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Name: Mrs. Jonathan
Interests: Cooking, baking, gardening, crocheting, knitting, canning, and all things "wifey," as well as spending time with my husband, "our" (youth group) kids, and Jesus. Also, i'm trying to learn to sew, spin, and quilt.
Expertise: Hugging, baking cookies, playing games, culinary experimentation.
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|Goal 17: Move my blog off of Xanga.|
i know, i just posted yesterday that this wasn't gonna happen, and now, first thing in the morning, it's DONE. What happened there, you might ask?
Well, i have been posting here less and less lately, which you may have noticed. i actually tend to go long stretches of time without remembering that i have a blog at all. i know that a big part of losing steam has to do with the fact that i get so little feedback here, given that people need to sign in to comment. And it's not as if comments are the sole purpose for a blog, but it sure is hard to maintain interest, motivation, and momentum if it seems i'm only talking to myself. But i do love the idea of posting about homemakery (and occasionally other things), and i do hope that my site is an inspiration to others as so many sites (The Family Homestead immediately comes to mind) are to me.
So last night it occurred to me that i might want to just reimagine the whole thing. Rather than trying to find a way to port this blog to another host, or keep the life support beeping while the point gets forgotten (by myself included), i decided to try something entirely different. This year to come is going to be a new adventure for us. We want to try homesteading, which is about as homemakery as you can get. i know that given the novelty, i should be able to retain readers for our adventures. And, given the novelty, i am more likely to post as well. Doing something completely different opens up possibilities for hosting that i once considered unlikely-- i don't need a place that will easily allow me to transfer my existing blog, i won't have to copy and paste over four years of posts (and comments), and i can try out something that works really differently. So we'll call this blog an experiment for the coming year, as well. We'll see how well it works and i'll decide at the end of the year whether i want to keep it up or force you all to move with me a second time or just return to Xanga with my tail between my legs.
So, without further ado, here's my completely reimagined blog:
i know the URL is a tad on the longish side and perhaps less easy to remember, but bear with me. It was the best i could do for now. When you go over there, you'll recognize the first two posts as ones i've posted here, just to get the homesteading discussion going. You'll also see a brand-new post that does not appear on Xanga.
i may at times post here throughout the coming year, if the subject matter is too far afield to make the homesteading/homemakery blog cut. But for the most part, this Xanga blog is now on (perhaps permanent) hiatus.
So say your farewells and come on by the new place!
|Today is my thirtieth birthday! i've been telling people that now i'm a real grown-up. |
Today's post will be in two parts: 1) How my birthday weekend has gone, and 2) My birthday list from this year and last.
Part the first: My birthday!
Yesterday was an awesome day. The Cupboard (a truly wonderful kitchen store in Old Town) was having their 37th anniversary celebration this weekend (i think there are still a few festivities today), so my friend Diane got everyone together to go over and experience the fun and excitement. When i got there, Diane had already arrived, and soon after that we were met by Haven, Sarah, and Wendy (not in that order). When Haven found us, she was armed with balloons and a hat! i had three balloons-- green, white, and pink-- which i tied to my back belt loop so i wouldn't have to carry them. The hat said "Birthday Princess" on it and had a nice little veil trailing down the back. It seems that the party involved a conspiracy-- Diane knew how much i love the Cupboard and decided to get the ladies together to play with me. It was so fabulous! They also gave me a gift card, part of which i've already used in the purchase of a really cute cappuccino cup and saucer set (brown and white flowery paisley), which i will use to learn latte art.
Then today, when i got up Jonathan gave me my gift from him-- BROWN pearls! They are so cute! A matching necklace and bracelet. i had to change my outfit to go with them and i have to say i looked stunning. After that, i got to walk to church WITH MY HUSBAND!!, and stay through the entire worship service (rather than running out early to work in the cafe-- Hannah gave me the day off!), and everybody sang to me (i basically do mean everybody), and we had Haven cake in Sonday school, and then we went out to lunch. Then when we got home i got the rest of my presents: a book on Benedictine spirituality, a TON of chocolate, some cookie magazines, an almanac (which maybe doesn't sound very birthdayish until you realize how much use i will get out of it this coming year!!), white sparkling sugar (for topping baked goodies), some cold hard cash, and a LOT of tissue paper for the cat. It was splendid.
So, all in all, i have had a great birthday-- and it isn't even over yet! Jonathan's taking me out to dinner tonight.
Now, on to:
Part the second: My birthday list!
Well... last year's list was mostly unfinished. Let's cut me some slack... it was my first time. i have learned a few things about how to write these lists in a way that will give me some hope to complete them. (Although i suppose i could have completed last year's list if i had kept it more in mind, i was rather over-enthusiastic and optimistic when i first wrote it...) So, let's go over the list:
1. Learn how to make buttonholes by hand and do at least three baby outfits. DONE! And i do think i did quite well on said buttonholes. Now i don't have to rely on my machine's pitiful excuse for an automatic buttonholer.
2. Patch drywall above the front door and paint that wall. Well... i did patch the drywall. But then i painted the bathroom instead.
3. Finish the rest of the kitchen cabinets. Nope! Didn't even try. Next!
4. Catalog our home library in one way or another. Well, i didn't do this. But i did weed through our collection. It'll happen eventually.
5. Plant more perennials in the front flower bed-- DONE! i planted some blue hyacinths last week.
6. Learn to knit cables, or rounds, or both. How about neither?
7. Make homemade sausage. Not so far!
8. Send real mail once a month. i think i did this about three times total.
9. Finish my assorted sewing projects. No, i did not do this-- but i did add to the pile of projects.
10. Finish two quilts. i finished one-- the wonky log cabin one. The huge blue one is still in the closet.
11. Make a new surprise costume, extra geeky. Nope. i was going to do Delenn from Babylon 5 (now the secret's out!), but i haven't gotten to it and it won't happen before Halloween this year. And i'm not as into Delenn at the moment as i was last year or will be again later.
12. Make a surprise project involving paper piecing. No, i didn't do this, and it makes me really sad.
13. Revive the Gaggia espresso machine. ::sigh:: This is pitiful. i didn't fix the Gaggia-- i did try-- and meanwhile, i also collected another broken old espresso machine (a Starbucks Barista). i think they have the same problem, though, and yesterday i heard about someone in town that does repairs-- so if i can get one done, the other should be easy. But for now i'm still using my old DeLonghi.
14. Learn algebra. YES! i'm not done quite yet, but i am getting there. i am over half done with the book, and thanks to Mildred's great tutoring, i am really understanding this stuff. i have even learned a few things (slope, probability) that aren't included in the text. So while the material isn't all done yet, i am feeling really good about it-- and Mildred and i agreed that it would be better to take longer and really understand it than to rush through and complete it by my birthday.
15. Make a work schedule (for housekeeping) and maintain it. Yeah, that didn't really happen.
16. Run a summer reading program at the church library. Nope.
17. Move my blog off of Xanga. i still haven't done this and i'm feeling less motivated now that it's being imported into Facebook. That's still not a place where people can comment without signing in, but i do get more comments than i used to, so that'll do me for now. i just never found a good spot where i could easily transfer all of what i already have.
18. Spring cleaning. DONE!
19 Fall cleaning. i have done a few things, but not as much as i planned to do.
20.Exercise 5x a week. Oh... wow. Not at all.
21. Install trim around the main level. Nope.
22. Play bloody games with 'becca. DONE! And quite happily!
23. Read one nonfiction book each month. i did a few months, but after the first few i sort of forgot about that one. i still like that goal, though, so it's coming with for next year's.
24. Dust sometimes. i did this a few times, and i think that holds to the spirit of the word "sometimes." DONE!
25. Do something that matters. Did i? i don't know if i did or not. i can't actually remember the thing i had in mind when i first thought of this goal. i did a few really great things this year-- but do any of them qualify? It's hard to really say. And that's sad.
26. Bake sourdough bread and keep a starter alive for three batches. i made a batch last week that required a starter, but it used all of the starter. Hold on to that thought, though.
27. Clear out my email inbox. DONE! You should see the state of it now... but it was done at one time, and that's good enough to cross this one off the list.
28. Organize my iPhoto library. DONE!
29. Be getting up by 6:a by year's end. No... that hasn't happened. But we are getting up earlier most mornings. i get up at 6:30 on Sondays and Thursdays, and 5:30 on Mondays, and lately we've been getting up earlier (6:30ish) on the other mornings. So that's not too shabby. Just wait till we have chickens, though.
Now, i admit that the results of my first year's attempt are pretty embarrassing. But i have thought of a partial solution. Remember how i didn't have my list made until after my birthday last year? i made several amendments to it, adding goals by ones and threes until it was final. i went back last week and looked at when i actually had a finalized version complete-- it was November 15. So i decided that it was only fair that i give myself a full year from the time the list was complete. So, until November 15, i'll be working off of the old list as well as the new list. If anything is completed within the next couple of weeks, it'll count. i think a few of them should be easy to complete in that amount of time-- sourdough bread and homemade sausage, for example. i'll give up on the rest after that (although i probably will do most of the things on the list at some point or another. i did do a few things not on the list, too, and while i don't think that gives me a pass, it does make me feel better about the things that didn't get done. It's not like i've been a slacker (not entirely, anyway)-- but i didn't have "start a coffeehouse" on the list.
NOW THEN! On to this year's list!
1. Begin, and hopefully finish, to quilt the huge blue quilt. By machine is okay, but borrowing a quilt frame might also help.
2. Read one nonfiction book each month.
3. Make homemade glycerin-based lotion.
4. Finish the 5k running program that Jonathan and i started last year.
5. Find a freezer for our garage. This is especially crucial now that we're talking about homesteading this coming year.
6. Can tomatoes. (This one is a little funny, since i wrote it down before we decided to try homesteading-- an undertaking that will require the canning of a LOT more than just tomatoes!)
7. Call my grandpa.
8. Paint at least one wall.
9. Send real mail once a month.
10. Add a midweek shift to the cafe. This one is up to G-d, and requires that He also add a staff member or two-- but we will also work to make it happen, so it's going on the list.
11. Plant fruit trees.
12. Plant bulbs in the front yard.
13. Make mittens for myself, preferably before winter hits.
14. Finish algebra.
15. Begin learning latte art. (i already have a cappuccino cup! i'm starting this one on Thursday!)
16. Make and keep a (simple) cleaning schedule. Seriously.
17. Make three good decisions by myself. (This may not sound like a big deal, but it feels like it to me.)
18. Clear my sewing docket. (Doesn't this sound easier than "finish a huge and growing stack of sewing projects"? By clear, i might mean finish, or i might mean, decide officially that i won't do that one and dispose of the fabric. Either way, i want a clean slate next year.)
19. Put up curtains in the living room.
20. Make cayenne syrup. (This is for spicy mochas.)
21. Love G-d.
22. Make our living room cozier, especially in a way that is conducive to entertaining. (We've begun hosting potluck once a month and we really don't have anywhere to sit but the table, for after-dinner talking and praying. i don't want to define in advance what this looks like, but i want our living room to be a place where people are comfortable hanging out.)
23. Do something that matters.
24. Try homesteading. (i'm intentionally keeping this one rather vague, since we're still in the investigative phase.)
25. Frame photos-- our wedding photo(s), as well as one or more of my own.
26. Make homemade mustard. (i thought this was on last year's list, but it seems that it wasn't.)
27. Fix the towel rack in the bathroom. (The anchor didn't really bite into the wall and it sags on one side. This makes me nervous.)
28. Paint my toenails more often.
29. Lose at least five pounds. (That's not too hard of a goal, while at least moving me in the right direction.)
30. Make knit pajamas out of a pattern for woven pajamas.
|i'm compiling a list of resources as we go about our investigation phase. Some are books and some are online. i'll edit, add, and annotate as time goes on.|
*Bartholomew, Mel. Square foot gardening. Emmaus, Penn.: Rodale Press, 1981.
--NOTE: There is a more recent edition of this book available, but this is the edition i own and use.
*Madigan, Carleen. The Backyard homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre! North Adams, Mass.: Storey Publishing, 2009.
*Miller, Crystal. "The Family Homestead." http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/index.html
*Seymour, John. The self-sufficient life and how to live it: The complete back-to basics guide. London : DK, 2004.
*Warren, Piers. How to store your garden produce: The key to self-sufficiency. Totnes: Green Books, 2008.
|Last night during dinner, Jonathan began plying me with questions: How did the Ingalls live all winter long? Where did they get their food? He knows that i have (multiple times) read and enjoyed the Little House books, and i could in fact tell him about root cellars, attics, salt pork, onion braids, canning, freezing, bear meat, and pig slaughtering. Whenever i'd answer one question, another was right on the tip of his tongue. Finally he said he had been thinking about what it might take to live only off of what we'd produced for a full year. Immediately, i began to be drawn into the idea.|
This is not exactly a new idea to us. We have on occasion considered the question of how to be as fully sustainable as possible (we dislike the terms "self-sufficient" or "self-sustaining;" no-one can be that anyway). But now we're beginning to take this idea seriously. When he saw that i was up for it, he asked me to put together an "investigation report," detailing the goal, an evaluation of options, and a recommendation. He says that a multi-variant recommendation is quite all right. My thought is that if we could look into this over the course of the next few months, we might be able to start planting in spring, eat grocery-store food while the garden is starting, and then eat from our own produce all summer, fall, and winter after that, and even during the spring while the next year's garden is starting. The transition season, of course, will be the hardest; whenever we start, we will have only just started and won't yet have our own food growing or put up. The question is, what will it take? Can we do it?
i've spent the morning on this so far today, reading books and websites and putting more books on hold. i love this idea! The more i look into it, the bigger of a project it seems and also the more fun. i'd love to be able to make dinner and know that everything on the table was from our own land, as small as it is. i feel that i will need another few aprons, a clothesline, and a shirtwaist dress or two. (My ideas of homesteading and homemakery are an odd combination of the late 19th century and 1950's America.) i'm learning that with a pressure canner i can preserve anything-- even cooked chicken! (Which brings up one of the interesting questions-- would we eat meat at all? Because Jonathan doesn't like the idea of butchering animals himself, and the city requires that we keep chickens only for eggs anyway-- although rabbits would probably be doable, if unpleasant.)
In short, there are a lot of questions still on the table, and it'll be a process to find out how we can best accomplish this. In particular, the questions are: 1) What about meat? Milk? Wheat? (And other things we just can't grow?) 2) How much garden space do we need?
i'll keep you updated as i work through these questions! For right now, there's laundry to be moved and a kitchen to clean.
|Here is a tutorial on slip stitching for those who have mending or altering to do and would like to do it by hand. Hand sewing isn't hard, and it can be very relaxing!|
1. With the inside of the garment facing out, press your hem and pin it in place. This step is really important and will save you a lot of frustration. There's nothing more annoying than having your work fight with you!! Pressing it will make the hem nice and smooth, and pinning it will keep it from shifting as you go.
2. Get a sharp needle and find some thread that matches your fabric as closely as possible. (This thread obviously doesn't match at all-- i'm using a contrasting colour so you can see what i'm doing.) This stitch won't show very much from the outside, and it'll show even less if the thread blends into the fabric. Make a knot on the end of your thread. Make sure it's big enough that it won't slip through the fabric.
3. Starting at a seam, insert the needle into the folded edge of fabric. Start from underneath and come up to the side facing you.
4. Catch a little bit of the outside layer. This is the part that will show, so we want it to be small. Pull the thread all the way through.
5. Insert the needle into the fold again, and run the thread through the fold for a little ways. Then bring it back out of the fold and pull it through. The length of this part will be the length between your visible stitches on the outside.
6. Catch another little bit of the outside layer of fabric again, just like you did in step #4. Pull the thread all the way through.
7. This is what your stitches look like, with a little bit of slack so you can see them clearly. If you pull the thread, they'll tighten back up.
8. See those two tiny red specks in the middle of the flower? This is what your stitches will look like from the outside-- only they won't show this much if you have a matching thread colour!
Keep going until you've gotten to the end. Knot the thread close to the surface, on the inside of the work where it won't show. Make sure, as before, the knot won't slip through the fabric. If you want to make sure the thread won't dangle, you can run it under the fold again for a ways before cutting it. Then the end of the thread will be stuck inside the fold.
GOOD JOB! You've mastered the slip stitch.