Independence days

Despite being waylaid for a few days with a particularly nasty sinus headache, I’ve gotten a few things done around here under the Independence Days umbrella.  I seem to be especially focused on food, and it’s been lovely to spend more time gardening, cooking, baking, and shopping at the market, all of which has left us with an abundance of food and a lot of really, really tasty meals.

Plant something: started sprouts from mung beans; added three new containers of lettuce and peas (for the shoots) to the container garden

Harvest something: gathering wild yeast in my new sourdough and ginger beer starters

Preserve something: no preserving this week, sadly

Waste not: made a number of thrift store purchases this week – bowls (to replace a few broken ones), handmade pottery, a skein of Canadian wool, a large storage jar, another vintage wool blanket (it’s really as much a collection as anything else, at this point), three shallow plastic bins to add to my patio container garden, and copies of Forest Farming and World Vegetarian (which has been on my Amazon wish list for over two years now).

Want not: bought some extra seeds to have on hand; stocked up on brown rice and some dried beans; cleared out stored food to put into rotation

Eat the food: tried a few new recipes this week – cheddar biscuits, butter chickpeas – and ate a lot of salads and fresh farmers’ market fare

Build community food systems: more shopping at the market and chatting with farmers

Skill up: still working on improving my knitting; working to improve our bread baking and our favourite bagel recipe

Beyond these things, I’ve still been biking and walking everywhere, which feels great and keeps getting easier over time.  I’ve also been getting in some runs, so I’m feeling a lot fitter than I have in awhile.  In terms of home, I’ve been working hard to get the apartment decluttered and cleaned up, since it’s long overdue and I’m not really known for my extreme tidiness.  There’s a lot of stuff to get rid of, so we’ve been loading up the cart once or twice a week and schlepping things up to Goodwill – this, I assume, is my penance for bringing too much stuff home in the first place.  And, on a somewhat related topic, I’ve been noticing that in the summer, when it’s nice and I’m off work, I go to the thrift store more often than I normally would.  This is something that I think I’m going to consciously cut back on again – perhaps with a no spend challenge for July.

Independence days

Due to a sudden job interview that required some prep time, I was a bit off my independence days game this week and didn’t get nearly as much done as I wanted.  On the positive side, I generally seem to be a good deal more aware of what I’m doing and why, and I’m consciously spending more time working on activities that will should help to make us a little bit more independent – every bit counts.

Plant something: planted more lettuce and cress

Harvest something: chives, basil, oregano, mint, and lettuce

Preserve something: froze rhubarb

Waste not: fed the worms produce scraps; bought a secondhand shirt and a handmade pottery bowl from the thrift store

Want not: stocked up on dried lentils and dried fruit

Eat the food: tried a new recipe nearly daily, including homemade pizza, corn and potato soup, tomato soup, buns, and strawberry-rhubarb pie

Build community food systems: shopped at the market; discussed food issues with friends; started planning food documentary screening; tried an independent local restaurant for dinner

Skill up: learned how to change bicycle tires; getting back to knitting (slowly, this time – no more starting with a sweater right off the bat)

In addition to these activities, I’ve gotten back to commuting on my bike, and I’m working to get in better shape than I currently am by biking, walking, strength training, and getting in some yoga.  I’m also spending some time meditating daily, in an attempt to quell some of the worry and anxiety that is a pretty regular feature of my life.  In an effort to make more room for these different activities, I’m actively trying to clear out and reorganize the apartment, and I’ve put together a pretty sizable donation pile – hopefully the first of a few – that’s ready to go out the door.

For next week, I’m planning on planting some more chard and perhaps some kale.  I’d like start preserving herbs early this year, so I don’t have such a glut right at the end of the summer, so I hope to get that going.  I also have some research that I want to do about a few different purchases that I’ve been considering, quite honestly, for what seems like forever.  And finally, In the interest of doing something a bit more entertaining, I’d like to spend some time learning to play the guitar again, and work on some folk songs to play and sing along to – although food’s crucial, music can be pretty important too.

 

 

Independence days

In the interest of hopefully making my life here a bit more sustainable, I’ve been doing Sharon Astyk’s Independence Days off and on for a few years now.  Independence Days is based on the premise that we can routinely do many different things that will help us to become more independent, and that even consistently doing what seems like a little bit at a time can be really valuable in the end.

With the coming of summer, some extra free time, and a strong desire to be productive and get back on track with some of my long-term projects, now seems like a good time to have another look at the challenge and get to work.  The goal is to inspire and motivate, but also to recognize accomplishments by reporting in weekly.  Ideally, in any given week, participants should try to:

  • Plant something
  • Harvest something
  • Preserve something
  • Waste not
  • Want not
  • Eat the food
  • Build community food systems
  • Skill up

Garden2013This week, I’ve been pretty focused on applying for jobs, completing an online course, doing some research on consumption-related issues, and working to get our apartment decluttered and into better shape than it’s currently in.  But I’ve also managed to work in a fair number of independence days activities, and I’m pleased with the outcome and how productive I feel as a result.  It’s also been a nice break from more work related tasks.

Plant something: planted tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, cress, celery, chard, chives, sage, thyme, mint, spearmint, and basil; sprouted mung beans

Harvest something: chives, basil, and thyme for some of this week’s dinners

Preserve something: dried lemon balm

Waste not: turned aging bananas into banana bread, frozen lettuce into smoothies, and leftover veggie bits into stock or compost; bought secondhand copies of The Economy of Cities, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Year-Round Vegetable Gardener, and Jamie’s Food Revolution; received rhubarb, lemon balm, and a t-shirt from a friend

Want not: stocked up on French green lentils, garlic, yeast, tinned tomatoes and beans, tea, whole grain rice, pasta, and toilet paper

Eat the food: tried a new recipe nearly daily, including butter lentils/chicken, sweet corn soup, shrimp with broccoli, everything bagels, strawberry fool, and banana bread

Build community food systems: shopped at the market and talked about food issues with the farmers; chatted with a friend about starting foraging walks

Skill up: learned new cooking recipes; practiced making bread and bagels

For next week, I’m planning on getting a few more things planted, working on my knitting, and hopefully preserving a few things – it’s strawberry season, and I’d love to put up some jam this year.  But for now, this feels like it’s been a good start – the food’s been tasty, the community building eye-opening, and the gardening relaxing.

Summer plans

Oh wow – it’s been a lot longer than I though since I’d last written anything.  Life, as usual, tends to get in the way, and I’ve been finishing up a very busy semester, attending a conference, visiting family in New York, and just generally trying to get things in order around here as I try to sort some things out and think some things through – you know, all the deep, heavy, thought provoking stuff.

Technically, I’ve been “off” work for awhile now, although I’ve spent a good bit of time catching up on various things.  The rest of the time, I’ve been thinking about next steps and how I want to spend the summer.  For the first time in…well, forever, quite possibly, I’m not working for someone else through the summer doing research or editing a journal or planning a conference.  The shift is odd, and I’ve actually had a bit of a hard time settling in and figuring out what I want to do with myself, but it’s nice to have a bit of flexibility and freedom.

I have some work to do around redeveloping courses, learning some new technologies, and writing, writing, writing, but my time is a good deal less scheduled, which is both a pleasant shift and a bit of a difficulty since it’s easy to put things off for a bit. At the same time, I’m also trying to focus on many of the more personal things that I let slide this year.  But with this sudden wealth of time – especially coming after what’s been a fairly challenging year – I’ve found myself thinking more about what I want to do than actually doing it.  Given my startling realization earlier today that mid-June has somehow snuck up on me, I’ve decided that I’ve done quite enough thinking and actually need to act to get something done.  This is true of work tasks, but also true of the many things I want to do around family, friends, food, health, and generally taking a bit of time for me.

So, from here on in, it’s action time again.  Papers will be written.   Container gardens will be planted.  Bread will be baked. Technology will be learned.   Socks will be knit.  Books will be read.  Time will be spent with friends.  Food will be preserved.  And the summer will continue to feel too short, but at the very least I’ll have done something with it, and will hopefully feel a whole lot better about how I spent my time when September finally rolls around.