But What Are You Going to DO Over There?


This was the question I got asked the most when 1 year ago I announced I was leaving the city of Vancouver to live on Gabriola Island: What are you going to DO over there? As if living in the city is the only way to live! Like it was shocking to want something other than the stress and crowds and crazy high living expenses. As if trudging to work 5 days a week to perform tasks you aren’t that passionate about while surrounded by people you don’t even like is a healthy way to exist. While I was at the notary signing the documents for the house the agent, who I had never met before, even asked why I wanted to move there. Then she said “Gee you must really like nature” and I made probably the most aggressively confused face of my entire life… doesn’t everyone like nature? Why is moving out of the city considered equivalent to having an unhealthy love of nature? I honestly had so many WTF moments in conversation leading up to the move. Now that it’s been a year I’m prepared to show what we have been doing since leaving the city.

1. I learned new skills. Finally having the freedom to spend my time how I wanted and not stuck at a desk or on transit I managed to learn how to do many new and exciting things.
How to make bath bombs
How to make my own cheese
About keeping mason bees
How to can foods (and I filled the pantry)
How to home brew apple drank
How to make my own wine
How to make kombucha
How to to weave on a lap loom
How to identify mushrooms
How to make kombucha pt. 2
How to make kombucha pt. 3
How to identify mushrooms pt. 2
How to hand spin angora fibre on a drop spindle

2. I had time to learn to cook and bake for myself. This is a biggie because in the city I was an incredibly lazy eater; “Lunch” was a salad or sandwich crammed in my face during my half hour break, and dinner was delivery or fast food on the commute home about 90% of the time. Meals made at home were simple and rushed because I was so tired I just wanted to eat and sit down. I also consumed a lot of sugars and junk in a misguided attempt to cheer myself up. Well this year I actually read some of the cookbooks I have collected and worked out some good recipes!
Vegetarian sushi
GF vegan chocolate peanut butter cookies
Quinoa salad
Veggie tacos
How to grow your own sprouts
Cheesy bread
Making your own almond milk
Veggie rice bowl
Cat and dog treats
GF vegan cookie sandwiches
Adventures in chai brewing
Leek and potato soup
Cashew cream
Lavender tea latte
Polenta fries
Making veggie stock
Frozen lemon meringue torte
Honey balsamic dressing
GF chocolate brownie buttons
GF vegan chai cupcakes
Pickled and caramelized onions
Pickled carrots
Canned salsa
Backyard raspberries two ways
Canned dill pickles and relish
Bread and butter pickles
Lemon curd using our own eggs
Veggie tacos with crispy onions and avocado
Plums two ways
Lemon boy and oregano pasta sauce
How to make your own candy corn
Pumpkin pasties
Apple butter
Adventures in curry cooking
How to make paneer

3. I had time to spend working on my home. Sounds crazy, right? I actually used my home for more than just bathing, sleeping and rush-eating between work shifts.
House before photos
Painting the entire interior of the house
Painting the entire exterior of the house
Guest room makeover
Guest bathroom makeover
Painting the bedroom
Tearing out carpeting
Sprucing up the greenhouse
Creating a functional pantry
Living room before and after
Painting the bedroom again
Creating a brew room

4. I had a garden! Can’t squeeze one of these into an 800sf condo downtown.
Deer proof enclosure
Growing our own plants from seed
Cedar planters from scrap pallets
Garden progress
Growing strawberries
More pallet planters
Garden before and afters
Harvesting lavender
Harvesting lemon balm and making tea
Garden enclosure progress
Harvesting strawberries
Harvesting rhubarb
Discovering we have fruit trees
Uses for comfrey
New garden stairway
Harvesting hazelnuts
Building a chicken coop
Harvesting a zillion plums
Harvesting apples
Chicken coop progress
Zucchini and squash
Harvesting stevia
DIY chicken feeders
Harvesting mason bee cocoons

5. I made time for crafting. While I didn’t get as much done last year as I had hoped, I did get some fun projects completed.
Lisa Simpson cross stitch
Boneyard shawl knit
Plush monsters
Mini Marge Simpson cross stitch
Chef Bender cross stitch
DIY cedar headboard
Cabled lake sweater take 3
DIY bunny hutch
Boys from the dwarf cross stitch
Cabled lake sweater progress
How to make a lap loom for $10
Edinburgh Weaving

Drumbeg Beach
Road trip to Port Angeles, WA
Decourcy Island
Plant medicine walk
The drive to Victoria, BC
Mini road trip to Coombs, BC
Gabriola Petroglyphs
Witchcraft Lake, Nanaimo, BC
Elder Cedar Trail
Englishman River Falls, Coombs, BC
Malaspina Galleries
Saltspring Island Cheese Company
Road trip to Tofino, BC
The Millstones

7. We made some new additions to the family
Bringing home Fry and Leela
Rescue bunny Nibbler
We got some chickens
We got some more chickens
We adopted Britney
RIP Patty
Fry was neutered
We adopted Edna and Fozzy
We got some ducks
Cruelty free eggs
RIP Farnsworth
Eggs of all sizes
We lost Suzie, but found her again
We adopted Millie
And we adopted Super Hans
Moving the ducks and chickens in together

8. I read. A lot. I also made a list of books to read in 2015 based on the reading preferences of Lisa Simpson.
2014 reading women summary
What Would Lisa Simpson Read?

And there’s even more stuff that didn’t make it onto the list including starting my own business and working from home, in addition to maintaining my job in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The best thing about this last year was being in charge of my own time. I slept in almost every morning, and went to bed whenever I wanted. I met tons of new people. I started an in person book club. Together J and I went to great local restaurants, bought produce from excellent local farms, went to bonfires, went to the beach, cooked and ate meals together, spent both Halloween and New Years partying at the Surf Pub, and made many connections with great people here on this tiny island. I reduced my intake of fast food to almost 0%, and I curbed my consumption of material goods considerably. I set up an excellent home library filled with books I love, and will spend all of next year getting caught up on all the stories I haven’t read yet. We did our best to make our home comfortable for ourselves as well as our many animal companions. We have lots of work to do in 2015, but we have a clear idea of where we are headed and we can’t wait!


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