Posts Tagged ‘winter activities’

Three month update

Posted on March 6th, 2013 by Tonia 21 Comments

Well, hi! Are you still out there? If so, thank you, and I apologize for my long absence. Three months without a post on here must seem strange after 3+ years of fairly regular posts, and I feel I owe you an explanation.

It’s not that there hasn’t been anything to write about. We’ve done a few {I think} blog-worthy things this winter, and I had several ideas for posts about low-impact living and homesteading that I was researching and preparing, but for some reason I’ve been feeling really disenchanted with the blog lately…or actually, the whole internet in general.

I struggle with striking a balance between documenting life and just living life. Sometimes it seems like we {it’s not just me, right?} are so preoccupied with taking photos, tweeting about what we’re doing, and updating our blogs that we don’t take time to simply savor the moment or experience something on our own terms instead of via social media.

There seems to be a lot of hypocrisy in writing a blog about a simple, low-impact, homestead lifestyle focused around the important things in life, when what blogging requires {to do it right, anyway} is an immense amount of time spent sitting in front of a computer screen instead of doing the things I’m writing about! It’s tough for me to reconcile this dilemma.

Why is this all coming out now? Probably because I’ve been blogging here for over three years and have never really taken a significant break from it. And maybe it’s natural to ruminate over things more in the wintertime, because we find ourselves in the dark with nothing but our thoughts. And also most likely because I’m feeling a little self-conscious lately about how hypocritical my life is.

For instance, I want to live as low-impact as possible but at the same time my life pretty much revolves around horses. I don’t write about it very often on here, but I teach riding lessons at a stable down the road, I volunteer with a hippotherapy program, I own two horses and ride every day, I attend clinics and I will be competing at shows this summer. And anyone who knows anything about the horse world knows that it doesn’t exactly mesh well with an eco-friendly lifestyle. Basically, the two most defining aspects of my life are at odds with each other. It’s very confusing. And that’s just one example of how my life is hypocritical…I assure you, there are many more.

All of these muddled thoughts are heavy on my heart lately, bringing me moments of clarity and then confounding me again. It’s a lot of work; figuring out where you stand in it all. And quite frankly it’s smiting my desire to blog. But that said, I miss sharing what we’re up to with you all, and I really do appreciate your patience while I get my shit together over here. I think I just need time to live my life without thinking about how it’s all coming across to others.

So, I’m not saying goodbye for good to the blog, but I can’t say when my next post will be. I’m going to let this play out organically. I don’t want to force anything…you all deserve better than a bunch of half-hearted posts. I tend to update Twitter and IG fairly regularly, because they’re so easy and quick. So if you miss me, please follow me there.

And now, just to prove that I am indeed still alive and kicking, here is a little taste of what we’ve been up to for the past few months:

1. Mike brought his camera to the barn and took photos of me with my horses as a birthday present to me. We had so much fun trudging around in the snow with the horses, who were feeling extra frisky that day, and I ended up with a series of really pretty photos to cherish. Thank you, honey!!
2. I got the flu and it SUCKED.
3. We made Lonza {a traditional Italian cured meat} out of a loin strap from our pig. It soaked in a fennel and orange brine and then cured in the root cellar for a month. It turned out delicious!! We’re pretty proud of ourselves.
4. We made bacon from part of the stomach of our pig. We smoked it in the smoker and cured it with salt. It turned out very smokey and salty…perfect for flavoring soups but a little too intense to eat alone. Going to adjust the recipe a bit and try again…

1&2. We have had fantastic snow this winter and we took advantage of it by getting out hiking and skiing as often as possible.
3. I’m knitting a cowl. It’s bright pink and makes me happy.
4. We usually follow up a brisk hike with a hot drink from Big Water Coffee in Bayfield. They know what they’re doing.
5-7. Mike’s big brother came to visit from MN along with his wife and their baby, Lainy. We took them hiking out to Lake Superior and watched the sun set over the frozen water.
8. I am a tree-hugger. This should come as no surprise to anyone.
9&10. We spend inordinate amounts of time snuggling our dogs.

1. We still have a lot of snow. A lot of snow.
2-6. We went to the sugarbush to scatter pails and set taps for the upcoming syrup season. My favorite time of year! Can’t wait for the sap to start flowing.
7. The little lemon tree in our bedroom–which we painstakingly kept alive all winter–is putting out tiny fruit!!!!
8. Our neighbors received coconut banana bread from us this year on Valentine’s Day.
9&10. A couple friends of ours took a road trip to Maine to do some fishing and returned with buckets full of fresh oysters that they caught! They invited us over and we gorged on fresh {the shells still had sea water in them!} raw oysters. Such a treat!!

Winter Storm + (Almost) Famous Friends

Posted on December 14th, 2012 by Tonia No Comments

We woke up this morning to white light streaming in through the windows, which can only mean one thing: Fresh snow! A whole foot of fresh snow–to be exact–stealthily fell during the night. And the forecast calls for more to fall over the weekend, so I guess it’s time to break out the ice skates and skis and snow-pants! My friends Sarah and Ashley had the right idea this morning, and ended up appearing on the local news when they were spotted out on a trail with their skis by a reporter (at 1:03 in the video below–which probably won’t work if you’re viewing this on a mobile device, sorry!)



Lookin’ good, ladies!!

We’re planning a weekend of slow mornings spent with delicious books and multiple cups of coffee, skiing, sauna, and belly-warming soup made from the contents of the root cellar. And I’m buckling down and working on a few handmade Christmas gifts as well.

What do your wintertime activities look like?

***Update: Unspeakable evil happened yesterday. While I was peacefully sipping coffee and writing this post, 20 children and 6 adults lost their lives in Newtown, CT. This news is absolutely crushing. I am brought to tears every time I think about it. We are shutting off the electricity in our house tonight and lighting candles in our windows as a vigil to the innocent lives that were lost. I hope you’ll join me in praying hard for the families that are suffering.

the frozen lake feat

Posted on January 27th, 2012 by Tonia 3 Comments

We skiied across Long Lake in the Chequamegon National Forest yesterday with friends. And then that wasn’t long enough, so we skied around it too, and down the un-plowed forest road leading to it.

Long Lake is one of our favorite swimming lakes in the summer. It was a little disorienting to see it frozen and snow-covered, but beautiful all the same.

Jack came along. He had a blast running all over the lake with Jenn and Trevor’s dog Coal, and was so worn out when we got home, he curled into a ball on his bed and fell right asleep {very un-Jack-like. He usually has energy to spare!}

After the ski, we headed to the yurt for a potluck of potato soup and an oxtail stew over hot grits- super satisfying after our workout. The dogs laid together by the woodstove and the humans chatted late into the night over red wine.

Winter Pastimes

Posted on January 14th, 2012 by Tonia 5 Comments

Here we are in that sloooooow part of winter, void of holiday shindigs to look forward to {or dread, depending} and with summer still a long ways away. Although Mike and I are big fans of all the different seasons, there’s no denying that January and February can be really dark and dreary.

So what do we do to keep ourselves in good spirits? Here are some of our favorite winter pastimes {and please share your own in the comments- we’re always looking for new ideas to help speed along these cold months!}:

Move it move it – Moving our bodies and getting our blood flowing is probably the number one most effective thing we have found for chasing away winter boredom and blues.

Co-ed hockey: We joined a league that plays every Saturday night. Full pads, no checking. We look forward to it all week long. It’s a release of energy and aggression that leaves us both feeling much more peaceful and calm afterward. Plus it’s just really super big-time fun.

Modern dance: How many towns of 2000 people have a yoga and dance studio that offers a wide array of classes with a large staff of talented and skilled teachers?? We’re so lucky. I love the Saturday morning dance class for warming up my entire body and allowing me to let loose and stretch my muscles.

Bodyrock: THE BEST home exercise practice I have ever tried. Following their short and intense daily routines has toned my body and developed muscle faster than I thought was possible. I’m amazed and hooked.

X-country skiing: A wonderful activity to do with friends. I love being out in the quiet woods with the stars over-head and the moon as our only light. It’s so peaceful and exhilarating at the same time. And nothing feels better after a ski than a hot sauna. We fire ours up about once a week to get a good muscle-relaxing and body-detoxifying sweat going.

Swimming: My friend Alison and I like to hit the local pool once a week to swim and enjoy long chats in the hot tub. I usually go for lakes over pools any day, but thankfully the Bayfield Fitness Center doesn’t use chlorine in their water, so I don’t experience that skin-tightening dryness that I can’t stand.

Horseback riding: My most favorite activity of all, in any season. I will admit that it’s sometimes difficult to muster up the motivation to bundle up and go to the barn on the coldest winter days, but I never regret it once I’m there. The horses’ company, their smells and sounds, the warmth of their bodies- it’s all very therapeutic and calming for me. My favorite hours of the day are the ones I spend there…freezing fingers and all.

Walking the dogs: Jack loooooves his walks. Charlie chickens out once there is snow on the ground {the poor guy is so low to the ground that really any amount of snow makes him wet and cold almost instantly. And he is much too proud to wear any sort of coat or sweater, so…}, but not Jack. Jack will walk rain or shine or full-on-blizzard. We love the walks too- it’s a chance to chat about life together away from our phones and computers and other distractions.

Relaaaaaaax – Winter provides some much needed down-time with no garden to tend or farm projects to complete. These are our favorite low-key activities.

Movies/TV: We actually only get three channels on our TV, but we use the internet to stream our favorite shows like Dexter, Breaking Bad, and BBC’s Human Planet. Snuggling on the couch together with Charlie wedged between us is an almost-every-night occurrence. Sometimes with hot chocolate and popcorn even.

Reading: Mike and I favor very different kinds of books. I’m a fiction fiend while he can be found curled up with how-to’s such as The Craft of Modular Post and Beam. To each his/her own, I suppose. Either way, nothing beats laying under a pile of blankets next to a roaring woodstove with a really good book.

Music: He plays guitar, I play the fiddle, we both like to sing, and once upon a time we made a very cheesy music video together, which no one besides us will ever, ever, ever see. Anyway, playing music together is a wonderful way to spend a dark winter night.

Crafts/art: Sewing, knitting, painting…these are the artsy hobbies we barely ever have time for, and it’s so fun to get to explore that side of ourselves. We cover the whole kitchen table with newspaper, spread out our paints/supplies and go to town. Mike is a much better painter than I am, which is annoying…but his dad is actually a painter, so I guess I understand.

Socializing – Getting out and about in the community keeps us from turning into hermits in the winter when the urge to just hunker down and never leave the warm house is strong.

Folk dancing: There is a great monthly dance with a live band at the college in the next town over. Lots of folks packed into the dance hall means that the room is nice and toasty warm. It’s really nice to be able to run around in a t-shirt, meet new people, and have physical contact with other people. Swinging, waltzing, and sashaying all over the place.

Packers games: We wait all week for Sunday. The tradition is to meet our friends at the bar in town, order food and beer, and hang out there pretty much all day. It’s a great bar- they serve the beeeest Bloody Marys I’ve ever had EVER, and they give free shots to everyone in the bar every time the Packers score.

Pot-lucks: Nary a week goes by around here without someone hosting a pot-luck. Great conversations, delicious food, and laughter equal the perfect recipe for chasing away the winter blues.

Volunteering: Giving back to the community in a way that is specific to your skills and talents is a wonderful way to pass these slower, less hectic months when many of us find ourselves with a little extra time on our hands. I have been helping out with an equine therapy program for disabled and at-risk youth once a week this winter. I love it and the kids are awesome.

Book Club: A friend of mine started a ladies’ book club that meets once a month. It has always been my dream to live somewhere where people do quaint, sweet things like book clubs together. I have arrived!! It’s fantastic. All of the ladies are so well-spoken and thoughtful. And we eat the yummiest treats…

Maker’s Club: And while the gals talk books, the guys make shit. Really. They hang out in the garage inventing stuff out of junk and drinking beer. Alrighty then!

I hope you get some good ideas from this list for ways to enjoy winter instead of wishing it away! I’d love to hear what you do to pass the time as well. Have a wonderful weekend…GO PACKERS!