Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Our Home in the Forest

Welcome to the September 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Home Tour

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have opened up their doors and given us a photo-rich glimpse into how they arrange their living spaces.


Our home in the forest
When I look out of any window in our house, I see only trees: birch, poplar, aspen, and spruce. Mostly spruce. Our home is made of spruce: big logs peeled clean by my husband's hands form the high-ceiling'd family room, and smaller squared logs make up the kitchen and loft, the original building on these five acres. We heat our home with spruce, and birch, too, There is birch in the woodstove now; it smells faintly sweet.

We live off-grid: our house runs off a deck of 10 deep-cycle batteries. During our short summer, we get a boost from our solar panels, and run the generator every 3 or 4 days to fully charge the batteries. In the darker months, we run the gen-set more like every 2 days. We've got some running water now, too. We fill a 250 gallon storage tank in our house with water we transport from town in another tank on the back of an old pick-up truck. So far we've only got the kitchen sink plumbed, but the propane on-demand water heater makes doing the dishes or bathing the babies that much easier (before, we heated water in a big kettle on the stove). We shower in town. And we use an outhouse. Even at forty below. I grumble about it but I've seen some awesome displays of the northern lights while stumbling outside to pee in the night. It is a reminder to be thankful for the little things.


Our house is cluttered and usually messy. P and I both have a love of books, so the book shelves are filled until they break with the weight. There are books in stacks on the floor, books lining kitchen shelves, books in the windowsills, books balanced on the side tables. We try to cull every once in a while, but very few seem to make the cut. I tend to be more ruthless, but only by a little bit.


The kitchen counters are crowded with jars of oatmeal, beans, lentils, spices, and jars of wildcrafted herbs: raspberry leaf, rose hips, plantain, labrador tea, and yarrow. There are boxes of tea, a tin of coffee, bottles of oils and vinegars and hot sauces. There is a bowl of fruit, a copper tea kettle, a loaf of bread, a jar of fermenting water kefir. There are glasses of water half-drunk, and always, always a stack of dishes: it seems to cycle from one side of the sink to the other, dirty then clean then dirtied again: rarely do they find their way back to the dish cupboard. 

Our loft, where we all share a Fraken-bed, is reminiscent of my teenaged bedroom, which is to say: the bed is never made and there are clothes everywhere. It's embarrassing. No one gets to see it but us.

Our home is unfinished, cluttered, dusty, a mine-field of blocks and dinosaurs and dropped bits of food. I've struggled with this off-grid life; it wasn't my choosing in the beginning. Even recently, I've posted about wanting to move to town. But these days, I see the beauty in where we live. I see the unique opportunities it provides our boys. I've come to love the wide open space: 5 titled acres, and nothing but forest, river and mountain all around. I love the total silence, and the complete dark of the nights.  I love the possibilities.

Thank you for visiting our home up the Dempster!


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon September 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • Being Barlow Home Tour — Follow along as Jessica at Being Barlow gives you the tour of her family's home.
  • A Tour Of My Hybrid Rasta Kitchen — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama takes you on a tour of her kitchen complete with a Kombucha Corner, a large turtle, her tea stash, and of course, all her must-have kitchen gadgets. Check out Hybrid Rasta Mama's most favorite space!
  • Dreaming of a Sisters Room — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, dreams, schemes and pins ideas for when her younger daughter is ready to move out of the family bed and share a room with her older sister.
  • Building a life — Constructing a dream — Survivor at Surviving Mexico-Adventures and Disasters shows you a glimpse inside the home her family built and talks about adaptions they made in constructing their lives in Mexico.
  • Why I'm Sleeping in the Dining Room — Becca at The Earthling's Handbook welcomed a new baby but didn't have a spare bedroom. She explains how her family rearranged the house to create Lydia's nursing nest and changed room in spaces they already had.
  • The Gratitude Tour — Inspired by Momastry's recent "home tour," That Mama Gretchen is highlighting imperfect snapshots of things she's thankful for around her home. Don't plan to pin anything!
  • Our Home in the Forest — Tara from Up the Dempster gives you a peek into life lived off-grid in Canada's Yukon Territory.
  • natural bedding for kids — Emma at Your Fonder Heart shows you how her family of 3 (soon to be 4) manages to keep their two cotton & wool beds clean and dry (plus a little on the end of cosleeping — for now).
  • I love our home — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings explains how lucky she feels to have the home she does, and why she strives so hard to keep it tidy.
  • Not-So-Extreme Makeover: Sunshine and Rainbows Edition — Dionna at Code Name: Mama was tired of her dark, outdated house, so she brightened it up and added some color.
  • Our little outdoor space — Tat at Mum in search invites you to visit her balcony, where her children make friends with wildlife.
  • Our Funky, Bright, Eclectic, Montessori Home — Rachel at Bread and Roses shows you her family's newly renovated home and how it's set up with Montessori principles in mind for her 15-month-old to have independence.
  • Beach cottage in progress — Ever tried to turn a 1980s condo into a 1920s beach bungalow? Lauren at Hobo Mama is giving it a try!
  • Conjuring home: intention in renovation — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama explains why she and her husband took on a huge renovation with two little kids and shares the downsides and the ups, too.
  • Learning At Home — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling helps us to re-imagine the ordinary spaces of our homes to ignite natural learning.
  • My Dining Room Table — Kellie at Our Mindful Life loves her dining room table — and everything surrounding it!
  • Sight words and life lessons — The room that seemed to fit the least in Laura from Pug in the Kitchen's life is now host to her family's homeschool adventures and a room they couldn't imagine life without!
  • A Tour of Our Church — Garry at Postilius invites you virtually visit him in the 19th-century, one-room church where he lives with his spouse and two kids.
  • Preparing a Montessori Baby-Toddler Space at Home — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the Montessori baby-toddler space she's created in the main living area of her home along with a variety of resources for creating a Montessori-friendly home.
  • The Old Bailey House — Come peek through the window of The Old Bailey House where Erica at ChildOrganics resides with her little ones.
  • My New House Not-Monday: The Stairs — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl shows you her new laminate stairs in her not-so-new-anymore house.
  • To Minimalist and Back Again — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how she went to the extreme as a minimalist and bounced right back. Read how she finds it difficult to maintain the minimalist lifestyle when upsizing living space.
  • Our Life As Modern-Day Nomads — This family of five lives in 194 square feet of space — with the whole of North America as a back yard. Paige of Our Road Less Traveled guest posts at Natural Parents Network.


  1. What a lovely home! We live off-grid as well, without some of the amenities you mention. It is challenging at times, but the beauty of this life is well worth the effort. Thanks for sharing!

  2. The place you call home sounds wonderful Tara. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I can relate to the books, but I shiver at the thought of living in a place with so much winter and isolation! Not my style...but it does look cozy.

  4. So interesting! I don't know how I'd manage living off the grid, but I'm so inspired by those of you who do. Your home looks and sounds beautiful.

  5. your house looks heavenly! i love living in the city, but since it's seattle, log cabins always seem a little like home.

  6. Can I come visit? ;) No but really, I'm fascinated by families living off the grid. It would be completely new to me - I'm not even a great camper - but I think it sounds amazing. Your home sounds beautiful.

  7. How beautiful! Truly! The Northern Lights and the snow - love it!

  8. Gorgeous place!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (*insert one million exclamation points*)


I love hearing from you! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.