that’s where our money troubles started to snowball.

But money wasn’t our focus at that moment in time, because while all of this was happening, I was on my way for my 19-week ultrasound and was just focused on the baby growing in my belly and excited to find out the gender. We were really hoping for a boy!

But things took a turn for the worse very quickly after that ultrasound in May.

I got a call from my midwife letting me know that our baby’s legs were crossed so we were unable to determine the gender. Worse than that, she said the ultrasound technician couldn’t get a clear view of all four limbs, and while it could be nothing, it could also be something quite serious.

I went in for blood tests to test for genetic abnormalities the same day and then I sat home biting my nails while I waited for the results.

Finally I got a phone call from my midwife letting me know that all my blood tests came back normal. I was relieved to say the least, but I asked for another ultrasound anyway because I still wanted to know the gender.

Luckily I did get another ultrasound done, because we quickly learned that our baby was missing a large chunk of his lower spine and back and this had affected all of his development in the lower half all of his body, resulting in clubbed feet and complete paralyzation below the waist.

The perinatal specialist we saw couldn’t even diagnose our little one because he said that he had never seen a case quite like ours in his 30+ years working in the field. He did, however, make sure we knew very clearly what we were up against. There was no good outcome from this point forward, and after many, many tears and phone calls to family and friends, we decided the best, most compassionate thing to do was to terminate the pregnancy and spare our child a lifetime of physical and emotional pain and suffering.

I gave birth to our stillborn son on June 15. We named him Phoenix Rain: Phoenix to rise from the ashes and rain for the sadness that washed over us when we lost him.

2018 was a hard year. We struggled and faced so many setbacks and hardships. But we're moving forward with big goals in 2019, because that's how winning is done. #newyearsresolutions #2019resolutions #howtosurvivehardtimes #goalsetting #2019goalsetting

Read More: On Losing A Child – A Birth Story About Love, Loss & A Heartbreaking Choice

I was sure at this time that we had endured the worst that 2018 had to throw at us, but the challenges only continued from there.

As we worked to convert our garage at our new home into a laneway house to rent out to help out with the mortgage (a condition of our mortgage, which was now eating up the better part of our single income), we were met with red tape and thousands of dollars of extra expenses at every turn.

The building was literally one centimetre too close to the edge of the property which cost us extra to sort out and have it resurveyed. And we were literally one minute too far from the fire department, which is now going to cost us a few thousand dollars extra to re-side the building in fireproof siding.

These are just two of many examples, but let’s just say that we still haven’t finished that laneway house and we are way over budget because of doing it the legal way and getting all the right permits (which we’ve quickly learned is why most people around here build illegally if they’re not planing on selling). But we’re still determined to do it the right way, so here we are.

 

Related: Home & Garden Tour 2018: Our 1/4-Acre Rancher

 

Then, back in early September, we got the happy news that we were pregnant again! I felt in my heart that it was meant to be, and I even convinced myself that Phoenix was truly an angel who had been holding space for this new baby until it was ready to be conceived.

All somehow felt right with the world again, and we pushed forward with a positive attitude despite the trying year we had had up until then. Until…

In early October, four days after Phoenix was due, I miscarried and lost that baby too.

I took the miscarriage pretty hard after having already lost a baby just months before. So my husband encouraged me to go for counselling. After all, his work insurance plan covered it.

I found a counselling service that sounded great. They incorporated yoga and meditation into their counselling, and this seemed like just what I needed. And while it was great while it lasted, I was shocked when, after making it very clear multiple times that I needed a receipt to submit to insurance (which was guaranteed on their website), my counsellor turned out to not be registered and I was now on the hook for $400 worth of counselling fees that I couldn’t afford.

After a week of fighting and getting all of my legal documents in a row, the owner admitted their fault and refunded our money. It was a struggle, but I was happy to finally get a win after experiencing so much loss and financial headaches throughout this year.

And then, the next day, my husband went off to work in the morning as he usually did and returned home just 45 minutes later with news that he had been let go.

A new manager had started at the hardware store where he worked in October and had already let a number of people go. Still, we were shocked and dismayed that he was being let go just 10 days before Christmas with no other reason from the manager other than that he is “going in a different direction.”

Ryan managed three departments at the store and brought in over a million dollars for the company in the last year alone. He had started in one department and was promoted to managing all three (flooring, kitchens and appliances) about a year ago. He also received a good raise when that happened which is what allowed me to stay home with my daughter after our son died and work on building my blog and -hopefully someday soon- my business. So being let go for seemingly no reason right before what was already a difficult Christmas was definitely a shock, and being given only two weeks of severance pay means that as of yesterday (Dec. 28) we have no more steady income coming in.

Luckily, thanks to his vacation pay, we have a few thousand dollars to help us get by until the end of February if we are extremely careful and don’t stray from our very strict budget at all, but needless to say we are ending 2018 on a stressful note and we are definitely ready for this year to be over.

 

All Dark Clouds Have A Silver Lining

As hard as this past year has been though, and as terrifyingly uncertain as our future seems right now, we are hopeful and excited and, most importantly, more determined than ever to make 2019 the year that we rise above the hardships and achieve all of our goals.

Because if this year has taught me anything, it’s that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

I actually have a quote written on my whiteboard in my office. I can’t remember who said it, but it says that “storms make trees take deeper roots.” I have it written in big, bold writing to remind myself to stand tall and grounded, well-rooted but also flexible like a tree in a storm. And if we can just make it through, the storm will eventually pass.

 

Related: Thoughts On the Seasons Of Life

 

I’ve also been visualizing wave after wave headed straight for me, and then I dive under the water as the waves barrel over top of me, the way surfers do when they’re trying to get past the surf. This, some focused breathing and remembering my original resolution to cultivate peace in 2018 has really been helping me to keep going even when all seems hopeless. I know that if I just keep pushing forward, even when I’m exhausted and want to give up, eventually I’ll be able to relax in calmer waters. Things will start to get easier, eventually. They just have to if we work hard enough, right? Isn’t that the American dream we all believe in?

But right now we’re in the storm, and there seem to be rogue waves heading straight for us every time we pop up long enough to catch our breath. And so we have a choice to make: Keep fighting or give up and drown.

On the bright side, all of the challenges we’ve faced together have actually brought Ryan and I closer together, and they’ve forced us to become stronger and more resourceful and self-reliant because we’ve had to be.

I’m also more grateful than ever for our daughter and for our close family and friends who have been there to support us (because we all need love and community, especially during hard times).

2018 was a hard year. We struggled and faced so many setbacks and hardships. But we're moving forward with big goals in 2019, because that's how winning is done. #newyearsresolutions #2019resolutions #howtosurvivehardtimes #goalsetting #2019goalsetting

And finally, I’m grateful for for all of the good things in our life, including all of the food and provisions we put up earlier in the year that are helping to carry us through hard times. In fact, in some ways I feel like I’ve been preparing for this exact situation we’ve found ourselves in, and I’m so thankful now more than ever that we do things like grow and put up food to last us into the winter, or to sit on our shelves for emergencies just like this. It certainly helps to ease the financial burden when you’ve got a well-stocked pantry!

And, at the end of the day, I know that despite everything else, sticking together as a family is the most important thing.

That being said, I am determined to keep a roof -this roof- over our heads this year if it’s the last thing we do. We’ve worked too hard to get this home and to turn it into a beautiful space. It’s been our sanctuary through all of the turmoil and quite honestly, I’ll be damned if we don’t hold onto it with everything we’ve got.

 

Where We Go From Here

The misfortunes of 2018 have lit a fire under our butts that is going to make us unstoppable in 2019, because now our backs are against a wall and we have no choice but to rise above it all. Well, I guess we could lay down and give up…

I could quit writing and blogging about homesteading (something that has yet to pay a full-time income, but that motivates me to get up and work hard every single day because I LOVE what I’m doing). I could go back to my underpaid, under-appreciated teacher job or back to waitressing at a local bar to make ends meet.

Ryan could find a mediocre job in our little town that helps us pay the bills (nothing that compares to what he was doing is even available at the moment).

I could go forward fearing future pregnancies and continuing to put my own health and wellbeing on the back burner as I continue to go through my days anxious, exhausted, gaining weight and feeling more and more uncomfortable as the stress and overwhelm continues to mount.

And then we could lose our jobs again and any sense of security we had left would be gone once more.

But no. Not this time. We are more determined than ever to hit the ground running in 2019, and to push forward no matter what life throws at us. We want more than ever to become as self-sufficient as possible, and that means we want to earn our own way through life through doing work that truly inspires us and that we can’t get fired, laid off or put on sick leave from, because we’ve both decided to go into business for ourselves.

Isn’t that the strange truth? Back in the day, you got a job working for someone else because there was more security in that than there was working for yourself. Today it seems the opposite is true in many cases.

So one of our big, HUGE goals for 2019 is to forge ahead with our own businesses. I’ve always loved writing and have dreamed of writing books since I was a little girl, so I’ve decided there’s no better time than now to grab that dream and go for it. I’ve already got a plan for my first ebook and will be going hard to get it together over the next month or so. I’ve scheduled time every single day to work on it, because I owe it to myself to see that goal through.

And I want to build this little blog into a full-time income-earning business. I did the numbers yesterday, and I lost about $1,500 building and running this blog last year. But I’m going into my third year now and I feel momentum picking up. Yes, this year will be different. This is the year I make this little blog of mine help to pay our bills, because I simply won’t accept the alternative. Not when this is what I feel called so deeply to do.

I know in my heart that I was called to write. Why? I’m not completely sure of that yet. But I know I was gifted with this ability so that I could use it for good, and I’m going to do that any way that I can. Even if it’s just sharing recipes and helping others to learn new skills and hoping that maybe someday someone else will benefit from the wisdom I’m able to share about the big life lessons I’ve learned along the way.

As for Ryan, he’s felt under-appreciated working for other people for a long time, and this is finally the push he needed to go out on his own. He’s already got a business plan to start a handyman service (something he’s wanted to do for years), and with the skill set and natural talent he has in his hands, the tools in his work shed and the business know-how from years working as a manager in the building industry, he has all the right stuff to make it work.

Still, it’s terrifying to be without an income while we push forward with our dreams with no guarantee we’ll make enough to cover our mortgage payments by the time our savings run out. But the upside to weathering the storms that we have is that we know we are strong and have what it takes to make our dreams come true if we just dig in and stay laser focused. And to trust our journey, because I truly do believe that everything happens for a reason, and that this is but a chapter in the story of our lives.

That being said, I decided to make some other HUGE goals for 2019, because this is the year we go big or go home!

 

Other Goals for 2019

Aside from writing a book, turning my humble little blog into a full time business, getting through the hard times and keeping up with our mortgage payments AND paying off all of our non-mortgage debt by December 2019, aside from all those lofty, perhaps even overambitious goals, I have also made a goal of losing 50 pounds and getting back down to my pre-baby weight.

I’ve struggled with my weight ever since our first daughter was born, but the pregnancies, losses and stress of 2018 really did a number on how I feel in my own skin. I’m tired, overweight and some days, quite honestly, I feel like I’m 100 years old. I can definitely see and feel the toll that the last few years (2018 in particular) have taken on my physical body, and since I’m determined not to allow life’s misfortunes to rob me of my spirit, I’ve decided I’m not going to let them rob me of my health either.

 

Related: Cultivating Peace & Other New Year’s Resolutions

 

As you probably know, I’m a huge advocate of eating real, whole, healthy, from-scratch organic foods, so I can’t exactly cut out many processed foods (although I’m not perfect and I do grab a burger or a processed freezer meal here and there). But I do have a weak spot for dairy, sugar and carbs that I need to get in check this coming year.

My focus when it comes to food is to choose more fruits and veggies and less breads, sweets and creamy sauces. Of course, with our financial situation, I also need to keep our grocery bill to a minimum, so I’ll be focusing on frugal but healthy meals heading into the new year (with a few little indulgences here and there;)

Fitness is where the real changes need to be made. I haven’t committed to a regular fitness routine since I was seeing a personal trainer and was in the best shape ever before we got married over 4 years ago. Life got busy immediately after we tied the knot and blocking out time every week to exercise ceased to be a priority.

But I know that it’s important now more than ever to get back into shape and work hard to shed fat, gain muscle and strengthen my mind and body through the discipline of scheduled workouts and sticking to a healthy eating plan. Not only is this the year that we’ve decided we are going to crush our goals no matter what, but with so little security in our lives and no extended health insurance through an employer anymore, the last thing we need is to get sick or injure. That could be the nail in our coffin! So it’s important to stay on top of our health right now.

As we forge ahead, determined to make our own way and to continue down the path of self-sufficiency, I recognize that taking full responsibility for my own health and fitness is perhaps the most important thing I can do to become more self-reliant and better able to care for my family. That and creating a source of income out of a business I’ve had the privilege to build with my own hands from the ground up; One that I can never get let go from because I am my own boss. Ha!

And that’s what I say to life. Ha! You thought you had us. You knocked us to our knees more than once this year alone, and you may very well knock us down again. But every time we get knocked down, we will get back up again and work even harder.

That famous quote from Rocky keeps playing over and over again in my head:

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

This is the year we will win. This is the year we redefine what it means to be self-sufficient in today’s world. This is the year we create a life we love on our own terms. This is the year that we say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! 

Yes, we have lofty, terrifyingly huge goals for 2019. But as one blogger I follow often says, “if your goals don’t scare you, they’re probably not big enough.”

I hope that this is the year that you set big scary goals for yourself too. I hope that, if nothing else, my words have inspired you to get up and commit to keep moving forward, no matter how hard you get hit, no matter how many times you get knocked down.

This is the year we get up, dust ourselves off and keep moving forward no matter what. Because that’s how winning is done.

Will you join me?

What are your goals for the new year? I’d love to hear them. Maybe we even have similar goals! Drop me a note in the comments to let me know what you’re working towards in 2019.

Wishing you health, wealth and new beginnings,

I'm a modern homesteader on a mission to transform our house into a safe, sustainable, self-reliant sanctuary and to help you create, grow and live a good life by transforming your house into a thriving homestead too!

 

 

 

 


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8 Comments

  1. Danni

    Hi Anna,

    I’ve just found your site (via EBA) and am really loving it.

    This post especially really hit home for me. I’ve lost 2 of my own and know the pain that brings and 2019 for us was just as painful as that, albeit in different ways. The big takeout for me was knowing that although it’s hard, keeping optimistic and looking after ourselves (especially as women and mothers) is vitally important to our own well-being, as well as that of the families we support. I actually just summed that up when talking about our last (and not very fabulous 2019 year).

    If you are interested it would be great if you had a chance to check it out here: http://www.thedailyauthentic.com/why-you-need-to-be-the-most-important-person-in-your-life/

    I truly hope your 2020 year brings you and your family every success (and also for me!).

    Looking forward to learning more from you!

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Hi Danni,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your babies:( I agree though: attitude is everything. We can’t control everything or choose everything that happens to us, but we can choose how to react and how to move forward.

      All the best for 2020. I’ll definitely check out your blog:)

      Anna

      Reply
  2. Angharad

    Awe girl, I’m so sorry for your families loss. Sending you love & best of luck for this years goals from New Zealand. Angharad xx

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thanks Angharad,,

      We’re just going through a rough patch. I know things will get better soon (I hope!) It can be difficult and disheartening when you work really hard and still it seems that everything falls apart. But I believe with all my being that everything happens for a reason and I have faith that things will all work out and then we’ll look back at this time in our lives and actually be thankful for what came out of it.

      All the best,
      Anna

      Reply
  3. Jane Allan

    Anna you and Ryan really had a horrid 2018. I am praying that 2019 is so much better for you.
    I understand how the miscarriage can bring you down. You were carrying a little life and then you’re not. You weren’t showing that you were pregnant and many people just dont understand your grief. You didn’t have anything to hold to grieve over. I have never had to make the decision you made for little Pheonix but I have had miscarriages. I was able to get pregnant very easily but I found it hard to keep the baby. I know the trepidation that you feel when you first get pregnant again. I wish you a wonderful pregnancy in 2019, with a precious child waiting to be welcomed by a Mummy, Daddy and big sister, who will love it completely.

    May 2019 bring you joy and happiness. May it bring you success in your business goal and endeavours. Much love to you all.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thank you for your kind words. Yes, I’m some ways, the miscarriage was even harder than losing our son before. At least when we lost him we had lots of support and family and nurses and doctors around. When I miscarried I was all alone aside from my husband, who came home from work just as it was happening. It has been a trying year to say the least, but I know that this too shall pass.

      To a better 2019 for all of us. It’s time.

      Anna

      Reply
  4. Jess

    As usual, your post hits close to home.
    My heart breaks for you, Ana, but it also sings your praises. You are strong and resilient.
    Our goals this year are to save save save. My husband, too, wants to go into business for himself, however, we have the luxury of planning for it. We are also working to grow our food production in our yard. Pending we don’t have any bonkers medical issues this year (last years was breaking up a feral cat fight with my dogs which sent me to the hospital for rabies treatment, resulting in close to 3k in medical bills.) We will be putting in shade beds, fruit trees, and a Pizza Garden for my little guy. I’ll also be getting a rhubarb plant from a friend so I can drown myself in rhubarb-a-que sauce 😉 and just in general being more self sufficient and budget conscious.
    My personal goals are to focus more on myself. I’ve struggled with anxiety since Jack was born(right around the time your little girl was born) and I struggle to love myself. I’ve gained so much weight and it just keeps going. Makes it hard.
    I’d also like to re-learn to sew! And maybe crochet…but I’ve been saying that for the last 2 years so….
    Happy new year ana! Good riddance to 2018!
    Xox
    Jess

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Awe, thanks Jess. You know, I actually feel that the crappy things that happen to us in life are actually blessings. They’re the things that force us to learn and grow and show ourselves what we’re made of. I’m actually really truly grateful for everything we’ve been through because I believe with all of my being that it’s part of a bigger story that’s just not finished yet. We still get to decide how it ends.
      That is so awesome that you’ve got such ambitious goals for the new year! I always say that if you shoot for the moon, even if you kiss you’ll land among the stars.
      Set the bar high. It’s definitely not easy (especially with young children and debt and extra weight… I know all about all of those things). But it is possible. And that’s all that matters.
      All the best for 2019.
      Anna

      Reply

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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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For Angi Schneider of @schneiderpeeps, the answer is pressure canning, hands-down.

The fact is, there are many ways to preserve food, and each of them has its place and serves its purpose. But the only preservation method that allows you to preserve full meals that are ready to eat straight out of the jar is pressure canning.

Water bath canning allows you to preserve high acid foods like fruits, pickles, jams and jellies.

Fermenting adds beneficial bacteria, increases the nutritional value and adds a distinct (and acquired) flavour to foods.

Dehydrating and freeze drying are great long term storage preservation methods, and are a great option for preppers, hunters or anyone who needs to carry their food preps with them.

Pressure canning, on the other hand, allows you to have jars of food ready to serve and eat at a moment’s notice. It’s great to hand on hand during an emergency, but it also serves as practical, every day food that you and your family will actually eat.

Whether it’s a busy weeknight and you have no time to cook, you’ve got unexpected company or you find yourself in the middle of an emergency or power outage, having jars of healthy, homemade food –including full meals– on hand always comes in handy.

Angi and I sat down to chat about the many benefits of pressure canning, and about her brand new book Pressure Canning For Beginners And Beyond in an interview for the fall issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine (out now).

To read the full interview and/or to check out Angi’s new cookbook (which includes some seriously drool-worthy canning recipes like Chicken Marsala, Beef Street Tacos, Maple Ginger Glazed Carrots and French Onion Soup), click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to www.modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to subscribe and get your first issue free!

For a limited time, you can also become a member and get full access to our entire library of issues for just $7.99/year. Link in bio to get all the goods:)

Seriously though… What’s your favourite food preservation method and why? (There are no wrong answers!)

Let me know in the comments below!👇
...

For the past week or so, I’ve been sharing a new morning routine I've been committing to...

It's the simple act of lighting a candle to start each day.

In this age of unnatural blue light emanating from our screens, fluorescent and even LED lighting from overhead lights and lamps, it can be quite a shock to the system to go from sleeping in complete darkness to flipping on the bright lights and checking email on your smartphone first thing in the a.m.

By simply lighting a candle and allowing your eyes a minute or two to adjust before turning on the lights or checking a screen, you have the power to create a much calmer and more peaceful start to your day, and that has lasting effects that can and will stay with you all day long.

I know I’m not the only one who can benefit from this simple but powerful morning ritual, so I decided to start a challenge to encourage others to do the same.

If you'd like to participate, grab a candle and a pack of matches (or a lighter) and commit to lighting a candle to start your day for as many days as you can during the month of October.

Every time you share a photo of your candle/morning ritual on Instagram posts or stories and tag me @thehouseandhomestead and use the hashtag #candlelitmorning, you'll be entered to win a naturally-scented candle of your choice from Plant Therapy!

This being said, I know that good quality candles aren't exactly cheap, but you can save a tone of money by learning how to make your own!

If you're interested in learning how to make your own all-natural soy candles with essential oils at home, I'm currently offering my DIY Scented Soy Candles Masterclass for FREE as part of the Handmade Holiday Giveaway, hosted by my friend and fellow Vancouver Islander Diana Bouchard of @wanderinghoofranch

Other limited-time freebies include:

* Exclusive homestead holiday recipes
* Free knitting and crochet patterns
* Free homemade cocktail mixers course
* Cute printable gift tags and more!

Click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead to check out everything that's included in the Handmade Holiday Giveaway.

And don't forget to join in the #candlelitmorning challenge right here on Instagram!
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Sometimes I don’t post photos because I can’t think of a brilliant, thought-provoking caption to go with each one.

But then again, sometimes a photo speaks for itself:)

This weekend reminded me how important it is to be present, both with ourselves and with the ones we love. This weekend I was reminded of what I’m truly grateful for. 🧡

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving!

#givethanks #staypresent #familyiseverything
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Drop a ❤️ below 👇 if you can relate!

A professional teacher turned homeschooling mom of two, Allyson Speake was spinning her wheels trying to keep up with her family’s fast-paced modern lifestyle until she made the intentional decision to slow down and quit her job as a teacher to stay home and educate her children at home. Nowadays she helps others do the same!

If you’ve ever stumbled across her Instagram page @tanglewoodhollow, you’ve likely been met with beautiful photos of children playing and exploring in the woods, nature crafts, treasures and toadstools galore. Her passion for slow, seasonal living and nature-based education shows in everything she posts!

But her inspiring Instagram page is just a glimpse into what she has to offer other homeschoolers, teachers, parents and guardians from all walks of life who want to bring a little more seasonal magic into their children’s lives, and who know that the best classroom is the great outdoors.

I sat down with her for the latest issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine and she shared some real nuggets of wisdom for anyone with young children (not just homeschoolers!)

In the interview, Allyson shares that “on average three-year-olds can identify 100 different brand logos, and that increases to 300-400 by age 10.” If that’s not reason enough to turn off the TV and get outside, I don’t know what is!

“Whatever children are exposed to, they are able to soak it up like sponges, but they aren’t getting that exposure to nature,” she says.

Catch the full interview in the Fall issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine. Subscribe for free to read your first issue free or become a member to get this issue plus access to our entire library of past issues for just $7.99/year!

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to www.modernhomesteadingmagazine.com

#homeschool #homeschooling #naturebasedlearning #naturebasededucation #wildandfreechildren #freerangekids
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🛠 “Even the simplest tools can empower people to do great things.”
- Biz Stone

The other day I asked you what the most valuable asset is on your homestead, and I shared that mine is my dear husband @thehumblehandyman

Everyone who knows him knows he can build and repair just about anything. It’s a true talent, but he’s also spent years learning and sharpening his skills.

But talent and skills are only half of the equation; You’ve gotta have the right tools for the job!

As homesteaders, our main mission in life is to become more self-sufficient, and that extends to building and repairing things at home. But whether you’re an expert handyman or a fledgling fixer-upper, you can't do the job if you don't have the right tools on hand.

If you’re just starting out and wondering what tools to invest in, The Humble Handyman and I put together a list of 15 essential tools that everyone should have on hand for minor repairs and odd jobs around the home (and homestead), along with tips on how to actually use each one.

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to check it out or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/15-essential-tools-home-toolkit/

Which of these tools do you already have?

Which ones are next on your list to invest in??

What are your go-to tools to use around your house and homestead??? (Duct tape totally counts 😉)

Let me know in the comments below! 👇

#toolsofthetrade #toolkit #diy #handyman
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🪓 What’s the most valuable asset on your homestead?

For me, it’s this guy right here.

He was only away for two weeks, but that’s all the time it took for me to realize how much he brings to the table, and how valuable it is to have a live-in handyman on a homestead!

When our burner crapped out on our stove in the middle of a canning project last week, I had no idea how to fix it and was ready to buy a brand new stove, but luckily Ryan came home with all of his tools just a couple days later and fixed it for a fraction of the cost of buying a new stove.

When we were getting chickens, he built our chicken coop. When I wanted to put in new garden beds, he built them. Deck? Done! Firewood? Chopped! Bathroom? Remodelled! Car broken down? Fixed! (Did I mention he’s a trained mechanic too?)

If you don’t have your own handyman at home though, you can still learn the skills you need to become more self-sufficient when it comes to tackling new building projects and repairing and maintaining things at home.

I’m thrilled to announce that @thehumblehandyman now has his own regular feature in each issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, where he’ll share simple steps you can take to increase your self-sufficiency by learning how to DIY all sorts of projects around your house and homestead.

In his debut feature, he shares 5 simple steps you can take this fall to help you prepare your house and homestead for the coming winter, all of which could save you time, money and effort during the season of rest.

Check out the full article in the Fall issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, available now!

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to www.modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to subscribe and read your first issue free, or become a member and get this issue plus unlimited access to all past issues for just $7.99/year!

I’d love to know what handyman/DIY skills or projects you’d like to see featured in future issues. Leave a comment below👇and let me know!

#handyman #homesteading #diy #handymanhusband #skills #woodworking #jackofalltrades #selfsufficiency #selfsufficient #selfsufficientliving #sustainableliving #homesteadersofinstagram
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Did you know you can now buy pumpkin spice ramen noodles, pumpkin spice Pringles, pumpkin spice macaroni and cheese, pumpkin spice sausages and even pumpkin spice dog treats?

It’s not exactly a stretch to say that we’ve taken the whole pumpkin spice craze a little bit too far.

But our obsession with pumpkin spice speaks to something much deeper than the flavour itself. (Let’s be honest, pumpkin spice ramen noodles sound gag-worthy).

The reason we tend to love pumpkin spice so much is because it triggers feelings of comfort and nostalgia; Memories of days spent with family at the pumpkin patch or around the Thanksgiving table. In short, pumpkin spice triggers our emotions as much as it tantalizes our taste buds.

But let’s be real, pumpkin spice Pringles ain’t it.

If you’re feeling all the fall vibes and craving a little pumpkin spice in your life right now, stick to the tried and true pumpkin spice latte, but ditch the expensive (and highly processed) commercial PSLs and make your own pumpkin spice syrup (with real pumpkin!) at home for a fraction of the cost! Keep it on hand to add to your coffees, teas and steamed milk beverages all Autumn long.

It’s super easy to make and will put pumpkin spice macaroni squarely in its place (and keep it there!)

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to grab the recipe or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/homemade-pumpkin-spice-syrup/

#pumpkinspice #psl #pumpkinspicelatte #fallvibes #fromscratch
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I’ve been feeling pulled to slow down and retreat into my home lately; To turn off the news and social media and focus on the tangible things like lighting the wood stove, preserving the mountains of food still coming out of the garden, and slowly stirring a pot of soup as it cooks on the stovetop.

With everything that’s going on in the world right now, I know I’m not the only one feeling pulled toward hearth and home. This is a heavy time for all of us. No one person is meant to bear the weight of the world on their shoulders, but I've heard from so many people lately who say that's exactly how they've been feeling.

If you read my post from a few days ago, you know I’ve been feeling like that too, but luckily, I've learned how to soothe my soul in difficult times.

And so that's what I've been doing lately...

I've been focusing on the tangible things that I can control, like cooking meals and preserving food.

I've been lingering a little longer in the morning, taking time to sit by the river or sip my coffee in front of the wood stove before hurrying on with my day.

And I've been making a conscious effort to turn off the noise of the outside world and give my family and my own emotional health my full attention.

If you've also been feeling that pull to turn off all of the noise and immerse yourself in more nourishing, productive activities, I want to tell you about a collection of resources that will help you do just that.

The Simple Living Collective’s Autumn Issue includes seasonal guides, tutorials, e-books, recipes and more to help you slow down and reconnect with what matters this season.

* Learn how to forage for healing herbs and how to make your own natural medicine

* Find new ways to celebrate old traditions, and create new seasonal traditions with your family

* Discover new seasonal recipes and crafts to do on your own or with your kids

And much more.

If this sounds like it’s exactly what you're in need of right now, check out the Simple Living Collective and get the Autumn Issue for just $25. But this issue is only available until tomorrow, so don't wait…

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to grab it now before it disappears 🍁
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I laid in bed the other night and couldn’t sleep.

I know that probably doesn’t sound out of the ordinary, especially considering the collective stress we’ve all been through over the past year and a half. But if I’m being totally honest, I’ve done a pretty good job of not letting it get to me.

I used to have really bad anxiety, and I made a conscious effort to learn how to manage it in (mostly) healthy, natural ways. I practice a lot of gratitude every day, and overall I’ve learned to deal with stress, anxiety and negative thoughts pretty well.

Lately though, I’ve been feeling the weight of it all. Aside from dealing with personal issues like our ongoing infertility/pregnancy loss journey and the every day stresses we all face, the bigger things have been feeling bigger and heavier lately; The mandates, the politics, the pushback, the arguments and attacks online, the divisiveness, and the seemingly never-ending pandemic that every single one of us is still dealing with in some capacity.

I’ve been seeing more and more calls to “choose a side.” I’ve witnessed my own close friends on both sides of the debate hurling insults at each other, defending their ground, and refusing to listen to each other’s valid points and concerns.

I’ve even witnessed a widening crack in the homesteading community, despite the fact that so many of our core values and beliefs align and are unique to us.

Despite the division, I would still argue that ALL of us have much more in common than not, and to see the divide continuing to deepen has started to get under my skin lately.

(Continued in comments…)
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