Monday, December 26, 2011

Homesteading Goals for 2012

I can't believe that the Christmas season has already blown by! I had meant to do posts about the decorating- I incorporated real greenery for the first time in years and so thoroughly enjoyed the smell it gave off throughout the season. I made a lovely mixed greenery wreath for the front door using cuttings gleaned from a box that Lowe's had available from their Christmas tree sales along with boxwood and barberry  from my own yard. My Ryan and I went pine cone hunting around the neighborhood on a cold sprinkley day and I sprayed those with a silver spray glitter to finish it off. (I should note that the inspiration for the wreath came from here. Amy, over at Homestead Revival has many great ideas!)

Sooo happy with how this turned out. :)
I also added a little three foot fraser fir on the entry table that I walk by multiple times a day, and fresh cuttings on the mantle along with a poinsettia and paperwhites.

Mantle Close-up. I added some pothos cuttings for variety.
Paper-whites sprouting in early December

I didn't change much on my everyday mantle, just added the decorations in the center.

The main tree on Christmas Eve. No silk flowers here this year. Felt poinsettias made a wonderful impact. You can see the paper-whites bloomed right on time. They should last a few more weeks which will give my psyche a nice boost through the first cold, dark weeks of January.

Speaking of felt poinsettias, I had also intended to do a couple of hand made tutorials- the wreath, felt flowers and a tea tray made from an upcycled thrift shop picture frame among other things. I like to add some burgundy to the tree because my living room has a lot of this color in the carpet and pillows and I think that just red and white, although lovely on the tree, can sometimes look out of place in the room. I had planned to make some red and burgundy felt rosettes but that is a project that will have to wait until next year.  I did manage to take some pictures of some of my projects in process:

And then there is the requisite information about the hazards of Christmas with a toddler in the house:

Who me?
That would be one of my garlands.

And that would be the other one.

There could have been a post about the Christmasy stuff we did together like the totally awesome Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert:

Or how we went too late, again, to get the kids's picture taken with Santa at Bass-Pro Shop and took one with Frosty instead:

I could have done a post about how we wrapped presents in homemade paper, but we didn't this year. We used up some of the stuff that we didn't use when we did that last year. Somehow, there's still plenty left.

I could have done a post about the Christmas Eve meal that we ate, in our pajamas, because we didn't have any guests this year.
My traditional Mennonite zwieback turned out better than last  time.

Ryan making his "Elf Boots" napkin folds

Napkin Close-up
The Centerpiece

The Table Set-up

Two of my guys

Our Christmas Eve Dinner

And of course all the baking...I had two 2am nights of baking in which I tried a couple of new sugar cookie recipes and found one that I love. I made Springerle for the first time- turned out OK. I also got it in my head that I was going to make apple strudel, from scratch. It turned out really well but I was a little apprehensive starting out. Google and YouTube were wonderful teachers. I do wish that I had taken a picture of it before it was gobbled up.

But I have promised myself that I will not be a perfectionist and I will not let this blog bog me down. I want it to remain fun, so I will not be back-tracking over the last month and trying to create all of those posts. Instead, I'll just say I was too busy living and doing all that stuff I love to have time to write about all of it. Kind of like taking pictures. I love to take pictures, lots and lots of pictures, but sometimes, when I forget my camera, it's kind of cool to just live the moment instead of trying to record everything. Sometimes it's more enjoyable that way.

So I'm jumping back in where I am. Off and running in the new year with so many ideas and things I want to do and try. Now that I have really committed myself to this process of producing my own food, and cooking from scratch for the health of my family, I figured I should set some goals for the coming year to help give me some direction as I move along this path. Here's what's coming up:

1. Plant a garden: Last year I finally managed to get in some berries. I planted 2 blueberries, 3 raspberries, 3 grapes, 1 blackberry, 3 hardy kiwi, and 3 rhubarb. Of those, 1 raspberry, 2 grapes, the blackberry, kiwis, and 1 rhubarb took. I also got in some lilac that I had wanted for a long time. I have an existing herb garden with sage, oregano, thyme, chocolate mint and lemon balm. (I plant basil and rosemary in pots each spring since I've never had luck with them indoors and they aren't hardy here.) Right now, with our house on the market and wanting to buy some land I'm not planning on replacing any of the lost plants, but I do want to make sure to put in a vegetable garden. I finally installed some stepped beds along the side of the house last fall and now that the holidays are over, I am anxiously awaiting weather that is warm enough to fill them up, using the square foot gardening method, with tomatoes, peppers, onion, peas, carrots, lettuce, and more. I also plan to use the easement along the back of our property to plant Seminole squash, regular and sweet potatoes in straw or loose mulch, and maybe some corn and pole beans.

2.  Bread: I've got my honey wheat sandwich bread to a place I'm happy with. Same goes for pretzels, biscuits, and sugar cookies, blueberry muffins and pancakes. I want to try sour dough and maybe some other artisan loaves. A good Italian Rosemary bread is on the list and I need to continue working on the original list of baking goals: croutons, pita/flat bread, bagels, quick breads, and carrot cake. Scones, baked donuts and cinnamon rolls are also on the list.

3. Cheese: Learn how to make it. I've made my own sour cream. Next is a whole milk Ricotta, and on from there. Hopefully by the end of the year, I can be on to some hard cheeses.

4. Yogurt and Kefir: Obtain cultures to make these myself.

5. Keep updating my cook book and trying new recipes. Work on consistently completing weekly menu plans and finding more healthy dishes that the kiddos will gobble up.

6. Obtain the necessary supplies and learn how to can all that fresh stuff that my garden WILL be producing. :)

7. Find a local orchard and go pick peaches and apples.

8. Get some mini citrus and banana plants that can be raised in pots and brought indoors during our Midwest winters. A Meyer lemon, dwarf guava, super dwarf Cavendish banana, and some sort of orange top this wish list. In conjunction with this I will have to pare down on my other house plants to make room.

9. In addition to paring down my inedible tropical plants, I desperately need to purge my craft room and finish several projects.

10. We purchased our first 1/2 hog this year and I am loving shopping in my freezer for delicious pork cuts. Next, I'd like to find a source for grass fed beef and purchase a portion for the freezer. Same goes for free-range chicken and eggs.

This year promises lots of adventures. Wish me luck!

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