Monday, December 12, 2011

Sooo now what?

The last week or so, I have been contemplating this very question. Where do I start? I have been so ready to jump right in but I realized how totally clueless I really am. I started to research homesteading the old fashioned way. Yep that's right, the world wide web. A pioneer's best friend in finding the best chicken coup designs or homemade laundry detergent recipes. I have been following a few pages on Facebook: Homemade Living Frugally, Punk Rock Homesteading, Frugally Sustainable, and Canning Granny to name a few. I have also come across numerous websites and blogs devoted to modern homesteading.  In addition to all my Internet research I have also come across a couple magazines that I think will also be helpful like Mary Jane's Farm and Mother Earth News. I feel like I have opened a door to this new world that I didn't even know existed! It's so exciting. Well exciting, but to be honest,  I have been plagued with moments of doubt. I haven't really shared my mission with too many people, only the people who I would know would be supportive. I have been met with some skepticism and raised eyebrows when expressing my sudden interest in raising goats or stockpiling supplies. Some people have surprised me though. They have been bringing me presents like canning books and magazines. My dad called and actually read my blog (pretty cool!) and told me he has several Foxfire books (I have never actually seen one before just heard about them on various websites) that I can use as long as I want, but I can't have them until he dies :)  I actually have friends who are interested in experimenting different recipes and doing projects with me. Overall, the support defeats the momentary lack of confidence. I have good feelings about where this will lead me.

In the middle of all this self doubt and support, I did decide on a small step to start. I made my own laundry detergent. I found literally fifty different recipes, all containing the same ingredients in different amounts. Then the question I pondered for three days: liquid or powder? I finally decided on powder. I had already gotten my ingredients days prior. I just left them on the kitchen table, where they stared at me until I made a decision. I used Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, Borax, and Fels Naptha Soap. As a side note, try to pawn off grating the Fels Naptha soap to someone else, say like an older child. It takes FOREVER and makes your arm hurt!! I only made a half batch of detergent. I didn't want to have a ton of it left over if it didn't work and possibly my arm got tired halfway through grating the soap. I have only washed one load with it so far. It seemed to clean but you don't get the fresh clean smell that the perfumed detergent leaves. I was surprised that you only need one tablespoon per load. It seems very cost effective. Many websites also suggest using the generic OxyClean powder when your clothes are really dirty. We will see how it goes and I will more than likely try the liquid version too.

While walking through the aisles of Weis Markets yesterday (not buying laundry detergent), I was completely shocked at what I was experiencing... I don't go shopping often. Usually I don't have an opportunity to shop without my two children and I think I would rather us go hungry then to have to deal with meltdowns in the frozen food section. However, yesterday I took out my daugther (she's six) for lunch and grocery shopping. She actually likes to go and hold the list and check off each item. Anyhoo, I was completely shocked at the prices of the items I buy! I found myself looking at the Miracle Whip saying to myself, "Six dollars! I remember when miracle whip was only $2.50!" like a grumpy old man. Then in the produce section, I started to really notice the quality of the food that I normally buy. Looking at the bruised fruit and the the brown salad mix, I started longing for the garden I am planning for the spring. I vowed right beside the tomatoes to grow as much as I could and preserve enough to last until the next year. I might have left Weis with a $253.00 receipt and 50 gas points, but I also left with a complete reassurance that I am heading in the right direction.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Beginning...

As a working mother of two children approaching her thirties, I have convinced myself that I need to find a hobby. Not that I really have time for a hobby. With kids, work, meetings, PTA, appointments, committees, school functions, fundraisers and trying to manage a semi-organized home (okay well I am working up to semi-organized), I am completely drained and exhausted. But I need to find a passion. I need to find something that fulfills me aside from my kids and better half.

I have decided that starting in January, I will commit myself to explore the lifestyle of homesteading. Homesteading has been defined by some of a simple life of self-sufficiency. Days are filled with living off the land, using natural resources, and getting back to a more pioneer way of life. I am no pioneer woman and I have no intentions of trying to be an extreme "live off the grid" homesteader. However as I think about this concept, I realize that as a modern family, we get lost in the world of television, brand names, fast food and other convenience items. Maybe I won't raise sheep or convert to solar energy, but I could change little things to break some of these holds that the modern world has on my family.

There are a few benefits of this project that I would like to achieve. I would like my family to gain self-sufficiency skills. In this ridiculous economy, I would like to find ways to save money by living smarter.  Last and most importantly, I would like to create a stronger bond with my family by working together to make our life better. I would like my kids to appreciate how people "survived" without all the modern items and technology that they are drowning in today.

The reason for the blog mainly is to keep myself motivated to continue with this project. I have a bad habit of starting things and not going through to the end. Hopefully (!) through this I will also meet more like-minded people that will share their experiences with me.

So here goes... Let my adventure begin.