A Month of Gratitude, #6

I suppose these daily gratitude posts are a blessing in disguise, really, as I have been in a terrible mood this afternoon, and I haven’t been feeling the most thankful, but because I set this as a daily goal, it has made me take a moment to reflect, even when I don’t want to.

Today, as silly as it sounds, I am thankful for color. And because I am not feeling overly talkative, and I really don’t think there is any better way to show it, I’m going to show it in photographs.

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A Month of Gratitude, #4 and #5

I am planning on canning apple pie filling or apple slices (something with my surplus of apples, anyway, and I already have lots of applesauce), so I am not sure how easily I will be able to find the time to blog tomorrow. SO, I am going to take care of my fourth AND fifth days in my “month of gratitude” all in one entry.

I am grateful for two things:

I am grateful for small businesses. I am thankful for excellent customer service (it is so refreshing to hear a human voice on the other end of the line after the first ring), quality products, what they give back to their community and their customers, and that they carry items that are not easily found in big box stores. Plus, something I am noticing is that when I appeal to large companies to review their products or for a sponsored giveaway, the responses are not often in the positive, even though they have oodles of samples to give away. Yet, small companies are often more than eager to show off their homemade or “made in the U.S.A.” or natural products, and one company even sent me (yes, little me with few followers) a $500 product to review (a grain mill) later in the month–and to keep, too. I HATE Walmart with an unholy passion, and it is a blessing to have smaller businesses to support instead and to know that my money will be staying in the community when I do.

(Some goodies I will be reviewing soon.)

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I am also grateful for friends–I know I said I would try to avoid “traditional” items in my gratitude list, but I am talking about friends that you can share anything with, the good and the bad and the ugly. In a conversation with one of these said friends, we were talking about how social media makes you want to belong to a large group, and that you often feel sad or dismayed if you feel like you don’t belong everywhere, yet, in reality, if you have one or two true friends you can share everything with, you are blessed beyond words. And I do have that, and I AM indeed blessed, and grateful for them.

(My dear friend gave me a present for no good reason today.)

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A Month of Gratitude, #3

As the weather grows colder, and finances become a little tighter, I am grateful today for the fact that I grew up in a religion that counseled its members to prioritize obtaining (and maintaining) a food storage.

Growing up, I always thought that the whole counsel of “keeping a one year’s supply of food” was a bit much. I had this image of women sitting around happily making bread with 50 year old hard red wheat. (Okay, let’s be honest, some of the ladies were a bit like that.) I felt like we were being told to prepare for some apocalyptic doomsday (we weren’t). I thought it was overkill.

However, as both times and the economy changed, the church amended its advice to starting with a three month’s supply of food that you would eat on a normal, everyday basis, plus 72 hours worth of emergency supplies that are easily portable (medications, toiletries, food, life saving items like space blankets and water filters, etc). Then, if you choose, you can slowly grow your food storage to a year’s supply if you like.

The thing is–it has NOTHING to do with some Doomsday Prepper thing. It has EVERYTHING to do with a faltering economy (I’ve experienced it), job loss (my loved ones have suffered from this), inclement weather (ask me how many times I get snowbound out here in No Man’s Land), extended power outages (which actually was the impetus behind our even starting a food storage–we felt the whole thing was silly until we found ourselves without light, good food…we had lots of things for our then baby and some generic granola bars…that was about it), and so forth. These are everyday crises that can happen to anyone. And in these moments, there is no guarantee there will be money available or the resources open to buy what you need.

We’re slowly growing our storage–we have a decent amount of “everyday” foods, a 72 hour kit, a freezer full of frozen meats and vegetables (and other items), and we keep staples like flour and sugar in bulk. We also buy some items in metal #10 cans for long term storage. I’m not sure how long our storage will last, but if we need it, it is there, and we use a little of it every day.

So, today, I am grateful for the counsel of putting food by, and the blessing it has been in our lives. This counsel was the starting point for us to try to make other changes in our lives to become more self reliant and to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

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A Month of Gratitude, #2

Today, I am grateful for photography.

As a child, I enjoyed being outdoors. A rainy day was a day of utter boredom. I was always significantly happier outside looking for unique leaves and flowers, strange bugs, puddles for splashing, swinging on my wooden and rope swing tied to a sugar maple whose trunk was covered in shining green ivy.

As I grew older, I started hating the outdoors. I didn’t want my hair to be wet from the rain, couldn’t stand the cold and the wind, hated snow with a passion (I actually am still not that fond of snow, admittedly). I enjoyed walks around campus while in college, but beyond that, I wanted the blankets and air conditioning that a roof over my head provided.

Now that I have children, I was forced outside more often. It was only until I started pursuing a simpler life did the outdoors become a haven for me again, a place to leave my troubles.

And it has been photography that has helped to teach me how to appreciate the little things again…a solitary autumn leaf, a golden country field, a friendly goat on a farm, a single flower. The need to immortalize these small things drives me to the outdoors time and time again and has helped reestablish my relationship with fresh air and open land. And for that, today, I am grateful for photography.

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A Month of Gratitude, #1–Plus, A Very Special Announcement!!

It seems to be a blog and Facebook tradition to document one thing you are grateful for every day in November. Obviously, you know I am grateful for my family, friends, shelter, my health, and the traditional things most of us are thankful for every day of our lives. My gratitude for those items are beyond expression, and are really a given. I want to ponder the more unconventional things I have reason to be thankful for–the things we often take for granted.

And so begins the first thing I want to express gratitude for (although none of these items will be in any particular order). Today, I am grateful for wheat. Wheat is often called “the staff of life,” and it is a crucial part of so many things that we enjoy–breads, pastries, cereals, pastas–and even things you wouldn’t expect (did you know they can make doors out of wheat?). It is often abused (the nutritious parts of wheat are often removed during processing for store bought foods and flour), and as such, it gets a bad reputation for being unhealthy. Yet, there is growing evidence that some (not all) gluten sensitive individuals experience relief and can enjoy wheat based foods when they mill their own flour from fresh wheat.

We consider ourselves “preppers” on a small scale–we don’t believe in doomsday, but we do believe in emergencies such as extended power outages and blocked roadways (we experience both on a regular basis in the country), and also the inability to travel in inclement weather (we also are snowbound frequently). One of the things we store is wheat in buckets, and I have been extremely grateful of late to find a local source of non-GMO, organic white wheat for home milling.

(Excuse the poor photo…taken from my phone’s camera, but buckets of wheat such as this one are commonly seen in our home.)

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Without this valuable grain, we would be without so many things that we enjoy, and so today, I am expressing my gratitude for this simple plant.

And this subject also leads to my special announcement–yay!!

On Saturday, November 23rd, at 10:00am, This Path Less Traveled (and yours truly) will be cohosting a class with Goodness Grows (an organic farm in Bedford, PA) on milling your own flour. This will be the first in what I am hoping will be monthly classes sponsored by this blog on self sufficiency skills. The class will be held at this picturesque, historic farm itself, outside of Bedford, Pennsylvania (5360 Bedford Valley Rd  Bedford, PA 15522). You will have the opportunity to try a few different types of grain mills (both electric and manual), and you will leave with a few pounds worth of flour of different varieties of grains to use in your Thanksgiving cooking and baking. Registration IS required either by email (laurashelton115@gmail.com) or by RSVPing on the event page, which will be located on This Path Less Traveled’s Facebook page. There will be a $5.00 fee per participant in order to cover the cost of the non GMO, organic grains you will be milling, and that fee will go directly to Goodness Grows to cover the material costs.

For those who are not local and cannot physically attend, class materials will be posted online so you can virtually participate in the class as much as is feasible.

Hope to see you at the class!