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Resolution, Set: Go!

Even though a spent a good amount of time brainstorming this year’s goals, my actual resolution totally came out of left field… literally. It came from the field to the left of our house, which actually has a couple of baseball diamonds on it so this metaphor works in a number of ways.

We went for a family walk to our neighboring field on New Year’s Day and it hit me – why not try to do this every day? It sounds so simple, but I know that some days will be a struggle to strap on some shoes and get out there. Especially when it is rainy, or cold, or I’m just not feeling like leaving the house.

I’ve been working from home for over a year now and while I love the flexibility and being able to see my kids so much more (Mr. Handsome stays at home during the day with Baby2 so I can focus), it is also awfully isolating and I find I can go days without going outside if I’m not careful.

So making a resolution to make a conscious effort to get out there makes a lot of sense. And let’s face it, we all know I’ll be striving to grow a better garden and work on my financial health anyway. I can’t leave those things alone, I love striving for improvement (or at least looking for ways to improve!)\. Making those things a resolution kind of makes the whole thing more complicated than it needs to be.

Here’s to a simple resolution, one that I’m sure will return much more than I can fathom at present. Happy New Year!

Goal Update – New Phases

There have been so many things on my mind lately it has been hard to post! As soon as I settle on one topic I’m distracted by another.

I deal with distraction by making lists, so I’ve decided to update my Goal Phases page (tab at the top of this screen). I started the page to try to organize all the things I want to learn as part of my self-sustaining goal.

Now the list on the page is helping me to focus on just a few areas at a time. Lately I’ve been thinking about all the things I want to learn and I’ve gotten a little overwhelmed! But if I step back and recall that I’ve set a nine-year timeline, then I can break up my time into segments and feel a little more relaxed.

I’ve realized that this whole year I’ve spent most of my time learning about foods that the best for my family’s health and how to cook those foods. So that is my official focus for 2014… which I do realize is almost over. But I’ve learned so much about food this year so it’s okay that I’m just now applying the label. I’ve been focusing on this goal already without even realizing it!

So by the end of this year, just 6 or 7 weeks away, I hope to know enough about food that I can cook whatever we manage to bring home without too much stress. I’ve learned to cook a lot of things this year: I’ve learned the difference between cooking convensional beef vs grass-fed, I’ve learned how to cook a variety of winter squash (never had cooked a squash before this year!), I’ve learned how to chop an onion, how to properly hold a chef’s knife, substitutes for wheat flour and eggs, how to use a pressure cooker, how to cook in cast iron, how to lacto ferment vegetables, and way more than I ever thought I’d need to learn!

Cooking isn’t just proper use of ingredients and equipment. It’s also meal planning and shopping. So by the end of the year I’d like to have my planning and shopping systems in place well enough that I don’t have to think about them as much as I do now. Right now I spend about two hours planning meals and snacks for the week. I can’ keep spending that much time on it so I keep tweaking my planning system. I’m still using my meal planning template – that is actually working really well for me still. Coming up with ideas for what to eat is always the most difficult, so I’m working on a sort of “map” to give me fresh ideas each week. It has themed days, lists of healthy foods, and other things to trigger my brain and make planning fast. When it is more complete I promise to share it!

We spend a good amount of time on shopping for foods, too. We spend so much time partly because my planning isn’t 100% yet so every few days I realize we’re out of something and we have to go replenish supplies. I’m getting really close to only shopping once a week, but not quite there yet.

Part of planning better shopping is having a really good handle on what we actually use each week/month. So I’m working on tracking our consumption habits so I can better prepare for how much of something we’ll need to get. It’d be so much better to get say… granola only once a month and get it at a discount because we ordered five pounds.

So lots of cooking and food-related work still to do this year! But I feel like we’ve come a long way! We are WAY less reliant on standard consumer fare in order to get ourselves fed and that really is the goal here isn’t it! As long as we have ingredients and some tools, we can make ourselves a good dinner.

Once the year is over though, it’s not like I’ve totally mastered cooking. Like many life skills it requires lots of practice and a thirst for knowledge in order to keep skills sharp. So I’ll still be reading cookbooks and perusing the internet for cooking smarts in 2015 and beyond. But, I’ll try to make it less of an obsession.

In 2015 I’ll attempt to move on to a new obsession, which is to grow a lot more of the food we eat. We had a decent first year of gardening in 2014, but we need to step it up a lot in order to call ourselves self-sufficient.

For the future phases beyond next year, see the new page at the top of this screen. I will update it often!

Where does the time go?

Where does the time go, amiright? Baby2 is almost two years old and I haven’t written a proper blog post in nearly a year. I’ve had a couple draft posts going that I picked at from time to time, but I just haven’t felt as motivated to write as I did when I was pregnant.

This quest to find motivation has been on my mind a lot lately. In pregnancy I was so motivated to write, despite being tired, swollen, all my free time taken meeting my exercise goals, etc. Maybe pregnancy just provides such good fodder for my writing muscle… but it isn’t like life right now is boring! Maybe pregnancy provides the focused subject that I lack now. Maybe there’s just SO MUCH that I could write about now that I can’t focus.

Other than being a good writing subject, I’ve also thought about pregnancy as being like a goal, with giving birth being the ultimate culmination of all the hard work of growing a baby. It has all these sub-goals and milestones that are really great for making me feel like I’m progressing toward something.

Goals are good; everybody says so. I’ve never used them much in my personal life, though, other than the big goals like finish school, find a job, find a partner, buy a house, etc. Were those really goals or just things I wanted? Or things I thought I needed to do? They’re “life checklist” things – they aren’t focused goals (to me).

Lists are really by bag – they’re how I typically stay focused and organized. But as I examine that approach now, it suddenly hits me as reactive. I want to get shit done, but I want more than that. When I look back at the end of the day, or the decade, I want to be able to say that I did something more than keep the kitchen clean and the family fed. Not that those aren’t important things! Or that I’ll stop doing them, which can’t really happen! Lists are important, but I’ve leaned on them too heavily and completely forgotten about goals!

Lately this bug has caught me. I have a need to always have a project going on, but this is more than that. I want a project with lots of little sub-projects, that takes a long time to complete, that not only gives me a sense of accomplishment but provides something for my family and maybe even my community as well.

There are a few things I’m working on right now, but I think they make really nice sub-projects that could contribute to a bigger goal. First, I’m driving big diet changes for the family: reducing processed foods, reading/researching ingredients, making more from scratch. This leads directly into my second “thing:” growing food. We’ve kept a garden for the last couple years, but we finally have space for a lot more so I’m working on growing my skills there. Third, and directly related to the other two, is that I’m trying to make stuff whenever possible. Not like, craft with macaroni and shit (not to bash if that’s what you’re into) but “make stuff” like making my toothpaste and bread.

Those three projects have a lot in common I think. The third is the closest to my overall goal, which I just kinda figured out now* is – I want my household to produce more than we consume. More “stuff” needs to go out than come in. I’m not talking about creating an Etsy shop or simply spending less than we earn – I’m talking about using what we have, selectively buying what we need, re-evaluating what we actually need. Re-evaluating what we actually need – that is a big one too.

I want to use this blog to document my latest creation. I want to post more again – maybe not as much as I posted during pregnancy, maybe more, I don’t know! Clearly I haven’t worked out the logistics yet. I was just now able to articulate my goal! I hadn’t been able to really do that until I started typing. This blogging thing is good for the goals I think. Anyway, I’ll save the logistics for the next post.

For now, I have a goal so I’m going to toast to that!

*Although to be fair, I did start this post a couple days ago 🙂