Hi! I’m Deanna, but a lot of you may know me as DeannaCat. I am all about living simply, getting my hands dirty, lovin’ on plants, and taking care of my family and ecosystem the best I can. My hope is to inspire a love for a similar lifestyle or hobbies in others, by sharing real-life tips and tools to make “modern homesteading” and related activities easy, understandable, and enjoyable ~ so you can learn and dive in with me!
It’s always a bit awkward to talk about yourself, but I suppose it’s good to open up and share some things with you, to give you a better idea about my background, passions, and where I am coming from with all this.
So hey! I’m the face behind this blog, a garden mentor to many over on Instagram, and also work full-time as an Environmental Health Specialist. In my personal life, I am the wife and best friend to Aaron, a part-time monarch butterfly doula, and mama to 3 kitties, four chickens, 37 houseplants, around 300 outdoor plants, and a bin of worms. Yes, I have my hands full, but also a very full heart! When I’m not busy in the garden (or writing about gardening!), you can likely find me in the kitchen, cuddling with the kitties, walking on the beach, or doing yoga ~ preferably in the patio garden on a sunny day. And always, everything with music!
If you catch glimpses of a smiling, dark, handsome man here and there – that’d be Aaron. For the record, he may seem pretty behind-the-scenes here, but is an immense contributor (maybe even more than myself!) to the care for this homestead, plants, and animals! He also assists with photo shoots, proof-reading, idea-bouncing, and all sorts of other helpful contributions that I am beyond grateful for. We are a team.
Five significant things have always drawn my interest and energy in life, the first being photography. As a little girl, I had to save up my allowance to develop rolls of film because my mom got a bit overwhelmed at the amount of photos I was taking! Long before the days of smartphones, I was always “the friend with the camera” – always ready to capture beauty and memories. I am no pro, and only took a few classes between high school and college, but it is completely a part of who I am.
Communication and sharing ideas with others has also always been important to me, be it in relationships, the workplace, or for advocacy and education. This includes writing. I am not one to be short-winded, though I will try my best to keep things to the point here! I don’t like to “read between the lines”, and I love to know the WHY behind things. I’ve often been told that I have a knack for communicating ideas to others, able to impart easy and clear understanding as well as significance. In college, I worked as a lead in various environmental and sustainability campaigns, always out there trying to engage people in conversation, share new ideas, and maybe shift perceptions. After college, my means of outreach have shifted drastically to more internet-based, but hey, that’s okay! That is kinda why I am here now.
The third “thing” is a deep interest in and respect for nature, living things, and leading a sustainable lifestyle. Trust me, we are far from the perfect image of a zero-waste life or winning the little miss sustainability pageant, but we try. We are conscious of our impacts, and do the best can. Maybe it’s because I’m a Cancer and total homebody, but I’m generally more happy and comfortable with plants, critters, and the great outdoors than bustling social scenes, keeping up with trends, and big cities… not that I don’t enjoy a good party here and there! We have been gardening since 2007, only seriously since we bought this home in 2013. We got our first flock of chickens in the spring of 2014. To read more about our homestead, click here.
Fourth, my history with healthy eating and fear of toxins runs deep. This is going to get even more personal here, but bear with me…. it’s relevant. Growing up, my mom was a dental hygienist, so processed sugar and many snack foods were a big no-no and a rarity in our house. She switched gears and became a registered dietitian/nutritionist while I was in late elementary school. So we started to look at everything we ate a little more closely, not just sugar. Then one day in early high school, my pancreas decided to quit on the job. Suddenly, on a genetic fluke, I became Type 1 Diabetic. Talk about putting everything I ate under the microscope! While my friends were spending their lunch breaks cruising around getting fast food, I was bringing sack lunches and counting carbs.
Flash forward 6 years. I lost my dad to aggressive kidney cancer when I was only 21. It was absolutely devastating. I was and always will be a Daddy’s girl. Who knows exactly how and why cancer decides to rear its ugly f***ing head, yet I can’t help but substantially blame his enthusiastic love affair with meat, butter, Ben and Jerry’s, and processed foods, and the medications used to mask the symptoms of the issues those all caused. See, my parents were no longer together by then, so they ate very differently in their households. When he passed away, I was already at a crossroads in college, considering studying nursing or physical therapy but not sure what direction I wanted to go.
Losing him made me take a serious step back to process what happened and reevaluate what was important to me. I quit my part time job at a local gym and started crafting as therapy. It was then that I started my journey with sustainability and healthier, natural living. Within the following year I changed my major, got a job as the Assistant Sustainability coordinator for the university, started selling up-cycled homemade crafts and photography at our local farmers market, became a vegetarian, and started my first little garden. Oh yeah, and got dreadlocks.
Sounds a bit like a quarter-life crisis, right? But it wasn’t a temporary dance with insanity. It was the start of my purpose. Over the years since this interest bloomed into a passion and into a lifestyle I will never go back from. Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t perfect with our diets either…. we all have our vices! Mine happen to be good craft beer, organic salt and vinegar kettle chips, and dark chocolate.
Last on the list of 5 is this: I am a bit of a nerd, with a passion for research and lifelong learning. I spent 8 years in college, and no, not to become a doctor! I just couldn’t soak up enough. Finally they kicked me out (not really…), saying it was time to move on, but not before I got my B.S. in Sustainability and Resource Management, and a Master’s in Environmental Studies. Once I had to step away from school and jump into “the real world” workplace, I felt this huge disconnect from the exciting, progressive, and creative energy I was so accustomed to. So I poured it into our yard, home, and Instagram instead. They became my outlet.
So, here we are!
All of the above naturally leads me to this moment ~ starting a blog around the things that light my fire, and I hope will light yours too! To me, this is so much more than “just a blog” ~ it is my creative and artistic outlet, my motivator to keep learning and doing, and a way to connect with you, share, and hopefully inspire. I want to help people live healthier, happier lives, in whatever way I can. I also want you to know that I am not here to preach, and never to judge! You do you. No matter your level of knowledge, interest, or involvement in a similar lifestyle, you’re welcome here. Good vibes only.
In loving memory and dedication to my Dad, because I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am today without him. I know he would be so proud of both.