Archive for Lifestyle

The World Keeps Spinning…Gardening through Grief

Sometimes, it just feels dark.

Sometimes, it just feels dark.

I haven’t blogged for a while. It happens. I feel like the month of March was a dream. I was busy before then, and I am busy since, but March fell off the calendar completely and I am still trying to catch up. That is what it is like when you lose someone close to you. You wake up one morning and step outside and see the world has moved on and you wonder how that could have happened. Mentally, it is the end of February and I am getting ready to sprout seeds indoors and planning my garden. But in reality it is nearing the end of April, it’s past my plant date for cool crops, and my yard is completely covered with dandelions. It is time to pull spring and summer clothes out and I can’t figure out where the sunshine is coming from. Death can be so disorienting.

Many of you know I lost a close friend, more like a sister really.  It was a hard process, to say the least.  A roller coaster of ups and downs. We thought we were on the verge of miracles several times, but in the end, my sweet friend had to leave.  It is a moment I now store with my most sacred of memories.  I am still processing.  I miss Angie.  There is a hole in the universe.

I have hesitated to start blogging again. Besides being really busy, it feels as though writing again is admitting that I have to move on. I have been doing so much for her, before she passed and since, as a way to hold on.  Writing is something I do for me. So it feels wrong. Can’t time stand still, just while I catch up? Can’t the world stop spinning while I try to figure it out? I considered just not writing at all.

Damon helps me dig the dirt.

Damon helps me dig the dirt.

You (my loyal blog who chronicles my life without flinching) may remember when I lost my Grandpa.  I described the process of taking the news in while hauling load after load of dirt to my garden.  Without even thinking about it, I ordered another load of dirt the day after Angie’s funeral.  I was anxious to get moving again, after a month of holding my breath.  I needed to be moving, because sitting meant tears.  I didn’t realize what I’d done until I found myself once again, mourning and mulling as I hauled load after load of dirt.  Apparently, dirt therapy is cleansing.

It was different this time though. Rather than a wistful look down a long life and a peaceful goodbye (Grandpa was nearly 90 and anticipating his reunion with his sweetheart), I threw each shovelful of dirt with anger and resentment. She was 32. She left behind a sweetheart. And a little boy.  And all of us.  She left things undone.  We still had so much on our “list of things to do.”  Her story was supposed to end differently!  Anger takes a lot of energy.  Luckily, so does hauling dirt.

The work doesn't stop at the little purple barn!

The work doesn’t stop at the little purple barn!

Gardening is a good outlet.  Funny thing about the stages of grief, you don’t check them off in an orderly fashion, you cycle through them repeatedly. Just when I think I am through anger, a trigger will have me up in arms again.  Attacking a bed of stubborn weeds, hauling rocks or blowing up gopher holes with gas bombs has been a productive channel for all that energy! I am sometimes overwhelmed with emotions…my little patch of earth seems to be able to absorb it.

Not only is my yard taking my blows for me, but it has retaliated with comfort, understanding and even encouragement.  I am not in any way ready to move on or forget. I don’t believe we have to. I look around my yard and see that life is not designed that way.  I see my goji berries waking up from their winter slumber, stretching their vines like my arms in the morning. I can see they are ready to pick up where we left off, ready to grow bigger and better.  I have a few bulbs here and there spraying flecks of color in my barren front beds.  Glad I took a few moments to plant them last year!  I can see my raspberry canes are bursting out of their borders, ready for me to transplant them and spread the bed farther down the fence.  My yard is inviting me, begging me to keep doing what I started.  Not to start new, but to continue the journey building on what we’ve already done. It’s trying to tell me something.

At first, after losing a loved one, I resent the memories I know I will inevitably make without them. I can hear Angie laughing at jokes I haven’t cracked yet. See her at birthday parties, taking pictures of candles my kids have yet to blow out.  But, as I shovel more and more dirt, my anger dissipates, and I see that memories aren’t merely past tense, but the foundation of future interactions: seeds planted in my character.  I see that although my mind can hardly recall moments before Angie was in my life, I won’t have to carry on without her.  I will be harvesting laughs, love, and lessons from our friendship for as long as I carry on.  In fact, whisperings, dreams, and inklings convince me there are still new experiences here and now to share with my friend.

Since Angie passed, I have hauled dirt and rocks and pulled weeds. Battled subterranean vermin and planted seeds. I’ve drawn plans for new beds and priced projects I’m dreaming up. I even ordered beehives.  There is always too much to do at the little purple barn!  At first it was a great distraction. Then it was a way to blow off steam.  Now it is helping me lift my sights once again. Each green shoot is a reason to hope tomorrow is going to be better. Each seed planted is setting my sights on harvest time.  Everywhere I turn, there is life unfurling…wild and weedy.  Gorgeous and giving.

There are days when you just want to stay in bed and pull the covers over your head.  But no matter what emotions flood over you, even if your world seems to have stilled, there is just no stopping life.  And though I am still not full speed ahead, the garden beckons me to get my feet back under me, get some dirt under my nails, and get moving. Take the memories I treasure most and plant them….share them….let them grow.  They still have so much to give!

The light will always come.

The light will always come.

I am still grieving. I don’t think it ever ends. I know in my old age I will still nurse a twinge for a girl who left too soon.  But now when I throw shovels of dirt, I am burying bitterness. When I pull weeds, I am making room for gratitude to bloom. Tears still fall, but smiles grow from them.  I am gardening through my grief.  I recommend it to all you with broken hearts and heavy loads.

Tonight, I am thinking how thankful I am that my world was shaped by such a friend, that roots were laid from which I will benefit all my days.  I am grateful the sun shines even when I feel dark. I am grateful that rain makes the flowers grow.

Angie was an original LPB fan!

Angie was an original LPB fan!

Love you Angie. Thanks for a lifetime of memories, for all the laughs, and for always believing in me.  And please, stop by and see my garden!




A Sugar Challenge for Kids

The last in my series of sugar posts (at least for a while) this one targets where change might be needed most…a sugar challenge for kids!

Seems these days kids are made of more sugar than spice. This MSN article says that average Americans eat 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, and teens eat 34! This article on child sugar addiction cites an AHA study that children as young as 1 exceed daily recommendations, typically consuming 12 teaspoons of sugar a day. What?!

Where are they getting it?

sugary snacksSome of the most common sources of sugar for kids:

  • beverages (sodas, sports drinks, juices that aren’t 100% fruit)
  • breakfast cereal (for fun, check this slide show for the worst offenders.)
  • Fruit snacks, Candy (yes, I lumped those together!)
  • Desserts, Cookies, Ice cream, etc.

Keep an eye out for hidden sugars in other favorite “kid foods”:

applesauce, dried fruit, popcorn, yogurt, instant oatmeal, trail mix, pasta sauce, canned fruit, jams, etc.

reboot a sugar mouthWhat to do?

Most parents, would agree it is our job to feed our kids healthy foods. By extension, have we failed them if we raise them to crave artificial levels of sweet? What if you could take your child’s name of the long roster of sugar addicts? Training kids to like natural flavors, subtle sweetness, and a variety of whole foods might be one of the greatest gifts we can give them.

If you have done a sugar fast of your own, you know what withdrawals can feel like. How on earth do you get your kids on board?

  1. Talk openly about how harmful sugar is in our bodies. Don’t sugar coat it.
  2. Ask them for ideas. Kids are creative. They will think of ways to cut down or what to replace sugar with.
  3. Issue a challenge….a double dare, if you will. What kid won’t rise to a dare? Here is what we did in my home.

double dare your family to take the sugar challenge!Family Challenge: No Sugar for One Week.

I know I advocate 2 weeks in an adult sugar fast, but one week is a great length of time for kids. It feels long to them, but is easy enough to visualize. You can always extend if you think your kids are up for it.

The idea is simple, no sweets for a week.  With four kids ages 2-8 (the first time), we did a formal challenge, with rules and incentives.  See if it gives you any ideas…

Psych Up

Any mom who has survived potty training can tell you it is all about enthusiasm. Just like you may have cheered in a public restroom when your toddler finally did the deed, be prepared to be your kids’ biggest fan.  If they hear you complaining about missing sugar, will they stay on board?  Get your head into the game before you pitch this at the kids.  Be prepared to celebrate the successes! Pour on the praises! Be the sweet they are missing.


Prep is much the same as for an adult sugar fast. See my 12 tips for sugar fasting. With kids, you want to be even more proactive, leaving less to willpower.  Have healthy snacks ready after school.  Be ready to pack healthy home lunches for school. Focus on variety, make sure they don’t feel like they are “missing out.”

no sugar? Eat broccoli

We didn’t even know Zaida would eat broccoli until she chose it as part of her healthy meal.

Try new things. The day before we kicked off our sugar fast, I pulled out all my healthy cookbooks and magazines and spread them on the floor and let each kid pick a meal they wanted to try. It was fun to see the variety they chose on their own.  I scheduled the week’s meals incorporating their recipes, and let them help make it. Instead of bemoaning the sugar they missed out on, they were bragging about the meal “they” cooked for the family (as if I had nothing to do with it.)  This served a two-fold purpose: distracting them from the changes we were experiencing, and helping them (and me) see that healthy food can be fun.

Set the Rules.

If they can memorize all the rules of Monopoly, complete with the homemade free parking clause, they can keep track of some simple rules (and even help make them!):

No sugar, No soda, no sweet cereals, no candy. No chocolate milk at school.

Establish Incentives:

The Big Prize:

Nickel!Here in Utah we have nickel arcades—Nickelmania or Nickelcade. Depending on where you live, you may have to adjust and choose another arcade.  I suggest you pre-purchase the booty. For example, if Chuck E Cheese (I hate that place) is your destination, go there and purchase a load of tokens ahead of time. Use coupons, pull out all the mommy tricks; you want to dazzle them! I loaded on rolls of nickels beforehand and put them out so the kids could see them.

Along the way:

nickels...sugarless currencyWe hung a bag with each kids name on it on the fire place (stocking style!) and put 20 nickels in it to get them drooling. As the week goes on, they report their progress. They earn nickels for sticking to the plan. I even purchased candy off them for nickels. The kids would bring home fun size candy bars or tootsie rolls, even cupcakes from school and eagerly cash them in for Thomas Jeffersons.
If they cheat, you remove nickels from their bag. I would say one nickel for each infraction. As it was, we didn’t have to use this feature!

Bonus: Enjoy Inflation!
Suddenly nickels were the hot item in the house. I am not kidding. My kids aren’t the most motivated at times. There are days you could light their back pockets on fire and they may or may not get up to put the flames out; but attach a nickel to any deed, and suddenly they are unstoppable. Shea came home to a super clean house one day (shocker!) and I had to confess I hired help. “Really? How much did you spend?” “Well,” I explained, “the bathrooms cost me a nickel each. The laundry, a nickel per kid per load. The dishes….” you get the idea. My house sparkled for about 85 cents in cold hard 5-pieces. (Please don’t report me.) Sigh, I miss the nickel days.

facebook like signTake it over the top with social media:

Use Facebook! The first time we did this sugar challenge, it was such a ground breaking concept (wait mom, is that even possible?) that I wanted to do something really big. I posted on Facebook about our upcoming challenge and invited any of our friends to sponsor the kids…put a buck in the pot for each kid who didn’t cheat at all NOT EVEN ONCE. We ended up with an extra 12 bucks per kid, a fortune to them! It was also fun for them to see the support come in from aunts across the country, and even friends from Down Under. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to make this a habit, but I can’t think of a better bonus to kick off a sugar challenge…support and cash? Any kids dream come true!

Here is my FB post from January 30, 2012:

For family night tonight, we are kicking off a 7 day no sugar challenge. The kids are excited, as of now. (But then they are still high from their last fix.) Grandpa is kicking in 1 big buck for each kid who makes it. Anyone else want to sponsor this impossible task? I am doubting you will have to pay up, but the prospect is exciting!!!

 I posted periodic updates like this one on January 31:
Day one of no sugar with kids 2, 6, 7,and 8 years old is over. They are all wearing their reminder bracelets.  No cheats yet but some close calls. Zaida emphatically tried to convince me that there is no sugar in Airheads at the store today. Tayler almost sold her soul for a snickers but hung on. I love seeing them try hard!
and this final post made me laugh. Shea is never ornery, so seeing the sugar challenge irritate DAD of everyone was pretty funny….
Feb 6: Last day of the no sugar challenge. Seriously amazed that my kids have endured! The most surprising aspect of this challenge were the sugar withdrawals that made someone grumpy. And I don’t mean me. And I don’t mean the kids.

Just Do it!

All aboard! This is a team sport. Mom, dad, everyone.  Pick your dates. Get prepped. Do it.  Stay engaged and have a good time!  Try to laugh off the hard moments, and keep spirits up!

Sugar challenge gets 2 thumbs upSo how did it go?

The kids surprised me with their dedication to the cause. They would come home from school and triumphantly tell me about turning down a jolly rancher or choosing “white” instead of chocolate milk. Some of them earned accolades from their teachers who were amazed any kid would refuse a sugary handout. Some of them were a little high on the attention they got from friends dumbfounded by their bravery: “I can’t believe you are doing this, I would DIE!”
Even Zaida, who was only 2 1/2 at the time, would wake up and say “Is we eating sugah today mommy?” “No honey.” “Oh, okay.”

They loved our sugarless treats and snacks.  Watermelon was a huge hit.  Oranges tasted like candy.  They still ask me to make my homemade trail mix and ants on a log…never before heard of!
There were hard moments. On the day before our big finish, a kind and unknowing neighbor brought us over a homemade blueberry cobbler. Shea came home from a meeting to find his wife and kids circled around a pyrex dish staring, possibly drooling, intently. We agreed to save it for our end celebration, but no fruit dish was ever so ogled since Chiquita banana first donned ruffles.

Pay Day: KaChing!

The day we went to Nickelcade was so, well, sweet. The kids were triumphantly holding their bulging bags of nickels and swapping war stories. I can’t remember having more fun at a dirty low-end arcade in all my life. They pooled tickets and bought prizes together. They laughed and there was no fighting! It was miraculous! After, they made plans for the jackpots they had earned from their sponsors. The enthusiasm was electric. We spent all in all maybe 25 dollars in admissions and nickels. That was the best 25 ever spent!

kids eating watermelon after a successful sugar challengeThe Aftermath

Are we a sugar free family now? No. But the week challenge did a lot to raise awareness and overall we consume much less. Even the kids decided they liked how they felt off sugar and will pass on candy unless it is an absolute favorite. I noticed their moods were more stable and their attitudes were sweeter. The very next day after eating cobbler and a few celebratory confections they were bouncing off the walls and squabbling once again. It was pronounced enough for me to wish we were sugar free 100%!
On occasion, the kids will actually ask me if we can do another sugar free week challenge. We did one by request a couple weeks after Halloween. They even asked to extend it to a two week challenge! Can’t argue with that! The week sugar fast was worth it in so many ways. We give it 2 thumbs up and wish you sweet success!

Modifying for older kids:

If arcades with mom and dad aren’t floating their boats anymore, ditch the tokens and go for an all or nothing. An Amusement park? A new skateboard? Take your budget into a pass for 3 cheatsaccount and get creative. I did a week long no sugar challenge with my youth group at church. 14-15 year old young women: it was easy to pick an incentive….homemade spa night complete with eye brow waxing, mani/pedis and chick flicks!

I offered each girl 3 cheats. Because it was associated with a church lesson, I handed them out 3 “sweet forgiveness” cards.  The challenge was totally voluntary.  Most of the girls at least tried it.  About 50% of the girls completed it.  That is pretty impressive!  Overall, it was a great way to open up discussion and awareness.

Teaching kids to choose the apple over the chocolate barWhatever you do, it is worth the time to promote consciousness and educate your kids food choices. Imagine the advantages they will have in life if they learn early on to curb the sugar habit! I wish I could go back in time and tell my teenage fast food working self to sever the line to the Dr Pepper tap and make eat healthy instead!

Kids are surprising. They can do it. They may even help you do it.


Don’t forget to share your ideas and stories with us!

A New Year: A New, Unstoppable YOU

Welcome to the new year, your best year yet…the year you are unstoppable! Here are my thoughts on getting geared up to build your own dreams in 2013.

To all those with self-defeating dialogue in your heads–a new year has begun! You know what I am talking about, the internal voices that say “you can’t…,” “you shouldn’t…,” “you’ll never…,” or the classic “it doesn’t matter.”  What do you think you could do if you shut down all the naysaying in your head? My guess is….a lot! For 2013, how about ringing in the new year by shouting out a loud, resounding “Stuff it!” (Except the voice that says, “You’ll get arrested”….you can still listen to that one.)

Cycle of self defeatThe Cycle of Self-Defeat:

I tend to ride a continual cycle of inspiration, motivation, elevation…then deflation and resignation. Why? I don’t know. But I am sure I am not the only one.

Let me illustrate: Little Purple Barn took me a long time to launch. The voices telling me not to were so much louder than the one saying “go for it!” Why? I have a binder stuffed with pages of brainstorms, rough drafts of blog posts, sketches for projects. I have more than enough brain fodder to keep my fingers flying over my keyboard for months. If I typed every night instead of sleeping, I still wouldn’t have time to keep up with the topics that fascinate me. Just this last week, I wrote down tag lines for posts on:

  • foraging and wild crafting,
  • raw dairy,
  • sugar-free challenges for children,
  • trail mix recipes,
  • jerky recipes,
  • Tomato powder (summer in a jar!),
  • my superfood collection,
  • Go-Go soap making (a recipe I dreamed about with Goat milk and Goji berries in it!)
  • reducing waste,
  • a comedic sketch of public restrooms,
  • movie reviews of 6 different documentaries,
  • principles of edible landscaping,
  • a feasibility sketch for family sized solar power,
  • perennial vegetables,
  • sprout cookies,
  • sprouted flour,
  • and a draft for a DIY fitness program that could replace your gym time.

And it’s a holiday week! I drift off to sleep at night with project ideas spinning in my head. What on earth would make me hesitate to launch?

My passion is sustainable projects, things that involve my family, heal the earth (or at least relieve some of the burden) and improve health. It is a wide niche I’ve discovered and I find more and more to embrace around every corner. So many things to try! So many things to research! So many things to aspire to! I found something to be passionate about.
So why would these voices tell me not to write, not to share, not to talk about all these things? Why would they point out that a million other people have done it better, longer, and with credentials I don’t possess? Why would these voices tell me I am wasting my time and yours?
Like I said, I don’t know, but no good will come from it.

And so I say to them “Stuff it!”

I feel better already.

Scarlett O'Hara says do it!

by the way, if you have this movie memorized, you can be in my best friend club. :)

Now, instead of a frustrated year of writer’s block, I get to turn my passion into a website…a blog to share ideas, victories, and even failures. A place where people can share ideas and encouragement. I get to explore endless topics of things that light me up, things I think can help improve quality of life. 2013 unfolds with endless opportunity to learn and teach my kids at the same time. That sounds so much more fun than resignation!!

What are your voices telling you not to do? What is holding you back? What do you want? This new year, tell your critics–inside your head or out–to stuff it. Then get moving! Here are some tips to get the positive voices talking louder than the negative ones…

CommunityFind a community.

Whenever I get discouraged thinking I can’t have an impact, I look online or visit with others and find out I am not alone. All across the globe, people are working to make their part of the planet better;  the effects ripple, resonate, vibrate worldwide. Somewhere, someone loves to do the same things you are passionate about. Find them, let them inspire you. I love Facebook for this reason.  I put a call out for help and suddenly, people from around the world are offering their best advice.  Don’t miss out on the Purple Barn page (ahh, a shameless plug) It’s a fun place to pick up some tips or share your own.  The more the merrier!

Talk to strangersTalk to Strangers.

You hear so much on the news of horror and hatred (see my post on Sandy Hook), but I find a simple discussion in the check-out line or at the post office is enough to reaffirm my faith in humanity. I have met kind, intriguing people in the most random places. Shout out to my favorite Denny’s waitress who has been off sugar for a year and lost 60 pounds! She makes me feel like maybe I am not crazy to sweep the white stuff out of my pantry. Shout out to my new friend Marty, who gave me a crash course on solar panels and taught me about the ancient origins of soap making, all while in line at the NPS store. I bought two feed pails for my goats, but came home with so much more! When I start to feel disconnected or fearful, I find a simple smile and “how are you?” are usually enough to turn it around. (Except for the occasional run in with grumps, like the Uterus Hater at Trader Joe’s lol)

Teach your children wellTeach someone.

When I start to feel my passion fade, or my enthusiasm wane, the quickest way to reignite it is to share it. It’s like that old familiar charge you got in grade school on show and tell day. Grinding sprouted wheat may start to feel mundane until I start telling someone else about the live enzymes, the vitamin C content, the full range of exciting micronutrients and reduced gluten content in sprouted bread. Or the tediousness of reusable lunch-ware might get to me until I explain to one of my kids where plastic bags and forks end up, or where they came from. Then suddenly, it is once again an honor to scrub crusty peanut butter out of a Tupperware. You can’t light someone else’s fire without fanning your own flame as well.

Positive self talkPsych yourself up.

There is a lot of support, encouragement, and motivation offered in others, but ultimately it comes down to you. One of the biggest reasons I blog is to keep myself excited about sustainable practices, to keep myself accountable for my actions (hard to order at McDonald’s after a blog post about factory farming!) And even on the occasion that people mention I’m making too much work for myself (what, you don’t milk goats twice a day?), I am too far out there (you’ve never eaten a mealworm, really?) or I’m just plain insane (no, I don’t drink diet anything), I let it roll off knowing I can slow down and worry about it or I can go to bed spinning with more ideas for exciting new adventures. Yeah, I know which one sounds better to me!


Whatever you’re gearing up to do…good luck! May this be your best, bravest, greenest, happiest, most productive year yet!

Happy 2013


All My Tomorrows: an anniversary tribute

Caution: contains amorous amateur poetry. You've been warned!

It is that time again, the annual celebration of the day Shea picked me!  If you can’t get enough of us, check out last year’s post. The big ten years!

Love is a dream builderNow we celebrate eleven years. I guess this is officially more than a fling.  He is undoubtedly my soulmate.  Never had I met a man who I could be 100% myself with…potty mouth, good intentions and all.  I still marvel at how much he loves me.  Shea is behind everything I do. Little Purple Barn simply would not exist without him. He lets me dream and never shuts me down (unless perhaps heavy lifting or public nudity are involved.)  I just can’t express my depths of gratitude for my custom fit husband!  I hope every day to make him as happy as he makes me (and some mornings, I simply set out to irritate him because it is fun.)

In case I didn’t gag you yet with sick sweet sentiments, I decided to post the lyrics to a song I wrote for my sweetheart while engaged.  I used to belt it out on the I-15 as I eagerly sped home in my 1989 Ford Tempo to see him.  Now, we sing it every year on our anniversary (we are talking shower quality, not performance grade.) This year, I am teaching it to the kids so they can serenade him.  The lyrics may not be the smoothest (though Sarah McLachlan or Kelly Clarkson, you are still welcome to steal them when you most certainly read this) but they are sincere and still the way I feel about my man…

Wedding song for Shea

Happy anniversaryHappy Anniversary M’Lover!

Here’s to another decade together. (It will take longer than that for you to finish the honey-do list I have in my head!! bwa ha ha) And brace yourself, Shea: when you get home from work today, I look forward to grossing the kids out with some good old-fashioned, enthusiastic PDA.

A Call for Action After the Connecticut Shooting: PRAY

Makeshift memorial at Sandy Hook Elementary

‘Flowers, stuffed animals and baseball hats are among items left at a makeshift memorial at the Sandy Hook Elementary…ABC News

There are a lot of voices on the internet right now reacting to the tragic events of 12-14-12. The shooting in Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary school affects us all. Interesting how grief is expressed in so many ways. Some voices are soft and sad…others are loud and abrasive, screaming out blame or courses of action.  Gun control: some say “Take away the guns!,” while others say “Give the teachers guns!”  Home schooling*: I have heard the ridiculously smug statement “you see, this is why I home school” as if those grieving parents should have known better than to trust their children to caring teachers and administrators…even the ones that died protecting their students! Media: I have heard slams against the media for sensationalizing the violence. This could be true, and yet, when I first heard glimpses of the story on social media I ran (clicked frantically) to every news source I could think of to learn more…more…with tears streaming down my cheeks…more!

What are the answers? Each of those topics could be explored endlessly, with spokespeople screaming blacks and whites and answers entangled in infinite grays. There is much to consider and much to be done. However, for the here and now may I offer my humble opinion? Let us pray.

Whether you pray to God or Allah, to a being or a higher power; if you connect to your consciousness or a universal force…..whatever you call it, PRAY.

PrayerSome call prayer antiquated, or superstitious hopefulness.  I exert that prayer is powerful and timeless, even essential.   I believe in a loving creator who listens. I believe in 2 way dialogue, that answers will come. I believe there are legions of angels with healing in their wings waiting to be called down.  I believe prayer is how we call home.

What do you believe?

Whether or not you believe someone is “on the other end of the line,” consider the effect prayer can have.  If only for the positive energy generated by elevating and focusing collective consciousness…what power!

Lake Powell, Utah.  300 miles from SLC

Lake Powell, Utah. 300 miles from SLC

A few years ago, a dear family endured a tragedy.  On a trip to Lake Powell, their four-year-old daughter went missing.  A drowning? An abduction? For days, no one knew and our community held its breath…and prayed.  This story does not have a happy ending, per se.  Her little body was recovered from the depths of the lake.  From this heart wrenching experience, I took many sacred lessons. One was of the power of prayer.  I helped communicate with the media in the days of searching.  Some wondered if this was prudent or insensitive.  At the funeral, her father gave thanks for the media.  He talked of the hours after the story first aired.  He said in the midst of his personal nightmare it was like a wave of love hit him…the energy and well wishes of strangers…the prayers of those whose heart went out to him and his family upon hearing their story.   He said it was undeniable. And though it could not erase the pain, he marveled that it had such power to sustain him when he had no strength left of his own.  There is no way to quantify who or how many prayers were offered, but the effects were felt by those most in need.

Prayers of others saved me on a dark rainy highway.

Prayers of others saved me on a dark, rainy highway.

My own life, I am convinced, was saved one dark and stormy night when I literally changed my course due to an unexpected gift: a vision of those praying for me.  Their love and concern gave me resolve when I had none of my own.  Whether I deserved them or not, the prayers of others were my saving grace that evening long ago.

I know prayer is power.

Countless numbers prayed when news of the horrific shooting hit. What if they never stopped?  What if, worldwide, we joined in prayer? What if we continued to pray for all of us?  Instead of saying “this world is a dark place” “there is so much hate in the world today” “this world is scary” we would be living in a different world entirely. Instead of a world of strangers, some so very dangerous, we would live in one where we all prayed for each other.

Prayers from our little piece of the world to yours. May angels attend grieving hearts everywhere!

Prayers from our little piece of the world to yours. May angels attend grieving hearts everywhere!

In the aftermath of the Newtown, Conneticut tragedy, let us pray.

  • Pray for the father wondering how he could have protected his child.
  • Pray for the mother aching to tuck her baby in once more.
  • Pray for siblings, grandparents, friends.
  • Pray for the school staff in shock, that must somehow go on functioning, educating, and building futures.
  • Pray for the first responders at the scene. They have to live with those images.
  • Pray for those with mental illness, that they might find peace.
  • Pray for those struggling with anger, violence and hate, that they might find understanding, compassion, and healing.
  • Pray for the community, that they may come closer.
  • Pray for the fear to turn into resolve.
  • Pray for all of us, that we might love more.
  • Pray for peace on earth, good will to men.

Then, may we all get up and make it happen.

God bless!


*In light of some confusion, let me say that this is not a statement against homeschooling. It is a great option and I have great respect for moms that do it.  This statement was inspired by comments in a forum along the lines of “this is why I home school. It is the parent’s sole responsibility to keep their kids safe so I need to have a close eye on them.”  That is both impractical as a solution for senseless violence and not feasible for many parents.  My apologies to the homeschool moms that were offended by my statement.  I should have clarified earlier.

25 Healthy Gifts under $25

25 healthy Stocking Stuffer ideas25 Stocking Stuffers for the Health Nut on Your Christmas List

If you are like me, you work for Santa. And as an employee of the big man, you take stocking stuffing seriously. You keep your eye open all year for small novelties that won’t break “Santa’s” bank. And when it comes to your own stocking…well someone has to fill it! So here is a list of healthy and novel Christmas ideas for the health nut in your house. And if you do have to buy your own stocking stuffers, then hey, cite the Santa Self-Help Clause if you need to…it’s totally legal.Stuff your own stocking!

Under $5

chicken poop chapstickChicken Poop lip balm: made with all natural ingredients, this is a great conversation starter. Does not contain poop (says so on the package!) I sometimes pick this up at the register at Cal Ranch when I am buying feed as a way to treat myself to something soft and quirky.

Sprouting Lids: These turn a modest mason jar into a sprout house! I use them all the time. For an even cheaper alternative (I mean for homespun charm) trace Mason jar lids and cut fine mesh screen into circles that will fit the canning rings.  Who wouldn’t swoon for homemade sprouting lids?

Flavor to go: These little containers are perfect to pack in lunch sacks, bento boxes, picnic baskets, or even just in your purse. They allow you to tote your favorite healthy sauce or dressing anywhere. I have attended luncheons at salad bars and brought one along so I knew my salad wouldn’t be ruined by a processed mystery dressing.  Perfect when packing a meal that would absolutely light up with a touch of tamari or some lemon juice.  Or hey, maybe fill it with chocolate syrup when you need a shot of “therapy” on the road!  Won’t leak, reusable, and they come in fun shapes and sizes.

Under $10

Pineapple Jerky: What? You heard me. Yummy, all natural, super sweet. Perfect to tuck away in your secret treat stash. You know you have one. And no, you don’t have to share. While we are at it, if you are a jerky fan with exotic tastes, check out for more unique stocking stuffer ideas.

silicone Ice Pop Maker set: think homemade frozen Gogurts or real fruit slushies. Less mess than popsicles, you can even fill them with yogurt and pack them in lunches! These are versatile, reusable, and just plain awesome.


Bitchin Kitchen SoapBitchin’ Kitchen soap: I hate when you have permanent garlic smelling hands. This soap is guaranteed to get rid of any kitchen smells on your fingertips. Plus, it is all natural and comes in a reusable tin. Once again, quirky and functional…you can see my appeal.

Food Rules: An Eater's ManualFood Rules: An Eater’s Manual This book by Michael Pollan is like a whole foodist’s articles of faith.  Everyone should own a copy.  It is a quick read and great to have on hand for motivational reference.  Simple and straightforward, it just makes sense.  If you want to get fancy, you can shell out a little extra for this adorable illustrated version.

The Old Farmers Almanac 2013 Gardening CalendarFarmer’s Almanac Gardening Calendar: A full year of gardening advice, with the country charm and wit of Old Farmers.  Helpful and good-looking?  I’ll bite. (incidentally, you can order the 2012 calendar much cheaper. heh heh)


Zyliss herb snippersHerb Snippers: Sharp, easy to use, clean. These are great to have in the kitchen, the garden, or even on foraging walks. As with any scissors, don’t run unless wearing the appropriate safety gear. 😉



Sleep Mask with Cool PackSleep Mask with Cool Pack: I know these aren’t for the kitchen, but what chef/domestic goddess couldn’t use some extra pampering when it’s time to sleep off the vegan baby shower she just catered?  The cooling pack is removable but feels heavenly after a hot steamy day in the kitchen.  For a little extra, get the green one with aloe. Why? Because it sounds cool.


Under $15

Julienne cutter and peelerHandheld Peeler and Slicer: I can’t tell you how often I use this! I don’t have a spiralizer, so this is my go-to tool for zucchini noodles. It cuts veggies into thin ribbons…perfect for healthy pasta alternatives!  I will admit, the slicer is a pain to clean. But overall, you can’t beat the value of this handheld wonder.

Make your own cookbookCreate your own Cookbook: though I do most of my recipe compiling on the computer, I still like the idea of a tangible book to collect my favorites in.  As another fun alternative, you can visit and get a book personalized with your name on it. Of course, to save money you could also create one with a binder and pages that fit notecards. How fun for the recipe collector on your list! Great gift for a daughter/son just learning to cook, or for a mom/dad trying out healthy recipes after a lifetime of not so healthy ones. Hmmm…that doesn’t describe anyone I know!

Fresh the movieMake it a Movie Night: Fresh is one of my favorite food documentaries and would be a great gift for any whole food enthusiast, or anyone who needs to learn what whole food is. (umm, that is everyone!)  More great films: Food Matters, Food Inc, Hungry for Change, and others.  As an even cheaper alternative, check out the wide selection of food documentaries on Netflix. Print a “Coupon” for a healthy movie night, with one of these movies and the promise of healthy snacks.  I would LOVE a note like that in my stocking!

silicone ice cube traysSilicone Ice cube trays: Versatile for the healthy chef. Use these to freeze and save perfect portions of fresh herbs, pestos, baby food, citrus juice…anything you can think of! Silicone makes the ice cubes easier to remove. Simply repackage the cubes in freezer bags and refill trays with your next must-have ingredient. These come in all shapes and sizes, but I recommend you avoid the heart-shaped or novelty ones, they are a pain in the butt.

OXO salad dressing shakerSalad Dressing Shaker: Forget shake weights, your loved one will look hot shaking up a sexy salad dressing for dinner.  This makes it easy to create, pour, and store. Dishwasher safe and BPA free…bonus! Throw in a few recipes and this is an awesome gift.

Flavored balsamic glazeFlavored Balsamic Glaze: I love adventures in flavor.  My sis in law introduced me to Balsamic Glazes. She was introduced by her sister in Italy. So this must be legit. With so many flavors to pick from–chocolate, blueberry, garlic, raspberry, cinnamon and more–you could really go crazy. All natural ingredients, no added sugars. Glazes are great for grilling or cooking, but surprise everyone and try it over ice cream! (Maybe not the garlic one.) The intense pairing of sweet and tangy will surprise and delight.  Wow, I sound like a gelato menu.  Sweet!

Guide to ForagingForager’s Guide: Another hobbyist suggestion, this is a great book to get you started exploring wild edibles. It’s educational and promotes healthy eating, sustainable practices, and long romantic walks through the woods…or your neighbor’s yard.

Under $20

Mushroom Kit:May I pause to quote my favorite line from the movie, Dutch “Frankly, I don’t care if you live, die, or grow mushrooms in your crack.” That said, you don’t have to be content to grow mushrooms in your gym shoes…you can cultivate gourmet ‘shrooms in your own pantry! There are many varieties to try, but oyster mushrooms are inexpensive and prolific.  This is a fun gift that just keeps on giving.  Perfect for the “Fun Guy” on your list!  I know, I have some growing in my office as we speak!

Sassy ApronsSassy Aprons:  This is only one example of an apron, but I have always liked the ideas of aprons I would actually enjoy wearing. Must be functional, easy to wash, and oh…a smart aleck comment doesn’t hurt. This one pays tribute to the ultimate power of the chef: “Be nice to me or I’ll poison your food.” Works for me.

ricotta and mozzarella kitCheese making kit: Doesn’t it just sound fun to make your own cheese? (And I don’t mean the kind you make accidentally in the back of your fridge or your kid’s unwashed lunchbox!) This gift can lead to a hobby, or a great snack with bragging rights. Either way, it’s fun and novel!

Make your own OnigiriOnigiri rice ball wrappers and mold: I love gifts that introduce me to new foods, methods, and tastes. I will have a post on this later, but trust me…these are fun.  A unique alternative to the boring old sandwich. These pack well for the road or a great make-ahead meal.  Until I get to writing my post, check out Food Babe’s post on what onigiri actually is. Oh and yes, they are wrapped in seaweed. Sushi lovers will rejoice, picky eaters will not.

snooty popcornSnooty Popcorn: I tried this Cheddar and White Truffel popcorn on a whim one day and soon found myself with my head in the empty bag, huffing the fumes. It was so delicious I didn’t want to let it go. I adore flavors I can’t make on my own.  If you have a popcorn lover with refined tastes in your house, this will win them over.  Caution, if you have a popper with simpler tastes, don’t bother. Not to name names, but Shea was thoroughly unimpressed.  Fine hubby, you eat your microwave cancer corn while I make out with my organic goodness! This would surely be in a cheaper category if I could find it in a single package, but really…why would you only want one?

Under $25-ish

onion goggles

onion goggles

Fume free onion chopping? Tears of Joy! Not to mention the fashion statement they make!

Onion Goggles. Oh onion goggles, where have you been all my life?!!  These are must-haves for any serious chef, or serious mascara maven.  I don’t know how I lived without them. Yes I do, I just didn’t chop onions.  Sadly, I only have a borrowed pair so I need to buy new ones for my generous friend (Becky, do you want them in pink or tortoise?) Yes, I think they are worth the price. Especially if you are a salsa fan.  Coming from a cheapskate like myself, that should mean something. This gift will bring tears to her eyes, or actually, not.

Crio beansCrio Beans:Super nutrition meets super decadence. I love these things!  You get all the super power properties of organic cacao beans dipped in high quality dark chocolate.  This is as deep and dark as you get, with just enough sweetness.  And hold on, no bitterness!…just a long lingering chocolate afterglow. ahhh….


Kiva, the perfect gift

Kiva: The gift of giving. I love love love giving Kiva loans to loved ones.  The micro loan concept just resonates with me.  Participating in this program makes the world seem a little smaller, allowing you to reach someone on the other side of the globe and have a powerful impact on their daily life!  I have gifted Shea Kiva cards so he could loan to people in his mission field, the Ukraine.  I have enjoyed sharing emails with my kids as we receive repayments from people in Central and South America.  They see the faces and read the stories and we locate them on maps.  Tuck one of these in someone’s stocking and you are truly giving a good gift…empowerment and human connectedness.


These are just a few suggestions. I’d love to hear your ideas for healthy gifts!  And as you navigate the holidays, may you enjoy what matters most and strive to spread Peace on Earth and Good Will to Men!

Merry Christmas from the Little Purple Barn!


Just a quick note, if you shop online at this season, think of us and enter their site through ours! You will still shop from your account, and Little Purple Barn makes a tiny commission. Hey, every bale of hay helps! Cheers!

Trader Joe’s opens in SLC: I lived to tell the tale!

I just got back from Trader Joe’s. As I type this, I am trying not to get tzatziki sauce on my keyboard. This would not be a notable event if I didn’t live in SALT LAKE CITY!!! That’s right, Trader Joe’s is finally here!

Grand opening of Trader Joe's SLC

Trader Joe’s needs traffic cops!

We experienced it all, the hawaiian shirts, the ringing bells, the friendly–though frazzled–staff.  We stood in line for 5 minutes for a bite of their “famous” mandarin chicken (which I had never heard of).  We got a free Trader Joe’s reusable shopping tote.  As they gave them to everyone, I don’t know why they had to yell “free bag” with every check out. (It sounded like Cafe Rio in there!)

We arrived at noon, 4 hours after opening, and they were already out of some notable items, like the fabled peppermint Jo Jos. But overall I was impressed at the abundance and variety on the shelves.

???? I may need to investigate.

There was no one as excited as I to be there. Trader Joe’s has an awesome product line.  Their prices are pretty good, considering they specialize in organic and fair trade ingredients. They have a wide range of healthier alternatives to “mainstream” junk food.  All products in the Trader Joe’s Label promise no GMOs, no added trans fat, no MSG, and no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.  Not too shabby these days!  They also carefully label Vegan, Vegetarian, and Gluten Free items.  No, not everything there is good for you. Not by a long shot. But if you are going to splurge, why not splurge on some dark chocolate pomegranate seeds or some sweet potato chips?  And where else can you find roughly one million varieties of hummus?

I love the Trader Joe’s atmosphere.  The cedar plank walls and raffia trim.  The bright Hawaiian accents.  Whoever this Trader Joe guy is, he has an impressive presence.  You almost want to try bartering your first born at the checkstand (their dried fruit selection is worth it.)

Fill your cart with goodies, they are going fast!

As for attending the day opening, if you go wear your running shoes because you will need to be able to dart in and out of traffic…in the parking lot and in the store!  Most people came expecting such and were courteous and patient. Some to a fault. One older gentleman who insisted on letting every lady with a kid in her cart go ahead of him will probably still be there tomorrow.  I felt bad for one exasperated twenty something who yelled across the piles of produce to a friend “I had no idea what Trader Joe’s was, this is insane! Why are we here just for food?!”  For the most part, you learned to navigate slowly, watch your peripheral for treasures to snag, and try not to hit any arms sporadically popping out in front of your face to grab a bottle of pasta sauce or organic dog food.

It was fun to see the mix of people at the “event” as well. The promise of organic pop culture brought some of Salt Lake’s snobbiest, while the hope of grand opening deals and healthy snacks enticed droves of mommy carts, the ones piled with the flailing arms of children, expeditiously maneuvering the mob before the good behavior melted.  I had to laugh at the adults grumbling as they waited in line for a free sample of apple cider and a minuscule cookie with sprinkles. Oh I am sorry, did you not realize free samples attract kids in herds?

Only Trader Joe’s could get a kid this excited about brussel sprouts!

My favorite encounter happened outside, in the parking lot. As I navigated my brood through the frogger-like-scene, I saw a man loading a kid in a carseat (I couldn’t see the kid, just the designer carseat he was wrestling with).  What caught my eye (I have mommy laser vision, you see) was the expensive pacifier on the ground by his tire.  Have you ever lost a binky? Then you understand the precarious situation.  I decided to be heroic and pick it up for him.  “Excuse me, is this yours? It was in front of your car.”  He looked up from his tangle of car straps and looked at me, then at the binky. An expression of disgust on his face he said, “No. My daughter is TWO and she has NEVER used one of THOSE” (as if I was holding a joint.)  “Oh, sorry, I was just trying to be helpful.” At this point he saw the kids standing behind me–4 of my own and a extra friend–and said incredulously, “Whoa, are those kids all yours? Your uterus must be enormous.”  “Yes sir, approximately the size of a warehouse. Have a nice day.”  I walked off feeling just full of warm fuzzies.

This one has my name on it

Snotty encounter aside, it was a great day.  I came home with some high class munchables to share at a party tonight, and some quality chocolate to stash in my treat drawer…the perfect remedy for an over-extended uterus.

I can’t wait to go back again…in a few weeks perhaps.  And oh yeah, my sister can stop mailing me Trader Joe treats for Christmas. (Or not, you can’t have too many of those chocolate dipped cacao nibs!)

Happy Trading!

Whitakers at Trader Joe's

I Swear I’ll Stop Swearing…

Time to tackle it. #38 on THE LIST. Join me or laugh at me but beware…if you are going to be offended, you can skip this post. Just saying…

Confessions of a Potty Mouth trying to Cut the Cussing

Imagine this scene: Our home teacher (a friend from our congregation that stops by once a month to check on the needs of our family and to share a spiritual message) was giving the kids a wonderful lesson about lures…how bad things can look fun.  He asked, “for example, do you guys know anyone who swears or uses bad language?”  And there it was.  Four kids 8 and under whipped around with their condemning little fingers pointed straight at me and started chattering about the articulate habits of their mother. Even my 3-year-old bounced up and down excitedly proclaiming: “mommy does mommy does mommy does mommy does!” like she’d won a prize.  All eyes on me, I could only state “guilty as charged.”  Our gracious home teacher quickly moved on.

That was over a year ago, and still I struggle.  I have never denied it. You all know the origins of  “chee chee shee,” Zaida’s 2-year-old attempt to copy mom’s term for chicken droppings.  It is a real weakness of mine.  Just yesterday, Sunday school belabored the evils of the dirty habit.  Well, at least in class the only fingers pointing at me were in my head.  Yes, I am a potty mouth.  I know I shouldn’t.  I know very well.  It is classless and offensive, debased and disgusting.  But I don’t agree with all the reasons.  On yet another Sunday occasion, a well-meaning and wonderful teacher mentioned that swearing is a lack of creativity, an easy response for someone with nothing better to say.  Yet I know people who wield profanity like a loom, artistically weaving together unexpected combinations to create the perfect tapestry of expression. It can be an art.

Yes I swear.  I can’t help it, or can I?

I am a second generation swearer.  Can I blame heredity?  Maybe they will one day isolate the gene and be able to cure it with one big ass shot.  Common knowledge: I have a twin sister, fraternal, who is my polar opposite. Me tall. Her short. Me loud, her quiet.  She never swears. Me, verbal vomit.  Night and day.  We even have different blood types.  She is a deeply good person, my own personal Jiminy Cricket growing up.  While she did her homework and flossed daily, I chose to walk the wild side, dabbling in profanity and, you know caffeinated beverages.  Were we just designed that way?

Or I could get Freudian about it.  Where my mom was, ummm, colorful, my dad’s favorite expletive was “oh garbage.”  In fact, it took driver’s ed with a teenager (me) pulling into the wrong lane of traffic to even get a “hell” out of him, as in “what the hell are you doing?!!!”  Fast-forward and you will find me married to a man who doesn’t own an expletive, let alone a favorite one.  I can count his swear bombs on one hand, without even the use of my “swear finger.” Ironically, one of those few swears was elicited by a woman driver (me) pulling into the wrong side of traffic on a Las Vegas highway.  Oops.  So having married my dad, maybe that left me to be the colorful one?

It could be my subconscious resisting authority.  Shea says I swear to be cool (Pshaw! Does he not know I AM cool?) I think part of me is rebelling against convention.  I mean swearing is such an arbitrary thing. Who decided that the “s word” was the devil’s excrement but “poop” is okay?  I just don’t know.

Bob pulled the Tourettes off like a pro and he was still strangely loveable!

I have tried to claim a medical condition. After a back spaz inspired a cuss in front of people I had just met, I claimed “pain induced Tourette’s.”  One guy believed me.  Can I get a parking space for that?

What if your choice of words is simply a quest to speak your truth?  I was once severely reprimanded for calling a guy an anatomical potty word.  I asked him what was worse, saying the word or being the word.  Sigh  I guess when you say the word, a bit gets on you too.

So there you go, I confess.  I know it needs to stop.  Sigh.  What’s a chronic potty mouth to do?

Ways to Stop the Madness

You can try substitutions. Utah is famous for their idiotic idioms: frick, freakin, flip, friggin, fetchin…and that is just the f’s.  My least favorite is when people use the letters. SOB, OMG, or even “What the H?”  In my book, if you are going to start a word, finish it.  Have a little follow through, for heaven’s sake.  As for the other golly darns, it is hard to find an expletive sub with the same satisfying kick…kinda like drinking a decaffeinated Dr Pepper on an all night study date.  Just won’t get the job done.  Especially for some of the more classic maxims.  I mean, really “No sugar, Sherlock” just doesn’t pack the same punch.

Maybe I should try foreign language or antiquated substitutions? No one clicks a tongue if you say “arse” or “Hades.”  Is that hypocrisy? I don’t bloody know.

swear jar

I think I need a bigger jar.

How about the time-honored swear jar? My brother-in-law is serving an LDS mission and I decided his two years of selfless service was an inspired opportunity for me to sponsor a swear jar.  A nickel for each %$&*#@! from my mouth. He gets the jar when he comes home.  He’s been out 3 months and it is official, I will be buying him a house.

I have even tried corporal punishment.  A trick I heard in another church talk sometime somewhere: I put a rubber band on my wrist with the intention of snapping it every time I slipped.  Did I mention I have an irrational fear of rubber bands? (and balloons popping and snapping wet towels, while we are at it. )  Yeah, Shea laughed pretty hard as a little “damn” ended up in a snapping swearing snapping more swearing assault on my poor wrist.  I think I burned a hole in the ozone that day.

Maybe I could walk around with a beep button? Shut the front door. Maybe I should try duct tape.

Freaking heckuva sugar shock bee turd.  I am trying.  In a former life I must have been something vile, like a pirate wench or a drill sergeant or perhaps something really abrasive…like a lunch lady.

A nod to all the sweet mouthed son of a biscuits out there who have never spit a sour swear from their blessed lips.  Jokes aside, good on you! Keep it up.  I admire your control and consideration.  Whatever you do, don’t start with the swears; it is tougher than the Sam Hill dickens to stop.   But I swear, I am trying….

Ralphie's soap

 Question: To all you recovering addicts, what are your favorite substitutes or swear stoppers?

101/1001 Challenge: Are You Game?

the 101 in 1001 challengeA lofty goal, some fancy numbers, a challenge….

I imagine anyone crazy enough to “homestead” is also obsessed with learning, progressing, improving, and pushing to the next level. After all, why strive for self-reliance if you aren’t reliable? If you aren’t swimming, you’re floating downstream.  When I found this challenge on another homesteading blog, I was immediately intrigued.  A challenge to get more done, be better at what I do, accomplish my goals…I am game!

I love check lists. They show off accomplishments and there is nothing like the relief of checking a task as done (especially for a dirty chore like barn mucking!!)  So, though I usually fail miserably at new year’s resolutions, an elaborate checklist with a lengthy timeline seems much more doable for me.

So here is the break down:

You have 1001 days to accomplish 101 goals.

Big or small, local or global, deep or shallow…the goals can be whatever you deem important. Requirements?  Goals need to be specific and measurable; they should be realistic while still stretching your limits.

That’s it folks. Roughly 2 ¾ years to build character.  This challenge is not new.  It first caught my attention on an awesome blog, The Lazy Homesteader. My gratitude to whoever originally kicked this off.

Doing the challenge is one thing, but posting it?  I mean, why let you all watch me fail?  It is almost like double daring myself.  With a little pressure, I am more apt to go for it.  What do I have to lose?  If I don’t check them all off, will my barn fall apart? (well, actually it might. Siding is on my list.) There are risks I guess, but what a motivator, what a way to keep myself accountable!

How is this different from my list of 99 things? As fun as that list was to compile, it was done in hindsight. This is a chance to proactively bring the change I want into my life, to rise to meet challenges I determine.  To add more chocolate into my diet.  mmmm.  What were we talking about again?

I love the deadline…far enough to be flexible, but soon enough to feel real. What will you be doing in just under 3 years?  I want to be looking back and saying, “whoa, I did all that!”

So I am extending the challenge to you all (or should I say y’all? I do own cowboy boots now.) Write your own list. Have your family help.  Post it somewhere you will see it everyday. Review it every week.  Sunday seems a great day for that! If you blog, post a link to your list in our comments so we can check it out.

With each accomplishment, cross one off and do a little happy dance. Even better, post your achievements on our Facebook wall so we can get jiggy with you! I would so love to hear what you are working on! I will update you on my list as well.

To make it even easier, here is a link to figure out your finish date. Post your date on our wall and I will send out monthly check up emails!  Also, don’t wait to start just because you can’t think of 101 things. You can finish your list as you go. Or do what Anisa (the Lazy Homesteader) did, add “finish the list” to your list!

To give you ideas, my list is posted on its own page here on the site.

Check out my 101/1001 2012 list!

My date, starting from the day I wrote this post, is

Sunday August 12, 2015


Wow, imagine that. My oldest daughter will be 11, my youngest 6.  The Mayan calendar will be long obsolete and according to Marty McFly, Damon will be riding a hoverboard.  And I will be loving my little purple barn.  Oh wait, I already do!



A groovy reminder to write goals that will make you happy!



Fare thee Well, Whereverthere…

Welcome to my new blog, the Purple Blog on If you are a whereverthere reader, this will be familiar. If you are new, think of it as an intro.  Be sure to check out my first ever blog contest!  Let’s hear it for the age old method of buying friends…the giveaway! Here we go…

You know that feeling where you read the last word of a book you’ve really been into? The intense satisfaction, the feeling of accomplishment? The mental montage of flashbacks and emotions? The disappointment as you suddenly realize it was the LAST word? That is kind of how I’m feeling as I write this post.

Whereverthere has run its course.  It is officially and affectionately bidding adieu to the blogosphere.

I can’t help but laugh out loud as I skim over our posts and read bits and pieces.  I can’t keep the fun to myself, so here is a quick look back:

Whereverthere had humble beginnings…two creative goddesses extending an invitation to a clumsy would-be goat herder.  Thanks to facebook’s historical archives, I have bits of

Kristin and Erika “kidding” around

Erika’s original invitation to me preserved for generations to come:

Charity Shumway and I have been talking for a loooong time about starting a ‘lifestyle’ blog (whatever that means) together. We kept talking and talking about having another person do it with us and we’ve basically decided that it has to be you. We’re in it for the fun, fame, and fortune – no pressure. We think it will be the beginning of our Empire. Mwah ha ha ha ha.

We’ve been batting around ideas for a couple of weeks, and we thought it might be cool to have the girl in the city (Charity, who lives the glamorous life of wine tastings and celebrity sightings in NYC’s West Village), the girl in the country (yes, that’s you. Two words: goat. shed.), and ummmm…the girl in the Wild, Wild, West (who is wrestling angry, aggressive little wild pigs)?

The way I envision it, posts could be about anything, really – celebrity sightings, the crazy antics of your kids and/or goats, projects, links and clips, overheard conversations, etc.

I think we covered the “etc.” pretty well, don’t you?  And so, Whereverthere was born. I love how Erika summed it up on the About Us page.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

No, actually it was pretty much just the worst of times.  After all, it was Jr. High School.  As a matter of fact, the best thing to come out of  those years of awkwardness, orthodontia, and grunge fashion might just be this blog.  Separated by years and distance from those days (thank goodness), we are now three thirty-something friends living in three different parts of the country, blogging ourselves into oblivion.”

Charity and Kristin Get Goated.

Here are a few Whereverthere stats for you:

Number of Posts: 108, er 9

Top Commenters:   Jillaire and “that Catherine Girl” (you both win happy thoughts from three ways)

Top search terms:  “turning 32” and “chia seed”

Weirdest search terms: “goat eats my skirt,” “girl urinating behind dumpster” (I do not even know what that one links to) “bacon worm egg” and “window chicks” (probably did not link to what they were hoping to find.) Oh, and any number of combinations using the word “teat.”  We are so proud.

Top 3 posts:

It’s a Walking Dead Man’s Party: Friday the 13th at our house.

Down and Dirty Birthday

Udder Envy: Misadventures in Raising Goats

So What Happened?  Well…

We had a glorious 2011.  The laughs were plentiful.  The pictures were diverse and diverting.  There were touching moments, and even tears.  I look back at my bumbling first year of homesteading and turn as red as my hair.  Charity painted pictures of New York’s quirky side and Erika heated up the Arizona scene with her wit and “spicy talk.” I loved our shared memories of 911 and our attempt at a tri-state cooking show.  And can you say random? I had to share this picture/happy thought on wheels from Charity one more time, because why not?

Charity says: It’s like one of those crocheted toiled paper covers your grandma has, but for a bike.

Charity’s novel, you can’t put it down!

And then three busy girls got even busier.  Whereverthere moved to the back burner and began to thin out.  Charity skyrocketed to stardom with the release of her first novel, Ten Girls to Watch.  It is an awesome read.  Erika is writing exciting chapters in her life story as adventures unfold for her and her family. And me? Well I am just plain shy as a stand alone.  If I were in a marvel comic, I would be wearing the lime green tights of a side kick for sure.

And so it is that the women of whereverthere are branching out in whatever ways.  So perhaps this is not an ending so much as a divergence.  Funny, the homework assignment to explicate “two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less travelled by” popped into mind courtesy of the English class we shared in 9th grade (shout out Mrs Shinn!)  We share common roots, and it has been so fun to see where we have blossomed. (Did I really just say blossomed?)

Whereverthere wraps up with warm fuzzy thank you’s. Seriously though, thank you for reading.  Thanks for allowing us the thrill of checking stats and comments and publishing the ramblings of our minds. Thanks for laughing, sharing, and connecting with us.

And from the bottom of my heart thank you, Erika and Charity, for getting me to write!  I never would have ventured into personal writing were it not for your encouragement, love, and humor.  (Cue heartwarming acoustic music here.) Keep up with Charity on either of these sites: or  And Erika, well, we can only beg for more!!! (Flashmob her house, anyone?)

As the credits roll, I want to exit with an invite, a giveaway, and warm well wishes.

  • Come visit me at my new site  I will continue to write about my farming attempts, my family antics, and my passion for whole living (especially food!)  I am just getting it up and going, but hope to fill it in with recipes, tips, tales and talk.  Connect on Facebook and let me know what you would like to see or if you have interest in guest blogging!
  • In the spirit of celebration, tribute to my new favorite author, and good old fashioned bribery, I am giving away a copy of Charity’s novel.  Simply enter your email below and click the enter sweepstakes button.  I will put all the names in a bucket and let a goat select the lucky winner.  Don’t worry, the book is free of barnyard odors…I think.
  • Finally, Whereverthere has been a way for us to celebrate our lives, wherever we are.  Here’s wishing you the courage, energy, and humor to make your wherevertheres exactly where you want to be.

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