Beginning Frustrations

Howdy folks!

Here in Alberta it has been slipping into fall (haha…I made a joke). In fact, today, I pulled out my fall decorations for the house. I have bits of orange and yellow all over the place; ranging from leaves, to pumpkins, to candles, and my own home grown sunflowers are sporting their last colors in a vase on Josh’s lifelike truck on my kitchen table!

Heading into fall in September seems ridiculous to me! This Arizona, born and raised, girl is used to high temperatures through September and even the first little bit of October. So the act of getting ready for winter this early, and a harsher winter at that, is completely foreign to me! But with plants already dying, or climbing back down into their roots, I cannot deny the cooler temps anymore.

We do not have any animals yet here on the homestead so it is a little bit less to do to get ready for the coming cold than say, for my sister in law and her animals. She has so many different kind of animals and all require wintering prep. So while I envy her in the fact she has a set up homestead, I am relieved that for our first real Alberta winter I do not have the added stress of making sure animals survive the cold.

However, that being said, there are some things we do need to get done before those below freezing temps stick around. All the plants I had planted for the season need to be rooted up as I did not plant perennials this year. Then all the fallen leaves and branches need to be cleaned up outta the front lawn so there is no worry of spring cleaning.

I am actually looking forward to winter this year. It will give me extra time to be indoors and be able to work on this blog. Winter will also give me a longer time to train our dog and get a home established before the dog gets to be free outside. There will be sooo much extra time during the cold months I will be able to focus a bit more on the making things from scratch portion of my homesteading dream. Expect lots of breads, soups, and the like, during the next few months.

Currently, I am working on several income bringing projects that I can do from home. I have about five main ideas to go off of. If you guys work from home and are able to bring in a somewhat (seasonal depending) stable income, would you mind commenting and letting me know what it is? Would you guys be down for a bit of a collabaration?

The title of this post is accurate. There are so many frustrations that you come into while trying to upstart a homestead. I was expecting to be somewhat frustrated with maybe like prices and not being able to find exactly what I wanted for the chicken coop. I was even expecting a bit of trouble with getting the hubby on board with all I wanted to do! The single frustration that I did NOT account for, was the frustration that comes with our online presence! Instagram has been my favorite outlet for our homestead journey. I have shared recipes, tips, photos, and life experiences on there. But recently, instagram has decided to sideline my account for some reason. So for now, I am sticking to stories on there and posting a little more frequently on here! I do enjoy writing on word press, however, my favorite is still instagram, and I am hoping to resolve the issue without having to make a new account.

Bottom line ya’ll, be praying for me and instagram to reslove this quickly!!

God bless and hopefully, I will come up with a slogan before long!

We have a name!!

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John: 14:27

With all that is going on in today’s world, who couldn’t use a little bit of peace? But when the world gives peace, it is not a true peace. It will be short lived and not even a true peace because everyone is to anxious of when it will end to even truly begin! The only true peace will only come when you walk with THE Prince of Peace.

Since 2020 began there has honestly only been a few moments here and there of “peace” for most; but, through all that this year has been and will be, we have had peace in our hearts because our Lord Jesus Christ has made a way for us to get through all of this messy world. That is one of the best gifts we as children of God can receive. Josh and I have been truly blessed this year with peace even with all the noise!

The home the Lord has given us has been a peace in the midst of the storm. Even literally, out here in the country it is so quiet and peaceful that you never want to leave home. It was the first place we both had peace about buying as well. All of this to say, this is why we have decided to name our little piece of prairie, the Peaceful Homestead!

I pray the Lord will give you peace through all this life as we have enjoyed it! God bless and God be with all of you who know Him!

How difficult is a name???

Just a quick little note!! So it will usually be me, Abby, writing our homestead blog posts but Josh may occasionally pop in and say hey too!!

As a couple, we have been dreaming together of one day owning and operating our own little hobby farm\homestead. I think we never really thought we would get to live our dream as we are now. Over the course of those years spent in Langley we dreamed big and prayed we could get to live out the dreams we planned. Every day coming home to our little town house was actually a blessing! Instead of being thrown into all this on a whim, we were able to plan out a bit of what we would eventually like to do, without having the ability to do it at that moment in time. All the research we did during that time, without being able to just jump in, probably will end up saving us both time and money on things that we may have otherwise jumped into too quickly.

We have planned out a good majority of what the next five years, Lord willing, will look like for us here on the homestead. A few different types of animals will come eventually to the stead. The garden situation will be better organized hopefully sooner rather than later. Josh will be building a shop some where on the property. There are a few things in the house that need to be updated or just refinished. Landscaping will be high on the priority list. Expanding the orchard will take a few years to establish but it will get done. But although we have the majority of things planned there is one important detail we have yet to decide on….WE DO NOT HAVE A NAME FOR OUR HOMESTEAD!!!!!!

Most of our downtime on the weekends is spent discussing the possible names for our little slice of heaven! We do not really want to use our name in the name but would rather have something a little unique. It seems like a lot of hobby farmers and homesteaders find their name relatively easy but not us! But it does seem like one is going to be claimed before too long! We will have a name before any business sales start going from here because we will need a distinguishable name for people to tell others!!

In the comments please tell me about your homestead name, and how you came to that name! Have any suggestions on how to narrow it down in choices??

One Next Step

Have any of you every started walking down a path in life without knowing where it is gonna end up? That is what we did when we moved here!! We knew we were supposed to move here but we had no idea what would come when we did. It was like God was holding a lamp for us, and it didn’t show where we would end up like we sometimes would like, but rather it showed us the one next step He wanted us to take.

Each step we would take was a step of faith.

Even then, the world decided to try to make us doubt our Lamp’s Light. Covid hit the world stage four weeks after our move, two weeks after Josh got a job. We were still living with his sister, praying that God blesses them a little extra this year for putting up with us, and we had only received one paycheck since we had been here.

I know everyone got hit hard, people lost their jobs, some lost their homes, and some lost loved ones. I pray for those people every time I think of them.

But I can honestly say we have been blessed anyway. God provided Josh with work that was day to day, we never knew if he would get called in again or not. But every day was…just one more step. We were not sure if we should continue to look for a house in the midst of the pandemic….just one more step. We lived in the suite at Josh’s sisters place for a month and a half and we did not know what to do for sure….just one more step. We decided to unpack our last couple boxes in the suite…one more step. Then two weeks after that last box we went to look at a house…we were not sure about it but started the paperwork for the sale anyways…one more step.

Then there was this house, one we had driven by at the very beginning of the year. We were feeling uncertain about the house we had begun the paperwork for so we decided we would go look at this place even though it was slightly out of our price range….one next step.

Sunday morning arrives and we get to go view this house at eleven in the morning….one next step. By two that afternoon we put in an offer. We prayed throughout that day and the next that the Lord would have His perfect will with the house. By Him working in mysterious ways and against all odds….our one next step…He gave us our new home!

Ever since we have been in this house, you would think the “next steps
would have at least slowed down a bit. But they have not. Every day is a new one next step that God is asking us to take. That next step is always different. Sometimes that step is a financial step (free plug here for Dave Ramsey, if you don’t know who he is or what he does ya’ll need to find out!) and God requires of us something in that area. Or there have been a few relationship next one steps that have happened for us too! Each next step can be something different but it is always God leading us in the direction He has for us. All He asks is that we trust Him and obey. It is our prayer that we will always be willing to take that next one step with Him by our side.

So friends, let me encourage you today. I cannot tell you what your life will hold or what the future will bring, but if you know God like we do, be willing to take that one next step. Even if that step is to step out of the boat and walk on water!

Sorry!!!

Hey guys!! I know I don’t have a huge following yet on here buuut I have enough people visiting to the page that I should provide an explanation for my absence here.

So much is going on here at the Birkin house hold as of late. We have been making some life altering decisions and working towards our life goals. Our lovely home for the past four years has been great for us! It has put us close to the goings on of family and friends, which as an expat to this country has been good for my social life. All the shopping and eating places are not too far from us and that has been amazing too! But it is with some sadness, but mostly excitement, that we are announcing that we are putting the house up for sale!!

Also in the works, because of selling the house, we are getting ready to transition to a new place. Although we have a good idea where we are headed from here until we are there, things are sorta up in the air. For those of you who are list people like me, which I hope I am not the only organized weirdo out there, having more than one thing up in the air at once can make you go a litttle crazy.

Because of all the changes we have decided to make, this side hobby blog of mine has been on the back burner. I am terribly sorry for that!!! Once things settle down a bit I will get back up on this horse!!!

In the meantime, I hope you will excuse my absence but will continue to use the recipes and tips that are already on here. When I do get back into the swing of this I hopefully will be able to add more content of different kinds. In the end I would love to turn this into a life style blog for both my family and friends to stay in contact with, but also I would like to turn it into a side business I have no idea what that business would be at this point but I would love to hear your ideas and opinions on what I could do!!! Also, if anyone of you are in or around st. Albert, Alberta, any information on jobs in the area would be greatly appreciated, especially trucking industries.

May Quinoa Bowl

2 1\2 c, Quinoa

2 c. chicken broth

2 tsp. Chipotle Chili Pepper powder (divided into two)

2 tsp. Coriander (ground) (divided into two)

1 tsp. Cardamon (divided in two)

1 tsp. salt (Pink Himalayan) (divided in two)

2 tb. chili powder (I used an imported one) (divided in two)

1 tb. garlic powder (divided)

4 chicken breasts

2 med. bell peppers (cut up sliced or cubed)

1-2 jalepenos (chopped finely)

2 large cloves of garlic, minced (or more if you like garlic)

olive oil (for coating)

*optional: 1 half of white onion (sliced or chopped)

  1. Cut chicken breasts into 1 in. cubes and put in bowl.
  2. Coat chicken in olive oil and 1 of the divided parts of each of the spices listed above.
  3. heat a large skillet (it will need to be a large pan or skillet as it will be holding a lot) on med-low heat, then add chicken and cook until done. (see step four)
  4. While chicken is cooking coat and toss the bell peppers (and onion if you wanted that optional) in the remaining spices.
  5. Once the chicken is done, leave it in the skillet and add the bell peppers, jalepenos, and garlic to the chicken skillet.
  6. Saute the veggies and chicken for 2 minutes.
  7. After the two minutes, add the chicken broth and the quinoa to the skillet.
  8. Bring the whole pan to a boil then turn low and let it simmer for about 15 minutes till the quinoa is cooked through.
  9. The quinoa should absorb most (if not all of the liquid). You will know the dish is finished when you can see the white line on the quinoa and it is soft to chew.
  10. When it is finished, serve warm and enjoy!!!

Tip: top with fresh cilantro for a refreshing bite and a beautiful eye catching dish!

Hello Again!

Hey everyone! So I am not making excuses or anything buuuut I have been on vacation for the past couple weeks and haven’t hardly had a moment to spare! Also, as being on vacation goes, I haven’t exactly been doing a lot of cooking so recipes are not forth flowing. But I am headed home today so I should resume my normal recipe posting this week! If you get a chance, go on Instagram and give me a follow @north_by_southwest and you could sneak a peak at what my southern vacation looked like!

Summer Chicken Bake

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 (14 oz) canned artichoke hearts, chopped roughly

1 large beefsteak tomato, cubed

1 c. chopped spinach

4 large basil leaves, finely chopped

1\2 c. Parmesan shredded cheese

8 thickly cut, sliced mozzarella pieces, enough to cover the chicken

salt and pepper to taste

Italian herb mix to taste

olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 f.
  2. Use olive oil to lightly coat chicken breasts
  3. Use salt and pepper on the chicken, just a pinch on each.
  4. Put chicken breasts in an oven safe baking dish (preferably one where they are barely touching each other but there isn’t much room otherwise, it will help keep things together later on)
  5. Cook chicken in the oven about half way (about 15 minutes)
  6. Remove chicken from oven
  7. Put tomato’s, artichoke, and spinach on chicken breasts, spread evenly.
  8. Next add both cheeses and basil leaves on top of chicken and veggies.
  9. Sprinkle a little more salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning over dish
  10. Put dish back into the oven for 20 minutes to finish cooking.
  11. Pull out dish from the oven and enjoy!!

Tips:

*Eat with cooked rice

*Add cooked bacon bits at step 7.

Southwestern Spice Mix

For most of my meat seasoning I use a very similar mix of spices. I am not a person who really follows a recipe so most of the spice mixing happens just by eyeing out the portions; however, this is portioned out so you can see which of the spices take center stage and which ones take more of the back ground flavors.

3 Tb. Paprika powder

3 Tb New Mexico Chile Powder ( you can use any chile powder you like in place)

2 Tb Chipotle Pepper Powder

1 Tb cumin

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp coriander, ground

salt and pepper to taste

Mix it all together and use freely on meats and\or vegetables for southwestern dishes!!

Summer Pink Drink

Water Infusion

1 quart of water

2 large slices of pink grapefruit

1 med. orange sliced

  1. Put all ingredients into a container and allow to infuse over night.

Summer drink

1\2 c. frozen strawberries

1\4 tsp. cinnamon

1 lime juiced

1 quart of the infused water (above)

Steps

  1. Put all ingredients into blender and blend until everything is completely blended.
  2. Pour desired amount into your glass and enjoy it cold!

Variations

  1. Take a cup of the Summer drink, juice of one lemon, and put in blender with about 2 c. of ice and blend till smooth. Enjoy it as a slush!!!
  2. Pour the summer drink into pop-sicle molds and allow to freeze and enjoy a cold treat!!