Independence days

I’ve been writing a lot this week, and while it feels good to be writing critically about consumerism, it’s also felt good to stop working for some more practical and tangible things around here.

Plant something: planted kale starts in my existing containers; transplanted some volunteer tomato seedlings; planted more lettuce seeds; sprouted a few different kinds of beans

Harvest something: mint for tea; chives, oregano, and basil for dinners; lettuce for salads

Preserve something: no preserving this week, but I’m trying to plan out a few things that I’d like to preserve, and getting the kitchen in shape for when that happens

Waste not: trash picked a wooden chair and a bucket to add to my container garden; fed veggie scraps to the worms; reorganizing the kitchen to help prevent food waste; pulled out some close to expiring food to use

Want not: cutting back on spending this month so I can add to my savings account and contribute a bit more to some projects I have in mind; stocked up on Dr. Bronner’s soap when it was on sale at the local health food store; accepted a few freebie books from a friend

Eat the food: making meals out of as many farmers’ market ingredients as I can – kholrabi, carrot, and broccoli salad, potato and radish top soup, roasted veggies with pasta, Chinese broccoli on rice, chevre and tomato sandwiches

Build community food systems: shopping at the market and chatting with farmers about food issues; looking into joining the local transition/post-peak oil group

Skill up: more knitting and baking; learning how to work with sourdough and make ginger beer; reading up on herbal medicine

Beyond the independence days things, I’m still biking and walking a lot and trying to make sure I get – and stay – in good shape.  I’ve been thinking a lot more than usual about food and healthy eating, and I’m looking forward to shaping up the kitchen so that it’s easier to work in and I’m using food in the best ways that I can.  Along the same lines, I’m also still working on the apartment, and trying to make sense of what should stay and what should go, what we need, and how we can best use the space since there are just so many things that we do here.  I’m convinced there’s room enough for all the things I want to do, I just have to figure out the best ways to make things work.

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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.

Three weeks in

My overarching goals for the new year were to feel happier, calmer, and healthier.  After the last year, I felt I badly needed a list of some things to do just to help me feel better.  We’re only three weeks into the new year and I still have a long way to go, but things have been going well and it’s good to feel like I’ve kept on top of things.

So far, I’ve maintained almost all of my health goals.  I haven’t fit in the yoga yet, and I need to be a bit better about meditating in the morning, but in terms of diet, exercise, sleep, and reading, I’m pretty well on track.  I bike almost daily, walk quite a bit, pack in the fruits and veggies, sleep fairly well, and spend more time than I usually would relaxing.  I’m feeling quite a lot better than I have been, and have even lost a few pounds at the same time.  I’ve also spent more time on food – I’ve been cooking a bit more and I baked bread twice now, and it’s been wonderful to pay some more attention to something that I care so much about.  I’d like to work in more meditation and yoga, but I do feel better overall.

In financial news, I’ve set up pension changes and have established designated accounts for special purchases and summer expenses.  I’m currently doing some research in terms of where I’d like to donate, and I’m hoping to make it down to the farmers’ market next weekend for our grocery shopping.  Work is also going fairly well.  Courses have started, but I’ve managed to fit in a bit of project-related research and sent in some conference applications.  I’m hoping to be able to step this up as I get into more of a routine this semester, but it feels reassuring to have work on the go, even if the process is slow.

Finally, I’ve been a lot more conscious about maintaining relationships these past few weeks.  I’ve spent more time talking with friends, and am currently writing a long email to a someone I haven’t seen in months.  I’m also setting up a standing brunch date with another friend, and made it out to a gathering last weekend and will be going to another this weekend.  It’s been really lovely to spend more time with people, and I think it’s helped a lot with my overall mindset and not feeling like I’m spending (or should be spending) every moment working.

My plans for the next few weeks are very much the same.  I’m going to keep up the exercise and the downtime, focus more on reading, and hopefully add in some more yoga and meditation.  I’m also going to try to be better about limiting my teaching prep and grading so I can make more time for the work that I need to be doing for research.  I’d like to try out a few new recipes to work into our repertoire, make some more bread, and find some time to declutter more of the apartment.  This might all become more of a challenge as the semester gets somewhat busier, but feeling better is really and truly lovely, and something that I’ll keep working towards.