Wednesday, 31 December 2008

2008 Reflections

Beauty That Moves
Looking back on 2008 I realized there are many ideas and practices that my family has made part of our daily rhythm, things that were once new and deliberate now feel effortless and natural. Some of them have been by choice, others by necessity. So, here is a list of things we have done in 2008 to become a more self-sufficient and sustainable family... while living on a very small amount of shady land in the city.

1. Haven't bought a roll of paper towels since the last one was used up in June.
2. Keep a drawer in the kitchen of 'kitchen rags' - various sizes of clean, folded rags for use around the kitchen. Many of them are quite small (4"x4") to take care of small things like oiling the cast iron pans while keeping laundry to a minimum.
3. Now making all of our own bread.
4. Learned how to can and filled my pantry with jams, jellies and sauces.
5. Found a great recipe for homemade spaghetti sauce, make huge batches (several gallons) at a time and freeze individual meal portions.
6. My husband hunts (has for years), this was a good year and the freezer is filled with venison for the meat eaters in the house.
7. Planted a vegetable garden in our very shady yard. Had great success because we were realistic about what we could and could not grow in shady conditions... turns out we can grow enough kale, green beans and cucumbers for the whole neighborhood!
8. Discovered the 'second rate' apples for sale at our orchard for almost 1/2 the price of regular. Their idea of seconds is superior to most grocery stores idea of perfect. 100 pounds were purchased. Now apple pie has become my favorite gift to give!
9. Switched to cast iron pans this summer, all second hand.
1o. Making our own dishwasher soap.
11. Making our own laundry soap.
12. Adam (husband) made me a great rack for drying ziploc bags.
13. Making homemade all-purpose household cleaning spray.
14. Started a barter work exchange at my daughter's school to help offset the tuition cost.
15. Switched to only cloth napkins - thirfted linen in brand new condition!
16. Emily (my eleven year old) has learned to knit hats and made one for everyone this Christmas.
17. Sewed a few shirts for myself.
18. Have developed a small arsenal of very frugal recipes (will post about this sometime!).
19. Thermostat stays at 65 or lower, usually lower.
20. We drive as little as possible - even with the new lower gas prices. We are fortunate to live within 5 minutes of just about anything we could need, a benefit of city living.
21. We hang out at the library on Saturdays for fun. And it's free!
22. If we need or want something, we will hold out for a long time to see if it can be found second hand. It usually can be - I love my $8 food processor! This becomes a game for us, we also have a wonderful flea market 5 minutes from our house which is a thrift/green/frugal persons version of the mall. :)
23. The green scrubbies that are used to wash dishes - I cut them in 1/2 when removing them from the package. They last twice as long.
24. We began composting this year!
25. Making our own convenience foods - homemade crackers anyone?
26. Focusing on home based business more as a means to provide needed income while being present for my daughter.
27. Deepened our connection to community by participating in our Farmers Market with my handmade wares.
28. Got rid of our microwave - a personal preference.
29. Spending less. Spending less. Spending less.
30. UPDATED We only buy boxed wine now ;) - saving money, shipping weight, and packaging. The quality of boxed wine has greatly improved over the last few years. Thank you Carrie for reminding me that I do this!

in the kitchen

I look forward to 2009 with all of it's fresh potential, each day on this path to simplicity is new and exciting. It's not about being perfect, it's about living with intention.

It is the difference between thinking something is a good idea for someday, and putting what you can into action today.

My sister recently wrote about one small action she has taken in her home (she has taken many). I thought it was a creative and resourceful example of taking action, today.

I wish all of our readers a very blessed and peaceful 2009. If you have a moment, we would love to hear a few (or many!) of the ways your family has simplified over the past year. Your comments always add great inspiration to The Co-op. Thank you and Happy New Year!


CathyKnit said...

Thanks for so many wonderful ideas regarding simple living! I just came across your blog today; what a great find. I'm looking forward to the inspiration as we turn our calendars to a new year. Blessings!

Tracy said...

Wow, what an accomplishment! You have inspired me. :)

Hot Belly Mama - easing into it said...

I love this blog, it actually gave me ideas. And your home is beautiful. I actually just bookmarked this blog because it gave me ideas to tell my husband.

If you haven't already, check out my latest blog. I have a photo of the little one. HAPPY NEW YEAR! :)

Annette said...

You have inspired me - and I love your kitchen pictures! Mine is the place where everyone gathers, including their stuff!!
Thank you for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Great post and congratulations on what you have done this past year. You've inspired me to get with it and do more for ourselves!
Thanks! Happy New Year!


Sarah said...

A big change for us was switching our cleaning supplies over to vinegar and water. Everything feels so much cleaner!

jimmycrackedcorn said...

I have done a few of those things completely, and a few of them partially. I also got a few good ideas too...thank you! I'll be cutting/breaking my blue steel wool soap pads into at least 2 pieces each before I use them from now on.

Frogdancer said...

This was a lovely post. So practical (and the photos were just beautiful). Happy new frugal year!

Marilyn said...

What a beautiful kitchen! Sunny & homey. I'm looking for advice on the homemade laundry soap. I made some this year and I love the smell and the price-but I don't love what it is doing to my washer! There is a whitish film coating the washer now and I'm afraid I am going to have to give it up. I have very hard water here in the desert. Could you post about this down the road?? THX!

rhonda jean said...

Hi Heather, I would be very comfortable in your home. :- )

Happy new year, love.

Jenn said...

Yet another inspiring blog from you...seeing a new blog from you here or on your own is a treat. Thank you for such inspiration!

Nancy said...

A great post that's chock-full of inspiration. I posted my goals for 2009 last night and one was to "eliminate my perfection" -- I have ideas but don't always know where to start so I do nothing instead of just doing something. This post confirmed to me that I should just start doing....


simplelife said...

Great and inspiring post. Loved your photos too, what a warm and welcoming kitchen you have.
I think I will sit down and list all the changes that we have made as a family, I feel that we haven't done much but I'm sure that if I listed it all I would be surprised.

Happy New Year
cheers Kate said...

#30 Drink wine from a box. . . saves 4 wine bottles!

Might be greener, but I sure do drink more wine now! HA!
Thanks for your amazingly nurturing encouragement. It's so easy for the topics you discuss here to become preachy or holier than thou sounding. . .you never veer that way. I appreciate you. Carrie

Rose said...

Heather, this is a great list.

Regarding #2, oiling pans with a small rag, how do you then wash it? I imagine this is a separate hand wash and not in the machine?

Paper towels are one of my downfalls. :(

Happy New Year. Rose

heather said...

rose - the pans are oiled after they are cleaned. here is a great link that i found very helpful.

happy new year!

Anonymous said...

Oh boy, I have a long way to go. But seriously, without blogs like this I don't know if I would have the courage or motivation to keep progressing. Very few people around me understand or are supportive of what I am doing.
Please keep writing... you don't know what it means to some of us.

maturehealth said...

Excellent and inspiring post. Now I need to get off my butt and do something locally.

Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I LOVED this is making me think on what changes I made in 2008 and what I could do in 2009. What new skills I could learn or habits to include in my daily life?

LOVE the pics of your kitchen..the candles and small lamp add a cozy touch.

Maria M

Green Loving Mom said...

Loved this post. I copied your idea and posted what we have done in 2008 on my blog as well. I love your blog and this blog! Thanks for the inspiration.

liz said...

Wow Heather, that's some list! I'd be proud of myself if I had done 1/3 of those things. I am definitely bookmarking this list for future goal-setting. Please keep us updated on any new additions to the list!

Thank you!

SuSu said...

Great post. I made similar list this week, while I was reflecting on my past year's accomplishments. It's amazing how many small things there are that we can do that really add up in the long run. I have also started a new list of things that I want to try in the new year, and I already accomplished my first yesterday-homemade dog biscuits.
Thanks for the post!

Karen said...

i loved this post. i do much of this, too. and by the way ... you have a lovely, cozy home! it's been nice being back in CT but i do live much more simply in KY ... the part of the state (ct) i grew up in isn't exactly geared toward local sustainability. makes me glad to live where i live. by the way, your vintage zipper pouch is a great place for my stitch holders and buttons!

kendra said...

Your kitchen is beautiful! What a great list. I'd love to see your plastic bag drying rack. I like your idea of bartering to offset your daughters school tuition. We love the school we send our preschool son too, but paying for the elementary tuition is going to be painful! Maybe I can barter somehow too.

Also, congrats on switching to cloth diapers. I've used them for all 4.5 years that I've had babies and I love them!