The Life of an Ordinary Woman (a fascinating book)

“To really learn about history, there is nothing quite as good as a memoir.”

-KS

This book. I am mesmerized as I turn the pages. I am transported to a time that few books have written about, particularly by women. What was it like during the mining booms? What was it like to live in the mountains in a time where corsets, trains, and horse drawn sleighs were the norm? One could read textbooks and proper dates and names, but to be transported there, a memoir is necessary.

I love memoirs about homesteading and farming (not to mention memoirs from the 1800’s or travel memoirs, or autobiographies- I just love to know about people) and I find that I learn so much more in tales of recollection than I do in DIY books. The Life of an Ordinary Woman by Anne Ellis is a fascinating and clear account of her life. She came to Colorado in a covered wagon. She was raised in a mining town. Her coming of age story speaks openly about her first love, her exasperation with her mother being with child all of the time, her accounts of helping to raise her siblings. The entertainment, decor, and lifestyles of this time are at the same time so different than our current lives, yet oddly similar.

This memoir spans from 1875 to 1918 but continues the dialogue in the introduction and in a second book. We read a lot of male accounts of history but this brave woman’s accounts showed me intimately just how damn hard it was back then. Anything we face in this day and age just cannot compare to the trials and every day dilemmas of that time. Her mother had a phrase when people were doing well, “They are having their white bread now.”

I had a dear friend when I was young who was born in 1892 so it reminds me that this story was not so long ago. I find myself wanting a long black dress trimmed in velvet with hoops beneath. I wonder if that will come back into style. The fun of this book is that it takes place in Colorado, not very far from where I reside. So the names from Pueblo to Westcliff, to Denver and Salida are at once familiar yet foreign, as it was all so very different. This book is a fascinating account of a women’s life as a bride and mother, life in mining camps in Colorado in the 1800’s, of life, love, loss, and hope, and most importantly, it is an accurate account of history. I do hope you will read it!

Getting Back to Simple (and paying off debt)

book

We are firm believers in the powers of intention and manifestation.  You can paint your life however you wish.  We were desperately trying to manifest more income.  On the full moon we generally each light a candle of gratitude and ask for what we would like to see in our life.  Usually it’s more income.  Then it kind of hit me, we have actually doubled our income since June when Doug found a job.  Our online business has picked up and my work down south has too so it’s not a matter of making more money.  I realized we have been spending more money!

Oh, it’s so easy to do, isn’t it?  There was the debt to start paying again, of course, but there are plenty of places money falls through the cracks.  When I first started this blog over five years ago we were seriously starting to homestead.  Before we moved from that house I was canning four hundred jars of produce, growing food and ninety percent of my medicine herbs, had chickens, and Doug milked goats each morning.  I learned to make cheese.  I hand washed our clothes in an old wash bin with a handy plunger-like item that got our clothes far cleaner than the washer.  (We had all our kids at home and a grandbaby on the way so we did go get a washer.  Our washer here still doesn’t clean for anything.)  I made our body products (we sell them in our shop), cleaning products, sewed and handmade presents, and had like minded friends near by.

Being frugal is so much a part of being a homesteader.  Having some money set aside to get by is only a part of it.  I want to get rid of all of our debt (except the house) this year, fifteen months max.  My ideas never go as planned, but it is a good goal!  Debt is our jailor.

But it’s not just about money.  Once we moved around and lost and found ourselves again I had stopped making our own things.  Our skin is drier, we are paying five times more for organic body products when I can make my own.  Same with cleaning products.  I seem to have forgotten how to be frugal.  Frugalness is eco-friendly, healthier, savvier, and freer.  It is in the Homesteader’s Ten Commandments.

I hadn’t been to the library for a year because I have been playing at the book store (expensive!) and I decided that was a good first step.  Walking out of the library with a pile of books and movies makes me feel like I’m robbing the place!  Free knowledge!  I picked up a gem (which I may have to buy) called “Little House Living” by Merissa A. Alink.  As things run out I make the homemade version.  Her book is inspiring.  I have already made the dish soap (took five seconds and very little cash).  I could have written this book four years ago.  I love it and I love that it’s getting me back on track.  I love her rice mix, and her youth, and her story, and her recipes.  She shows us (or reshows us) that it takes no time at all to make your own things and the benefits far outweigh the minimum time and cost.

We will get that debt paid off and I will get back to my Little House on the Prairie self.  It’s good for the soul.

What are some ways that you stay frugal?