Thursday, June 21, 2012

Discouraging Days, Encouraging Ways (of Looking at Things)

It's funny how one minute I can feel like I can tackle all manner of projects, and then one little thing happens to cause my enthusiasm and confidence to collapse around me and leave me feeling completely at a loss, without any real energy to dust myself off and charge forward once again.  And I do mean a little thing.  This evening, it was a batch of yogurt that flopped.  Once I saw that, it seemed like nothing was going right in my entire homesteading world, and I got a little discouraged.  My mind is not always rational and can be a little dramatic so my thought process went a little like this (warning: this is not for the faint of heart, or the overly judgemental.  You might not like me so much at the end of this!):

1.  Oh no!  My yogurt didn't turn out.  It must be because I tried adding honey and vanilla so that we would actually really enjoy it.  Vanilla contains alcohol and honey has natural antibacterial qualities and what was I thinking?  I killed my poor darling little microbes before they had a chance to work wonders with that 2L carton of 2% milk that I just wasted.  Or maybe I added the yogurt when the milk was too hot.  I was in a rush, and it did feel a little hot.  I don't know, but I did something wrong.  (Cue melodramatic, Italian-inspired sigh.)

2.  (I unwrap the garlic that I put in the oven to roast with the potatoes, and then left in there too long.)  Oh no!  I left the garlic in the oven way too long and it did not turn into sweet, nutty deliciousness but rather into a bitter, burnt-tasting paste!  What a waste of a whole bulb!  Blah! (I throw it into the compost bin with a solid dose of self-pity and grumpiness.)

3.  Our house looks like a tornado went through it!  Why do I have to constantly step on upside down excavators and chunks of semi-solidified oatmeal blobs that were thrown to the floor in a moment of tantalizingly gleeful toddler behaviour?  Why didn't I set aside time to clean it up properly this week?  I knew I shouldn't have sat down to read a couple of chapters of Game of Thrones the other evening, I could have been efficiently decluttering my home and making it a much more restful place.  I may as well give up because it won't be done tonight.  (Sniff.)

4.  My yellow bean seeds never germinated, how does that happen?  They give beans to kindergarten students to plant because they are so reliable.    I haven't watered my community garden plot in 3 days, and it's been hot, sunny, and windy.  The poor plants over there have probably withered.  I also have a lot of work to do on the food pantry plots.  Those plots need to get planted!  I am falling behind everywhere. Oh no!  My poor container plants.  I imagine that they have completely dessicated and are standing plant skeletons, waiting to explode into dust particles at the first puff of wind.  (Wracking sob.  OK, well, not really.)

I could go on, but you get the picture.  I am not prone to throwing myself pity parties, as a rule, but tonight I just let myself get a wee bit carried away.  Before I told my self to shush it and stop being such a baby.  And I asked myself, why are things not exactly where you want them to be?  And I came upon a few answers:

1.  I've been sick for the last four days.  I've also just started a new job, that is awesome and only part-time, but those part-time hours are in the evenings and I haven't yet worked out the kinks of not being home during the time of day when I usually get housework done.  I also haven't felt like doing housework, and that is ok.  And, in fact, I did clean up on Tuesday afternoon, but we have little children, who are busy, and, well, you know how it is.  And the house actually isn't that bad.

2.  I really shouldn't let myself care too much about the failed yogurt and the burnt garlic.  I know how to do both of these things and all I wasted was a bulb of garlic and one 2L carton of milk.  And in fact, while trying to strain it out in the fridge just on the off-chance that I get some yogurt from it (because it did thicken a little bit), I am getting loads of whey to make buttermilk pancakes and other yummy baked treats.  So it isn't really wasted after all.  And I might be able to scrape out a half cup of yogurt, which does taste nice, that the kids could eat for a snack.  Not so bad after all!

3.  The garden is actually looking pretty good, the last time I went, and I think the bean seeds didn't germinate because they disappeared from the garden (the birds are looking pretty good to me right now as the culprits).  And, I had fun replanting the whole patch with James.  It's all good, this is the year to learn about vegetable gardening, and make mistakes, and figure out how to do things better, right?  And I am going to get out to the community garden this weekend when things slow down, and I will get those food pantry beds raked and prepared and planted and it will be fine.

4.  What is up with my Negative Nelly-ness, anyway?  I'm a little overtired, and still a little bit sick, and yes, a little overwhelmed, for the moment, anyhow, but really?  I haven't been reading my Bible or praying much lately.  I pray for a few moments in the evening, but I haven't really been committing myself to a thoughtful, meaningful conversation daily.  And so how am I supposed to know how to live my life and do and make and say what the Lord wants?  AND why am I not noticing all the blessings He has poured onto me lately?  Goodness!

This child, who delights me with her wild and crazy ways and her almost aggressive love for me, is about the sweetest thing I can imagine, especially during the only moments she's peaceful and quiet, in her sleep.

My sensitive, smart, funny, and incredibly loving little boy, who lives to help and just wants to spend time with me, does not care about the state of our house.  He just loves having us all together and spending time as a family.

Forget the messy porch in the background!  How can I not smile when I see my little monkey, dressed in a fleece sleeper in summer, trying to wear my shoes because she loves the bows, holding a dirty yellow golf ball just because, and teetering on the edge of tipping into my arms?  I love you, my silly girl.

This is one of the Sweet Millions plants that looked like it was not long for this world.  But the new leaves look a lot healthier, and it is starting to flower.  This is a blessing.

My very first strawberry plants, given to me by a friend and planted with the help of my precious son, are forming strawberries.  Just a few this year, because I only let a few blossoms stick around--I wanted the plants to get good and strong for next year.  But James and Susannah will both be able to pluck a few red berries from their own plants.  That is a gardening success in my mind!

It is taking me a while to get my chickens.  But I have a friend who offered to build me the coop for free, and the grass that we planted in the shady, dusty dirt area (where their run will be) is actually growing and looks like it might even be lush by the time they arrive!  That is a blessing in and of itself.

The oregano that wilted horribly after being dug out of a friend's garden and taken to a new home has come back and is doing really well.  I know that it might take over my garden and I may be overheard cursing it in a couple of years.  But right now, I am pretty darn excited about it.
Those are just a few of the blessings I happened to take photos of this week. I have so many more!  A wonderful family, a hilarious and supportive group of good friends, a husband who loves me and helps me and makes me laugh and is extremely good-looking, if I do say so myself, a home that while not perfect, and not overly clean at the moment, shelters us and is full of happy memories and loads of love, an island to live on, that as one new co-worker puts it, should be known as "Perfect Existence Island" instead of Prince Edward Island.  Yes, I think things are actually pretty wonderful in this little corner of the world right now, and I'll be sure to thank the One responsible tonight in a proper little chat.


  1. Ah Rosie, I am sorry about your yogurt and other dramas. But I am happy you are sounding happier at the end of it all! '

    I will help with the food pantry gardens this weekend sometime if you want, since I also have to plant my own things. Dad bought me some seeds!!! YAY!

  2. I now officially like you more, not less. :)

  3. No judgemental-ness here! Actually I was thinking...did I just write this? Cause this is pretty much exactly what I've been thinking too lately lol. My yellow beans totally flopped this year too! I currently have 4 good plants (some others came up but seem to be eaten by something) and my sugar snap peas also had low germination :( But you are right, there are always blessings to be thankful for and enjoy!

    1. Thanks for your comment! I'm glad I'm not alone, and I have no idea what is up with those yellow beans. Since writing this post, I only had four plants come up and then something ate them. So I have planted yet again and am hoping third time's the charm, but if not, then that's ok too. Maybe next year will work out better! I hope you get loads of beans from your four good plants. :)

  4. Not sure how I stumbled across your blog last week, but I've enjoyed reading your entries.

    I made the pancakes this morning. I froze most of them so I can pop them in the toaster for a quick breakfast or snack for my 17 month old. They are yummy :)

    I make my own yogurt. It is such a savings! I don't think the honey or vanilla was the culprit. It was likely a temperature issue or the yogurt you used. I haven't had much luck with using store bought yogurt as a starter. I buy the Yogourmet freeze-dried yogurt starter. I buy it from health food stores. It's handy as it keeps in the fridge for a long time. I make my yogurt plain and add fruit and honey when we use it. I don't sweeten it for my daughter though. I have been thinking about giving this recipe a try for a stir in.

    Looking forward to reading more about your adventures.


    1. I am glad you like the pancakes! We love them. :) And I appreciate your yogurt advice. I've actually been thinking of trying some yogurt starter, so I will see if I can find the type you use around here and if not, perhaps order some online. I really like that it will keep for awhile, as that is one thing about using bought yogurt. And do you make yours in jars in a cooler with warm water or in a crock pot or in a real yogurt maker? Thank you so much for your comments about my blog, I've been neglecting it a bit lately but I am enjoying writing it and so appreciate feedback like yours. Have a great weekend! :)

  5. I use a yogurt maker (waring pro brand- discontinued) and it it is kind of a pain as I can only fit so much in it at once, so I end up making yogurt twice a week. I also don't like the space it takes up in the cupboard/counter. To do over again I would check out this one or use the oven.

    I used to be able to get the starter at Superstore in their health food section cooler, but they stopped carrying it. I'm in Halifax, but you never know maybe the one near you might still have it.

  6. Oh boy, I know how you feel. We expect so much of ourselves we don't schedule in time for things not to go perfectly. Seems to me you are doing a mighty fine job! Your children are lovely. I have found that when a messy spot escapes you for one good reason or waits for you patiently. Never's not worth it.

    1. Thanks Tamatha for your encouraging words! And I think you are totally right. That little (or enormous, depending on the day!) messy spot is definitely not going to disappear, you can always tackle it later. :)


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