What I Want to Learn in 2013

Happy 2013!  I am excited to be starting a new year– it really does feel like a clean slate in many ways and I am optimistic about what this year holds for all of us.

As the first day of 2013 comes to a close, I want to take just a moment to share some of the goals I have for myself this year.  I’m really not a fan of “resolutions” because I think most people set New Years Resolutions that they have no real intention, desire, or plan to see-through for the year; so, when they fail, they get depressed and disappointed in themselves.  To avoid setting myself up for failure, I choose to rather make lists of things that I want to do, learn, create, and experience in the coming year.

Here are two of my lists for you to get an idea of how I am focusing my energies in 2013.

In 2013, I want to learn how to:

  • Sew
  • Knit
  • Make soap
  • Make candles
  • Shoot a gun
  • Start plants from seedlings
  • Grow a vegetable garden
  • Speak Spanish (at least basic conversational Spanish)

In 2013, I want to create:

  • At least one article of wearable clothing
  • A thriving vegetable garden
  • A warm, cozy living environment
  • A successful online store
  • An organized work space for all of my projects and creative work
  • An eBook

What are your goals and/or plans for 2013?  What will you be learning and creating this year?  Share in the comments section below!

Preparing to Move: Thoughts About Stuff & Consumerism

I’ve been living back in Wisconsin for almost six months now and am finally reaching the point of looking for my own apartment.  I was fortunate enough that when I suddenly decided to leave NYC (after being driven out of my apartment by bed bugs and cockroaches) that my parents allowed me to temporarily move in with them.  Well, I (and I think they) envisioned this temporary arrangement last two or three months.  We are now in month six.

I spent my first two-and-a-half months in Wisconsin figuring out what I wanted to do with this next life chapter, brainstorming what business I could launch, and job hunting, until I was finally hired part-time at a retail job selling jewelry.  Around the same time I took on a temp job for six weeks, as well.  With time (about a month after the temp job ended), the same employer hired me on to a non-temporary position in another program.

So now, with a slightly higher paying job (though it’s only 30-hours a week, so I’m still working retail) that offers a little more job security, I am finally coming to a place where it makes financial sense for me to look for my own place.  Finally.

But as I work on my moving budget, I am reminded that moving entails saving for a lot more than just your first month’s rent and security deposit.  Considering the fact I got rid of pretty much everything I owned during my last two moves, I have nearly nothing to move into a new space with.  This partially makes me very nervous as I picture the price tag that accompanies furnishing an entire apartment, but it also makes me feel excited at the prospect of living a more minimalist lifestyle.

There are basics that I have to get– a bed, dishes, some towels.  But then there are all the “extras” that society makes us all believe are essential– coordinating six-piece bedroom set, enough dishes to have a dinner party of eight people (I never have dinner parties and if I ever did, we’d figure something out), matching embroidered hand towels, a living room set complete with more seating than I have close friends, kitchen gadgets that I don’t know or care to learn how to use, decorative lamps that provide little light, and the list goes on and on.

So as I prepare to move, I am making a realistic list of items that I will actually use on a daily basis and should, therefore, spend money on.  As usual, my preference will be on used items (with the exception of my mattress because I’m scared from my bed bug experience despite having a new mattress then too) to save money, help the environment, and add a bit of personality to my living space.

Basically, I refuse to consume for the sake of consumption.  There are so many more things I could do with my money, such as pay of my student loan debt and start saving to build my Tiny Home.

To help me stick to my plan, I ask: What is on your Essential Living Space list?  I will share mine in a later post after I give it more thought, but share your suggestions in the comments below!

Can I live on used goods?

I’m volunteering for The Angel Museum today by sitting at their rummage sale site and taking donations. As I sort through donated holiday decorations, kitchen items, and glassware, I wonder if I could commit to significantly limiting the new items I purchase.

I could obviously still buy food and hygiene items, as well as non-self-makeable items for my crafts (I.e. super glue, spray adhesive, etc). But what if I committed to only buying my clothes, household goods, furniture, and books used?


Why do we conserve only when we’ve over-consumed?

Whenever we’re about to run out of something, that’s when we decide that it’s time to conserve it.

At one of my jobs today, I was shredding documents.  Before starting, I was told that we were out of the plastic liner bags for the machine, so I should manually stuff the contents from the bin into a previously “full” bag to make sure there was a enough space to finish shredding my pile of papers.

When they thought there were more bags, they deemed the bag full.  When it turns out there were no more bags, we suddenly had to conserve space and cram more paper in.

I do it when I’m almost out of minutes on my cellphone plan (usually while swearing at the companies who put me on hold for 30 minutes at a time!).  I have friends who do it when they went out partying one night and over-spent, so they conserve their cash by eating Ramen for week.  Many believe that the only shot we have at our government seriously investing in alternative energy sources will be when we run out of fossil fuels.

But why do we do this?

Why don’t we live like we’re almost out of bags/minutes/cash/energy? 

Because, in all reality, we are almost out.

The Beginning of the Homesteading Daughter

Traditional knowledge-sources struggle to define the term “homesteading.”  The best one Google and I can find comes from Wikipedia, which broadly defines it as “a lifestyle of simple self-sufficiency.”

But looking outside of traditional knowledge-sources is our best bet to truly understand what we mean by “homesteading” in a modern-sense.

Mother Earth News offers a great look into the various definitions of “homesteading” over the years.  They offer a great definition with the phrase “21st Century Homesteading,” which they define as:

The phrase 21stcentury homesteading, which is all about self sufficiency — wherever you live. It’s about using less energy, eating wholesome local food, involving your family in the life of the community and making wiser choices that will improve the quality of life for your family, your community and the environment around you.

Why do I care about homesteading?

After spending the first 23-years of my life in Wisconsin, I moved to New York City in August 2011.  During my time there, I began thinking more critically about issues of sustainability, consumption, emergency preparedness, and the (lack of) sense of community among individuals.

I lasted ten months in The Big Apple before deciding to return home to Wisconsin.  During those ten months, I got a crash course in Urban Living 101.  The pros: mass transit and a multitude of small businesses.  The cons: vermin, cockroaches, bedbugs (overall too many people in too small of a space with poor cleanliness routines), reliance on external food supply, lack of green space, and lack of individual emergency preparedness.

Though it turned out NYC was not where I wanted to live long-term, spending those ten months allowed me to reexamine how I had been living my life and how my lifestyle choices were impacting my personal wellness, and that of my community and the environment.

Upon returning back to Wisconsin, I moved in with my parents temporarily to give me time to figure out what I want to do next with my life.  My parents live on a couple acre lot in rural Wisconsin.   Over the years since I moved out, my parents have developed/strengthened their commitment to self-sufficiency, frugal living, and a plant-strong lifestyle.  Their commitment has exposed me to more information about ways of living and consumer values that are outside of the American “norm.”  This, coupled with my time in NYC, has brought me to a place where I want to change my lifestyle to be one that is more green and self-sufficient, and less dependent on chemicals and big corporations.

So why the Homesteading Daughter?

Despite my desire to change my lifestyle, I know very little about how to go about doing it.  When I told my parents about my desire to become self-sufficient and live on a homestead, they reminded me that I hate bugs, heat, sweating, lifting heavy things, and manual labor–all parts of the self-sufficient life.  So, yes, I have a long way to go; but I have a great sense-of-humor, personal incentive to change (I’m lactose intolerant and have a skin sensitivity to most chemicals, dyes, and fragrances), and am a quick-learner.

My journey to self-sufficiency and eventual full-out homesteading promises to be a humorous adventure, so I decided to document it on this site.  My hope is that I will be able to share my newly-acquired knowledge with other homesteading newbies and make you laugh.

The site is a work-in-progress.  I will post content as I discover new resources, try new projects, and learn new things.  I plan on posting written content for you, as well as pictures, video, and audio as they’re useful.

I look forward to connecting with you!  Please share your thoughts, opinions, ideas, and suggestions in the comment section on any page!