Posts Tagged Preserving
Why fearless? Because we are on a path of creative self-reliance and we overcome floods and adversity of all magnitudes with our heads up, so a mere number is not about to get in the way of personal progress, thank you very much.
Secondly, New Year resolutions often fail not because they are too difficult to keep, but rather because they are boring. Unless I am mistaken, if you are reading this you are already someone who likes a good challenge and someone who is not afraid to put on your boots and gloves and make your own life by your own hands at some level… heck, you don’t even need gloves.
Thus, I am not calling these resolutions; I am calling them goals. Because worker bees like us are on a journey and journeys are made of goals. How we get there is entirely up to individual creativity and inspiration.
Here, then, are 13 very reachable goals for the 12 months ahead. These are intended as a little inspirational nudge, in case your actual resolutions don’t quite capture your interest. Often, resolutions miss the mark, also, because they are not in line with our true nature. Speaking of nature, we begin in the garden.
1 – Get a piggy bank for the garden - Drop money in it every time you receive payment for work or from sales (depending on your source of income) – This little piggy will help you treat yourself to the tools you need once in a while.
2 – Cook once and eat twice, or more – Canning is one way to put food away to use over time. Cooking with a pressure cooker is, in my opinion, one of the most economical ways of cooking. In addition to this, the time spent on preparing a large batch meal for the pressure cooker, using fresh ingredients, cutting everything by hand, perhaps with music in the background, is utterly relaxing and fulfilling. And you get to savor the fruit of your labor many times over, each time being reminded of a true sense of abundance and freedom.
3 – Give something away, randomly and often – Making bread? Bring some to a neighbor. Canning? Bring a jar to a co-worker. Gardening? Bring a basket of fresh produce to your mechanic. There does not have to be a special occasion. In fact, avoid special occasions; go for the no-reason-at-all approach instead.
4 – Start a sprout garden or patio garden – Begin and end each day tending your little corner of nature. If you happen to be less mobile than you used to be, a small square-foot garden can be raised so you do not have to bend and reach down so far. I am certain someone in your surroundings will be glad to help set this up; a neighbor’s young, strong teen perhaps. This could be the beginning of a mutually beneficial friendship. It’s amazing how much a little piece of garden can change lives.
5 – Get a rain barrel - Start collecting rain to water your plants. If you live in a community where you pay for water usage, add the money you save to your garden piggy… remember, from #1 above?
6 – Learn food canning and preserving – from a book, from a friend, from a neighbor, from the internet. You may be overwhelmed by notions of hundreds of canning jars lined up in a pantry (although this is quite exciting for some of us). Start small and smart with a water bath or steam canner and 6 jars. Expand your projects when you feel so inspired, or keep it down to small batches. Do not let the fact that you do not presently have access to a personal harvest get in the way. There is no rule that says you cannot can produce acquired from the market.
7 – Meet your neighbors – This is a great way to learn a new skill. Perhaps you could place an add in your local paper (or online forum) inviting a few neighbors who wish to start gardening to a monthly get-together. Inspire each other. Some of you may already have skills and knowledge. Learn from each other.
8 – Start a community garden while you’re at it.
9 – Pool resources – share gardening tools, kitchen appliances, knowledge, trips to the store, errands… This is another opportunity to expand your circle of acquaintances and friends.
10 – Get a piggy bank for the kitchen – You guessed it. It works like the garden piggy. They could live side by side on your kitchen counter, smiling at you every time you walk by. Do not be surprised if, once upon a blue day, these little guys manage to make you smile in spite of your grumps!
11 – Take a free online course to learn about a new skill that can inspire your journey of sustainability. Then take another one.
12 – Find online documentaries about gardening, cooking or about people who are living the lifestyle to which you aspire. Make tea and a tray of cookies or snack of choice. Take one hour to watch and think of nothing else. Do this several times a month.
13 – Cut out ads and pictures – Keep a scrapbook or make a collage of dishes, gardens, recipes, home decor ideas that inspire you. Once in a while, leaf through your collage with no particular goal in mind. Just offer yourself a moment of immersion in the images that speak to you, quietly but surely.
Still not confident that 13 goals is a good number? No problem… add some of your own!
How many of you actually open commercial preserve jars you receive as gifts during the holidays? Raise your hand. No one sees you. It’s OK. Alright, a very few hands went up way in the back. Hardly noticeable. The rest of you probably mean to use the preserve, but later, much later find it still sitting in the back of the fridge or cupboard. It will make a perfect last-minute gift sometime this year, so it can sit a while longer in someone else’s cupboard.
Now, if it is true that it is the thought that counts, then it stands to reason that a jar of preserves or vegetables that was made with care and attention by a family member or friend has that extra ingredient, that touch of warmth, that unspoken whisper that says, “I made this one for you because you are a gift in my life.” This will not sit on a shelf for too long. In fact, you might make tea or coffee and share it with your friend right there and then. You just know how good it is.
All this to say that presentation matters. So don’t you doubt yourself twice if you were about to gift some of your canned peaches or dilly beans or pickles or preserves this holiday season. Do not assume this may be perceived as not being a real gift. You know how much work you put into your canning projects and you know how it fills your heart to think about the people with whom you are glad to share your stash of preserves.
Not convinced? Perhaps you’d like a few presentation ideas. First, forget the immediate meaning of the words “gift wrapping.” I will ask you instead to adopt my definition (as a Granny I can make such rules). Gift wrapping, then, is about presentation. It is about the added touch that takes a simple gift and gives it new meaning. Here is what I mean.
To a jar of home-made apple sauce… add a loaf of home-made whole grain bread and a wine from a good local artisan. Wrap the package in a colorful table-cloth. Secure with a bow.
To a jar of your canned peaches… add a novel by their favorite author (one they have read years ago and have been looking for ever since is even better). To this, add a lap desk with lamp. Wrap (actual wrapping paper this time) the jar and book and place them on the lap desk, which will then be used as a gift serving tray. Add a colorful ribbon if you wish.
To a few jars of your tomato sauce… add their very own Squeezo Strainer (it includes a recipe booklet), a colorful pasta serving bowl and pasta. Arrange the jars and pasta in the bowl, perhaps with some playful shredded raffia. Add a card that provides instructions to go to this or that closet to discover the rest of the gift. The Squeezo awaits there, of course, conventionally wrapped.
To a few jars of your home-made fruit preserve… add a warm sweater and some gourmet coffee. Fold the sweater. Place the coffees and preserve on top of the sweater and secure with a large ribbon.
To a jar of your canned tomatoes… add tomato seed packets, a growing kit and food preserving book. Secure the seed packets to the tomato jar, perhaps with twine for a rustic look. Add a large cut-out of a tomato with instructions to find the matching tomato somewhere else in the house or room. You will have attached the identical tomato cut-out to a colorful fabric-wrapped package kept in another room.
Finally, if you happen to run a tight ship (I am with you there), you can save a lot of money by giving home-made gifts and foods. And, if you happen to experience an occasional bout of the holiday blues, finding creative ways to “wrap” your gifts is actually quite uplifting. You’ll get back in the spirit the moment you begin.
The word “Harvest” pops up at every turn this season. It reminds me of all the purposeful efforts we put into making food, a home and a living. Autumn is the time to take stock, so I felt like digging up and ponder an October 2011 article about Homesteading and Lifestyle…
Homestead, in legal terms: Technically, and pursuant to the modern homestead exemption laws, an artificial estate in land, created to protect the possession and enjoyment of the owner against the claims of creditors by preventing the sale of the property for payment of the owner’s debts so long as the land is occupied as a home…
If you are reading this Blog and if food canning and preservation, tilling, harvesting and sustainability are part of your vocabulary and daily existence, your relationship with the word “homestead” is far more organic and not so immediately related to real estate. Homestead, for you, begins in the ground around your dwellings and knocks at the door to reach beyond the threshold and bring nourishment to the table… [Revisit this article]