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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sweet Briar Cottage Journal: The Path To Freedom

Hello dear friends!  Hope you all had a lovely holiday.  Our little village goes all out for the 4th, with a parade and fireworks.
We get a preview because the firetrucks line up on our street.
All in all it's a sweet old-fashioned celebration with lots of firetrucks and tractors.  And lots of candy being thrown.  It was so much fun to watch the little ones excitedly collecting bagfuls.  And oh! the people.  Thousands.  Where they come from, I'll never know.  And the weather was a perfect 75 degrees to boot!  I couldn't help but have bittersweet feelings toward Independence Day as we edge closer and closer to passing the Trans Pacific Partnership Bill (TPP, look it up), and not to mention adopting the United Nation's Agenda 21 we are losing our sovereignty.  Everyday we give up more and more freedoms.  America is not the America of my childhood and it certainly is not the country those that fought in the Revolutionary War envisioned. 


Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.
~Benjamin Franklin~


Self sufficiency is the only path to at least a semblance  of freedom in this country. Here's some steps to take to get you there:

1.  Take care of your health.  You can't do much if you are sick or weak.  You're at the will of uncaring insurance companies or worst yet, government agencies.  Many health woes, such as type II diabetes , high cholesterol and high blood pressure can be managed by diet and exercise.  Get rid of the junk food, eat more vegetables, preferably organic.  Exercise every day.  If you need to lose weight, lose it, before it develops into a bigger problem, not to mention the outrageous expense of medical bills. 

2.  Start a garden.   Large corporate farms, farm their land to death and deplete it of minerals.  They then try to supplement the lack thereof with  fertilizers.  Plus all the pesticides and GMO seeds might even be doing you more harm then not eating any vegetables at all.  I recently heard a doctor say that an organic potato chip is probably healthier than an apple grown on a company farm.  When you grow your own garden, you are in control of what goes into your body.  Plus it saves you a boatload of money  and it's  good exercise. 

3.  Learn important life skills.  When I went to primary school in the sixties, you were taught to sew, knit, and cook.  We also had 4-H and the Boys and Girls Scouts, where we learned animal husbandry, gun safety,  how to can, and many other skills that have fallen by the wayside.  In high school, we had classes in basic electrical skills, mechanics, wood shop and home economics.  By the time you graduated you could fend for yourself.  Schools now days don't prepare  children for adulthood, they are too focused on "journaling" and common core mathematics, where 2+2= whatever your little heart desires.  Get your kids out of public school if you can or at least monitor what they are learning.  There's thousand of  uploads on YouTube.  You can Google almost anything and find instructions.  Use the internet to your advantage.

4.  Get out of debt.  As long as you have debt, you are never really free.  You can cut years off your mortgage by making additional payments to the principle.  Mortgage loans take their cut of the interest first.  Get out that amortization chart that they give you at the closing.  See that the first year you probably didn't pay much on the principle?  When I had a new mortgage, I would add up the first year's principle which amounted to something under one hundred dollars and pay that in addition to the payment.  One year paid off!  Then I'd take the next year's and do that the next month.  Until that got too expensive then I'd do it by the monthly principle.  Any "found" money, such as rebates, tax refunds, birthday presents, etc. was also applied to the principle.  By doing this, I paid off the mortgage to this house in seven years.

If you have credit card debts, always pay more than the minimum balance, at least the minimum balance plus the interest, so that you don't fall even farther behind.  If you have more than one credit card, try to consolidate them.   If you can't do this, pay off the card with the highest interest first and pay the minimum + interest on the others.  When that card gets paid off, apply it to the next highest interest card.  Give up all luxuries, eat beans and rice until you are out of debt.  Trust me, the feeling of being free from the burden of debt is better than any movie, vacation, pedicure, or new shoes can every feel.

5.  Make new friends and maybe lose some old ones.  Just like a drug addict has to stop associating with enablers and other drug addicts, sometimes you have to let some friendships go.  I had a friend that was always ridiculing my self sufficient ways and worse yet, every time I was with her, I found myself spending money, just to avoid being labeled "cheap".  I finally had to face the fact that we were on different life paths and stopped seeing her.  On the other hand, I've met many new like-minded friends.  We share tools, experiences and help each other out.  It's good to have a support system!

6.  Most importantly, develop a spiritual life.   I'm a Christian and my faith tells me to "Come out of Babylon" and to "be in this world and not of it".  Turn off the TV.  Stop reading magazines that glorify materialism.  Just because the rest of the world is on a downward slide, doesn't mean you have to go along for the ride.  Read how honorable people lived in days gone by to find encouragement.


This week we harvested peas, strawberries and more cauliflower.  In our quest to find interesting ways to use our vegetables, I made this   recipe for Crispy Coconut Lime Baked Cauliflower Tacos.
My son Jamie loves coconut shrimp, but since the Fukushima  nuclear accident, I wouldn't touch shrimp with a ten foot Geiger counter.  Besides, I like the price of home-grown cauliflower a lot better.  It was pretty good.  The only change I'd make is to parboil the cauliflower next time (it was pretty chewy).  Also, I used homemade breadcrumbs instead of Panko breadcrumbs. 

We also made this unusual pizza with grilled peaches. No recipe, just an experiment that turned out wonderful. 
We have fun playing with our food.  Don't take it so seriously.  Try something new.

 We're finally getting some summer weather and I'm thinking about fall! I knitted this cowl from a free pattern.

Needed a rest from granddaughter Tatianna's Mabel Pines sweater.  All that pink was hurting my eyes!  The cowl had an interesting mesh pattern
Easy peasy, and quick.  I used Lion Brand bulky yarn.  Been studying how people stayed warm in the olden days.  They wore lots of shawls and wraps over their clothes.  Layers and layers is the key.  Hopefully we'll catch a break and maybe not have such a brutal winter this year.


We received  our electric bill the other day.  It was down 38% from last month and 38% lower than last June's bill.  All those things, such as, cutting the electricity to computers and only heating the water every other day is really paying off!


4th of July weekend is the weekend for garage sales around here.  Since we had to go to the bulk food store, we decided to make a day of it and take the long route along the lake and maybe find some sales.  We had a ball going down old country lanes and looking at old farmhouses, but there's one sale that stands out.  We spotted a sign and turned into what we thought was a driveway.  Well!  That driveway went on for about a half mile; up and down hills, curving one way or the other, all the time we were praying we wouldn't meet anyone  coming in the opposite direction on the one-lane road.  We finally reached a clearing and there stood the most unusual house of the most unusual pedigree we had ever seen(and we've seen some pretty odd ones). It looked like the builder couldn't decide on a style so he just used them all. There was a stone turret, another section had a mid-century vibe, and on top of it all was what looked like a lighthouse.  Very strange!  And all falling down.  We were intrigued enough to throw caution to the wind when a sign instructed us to enter.  Isn't this how horror stories begin?  The inside matched the outside, weirdly wonderful.  And there sat three old crones!  Really!  Three old ladies that matched their odd surroundings, each with strange looking dogs sitting on their laps.  The dog all had odd colored eyes or strange shaped heads.  None looked like anything you'd find at a dog show, that's for sure.  They had lots of gargoyles and hairless old dolls.  Creepy looking Victorian art.  It was better than Halloween!  Actually, I did find a beautiful, very heavy oil lamp.  But the experience was priceless!


Harvest cauliflower, peas, and strawberries from the garden.

Bought two large heads of cabbage (about 8 lbs. each) for 99 cents a head. Canned up 8 pints.  Will make sauerkraut out of the other. 
Baked banana bread from some bananas that were getting brown.

Ate mainly vegetables from the garden.

Stayed home for the holidays and did free things like people watch and visiting with neighbors.

Bought a large skein of yarn from an estate sale.  Enough wool for a shawl.  Only $3!

Used grey water to flush the toilets and water the flowers.

Hung the laundry on the line.

Knitted a cowl from a free pattern found on line.

Well that was a long one!  Hope I didn't bore you too much!  Hope you'll come back and see me next week. 



  1. Hi Jane, Yay on your electric bill! Do you have a source for finding out about things such as the TPP and Agenda 21 and what the REALLY mean to us? Sadly to say, I did not know anything about these.Your peach pizza looks interesting- we just brought home 2 cases of peaches so I may give it a try! Angela

    1. Hi Angela! Here's a good video explaining TPP; Basically the TPP is a trade agreement with several Pacific nations, where the USA will be bound to international treaties that will override our laws and constitution. So say, if one of the nations in the union wants to ban guns, even though we have a right under the 2nd amendment of the Constitution, the agreement will supersede that and we will have to give up our guns. It gets into all sorts of freedom of speech issues with copyright and intellectual properties clause. Basically, we will be giving up our sovereignty to become part of an international trade union, much like the EU. And we know how well that's working out for Europe.

      Agenda 21 is an agenda set forth by the United Nations to do away with individual property rights under the guise of environmentalism. There are so many articles on this, you just have to Google it and thousands of articles will pop up.

      For the peach pizza, we grilled the peaches and instead of traditional pizza sauce, we used a Carolina style barbecue sauce (the mustard kind). We also simmered the barbecue sauce in some macerated peaches. Topped the pizza with red onions, mushrooms and Mozzarella.

      Hopefully the peach season will be good this year. We have been going peach crazy this year. Want to can some too.


  2. That's great news on your electric bill. I keep things turned off, accept when I want to use them. I turn the a.c. off if I'm going to be gone for a few hours.

    Your cowl is pretty. I like the old-fashioned patterns.

    The cauliflower recipe sounds great. I signed up at her website to be notified of new recipes.

    Thanks for living the life that you do and sharing it with others. You are an inspiration.


    1. That's the way to do it Rainey! I've learned that I don't have to have the computer plugged in all the time I'm using it. Just long enough to recharge the battery. Now if Ran, would only do this!

      I haven't looked around the recipe website yet, but judging from her creative use of cauliflower, I'm pretty sure there's some great recipes on there. Jamie said this recipe was a keeper!

      Thank you, Rainey, for being an inspiration to me!


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  4. Hi Jane! Each Monday I sit down with my coffee and read what you have to say. And I am never disappointed with your wisdom (and I do come back to re-read)! Your parade just looks wonderful! We used to love thrown candy so much at parades! Your cooking looks really good....and good to note about shrimp. (I am just glad my Honda is older!) I love what you say about getting out of debt. That is so important and yet so many off-gridders stress off grid but don't stress debt. (Not to be confused with debt blogs who do stress that!) Nothing can make us more of a slave than debt.

    I, too, have been feeling the need to watch where I associate and the need for being near good examples of faith-filled living or else we might get slowly tricked into the thinking of the world.

    1. oh my! I just printed that cauliflower recipe. My mouth is watering! Thanks for that! Your pizza looks perfect too! Andrea

    2. Glad I can be part of your Monday, Andrea! It wasn't just candy they were throwing at the parade. A local dairy was handing out cartons of milk, another had footballs and Frisbees, one group even was handing out 500 piece puzzles. The little kids were so excited. No wonder why we have so many visitors on the 4th. An elderly couple that we let park in our yard, said that they've never seen such a nice parade.

      Owing money makes you a slave to the bank.

      All shellfish from the Pacific should be avoided. Major spikes in radiation are being found in it. Have you seen all the weird deformed sea life that is washing ashore on the west coast? No thank you! I'll skip that! Not only that, but most green tea comes from Japan. Avoid it! Makes me wonder how safe it is to live on the west coast. Guess I'll stop longing for a home in Carmel!

      In spite of the long involved recipe, the cauliflower was really easy to make. A good meatless meal.

      Well, have a lovely week!


    3. Wow....I was lucky to get one piece of candy in our Pennsylvania parades, that is just me...because they always threw out candy and also potato chips or whatever new product was being test-marketed, I figure! In Delaware, I've gone to local parades on Armed Services day and I only remember candy being thrown when my kids were little once! In recent times, that parade has gotten so small and sad.

      Good thing I don't like fish. I thought about green tea....I just tried it before that happened and gave it up anyway. I think it is weird how people (and heaven knows our country is so obsessed with eating healthy) don't question these foods and stay away from them. Andrea

    4. They get more candy here, than at Halloween, Andrea. Everyone came away with a grocery bag full of goodies.

      I read to keep abreast of all things "health". Lots of good articles on there.

      I know! I mistakenly thought I was being healthy when I was a vegan and eating soy, until I realized that most soy is GMO. I'd have been better off eating meat. Now I'm very careful about my vegetables and only eat those I organically grow or are labeled with their origin. I'm going back to eating more vegan meals because meat doesn't agree with me. Plus it's just too darn expensive!


    5. Ha..I know what you mean about meat. Last week a lady was watching me and amused by me mulling over the steak vs. the chicken at Costco. I decided on the chicken, looked up, and saw her smiling. I said (to her) it is hard to justify the cost of beef! Andrea

  5. You've been very thrifty this week. Well done!
    Thanks for talking back at Harvest Lane Cottage
    My reply in case you didn't see it:
    "I don't remember that, Jane. It sounds like a neat idea though. I don't really get my hands on many glass bottles."

    1. That's funny. I was going to write about it and give you credit, Laura, but I guess the credit goes to someone else. Well anyway, it makes a great barrier between the lawn and the garden. Getting enough glass jars takes time, though..

  6. Hi Jane!
    I think small town celebrations are the best. Great tips of self-sufficiency, especially the spiritual aspect. And I love, love the mesh cowl you made. Thank you for sharing the pattern link.
    I've been knitting a bit, too. I miss knitting when I don't have a project going.
    Hope your summer is going well. :)

    1. Hello! That cowl is very easy and because it uses bulky weight yarn it knits up very fast. Only took me two evenings and I'm a slow knitter. Now I have to get back to my granddaughter's sweater. Slow going!

      Without the spiritual aspect to living, really there isn't much point, is there? I'm sorry for those that don't have it.

      Enjoy your summer! Hope you post more often

  7. dear jane,
    a wonderful post and lovely pictures from the parade! I like it!
    Your cowl looks wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love the colour and the pattern sounds very easy,thanks for the link.
    I wish you a wonderful week,
    love and hugs regina

    1. Hi Regina! I'm sure you'd enjoy knitting that cowl. Bulky yarn knits up so fast, it's like instant gratification. Hope all is going well and that your garden is growing well.


  8. Sounds like a great holiday weekend Jane. Our kitchen is full of pickles at the moment too thanks to my husbands current Persian Pickle making obsession. Thanks again for sharing lovely patterns with us.
    Happy days,

    1. Hi Debby! Hope your broadband problems clear up,you're as close as I'll ever get to visiting your part of the world.

      Persian pickles sound wonderful. Can't help but love a husband that's handy in the kitchen! Mine is a bread baker, which is very trying when dieting!

      Hope you have a lovely week and fun times!


    2. PS: That sounded rather selfish. I also hope that your computer woes are fixed for your sake!