Author Archives: Revel

And then came the rain

We are on day number three of non-stop rain and here is a glance at our yard. Thankfully we’re up on a hill and have no problems with a flooded basement. My newly planted peas, on the other hand, have a different story to tell!

Keeping a garden journal

I’m starting to understand the hard work being a homesteader takes. Spring has arrived and I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’m usually able to keep my “to-do-list” in my head and get most things accomplished. Blame it on the “mommy brain” or blame it on the fact that I’ve started to dream too big an have begun more projects than I can handle.

We all know that the key to being successful at anything is to start small and slowly build up to where you envisioned yourself to be. Being organized is the beginning accomplishing anything. With this in mind I’m going to take the time these next couple of weeks to organize the Cotsford home beginning with the garden. We have purchased our seeds, planted some, built two raised beds, and began the task of renovating an area of our land for the garden (which involves removing a gazebo first). I need to get ourselves organized cause I’m forgetting things like those seeds we started and are growing under a lamp in the basement!

Garden journals are a great way to write down things like what seeds were planted, when they were planted, and where they were purchased from. It’s a way for you to look back to see why certain crops were a success and what pests were problems and so on.  Garden journals don’t have to be fancy books purchased from the bookstore and you don’t have to spend hours writing down details. For some ideas on what a garden journal entails or if you’d like to design your own in a notebook check out these sites: Arbico-Organics and

Photo credit.

Planting our peas

Last weekend we took advantage of the warm sunny weather and began to work on our garden. Michael spent a great deal of time digging out an area where we planted our peas. Because our soil is so full of rocks, he built something to shift out the rocks. What a difference that made!

I’ve been wanting my own vegetable garden. Unfortunately the best location for a garden  is right where the gazebo stands (it’s where the morning sun likes to shine). Michael is currently looking for ways to sell the gazebo so we can build a full fledged garden in it’s place.

In the meantime, to keep me busy and happy, he’s building some raised beds where I can begin on an herb garden. I have started some of my seedlings (both herbs and vegetables) in containers in the basement. Once the raised beds are finished and weather (and Caroline) permit, I will transport them outside into their permanent home.

For more pictures click here.

Happy 1/2 Year Caroline

It’s so hard to believe that we are half way through Caroline’s first year. The days, at times, have seemed long, but how fast they grow up! She’s already learning how to sit up on her own, crawl backwards, eat her first real foods, and cry when I leave the room (not so fun!).

Choosing Cloth Diapers – Part Two

When I first started looking into cloth diapers, I was blessed to have a dear friend loan me some of her pre-folds. And that’s exactly what she said, “I’ll loan you some of my pre-folds.” I was like, “sure” though I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. She dropped off a big box filled with what looked like really big face cloths. I was totally dumbfounded and lost. It took a lot of time, research, and determination but I finally overcame my anxiety about using cloth diapers and realized how easy they are.

In my quest to sort out my confusion on the cloth diaper options, I stumbled across Green Mountain Diapers (GMD), an excellent website that provides detailed descriptions about the various kinds of cloth diapers, along with pictures of how they look on actual babies. With so many options available, choosing and buying cloth diapers can become very expensive and confusing. I ended up purchasing most of my them from GMD. I found their prices competitive and I like that I’m supporting a local New England business. In short, here’s my two cents worth of advice:

  • If you’re a stay-at-home mom (or dad) and have easy access to a washer and drier and are looking to use cloth diapers to save money, then I recommend either pre-fold or birds-eye flat diapers. I am extremely happy with my choice of using the organic pre-folds. If I were to do it again, however, I may have gone with the birds-eye flats; that’s how easy and comfortable I felt with the pre-folds. You’ll also notice how really inexpensive these types of diapers are compared to other cloth diapers and especially to disposable.
  • If you’re able to spend more money, then I highly recommend fitted diapers. Fitted diapers are designed with elastic in the waistband and leg areas to provide a more snug fit. They also have built in closures, such as Velcro, which eliminate the need for Snappis or pins. These type of diapers are much better at reducing leakage. I used several fitted diapers during the first couple of months. I found them to be extremely helpful with those very loose bowel movements that newborns tend to have.
  • Finally, if you’re using childcare or if money is simply not an issue then I highly recommend All-in-Ones. These are fantastic diapers in that no additional items are needed for a change. There are some companies that design All-in-Ones in a one-size fits all. one type of cloth diaper is certainly not a hang up! In fact that is how I started, mostly cause I was interested to see what was the best option.

My final piece of advice when choosing cloth diapers is “have fun!” I’ve only listed the general descriptions of the main kind of cloth diapers but there many more to choose from. Choose a few cloths and see how they work of you. I can promise that no matter what kind of cloth you choose you won’t be unhappy.

In addition to choosing what kind of cloth diapers suits you best, there are endless options of accessories available. Unless you are using an All-in-One, you will need a diaper cover and some sort of diaper pin. I will write more on the accessories in another post.

Photo credit.

Sustaining Joy

Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.  C.S. Lewis

Ever have one of those days when everything seems to fail, fall apart, or even fall away. Forget “days” I have had weeks, years, and even a decade of the such. And then suddenly it seemed I awoke from it all (whatever it was) to find my life in complete order, such happiness and content all over and within me. I know I’m fortunate as there are many whose entire lives are in a constant messy state, many even die and leave this world in such disarray. Often times, it seems so unfair. How could God or any giver of life allow such things? Of course many times we bring ourselves into the mess, but there are so many other times when the mess just seems to latch on and follow us wherever we go.

Now that I have my own daughter, you bet I’m seeing the world a bit differently. I want so badly to keep all the evil and sadness as far away as possible. I know there will come a time when she will face deep darkness and sorrow, that there will be many failures in her life, and that she will go through days or perhaps even years when nothing seems to work. Just knowing this breaks my heart. But, as parents we can’t keep the things of life away from our children. We can, however, equip them with the resources to handle them. We can also live our lives as an example, allowing them to see that despite the hardships or failures we may face, we have an everlasting hope that gives us joy and a reason to look forward to tomorrow.

When I “awoke” from those years of endless darkness and hardship, it wasn’t as if my life suddenly turned peachy and cleaned itself up. What changed was the condition of my heart and how I viewed the world around me. Although my heart and life were broken, I had a joy within me that was sustaining, a joy that no one, nothing could ever take away.

Photo credit.

Cheap and easy cleaning solutions

There are tons of recipes for making your own cleaning solutions available on the internet. My search left me feeling overwhelmed! Here are a few ideas that I ran across which I felt offered the cheapest and easiest solutions:

All-Purpose Cleaner:

  • 1/2 cup of vinegar
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 gallon of lukewarm water
  • a few drops of lemon oil

Mix the vinegar, baking soda, and lemon oil into the water. Store and keep until ready to use. Now how easy can you get?! Using lemon oil instead of just plain lemons is recommended as the juice form the lemons may attract ants or other unwanted insects.

Bathroom Disinfectant:

To treat the mold and scum in the bathroom, mix one part hydrogen peroxide with two parts water in spray bottle.  After treating the area with the solution, it’s best to wait at least an hour before rinsing it off with water.

Thyme Cleaner

2 1/2 cups water
1 handful of thyme (fresh or dried)
2 tablespoons of white vinegar
A squirt of liquid castille soap

Add thyme to a pot of boiling water, cover and let it simmer over medium-low heat.  Let the water-thyme solution simmer for as along as possible, up to a couple of hours if possible. Once the water cools down, strain off the thyme and poor it into a spray bottle Add the vinegar and soap and you’re ready to go.

Furniture Polish

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
20 drops lemon essential oil

Combine all the ingredients in a bottle and shake. Moisten a clean, dry cloth into the polish and rub the furniture in the direction of the grain.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Sprinkle toilet bowl with baking soda and then drizzle with white vinegar. Let the solutions sit for at least 20 minutes then scrub with toilet brush. A squirt of essential oil (such as lavender) will always help to enhance the smell!

Additional items:

  • Microfiber cloths – these are the latest rave in cleaning with claims they can clean up most “dirt” without anything needed but water. I will write more about these later.
  • Rags – try using old tee shirts torn into small pieces
  • Spray bottles – if possible use old spray bottles from previous cleaning solutions
  • Essential oils – can be applied to almost any solution for a more gentle smell.

New toys and taste testing real food

The other day we visited the Children’s Orchard and picked up a few more toys. By far her favorite is the hippo!

We’ve also begun to experiment with giving her solid foods. At dinner time I just give her some olive oil or coconut oil to play and taste. Sometimes I’ll put some cooked pasta in front of her to touch and keep her entertained. Yesterday morning was the first time she tasted egg yolk that was mixed with olive oil and seasoned (very lightly) with unrefined sea salt. I don’t think she actually swallowed anything but she certainly enjoyed making a mess of herself!

For more pictures click here.

Why I love my cloth diapers – Part One

I LOVE my cloth diapers. Oh let me count the ways:

  1. They’re soft
  2. They’re 100% natural; no chemicals are used to make them
  3. They’re super easy to use
  4. They’re inexpensive compared to disposables
  5. They won’t be sitting in the dump in 500 years; although energy is used to wash them it’s a fraction of the energy needed to make disposables
  6. They can be used for subsquent children
  7. Cloth diapered children tend to potty-train earlier; the cloth tends to hold moisture closer to baby’s skin

But cloth diapers is certainly not for everyone. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Does your baby have super sensitive skin? Statistically, babies that wear disposables are more prone to diaper rashes, compared to babies in cloth diapers.
  2. Do you have the time, space, and patience to run frequent washes? If you choose cloth, you’ll probably want to forgo a diaper service, they literally use tons and tons of toxic bleach, which is terrible for the environment and baby.
  3. Are finances a concern? As a general rule, you’ll save about 30 percent if you choose cloth over even bargain disposables. However, there are now so many kinds of cloth diapers available, that you can end up spending much more than you bargained for. 
  4. Is water a tight commodity where you live? If so, cloth may not actually be the greenest option.

I will write more on the types of cloth diapers I have tried and what I find to be the most successful for us as a family.

For photo credit click here.