...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Spring Cleaning and Voluntary Simplicity

All a girl needs is a puddle
A couple weeks ago my daughter and I were watching my childhood 8 mm films that have been converted to DVD.  I was hoping to show her the footage of my sister 30+ years ago playing the very same violin on which my daughter now plays.  I cried through those clips as well as many others of our fairly simple life in the 70s and 80s: homemade matching holiday outfits, ice skating on the neighborhood pond, Christmas gifts my parents bought at rummage sales, washing doll clothes in the summer and hanging them on a kid-height line, backyard birthday parties w/ character cakes made by my dad, saving/reusing the wrapping paper from gifts, homemade haircuts, and family bicycle rides.  It occurred to me that even though times and kids are very different in 2014 my daughter is also enjoying many of these simple pleasures.

The last 12 months have been an experiment of sorts.  An experiment in how much we can comfortably handle in terms of scheduling, workload, extracurriculars, and personal possessions.  Between the busy-ness of last summer--freelance work, travel, other work, day camps, and the constant family activity during this difficult, long, dark winter I've come to a crossroads.

Not knowing how much time my independent consulting work was going to take in its first six-month season, I had a rude awakening as I watched my overambitious garden lie neglected and overgrown for a good part of last summer and fall.  But I enjoyed getting paid well to do something I love (preserve local food) so I renewed my informal contract for this year.  Therefore, the garden plans have to be simplified.

We're also in the process of simplifying our daily and weekly extracurriculars list.  Of course, the summer has plenty of camps scheduled here and there; since I work mostly freelance, I have to find creative ways to get work done while my daught's on break.  But we're also allowing plenty of blocks of free, unscheduled time.  We've tried to pare down to whatever activities and events are most worth our time, energy, and money and leave the rest open for play (especially outdoors!)

We've also learned just how many material possessions we can live without.  Apparently I'd been hanging on to a ton of "stuff" that I hadn't used or cared about in months and years.  I've had great motivation to pare down and stop organizing, dusting, caring for, and storing things I really don't need.  (Thanks to this gentleman for the encouragement!)  Every time I get a postcard in the mail for a charity truck in our area I schedule a pickup and move at least 5-7 bags/boxes out the door.  Tomorrow is round two of family spring cleaning and I'm hoping to come up w/ at least 3 more boxes to donate (after the 12 boxes that just left a couple weeks ago.)  It feels incredible to live with less!

I'm determined to continue paring down and make my professional life more efficient, streamline my garden plans and (for now) zone in on the homesteading activities that are most important to us instead of trying to "do it all" and either feel overwhelmed or turn into "one hit wonders"-- schedule less, remember that some of the most exciting activities happen during unstructured play time, and move even more possessions out of this small house.

It's so cleansing!  Here are a couple of the quotes that have motivated me lately:
"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone."
I found this one particularly relative--
"Simple living is not about abandoning luxury, but discovering it in new places. [These masters] of simplicity are not just telling us to be more frugal, but suggesting that we expand the spaces in our lives where satisfaction does not depend on money. Imagine drawing a picture of all those things that make your life fulfilling, purposeful, and pleasurable.  It might include friendships, family relationships, being in love, the best parts of your job, visiting museums, political activism, crafting, playing sports, volunteering, and people watching." --From YES! Magazine Dec. 2013  

Also occupying my time this winter is a new plan for cooking and food preservation classes--including a new web design.  Please stay tuned!  And thanks for following.