Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Riding the Waves of the Changing World: A Blog Format Change

Man, the title of this post sounds like the blog is going to be completely different and sounds rather doom and gloom *laugh*.  Sorry about that.  I've been sitting here for like fifteen minutes, trying to figure out how to title the post, so I finally just threw something up.  It's better than the original blog post title I had typed which was, "Duhhhhhh...." to try and break the writer's block *laugh*.

Anyway, I have been thinking a lot the last few months.  A dangerous past time I know (Beauty and the Beast reference by the way).  And I've been praying a lot, which is always a good idea when you aren't sure how to move forward.  But, yeah, to put it simply something about the blog was bothering me and I had to work it out.

See, the Frugal Friday recaps are great and all, but of late they have been hard to put together and honestly they kind of felt wrong, like I should be focusing on something else.  Enter prayers to help me figure out what I was supposed to do.  Sharing frugal recipes and things seemed like it felt right compared to what I was writing, and after a lot of soul searching, I finally have decided to switch gears on the blog for a while.  I am going to keep sharing tips on how I live frugally and hopefully share them so others might be inspired or those tips themselves might help people, but when it comes to ways I've saved money...honestly I think most people, including me, are going more into frugal survival mode and being able to afford to eat and make bills instead of worrying about if you have saved money that week and honestly?  In the current economic environment, no we are not saving money as hard as I try.  At the moment I'm just trying to not slide backwards and I know a lot of other people are in the same boat.  I've gotten some really panicky e-mails from people, especially those who are just starting out in their own households and things asking me to share real life advice on what to store for food storage on a budget and how to live cheaply because from reading the blog people can quickly go back and realize that we've been penniless and lived off of our food storage and the kindness of others before.  And that is one thing I absolutely can do to hopefully help others.  And I'm hopeful that you all can help in the comments as well and chime in with experiences and other tips.  I've been really blown away by the cool comments on the recipes I've been sharing and everyone's different takes and tips on those recipes.  I've written down more than a few things to try in the future :).

Now I want to address some things I've gotten over e-mail and messages to clear a few things up on what our environment is like where I live in Alaska as a lot of people seemed to be curious about if we could grow a big garden up here, was keeping chickens and a homestead farm viable and other things.

We have a unique set of circumstances in Alaska that others don't have to deal with down south.  For one, I see all over YouTube people telling others to grow their own food and do it now.  Well, if you live up here you are dealing with snow on the ground still (at least in South Central and further North), so trying to put anything in the ground at the moment is ridiculous.  I normally plant at the beginning of June for the most part as the danger of snow is hopefully past by that point.  We have an exceptionally short growing season up here (about 88 days) and we have the problem of permafrost needing to break up before planting can take place, so a lot of things can only be grown in green houses OR things need to be started in green houses to have a shot of reaching maturity up here. We do have some crops that do well up here.  Potatoes, cabbage, carrots...cold weather crops do pretty well here.  We even have a local sweet onion that is grown at some Valley farms that are sweet like Vidalia onions because the soil lacks sulfur just like the soils in Vidalia.  Kind of neat, really.

 There is also the gamble of putting in a garden without a 12' electric fence guarding it as the moose are a problem (as I well know *grumble*).  

So taking all of that into account here is my personal situation right now.  I do not have a greenhouse and I don't see one going in anytime soon (unfortunately as I'd love to have one) nor do I have the money to put up a fence around a big garden, or pay the spike in the electric bill as a result of said fence.  Like many we are living paycheck to paycheck.  So, I'm just hoping I can afford seedlings this year.  With inflation going crazy that's a big question mark right now as I'm getting hives seeing some of the seedling prices coming out of the Lower 48 and I'm doubling that price in my mind for Alaska and getting a wee bit faint at the prospect.  If I can afford seedlings or get my own to grow enough (the son and the cats like to kill plants, but I am going to try),  I can do another container garden on my deck (it is on the second floor where moose and slugs don't go) and between it and the CSA box through our local farm I can hopefully put up as much food as possible for later use.  Past that I'm throwing potatoes into the ground in my yard and hopefully will have a potato crop come fall (moose won't eat potato plants as they are poisonous, so it seemed like a good plan).  Even buying seeds is getting harder this year.  Burpee came out with a notice saying they will not ship up here anymore due to rising shipping costs, so we are already down one seed company.  Stinks, but it is what it is.  Luckily I have some seeds that I bought a few years back that are still viable so hopefully I can get some seedlings going on my own in case I can't afford local ones.

I looked into possibly getting backyard chickens again, but the cost of chicken feed has gone berserk everywhere, bedding has gone up....everything has gone up and when you include shipping costs going up, you see that translate hard up here in the costs of goods.  Up here keeping poultry isn't cheap on a normal day (pre pandemic you could get a dozen local eggs for about 5.00 and that was the cheap end of things with the farmers not making a lot of profit), but now a days it is  definitely NOT cost effective for me to get a few hens again, so I gave up on that idea.  I am going to buy eggs as long as I can afford it and they are available, but otherwise I'm just going to cope.  Buying from local egg producers is an option, but due to rising costs a dozen local eggs is currently running about 9.00 and rising, which is out of my cost range.  Unfortunately, a bunch of local farmers I've seen on Facebook and things are actually starting to get rid of their livestock and things as they can't afford to feed them, which is heartbreaking to see as there is no more dedicated group to pushing and supporting local agriculture than our local farmers.  They have been working for years and years pushing Alaska Grown as a real viable concept and supporting each other in the hopes that we could really get farming to really kick off up here again.  Where farmers and ranchers are suffering in the Lower 48, it compounds up here as everything is just that much more expensive. 

So, yeah, back to more close to home matters, what can you expect from the blog?  I'll be sharing things I'm canning or things I'm doing just like normal, but I am just going to shift gears a bit on how I share things instead of putting them in a frugal recap post.  I'm attempting to get more organized moving forward.  I'll be sharing things as I learn new skills.  I'm currently working on expanding my sewing abilities more so I can cope with things better in the future.  Total aside here but if anyone can recommend some good books on learning to quilt and making your own clothing, I'd appreciate it as I'm not finding much in what I'm looking for.  In general, I'm hoping I can go into a bit more detail on things and how and why I found this or that useful to hopefully help more people in a practical sense.  I know it is clear as mud, right?  Well, just stick with me here.  Hopefully I'll work the kinks out and get down to brass tacks soon :).  I've already got a few posts coming up, hopefully by the end of the week, so stay tuned for that.  

In the meantime I hope everyone is well and that you are riding things out well so far.  Hang in there!


  1. I think you are making an excellent decision. It is more important to meet people where they are at and it appears to be in the same place!! You have excellent ideas and skills. I would love to see more recipes and I love to hear about you and your family. We have to hang in there.
    Barb in PA

  2. Quilting! I wouldn't spend a penny purchasing. This google list has a bunch of videos as well as websites for free quilt patterns. Clothing? It's been cheaper to buy than make since the mid-90s so I stopped. Of course, I'm assuming that required goods to make clothing are equally as high there as purchasing compared to the NW.


    1. I'm mainly trying to find a few books for references for these things as honestly I like printed books for reference. With quilting I'm mainly trying to find a few classic designs to use up small scraps of fabric as I seem to accumulate those when clothing falls apart around here *laugh*.

      With clothing, I'm not planning on making all of our clothes right now. I just think the cost of everything is going to continue to go up and if I need to I want to be able to have a reference so that I can do things like rebuild articles of clothing if I need to or to tailor clothing to fit if we end up having to buy clothing that is bigger than our sizes if that is all that is available at the used stores. Does that make sense, I hope?

    2. I'll presume you have basic sewing skills. My favorite reference book for quilting discusses all aspects of piecing and quilting and even after 20+ years I still use it: https://www.amazon.com/Quilters-Ultimate-Visual-Guide-Quiltmaking/dp/0875969879

      For fabric scraps a great author is Nickel Quilts by Pat Speth-there are several editions. All patterns are based on 5inch squares. I have this one and there is a used copy for $1.71 so for you it's mostly S/H. https://www.amazon.com/Nickel-Quilts-Designs-5-inch-Scraps/dp/1564774163

      This is a free PDF: https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/63276813/download-pdf-new-complete-guide-to-sewing-step-by-step-techniques-for-making-clothes-and-home-accessories-in-format-e-pub

      What guide you need for clothing construction depends on what you want to sew.

      Do you have a library that might have books for you to review before you spend a penny?

      I do have few books I will send you if you want to send me your address.

  3. Erika my husband grows potatoes in trash cans. We also Have a big garden as well but no moose to molest it! Thank goodness.
    I do however have a hundred pound American bulldog! She can be found in the garden picking and eating tomatoes,blueberries and any ripe strawberries.
    I rarely get a strawberry!
    Things are rough for many of us and I suspect it's going to get worse.
    Are there any programs there to get
    Food assistance?
    I know one thing about you,whatever comes your way you'll make the best of it.

  4. Erika, is your Amazon wish list updated? It doesn’t seem to have much on it.

  5. I just want you to know I love your blog, no matter what you write about! I am right there with you when you wrote you are just trying not to slip backwards with everything going on. We are paycheck to paycheck too, we have no other debt except our mortgage and want to keep it that way.

  6. Seed treasures is a company run by a family that homesteads in Northern Minnesota. I figure if it will grow there it will grow in Wisconsin.

    There's books that show how to make quilt squares. Is that what you want? I always like to try a book from the library before committing on buying. Do you have a local quilt guild? That's also been helpful.

  7. Better Homes and Gardens Sewing Book -- it is a hardcover 3 ring binder book and is excellent, very detailed on everything from alterations, to pattern making, assembly, etc. You can usually find inexpensive used copies on Amazon or Ebay - I paid $6.50 for a used copy that is in excellent condition.

  8. I think that sounds really good. I think that Alaska seems such a beautiful place but very hard to live in too. I used to make my childrens clothes but that was about 40 years ago and material was cheap and easy to find. I am trying to start quilting but like you I prefer books. Also most web sites on the subject make it so expensive. I just want to use what I have. As I live in a small apartment I was paying £30 monthly for gas and electricity. I just heard today they want to increase it to £118. I am well in credit and summer is starting so no way I will pay that. I will just use less next winter. We don't tend to get very bad winters so easier here. Well done on how you just get on with things. I'm impressed.

  9. Here in Northern Europe... Yep, still more than a feet of snow covering my veggie patch. At least I have one thing better here - no moose. We have deers, hares, voles, pheasants... I was planning not to plant so much this year, I need to give my heavy clay soil a rest and grow some organic material to till into it (clay here is dense and lacking seriously of anything organic) (oh, I'm watching American Song Contest and there's Hawaii introduction just now.... aaaarhg) What was I saying? Oh yes, Ukrainian war made me rethink all my plans, and I will plant much more this year. I have a kind of allontment plot this summer at my parents field, I have high hopes to get some decent pumpkin and zucchini crop...
    Ulvmor (can't log in for some reason...)

  10. I can certainly empathize with all the garden and chickening issues, I am in northern CO in the mountains and we had yet another snowstorm on Thursday. If it’s not snowing it’s high winds, hot and dry. Can’t grow much without a greenhouse so I no longer try, tried for 5 years and something destroyed it every single year. I would love chickens but as you said too expensive right now and they would probably get eaten by a hawk or a fox as well. My husband also has a lot of dietary restrictions so we stock up on canned meats, PB, soup and have a quarter cow in the freezer. We do what we can with what we have. Love your blog!