2008 was my start on becoming more self sufficient. Less dependent on the industrial food system, and the mall, is where I started. I feel good about our progress. I had my first vegetable garden this year. We were quite successful and learned a lot. I LOVE tomatoes fresh from the garden. Fresh green beans taste nothing like frozen, canned, or even beans from the market. Carrots left to be hit by a good frost (or frozen into the ground, even) are the sweetest, most delicious I’ve ever encountered. You need to be very diligent with the squash seedlings, for it you don’t have them properly labeled you will not know what is what until they grow fruit…is that a Zucchini plant, a Pumpkin or a Butternut? Tomatoes really need substantial supports, little bamboo sticks are not enough, even thought they are cute. Root veggies need softer soil, with a little sand in there so they go deep and don’t just grow fat, and potato tires do not work well with hay and a rainy spring, nor do they work well with freshly fertilized soil.
We learned more, but that was a good recap. We also started raising a flock of chickens. I never knew how fun those little critters are to have around. They are very amusing, low maintenance and quite friendly. We are up to 8-9 eggs a day, enough for our family and my parents, right from the back yard. This year we built a coop and a makeshift run that needs to be taken to the next level in the Spring.
I started my journey of putting up food. Canning and freezing specifically. I did a lot of borrowing of supplies, having never done this before. I stuck to tomatoes and peaches for the most part. I’ve had some very yummy meals made with those jars of tomatoes. What a treat to have canned peaches with our oatmeal from time to time. Enjoying blueberry pancakes and an occasional bowl of blueberry rice pudding with frozen berries we collected for free from the plants near our house. I meant to pull out a bag of frozen homemade cider for Christmas, and forgot, but that’s okay, we have all winter to enjoy the 3-4 gallons we have in there.
Lots of crafting took place in 2008. I think the items I’m most fond of are the Sweater Vest completed on the last day of the year, which is drying so has yet to be photographed.
Using my craft to help others is something I tried my hand at this year, with coordinating the Knitting to Keep Warm event at my Local Yarn Store. This is something I’d liked to do more of next year, both with coordinating events for others to get involved with, and doing things on my own to donate to those who need them.
I’ve taken cooking and baking more seriously this year. Our life circumstances never had us eating home cooked meals, cooked by me at least. We worked in a group home where we had a cook. We ate out a lot. Then we moved to the country and had a baby. Well, 2008 was the year to learn how to cook at home. It’s gone pretty well, and I’m looking forward to diving deeper in 2009.
We entered the year of 2 with our daughter. She has been a lot of fun, lots of talking, puzzle making, reading and coloring. She helps daddy make breakfast, and is a fabulous chicken farmer. She is creative and needs little stimulation from us or her toys, to play happily, but enjoys time with her parents and likes to help with the sewing machine.
Looking back on 2008 I am pleased to say I enjoyed this year. It has been a year of reevaluation, change and new adventures, all of which, while challenging, have definitely enriched our lives. Thank you for being here, reading, commenting and taking the journey of 2008 with us!
2009 is ahead. I have no idea what it will bring, but I know the direction I’m starting in and intend to be flexible on how that path is followed. My plans include:
Having a garden again this year. It’s being expanded to the piece of land that lies at the other end of my property. We’ve tilled, and will be planting a large tomato crop. We did buy a lot of tomatoes this year, and we don’t want to have to do that, so we know we need to plant more. Lots of Roma and sauce style for sure. Dad and Mini will be looking for the Sun Globe sweetness of those beautiful orange cherry tomatoes, and of course some nice big cutting tomatoes for sandwiches and salads. The seed catalogs have arrived so January will be spent pouring over those and deciding what to buy again this year, and what to try for the first time.
Chickens! We have decided, with the help of our local heirloom chicken farmers to expand our poultry focus. We will be raising some chickens for meat purposes, along with maintaining and probably adding to our egg layers. We enjoy eating chicken, and while we are fortunate to be able to buy chicken from local raisers, we feel the cost and experience of raising our own will make sense. We are also going to be trying our hand at a half dozen turkeys, Narragansett breed, the old New England Turkey, to be shared with my parents, and a couple ducks. Duck eggs are great for baking, very rich and delicious to eat on their own, and we think it would be fun to have a couple ducks wandering about, eating slugs out of our garden. We are looking at the beautiful Blue Cayuga.
Lots of crafting! I look forward to incorporating mini into more of my crafting now that she is able to follow directions and understand what we are doing. She bakes and has become a fabulous egg shell puller (Husband cracks she pulls them apart), and is quite proficient with a whisk.
Clothing is a big focus in my crafting. I don’t tend to get into a lot of crafts for crafts sake, but rather am looking for crafts that are fun to make and fun to use later. Kitchen items like potholders, and an occasional pin cushion are about as “frivolous” as I tend to get. Though I won’t say never. I have plans for some exciting sewing projects, both to create from patterns and to create from scratch. I love to see my family members enjoying comfortable clothes I’ve made. I also enjoy being able to put on an outfit in the morning knowing that most, or all, of it was made by me. It’s just a fun feeling.
Knitting has become my favorite crafting endeavor so there will be lots more of that. Especially baby knitting!
The most exciting plan of 2009 is that we will be welcoming our second baby girl into this world. I am 6 1/2 months into a very smooth sailing pregnancy, due in March! Mini is excited to be a big sister and kisses her good night and talks to her through my belly every night. We have not had to do a lot to prepare this time, so it seems it’s flown by. We have most everything we need, as we kept all of mini’s clothes (all the garments I sewed and knit will have a new life) and toys, car seat, co-sleeping crib, breast pump and the like. But the baby does need her own hand knits, so the purchases I made yesterday are, in large part, for her.
I want to focus this year on contentment. I have found myself content far more of the time, than ever before in my life. It’s a feeling I enjoy and one I want to foster all the more. I’m going to be sharing my journey in that area, as well. Contentment seems to be a mindset, one where even though there is more to have or experience, what you have is enough and you are satisfied. I want to enjoy what I have, personally, relationally and materially, rather than worrying about what else I could have.
I hope 2009 provides pleasures and contentment for my family and yours.