About Me

My name is Kate and I have always thought I was born in the wrong century. Maybe that is why I feel so close to my ancestors. Two of my great- great-grandmothers are named Elizabeth. I often call on them to whisper guidance in my ear on how to live a self reliant life.

Someday I hope to have an off-the-grid homestead. In the meantime, I am constantly looking for ways to complete everyday tasks without the need for electricity. So come along with me and together we'll learn about old-fashioned, frugal ways of living that have stood the test of time - the non-electric way!

You can contact me anytime at:

My inspiration for this blog comes from my ancestors. Both of my great-great-grandmothers (Elizabeth and Elizabetta) are from my father's side of the family. Let me introduce them to you.

Elizabetta De Paolo

Elizabetta is the grandmother of my father's mother. She was born in Italy and lived there her entire life. I can not find any record of her coming to America. My grandmother never spoke about her being here in America either. I also know my grandmother never got to travel to meet any of her relatives in Italy because of WWI and WWII. However, I admire Elizabetta very much because she let her daughter Rose travel to America at age 13 to start a better life here. Can you image the courage it must have taken to let her daughter go to a strange country without any family at 13, knowing she would never see her again? Now I didn't say Rose came to America all alone, she didn't. From the records I have found, it appears (I have not yet confirmed this - I am looking for the ship's passenger list) that she traveled to America with her future mother-in-law. My great-grandfather was in New York City waiting for both Rose and his mother to arrive here. My great-grandmother Rose carried this picture of her mother, Elizabetta, with her to America. The best I can tell is this picture was taken about 1870, around the time Elizabetta got married. I am sure it was the only time she ever had her picture taken.

Elizabeth Schuls

Elizabeth is the grandmother of my father's father. She was born in Ireland and came to America as a young woman, probably during the Irish potato famine. She lived in New York City. She met and married my great-great-grandfather, Michael Smith, sometime before the American Civil War. I do not know (yet) when they were married because I haven't been able to find their marriage certificate. (I am still looking!) However, I do know they were married before 1861 because my great-grandmother, Mary, was born in 1861. Like most Irish in NYC at that time, they were quite poor. Unfortunately, that means I do not have any pictures of Elizabeth. I only have pictures of her daughter, Mary, later in life after Mary had grandchildren.

I think of these two women often throughout my day. How did they manage to keep their house clean, cook meals and wash clothes without all the luxury appliances we have today? How did they manage to do it with very little money? I know it took a lot of creativity to run a household back then. It also took a set of skills that not many people have today. Since I was in my 20's, I have been trying to learn these skills to keep them alive and pass them onto others.

That is the reason I started this blog!