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!!


  1. Pam says:

    I figured you were just enjoying Winter life too much to blog. I don’t think you should fret over the hypocrisy of your life, at all! You do so much good on the eco-friendly end, that you deserve to enjoy something that fills your heart. Unless you decide to start driving oil tankers aground, or clubbing baby seals. Then, we’ll have to re-evaluate. :-)
    Take care of you (and Mike) enjoy the beautiful life that you have created for yourselves, and check in when you feel like it. Or not. Just know that I will be looking forward to whatever you share. always have. Always will. (Oh, and maybe get on instagram. I use that, sharing to Facebook, much more than my blog anymore. Super quickie!) lots of love to you!

  2. Tonia says:

    I am on Instagram! Linked to it in this post! What’s your handle, Pam? I want to follow you too!

    Thanks for the love, you guys. It means a lot. :)

  3. Trish says:

    I also have horses, and struggle with the environmental unfriendliness of it all. I have the big truck and trailer, although the past year or so I haven’t been going on that many trips. We do have trails at our barn but there is also a huge park with lots of hills about an hour away that many of us like to ride at, particularly the people who compete in endurance.

    I for one would love to hear more about your horses. I am at a barn that breeds the old ‘desert type’ Arab – straight Saudi source, sturdy, thick throat latch, and no dish face. Both my horses are half Arab, half something else to make them tall enough for me. My instructor is Monte Foreman certified and I really love her method of teaching. I tend towards dressage as I approach 50 but am not really a serious competitor.

    Right now I am contending with a tendon injury on my gelding. He is in a stall and going crazy. he is usually kept in a field with about 15 other horses, a very playful bunch and he is not happy with the confinement. he is 1300 pounds of ‘lets play!’. I probably have at least 4 more months before he can go back with his friends. I can’t wait!

    I look forward to more blog posts.

  4. Laura says:

    Crazy timing for a post – I was thinking about your blog over breakfast this morning, thinking that I miss your updates and hope you’re well. I’ll keep you in my google reader and await the next post :)

  5. Tonia says:

    Hi Trish, It’s so nice to hear from a fellow horse nut! I’m sorry to hear about your boy’s tendon injury, though. I know what it’s like to have to stall-rest a horse who hates being cooped up (my TB gelding had an abscess last spring) …but it really is necessary, and soon it will all be a distant memory for him. :) A friend of mine has a mare who injured a tendon last winter and she is totally healed now, but it did take months of patience and stall-rest. Hang in there!

    I’ll try to post about the horses more often…it feels so “off topic” for this blog, but it’s my main passion apart from homesteading/low-impact living, and I would love to share that side of me with ya’ll. Thanks for the encouragement.

    P.S. I used a lot of Monte’s techniques to train my Fjord colt when I was 13…worked great with him!

  6. Tonia says:

    Thank you for thinking about me and checking in, Laura!

  7. Carla says:

    I am always waiting from a post from you to show up on my google reader. You seem to have the life I daydream about and that can be a problem for me because the dream and the reality is very different. When our lives are crap everyone else’s seems great in comparison. Blogs seem to have increased the exposure to manicured lives that get us all thinking why don’t I have perfect hair, a farm, perfect kids like a b or c. I don’t think bloggers do it on purpose but the fact is everyone or almost everyone edits their lives online doing a disservice to themselves and to others. I do it also I am in both ends the blogger and the reader of blogs.
    As with everything in life we need to strike a balance and really be honest with ourselves. I am currently battling my urge to simplify my life with the urge to get my house all pretty. I tend to feel like shit most times while browsing pinterest.
    All this to say live your live we that read you have to live ours as best as we can :)

  8. Welcome back – sort of? I was so excited to see your post this morning, and it’s a really good one. Look, I think blogs are a lot like cell phones. You have to find the right balance between using them as a tool (for growth, for sharing, for connecting, for convenience) and allowing them to intrude into your life (by allowing others to dictate when and how it is used, by giving too much access).

    I, for one, vote enthusiastically for you to keep up with your horses and keep up with your blog – in as much as they fulfill you. Caring for and sharing lives with other living things gives meaning to our lives – whether they are pets, people, or sometimes food. I have come to see that in a *whole* new light through your blog – I was *just* talking about how enlightening your chicken-and-pig slaughtering posts were (I’m experimenting with pescatarianism for the Lenten season, and increasingly questioning my food relationship to meat, which I get from a store, *not* my yard). I also count your blog among my very favorites – I found it because of your 30-for-30, and love that you’re struggling to find a balance between needs and wants, simplicity and style. You have struck a real chord with a lot of people, and I enjoy learning more about how you do things.

    So, I hope you’ll keep writing, because you’re good at it, and you’re doing important things. I believe there is something really important going on in that many of the folks in our generation are seeking more authentic, more simplified, more eco- and cost-conscious lives, and blogs like yours help people think differently about the choices they are making every day.


  9. Tonia says:

    Oh my gosh, Carla, thank you for your comment. You voiced so perfectly another thing about blogging I get hung up on a lot…the whole “look how awesome my life is!” thing. Gross. I realize that I do show you guys more of the homestead side of things and less of other things (like, I barely write at all about the work we do to make a living, even though 70% of our day is taken up with that stuff, usually). Mostly I edit that stuff out because I don’t think it will be interesting to anyone or because it doesn’t really jive with the “purpose” of the blog, which is to discuss the process of building a semi-self-sufficient homestead and minimizing our impact on the earth by living a low(er)-impact lifestyle. I’m proud of what Mike and I have accomplished and of the goals we’ve reached thus far, but we have a long ways to go. I really want the blog to reflect the fact that this lifestyle is an evolution, a process, a journey. We’re on a path–we have not arrived at the end and we have no right to preach to anyone else, because we are still figuring it all out and we always will be! Living the way we do is what feels right to us. It’s not right for everyone. And just like everyone else on the planet, our life is not perfect by any means. Life is NEVER perfect, right? Unless you’re one of those Mormon Housewife Bloggers. Then your life really is perfect and congratulations for that, I guess. 😛 (And please, tell us how you got 6-pack abs while also raising a slew of tiny humans and keeping your house magazine-worthy and cooking three wholesome and picture-perfect meals a day for the whole family because WHAT THE HELL, WOMAN.) Anyway. I forgot what I was saying, but, I guess I’ll just close with this photo of what my living room looks like right now:

  10. Tonia says:

    You rock, Rebecca. Can I just please have all you guys over to my house and we’ll eat good food and talk about this stuff and maybe make a #ReuseTues craft and have a sleep-over? :) Thank you for making me feel like this blog is a special kind of community that is worth my time and energy because it’s meaningful to others and to me. I didn’t know what I needed to hear in order to feel good about it again, but that was it.

  11. MelD says:

    Glad you are ok and enjoying life; I kept checking in and today – yay!
    Do what you think is right and not what others want you to do, I guess. I certainly enjoy the variety in your posts.
    Take care.

  12. Tonia, that would be a blast! Can I admit that I don’t really understand Instagram? I just added you, but I don’t really *get* how to use it in a way that’s meaningful. Womp-womp. I think my only photo is my profile pic. I’m a little afraid of every pic I take ending up in my FB feed, too. I need “IG for Dummies” or something.

  13. Tonia says:

    MelD, <3
    Rebecca, If you don't link your IG account to your Facebook account, your IG photos won't automatically go on your FB page unless you "share" the photo to FB manually. I think it's common practice to use IG to document the parts of your day that were meaningful to you. And follow the folks whose photos appeal to you. I follow some really fit women who often post photos of their meals, workouts, and new yoga poses to try because they inspire me. I also enjoy following other hobby farmers who post photos of chickens and sheep. :) And of course I also follow my readers who have accounts and my real-life friends. It's fun!

  14. amelie says:

    NAOOOO come back! I can imagine how exhausting it must be to put your life on the interwebz. But! Good golly your posts are marvelous. Passions and hobbies are often complicated and complex, but that makes you a real multi-dimensional human, right? I work with the homeless and often feel conflicted about my obsession with cross country skiing, the bloody mary brunches I host, and the inane materialism of planning a wedding. But to disregard something that fulfills you so deeply is an injustice to your life! Thank you this has been pump-up thoughts from Amelie.

  15. Tonia says:

    Ahahaha, Amelie! First of all, what a beautiful name. And second of all thank you for the beautiful comment. You guys are like sunshine to my soul today.

  16. OK, I’ll try it. My IG name is next to my first name. It’s the same as my Twitter handle.

  17. Hannah Lynne says:

    Thank you for the update!

    I don’t believe that I could say anything that is different from anyone else’s words, but I am glad to hear you voice again!

    I understand what you mean about feeling like you are not enjoying or “fully in the moment”, it’s something that is difficult to find a balance in. It’s not easy, not by any means!

    But, I have to say, I have enjoyed your posts so much over the years, and it would be a shame to have you disappear!
    I think you have the right idea, just let things come natural, and maybe find a more cohesive balance. Maybe it means having posts only over a couple of weeks instead of every other day. Maybe it means not blogging at all! I hope that it’s not the latter, but if it’s what’s best, then that would be the right decision.

    Your blog has been such an inspiration to me over the years, and I have learned so much from you. I admire you for what you have accomplished and I love reading about your new adventures. This is NOT suggesting that you quit blogging or continuing blogging or whatever. I just want you to know that I appreciate what you create, like so many others.

    I DO have wedding questions for you, however! And I would LOVE to ask you some things, if you have some time.

    I just hope you are doing well, and that you don’t feel pressure about this blog. Do what you feel is right, what is natural for you, and you will be alright.

    Hope this winter is treating you well!

    Your faithful reader,

  18. Tonia says:

    Thank you for your kind words and for reading, Hannah! And please, fire away with your wedding questions! I hope I can be helpful. Is it something that other readers would benefit from as well? Because you could always submit a Dear T&M letter if so. My email is toniasimeone (at) gmail (dot) com

    I am SO lucky that I have such amazing readers who are so supportive…you guys make my day every time you comment on a post and add your genuine, curious, thoughtful voices to the discussion. If there was a blog contest called “Who Has the Best Readers?” we would totally win, you know that right?

  19. Kendra says:

    Hi Tonia, just want to join the readers-of-your-blog chorus and say: thank you for what you do and what you’ve done, and especially for this honest post. I value the fact that you struggle, just like the rest of us, with balancing your ideals with your passions, your longing for one kind of life with the reality we are all faced with. I’ve really enjoyed reading all the different things you post about, and I hope you continue to write about whatever it is you’re moved to share, whether that fits with what your blog is “supposed” to be about or not. What I heard in your post is that your focus is shifting, and that maybe some things are going to take new forms. Which is super exciting! (For us to watch; I know how hard and exhausting it can be when life throws you dilemmas and transitions!) Anyway, I won’t be surprised to check back here in 6 months and see you writing about farming with horses, or tips on how to make equestrianism greener. Thanks again, best of luck, and I hope to read more soon.

  20. […] thing is, that feeling I started having a while back hasn’t gone away. I don’t know what changed or why, but blogging just […]

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