Monday, 1 January 2018

Handmade, Homemade & Homegrown

Looking back over the past couple of years, and moving forward into this brand new one, my priorities in living a simpler and more sustainable life with my little family remain the same.  If I had to name the biggest change I've made it would be that much more is handmade, homemade and homegrown here now.  The mass produced has far less appeal these days. Making and growing things at home or sourcing them as locally as possible out in my community is an important part of our simpler life. 

One of my knitted washcloths in a rope basket with soap made by a local crafter.


A little apple taking shape on a re-purposed bag.  
(Motif by Melissa Wastney.)

Since beginning to simplify, I have embraced the handmade through knitting, stitching and sewing myself and through supporting those talented folk (with my $) who live in our community too. My sewing skills have improved. I've made a dress, a couple of tops and a skirt! My next project is to sew a pair of cushion covers from two touristy linen tea towels I picked up at an op-shop. They will be a birthday gift for my Mum. (Ssh!) I have also done some simple embroidery and, in the coming year, I want to learn and practise some new stitches. I also want to learn how to sew in a zip!

A delicious homemade savoury tart for dinner.
(Leftovers for lunch the next day too!)

A sweet & simple strawberry cheesecake for dessert.
(Don't ask me where that first slice went!)

Homemade meals have always graced our dinner table but now there are a lot more basic ingredients in our pantry and a lot more baking coming from our oven. That just-baked smell that wafts from a freshly-made batch of biscuits or a nourishing pie gets tummies rumbling round here! I am still to master the art of making bread though. While I can make simple focaccias and pizza dough, I'm a long way from a loaf of bread that isn't as hard as  a brick! So, this year I hope to learn how to make edible loaves of bread. (I think I will need some help!)

A recent harvest from our garden. Salad days!


Homegrown blueberries ripening on the bushes I grow in pots.

Many of the meals we make include some homegrown produce picked from just outside our back door. We don't have a huge veggie patch but, on our ordinary suburban block, we can grow some of our own food. At different times of the year, there is an abundance of produce in our patch and at other times it may only be a bunch of herbs that I can harvest. This year, I want to keep cutting down on the inputs we have to buy in for the garden. The lemongrass and Canna Lily that I planted  last year for mulch are growing well now so we'll  lay that down over the soil when I get round to chopping and dropping it. I want to set up another worm farm, the extra one my generous neighbour gave me in return for some homegrown veg. I'd like to plant a lemon tree! My garden is a source of joy, fascination, contentment and nourishment in my life.  I want to keep on growing food because it makes me happy. 🙂

A knitting project and a good book keep me company at the park.

If I had to name the most important ingredient that has allowed us to do so much more here for ourselves, it would be time.  Time to sit and knit a while. Time to mix and blend and bake. Time to tend the garden and turn the compost. Time to think about where "things" come from and what happens with them when they break or are no longer of use. Time to consider alternatives. Time to say "G'day" to our neighbours. Time to be together and to really appreciate home. 

I hope you will have time this coming year to spend on something important to you. 

Happy New Year!
Meg






22 comments:

  1. Never was a truer word spoken Meg.

    I have the quote "It's all about time" on the side bar of my blog, and in lettering on my bedroom wall. I first read this while watching an episode of the Duggar's (from 18 kids and counting) some year's back, it was on the wall in one of their bedrooms. It was a bit of an epiphany/aha moment for me when I read it, because I relate it to so much in my life.

    Yes, time is THE most precious gift we have, we would do well to use it wisely.

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    1. Happy New Year to you, Cheryl! I love coming across quotes that resonate and remind me of what I believe in and what I hope for too. For me, it was Rhonda Hetzel (of the Down-to-Earth blog) who got me thinking about what I was doing with my life hours. What I was spending them on. There's a lot of inspiration out there in this online community that we belong to and I just want to keep learning and doing what feels right for our life here. I trust you are enjoying your well-earned holiday and hope that there is much you are looking forward to in 2018. Meg Xx

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  2. Happy New Year, Meg. Your garden produce looks great and it does take time to look after the gardens properly but it is so worth it. The same with taking time to knit, learn a new skill etc. I hope this year not to waste time on things that are really not important.,

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    1. It's hot and muggy here today, Chel but I've been out in the garden early. I picked some lovely butter beans that we'll have with dinner tonight. The garden does take time and effort but as you say, the rewards are worth it. 2018 has gotten off to an interesting start here with hubby being stung by wasps when out in the garden this morning. Poor fellow! Hopefully, this is not an omen of things to come;) I really hope your 2018 is a happy one. Meg Xx

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  3. Beautifully written Meg, I can hear your calm voice and philosophy in every word. I so agree with you about time being so pivotal in our lives, I’ve always said you either have the money or the time, they rarely show up together. Today I’ve written “ultimately what you do with your day is how you live your life, it’s so true. I love that you’ve embraced this wonderful life and you have nourished skills to enhance not just your life but of those you love. Have a wonderful day,
    Fi

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    1. Thanks, Fiona! I think our lives are indeed lived out in our ordinary days. One day blending into the next becomes a lifetime. There is much here that I'm really happy about and I'm just going to keep adding steadily to that as I learn new things. I hope you have a lovely beginning to this new year! Meg Xx

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    1. Happy new year, Marlene. I hope it's a lovely year filled with lots of the simple joys of life. Meg:)

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  5. Eating home grown, pottering around the house and making handmade is such a joy and the more you do the more you value time and quality of life. Happy New Year to your.

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    1. It really is a joy, Kathy. A little later today, I am going to trace a stitching pattern onto some linen. It will be a gift for a friend when it's finished. It will take me some time to make it but I'm looking forward to the process as much as giving it to my friend. I think the time involved in making things and growing things is indeed a joy. Happy new year to you too! Meg:)

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  6. A beautifully written post Meg!

    Time is one of those things I need to have more control of. I don't know why I seem to be always busy, but I am going to make it my mission to find out and change it! Getting back to basics once again is on my agenda!

    I want to learn to make soap! I have said this for many years and have the utensils and know how to do so, but still haven't quite gotten around to it (there's the "time" element). Now I have organised a place here at home to finally make soap and I will be doing it with friends who also want to learn. Should be a lot of fun :)

    Hope you have a wonderful 2018!

    xTania

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    1. I wish I lived nearby, Tania, because I'd love to join you for soap making. Like you, I have everything I need to make soap, I've done a little soap-making course too but still I've not made it myself. I always seem to find other projects that jump the cue! I hope 2018 is a lovely year for you too. Meg:)

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  7. Thanks for some inspiration for the coming year. I have been living a fairly simple life most of my life but there is always room for improvement and change. As I get older I see how many younger people spend time and money in ways that I have never even thought about, perhaps that is something older people do as I seem to recall my parents saying the same. Wishing you a Happy New Year.

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    1. Happy new year to you, Rosemary! I find lots of inspiration and ideas in the community, in books, from blogs, at the city farm, at the markets and from other people I know or read about. There are lots of things I'd love still to do but one step at a time! Meg:)

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  8. Happy new year Meg, simple pleasures do bring joy, home baked, or grown and sewing and knitting,and all can be shared and given .
    I also used to bake 'bread bricks' until I used Chris's sourdough instructions @ Gully Grove, now my loaves are beautiful.

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    1. Happy new year to you, Margaret! I will pop over to Gully Grove and see how Chris makes sourdough. Thanks for the recommendation. Meg:)

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  9. What a lovely thoughtful post. I hope all goes well for you in 2018

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    1. Thanks, Sue! Happy new year to you and to your Col too. I hope 2018 brings good news on the health front for Col and happy days for you both. Meg:)

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  10. A lovely gentle post, Meg, so much of what you say resonates with me. All the best for the new year, may it be even more inspirational and productive for you.

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    1. Thanks, Nanette. I hope you new began well and that there is much you are looking forward to in the coming year. Meg:)

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  11. I love to see your handmade stuff. It inspires me to repatriate my own sewing station. It's moved around a bit, since the arrival of our last child. They needed the room, and my sewing stuff, migrated in different directions of the house. I've finally put them in the one space, after Christmas! So I expect to do a bit more sewing in the new year too.

    I'm more of a proficient sourdough maker, than a regular bread maker, so I'm not sure I can offer much help. Although, the one thing I always ran into trouble with the regular bread, was remembering to activate the yeast properly. I'd either make the water temperature too hot (therefore, cooking and killing the yeast) or I'd forget to add the sugar to the yeast. Both would negate the ability for the yeast to fluff-up, and rise the bread.

    So a trick for the right temp water, is if you can put your finger in it, and keep it there. Or just buy yourself a thermometer, if you don't think you can guess it. And don't forget to add the sugar in this process. It will jump-start the yeast feeding process, before adding it to the bread.

    Have fun in 2018, learning and exploring new ventures.

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    1. Thank you for the bread making tips, Chris. I will make sure I put the sugar in because it's very like me to leave it out!! It's lovely to have a dedicated space for sewing, I find if my sewing machine is already set up that I tend to sit down more readily to it.I hope you'll show us what you sew up in the coming year over on your blog. The quilt you made your daughter was amazing! Meg:)

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