Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Floating on the river, firewood, biking, and other great ways to feel good and connected to nature

My windshield wipers couldn't keep up when I drove the kids to school this morning.  Dark, pissing buckets, and urgent need for coffee characterize January days in the Pacific Northwest, especially where we live: butted up against tall mountains, where the clouds get trapped and dump their load.

So when the weather turned unseasonably warm and sunny for a few days last week, we took full advantage of it: Namely, splitting and stacking firewood, getting urgently-needed exercise on the bike so we are not as terribly bitchy as some of us have been so we live longer, and rafting the Sauk River.

First things first: Rafting the river.  

Our kids are part of the Glacier Peak Institute (GPI), a local organization who in their own words "empowers youth, community and ecosystems to prosper and cultivate a shared resilient future through action-based education".  What this means is that they take kids out (for free) into nature, hiking, biking, rafting, and working outside.

They offer curriculum-based activities, after-school programs and summer programs.  Again, it's all free, it's awesome, and you should totally check them out if you are local.

On Martin Luther King Day, we joined the GPI and Sauk-Suiattle Natural Resources people to help them count eagles on the Sauk River.  Our whole family saw eagles, got wet in some rapids, and enjoyed a great day on the river. 

We really needed this down time in nature.  These past two months have been so intense, with friends passing away from cancer, other close friends being diagnosed with other serious illnesses, tragedies happening in our community, and dealing with head lice.

Yes, head lice.  As I've been learning, this is actually quite common at the public school the kids go to.  Now, I have said before that I admire lots of the teachers and their care and dedication for the kids in our community.  But when I called the school in horror after discovering we had lice, they said it's super common at the school.  I was pretty upset because I knew that some of our kids' friends had head lice two weeks earlier, but none of the parents were notified by the school.

Knowing that there are parents in our school district who can't properly feed their kids, or wash their clothes, let alone be vigilant about lice, I can see how the kids just re-infect each other constantly.

This thought and all the laundry, vigilance and stress is burning me out right now.

When this amount of stress hits, there are few things that help me as well as exercise does.  In this weather, I'm not getting enough of it, but when the sun came out, I hopped on my bike for a two-hour ride.  And when I was done, I was actually smiling.  Itchy head and all.

If you want me to write a blog post about how to treat head lice naturally, let me know in the comments.  The over-the-counter chemical stuff doesn't work well, because the critters built up resistance to it.

Another great way to get exercise around here is splitting, hauling and stacking firewood.  We are clearing a small patch of our land to build a small cabin.  This means cutting hemlock and alders, and since we heat our house exclusively with wood, it also ensures years of a warm house.

The boys are involved with this firewood work, and so am I.  Who needs a gym if you have to deal with firewood?

Other ways for me personally to stay healthy involve spinning and knitting, since this makes me happy.  I'm starting a project called "From Sheep to Sweater", and you can follow it on my Patron-only site here.

I started with white wool and hand painted it, which is a fancy way of dyeing.  Now I'm in the process of spinning it into yarn, and after that's done, I'll knit a sweater with it.

You can see a taste of the process on a Facebook live I did to demonstrate it.

Okay, wrapping up here, I'll show you a few more things that happened this week:

First, I'm on the front page of the Concrete Herald, our local newspaper.  Fun, eh?  It's me and my fellow homesteading blogger Melissa, and the article is about how we both teach self-sufficiency and resiliency.  It's fun how the article goes into some explanation of my life coaching, since that's part of being resilient. 

Next, there's still a lot of brewing going on at our house.  Steve just started making ginger mead, settling in nicely next to the wood stove.  And I keep making Kombucha, fermenting it a second time with juice and ginger for extra fizz and zing.  I'll teach you how to do this here.

I'll leave you with a picture of me trying to do yoga.  It's hard around here, since either the little fluffy dog wants to perch on top of me or the big dog wants to do downward dog with me on the mat.

Have a great week! Watch out for an email very soon for an exciting announcement!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Our class and retreat schedule at our homestead for 2018

Here at Marblemount Homestead, we teach and inspire people who see things differently.

You're fed up with the status quo consumerism pop culture. You want to live a more wholesome, sustainable, healthier, happier life and be more connected to nature.

We're here to help with teaching skills, inspiration, community and holding your hand. You're not alone.

Come on over to our side of the fence, where the grass is greener!

We are excited to announce that we scheduled our classes and retreats at our homestead in Marblemount for this year. I know some of you want to plan early, so here you are.

Click on the titles to find out more or to register. These offerings can fill up fast, so do it now to reserve your spot. Space is limited in all of them!

Steve and I love teaching these skills, and we can't wait to meet you!

1) Bow making course, March 3rd, 2018

​​​Learn the basics of making your own traditional all-wood bow. A roughed-out board stave will be provided, as well as all the tooling and instruction to have a tillered and shootable bow by the end of the day. Basic archery and shooting instruction will also be covered. 

The price of this class includes the stave and a matched high quality bow string. You will go home with your own bow, ready to make more for your family and friends!

Photo credits for the picture on the right of Steve shooting the bow: Concrete Herald

2) Kids Summer Camp, July 15 to 17, 2018

Are you worried that your child spends too much time in front of a screen?
Are you concerned that (s)he is disconnected from nature?
Do you want your kids to have positive, inspiring role models to teach them exciting and useful skills?
Are you annoyed that your children don't want to eat healthy food and wish that they could work in a garden, harvest and collect their own food and help prepare it with experts to guide them?

We can help you and your offspring, because we specialize in connecting kids with nature, where they spend quality time with us adventuring and learning new skills. We incorporate our homestead, gardens and animals with time spent in the wild, where we live at the edge of the wilderness in the Upper Skagit Valley.

3) Adult Homesteading and Wilderness Retreat Weekend, August 11 and 12, 2018

Slow down, connect with nature, unwind in gorgeous scenery, learn homesteading and wilderness survival skills, eat healthy, farm-grown food, connect with like-minded, earth-conscious people and ask us questions about homesteading and wilderness skills.

We are offering our homesteading and wilderness skills weekend camp to teach you new skills and empower and inspire you to live a more self-reliant, wholesome, simpler and healthier life.

We hope to hear from you soon.  Honestly, these classes and retreats fill our own souls, and we know they fill our students', too.

And remember, these classes can fill up fast, so sign up now!

PS: Please share this if you know someone who is interested, or if you want to attend with a friend!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Homesteading in Paradise December 2017 Highlights

Every month, I compile the highlights of our homesteading life in a little movie.

Although there's not much active homesteading going on in the winter (such as gardening, livestock, canning etc), we still try to be as self-sufficient as possible.  No matter what season it is, we always do a lot of cooking. 

In December's movie, you can see how much our children are involved with that chore!  And there are some gorgeous scenes of our beautiful Pacific Northwest, since we are outdoors as much as we can.

Watch the movie - CLICK HERE.

Hope your 2018 is going well so far!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

How to stay (or become) sane in the new year

The year 2017 was hard for many.  Since I'm an empath and transformational life coach, I listen to many people's stories and support them through intense changes.  My personal life has been ripped apart touched by lots of deep changes this year as well: friends with cancer, deaths of beloveds, supporting kids who just lost their mother to murder, transitioning my own kids from homeschooling to public school - to name just a few.

I can feel the tremendous positive potential for the year 2018, and I've taken steps to make it so.  I'd love to share my strategies for keeping sane, and I hope you'll find some of them helpful in your own life.

Go to nature

When things are hard for me, I find refuge and sanity in nature.  Of course, I'm lucky because I step out of my front door and find myself in moss-covered stomping grounds with towering cedars, scenic rivers, and plenty of wild animals to keep me on my toes.  

But even if you don't live in beautiful wilderness like we do, you can step outside and find nature.  How about putting your hand against a tree, even if it's surrounded by concrete pavement, and feeling the essence of this living being?  How about feeling the wind on your face, or watching a bird in the sky, or enjoying the sun or rain on your skin?  

A couple of days ago, we celebrated New Year's Day by driving to Fidalgo Island, hiking, mountain biking and canoeing.  There's nothing like a day in the cold to make you feel alive and grateful!

List all the things you are grateful for

There's nothing like gratitude to lighten your mood.  Even if it's really, really hard for you to align with the goodness of life, there must be something you can put on our list.  Do you have a roof over your head?  Did you eat at least one meal today?  Did a stranger smile at you and make you smile back?  Do you appreciate an animal in your life that loves you unconditionally?  Are you alive?

We lit a humungous fire in our backyard at New Year's Eve, and as I ate a great meal and drank homemade apple cider, watching my kids dance around the flames, you bet I counted my blessings.

That morning, the power went out, and we didn't have electricity to grind coffee, so my husband pounded the beans with a hammer.  The coffee was awful.  But wouldn't you know it?  Our friend gave us his antique coffee grinder, and all is well in our universe again.  Yes, I'm grateful for coffee.

Get yourself some exercise

Don't hate me for this one.  My friend Bo, a single guy without kids or any responsibilities, always used to tell me to exercise when he saw me being depressed or sleep deprived and juggling infants.  I wanted to punch him in the face, yelling that I was too tired or didn't have the time to exercise, since I'm not a single person without kids or a job.

But guess what?  When I did find the time to get on my bicycle, or fit in a hike or run, I did feel remarkably better.

Don't tell Bo that, though.  I'd hate for him to think he was right.

Honestly?  Even if you don't feel like it, get your body moving.  Dance, jog, hike, ski, run, bike, chop firewood, clean out the goat barn - whatever.  Do something to get the blood and thus the feel-good-endorphins flowing.

The other day, I felt definitely depressed.  But it didn't rain that day, and the sun finally came out, so I dressed myself in wool layers and hopped on my bike.  One hour of pumping my legs in the cold, cold air did wonders.  I was a different person when I got off that bike.

When we went to Fidalgo Island, we paddled in our canoe, all five of us with the little Foofy dog.  So fun, so good for the body, so good for the spirit.

Spend time with people you love

I happen to like my kids.  And my husband is my number one person in the universe (besides my best friend Lindsay, that is).  So I make it a priority to be spending time with these people, doing fun things, connecting, playing, bonding...  

You gotta realize that you are not alone.  Whatever you've been feeling, others are feeling it, too.  You are not crazy.  These are intense times.  And it's okay to feel psycho.  Don't let anyone tell you any different.

So go spend some quality time with your loves.  Be silly.  Eat outrageously good food.  Tickle each other.  

Here's Steve and Kai, pulling kelp behind the canoe.  I don't know why Kai is looking so grumpy.  I think he was pulling my leg, since he was happy the whole time.  Then again: you never know with teenagers.

Below is Luke's dirty face after splattering mud all over himself while mountain biking.

And this is Eva, my little adventure buddy who wanted to go biking me with me in the snow and biting wind.  Crazy chicken, this one.

And here we are in Bellingham, on another adventure involving beautiful scenery and mountains of food.

Hire a life coach, which means: me

We can't become ourselves by ourselves.  Forget the whole lone cowboy on the prairie fending for himself or herself.  We all need support.  And it helps to get support from someone who is trained and experienced in looking at what's holding you back, why you can't get what you want, and partners up with you to reach your intentions.

It's doable, yo!  You can get what you want, but you have to look at the underlying beliefs that keep sabotaging you and then evolve them and establish new patterns.  

I'd love to help you.  You can book a free session with me to see if this work fits for you.  I only have ten free sessions available, though, so book it now if you want one!

If you're scared of this step, head on over to my website to read the testimonials from people who I have coached.  Their lives have transformed and changed for the better - in huge ways for many.

I'm sending you much love for this new year!  May it be better than ever!!!

PS: Part of taking care of yourself also means taking care of your body.  I wrote a post about natural cold and flu remedies on my Patreon page here.  

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A terrible tragedy, and an important message for all women (and the men who care about them)

This is a hard post to write, but it has to be done since it contains a very important message for all women (and the men who care about them).  Please read it all the way to the end.
This week, an unimaginable tragedy happened in our community. A mother of four got killed by her boyfriend in her house, and after he yelled at her children to run, otherwise he'd kill them, too, he then shot himself. The kids fled to their neighbors' house, where they stayed for a few days until Child Protective Services sorted out their future.

One of the kids is in my daughter's class, and I felt very strongly about wanting to support the children who lost their mother and their temporary caregivers, the neighbors, who had witnessed the guy's suicide. I spent time with them all for a couple of days, and I was there when the kids were told that after the holidays, they had to move away to live with a relative they didn't know.

Although from a bigger perspective, this was wonderful news because they were able to stay together and be raised by a blood relative, the kids were initially devastated.

It was heart wrenching. I held the girls while they raged, wailed, wept and shook. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but I'm glad I was there to hold space for them.

Read on.  There are some important things I need to say.  Below are pictures I took on a walk while all of this unfolded, because the place I go to when things are hard is nature.

Our community has stepped up and rallied around these orphans in a big way.  After people learned about the tragedy, they raised thousands of dollars in two days, organized meals, and collected bags and bags of toys.

I was there when a truckload of toys got delivered.  No, presents cannot replace the mother they lost, nor can they take away the trauma they've been through.  But they did distract the kids from their grief, and they brought them joy, excitement and laughter.

I will never forget holding the bike seat and running alongside one of the girls, as she tried out the brand new bike that just got delivered.  She never learned how to ride a bike, but she got pretty close that day with me huffing and puffing beside her, hiding my tears from her as she whooped with joy.

Many years ago, I worked at a shelter for abused women and children.  There, I was the women's and children's advocate and also did outreach in the community to educate people about domestic violence.

If you or someone you know are affected by domestic violence, I want you to know that you are not alone.  Please don't isolate yourself.  If you know in your gut that things are wrong in your relationship, if you fear for your safety and mental health, please reach out to people who understand and can help you.

Here is the website for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), where you can find out everything you need to know and get valuable resources.

If you are in crisis, contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or www.TheHotline.org. 

Here is more info from the NCADV website:


Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional/psychological abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence varies dramatically.


• In the United States, an average of 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute. This equates to more than 10 million abuse victims annually.

• 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been physically abused by an intimate partner.

• 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been severely physically abused by an intimate partner.

• 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked. Stalking causes the target to fear she/he or someone close to her/him will be harmed or killed.

• On a typical day, domestic violence hotlines nationwide receive approximately 20,800 calls. 

• The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.

• Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.

• Intimate partner violence is most common among women between the ages of 18-24.

• 19% of intimate partner violence involves a weapon.


Domestic violence is prevalent in every community, and affects all people regardless of age, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. Physical violence is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior as part of a much larger, systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and even death. The devastating consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.


• 1 in 5 women and 1 in 59 men in the United States is raped during his/her lifetime.

• 9.4% of women in the United States have been raped by an intimate partner.  


• 19.3 million women and 5.1 million men in the United States have been stalked.

• 66.2% of female stalking victims reported stalking by a current or former intimate partner.


• 1 in 3 female murder victims and 1 in 20 male murder victims are killed by intimate partners.

• A study of intimate partner homicides found 20% of victims were family members or friends of the abused partner, neighbors, persons who intervened, law enforcement responders, or bystanders.

• 72% of all murder-suicides are perpetrated by intimate partners.

• 94% of murder-suicide victims are female.

When I worked at the shelter, I listened to hundreds of stories of women who finally got up the courage to leave their abusive relationships.  Many of them told me that they did it because of their kids.  They didn't want their kids to witness any more of the abuse, or be abused themselves, or worse.  So they left.

I know it can be so unbelievably hard and complicated to leave someone who abuses you.  There are all kinds of reasons: financial, emotional, religious...

But I want you to know this: you deserve a better life.  Your kids deserve a better life.  You are not alone.

The Skagit Valley has its own resource: Skagit DVSAS is committed to eliminating domestic violence and sexual assault in our community. They provide direct advocacy-based counseling, legal assistance, emergency shelter, support during medical exams, adult and teen support groups, and extensive education and prevention programs throughout the county.
All services to survivors and their family and friends are free and confidential. To learn more, call them at 1-888-336-9591.

And if you are a man who is abusive, you can get help, too.  Go here to find out more: 

To make matters worse, more death happened this week. I lost one of my dear friends, adding to the count of people I have lost to cancer this year alone.  As I spent time decompressing from all the death that's happening around me, I turn to nature for comfort.

I turn to gratitude, amplifying what's good.  The beautiful mountains, the serene river, the gorgeous sunset, the sun slanting through trees.

The outpouring of love from a devastated community.

The weight of my dogs on my lap, the twinkling of the Christmas lights, the a loving glance from my husband, watching my son skip rocks in the river...

So, dear ones... On this note, I wish you a peaceful holiday season.  I wish you the feeling of being loved and safe.  I wish you the courage to be strong.