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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Moving forward...

I know that you are all hanging on the edges of your seats wanting to know what the heck comes next for 'Marebare'.  And the truth is, I know exactly where I am going, but I am just not sure how the heck to get there.  SO, I have decided to use this blog as a 'tool in my toolbox' to help guide me along in my journey.

Where might I be going you might ask? 

Well, when I looked back at the past year, a few themes sprang back into my consciousness as they seemed to resurface in my writing again and again and again (and no, I am not going to talk about laundry, even though I am sure that I talked more about this dreaded household chore more than anything else this past year.  Just one of the many joys of being the parent of a young family!).  These themes are:
  • Wanting to live as locally as possible
  • Wanting to extend the growing season and grow as much of our own food as we can
  • Wanting to decrease our dependence on car transportation
  • Wanting to be a part of a community
  • Wanting to live in a more communal way
About two months ago I discovered that the notion of living communally (without actually living on a commune) is actually a real thing.... you know, a 'movement'.  It is called 'cohousing' and the idea began in Denmark back in the 1970s and made its way over to North America throughout the 80's and 90's.  The basic premise is that the community is built in such a way as to encourage community interaction.  Everyone owns their own home but the property also features common areas such as: a main house (usually featuring a large kitchen for shared meals and space for recreation/activities), gardens, shops, etc.  Each cohousing community is different due to its location, style of residences, etc.  Currently there are just over a dozen cohousing communities across Canada.  If you are interested in this topic at all, here is a great resource: Canadian Cohousing Network.

So, after doing some of the suggested readings from the website and a whole lot of talking about it with our friends and family, we got to thinking... why don't we try to create our own cohousing community?  I know, I know... it sounds like a completely insane idea in so many ways, but looking at my list above makes me think that it just might be the solution that I(we) are looking for.  So there it is... I am out of commune-closet.  To help make this vision a reality, I have enlisted  a 'partner in commune' and she and I will be meeting regularly over the next months to share ideas and make a plan.  We are hoping (DREAMING) of having this project become a reality in five years or so.

Here's to BIG DREAMS!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Year in review

First of all, YEEEEEEEE HAWWWWWWWWWW!  I made it!  I can finally go shopping again!  Nah, I am totally kidding, of course I am not going shopping.  If you have been following along even a little bit, you will know that this year has been fundamentally changing for me and I probably will never be much of a 'shopper' ever again.

I have spent the past week or so reading all of the blog entries from the past year, all 90 of them (that's a nice round number isn't it?).  If for no other reason, I am glad that I started this blog just so that I can remember what the heck I did for the past 12 months (!)  Here are some chosen highlights from the year:

Some of my favorite quotes:
  1. I find myself intoxicated by the colorful displays and the 'on sale' signs. So much so that I lose all sense of what brought me into the store in the first place, and I regress into a senseless buying frenzy. From Out of the frying pan, into the fire.
  2. It is now day two, and I am starting to achieve panic status. I really haven't thoroughly thought this through (I am truly impulsive - remember?), and I am starting to wonder what exactly I might have gotten myself into. From My three-fold plan.
  3. husband is a Kijiji expert. He spends pretty much every spare minute of his life on there. He would rather 'Kijiji' for ANYTHING, than do most other things.... and no, I am not going to give you an example, because it would hurt my ego! From Kijiji tips and tricks
  4. Trent is actually in absolute awe that I was able to complete this project at all - considering that I completed half of the project WHILE SEWING WITH THE FOOT OF THE MACHINE UP!!! (How was I supposed to know that you were supposed to put it down?) From One project done...
  5. I accidentally almost mowed down a squirrel on the road by my house. Believe it or not (I can't believe that I am about to admit this to the world), in that instant, I actually found myself wondering if you can eat squirrel!? From Little Suzy Homemaker...
  6. I know, I know, the term 'grow-op' has other connotations, but I like that term. It makes me feel like a 'rebel'. I especially liked discussing my 'grow-op' with my mom at the top of my voice in the grocery store as I shopped for seeds. From The Grow-Op Begins
  7. Upon entering the store however, my drunk monkey brain immediately took over and I went into MEC 'auto-pilot'... I am really alarmed at how quickly I fell back into my 'old ways'. Not cool. From Dancing with the Devil
  8. Who knew that the Brits use the much-cooler-sounding word 'courgette' rather than zucchini? Personally, I love it, and the only thing that would make it even better for me would be to hear it pronounced in a British accent! On the other hand, I am pretty sure that I can't pull it off, so I will continue to call them zucchini... From Zucchini Update
  9. You see, prior to today, and said Norwex intervention, my laundry machine was a fetid, useless, pile of scrap metal that was about to get ANNIHILATED WITH A SLEDGE HAMMER!!!!! I have mentioned this washing machine before, by the way, in my 'diaper tale of woe'... needless to say, my washer hasn't made it up to me yet.... From Washing Machine RAGE
  10. T: "Why do you unplug the coffee maker every day?"
    M: "Oh, to help cut down on power usage."
    T: (after near-fainting, pulling his hands through his hair - classic stressed-out Trent manoever by the way, and gesturing towards the sky at his higher-power, who, I am sure would be on my side about this issue, but anyways...) "You're kidding right?"
    M: "Nope."
    T: (more incredulous gesturing, and then, composing himself) "Well, I would appreciate it if you would stop it okay?" From Pick Yer Battles
Some 'revelations' that I experienced along the way:
  • This brings me to another thought that has crept into my consciousness every so often - are we really living in an appropriate climate to want to live the kind of lifestyle that I truly believe in? From Local coffee shop recon mission
  • Since I have undertaken this challenge (and remember it has been less than one week), I have felt like a more 'authentic' version of myself than I have in ages. It is like the 'travelling Maren' version of myself all over again. Even my husband has noticed. It is the best thing that I could have done for myself, for our marriage, for our family. I know that this sounds like a huge exaggeration, but I assure you, it is not. From Back to basics
  • When I really think about it, I think that most of the money that I have spent (ie. wasted) in the past has been largely due to convenience, and of course, my impulsivity. A huge benefit of this project for me then, is that I am being forced to evaluate which things are worth putting the time in to find used, and which things are simply easier to buy new. From Addicted to convenience
  • It is not realistic to expect yourself (or anyone else around you for that matter) to be perfect. Alternatively, I would suggest that you could aspire to be a slightly better version of yourself. In other words, small changes can have a great impact in the long run. From A really neat quiz
  • My greatest hope would be that Trent and I could 'retire' at an early age and live on a very modest income. I have seen (and continue to see) so many people working until they are too old to enjoy their retirement. From A 'nudge' back in the right direction
  • ...this little challenge has improved both my own personal wellness as well as that of my family's almost 10-fold. What do I mean by this? Well, I walk around with a greater sense of who I am and how I am connected with the world around me. I feel more in tune with nature, my body, my friends and my family. I know, it sounds crazy right? The truth is, when you stop worrying about what you don't have, you realize what you do have... and I have many things in my life that are pretty darn fantastic. From Wellness counter
Reminiscing about the unexpected:
  • Getting a 'slap on the wrist' from the City of Edmonton for publishing mis-information about their recycling/composting program on my blog (whoops!)
  • Giving up shampoo/conditioner/deodorant pretty much entirely...for about 5 months.  I have since gone back to an all-natural shampoo/conditioner line b/c after a summer of living 'off the grid' my hair had begun to turn into dreadlocks... a no-no for the times that I need to appear presentatable for my job... It took Trent 2 hours to comb them out and I am STILL trying to grow in the 'wispies'

  • Almost eating a death plant while 'foraging' on the lot in Nordegg this summer.  What?  It looked like an onion!
  • Trading in my Christmas Tree for a houseplant
  • Painting the basement playroom with no less than 5 different paint colours
And now, without further adieu, the moment that you have all been waiting for... the financial numbers:

(drumroll please...)

This year we spent:
  • 24% LESS on groceries
  • 5% LESS on beer/wine
  • 172% LESS on travel
  • 205% LESS on eating out
  • 205% LESS on retail purchases
To give you a rough idea?  We saved about an extra $40,000 this year (!)

I would say Mission Accomplished!

Thank you for your support, your comments and heck, just for stopping in every once in a while.  Stay tuned for what's next here at Marebare Necessities...

Marebare :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011


This has been the week from hell... for all of us.  I have tried to refrain from using this venue as a 'sounding board' for my complaints about life, but seriously, this week has been ridiculous.

First, Ben broke his arm (yes, another broken bone), and if you are wondering who Ben is, he one of my younger brothers who is attending law school in Victoria and oh, by the way, he is totally blind.  Not to mention the fact that this is the second time that he has broken his arm (which when you think about it, makes reading braille, typing, and heck, doing pretty much ANYTHING next to impossible for him!)  In order to make clear just how not cool this is, consider the fact that Ben is now in his first year of law school.  This (by defacto) means that he has successfully completed an undergraduate degree (which he did, with honors, at Carlton University in Ottawa), plus, he also did an 'extra' year on exchange in Scotland, as well as a Rotary exchange trip to Brazil right after high school.  So, take all of those years of schooling (remember: all away from home, and BY HIMSELF), and let's count the medical emergencies that he has now endured: 2 broken arms, 2 broken backs, 1 broken femur, 1 cracked skull, 1 hospital stay for seizures that they couldn't stop so they induced him into a coma (!) and then of course there was the time in Brazil where he required emergency transportation back to Canada for a liver bypass surgery.  Of course, these are only the 'major' medical issues that he has encountered along the way...
Ben this summer, during happier times
And second... wait, what was I complaining about again?  Never mind. 
More wine anyone?


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Assless chaps for toddlers

It's a New Year folks and I don't know about you, but one of my resolutions this year was to let my toddler run around with a naked bottom while we are at home...

What?  He likes it! 

Okay, I am just messing with you, well kind of.  The real story is that Trent and I opted to stay home for New Years this year and enjoy a quiet long weekend together as a family.  Of course, as you might have guessed, I am not one for being able to partake in too much down time and therefore I hatched a plan to potty train Chephren while I had the 'man advantage'.  Since the Internet seems to know just about everything, I turned to my computer as my primary advice-giver on the matter (followed somewhat distantly by my mom).  I had previously decided on the three-day potty training method and after reading this article, we were on our way!  (There is also a booklet on the subject that you can download for a fee, but we're trying to live with less remember?)

Now, I will spare you all of the grody details about the whole process (if you wanted to know more about this stuff you would have your own kid right?) but I did want to share my latest sewing project: warm fuzzy pants with no bottoms (ahem, 'assless chaps' if you will...)  Being that we live in such a cold climate, letting Chephren run around with no pants on seemed somehow irresponsible as a parent, no matter how much he loves it.  After experimenting with several varieties: his commercially made Baby Legs from when he was a baby (pretty small on him now) and a handmade pair of leg warmers that I knit (they don't stay up), I finally crafted a pair of fleece 'pants' that are super comfy and cozy and are held up by elastics at the top.  Even Trent was impressed that I came up with these things... and it only took me about 30 minutes to make them!

The most important part?  Chephren loves them too, and we are on Day 5 of the potty training and it is going very, very well!  I haven't declared a total victory yet (we still have to figure out how to leave the house), but I can feel good knowing that this new toddler fashion statement is keeping diapers out of the landfills.

Happy New Year!

Marebare xoxo