Stories from Costalota

WOW! Christmas Already

Susan PetreyAre you stressed about Christmas?

WOW, it's three days until Christmas, and I have only just realized.Things have been so crazy around here lately, I am so glad I finished my Christmas gift organization back in October. If I hadn't, I would be in trouble. Winter is normally a quieter time around my house. The cold and I do not get along, the gardens are done as is the canning. Winter is when I can enjoy my open fire and sew or knit. So far this winter it's been a little different.

knitting in front of the fireplace | Fotolia/Africa Studio 

Photo: Fotolia/Africa Studio

You may be wondering how I could be done for Christmas in October. I get asked that a lot. For me, gifting is a year-round event. I keep a small journal that has names, birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates in it. Alongside this, I have two more columns, one for ideas, for example what hobbies or interests the person likes, or life events going on. The next is for what I gave the person and for what, i.e. blue hand-knitted sweater birthday. This helps me track what each person gets.




Gift given-What for


4/25/90 wedding anniversary

Favorite color Red, flower lily

Red lily painting for anniversary

Each year, I carry over ideas from the year before as well as add or subtract according to changes in taste and circumstance. This way I can pick up or make things all year long for all my special people. This has worked out wonderfully for me. I tend to not get stressed about knowing what to give, or fighting half-crazed people at stores doing last-minute shopping. I do not do well in crowds anyway. I mostly make my gifts but not always. And again I try to make gifts based on the ideas from my journal so that the receiver knows I have put not only effort but thought into what they like or want. It makes a difference when someone really likes something you made.

if you hadn't already worked it out I am a list maker by nature. I used to make them in my head, but now I write them down (my memory isn't what it used to be).

journal | Fotolia/chihana

Photo: Fotolia/chihana

So if you find yourself stressed over gifting, try a journal. It doesn't need to be fancy or big. Just a simple one. I like pen and paper still – yes, I am old school – but you can make one on your smartphone or tablet just as easily. Go on, give it a go. You will be surprised how enjoyable it is to give gifts, made or purchased, knowing you had it all planned well in advance.

Enjoy gift giving, everyone, and Merry Christmas to all.

Something to be Thankful For

Susan PetreyCountry living, homesteading, rural life, no matter what you call it, it conjures up different feelings, thoughts and theories of what exactly it means. Much like art, it is in the eye and heart of the beholder. For me and my husband, it is making the most of what we have, either due to necessity or by choice.

We use many of the modern conveniences available while keeping in mind the impact we have on our environment. Over the past 11 years, we have managed to go from 1 acre to approximately 25 acres of land by picking up lots adjoining our original land as they became available.

It is, however, more than just land; it’s more of a mindset, with its roots firmly planted in our respective families' pioneering pasts. Even though we both come from two totally different cultures, our families have pioneered in one manner or another, mostly in new lands making the best of it using problem-solving skills and being thankful for not just for the ability to support their families but thankful to have the opportunity to do so.

We have a small collection of animals, but year by year it keeps growing. We started with chickens for eggs and meat; we have a trio of goats for milk and brush eradication; and a trio of sheep. Of course, we have dogs; they are for company, stock protection and hunting purposes. But mostly they are our children. My husband Mike and I meet in and married in our mid-30s and have no children together.

Farm view
My goats and sheep: Nana, Red, Oscar, Martha, Hazel and Charger out in our field.

Because I get attached to anything I raise, I have developed a built-in protective measure. If it has a person's name, it’s for breeding or a pet of sorts. If it doesn’t, it’s for food. Luckily for my current goat and sheep trios, they all have names. J I plan on introducing you all to them in upcoming posts.

Through this blog I intend to share my insights, experiences, skills new and old, thoughts feelings and humor as I live the lifestyle I am thankful to have the opportunity to have.