Breathe

Once in a while, you need to just take a breath.  With so much going on, every day…a constant merry-go-round of activity, sometimes you just have to step off the ride and sit on the bench for a minute.

Between homesteading projects, blogging, work, homework, non-profit, house-work, and just trying to stay sane…I need a breather.  Tonight – after I hit the ‘publish’ button – my butt is sitting in this chair and not moving unless absolutely necessary.

It’s going to be me, and my good friend Netflix.

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Tomorrow, I’m back at it.  Between laundry and dishes, sweeping and sorting/purging stuff that’s still sitting in bags and boxes since the move – I’m going to attempt my first try at turning solid Castile soap into liquid Castile soap using this as a guide.  I got my bars on Tuesday (super fast delivery service from Amazon!!), and I’m excited to get started on my base for my products including dish soap, laundry soap, and foaming hand soap (among many others).

But tonight… I do nothing.

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Rub It In

Physical labor often comes with hearty helpings of muscle soreness and aches and pains.  And although we don’t yet have land, we have a decent size yard and I’m anticipating loads of physical labor come Spring time.  Couple that with Hubby being a contractor (construction), and you can probably ascertain that muscle rubs are typically in demand in my house.

A few days ago, I attempted (and succeeded!) my very first DYI homemade product (See post here).  Now I’ve got my second under my belt, and I can wait to see how well it works in comparison to commercially and chemically engineered brands.  Hubby’s going to be my Guinea pig as he’s had a very sore shoulder for the past few weeks, and nothing seems to really help other than applying heat compresses.

I like knowing that what I’m rubbing on our skin is filled with only healthful and beneficial ingredients.  Nothing I can’t pronounce!  Knowing that whatever I put on my skin is flowing freely through my blood stream within 26 seconds, really makes me stop and think before I apply anything.  No wonder so many people get sick with cancers and other horrible and fatal illnesses.  Our daily lives are filled with chemicals and toxins that were never meant to come in contact with human skin, and yet we continue to slather in on day after day without a second’s hesitation.

Going back to the basics with homesteading should also mean going back to the basics with everything else.  I’m not saying you have to stop buying your favorite perfume, or sell your car.  I’m not here to tell anyone what to do.  I’m just saying we should really become more aware, and make better choices when it comes to what we allow into our bodies – whether through our mouth, or our pores.

To make this Muscle Rub, you’re going to need:

  • 4 tsp. organic beeswax
  • 1 cup organic virgin coconut oil
  • 12-15 drops vitamin E oil
  • 15 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
  • 15 drops *RC Essential Oil
  • 15 drops Lavender Essential Oil

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I chopped up the wax (I have to invest in a designated grater just for it…or bite the bullet and order the pellets online), and measured out the coconut oil into a bowl, and added the vitamin E oil.  I didn’t measure the oil, I used 3 capsules, which is about 12-15 drops.  I put my bowl in a large got filled with about 2 inches of water and set the heat to medium.  I didn’t want it boiling, but hot enough to melt the oil and wax.  When it’s completely melted, remove from heat.

You want to add your oils now, before it starts solidifying, and stir well so it’s completely incorporated.  (You can also wait until you’ve poured it into your jars to add your oils individually – in lesser amounts of course – but I prefer to do it all at once.

This gave me enough to fill three jars (about 3.5 oz each.)…the last one is almost full.  It doesn’t take very long for the mixture to start solidifying again.  Just set your jars on a flat surface and let them rest until they’ve cooled completely.

And now that it’s ready to use…Hubby is going to be my Guinea pig to see if this stuff actually works!!! 🙂 …update to come! 🙂

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My goal is to replace all – every single one! – of our chemical-filled products, with all-natural, skin-loving, health-saving, body-nourishing products.  One bottle at a time. 🙂

Here’s my breakdown:

Coconut oil – Same free container I used for the lip balm.

Beeswax – $5.99, and I only used about 1/8th of my piece.  Cost for this batch is about $0.74

Vitamin E Oil – $8.99 for the bottle, and it has 100 capsules.  I used 3.  Cost for this batch, $0.27

Peppermint Essential Oil – $27 for 15mL.  I used 15 drops – $1.01 for this batch

RC Essential Oil – $13 for 5mL.  I used 15 drops – $1.62 for this batch

Lavender Essential Oil – FREE – it was a gift.  If I had paid for it, it would have added $1.09 to my batch.

Glass pots – 2 @ $1.00 each & 1 @ $1.49 – $3.49

My breakdown:

Price of a 3 oz tube of Icy Hot: $10.49 (at my local drug store)

Price of a 1 oz tube of Voltaren: $11.99 (at my local drug store)

Price of three 3.5 oz. tub of my own DIY Muscle Rub: $7.13 ($8.22 if I had paid for the lavender)

Divided by 3 = $2.38 each. (or $2.74 with the lavender)

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*RC Essential Oil is a Young Living blend of Eucalyptus, Myrtle, Spruce, Peppermint, Pine, Lavender, Marjoram, and Cypress.  I wanted to use Eucalyptus but didn’t have any on hand, so I used what I had.  I know it already contains the Peppermint and Lavender, but I didn’t think a little extra would do any harm.

 

                                             ********** UPDATE **********

This muscle rub is a little bit finicky – it doesn’t warm like commercial brands, but I’m very happy to say that it does in fact work very well to alleviate muscle aches and pains!  The key is to keep it at room temperature…a little too warm and it’s too soft…a little too cool and it’s rather hard and you have to scrape it up.  *** NOTE: Less is more – a little goes a long way.  Make sure to rub in well as the main ingredient is oil and you don’t want your clothes to get oily.   

BONUS: The coconut oil also acts as a wonderful moisturizer for your skin 😉 

When Life Gives You Bananas

Ever since I’ve built my DIY compost bin, I’ve been a bit of a produce scrap monster.  Other than collecting it at home, and at the office, I also now have a co-worker bring me HER scraps (I didn’t ask, honest!!)…in return, I’m going to give her a bag of compost when it’s good and ready!  But being winter, everything is just freezing pretty much as soon as I throw it onto the compost pile.

Canadian winters – at least the last few years – can be quite unpredictable.  Gotta love global warming.  One day, it can be a blizzard, or an ice storm and -25 Celsius…two days later it can be 5 degrees and melting.  The last few days have been really mild – although they did include a pretty horrible attack from the ice queen – and now most lawns are completely melted.  My front yard is mostly still all snow, but my back yard has large spots of grass.  So when I got home tonight, I seized the moment!

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When I tossed all of my donated scraps in the compost after work, I noticed a large area at the top of the yard where the snow was completely melted, and copious amounts of still un-raked, beautiful nitrogen-rich maple leaves were just laying there, begging to be collected!  So I hunted out my rake and piled those suckers on top of the frozen scrap heap! These leaves have been sitting there so long, they’re already well into the decomposing stage, and I’m hoping will continue their process, providing heat to the rest of the material and give it a little boost in the right direction!

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I also got a bit of a treasure in today’s bag of scraps – bananas!!  Seven frozen and thawed, mushy bits of perfection!  Needless to say, those did NOT make it to the compost pile…but rather, ended up directly in my oven in the form of Coconut-Banana Cakes/Loaves (I only have 1 loaf pan, so the other one became a cake lol)!  YUM!  I even healthed-up (Edie-ism!!!) the recipe I found – replaced the sugar with honey (in lesser amounts) and substituted the all-purpose flour for whole wheat.  Couldn’t help myself…had a piece straight out of the oven!  I do believe I’ll bring her one tomorrow, a little present for her generous donations to my compost!

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Lip Doctor

One of the things on my mile-long To Do List – on my road to becoming self-sufficient – is to eventually make all of my own health, beauty and hygiene products…au naturel of course!  So I thought I’d start off with something not only simple, but something I use on a daily basis!  Lip balm!  But not just ANY lip balm!  This is a copy-cat medicated lip balm recipe I found on Pinterest (of course!), and it really couldn’t be easier to make!  Only five ingredients too!

  • 3 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Cocoa Butter (OMG this stuff smells AMAZING!!!)
  • 2 Tbsp. Beeswax
  • 3-4 Drops Vitamin E Oil
  • 72 Drops Wintergreen Essential Oil

That’s it!  I found bottled vitamin E oil at the health store in town but a bottle of vitamin E capsules was about half the price so I got that instead and used 1 capsule (poked it and squeezed the oil out of it).

So the instructions call for a double boiler, but I didn’t want to use mine for this so I improvised.  In my biggest pot, I dropped a mason jar drink lid and filled it with about three inches of water, and put my Pyrex bowl on the lid.  Voila!

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I put all of the ingredients in the bowl, except for the essential oil – that’s added at the very end!  Turn the heat to medium – you don’t want it to boil but you want it hot enough to melt your ingredients.  Then stir occasionally until it’s all melted, and remove from heat!

You don’t want to take your time too much here because it doesn’t take very long for it to solidify again.  If that happens, don’t worry, just put it back in the hot water pot until it’s melted again – no biggy! 🙂

Once it’s off the heat, add your 72 drops of Wintergreen essential oil and stir so it’s well incorporated.

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I didn’t want to make a mess – and knowing me, I would have – so I used a medicine syringe to fill my pots.  This made enough to fill three 1 oz glass pots (I believe you can fill 20 lip balm tubes if you want to go that route.)

Honestly, I love Blistex medicated lip balm – I just don’t love all of the ingredients.  When this is something I put on my mouth, and ultimately will end up ingesting in some amounts whether I want to or not…well, I’d like to know there’s nothing icky in there.  This lip balm has nothing but natural and beneficial ingredients, and you can feel good about putting it on your skin.  You’re not going to find the gooey,petroleum jelly-like consistency here…it’s a little thinner because it’s oils and butters…but one swipe on my lips, and I’m sold!

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As for price differences…well, lets see!  My tub of Blistex cost me $4.99 and it’s about half the size of one of these pots.

Here’s my breakdown:

Coconut oil – Free…a friend gave it to me.

Cocoa Butter – $16.99 for a 7 oz. jar…I don’t know how it’s calculated but when I grated out 2 Tbsp. I still had a shit ton left.  Probably enough for another 10 batches or more.  So cost for this batch is about $1.54

Beeswax – $5.99, and I only used about 1/8th of my piece.  Cost for this batch is about $0.74

Vitamin E Oil – $8.99 for the bottle, and it has 100 capsules.  I used 1.  Cost for this batch, $0.09

Essential Oil – $22 for 15mL.  I used 72 drops, which is about 1/6 of the bottle.  Cost for this batch, $3.66

Glass pots – 3 @ $0.99 each – $2.97

So this batch cost me $9.00 in total, for three 1 oz pots…$3 each.  And remember, they’re twice the size of the store bought version, so to get the same amount of the store bought, I’d have to pay $9.98.  My friends, I just saved myself $20.94…not too shabby!!!! 🙂  Now granted, I did save a little on my coconut oil, but even if I had purchased it, it takes so little for the recipe that you’d probably only be adding a few cents per pot.

I don’t know about you… but that makes me really really happy!

First DYI Product Project…SUCCESS!!!!

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Garden by Design ~7~

Am I the only one who finds that winter can sometimes be a little depressing?  I’m not talking about cabin fever, or even snow or cold.  I’m talking about the lack of color outside! But what about plants that can stay green and colorful right through the cold and snow? And what about when these same plants can give you a natural pain reliever…Nature’s Aspirin.

I’m talking about Wintergreen.  This one will be part of an experiment.  There are a few products I want to attempt to make – and Wintergreen is the major component.  And although I’m going to try making these products now (well, SOON!), with purchased Wintergreen essential oil – it’s going to be a project…I’m going to attempt (learn) how to make my own essential oils…starting with Wintergreen!  🙂

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Wintergreen has WAY too many health benefits to list…it just goes on and on and on!  The one that really attracts me the most is its analgesic properties!  And although I’m not currently ‘working the land’, one day I will be – and with that comes a lot of aches and pains.  Wintergreen will by my little sidekick – helping me keep Hubby and myself in tip-top shape!  Until I experiment with making my own various essential oils, I’m getting them from my good friend Amanda!  (Check out her link, she’s super nice and working very hard trying to build up her business…and did I mention she’s super nice?)

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Have you tried (and succeeded or failed) at making your own essential oils?  Do you have any tips or tricks?  Do you use Wintergreen for anything?

Back to Work!

Is it just me, or is the last day of your holidays before you have to go back to work always the fastest day you can remember?  I swear, I just woke up, and now it’s 7:30 and I’ve gotta go back to work tomorrow.  Not that I don’t like my job – I do – but honestly, who wouldn’t want to just be home and do what THEY want all the time?? 🙂

I can’t wait for the day that I do have my land, and my own off-grid homestead, and a passive income source, so I can quit working for a paycheck.  A lot of people would probably think I’m crazy to think that’s even possible.  In a world where everyone is just looking for more – more money, more stuff – I’m actually looking for less.  Well, not yet – I still need the money right now so I can become debt-free and have a little nest egg – but the plan is to have a modest passive income that will enable to me to stay home and ‘keep house’ …or rather, ‘keep homestead’!

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I need your help, fellow homesteaders and bloggers!!  How do you do it?  How do, or did,  you create an income source to allow you to quit your day job?  Or do you still have a day job?  I’m looking for ideas on what I can do to build this NOW, so that when the time comes in three to five years, it’s already fully established and polished and running like a well-oiled machine.  I live in town, so any type of income from farming is out of the question for now.  What are YOUR sources of income?  I know a lot of you have thousands of followers – are you able to generate any revenue from your blogs?  If so, how, and is it substantial enough to live off of?  Help!!!

*** ALL COMMENTS AND SUGGESTIONS INVITED, WELCOME, AND APPRECIATED!! ***

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Garden by Design ~6~

I have to admit it.  I’m sorta, kinda, very much addicted to pesto.  I love it!  Pasta just isn’t the same without it, chicken and fish dishes rise to a whole new level, and roasted potatoes…I’m drooling just writing about it!  It’s like, summer in your mouth, with every single mouth-watering bite!  And I know these days there are thousands of recipes using all different types of herbs…but for me, the classic, fresh taste of basil remains the best!

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And if the bright green, fragrant and delectable leaves aren’t enough to entice any gardener,  the health properties should help tip the scales!  Not only is it good for heart health, but it also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that will allow you to get healthy without the prescriptions.  I don’t know about you, but that’s a huge deal for me!  I found this amazing blogger (her image below with web address),  her posts are really informative and I think you’ll like her!!

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In the garden, it’s also a little sanity saver.  It’s been known to repel flies, mosquitoes (Yayyy!!!), asparagus beetles and whiteflies!  Now, I don’t plan on growing asparagus this year, but I could definitely do without flies and mosquitoes!!!  I think this one will be planted in the main garden beds AND on the patio garden!

And of course, as much as I love it and want to save every bit of it…I’m not completely greedy!  A couple of plants will be grown specifically to leave to flower, so I can give back a little by feeding the bees and other beneficial pollinators…and save a few seeds in the process!  It’s all about give and take with dear old Mother Nature!

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Garden by Design ~5~

After all of the pretty colors I’ve added so far, I think I’m overdue for some fragrant greenery.  I’m going to have a lot of fresh herbs for cooking but the first one I’m going to talk about is Rosemary.

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Not only does this grow in a beautiful lush bush, but it also has so many great benefits for your garden, your home, and your health!

In the garden, it can be your own little bodyguard for your carrots, cabbages, and beans!  I looked it up, and all of those veggies are okay to plant together – BONUS! – so the idea is to plan my garden so that I’ve got all three of those yummies growing in the same general area, and then surround them with a few rosemary bushes!  This green beauty will keep the carrot flies at bay, wage war on the cabbage  worm (cabbage looper), plan a secret attack on the slugs and snails, and organize a coup against the Mexican bean beetle!  I’ve found this list incredibly informative!

We all know that it goes wonderfully with a juicy rack of lamb, but it also does so much more.  When you look up the health benefits of Rosemary – the first one that usually comes up is that it does wonders in boosting your memory!  So if you’re anything like me (my long term memory is fabulous – short term?  Not so much!) you might want to also keep some in a pretty pot on your kitchen counter!  I haven’t done this just yet, but it’s definitely going to happen as soon as Hubby builds me my window shelves above the kitchen sink!

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It’s also said that the aroma will help combat stress, anxiety and improve your overall mood!  Feeling a little crabby?  Stick your face in this little cutie and inhale deeply a couple of times!

But that’s not all!  It also helps strengthen your immune system, relieve tummy troubles, fight bad breath and bacterial infections, help blood flow, and be a general natural pain reliever!  You can read more about all of these in the same place I did – HERE!

 

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All in all – a great addition to any garden, big or small!  What’s in YOUR garden?

Goals…Not Resolutions

I learned a long time ago that new year’s resolutions and I, we don’t play so well together. So I make goals.  Goals are more lenient I think, than absolute resolutions.  I thought I’d follow the going trend and share what I’m hoping to accomplish in 2017!

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Good health.  I’ve told myself that my birthday present to myself is good health, and to lose 37 pounds in my 37th year.  I have a lot more than that to lose, but 37 is my goal.  (I’ll have a post in the next week or so about how I’m planning on giving myself the boost (AKA kick in the ass) I need to get in gear!

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Reduce procrastination.  As I’ve mentioned, I’m the biggest procrastinator I know.  It’s really awful and it has to stop.  I need to start making to-do lists, and creating deadlines for myself, and then adhering to them!  This would eliminate so much stress from my lift, and create so much more, ‘order’, if you will.  Yep – this week, I’m going to buy a notebook especially for this task.  It’s settled!

Things to Do.

Clean up the rest of my debts, finish repairing my credit, and start some serious savings.  I really don’t have that far to go in order to do the first, which in turn would take care of the second.  I just have to bare down and get it done…a follow-through with the last goal will ensure this happens.  As for the savings, I’ve already started, but I need to kick it up a few notches and get Hubby involved!

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Execute the garden I’m so diligently planning.  It’s all find and good to write about what I want to plant, and to put it all down on paper – it’s another story altogether to actually make it happen.  For the last few years I’ve dreamed of beautiful gardens…it’s time to make it real!

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Learn, and put into practice, a few different methods of food preservation – and preserve most of what I grow.  I have a brand new canning bath I’ve never used, I’m thinking of starting that way and then maybe attempting pressure canning once I’ve got the first method mastered.  I’m also hoping to build myself a DIY dehydrator, and/or learn to dehydrate fruits and vegetables in my oven.  I’d prefer the DIY version however, as it’s much more in line with my self-sufficient off-grid dream.  The ultimate goal here is to preserve enough produce (either my own, or purchased at local farmer’s markets) to be able to officially stop purchasing produce from conventional grocery stores.

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I’m sure there will be more goals popping up as the year creeps along – but I’m going to keep it as it is for the time being.  I have a tendency to get overwhelmed and give up, and the plan is to avoid that at all cost.  Keeping the list short will help.

What are your goals and plans for the year ahead?  I’d love to hear them!!!

Welcome, New Year…Goodbye to the Old

It’s so very easy to complain about all of the bad things that have happened to us in the past twelve months.  So easy to frown and say ‘oh it’s been a rough year’, or ‘2016 hasn’t been kind to me’ and ‘I really hope next year is better’.  I’m guilty of all of those things, year after year.  Aren’t we all?

On the radio today, I heard a message I needed to hear.  How about we flip the tables, and instead we look at all the GOOD things that have happened to us this year.  At everything we’ve accomplished – all the fun and adventures we’ve had – the friends we’ve seen – the new things we’ve tried…how about we leave the negativity behind for once?

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We, all of us, go through roller coasters of ups and downs every single year.  It’s time to focus on the good.

  • January started with champagne and o.j. with raspberries, in the company of wonderful friends, followed by high tea, a night out attempting line dancing, frigidly cold weather (to which I complained openly), and wonderful gifts from Mother Nature right in our back yard!  Oh, and I can’t forget seeing my talented daughter on stage for the first time!
  • In February, I left a job where I was miserable (they gave me flowers! I love flowers!), and started a new job with an amazing company, full of amazing people I’ve come to know as friends – 10 months later, I’m still loving it!  (I started this new job on Leap Day – I think that has to be good luck!)…February also brought me an amazing evening out with my siblings-in-law, for a dinner an paint night (where I painted more than just my canvas!)

 

  • March brought me fun and entertainment when I got to see George Canyon up close and personal at Nashville North…AND got to see one of my favorite radio personalities!!  What a night that was!
  • In April, Hubby and I had our own Paint Night date night fun!  (No I’m not taller than him – I’m standing on a step!!)  It’s also the month we got our new-to-us truck (Sherman doesn’t seem to like it at all hahaha!), and I got to spend some quality time with my girl Reese!

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  • In May, I had a wonderful time at a girl’s getaway weekend in wine country, where we spent countless hours laughing and eating and drinking copious amounts of alcohol around a camp fire, and then a fire place when the weather stopped cooperating.
  • In June, I had the pleasure to witness the wedding of my brother-in-law and sweet beautiful new sister-in-law. (I was also able to snag a shot with both of my in-laws at once – a once in a lifetime occurrence!!)  I also celebrated 9 years of having been with my husband (together-versary!) – Oh, and since nobody wanted to go with me, I went on a solo day-trip to the Burlington Sound of Music Festival and had a blast!
  • I want to put something down for July, but honestly I can’t find anything…still, something good must have happened!!! 🙂
  • In August, we celebrated Hubby’s birthday with a massive backyard BBQ party.  We also got the keys to this house we’re now living in, which is going to be the ticket to our dream (Follow my “Method & Madness” series to see how!)
  • September was my girl’s 17th birthday.  Just having her, makes every single day something to celebrate – she makes me so proud each time I look at her!  Beautiful from the inside out, she’s truly a gem!  September was also the month in which my co-founded non-profit organization was born!

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  • October came, and with it our 4th wedding anniversary.  Also, well….it IS Halloween month after all..and that alone makes it a great event!  Although I didn’t win the costume contest at work, I still had a great time creating my costume! (FYI – when applying liquid latex to eyebrows, make sure to protect them before hand…unless you don’t mind going without for a while!)  …October also brought with it an amazing weekend away with my BFF where we stayed in one of Canada’s most haunted Bed & Breakfasts…in the tower room no less!  What an amazing weekend that was!
  • In November, I created this blog! …’nuff said!
  • December has been simply wonderful.  A month in which I finally found my Christmas Spirit, which had been evading me for the last 15 years.  Even if it was here for just a little while, just the fact that I got to experience the true feeling of Christmas by being able to give it to someone else, was enough. ♥

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So lets all just stop complaining – we need to instead, start counting our blessings, and recognizing and focusing on the good moments.  Those are the ones that really count.

We can all wish each other good health, and wealth…but really, that’s overdone.  No amount of wishing good health on someone will have any actual effect on it, and wealth is relative.

So…what I wish for everyone for the new year, is to learn to how to let go of the negative, embrace the positive, be persistent when chasing your dreams, and please don’t give up on them!  Reach out to help another, and be humble enough to accept it in return.  Always offer a smile and a kind word, and expect nothing in return.  Be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be.

Happy New Year my friends, may 2017 be just as filled with wonderful moments as every year past.