When I started this blog back in March, my goal was to use this space to chronicle my family's journey towards a simpler life--in one way, by learning the skills to be more self-sufficient, like people were in the "old days"--and in another more literal way, by saving up to buy a piece of land in the country where we could have our own homestead.
So here on December 31st, it's natural that I ask myself, "What progess have we made towards these goals?"
I think we've done very well where it comes to learning new skills to allow us to do more for ourselves. In fact, saying we've learned a lot this year is really an understatement. A few highlights:
- I learned how to can homemade jam, and it's so delicious we'll never go back to store bought! I also put by a great deal of homemade applesauce and apple butter for the first time.
- We also learned that when pick raspberries, strawberries and blueberries in the summer, we need A LOT more to last us the year. It's quite amazing how much one family can consume--I greatly underestimated. For example, Jasper loves to eat frozen blueberries as a snack pretty much every day--and here we are in December, and we have been out of blueberries for several weeks. Now I am buying store bought berries for him, which is not at all what I had planned.
- I continued to learn how to make more meals from scratch, and I learned how to make my own sprouts and granola.
- Chris has greatly expanded his self-taught woodworking abilities to include turning bowls, plates and cups. Just now he is experimenting with making spoons, and we hope this will give a boost to our family business.
- We learned a lot about growing vegetables this year. Or rather, how not to grow them! For example, do NOT grow potatoes in pure compost, because it will be too nitrogen rich and you'll get all leaves and no potatoes. Do NOT try to grow pumpkins in a tiny back yard, and do NOT plant four cherry tomato plants when only one person in the family eats them!
- I finally figured out my sewing machine, and have sewed many projects already, including a doll quilt. I have been reading a lot about quilting lately so that I can begin soon on a "real" quilt.
- Chris and I discovered how much fun it is to create handmade gifts for holidays and birthdays.
- Chris has greatly expanded the number of songs he can play on the guitar. (I consider playing a musical instrument to be a form of self-sufficiency, since you can then create your own entertainment).
- We're learning ways to be more frugal all the time, and make some of our own cleaning and personal care products.
- We've learned how important it is to our sanity to have a daily routine to our family life, and that it's very important to take a break from technology sometimes (i.e. the computer and tv) and just enjoy the peace and quiet together.
Some of these activities have saved us money, but more than that they have all been very satisying. I love the feeling of creating something with my hands--it's something that was missing from my life before.
Our other goal was saving up for our homestead. This has been very difficult for us since not only are we paying fairly high rent to live in the city, but Chris was in college for the first half of the year, and after working throughout the summer was laid off in September. However, these past few months, even though we were living only off of our Etsy shop, we managed not only to get by but to save a tiny bit. And I find that in itself encouraging. I know that we are working towards our goal, even if our progess seems painfully slow at times, and I'm proud of us for making our family business work.
Next year we are going to try even harder to live frugally and save every penny. But I'll talk about 2011 in a post tomorrow. For now, I'll just say a big "Thank You" to all of my readers for joining me as I wrote about our struggles and successes in 2010. I'm so grateful and humbled that you lovely people take the time to stop by, and I sincerely hope to enjoy your company more in 2011.
On that note, I hope everyone has a joy-filled evening tonight, and I'll see you next year! :)