"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china." Charles Dickens

January 9, 2012

Using What We Have

Cairns, overlooking Loch Loyne, in Scotland (by Tim Wood, Flickriver).
New Year's resolutions are always well-intended. As this is my 50th year I decided to make some changes and implement goals, in both my personal and family life, that will hopefully extend well beyond 2012. As I am not the major breadwinner of the family, and we're in the farm together in terms of investment and outcome, what I can do is be more of a conscientious penny-pincher on the home front.

Here are my "lifestyle tweaks," in no particular order:
  • I am no longer buying food (even if it's a "good deal") or what we do not need. As for necessities, I am just buying milk and dairy products, when needed; gas for the cars (which I don't drive as much); and, in season, fresh local and affordable produce (that which we don't grow ourselves). Our pantries and freezers are full from lots of hard work and raising our own meat (and we have eggs a'plenty). We have other necessaries on hand, too. There will be few reasons to visit the grocery store (or any "box store" in 2012: sorry Target and Sam's Club!). 
  • I will be making our own bread most of the time from a stocked baking pantry (and we're eating less of it any way).
  • As my husband and I have plenty of clothing in a variety of sizes and styles (we're not trendy so stuff lasts), we will only buy clothes for our boys when they need them. (As Henry has grown four inches in a few months, this is unavoidable!)
  • We have many (many) books and DVDs. If we don't have a book that I want to read, I will get it at the library or use inter-library loan for those harder to find items. If I really want a book to own, I will put it on my birthday/Christmas list for later this year. Amazon will no longer get my business (too easy, too cheap, too tempting with free shipping and door-to-door), even though we are 90 minutes from the nearest independent bookseller.
  • MAGAZINES! Because I write for several of them, and also enjoy them, I tend to oversubscribe or overbuy. Rather than throw out a lot of older magazines that I've found here and there (unread, I might add), I've sorted them by season and will spend 2012 reading magazines from the past few years––then donating them as I toss them. I will also be tossing old clippings and putting my own published articles into a portfolio and PDFs rather than stockpiling them! And who needs thousands of clipped recipes, house and garden ideas when there is the Internet and now this online bulletin board called Pinterest where you can organize your bookmarks and other clippings? Which I don't dare get on...yet. [Ok, I did. You can follow me here. What fun and what a help for organizing on line clips, images and links! (And thanks for the turn on, Teresa!)]
  • I want to connect more in real time (letters, phone calls, visits) so I am already on Facebook much less. So far, I have prewritten many blog posts in 2012 and posted in advance (a lovely feature of Blogger). I still don't need a cell phone and will use one of our shared family track phones if traveling solo (and travel will be minimal this year, too).

Gifting–let's just say that Christmas 2012 is almost a done deal already:
  • I want to knit again and will be tackling some unfinished projects (and wrap up those finished projects that I found from before our move in 2008). There is nothing like the gift of a handmade, and practical, knitted item.
  • I have many surplus pantry goodies that I make throughout the year (and percolating vanilla, as we speak): homemade and home baked gifts, at any time, are a gift of yourself.
  • I have started a pile of practically-new books of all kinds that I will pass along. What isn't a treasure to keep (I will always have a house full of books!) will be donated–and at some point I might open an eBay or Etsy store for old, vintage cookbooks. (Stay tuned!)
  • I have found a box of squirreled-away gift items from prior bouts of elfing (and sales) with various people's names on them.
  • I resisted all enticing post-Christmas sales and have been using up our wrapping paper stash (and many, many greeting cards I've picked up here and there) for several years. But I'm a sucker for tags, so...
  • I'm making my own gift tags out of Christmas cards that we have received from the past, ahem, four years. I want to send out Christmas cards again in 2012, after a several year hiatus, so maybe I should get started...

With all of this in mind, it will be easier to:
  • plan meals ahead, based on the ingredients and pantry/freezer items that we have on hand;
  • dissolve and "bust" the clutter;
  • donate what we don't need or can no longer use;
  • cull out closets, cupboards and tackle unpacked "mystery" boxes from our New Hampshire move. There wasn't the time to go through everything as I would have liked in 2008 and, because we moved ourselves–and the contents of one packed home and our garage-barn–in two box trailers, it was just too easy to say, "Throw it on the truck!" Now I am a borderline hoarder but still a clutterer-piler, much to the chagrin of my patient husband. They say you should just chuck it if it hasn't been opened in six months or a year but that doesn't work when you moved without much organization in the first place;
  • make more time to exercise;
  • take long farm walks with the family and dogs;
  • be more mindful in the task or preparation (including meals and "mindful eating");
  • make the time to write more regularly again (and for income!).

If there ever is a catastrophe, we'll have plenty to help feed our neighbors, too. And did you know that "stockpiling" food for more than seven days can get you branded as a terrorist? Don't get me started. These policy makers clearly didn't grow up on a farm.

What are your goals for 2012 or beyond?

You come back when you're ready! 



  1. Fantastic list! You have saved me the trouble of making my own. Yours is perfect and why wouldn't it be? We already share ablog name might as well share lists. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  2. SUCH A GREAT POST !!! Thanks I agree a wonderful list......have a good week.


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