2018 has been an awful year, and at the same time, one of the best. My little (huge) potato arrived after a very, very rough pregnancy, Corazon and I bought our first home, and we’re finally starting the simple, self-sufficient life we’ve been dreaming of. It’s not a farm or a particularly large piece of land, but it’s enough to do a lot of what we want.
I’m going to skip the bad parts of this year in this post. Frankly, I’ve lost enough of my time, health and mental energy to it. All that matters now is that my baby is finally here, he is safe and healthy – amazingly – and my husband and I are finally in a position to start making the simple-living, sustainable lifestyle changes we were unable to implement while renting. I’m taking my silver lining and running with it. So here are some of our big targets for the new year:
Fix the Bathroom
With spring and summer coming up next I guess the focus should be the garden, but honestly, I can’t wait till we can get the bathroom fixed and our broken boiler replaced so that I can have a nice (hot) shower again. Washing with jugs is a royal pain in the backside, especially for with long hair. I’m actually dreaming about my new, easy-to-clean, properly water-proofed wet-room shower.
2. Start Raising Quail
My parents had chickens in their garden for quite a few years, and and the difference between the eggs those chickens laid and the shop-bought eggs was astronomical. The perfect example to illustrate the difference is that my brother, who is severely allergic to shop bought eggs, was suddenly able to eat eggs. We all noticed the difference in how they tasted and we felt, and since then I’ve looked forward to the day I could keep my own birds. I’ll write more at some point about why I’m hoping to keep quail and not chickens, but that’s a blog post for another day.
3. Grow a Herb Garden
I’ve already started this one by growing coriander, basil and parsley on the windowsill, but come summer I’ll be moving most of them – not the parsley- to the garden where they’ll live permanently. I’m going to include garlic and onions to the herb garden too, along with rosemary and a lavender bush.
4. Plant Fruit Trees
This will be one of the last projects we get done in the garden next year, but once it’s done, it’s done. The plan is to plant two different varieties of apple; one a cooking apple and one a cider apple. Once they’re down it’ll be a waiting game – around 3 or four years – but since the time will pass anyway at some point we will have a reliable supply of dehydrated apples, cider and vinegar to keep us going each winter. I can’t wait!
5. Start Making Videos Again
The pregnancy was rough, the post-partum recovery is still ongoing after five months, but bit by bit, my energy is coming back and I’m at a place where I can film again. Here’s to hoping this year is a bit more productive on YouTube.
6. Grow Mushrooms
Over the last year we’ve been making lists of the kind of food we eat regularly, and mushrooms – along with onions and eggs – are some of our most eaten foods. If we can grow them it’ll cut down on costs, plastic, and we’ll have fresh homegrown mushrooms. It’ll be another notch in our self-suficient aspirations.
7. Re-design the Kitchen Cupboard
It’s going to take me a while to do this, but once I have the spare funds I plan to completely redesign the kitchen cupboard. To be honest it’s not the worst. It’s actually pretty good in a very basic kind of way. But after you’ve gone through three years of a graphic design degree you can’t help but look at everything and think how can I make that better, cleaner and more efficient.
8. More Plants in the House
Specifically, more plants that clean the air. England, in general, is a pretty damp place. Where we live it’s especially damp, and every day is a constant battle against mold. Doesn’t help that I’m pretty allergic to mold too. So any plants which are going to help me on that battlefront and help keep the air cleaner is a serious win.
9. Get the Sewing Machine
I have so, so many things I need to make. Doorway curtains to keep the drafts out, clothes to fix, buckwheat pillows to make, nappy liners…the list is endless and it’s a skill I really want to learn. It’ll be rough and probably the kind of thing that’ll make my sister want to cry, but it’ll work.
10. Continue My Minimalism Journey
This has been a goal I’ve been working on for the last two, now pushing three years. When I started to read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tyding” it flicked a switch on in my brain that helped me tackle my surrounding habitat like a bulldozer. And it’s been an absolute Godsend for my mental health, wallet, and life in general. It helped me start to figure out what were triggers for irrational purchases, impulse purchases and generally direct my wallet and energy towards the kind of life I wanted.
My kitchen now has about one third of the utensils and items that it used to have, but I cook more and – I like to think – better. My wardrobe is one fourth of the size, and steadily shrinking, but it no longer makes me anxious to look at and organize. We have far less furniture, fewer books, heck, even less studio equipment and even art supplies! But I’m getting more use, less stress and a lot more joy out of being around them. It’s still a process, five years, even ten years from now it’ll still be a process, but it’s a process I really enjoy.
Part of that is because it’s allowed me to design my surroundings. Take the aforementioned kitchen cupboard for example. Now that I’m very aware of what comes into the house, what we eat and like I want to make sure that I can see and use that food. If I can’t see it I forget to use it, the food goes off, creating clutter and waste. Two things I really, really hate.
So, here’s to a new year, new goals and the start of our new life. Let’s see how it goes!