Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Ever Changing Room . . .

We have a 4 bedroom house. When we moved in, we had 2 very small children (2.5 and 6 months old), so we were only using two out of the 4 bedrooms for actual "bedrooms." Which worked out, especially since our home has a main level with 2 bedrooms and then a fully furnished/8 foot ceiling lower level with 2 bedrooms. So it wasn't like I was going to have the children downstairs at that age.

The one bigger room downstairs was a playroom, then the preschool room, but for the past few years, it has been the girls room (who are now 12 and almost 10. I know! Can you believe it?)

The other smaller room has changed yearly, it seems. At first, it was an office. Then it was a guest room. Then it was mine and Super's room when he was a baby. Then it was an office. Then it was a guest room. And then it was the homeschool room. And then it was my room. And now, it is still my room, but it is also becoming my "Simply Living" room.

When it was just "my" room, it had a bookcase and a dresser and a nightstand and a twin bed. It is a small room (9' x 10'), I thought that there might be room to make it "more." I'm in the process, but I'll try and take pictures this weekend, when I hope to have it done.

But here is a text preview anyway of what will be in the room: A twin bed, a bookcase with homeschooling/preschooling books, a smaller bookcase with "Simple Living" books, a former media shelf unit for my canning, a small desk with my sewing machine, and a bigger desk for my (hopefully soon to be purchased) laptop and other materials, and a shelving system for fabric, yarn, etc. (I moved the dresser to the closet.) I would love it if I could get new furniture, etc., but for right now, I'm just repurposing furniture and furnishings that we currently have and that aren't be used in another room of the house. I may only put one of the desks in there. You'll have to see what I decided when I unveil the room.

So it is becoming the best of both worlds room for me. So I can work in my "studio", but then I only have to walk 10 steps or less to go to bed!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Homemaking: How much do you do?

I used to make fun of the idea of "homemaking" when I was younger. And I certainly never imagined that it would be something that I would actually WANT to do.

But now, not only do I enjoy it, but I think it is important for me to do for my family.

When I think about homemaking, I try and think about what things that I can do at home so that I spend less money and so that I don't have to go out and buy it.

So for ME, here is what my homemaking goals are:

1. Make most of my own cleaning supplies from vinegar, borax, washing soda, castille soap, salt, etc.

2. Make my own crocheted dishcloths and scrubbers. Sew my own dishtowels.

3. Sew my own tablecloths, placemats, etc.

4. Crochet or knit mittens and hats for my family. Next year, I may add sweater to the list, but I want to have realistic goals.

5. Preserve as much food as I can, especially from my own gardens.

6. Closely related to #5, grow as much food as I can in my own gardens.

7. Conserve water.

8. Use a clothesline instead of the dryer when possible.

9. Use the car less.

10. Compost.

11. Make my own dairy products - butter, cheese, ice cream and yogurt.

12. Make quilts for every member of the family.

13. Make my own soap.

14. Make my own candles.

15. Make my own lotions.

16. Buy and live locally.

17. Buy and live seasonally.

18. Buy used whenever possible.

19. Conserve energy.

20. Bake bread.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Preserving The Harvest: What I've done so far this year

I had very lofty goals for 2011 and I haven't fulfilled those goals, but I have preserved a fair amount. Here is what I have done so far:

12 pints of tomato sauce
35 pints of corn
21 quarts of peaches
12 pints of strawberry jam
12 half pints of peach jam
7 pints of veggie relish
7 pints of banana pepper mustard
12 pints of salsa
60 pints of applesauce
Still planned for canning:
7 pints of ketchup

2 gallons of green bags
1 gallon of basil leaves
1 quart bags of dried:
Still planned for freezing:
6 quarts of apple pie filling

- apple slices
- apple leather
- basil
- oregano
- parsley
- lemon balm
- spearmint
- peppermint
- lemon verbena
- lavender
- sage
- tarragon

I haven't done any pickling yet, and I may or may not get to it. I also recently got a Food Saver, but haven't used it either. My canners and my dehydrator, however, have seen LOTS of action this year.

I grew all the herbs, onions (for the relish), the peppers (for the relish), the tomatoes (for the sauce and the relish), and the green beans. I bought the strawberries, the peaches, the apples, and peaches. I had to buy most of the zucchinis for the relish because my squash got squash bugs BAD this year. I also grew peas, lettuce, cabbage, spinach, swiss chard, broccoli earlier in the season, but we ate all of that fresh.

I also taught a class about Preserving The Harvest. I'll put more info over here very soon, but I have finally got Simply Living In The City off the ground! I'm kind of proud of myself! It was a really fun class and I enjoyed teaching people about it and talking with people that are interested in preserving and just talking to other people who enjoy a similar "simple" way of life.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Book A Day Keeps The Doctor Away?

Well, I haven't been reading a book a day. Well, some days I have. It was DEFINITELY a summer of reading. I could read at the pool during swim team practice, and I could read while I was laid up with my burns. I could read while the kids played. And I could read at night.

And courtesy of my Nook that I got for my birthday, I can bring lots of "books" on our weekend trips without having to load up a bag. I also love my Nook for when I'm waiting. At the dr. office. At school. At the pool. I still get most of my books at the thrift store and I still doing a lot of borrowing from the library.

Some of the fiction I read was: The Jane Austen Book Club, The Prodigal Summer, The House of Sand and Fog, Plain Truth, Transgression, The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing, and While I Was Gone.

On my Nook, so far, I've read: The Help, The Happiness Project, Half Broke Horses, and The Glass Castle.

Non-fiction, of course, was "Simple" reading: Gardening, Root Cellaring, Knitting, Edible Gardens, that sort of stuff. It is funny, I used to have to really dig for these type of books, and they were usually books that were published in the 1970s. This year, there are tons of books in the "New" section. Makes me wish I would have taken the time to get my book written a couple years ago when there was less competition. Oh well. Life happens, right?

And this year, I am even going to do Book Club with my friend Mary! Yes, Mary from my Another Ode to Mary Mary Commentary! The same friend that we talked about books at at Women Living Wisely about how I wanted to start reading more. The friend who said that she would be my "book friend!"

I'm so glad I finally started taking time to "read" again. I missed it!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It is Autumn!!

When I was a kid, I only liked one season. Summer. The rest of the year, I just sort of suffered through, and since I was a kid, time went by SOOOOOOO SLOWWWWW.

It was around the time I turned 30, that I decided that I needed to start giving the other seasons a fair shot. But it really wasn't until I had kids that I really started to appreciate them. Now at 45, I'd have to say that Autumn is probably my favorite season. Spring and Summer are probably in a tie for second and Winter. Ugh. Winter will always be in last :) I try to like it, I try to appreciate the differences and the things that only Winter has, but I. HATE. BEING.COLD. And I've only spent one year of my whole life in a place that didn't have cold winters. I've spent 26 years of my life in Illinois, and I would say that Illinois has one of the worst winters ever too. It starts in November and isn't over until April, I swear.

But anyway, back to Autumn. I love so much about it. I love the changing leaves. I love the crisp breezes. I love how it can be cool in the morning and warm in the afternoon. I love having homemade soup. I love eating squash. I love harvest time. (My allergies, however, do NOT love harvest time.) I love decorating with scarecrows and corn and haybales. I love going to festivals every weekend.

And this year, I'm loving Rosh HaShanah. And no, I'm not Jewish. But I'm trying to learn more about different beliefs this year. I had heard of Rosh HaShanah, and had heard it was like the Jewish New Year, but that was about all I'd heard.

Rosh HaShanah is the Jewish New Year, and it comes in the fall, when the leaves are turning and when the harvest is beginning. There are 10 days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur and are known as the Days of Awe. One of the themes of the Days of Awe is the concept that God has "books" that he writes our names in, writing down who will live and who will die, who will have a good life and who will have a bad life, for the next year. These books are written in on Rosh Hashanah, but our actions during the Days of Awe can alter God's decree. These "books" are sealed on Yom Kippur.

During the Days of Awe, it is a time to evaluate oneself - to find where you have sinned, not only against God, but against others. So I've been spending the past few days reflecting on the past year. I've been looking at how I've fallen short to my family, friends, and my neighbors/community/world. I have been pondering on who I need to ask for forgiveness, and who I need to forgive. And looking forward to the start of new ""L'Shanah Tovah" (Good Year)!