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!
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!