It’s been a few days since the last blog post!

In the meantime, we have still been making things and working on new plans for future projects. Here is a beautiful picture of some weekend handiwork: Butter, peanut butter and buttermilk, all made in the span of 15 minutes!

Milk, Buttermilk and Peanut butter... that's Butterific!
Butter, Buttermilk and Peanut butter… that’s Butterific!

However, we wanted to do some posts that are more than simply recipes or how-to articles… we wanted to focus a little more on the “living” aspect of the blog, and will continue to work on balancing these in the future. For this particular entry, our focus is the feeling that comes along with attempting to live from scratch, and the impressions that it makes on a person’s life.

For us, the initial feeling was this: Everything was overwhelming, and we were slowly slipping into insanity. There’s a little bowl of food on the counter that needs to go to compost, there are a few bottles that are eventually going to become wind-chimes; there are cans that will become tin lanterns and plastic jugs that we’re working out a project to use. The immediate feeling is that of barely-focused hoarding, and it takes some getting used to. The best advice we can give is to take the things that are lying around and do something with them. If they stay around too long, they’re not making your life better and it’s time to question whether they really have a purpose. This is a much easier statement to preach than to practice, as everything listed above is currently on our counter. We’d take a picture, but there’s still a sense of embarrassment from keeping things that last year we would have considered garbage.

The next phase in our case was to accept that this was a lifestyle in which we were interested, and then to discuss how far down the rabbit hole we really wanted to go. Do we want to have chickens for fresh eggs? Do we want to raise bees? What about building a greenhouse completely from plastic bottles, or maybe have a goat? Every one of these are actual conversations we have had. There is a different level of comfort for everyone, and it’s important to find the zone that makes you happy. We know people who wouldn’t want to put in the effort to make their own peanut butter or bread, etc. because it’s simply not a priority for them. Take a look at a number of books, websites and other resources and plan the things that really get you excited; this is a good way to plot our how far you want to go. Currently we’re not full-blown homesteaders, but it’s not out of the question once we stop renting and buy a home of our own. Only time will tell.

Finally is the best phase: Immense freedom and excitement! Over the course of many years, many projects and many recipes, there are a certain few truths that we have found to be very self-evident: namely, everything is better homemade! So once we realized that we wanted to focus on doing things at home, it became a game: we would think of things we loved from restaurants, ideas we’d seen in different places and then try to copy them the best we could at home, normally with amazing results. For example, this weekend we wanted seafood. In the past we would have packed up and gone to Red Lobster, but now we opt to put our own spin on things:

Not a bad spread for Southwestern PA
Not a bad spread for Southwestern PA

No offense to the fine people who have previously prepared our food, but this was hands down better to what we would get when we went out, and it was a fraction of the cost. The idea that we can have better things because we’re willing to put in the effort to create them is amazing! Additionally, the process is generally fun, and is an amazing opportunity to involve the whole family.

Granted, there are occasional setbacks: things that don’t turn out properly (or at all), realizing that the next project we want to do involves learning a lot more about physics than we currently know… the list goes on. However, every challenge is a learning opportunity, and once we know how to do it, it’s a skill we can continue to utilize and share with others, and in the end that’s the real point of this: to make the world a better place one house at a time. We feel like we’re making a fine start.

Does anyone else have stories to share or questions to ask about transitioning to a more self-sufficient lifestyle? Put them in the comments! 🙂


One thought on “Transitions

  1. Love this! It really is about enjoying the moment. It’s not for everyone but there is a sense if satisfaction to be had in doing it yourself.
    My newest thing is doing laundry with very little electricity and a whole lot of woman-power. We haven’t had a washer and drier since we moved into our house. We’d been doing laundry at my mom’s, which was fine, but time consuming since instead of a load here and there, it would be a week or so worth at once. I decided I’d buy a used washer/dryer and started researching and stumbled on the idea of doing laundry by hand.
    So, I bought a breathable plunger, which is used in third world countries and by campers/rv livers to do laundry without any electricity. I use that, a bucket, and a washboard to clean clothes. I make my own laundry soap using soap nuts, vinegar, and essential oils. My laundry rinse is white vinegar with a few drops of essential oil. I already had a huge wooden laundry rack and a small plastic one.
    I also bought a spin dryer, which is really more of a convenience than a necessity. It does use electricity, but you only run it for a few minutes per load. All it does is spin the water out of the clothes, but man, it cuts down on squeezing out water from sopping wet clothes and it makes it so my clothes dry overnight instead of taking a few days. This summer I want to install a clothesline in our yard, but I am waiting until the leaves come back on the trees so I can site the best spot.
    The washing is quite a workout, but I’m finding that doing a few bucketfuls of clothes a day only takes about an hour if my time, max, and the clothes are cleaner than they get in a washer and they smell great. We still have the option of doing a load at mom’s when needed, like for towels and blankets, but now that takes an hour instead if all day.
    We can’t have chickens at our house, due to town ordinances, but we are going to at my moms, four miles away, hopefully next spring, once we build the coop using salvaged wood from the ancient coop we had when I was growing up and whatever other free materials we can rustle up. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to butcher them if needed, since I’m pretty squeamish, but I’m all about free eggs!
    P.s. Do you know that the Mother Earth news festival wil be at seven springs in September? I already bought my tickets. I went last year and it was amazing. Highly recommend checking out some if the lectures, etc. I went to year round vegetable gardening last year and it was very cool. This year I’m hoping to go all three days.


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